Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Devil Whispered Behind The Leaves "It's Pretty, But Is It Art?"

The upcoming Doctor Who Christmas special is to be titled - with fantastic originality - A Christmas Carol, it has been announced. Did you think that one up all on your own, Steven? An official press statement by the BBC confirmed that the episode will 'pay homage to Charles Dickens's acclaimed 1843 novel of the same name.' Which is probably just as well as most people would be thinking it was going to be a musical. Or, something about Carol Thatcher. Doctor Who's executive producer The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (Thou Shalt Worship No Other Gods Before He) recently promised that the festive instalment will feature 'a mix of holiday fun and terrifying monsters.' So, just like EastEnders in other words. He said: 'We're going for broke with this one. It's all your favourite Christmas movies at once, in an hour, with monsters. And The Doctor. And a honeymoon. I've honestly never been so excited about writing anything.' The series previously paid tribute to Dickens in the 2005 episode The Unquiet Dead, where a fictionalised version of the over-rated Victorian author - played, excellently by Simon Callow - helped The Doctor and Rose foil the nefarious plans of The Gelth.

An X Factor spokesman has flatly rejected any suggestion that official voting figures were leaked ahead of Sunday night's results show. Following the announcement of his exit, Dermot O'Dreary asked Aiden Grimshaw if he was surprised by the result. Grimshaw said: 'My friend texted me earlier and said there was a leak on Twitter that I was third from bottom.' So, that's be a 'yes', then. O'Dreary responded that such claims were 'uncorroborated.' A show spokesman told the Daily Scum Mail: 'People make lots of unfounded predictions on the Internet about the order of the contestants based on various popularity polls. We do not believe there is a leak.' Grimshaw was sent home instead of Katie Waissel after the sing-off when the judges' panel was at deadlock. He was revealed to have come bottom of the earlier public vote.

Arlene Phillips has said that she wants to see 'more sex' from Kara Tointon on Strictly Come Dancing. Well, don't we all?

Ben Elton is to front his own live comedy series on Australian TV. The comic will be host, write and producer of Live From Planet Earth, which is described as 'a smart, high-energy' show for the Nine Network. Elton already spends much of the year in Fremantle, Western Australia, with his Australian wife, the saxophonist Sophie Gare. He said: 'I've had a great love for Australia for many years and have always been made to feel so welcome. With Live From Planet Earth I want to bring a unique and exciting live comedy experience to Aussie screens. The audience, the performers and our guests will all play a crucial role in the fun which, uniquely for an Australian prime time entertainment show, will not feature either sport or cooking.' Nine's director of programming, Michael Healy, said: 'Ben Elton is an extraordinary talent and Nine is delighted to have him join the network.' The network says Elton will be joined by a cast of regular sketch performers, plus guests, comedians, music acts and international stars.

According to Channel Four's press office the final - thirteenth - episode of the year's Time Team series well not be broadcast until next year 'due to rights issues.' What these rights issues may be, they didn't elaborate (despite beings specifically asked to do so!) So, there you have it.

Helen Mirren has revealed that she does not think much of British society. Fair comment. Next ... The actress said that she believes English television and cinema encourage anger and cruelty. Yeah, well, it's the damp climate. Probably. Either that or the chip on our collective shoulder since we stopped running the world in the 1930s. She told Match: 'Where conflicts are made worse on cinema and on television, where people are nasty and cruel on the Internet and where, in general terms, everybody seems to me to be very angry. This causes me a lot of pain. I prefer the finesse of French humour. English humour is harsher, more scathing, more cruel and more surreal too, as illustrated by Monty Python and the TV series Little Britain, where situations are far-fetched and over-the-top. I smoked Gitanes to appear cool, and I dreamed of being French. I wanted to be an elegant bourgeoisie or an artist just like Juliette Greco.' Given that these comments are almost certainly taken way out of the context of a much larger and more thoughtful piece of wit and wisdom, it would be unfair of anyone to say 'if you like it so much, Hells, eff-off and live there.' However tempting that may be. Mirren added that she fantasised about being like French actress Brigitte Bardot when she was a teenager. Yer Keith Telly Topping used to have fantasies about Brigitte as a teenager too. Got me through some tough winter nights, they did. But, perhaps I've said too much. Mirren explained: 'From the age of fifteen, I desperately wanted to be Brigitte Bardot and to go and live in St Tropez. But I was just a small and plump English girl with spots. Then I had a French boyfriend called Jean-Louis with whom I'm still friends.'

