Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Waiting For The Gift Of Sound & Vision

David Walliams has reportedly been approached about becoming a judge on Britain's Got Talent, according to sources. The Little Britain comedian has been offered half a million smackers to star on the panel in the next series of the ITV talent show, reports the Sun. It is believed that Walliams is waiting for more details on who will be judging alongside him before he commits to the programme. 'David is a huge fan of the show,' a 'source' allegedly said. 'It's a big offer, but he's holding out for more. He won't commit until he knows exactly who else is on board. David's unsure about being on the panel with another comedian. He wouldn't want to be in a battle for the limelight with another quick-fire joker.' Former judge Piers Morgan announced his decision to step down from the show last month. Simon Cowell will also miss the auditions stage of next year's competition. The future of Amanda Holden is, at this time, unknown. And, indeed, uncared abut.

The latest episode of House was watched by an overnight audience of almost eleven million viewers in the US on Monday night - an increase of over a million on the previous week's audience. The excellent A Pox On Our House was seen by 10.81m in the 8pm hour, after which Lie To Me also climbed, to six million. The House episode, in particular, was a corker, with a very unusual pre-title sequence that suggested the series had learned a thing or two from Lost.

Doctor Who producer Piers Wenger has revealed details of the show's forthcoming sixth series. He told Collider that the US-based opening two-parter would feature scenes 'set in New York and San Francisco. It is Doctor Who's love letter to the States,' said Wenger. 'Last year started with the TARDIS crash-landing on Big Ben in London and that was an opportunity for British audiences to be reminded of [the show's] British heritage. But this year, it's all about America.' He continued: 'It's all about taking the show out to the States and seeing what Doctor Who will feel like set in America and in some very iconographic parts of the landscape.' Wenger also confirmed that upcoming Christmas special, A Christmas Carol, 'riffs on the Dickens story. There's no one called Scrooge in it and it's not set on Earth, but there are familiar archetypes from that story within it that will please fans of Dickens's original,' he added.

Doctor Who actress Karen Gillan, meanwhile, will lead the cast of David Baddiel's directorial debut Romeo And Brittney. The actress has been cast as a New Jersey high-school teenager who gets sent back in time to Thirteenth Century Verona and finds herself trapped in Shakespeare's Romeo And Juliet. Gillian Anderson will play Gillan's mother and a nurse in Verona, while Misfits actor Robert Sheehan is the school nerd who becomes Brittney's Romeo. Baddiel, who wrote this year's Omid Djalili vehicle The Infidel, will begin shooting the seven million dollar production next May. Producer Arvind Ethan David told Deadline that Baddiel's film is being touted as 'Shakespeare In Love meets Clueless. We both love literate teen comedies and we wanted to do our own version,' he said. 'After all, 10 Things I Hate About You was based on The Taming Of The Shrew just as Clueless was based on Jane Austen's Emma and Easy A is inspired by Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter. And what is Twilight if it's not Romeo And Juliet with vampires and werewolves?'

Arlene Phillips has claimed that the Strictly Come Dancing viewers still miss her. And yet, more people are watching the show now than ever did when you were on it, Arlene. Curious. don't you think?

Vince Cable (Lib Dem. Allegedly) has revealed that he is taking part in the Christmas Strictly Come Dancing special. Don't you have anything better to do with your time, mate? No, stupid question, you're a politician, aren't you. The business secretary will partner Erin Boag in the competition, which will feature a whole new line-up of celebrities battling it out for the ballroom crown. Speaking on Tuesday at the Association of Colleges conference, Cable said: 'I have had a couple of practice sessions with Erin, who is absolutely gorgeous and a great teacher. I am looking forward to it. I have done social dancing as it's my hobby, but Erin is hopefully taking me to a much higher level.' Cable also revealed that he would be learning the foxtrot and American smooth for the BBC1 show. The only other celebrity confirmed so far for the festive special is Torchwood actor John Barrowman. Barrowman, meanwhile, has claimed that he is flattered by rumours linking him to the hosting job on Strictly. Earlier this month, it was rumoured in the tabloid press that the actor had been lined-up as a future replacement for Bruce Forsyth. Speaking on This Morning about the claims, he said: 'It is all a rumour and I don't have any information more. But I'm flattered. I think that Brucie is a TV icon, we all know him and I grew up with him before I went to the States. And if they were to ask me, and if Bruce were to offer those dancing shoes to me, I would gladly take them. It's an incredible thing. I'm telling you the truth, I know nothing about it. But it would be an incredible gig and it's an amazing show.' Of dancing on the upcoming Strictly Christmas special, he said: 'After this interview, I'm going to get fitted for costumes - I can't wait! It'll be something understated, plain black, no bling. Nothing outrageous, no sequins at all! People say to me, "Well you sing, dance and you act, but I sing, I can act, but I can't really dance." I'm a mover! This kind of dancing is different from any kind of dancing that I have done. You have to really focus on the steps and the footwork, everything. And I don't know who I'm partnered with yet. I'm quite nervous. And I don't know what dance I'm doing yet.'

