Monday, November 01, 2010

If You're Supposed To Be So Angry, Why Not Fight? Let Me Benefit From Your Right

The bakers friend, so he is, Eamonn Holmes has reportedly criticised reality television shows and their presenters. The Sky News Sunrise presenter, someone never short of an opinion on anything, especially himself, 'branded' - that's tabloid-speak for 'called' - Strictly Come Dancing (which isn't, actually, a reality show, it's a talent contest) 'sad' and called The Apprentice 'poisonous,' the Sun reports. Which may well be true but, coming from Eamonn Holmes that's a bit like a member of Atomic Kitten having a go at The Sugarbabes. 'These days, our big shared television moments, our state events, are The X Factor and Strictly,' he said. 'Those are the only events families can talk about, which I do find sad. I would rather have my fingernails ripped out than watch Strictly.' Holmes, who also presents ITV's This Morning with his wife, Ruth Langsford, went on to criticise The Apprentice for promoting 'greed.' Which, coming from a man who appears to eat as much as he does is, frankly, a bit rich. And, all of this, remember, from the presenter of This Morning, a TV programme on which a mostly brain-dead audience can win a number of 'great' prizes just by ringing in an answering a simple question that you'd have to be a single-cell amoeba to get wrong. 'I'd hate to think my children could be as poisoned, ruthless and blinkered as the fools on that programme,' he said. 'I think this idolisation we have of business people is wrong. In society we have envy everywhere. Meanness is a trait I despise. That's what I see in The Apprentice. It promotes evilness and greed.' Holmes also claimed that presenters of reality TV shows lack the experience to conduct interviews because they are not trained journalists. 'When I started I wanted to be Des Lynam,' he said. 'The trouble is there are no more Des Lynams.' Well, apart from Des Lynam, obviously. 'We don't hire presenters trained in journalism, as I was, because we want X Factor reality TV people.' So, somebody who presents an ITV show has criticised The X Factor? I admire your pluck, Eamonn me old barrel of lard. Now, how long do you think it'll be before Cowell gets you alone in the lift and rips out yer throat?

As if to both prove a point and spit in old Eamonn chubby face, Saturday night was another bumper night for TV ratings with X Factor almost hitting fourteen million viewers, Strictly pulling in over ten million, Downton Abbey maintaining its audience with 8.8m and Countryfile's Autumn Special drawing an astonishing 8.1m. On BBC2 James May's Man Lab got off to a good start with two million viewers (bang on the slot's average). In the afternoon, the Glory Boys of English Football's clash with Them Lot From Wearside was watched by almost 1.2m viewers on Sky Sports 1, something which was also reflected in the 2.7m who watched the BBC's Match of the Day 2 in the evening. Channel 4 also had reason to celebrate with Secret Millionaire pulling in more than two million. In fact, the big loser of the night was Sky 1 which saw the audiences for both the second thorne adaptation, scaredycat and House drop over a hundred thousand each from last week.

