Friday, November 19, 2010

Two Men Walk Into A Bar - The Barman Says "Is This Some Sort Of Joke"?

Doctor Who actor Matt Smith has admitted that he is keen to discover the true identity of River Song (the character played by Alex Kingston). The actor told the Salt Lake Tribune that Kingston was already aware of her character's ultimate fate. 'I hope The Doctor does actually discover who this lady is,' he said. 'Steven [Moffat] has told Alex everything about the whole next season's plotline and he's told me nothing because narratively, I'm meant to know less than her.' Smith also revealed that Moffat had not disclosed any details of the show's mid-series cliffhanger. 'He tells us it's all on a need-to-know basis,' Matt explained. 'He wants us to find out like fans. He said to me about the episode seven cliffhanger, "I want you to drop your script when you're reading it."' Asked about the show's forthcoming US-based two-parter, Matt refused to divulge any plot details. 'My lips are sealed, I'm afraid,' he teased. '[The Doctor is] there for a very important reason, and the universe depends on him making the right choice.'

David Mitchell has admitted that his Peep Show character Mark is not a very good father. However, the actor told TV Choice Magazine that Mark connects with his new baby quite well. 'I don't think he's going to win any awards,' Mitchell joked. 'But I think he, slightly to his surprise, sort of loves his son.' Mitchell also revealed that Mark chooses Jeremy (Robert Webb) to be his son's godfather, saying: 'I think that Jeremy's his best friend - he hasn't got many other options - so I think he's the obvious choice, even though he knows Jez is a tremendously irresponsible man.' Webb joked that Jeremy will bring his 'enormous moral seriousness' and his 'reliability' to the role of godfather, adding: 'He's a terrible choice, but obviously Mark thought that he couldn't not ask him.' Webb also suggested that Mark and Jeremy's relationship has changed as the show has progressed. 'I think they've always been fond of each other, but it's more kind of familiarity,' he said. 'They rely on each other in a most negative kind of way.'

Gillian Anderson has admitted that she was nervous about playing Wallis Simpson in Channel Four's new drama Any Human Heart. The actress told TV Choice that Simpson is the first real person she has portrayed. What, you mean Dana Scully wasn't real? Bloody Hell, that's ten years of my life I'll never get back. 'To be honest, I was more nervous doing this than anything I've done before,' she said. 'Wallis Simpson is the first real-life person I've ever played and she's so iconic. Everyone has such strong ideas about who she is and what she represents. But I had to knuckle down and do my work and give a flavour of who I saw her as. She's portrayed as an ogress by the press, but I wanted to make her more complicated than that.' Well, she was a close personal friend of Hitler, that probably coloured a lot of people's view. Anderson also admitted that she did not know much about Simpson before she took on the role. 'I'd been asked to play her a couple of times but because William Boyd's interpretation comes off the page very strongly, I felt more comfortable this time,' she said. 'Getting the voice helped. I worked with a fantastic voice coach and that brought a lot of her personality out. Plus the costume department found pieces of clothing that actually belonged to Wallis so I felt like I was really living the part.'

Eddie Izzard is to move to France for three months in order to fully conquer stand-up in a foreign language. It follows his attempts to perform to a French audience more than a decade ago, when he struggled with the vocabulary. Now he plans to decamp to Paris from April to master the language by performing a version of last year's one-man show Stripped for twelve weeks. He told the Independent: 'I did two weeks of gigs ten years ago and I haven't been back. This time I'm going for three months. I've got management but it's very difficult to persuade anyone to help me in Paris because they were saying this isn't going to work. It's like a play sitting down. I'm just going to stay in Paris, playing six gigs a week. After two months I should be doing stuff that really is – if not like a French guy doing it – something that is entertaining and that any French speaker can hopefully get. People say there's a French sense of humour but that I don't believe. I just believe there is mainstream and alternative humour in every country. I'm going to do this and when I do it the floodgates will open.' He said the challenge reflected his support for greater European unity, and still harbours ambitions to perform in both German and Arabic.

