Friday, January 21, 2011

All The Others Are Third Class Tickets By Me, Baby is That Clear?

Eton Rifle David Cameron was a guest of Rebekah Brooks, the chief executive of News International, at her palatial Oxfordshire home over the Christmas period – just days after he transferred ministerial responsibility for Rupert Murdoch's bid to take full control of BSkyB reports the Gruniad Morning Star. Shortly before Christmas, Cameron stripped Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrat business secretary, of his powers on media takeovers after Cable was recorded telling undercover journalists from the Daily Torygraph that he had 'declared war' on Murdoch. Cameron handed responsibility for deciding whether the deal should go ahead to the Tory lack of culture secretary, the vile and odious Hunt. The vile and odious Hunt is due to decide soon whether to refer the company's bid for BSkyB to the competition commission after receiving a report by the media regulator Ofcom. Shadow lack of culture secretary Ivan Lewis (no, me neither) last night described Cameron's decision to meet Brooks as 'extraordinary. People will question his judgment at a time when ministers are making a quasi-judicial decision about News Corp's bid for BSkyB,' Lewis said. 'The prime minister may be in breach of his own ministerial code, which requires openness and transparency. There is an arrogance about this prime minister that is slowly coming to the surface.' A Downing Street source attempted to play down the significance of what they described as 'a social engagement' and pointed out that Brooks is one of the prime minister's constituents. The 'source' allegedly said: 'To suggest some kind of impropriety is laughable. The prime minister regularly meets newspaper executives from lots of different companies.' Cameron visited Brooks and her husband, the racehorse trainer and writer Charlie Brooks, at their Oxfordshire home over the Christmas period. Cameron is MP for Witney and his constituency home is near the couple's house. The disclosure of the meeting comes as News International faces pressure over allegations of illegal phone hacking at the News of the World. Andy Coulson, Cameron's communications director, resigned as editor of the News of the World in 2007 shortly after the jailing of the paper's former royal editor, Clive Goodman, and a private investigator, Glenn Mulcaire, for phone hacking. Coulson has always denied any knowledge of illegal phone hacking. Ian Edmondson, the paper's assistant news editor, was suspended last month after the News of the World was alerted that Mulcaire would say in evidence that the executive had instructed him to hack the phone of the football agent Sky Andrew. One senior Tory allegedly told the Gruniad Morning Star that News International's central defence – that a 'rogue reporter' was responsible – appeared to be crumbling. 'This all appears to be closing in. It has always been obvious there were others. People just didn't know the names.' Cameron, who declined to say on the Today programme earlier this week whether Coulson had offered to resign, did say that his communications director was embarrassed by the revelations. 'Of course he, as anyone who is human would be, is extremely embarrassed by the endless publicity and speculation about what happened many years ago when he was editor of the News of the World.'

Meanwhile, a source 'close to the production' has confirmed to yer actual Keith Telly Topping that the next, seventh, series of BBC3's Ideal will contain six episodes (like series five) rather than eight. The first script read-through will take place in Manchester next week and filming is expected to start in February for broadcast sometime around July or August.

The BBC have reportedly received over one hundred complaints from viewers who say that rabbits should not have been used during one of the acts of prestidigitation on Saturday night's episode of The Magicians. Some of the volume of complaints received on this issue could - the BBC believe - be as a result of various messages on the Rabbits United Internet forum. I'm not sure what's the more disturbing aspect of this, dear blog reader, the fact that animals are still being used in magic acts in the Twenty First Century or the fact that there actually is a Rabbits United Internet forum. It's a tough one, isn't it?

Former Doctor Who showrunner Russell Davies has revealed that TV bosses no longer try to stop him from creating gay characters. Which, given that it is the Twenty First Century and not the Nineteenth is somewhat reassuring. Davies, who is himself openly - and massively - gay, admits that executives once dissuaded him from incorporating homosexual characters into his dramas but he now enjoys free reign with his scripts. And, he insists, he takes great liberties with the Doctor Who spin-off Torchwood, starring gay actor John Barrowman as Captain Jack Harkness. Davies tells the Sun, 'If you were a new writer, people could say, "Let's stop with the gayness." That doesn't happen now. Captain Jack is a great, big, swaggering bisexual character. People don't blink about it.' Davies, who revived Doctor Who as a massive crossover success in 2005 but left his executive production role in 2009, also helmed the drama Queer As Folk for Channel Four.