Fresh from - allegedly - fainting during a nerve-shredding task, deeply unpleasant nutritionist Gillian McKeith faces yet another gruelling challenge in I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Face On TV ... Please Vote For me To Stay Here As Long As Possible, I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want! The petrified You Are What You Eat presenter had warned she was 'going to pass out' when she was told that, to win food for her girls' camp, she would have to escape from a crate. Monday night's drama began on the jungle walkway on the way to the Bushtucker Trial when a ranger had to remove a cobweb after the fifty one-year-old insisted that a spider was blocking her path. McKeith was pitted against former MP Lembit Opik, who won the trial for the boys' camp after he managed to free himself from shackles inside the crate and clamber through his underground escape tunnel. But McKeith started to scream and panic when water began dripping into her crate, which, like Opik's, had rats inside it. After she was helped out and released from her chains, the nutritionist appeared to faint and had to be given oxygen by the medic. She whinged afterwards: 'I thought there was going to be tonnes of water on my face, I couldn't see the lock. I could feel myself passing out. I have massive phobias that I'm facing. It's not like I'm not trying. I've come here, I've got in a helicopter and I had a friend who died in a helicopter crash so that was a huge deal for me. I slept out in the jungle overnight and I'm terrified of insects and I had to cross a bridge and I'm afraid of heights.' Yeah. Whatever. My heart bleeds for you. There was, however, no respite in sight for McKeith after the sadistic British public, clearly titillated by her plight in the coffin, nominated her for yet another ghoulish challenge. She will go head-to-head with Happy Mondays singer Shaun Ryder in the next Bushtucker Trial - School Dinners.

Ant and Dec, meanwhile, have said that they suspect Gillian McKeith is playing up for the cameras in the jungle. The duo, who host the reality show, said that McKeith was 'genuinely' scared of the bushtucker trails, but also suggested that she may be putting on her dramatic reactions. McKeith screamed and fainted after taking part in yesterday's Crate Escape. However, footage of the incident suggested that she may have been faking her faint as she managed to pull her t-shirt down to cover her stomach, despite apparently being collapsed on the floor. Speaking on spin-off show Get Me Out Of Here Now, Dec commented: 'There was a lot of medical attention needed at one point and she was very scared. She is genuinely, genuinely very scared of everything that is down there. However, I think she made the most of it.' McKeith and Shaun Ryder will take part in a school dinners task on tonight's show, which will involved eating animal testicles and eyeballs and worms. 'She's a vegan, so I don't know how much stuff we're going to see her eating,' said Dec.

Somebody else who doesn't believe McKeith's possible play-acting is Joe Swash who has claimed that McKeith is 'faking it' in the jungle and says that she should be sent home. The 2008 winner of the show, who is a co-host of the ITV2 spin off show Get Me Out Of Here Now, said that he couldn't believe viewers were falling for McKeith's dramatic antics. Speaking about the bushtucker trail, Swash said: 'As soon as Lembit rings the bell, she goes into a meltdown. I think it's a little bit more calculated that everyone is thinking. I can't believe people aren't seeing this and are falling for it. She didn't faint. She is faking it. Everyone knows what goes on in this show. Did her agent not tell her? Did she think she was going to be in a hotel at night time? Seriously, just send her home.'