Jason Manford has admitted that he engaged in Internet sex sessions with twelve fans. The revelations follow yesterday's announcement that Manford has decided to step down as host of The ONE Show. The comedian confessed to a series of racy Skype video calls with female admirers, as well as exchanging a number of sexual messages on Twitter, one of which was reported earlier this month. He told the Sun: 'I have only myself to blame. I have never felt so low. If I was reading this about someone else, I'd think, "What an arsehole. How can he look at himself in the mirror?" I think it was because there was a danger to it. I don't drink or do drugs, so it's not like I've those to blame - just my own stupidity. Every word seems an excuse - but I am sorry. I don't want to be crying in front of people, I want to be making them laugh.' Manford admitted to getting sexual satisfaction from the live video conversations he had with the women, all of which he conducted from a hotel room. 'I went on Skype with a few girls,' he said. 'They also sent pictures on Twitter. It all happened on tour. It's boredom and loneliness. It was a few weeks back and I was in a hotel and a couple of them went too far. We would start off flirty, then innuendo and then a bit saucy. It was just nice to have some interaction I suppose. But the next morning I would wake up and think, "Fuck. Oh my God." The mad thing was, when I was chatting there were messages I knew went too far. They weren't just flirty. I can't even describe it. It's such a weird world online. People throw themselves at you.' The twenty nine-year-old went on to say how he gave a full account of his actions to wife Debra McNamee because he wanted to come clean before the imminent birth of the couple's third child. 'The fundamental thing is, I was a dickhead. My wife has called me a dickhead,' he said. 'We have had a serious sit-down about it and agreed that what we've got is worth fighting for. She's fine and we're fine. The kids are fine. We've got another one in three weeks. I don't feel any less of a dad but I still feel I've let them down. I just hope they never find out. I hope we can move on. My wife texted me today to say, "Me and you are fine. We are dealing with it." I am upset that I have disappointed people. Everyone makes mistakes.' Manford - who revealed that he has deleted Twitter from his phone - added: 'Hopefully me and my wife have another sixty years together. That is the most important thing. If people don't want to come to the shows anymore and I end up on the bins, that doesn't matter. I am a good dad, a good husband. From now I am going to be one forever.' Manford said in a statement: 'I have decided after careful consideration to step down from The ONE Show to concentrate on my family and tour commitments. The comedian's agent Katie Phillips added that he handed his resignation to the show's bosses 'to ease the situation surrounding newspaper allegations,' according to the Press Association.

TNT is negotiating deals with the original cast of Dallas to return for the forthcoming reboot. It was originally announced in September that the cable network was planning an update of the CBS drama. TV Guide now reports that Larry Hagman, Patrick Duffy and Linda Gray are all considering reprising their former roles. 'I read the script and was extremely impressed with it,' said Duffy. 'I'd managed to read the scripts for the feature films FOX was planning a few years ago and they were atrocious. Just awful, so I didn't know what to expect from TNT. But this read like one of the better episodes at the height of Dallas.' He explained that the new series would focus on the offspring of the original characters, adding: 'They put us in enough to carry old fans with us.' However, his co-star Hagman admitted that he is 'still ambivalent' about the project. 'I read the script and liked it,' he said. 'But they haven't made a firm offer yet. We're kicking ideas around, but nothing's been struck in gold.'

Sir Terry Wogan has advised Ann Widdecombe to quit Strictly Come Dancing. Widdecombe has regularly finished at the bottom of the judges' leader board during her time in the competition, but is yet to appear in the bottom two after the public vote. Wogan urged the former Conservative MP to follow the example of John Sergeant, who stepped down from the show in 2008 after the public consistently saved him at the expense of better dancers. 'Ann Widdecombe would be sensible to withdraw from Strictly Come Dancing,' Wogan told the Daily Scum Mail. 'She should do as John Sergeant did. He knew he couldn't dance for toffee and he made way for people who could. Ann's even worse than him. She can't dance at all. She should fall on her sword.' Wogan said of the public: 'They're not basing their votes on whether she can shimmy across the floor. They're basing their opinions on whether they like the look of the contestants or on what they've read in the tabloids. And, on occasion, they sometimes want to contradict the judges. Having said that, when it gets down to, say, four people - three of whom are half beating themselves to death trying to dance to the best of their ability and one of whom is Ann Widdecombe - I like to think the public will display a little common sense.'