Torchwood creator Russell Davies has revealed more details about the show's two new regular characters. It was previously reported that Rex Matheson and Esther Katsui would join the main cast in the forthcoming The New World. Davies told IGN: 'Rex certainly brings dynamism and energy and hostility towards Torchwood. He wants to know who the hell they are and why the hell they're so important. There's a great, fun, sparky, sexy sort of antagonism to the whole thing.' He added that second regular Esther will suffer 'some great, powerful, emotional stories' throughout the ten-part run. 'Esther is much calmer,' he explained. 'In some ways, she's a bit of an innocent abroad and soon learns not to be. And that plays off Gwen's experience with these things.' Davies also confirmed that he had written a 'hilarious scene' in which Rex discovers that Jack (John Barrowman) is immortal. 'There's a lot of fresh material there that we'll mine, but again the new story will always move us forward,' he insisted.

TV nutritionist and hate figure to everyone in this country who has ever enjoyed eating a cream cake, Doctor (allegedly) Gillian McKeith was branded 'a child' as the new series of I'm A Celebrity ... Get Me Out Of Here! got off to a downright bitchy start on Sunday. Which, presumably, would've had Helen Mirren tutting in the corner and muttering all crossly about how you never get French people in the jungle being aggressive. Well, except Viet 'Nam. Anyway, the presenter was criticised by former Bond girl Britt Ekland for saying that she was 'close to suffering a heart attack' after less than twenty four hours in the Queensland jungle. See, if you'd had a cream cake, Gillian, at least you'd've had a good excuse. The tensions boiled over as the pair fought over dinner. 'I have a serious panic phobia to the point I could faint if I see a spider,' said pouty drama queen McKeith. 'I feel like I'm having a heart attack.' Bit of a stupid idea you signing up to a TV show that takes place where there are lots of spiders then, wasn't it, you silly cow? I have to say, I'd've never guessed that Gillian McKeith of all people would have suffered from this particular phobia. In her TV series You Are What You Eat, she spent several years endlessly ordering obese volunteers to abandon processed food for unpleasant-looking organic fare. So, you might think jungle insects would be one of her dietary staples. She was immediately shot down by X Factor singer Stacey Solomon, who told her: 'Stop it, you're making me panic.' Ekland then said: 'Gillian is like a child. A child with too much sugar. You need to calm her down.'

Ahead of their shows in Newcastle's Tyne Theatre, comedians Alexander Armstrong and Ben Miller handed over a cheque to the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation on behalf of Durham School. The duo also spoke to BBC Look North's Sharuna Sagar which you can see here.

Sophie Powles has predicted that her Emmerdale character Holly Barton will never be the same again following her drug problems. Fans of the soap have recently seen Holly develop an addiction to heroin, subsequently leaving her family devastated as they struggle to deal with the serious situation. Speaking to the Glasgow Sunday Mail about the storyline's future, Powles commented: 'I think there is going to be light at the end of the tunnel, but how long it is going to take for it to appear or what is going to happen to make it appear, I don't know. We want to show people can come out the other side, but it's going to be a long road for Holly yet and, at the minute, a very hard one. I don't think Holly will ever be the person she was because she has been through too much, but maybe if she gets a bit of her old self back that will be nice.' Powles also admitted that her parents have been uncomfortable with some of the plotline's darker twists, including a recent episode which saw Holly selling her body for drug money. The twenty two-year-old said: 'They knew horrible storylines would be part of it, but I don't think they were expecting something so gritty quite so quickly. My dad could not speak to me when the scenes of me going with a man for money went out. He found it hard to watch even though he knows it's not real, but they are the most supportive people ever. They are very proud of me because this is what I've always wanted to do.'