Full-of-her-own-importance gobshite non-entity Kym Marsh - somebody never short of an opinion on pretty much any subject, whether it's got owt to do with her or otherwise - has described this year's I'm A Celebrity ... Get Me Out Of Here! line-up 'rubbish.' Something she, herself, would know all about. 'Are the producers of I'm A Celebrity … Get Me Out Of Here! scraping the barrel, or what?' the Coronation Street actress and former talent show contestant wrote in her New magazine column. No, Kym, they haven't asked you to be in it yet. 'This year's line-up is rubbish! I couldn't care less about most of the people, except for Nigel Havers and Shaun Ryder.' She added: 'I'd be interested to see Nigel chat up Britt Ekland and Shaun is very funny.'

And, still on the vexed subject of absolute non-entities passing inarticulate judgement on other absolute non-entities; Kerry Katona - remember her? - has reportedly claimed that she does not expect Stacey Solomon to last very long in I'm A Celebrity ... The X Factor failure is one of the ten - alleged - celebrities currently in the Australian jungle. However, Katona - the winner of the series in 2004 - believes that Solomon's laugh will annoy her fellow campers and viewers. Insert your own punchline here, dear blog reader.

Overheard in the office today, upon the announcement of the engagement of Prince William and his bird. 'Great! Does that mean we get a holiday?'

A BBC TV drama about British troops in Afghanistan 'fails the soldiers on the front line,' a prominent veteran of the Iraq war has claimed. In the Radio Times, Colonel Tim Collins says that next week's episode of embittered old Red Jimmy McGovern drama Accused 'abjectly fails the responsibility test.' The story sees two friends join the British Army only to be bullied and intimidated by a superior officer. Cracker creator McGovern defended the piece, calling it 'a work of fiction.' Ah, but didn't you spend a considerable amount of time filling lots of column inches just last week saying that TV drama had to 'mean something,' Mr McGovern? That it had to be 'real' or it simply didn't matter? Collins gained worldwide recognition for the eve-of-battle speech he gave his men in the Royal Irish Regiment in March 2003. The decorated soldier, who retired from the Army in 2004, attacked the episode - to be screened next Monday - for its 'gratuitous violence' and use of 'foul and abusive language. Having served in the British Army for twenty three years I can unequivocally say this has absolutely no basis in reality,' he added. 'There is no point to Accused except to try to shock,' he added. 'My worry is that the parents and partners of soldiers serving in Afghanistan will regard this as in some way believable.' In response, McGovern said he had not intended to slur British soldiers for whom he had 'the greatest respect. As a dramatist I was interested in exploring how soldiers have to be at a certain mindset to kill.' A BBC spokesman echoed those sentiments, saying the drama was 'not an attempt to denigrate the British Army. It simply seeks to examine issues around crime and punishment using a fictional military setting as the backdrop,' he continued. Best known as the creator of the crime drama Cracker, McGovern has also written dramas about the 1989 Hillsborough disaster and the Bloody Sunday shootings of 1972. His six-part Accused series began on Monday with a drama starring Christopher Eccleston as a cash-strapped plumber driven to taking desperate measures. Meanwhile, Metro's review of the opening episode rather splendidly captures the problem that, I think, many viewers will have with Accused; on the evidence of the first play, it's neither one thing nor the other. 'The plot, as Willy was offered an unlikely way out of his financial mess by chancing upon a bag stuffed with twenty thousand pounds under a seat in a minicab, was rich with possibilities. But the mystery played second fiddle to a curiously mystic theme. Every so often a beardy vicar would pop up and intone "give her up" – as in Willy's sulky mistress – and we were asked to contemplate what Willy was really guilty of. The sin of pride? Infidelity? Being a mouthy misery? It was a moral maze with no way out, the injustice of the pay-off verdict the final twist of the knife. From a writer who champions reality, it struck a strangely fake note. Maybe the message was simply "life's not fair." Fine, but I think we knew that.' The episode was watched by an overnight audience of 4.7m viewers - less than half of the numbers that Downton Abbey which McGovern took such glee in criticising last week got. Which is, frankly, effing hilarious.

Speaking of ratings, The X Factor pulled in one of its biggest audiences on Sunday night. The result show which saw Kate Waissel controversially survive at the expense of Aiden Grimshaw was watched by 17.7m people at its peak. Four times the number that could be bothered with Jimmy McGovern's exercise in miserablism. Which says something about something.