Jo Brand has claimed there are 'quite a lot of mentally disturbed people in comedy' – based on her former experiences as a psychiatric nurse. She said that she has had to offer 'lots of counselling' to other stand-ups while on the circuit, while many comics exhibit the symptoms of her former patients. 'Surrealists like Eddie Izzard emit a flight of ideas that you get with bipolar people,' she said. 'I'’s called pressure of speech: you just splurge out nonsense. He has managed to hone it into comedy … other people haven't. Harry Hill [who used to be a doctor] used to get pissed off because people treated him like a walking surgery. I acted more as a psychiatric referral service, with lots of counselling.' Her comments came in conversation with broadcaster Mark Lawson in an event at London's National Theatre this week. Brand also said that comedians were often of a personality type that demanded attention, and were fiercely protective of that. She explained: 'In about 1990s we tried to set up a comics' union when clubs started playing differentials – more money the higher up the bill you were. As alternative comedians, we thought everyone should be paid the same. At the first meeting there were one hundred and fifty comics. It was hell – constant heckling and people trying to outdo each other. At the second meeting there was twenty seven, then after that, just seven. Comics are individualistic, and do protect their personal arena quite fiercely. I think because I had a real job for quite a time, and was just happy to be doing comedy, I wasn't quite so insecure.' She said that competitiveness is very visible in Mock The Week, a show that has been criticised by some comedians for such aggression. 'Mock The Week has younger comics more keen to prove themselves good at making jokes,' she said. 'Plus you have six comics, plus Dara in the chair who wants to do his jokes as well. That's seven of you competing. The air is full of testosterone. There's something about turning a camera on that makes people competitive. It's quite an uncomfortable environment, and I don't like it. Other panel shows have an element of that – but not as intense as Mock The Week.' Brand was talking to promote her new memoirs, Can't Stand Up For Sitting Down, about her experiences on the stand-up circuit. Of her approach to comedy, she said: 'Traditional comedy spent so long having a go at women, I thought I'd take he piss out of blokes and see what happened. I think I'd done something wrong if I didn't wind them up so much.' And she said the book concentrated on her work because: 'I have difficulty with my private life being held up to scrutiny. Once you reach celebrity status the media expect you to vomit up everything you do,' she said. 'And if you do any publicity for things, you've jumped into that pit of evil.' She added that she has become used to abuse in the press because 'I stand for everything the Daily Mail hates. In the tabloids I'm just called "fat" as if I didn't know,' she said. 'I’m used to getting abuse. Comedy is great because you can answer back – as a nurse I knew they were ill so had to maintain a façade of professionalism. But all those years of holding back splurged out when I became a comic.' She said her reputation as a supposed 'man-hater' often precedes her. 'I had a run-in with Jeremy Clarkson when I sat next to him at a BBC talent dinner, which was hosted by Peter Salmon [then controller of BBC1],' she said. 'He asked us for ideas for how to improve the BBC. Then for a joke, I turned to Clarkson, and said "Take him off." It was only a joke but he went off in a rage, ranting 'All you ever do is go on about periods. For my own interest, I worked it out. And out of fourteen or fifteen hours of stand-up, I've done five minutes on periods.' She also admitted her parents have mixed feelings about her being a comedian. 'Mum's never really seen me live. She gets too nervous on my behalf,' she said. 'She's terrified I'd be heckled and feel she'd have to get stuck in. The only gig she came to, she took half a Valium beforehand, and when the compere announced my name, she ran out – so she's never really seen me. Dad likes the fact that I'm on telly, but secretly thinks I should be more like Thora Hird!'