Being Human's Sinead Keenan has admitted that she was pleased with her character's transformation into a werewolf. Her character, Nina, was scratched by werewolf boyfriend George (Russell Tovey) in the final episode of the show's first series and was revealed to have caught the lycanthropic condition in series two. 'I was thrilled as it meant Nina was there to say,' she told the Radio Times. 'Then I realised I'd have to transform, which means getting naked and spending three-quarters of your working day in the make-up chair.' Keenan, who also appeared in Doctor Who, admitted that, at first, she was not a fan of science fiction. 'For someone who initially told her agent she didn't like sci-fi and the supernatural, I've done a lot of it!' she admitted. The actress went on to praise the upcoming third series of Being Human, calling it 'bigger, better and bolder. It's literally bigger, as the new house is huge,' she explained. 'The camerawork is more ambitious, too. It's very cinematic.'

Channel Four returning documentary series on gypsy weddings pulled in an astonishing 5.6 million on Tuesday evening, according to the latest overnight audience data. Big Fat Gypsy Weddings - part of a Cutting Edge series exploring the unique lives of gypsies and travellers in Britain today - averaged 5.61m for Channel Four from 9pm and seven hundred and forty six thousand viewers an hour later on Channel Four +1. The total rating for the episode, therefore, was 6.36m with a peak of 7.4m. It is the most watched broadcast on Channel Four (including +1) since January 2007 and the launch show of that year's Celebrity Big Brother. However, the documentary faced strong competition in the 9pm hour from Silent Witness, which brought in 6.85m on BBC1. Silent Witness again well outperformed the new series of Taggart, which had a very disappointing rating of 2.55m on ITV. In a strong night for BBC1, Holby City pulled in 6.33m in the 8pm hour, beating The Secret Mediterranean With Trevor MacDonald, which had an audience of 3.26m on ITV.

Robson Green has revealed that viewers will learn more about his character on Being Human as the third series continues. The actor has been cast as the werewolf McNair in the supernatural drama's new run. 'There's a flashback scene later in the series,' Robson told What's On TV. 'You discover how he went from being a normal guy to having the curse after vampires kidnapped him and trapped him in a cage with a werewolf.' He added that McNair's hatred of vampires will be a recurring theme throughout the eight new episodes. 'McNair has two objectives in life, [to] protect his son Tom and wreak revenge on every vampire on the planet,' he explained. 'And Herrick, who was brilliantly resurrected at the end of the last series, is his number one target.' Green also confirmed that his character will clash with tormented vampire Mitchell (Aidan Turner). 'I'm very, very wary, because Mitchell's in the house, and vampires killed my wife,' he said. 'But McNair is a tough guy and nobody messes with him. He's the werewolf equivalent to Herrick and collects vampire teeth on a necklace.'

John Hannah has claimed that he was miscast as John Rebus in ITV's adaptation of the Ian Rankin novels. The actor told the Daily Record that many people considered him to be 'a failure' in the part. 'I liked the Rebus books, but I wasn't sure if I was right for it,' he said. 'Ian Rankin gave me his blessing though and I don't think I did a bad job. But I wasn't the critics' or fans' image of the character so it never really worked out.' Hannah, who also produced the series, added that he had originally wanted Red Riding star Peter Mullan to play the title role. 'ITV wouldn't commission him,' he revealed. 'They would only do it with me because ITV are very short-sighted. They look at who's hot and then decide that's who they'll go with, regardless of whether that person is right for the part.' The Spartacus: Blood and Sand actor also insisted that he would not be interested in reprising the role of Rebus if the opportunity arose. 'If Rebus were to come back, I doubt they'd go for me again,' he said. 'They didn't like me in the first place, did they?'

Dazzling Derren Brown - master of mesmerism and prestidigitationisation - is working on a new show called Faith Healer. The ninety-minute programme, which was announced on Brown's blog, will see the star focus on the 'controversial world of faith-healing.' He is expected to examine the techniques used by faith healers in America's Bible Belt and will train a member of the public to see if they can get away with hosting a show. Brown's previous specials have included Messiah, in which he attempted to convince leading figures that he was an expert in their field, as well as The Heist, Seance and Russian Roulette.

The first phase of construction work on the new BBC Wales drama production village in Cardiff Bay has been completed. Last June, work began at the new site at Roath Basin, near Cardiff, which will eventually house productions of Welsh drama Pobol y Cwm, along with Casualty, Doctor Who and The Sarah Jane Adventures. It will also provide a base for a range of creative media firms in Wales. According to BBC News, the final section of concrete floor will be laid in a 'topping out' ceremony later today marking the completion of the first phase of work. Those attending the ceremony will include outgoing BBC Wales director Menna Richards, Welsh heritage minister Alun Ffred Jones, Cardiff council leader Rodney Berman, and Mark Hallett of site developers igloo Regeneration. At one hundred and seventy thousand square feet, the drama village site is the size of three football pitches and will feature fully fitted studios and office space. Filming is due to begin for Pobol y Cwm and Casualty at the site this autumn. Doctor Who and The Sarah Jane Adventures will move from their studio base near Pontypridd to the new site next year. The first episode of Casualty produced in Wales will be on screens in early 2012.