Danny Baker, the broadcaster, writer, TV presenter, wit and a particular favourite of yer Keith Telly Topping, has disclosed that he is to undergo chemotherapy for cancer. The fifty three-year-old Radio 5Live host told fans the news through a statement on Facebook, apologising for 'the cloak and d. over recent weeks.' Danny, who also presents a show on BBC London, said that he was beginning treatment today and would be presenting his shows 'sparingly.' Explaining his absence from his regular Saturday show, Baker said: 'As it appears this is going to continue for the forseeable I really ought to offer up some sort of breadcrumbs trail as to what's going on. (As you know I am queasy about introducing vulgar real life on to the vaudeville stage so let's keep this crisp.)' He went on: 'After a pretty mouldy diagnosis about a month back, I finally begin chemotherapy on Monday with further radiotherapy from January. Once the quacks have soundly thrashed this thing I shall return like a rare gas and as if out of a trap. In the mean time I am watching Tommy Steele box sets and urge you to keep yakking up a storm and laugh extra loud at the incumbents.' When contacted by the Gruniad, Dan'ss agent would not reveal what type of cancer he has been diagnosed with, but said: 'He is in great spirits and doing really well.' Danny ends his message on Facebook positively by thanking all those who sent in best wishes after suspecting 'as much about my "condition."' He added: 'By all means keep ringing up Baylen [Leonard] and Amy [Lamé] to demand more and more Atomic Rooster and Spooky Tooth records. Manly handshake. Walk right on. In the words of King George, "What what and there it is."' Adrian Van Klaveren, controller of BBC Radio 5Live, said that Danny would be 'presenting some weeks but not others. I know this will come as quite a shock,' he said, 'but as you can see from his message, he's in good spirits.' Born in Deptford in 1957, Danny has led a varied career beginning as a - superbly, and funny - music journalist with the NME in the late 1970s after working in a record shop and starting the seminal punk fanzine Sniffin' Glue with Mark Perry the previous year. He began his radio career at GLR in 1989 and since then has worked on Radio 1 and Radio 2 and presented The Danny Baker Show on 5Live as well as the groundbreaking fans forum 6-0-6. Danny first came to public attention on TV when he worked as a reporter on the LWT programme The Six O'Clock Show. He also had his own BBC Saturday night chat show, Danny Baker After All which imported the format of Late Night with David Letterman. Sadly, despite being very entertaining, it didn't attract the mainstream audience the slot demanded and was cancelled. Instead Dan found his forte writing much of the material for his friend Chris Evans' award-winning TFI Friday. He's starred in a number of TV shows, including Win, Lose or Draw and Pets Win Prizes as well as regular guest appearances on shows like Have I Got News For You and Qi. Everyone at From The North sends Dan The Man our best wishes for a speedy recovery.

The Conservative peer Lord Fowler has said the validity of the BBC's royal charter has been called into question by last month's six-year freeze of the licence fee and deal over transferring the costs of the World Service. Fowler, the former chairman of the Lords communications committee, added that parliament might be a better guardian of the independence of the BBC, including its financing, 'than an arrangement which is so much in the hands of ministers of the government in power.' Now, why the hell didn't Fowlpest talk common sense like this when he was in Thatcher's cabinet? His intervention is, the Gruniad Morning Star notes, part of a rising tide of concern over the various implications of the BBC funding deal – announced as part of the 20 October comprehensive spending review – as the details are digested. In a letter published on Saturday in the Financial Times, Fowler said that the Commons and Lords committees responsible for the media have argued that the BBC should be placed on a statutory basis by act of parliament, which could periodically review the corporation's services and funding. 'The reply of the last government was that the charter arrangement gave the BBC certainty for a period of ten years. That seems an entirely unsustainable argument today. The last two weeks have seen a six-year freeze on the licence fee and the cost of the World Service transferred to the BBC,' Fowler wrote. 'Apparently the BBC only narrowly avoided having the cost of free television licences for the over-seventy fives also being added. There can be no doubt that the BBC's terms of reference have been profoundly changed. Parliament, who most nearly represent licence fee payers, will have no say in these new arrangements. It is a deal between government and the BBC.' The Voice of the Listener & Viewer consumer group has also roundly criticised the hastily negotiated deal and said it intends to probe the implications in public meetings. Jeremy Hunt, the culture secretary, cancelled a scheduled meeting with VLV members last week, because he was travelling to America at the request of the Prime Minister and, not at all, because he was scared of facing them. Oh no.