ITV has hired Hat Trick co-founder Denise O'Donoghue to lead commercial strategy at production arm ITV Studios. O'Donoghue, who left NBC Universal International in January, has been appointed managing director of ITV Studios, working with former Channel Four director of television Kevin Lygo in the division's new senior management team. In her new role, O'Donoghue will lead the company's commercial strategy, including responsibility for production management, rights management and business affairs. In its recent financial result statement, ITV said that revenue at ITV Studios was down ten per cent year-on-year to two hundred and five million pounds over the nine months to 30 September. Internal revenue from making shows for ITV channels was one hundred and eighty one million pounds, but the broadcaster noted the pressing need for 'creative renewal.' O'Donoghue and Lygo will now be tasked with generating more hit programme formats for ITV channels and international broadcasters to drive up revenues. In 2005 ITV produced sixty five per cent of its own programmes, but that has dropped to just forty seven per cent today, while its last major hit show produced in-house was Dancing On Ice. Discussing O'Donoghue's appointment, ITV chief executive Adam Crozier said: 'A key part of our five-year strategy is to build a stronger content business and to develop the relationship between ITV Studios and our broadcast business. Denise has a fantastic track record as an entrepreneur creating great content and commercial value. She and Kevin Lygo will make a formidable team, spearheading the development of ITV Studios.'

The Who's Roger Daltrey has criticised Simon Cowell and The X Factor. Daltrey 'blasted' the reality show's boss according to the ever-reliable Sun and said that he held Simon Cowell responsible for problems in the music industry. What, including the popularity of Coldplay? Harsh. 'We really need to break away from The X Factor and American Idol - that Simon Cowell thing,' he said. 'I really think the music industry will beat this slump and come back stronger.' Daltrey claimed that his band and others would not have made it on the hugely popular shows. 'Groups like The Who, The Rolling Stones and The Beatles wouldn't have made it past the audition stage, let alone be shown on TV. That's the joke of it. The music they make on the shows is absolute tripe.' He continued: 'He's made a good industry out of it, but it's belittled the power of music. He wouldn't know what the X Factor was if it bit him on the bollocks.'

Meanwhile, another singer who used to be good, Shaun Ryder, has suggested that he may walk from the I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity jungle. The ex-Happy Mondays front man told his fellow campers that he could easily make an exit on Friday after completing seven days down under. Ryder said: 'It's Friday tomorrow so I might bail tomorrow because it's not like taking the money and running, is it? I've done a full week.' The forty eight-year-old added: 'It's doing my nut in. If I do two weeks, they'll have to take my shoelaces off me. I accomplished what I had to do by coming in here so I'm not really bothered. I've got nothing to lose by going out.' All of the campers said that they would miss the Manchester singer, but Ryder seemed unswayed by Linford Christie when he said: 'I'll miss you.' Later, Ryder criticised the selfish behaviour of some members, particularly after the nation's current hate-figure Gillian McKeith took a passion fruit without sharing it with the starving group. Ryder told Christie: 'I should say this to her face but I didn't because I didn't want to get into a big confrontation with her but what sort of person walks in ... If we had walked into the girls' camp and straight away one of us had gone in the food. But you can imagine the fuss she'd have made over it. I'm not bothered I just think it's a pretty rude person, up their own arse.' Later, when Christie asked him why he was sat alone, Ryder replied: 'I like it. It's how I want it.'

Meanwhile, Alison Hammond is due to enter the I'm A Celebrity jungle as the show's thirteenth contestant. The This Morning presenter will reportedly enter the camp in an unconventional way, as two of the current jungle residents will discover her as part of Friday night's Celebrity Chest challenge. Hammond, who infamously broke a garden table by jumping on it during her appearance on 2002's Big Brother, has said that she hopes to lose weight while living on jungle rations. Don't tell Gillian McKeith, love, she'll nick all your food given an excuse like that.

And so we come to yer Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. And, once again, to prove that yer Keith Telly Topping doesn't just throw these things together, since most of today's news has concerned comedians, or singers, or the jungle down under, here's a record that combines all three. With a bit of casual racism towards native Australians thrown-in (or, should that be, just thrown?) 'We gotta heap-big-trouble, chief/On account of your boy Mac!''Orrible bushwhackin' animal ...' A record that should be played to Gillian McKeith once a day for the rest of her life, I reckon.