Robert Webb has reportedly signed up to host a new panel show for Channel Four. Chortle website says that Webb will film a pilot of Space next month. The show sees three celebrities nominate their favourite things from Earth, such as landmarks, possessions, guilty pleasures or humans. Webb will consider whether the things deserve to be preserved and will choose whether or not to put them on a spaceship to keep them safe. The actor plays Jeremy in Peep Show and also works on a sketch show with his co-star David Mitchell. He recently presented an Internet clip show called Robert's Web and has been a guest host on Never Mind The Buzzcocks and Have I Got News For You.

Joan Rivers has 'slammed' (and probably 'blasted' as well) the FOX News Channel for cancelling her appearance on Fox And Friends. Posting on her Twitter page, the comedian insisted that referring to Sarah Palin as 'stupid and a threat' was behind the network's decision to drop her from the schedule, though FOX has since written the incident off as 'a scheduling mistake.' Yes, of course it was. We believe you, thousands wouldn't. 'While [her daughter Melissa] and I were promoting our new WE reality show, I made a joke about Sarah Palin that was picked up by TMZ,' Rivers wrote. 'As a result, our appearance on the Fox News Channel tomorrow morning has been cancelled. Outcome: DON'T PISS OFF SARAH PALIN. [sic]' Rivers continued: 'She's apparently "very powerful" and is obviously still smarting from the end of her reality show. I was cancelled from FOX for saying Palin is "stupid and a threat." Wait till I really shock them with Aretha Franklin is a bit chubby!'

The son of Hattie Jacques has praised Ruth Jones's performance in Wednesday evening's one-off drama about the former Carry On actress. Jones, who is best known for her role in the massively over-rated Gavin & Stacey, appeared in the BBC4 biopic Hattie, prompting Jacques's son Robin Le Mesurier to applaud her portrayal. Hattie dealt with the marriage between the actress and Dad's Army actor John Le Mesurier, as well as Jacques's affair with John Schofield. Robin said: 'Ruth Jones captured my mother perfectly - that she was so dainty and glamorous, despite being large. It was almost painful to watch Ruth on the screen.' Jones has previously expressed her respect for Jacques, saying: 'She was an incredibly talented and fascinating woman. So much more than just the "funny fat lady."'

It was a landmark documentary series that is still discussed in revered tones today. Now Lord Clark's Civilisation, the acclaimed BBC2 series from 1969 which traced the history of western art and philosophy, is to be remastered in high definition for a new generation of television viewers. The thirteen-part series will be repeated in full from next month on the BBC's high definition channel, part of what the corporation called its 'wider commitment to the arts through showcasing the jewels of its arts archive.' It will also be hoping it boosts the profile of the BBC HD channel, which is currently watched by a fraction of the audiences garnered by its standard definition parent channels, despite the booming popularity of HD TV sets. Danielle Nagler, head of BBC HD, said: 'Kenneth Clark's Civilisation defined a new gold standard for arts programming when it was first broadcast. Watching it now, the programme is clearly of its time but the production quality still shows through.' Civilisation, one of the first series ever filmed in colour for BBC2, was ripe to be remastered for HD because it was originally shot on 35mm film to ensure the highest possible quality. The BBC arts commissioning editor, Mark Bell, added: 'Civilisation has cast a long shadow, and even now people still talk about it. This is an opportunity to celebrate the richness of the European Renaissance and also that of the BBC's archive, which in itself is a treasure worth preserving, celebrating and making available for future generations.'

David Hasselhoff has reportedly been encouraging nervous contestants on Britain's Got Talent to embrace God, according to sources. The former Baywatch star, who has so far judged auditions in Manchester and Glasgow, is said to have caused a few raised eyebrows with his spiritual suggestions - although it has been suggested that his advice may have helped several performers. A 'source' told the Sun: 'The Hoff was being very strange as he kept name-dropping God all the time. He seemed convinced that channelling God would help people and kept repeating it like a mantra. A lot of the people he was saying it to seemed pretty baffled by it and wondered whether it was some kind of holy order. Still, it seemed to work wonders on some of the wannabes who became more relaxed. It was certainly very odd but he made people laugh, as he has such a presence. That might explain who KITT was in Knight Rider. He certainly got that car to do some crazy things.' A 'source' said all that? I don't believe it for a single second. The fifty eight-year-old has apparently told auditionees: 'Breathe in God and breathe out a smile.'