Arlene Phillips who is, as we all know, not in the least bit bitter and twisted about having been sacked by Strictly Come Dancing, has criticised her replacement - the younger, prettier - Alesha Dixon's decision to award full marks to Kara Tointon on this week's show. Dixon gave Tointon and partner Artem Chigvintsev the first ten of the current series for their paso doble on Saturday night's show. Phillips disagreed with Dixon's mark and claimed, loudly, to the Sun that Tointon had 'not quite mastered' the technique of the dance. As if anybody effing-well cares what she thinks. Yesterday's woman. Phillips said: 'I don't think [Kara and Artem] deserved that ten from Alesha. I'm with the other judges. They definitely deserved a nine because that was a very strong paso. For me anyone who gets a ten has to be able to master the technique, not as if they are a professional but showing they have understood every moment of technique that goes into the dance. The driving off the heels, the stance, the shaping, the transfer of weight, all has to be perfection - and it wasn't with Kara. She has not yet mastered the ability to make sure her footwork matches his and that's what a ten is - when you are so taken aback not just by the performance but by what is going on both in the footwork and through the body. Unless you can do that it's not a ten.' Phillips also questioned the decision of Dixon and fellow judges Len Goodman and Bruno Tonioli to award full marks to EastEnders actor Scott Maslen and his partner Natalie Lowe for their Viennese waltz later on in the show. 'Kara's on her way to perfection and it's the same with Scott - he's a nine,' Phillips insisted. 'He's an excellent dancer but I don't think he's there yet. He could go on to do something far more brilliant and then where do you score him? He's got many more weeks to go and what's he going to do - get ten every week?' The sixty seven-year-old embittered former employee of the show added: 'I'm not very kind on my marks. I feel like people have got a long, long way to go. There's got to be something you can lead up to - something where you truly explode. Giving tens at this early stage means you can never repeat the reaction to the first one. But then again I guess I was just a tough old judge.' Yes. Emphasis on the old.

Meanwhile, John Barrowman has been tipped to replace Bruce Forsyth as the host of Strictly Come Dancing. That'll give Arlene Phillips something else to complain about. The Tonight's The Night presenter signed up as a contestant on the dance show's Christmas special last week, revealing that he was a huge fan of the BBC series. However, according to the Daily Express, the Torchwood actor is the new favourite to replace Forsyth when the showbiz veteran eventually retires from the programme. Big shoes to fill. And big chin to fill, actually, come to think about it. Despite increased viewing figures for the new series of Strictly, Forsyth is expected to withdraw from the show in the next couple of years. During the current run, Claudia Winkleman has replaced him on the Sunday night results show to reduce the eighty two-year-old's workload. Anton Du Beke and Vernon Kay have previously been suggested as replacements for Forsyth on the entertainment programme. But, nobody took either of those suggestions remotely seriously.

Jay Kay reportedly insulted X Factor judges Cheryl Cole and Dannii Minogue at the weekend. According to the Sun, who seem to be getting all the 'scoops' this week, the Jamiroquai frontman called the female judges 'fucking useless' the day before he performed his single 'White Knuckle Ride' on Sunday's results show. Kay was quoted as saying: 'What are they going to tell me about fucking music? When have you ever done anything? You're useless. The pair of you. I mean you look great and I'd like to fucking shag you but that's all.' Subtle. He reportedly added: 'I just don't like the wanky stuff I have to do. Fucking X Factor and that. I'm going to have to sing in front of fucking amateurs. Do you know what I mean?' Well, you could, you know, not. Bit of a radical suggestion, I know, but there you are. After his performance on Sunday night, Jamiroquai seemingly got a poor reception from Cole and Minogue. I wonder why. Speaking to host Dermot O'Dreary, Kay said from the stage: 'I had reservations about coming on the show, but everyone has been charming and I've had a lovely time.' In a marginally-related X Factor story, rejected girl group Craig Bellamy have claimed that the performance of Cher Lloyd on Saturday night made them cry. Insert own punchline here.

A drugs charity has accused Channel Four of exploitation over a documentary about Britain's street children that features footage of a young homeless girl taking heroin. Scheduled for broadcast tonight, the Dispatches special depicts sixteen-year-old Robyn injecting the drug in an underground Edinburgh car park, before passing out. Mike Linnell, spokesman for the drug charity Lifeline, told the Gruniad Morning Star that the filming was 'exploitative and irresponsible.' Linnell, who has worked with drug addicts for twenty five years, claimed that other addicts have previously been traumatised by appearing in similar documentaries. 'A young girl like Robyn can't give informed consent,' he said. 'She won't understand that the image of her shooting up will be broadcast around the world and last forever. I know addicts who have been traumatised and humiliated by footage like this following them for many years. Even if they successfully fight their addiction, their children could see the footage years later.' However, the documentary's executive producer Brian Woods claimed that it would have 'distorted' Robyn's story if the film had not depicted her injecting the drug. 'This is what Robyn does every day, several times a day,' he said. 'We needed to show it to communicate the sordid, horrible reality of her life. To try to dodge that would be misleading.' A Channel Four spokesperson added: 'Robyn wanted to take part in the film to tell her story and show the reality of her life in all its detail. The production team are very experienced in working with young people and with drug addicts - they discussed the film with her and her youth worker and ensured Robyn was fully informed and happy to proceed before any filming took place. They spent over five months with Robyn and are still in regular contact with all the contributors and offer them their support.'