A former Trinity Mirror executive, Richard Horwood, has held talks with a government advisory panel to launch an integrated national and local television channel, reported by Amanda Andrews in the Sunday Telegraph. Horwood, the ex-managing director of Trinity Mirror Television, spoke to Nick Shott, the Lazard banker who is carrying out a government review on the commercial viability of local TV. Horwood is, evidently, about to put forward a formal proposal to launch Channel Six, which would serve twenty five million homes with a national framework of programming but allow for opt-outs at a local level.

The success of ITV's period drama Downton Abbey has 'truly challenged' the BBC's right to be publicly funded, some nobody speaking for the Adam Smith Institute has claimed. In a blog posting on its website, the hilariously stupid economic thinktank noted that the BBC has 'long justified' its existence on the fact that it airs 'public value' programming, including highbrow dramas that would not naturally find a home on commercial broadcasters. Yes, but not just highbrow dramas, guys. Also, you know, current affairs, various different forms of culture, classic music, wildlife documentaries, history, great comedy ... where's the ITV equivalents of any of those? Where's ITV's Newsnight? Wonders of the Solar System? Mock The Week? Where's ITV's equivalents of Radio 3? Radio 4? Radio 5Live? Local radio? The ITV's equivalents of Qi? Match of the Day? The ONE Show? (Oh, hang on, they have got one of those - it's called Daybreak and - hilariously - nobody watches it). The ITV equivalent of the BBC World Service? What a really very good job it is that nobody much takes the slightest bit of notice of crass, bullyboy right-wing scumbag numskull Daily Scum Mail reading pressure groups with an agenda like the Adam Smith Institute. Least of all, anybody that actually matters. Downton Abbey, written by Oscar-winner Julian Fellowes, has proved a major hit for ITV since it premiered in September, with the final episode attracting more than nine million viewers. The broadcaster has already commissioned a second series. The Adam Smith Institute believes that the period drama has 'truly challenged the BBC's supposed monopoly on this genre' and demonstrated the 'depth and diversity that private broadcasters can achieve.' The alleged thinktank (although, don't you have to actually think to qualify as one of those?) noted that ITV operates on a tighter programme budget compared to the BBC, which is funded by the £3.6 billion licence fee. 'With only one billion pounds a year, which has remained static for several years, ITV has shown that well-invested and well-written dramas can compete with the BBC and all other channels out there,' said the blog posting. 'On the other hand, the BBC, which receives around £3.6 billion of taxpayers' money through the tax known as the "licence fee," has brought little new to the schedule that has truly captured the viewing public.' It added: 'This highlights the question of whether public funding is justifiable at all. If private television companies are producing some of the best and most-watched television whilst competing with a government-protected monopoly, how much more could be produced in a genuinely free market without government anti-competition subsidies?' The Institute suggested that dismantling the publicly-funded BBC could free up ITV and other commercial broadcasters to pursue more public value programming. Yes, of course it would. They'd take off the X Factor and replace it with two hours of The South Bank Show. We believe you. 'It is time the BBC was disbanded or privatised so it has to compete on a level playing field, not only with ITV but with all the other corporate channels that are now made available to us following the digital switchover,' it concluded. 'No longer crowded out by the BBC, private channels would soon produce higher-rated and higher quality programmes: Downton Abbey is only the tip of the iceberg.' May this blogger be allowed a brief cry of 'Knobcheese!' at this point? Thank you. ITV, dear blog readers may remember, recently called on the government to remove advertising restrictions on flagship channel ITV so that it can move away from programming aimed at 'the lowest common denominator.'

And so to the ratings: The Top Twenty Programmes - week ending 7 Sept 2010
1 The X Factor - ITV - 15.36 million
2 Strictly Come Dancing - BBC1 - 11.12 million
3 Coronation Street - ITV - 10.90 million
4 Downton Abbey - ITV - 10.77 million
5 Eastenders - BBC1 - 10.40 million
6 The Apprentice - BBC1 - 8.20 million
7 Emmerdale - ITV - 8.17 million
8 New Tricks - BBC1 - 8.09 million
9 Countryfile - BBC1 - 8.00 million
10 Merlin - BBC1 - 6.90 million
11 The Little House - ITV - 6.82 million
12 Piers Morgan's Life Stories - ITV1 - 6.77 million
13 [spooks] - BBC1 - 6.10 million
14 Holby City - BBC1 - 5.93 million
15 Turn Back Time - BBC1 - 5.76 million
=16 Antiques Roadshow - BBC1 - 5.59 million
=16 BBC News - BBC1 - 5.59 million
18 The Cube - ITV - 5.51 million
19 Have I Got News For You - BBC1 - 5.44 million
20 Harry Hill's TV Burp - ITV - 5.38 million