Shock rocker Marilyn Manson is set to mentor wannabe singers on Austrian reality TV show Helden Von Morgen. Manson has signed up to help the hopefuls on the programme, which roughly translates as Tomorrow's Heroes. He will appear tutoring the stars in an episode to be aired later this month. Manson follows in the footsteps of Kim Wilde and Robert Bell of Kool & The Gang, who have previously coached contestants on the talent show.

Bones producer Stephen Nathan has admitted that casting the lead role in the show's new spin-off has been 'difficult.' An upcoming episode will see Booth and Brennan travel to Key West, Florida, where they will encounter Walter Sherman, a military policeman known as 'The Locator.' Nathan told Entertainment Weekly: 'There have been a lot of terrific actors who have come in [for Walter, but] with a character like this, you just have to find the perfect fit. So even if someone is a brilliant actor it might not quite work.' He added that finding the right actor to portray the 'unique' character of Walter was a complicated process. 'You want to find people you want to see every single week [play] one character,' he explained. 'And that is a rare, rare quality to find.'

The lack of culture secretary, the vile and odious Hunt has said that ITV could pull out of providing regional news coverage after his new local TV channel comes into operation. The vile and odious Hunt this week announced plans to create a new national television channel for delivering local TV services to ten or twelve major cities in the UK. Speaking at the Oxford Media Convention, the lack of culture secretary said that he would be 'relaxed' about what happens to existing regional TV services should the channel come to fruition. 'When we have this structure in place I will be very relaxed as to what happens in regional news,' he said. 'At the moment, it is very precious to everyone because it is the most local that it gets. What I'm coming forward with today is a solution that is much more local than anything we've had before, and therefore I think would then leave public service broadcasters with a much freer hand to decide what they thought was the appropriate future for their regional offerings.' ITV has previously argued that its regional news service, which it is obliged to provide under the terms of its PSB licence, is not financially sustainable in the long-term. The broadcaster sought to withdraw from regional TV under the leadership of former executive chairman Michael Grade, but the new management team of chief executive Adam Crozier and chairman Archie Norman has signalled a willingness to support the service. In his speech at the convention, the vile and odious Hunt said that local TV is the only area in which 'our outstandingly successful media sector has been outstandingly unsuccessful in responding to consumer needs.' He also admitted that the Conservative government in 1955 had made the wrong decision to license the original ITV regionally rather than locally. 'The origin goes back to the wrong decisions of the Conservative government in 1955 to license ITV on a regional basis and not a local basis,' the vile and odious Hunt said. 'I think local TV would have thrived in this country. That is the historical imbalance I am trying to put right.'

HBO is reportedly developing a new television film focusing on the life of Bob Fosse. The feature-length project will be based on forthcoming biography Bye, Bye Life: The Loves and Deaths of Bob Fosse, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Fosse, who died in 1987 aged sixty, worked as an actor, dancer and choreographer and won an Oscar in 1973 for his direction of Liza Minnelli musical Cabaret. X-Men director Bryan Singer will helm the adaptation and will also executive produce alongside partners Neil Meron and Craig Zadan, who are currently working on a new version of Footlose. No writer is currently attached to the project, which is as-yet-untitled. Sony Television will co-produce with HBO Films.

Coleen Nolan has admitted that she was thrilled to be recognised by Noel Gallagher. The Loose Women panellist revealed that the former Oasis songwriter and guitarist had once approached her to say that his mother was a fan of the lunchtime ITV show. 'This man came up to me and said, "My mum loves you,"' Nolan told What's On TV. 'I looked up and it was Noel Gallagher! No matter that it's his mum who likes me, he knew who I was and who Loose Women were.' She added: 'I was so thrilled.'

The divine Goddess of Geordie comedy, Wor lovely Luscious Sarah Millican, has said that her divorce inspired her to become a comedian. The Loose Women panellist told the Metro that she wanted to try something 'totally different.' She said: 'The divorce was such a shock to me and I had days where I felt I couldn't do anything, then other days when I thought I could do anything at all - and one day I decided to do stand-up. It was therapy for about six months. I'd tell them things about the divorce as it was happening and I'd say: "Isn't this ridiculous?" and when they'd say "Yes, it is." It made me feel less alone.' Sarah also told the paper that she can see the funny side of both good and bad events. 'It's not as if I can only be funny if things are shit,' she added. 'I'm lucky enough to have relatives who say inappropriate things to draw on. You can be funny and still be positive, that "tears of a clown" thing is a load of rubbish.'