Esther Rantzen has claimed that 'simply sacking' Adrian Chiles and Christine Bleakley will not help ITV's Daybreak win back viewers. GMTV's replacement show has recently seen its ratings tumble to half-a-million against BBC's Breakfast, but Rantzen believes that getting rid of the two presenters is not the only course of action bosses need to take. Because, of course, she's such a big-brained expert on what the public want, isn't she? Remind me about the election result in Luton South, somebody? 'My heart goes out to Adrian and Christine,' she wrote in the Gruniad Morning Star having, seemingly, become an agony aunt now her parliamentary ambitions lie in tatters. 'All the money in the world won't make their lives worth living, as they struggle in to work long before dawn, knowing that however hard they try they won't be able to keep the audience from trickling away.' Rantzen compared the situation to the launch of TV-am, which she helped to found but quit just before it went on air. 'It was a famous disaster, every dramatic lurch downwards played out in public. And history is clearly repeating itself,' she said. 'TV-am, like Daybreak, relied on celebrity presenters to pull in viewers. They had the biggest stars of the time, Angela Rippon, Anna Ford, David Frost among them, and that won them the franchise. But it lost the viewers. It was like opening your front door at breakfast time expecting the milkman, and finding the Queen standing there.' No, Esther, it really isn't. Unless you're on very hard drugs, of course, in which case, it may be. I wouldn't know, personally. She continued: 'All that grandeur on screen made the viewers feel uncomfortable. Daybreak's launch campaign concentrated on the starriness of Adrian and Christine, and stories of their seven-figure salaries were everywhere. Humiliating anticlimax was bound to follow.' However, the seventy-year-old says that winning back viewers will not be easy. 'They can bring back happy pastels, augment the team with engaging nonentities,' she said. 'But simply sacking Adrian and Christine won't do the trick. Above all they need to understand that viewers don't want a three-course breakfast, toast and porridge does very well. Just look at the BBC. Millions of viewers have chosen to do just that.'

Stephen K Amos struggled to attract a million viewers to his new BBC2 show on Friday night. Overnight figures show the sketch and stand-up show drew and audience of nine hundred and ninety thousand – or just under five per cent of the audience at that time. Not bad, but hardly what Stephen or the BBC would've been hoping for. And, he cracked that bloody Lenny Henry joke which he always tells in his live show as well. Which is, Stephen - I have to lay this one on you - almost as funny as Lenny himself these days (i.e. not at all). That apart, I quite enjoyed bits and piece of the show. I hope it finds a bit more of an audience.

The veteran actor Nigel Havers has become the latest poor sod to be linked in a tabloid with this year's I'm A Celebrity ... Get Me Out Of Here! line-up. The fifty nine-year-old former-Coronation Street actor is reported to have signed up for the ITV jungle-based reality show, according to the Sun. Oh, Nigel. Have you got no dignity, mate? Your dad was the Attorney General for God sake, he must be turning in his grave. Havers, the newspaper claims, is expected to be joined by Olympic gold medal winner Linford Christie, X Factor loser Stacey Solomon, former Lib Dem MP turned stand-up comic Lembit Opik and Swedish actress Britt Ekland on the show. Of course, just a fortnight ago, another tabloid - and you can probably guess which one - was claiming the line-up would include none of those people but, rather, Mel B, the Chuckle Brothers, John Leslie and Chico. And, over the weekend, Heat magazine was confidently predicting Emma Bunton would be involved. Until she denied it. So, you know, swings and roundabouts, innit? 'Nigel will be perfect for the show. He is a very popular actor who has never done anything like this before,' said a 'source' is alleged to have told the newspaper. 'He is really up for the challenge. He is known as being very smooth, but it will be interesting to see if he is able to keep that up in the pressure of the jungle environment.'