Still on the subject of Britain's obsession with the X Factor, police are reportedly investigating Internet death threats against Katie Waissel. 'Bosses' called for the investigation after 'furious fans' targeted the twenty four-year-old following Aiden Grimshaw's exit from the show on Sunday night, the Sun reports. 'Katie Waissel deserves to die right at this minute,' one allegedly wrote. Another added: 'All I can say is die Katie Waissel!' The singer is said to have been left 'freaked out' by the messages. A show spokesperson told the paper: 'These threats are disgusting and outrageous. This is cyber bullying and we will not put up with it. We are doing what we can to stop it and are contacting police.' Meanwhile, with a week full of interviews which will see him relive Sunday night's defeat over and over again, it was hardly a surprise to see Grimshaw looking somewhat down the in the dumps. The eighteen-year-old looked forlorn as he checked into a central London hotel by himself on Monday night. He cut a sad and lonely figure as he stood outside a budget Premier Inn hotel - where rooms start from just twenty nine quid -and checked his mobile phone messages.

ITV have reported an eleven per cent year-on-year increase in revenues for the first nine months of 2010 to £1.45bn and forecast that the TV advertising recovery will continue until the end of the year. The UK's largest free-to-air commercial broadcaster said it expected TV advertising revenues to be up ten per cent year on year in the final three months of 2010, reinforcing media buyers' optimistic forecasts for December.

The creators of South Park have been named in a lawsuit claiming copyright infringement. A civil case, filed last week in the US District Court in Milwaukee, claims that animators Matt Stone and Trey Parker lifted material from Brownmark Films, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The video in question, What What (In the Butt), has become an Internet hit and has attracted over thirty three million views since being posted on YouTube in February 2007. Legal papers state that the production company claims that South Park's 2008 episode Canada on Strike broke copyright rules. The company alleges that the material is 'wilful, intentional and purposeful, in disregard of and indifferent to the rights of Brownmark.'

The creation of a new Scottish TV channel would be 'of value' a former director general of the BBC has said. But Greg Dyke warned it would be difficult to fund such a channel from advertising revenue, and said that it may have to be paid for with public cash. The former BBC chief spoke out more than two years after a report called for a new digital TV channel for public service broadcasting to be set up north of the border.

The Islam Channel is planning to appeal Ofcom's ruling that it broke broadcasting guidelines by airing programmes that condoned marital rape and violence against women. Last week, the media regulator ruled that five programmes aired on the specialist religious channel between 2008 and 2009 were in breach of the broadcasting code. The breaches included presenters advocating rape and violence against women, as well as describing females who wore perfume outside the home as 'prostitutes.' The channel - which was fined thirty thousand pounds by Ofcom in 2007 for a series of breaches - was also criticised for airing overly one-sided coverage of international affairs and conflict in the Middle East. Ofcom's investigation was launched in response to a report by thinktank the Quilliam Foundation, which alleged that the Islam Channel was guilty of consistently promoting extremist attitudes towards women. However, the Islam Channel is preparing to appeal all five of Ofcom's rulings on grounds that the 'media frenzy and sensationalist headlines' which greeted the Quilliam report in March meant it was 'particularly difficult' for the regulator to make an objective judgement. The broadcaster referred to the Quilliam Foundation as a 'fundamentalist organisation whose corrosive techniques of misinformation' have earned the contempt of Muslim and non-Muslim groups. In a statement, the broadcaster also claimed that it was 'no stranger to attacks from those who wish to discredit and undermine those of influence in the Muslim community.' It added: 'It is in fact the position of Islam Channel that we have a journalistic obligation to work against what is clearly a crude in-balance in reporting of this conflict - not least in recognition of the "consensus viewpoint of the majority of our viewers" and it is our every intention to appeal this ruling.' Ofcom was so alarmed by the channel's broadcasting breaches that it has called the network's management in for a meeting to discuss best practice in compliance processes. However, the Islam Channel argues that the media regulator has taken the offending comments out of context and misinterpreted what was actually being discussed.