BBC Worldwide has offloaded its fifty per cent shareholding in an international television channels joint venture with Discovery for one hundred and fifty six million dollars. The corporation's commercial arm has sold its stake in the Animal Planet and Liv channels to Discovery in order to concentrate on its own channel brands, including BBC America and BBC Entertainment. Animal Planet reaches nearly two hundred and fifty million cumulative subscribers in more than one hundred and seventy markets across Europe, Asia and Latin America, while entertainment channel Liv is available to twenty four million subscribers in thirty three Latin American markets. Today's sale follows a BBC Trust review almost a year ago that ordered Worldwide to sell off its non-BBC branded international channels. Worldwide chief executive John Smith said that money from the sale would go towards the 'launch and growth' of more BBC-branded global networks. 'The sale of the fifty per cent interest in Animal Planet and Liv will enable us to bring increased focus to these fast-growing channels, and to progress a number of other strategic priorities,' he said. 'The sale is also consistent with the BBC Trust review of BBC Worldwide which was published in November 2009.' Mark Hollinger, president and chief executive of Discovery Networks International, added: 'Acquiring BBC Worldwide's rights to the Animal Planet and Liv channel brands provides Discovery a strategic opportunity to create additional revenue and growth opportunities for our global business.' The sale brings to a close a thirteen-year partnership between the BBC and Discovery, but the two organisations will continue to work together via a North American co-production deal. The new agreement extends the BBC and Discovery's strategic programming relationship in the US by two years to 2014, starting with next year's Frozen Planet series presented by Sir David Attenborough. This partnership has already produced several highly-acclaimed programmes, such as Life, Planet Earth, Blue Planet and Wonders of the Solar System. You know, the kind of thing that ITV produces all the time according to those rank dickheads at the Adam Smith Institute. 'This new co-production agreement continues a tradition of developing world-class global hits such as Planet Earth and Life that began twenty five years ago when Discovery launched in the US,' said Hollinger. Jana Bennett, director of BBC Vision, added: 'This extended deal with Discovery enables us to continue producing the most ambitious and creative landmark factual programming for viewers until 2014 and provides exceptional value for licence fee payers. It will enable us to build on some of the natural history and specialist factual co-productions we already have planned, such as David Attenborough's epic series about the cycle of seasons, Frozen Planet, for 2011.' In the twelve months to the end of March this year, BBC Worldwide recorded profits of one hundred and forty two million pounds on overall revenue of just over one billion prouds, up seven per cent year-on-year.

Author Charlotte Roche has suggested that she will sleep with German president Christian Wulff if he vetoes government plans to extend the lifetime of the country's nuclear reactors. The thirty two-year-old writer of Feuchtgebiete reportedly told German weekly Der Spiegel of her proposition and also made a reference to Wulff's wife Bettina's tattooed right shoulder. According to AFP, Roche said: 'I am offering to sleep with him if he does not sign. My husband agrees. Now it is up to the First Lady to give her consent. I am tattooed.' Wulff must make a decision on whether or not Germany's seventeen nuclear reactors can have their lifetime extended without the consent of the country's upper house. British-born Roche, an anti-nuclear campaigner, has reportedly taken part in demonstrations against the transport of radioactive waste through Germany.

Today's Keith Telly Topping 45 of the Day is yet another shimmering little beast of a single. A slice of two-chord minimalist punk rock. Which is, of course, the perfect music for all fourteen year old proto-hooligans to have their mam's tell them to 'turn it down.' And to, you know, pogo-to-the-Go-Go. Or the local Youth Club Thursday night disco. Whichever you prefer. It's never too late to breakout. And if you've never heard the eight minute extended version of this, then it's time yer Keith Telly Topping put that right, frankly!