News Corp will reportedly notify the European Commission this week of its intention to bid for Sky, but regulators will question the deal's future impact on rights negotiation in Europe. Rupert Murdoch's News Corp is widely expected to inform competition commissioner Joaquín Almunia in the next few days that it wants to acquire the sixty one per cent of Sky that it does not already own. The move will start a regulatory process that could result in the UK business secretary Vince Cable blocking the deal on grounds of its erosion of media plurality. In June, News Corp failed in a bid worth seven hundred pence per share for the Sky stake, but both parties agreed to keep the lines of negotiation open while News Corp seeks regulatory approval. The European Commission has the power to investigate the deal on competition grounds as both parties have a pan-European presence. The commission's initial investigation is expected to last around a month as it works out whether there are legal grounds to block the deal. According to media reports, Almunia will question how News Corp plans to manage content rights deals if it were to fully own Sky. Some TV executives have expressed concern that News Corp would use its financial muscle to negotiate pan-European deals for programming and sports rights for Sky, Sky Deutschland and Sky Italia. However, a source told the Daily Telegraph that Almunia is expected to be satisfied that pan-European deals are unlikely as content owners gain better prices by negotiating nationally. In the UK, Cable has been asked by a consortium of powerful media groups - including the BBC, Channel Four and various newspaper publishers - to block the deal due to its potentially negative impact on the UK media market. The business secretary could refer the deal to media regulator Ofcom for further investigation, or ask the Competition Commission to launch a review. The process is likely to run into spring 2011.

A comedy CD by Harry Hill has been hit by yet another series of setbacks, with ninety thousand copies being scrapped over copyright issues – including complaints from his own ITV employers. Funny Times has been embroiled in legal wranglings since it was announced. The Beatles' record label Apple objected to it being called Sgt Pepper Vol 2, and Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr blocked the use of a medley of the band's songs in the style of George Formby which had been recorded for inclusion. Now The Sunday Times reports that ITV has blocked Hill from using audio samples from Coronation Street in his planned song parody about Ken Barlow. The comedian has, similarly, been denied permission to use extracts from BBC shows Ground Force and John Craven's Newsround for 'The Alan Titchmarsh Song' and 'Never Be Holly Willoughby Symphony' respectively. Record company Universal has also had to change the cover of a single taken from the LP in case it offended X Factor supremo Simon Cowell. The sleeve of 'Subo' reportedly spoofed the cover of Susan Boyle's forthcoming The Gift. Boyle has frequently been a target of - mostly good-natured - ribbing on Hill's TV Burp show. The setbacks mean the release date has been pushed back two weeks from 8 November to 22 November. A 'source' whom the newspaper alleges to be 'close to the record label' told The Sunday Times: '[This] release has been dogged by a catalogue of setbacks and a massive corporate sense-of-humour failure. This is a good-humoured recording but some people clearly take life a little too seriously.'

Finally, my thanks to Doug Morris on Saturday night's excellent Beat Surrender show on BBC Newcastle firstly for the name-check when he played 'When You're Young.' But, also for reminding me that, in addition to being the thirtieth anniversary of the release of Sound Affects, November 2010 is also the thirtieth anniversary of the release on another similar LP from that golden period when British popular music was at its greatest peak since the mid-sixties, Searching For The Young Soul Rebels. Something totally reflected in today's choice for yer Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. Tell 'em all about it Kevin.'Keep quoting Cabaret-Berlin-Burroughs-JG Ballard-Duchamp/Beauvoir-Kerouac-Kierkegaard-Michael Rrrrennie/And I don't believe/you really like Frank Sin-a-trowww.' And, of course, it's as true now as it was then, 'The only way to change this is to shoot men who arrange things.' For the video, you've got the original Dexy's playing on Dutch TV in 1980. Or the extraordinary extended version as done by the raggle-taggle-gypsy Dexy's line-up two years later in Germany on Rockpalast. And, as an extra-special bonus cos it's the start of the month, here's an additional Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, from the man that Kevin Rowland spent just about an entire career impersonating - superbly, admittedly - General Lance. 'Young and impatient we may be/But there's no need to act foolishly.' Ah, but what would life be if we didn't?