Smug full-of-his-own-importance little shit off The Apprentice Stuart Baggs (the, if you will,' brand') has put himself forward to appear on next year's Dancing On Ice. So, no obvious narcissistic desperation to get his smug boat-race back on the goggle box there then? The Isle of Man 'businessman' claimed that he had 'started meetings' with production companies about 'future small screen projects' and admitted that he wouldn't rule out any reality TV offers. Oh, great. So, it's off to the jungle w'you then matey.

Snooty Helen Baxendale has said that she is in no hurry to return to starring in high profile TV shows in the US. The actress played Ross's wife, Emily, in hit sitcom Friends in the late '90s. Baxendale told the Mirror: 'I am really glad I did those shows but it was a different life and not one I am desperate to return to. Ultimately it is actually a very boring one in terms of your life. You go shopping, people are really nice to you all the time - but it is just not normal. Those people in Friends could not go out without being hounded, shouted at or followed. Who wants that? I don't want that.' She added: 'People have a glazed look half the time and they don't respond to you directly. I never felt sorry for the people in Friends though. They had enormous wealth and they were very funny, creative people who gave a lot of people happiness. To me there are many aspects of being ambitious. Yes there is your career, but there are also many other ambitions. There is this perception that TV is glamorous and it is the pinnacle of your existence - I don't think it is. Yes I was lucky enough to have a glimpse into that world, but it just wasn't for me.' So, that's a long-winded way of say that nobody's asked her to be on a US TV show recently, then?

Jeff Brazier has suggested that he is proud of the size of his penis. The Dancing On Ice contestant was asked by Heat magazine if he was ever tempted to 'shove a sock' down his trousers on the ITV ice skating show. Brazier said: 'No, I'm alright on that front. Why cheat it when you should be proud of what you've got? I'm sure if my trousers were a little bit tighter you'd get a good eyeful.'

Comedy Central is working on a topical comedy show with former Heat magazine editor Sam Delaney. The journalist said it was 'a funny news-review sort of a thing' and told trade magazine Broadcast 'you won't need a degree to understand the jokes.' The channel says it will be inspired by The Daily Show – aired on Comedy Central in the States but recently sidelined by More 4 in Britain – but 'very much our own version.' A pilot is expected to be filmed in April, for a possible launch in the summer. The broadcaster is currently looking for a production company to make the show. The news comes as Channel Four launches its new topical show Ten O'Clock Live. Comedy Central managing director Jill Offman told Brodacast that Delaney was the 'voice of what people are talking about.' Is he? Really? I must have missed that memo. Delaney left Heat at the end of last year after fifteen months as editor. He has previously fronted the BBC3 documentary Bust My Ass and Channel Four's Teen Trouble.

Celebrity chef and rubber-lipped egotistical, self-promoting cry-baby Jamie Oliver has joined aid efforts in Australia by handing out free meals to flood victims in Queensland. As if things aren't bad enough already for the poor folks down there.

So to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45(s) of the Day, dear blog reader. And, the theme for today's selection - for there is a theme - is Before They Was What Hey Was. A goodly selection of top pop tunes from the dawn of some unsurprisingly mega-successful careers. (And, one from Paul Nicholas, as well.) Starting with something that arrived, fully formed, as if by osmosis, from Hamburg. Via Merseyside, obvious. Next, a proper slice of good old fashioned Shepherd's Bush entertainment. This was a massive flop in 1964. One name-change later, however, and Pete, Roger, John and Keith were heading for whom only knew where. Don't ask me, mate, I can't explain. Meanwhile, across London, some cat from Bromley with long hair who looked uncannily like Little Lord Fauntleroy was, frankly, getting nowhere, fast. Wonder whatever became of him? And then, there was this other kid from Hackney called Mark Feld. He wasn't going to get very far with that ridiculous voice of his. So, we move on a couple of years, and now Little Lord Fauntleroy has a really nasty perm and is writing songs about gnomes on the bassoon. Oh heavens, you see this, dear blog reader, is what drugs can do to you. This kid really needs a hit. Though, to be fair, he's unlikely to achieve one whilst he's busy writing euphemistic comedy songs for a twentysomething Paul Nicholas either. On Top of the Pops, meanwhile, young Eddy Grant and his band are getting an early taste of pop stardom. I think though, long-term, some dreadlocks would probably help. And as for young Woody Mellor - new haircut, new name and new band, I reckon, before you're ready for the big time.