The majority of on-demand viewing is done by people catching up on missed TV shows, casting doubt on the supposed death of the linear schedule, a new report has claimed. The Tellyport study, conducted by strategy and research company Decipher for TV marketing body Thinkbox, found that the amount of on-demand TV viewing conducted to discover new content has halved since 2008, falling from twentt two per cent to eleven per cent. In contrast, eighty nine per cet of the three thousand people surveyed said that they used on-demand services such as ITV Player, Sky Player and the BBC's iPlayer to catch up on scheduled TV, up from seventy eight per cent in 2008. Some commentators have suggested that the increased options available for viewers to access TV when they want could lead to a wholesale ditching of the regular schedule. However, recent research by Ofcom indicated that UK consumers are actually spending more time watching prime time scheduled television, despite the rise of social networking, on-demand and other digital media. Major shows such as Strictly Come Dancing and The X Factor regularly attract audiences in excess of ten million viewers. The behavioural trend has also happened despite on-demand TV becoming more established, with eighty per cent of British people now claiming to use video on-demand services, up from sixty four per cent in 2008. Broadcaster-operated on-demand platforms are the most popular destinations - seventy one per cent of those surveyed used BBC iPlayer (up fifteen per cent since 2008), thirty nine per cent used ITV Player (up fifteen per cent), thirty six per cent accessed Channel 4's 4OD (up thirty six per cent), and twelve per cent watched content on Sky Player (up six per cent). Elsewhere, thirty three per cent of those who answered watched TV shows on YouTube, which offers long-form content from Channel Four and Channel Five. The report found that two-screen viewing - in which people watch TV while also using laptops, smartphones or tablet computers - was done by sixty per cent of those surveyed at least two or three times a week. Just over half of the sample claimed to have shopped online while watching live TV, and forty four per cent used social networks such as Facebook and Twitter while viewing. Some thirty seven per cent of the review sample claimed to have chatted online about TV content - programming or advertising - while nineteen per cent had shared TV content on a social network and nine per cent claimed to have joined a TV-related Facebook group. The research further revealed that Facebook was a driver for viewers to watch live TV shows just in case their friends told them what happened and spoiled the experience. 'Live, linear TV is benefitting from on-demand TV services and social media. The expanding TV world is actually consolidating viewing around the linear schedules people have always had,' said David Brennan, research and strategy director at Thinkbox. 'The Internet has given viewers the ability to catch up with missed shows, to interact in real time via social media, and to even transact while watching. These things have combined to make live TV viewing essential. There is now no reason to miss enjoying the shared experience of TV and this benefits viewers and advertisers.' According to a YouGov survey for the British Video Association, more than a quarter of people view scheduled TV as an important way to socialise with loved ones.

An Australian brewer has reported offered every adult citizen of the country a free beer if the nation's cricket team regains The Ashes in the forthcoming series. VB has explained that anyone over the age of eighteen can use a coupon to claim their free can or bottle should the Australians win the biennial cricket tournament, AFP reports. 'This summer, when the final wicket falls and the Aussies lift the urn triumphantly, Australia's best cold beer pledges to "shout the nation,"' the company said. 'That's one ice-cold VB for every eligible person of drinking age, and one huge celebration of the rightful return of the Ashes.'

The back catalogue of The Beatles - a popular beat-combo of the 1960s, you might have heard of them - is finally available on iTunes, after years of negotiations. It will mean that for the first time consumers will be able to purchase the Fab Four's songs via the store. Apple and record label EMI have been in talks for years about getting the catalogue online. The Wall Street Journal reported that talks between Apple, members of The Beatles and EMI took place as recently as last week and 'represents a watershed in a fraught, decades-long relationship between two of the biggest icons in their respective fields.' For years The Beatles' label, Apple Corps, was involved in a bitter trademark dispute with the Apple computer company. The dispute was finally settled in 2007. Earlier in the year Sir Paul McCartney hinted that part of the delay in getting a deal with Apple was down to EMI. At the time he told the BBC that 'there have been all sorts of reasons why they don't want to do it. To tell you the truth, I don't actually understand how it's got so crazy. I know iTunes would like to do it, so one day it's going to happen,' added Paul at the time. There have been forays into the digital world for the band. Last year EMI released limited edition apple-shaped USB drives containing The Beatles' fourteen studio CDs as digital files.

James Blunt has revealed that he refused an order to attack Russian troops whilst serving with the British army in Kosovo. And that, in doing so, he may well have prevented a major international conflict from taking place. Which might very well be true but it still doesn't justify his musical career. Given the choice between the two, I think many people would've rather had Word War III.

Which brings us to Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. And, it would appear to be Bowie-time, at last. Gee it's hot, let's go to bed.