Monday, January 17, 2011

Goodbye Pogo, I'm Tired Of The Disco, Time For A Little More Style

The BBC has announced that it will finally transmit Russell Brand's appearance on Never Mind The Buzzcocks. The episode, in which Brand features as a guest captain, was originally due to be broadcast in October 2008. However, it was dropped from the schedules after Brand and Jonathan Ross left offensive messages on Fawlty Towers actor Andrew Sachs's answerphone during a Radio 2 show. Brand, who married Katy Perry last year, used to date Sachs's granddaughter Georgina Baillie. He resigned from the BBC following the incident. The show also features foppish chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, singer Rachel Stevens and rapper Sway. It will be shown on BBC2 on Wednesday 19 January at 10pm.

Sir Terry Wogan has criticised the BBC over its excessive compliance rules. The veteran broadcaster said that the corporation's obsession with red tape often hampers programme-makers and on-screen talent. The BBC tightened its broadcasting regulations following Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand's notorious prank phone calls to Andrew Sachs, but Wogan compared the new procedures to the unnecessary health and safety rulings that dominate the public sector. 'Today, lunatics have taken over the asylum,' Wogan told Radio Times. 'Agents and publicists rule and the BBC even sends people to monitor interviews in the name of "compliance." It is so restrictive.' However, the seventy two-year-old admitted that he is not a fan of some of the current crop of risqué comedians. 'Frankie Boyle is too strong for me. Ricky Gervais walks the tightrope,' he said, before adding: 'But it ill-becomes people of my age to criticise the new.' What, like you've just done, you mean? Hypocrite.

Showtime's entertainment president David Nevins has suggested that Dexter will continue for some time. According to Assignment X, Nevins praised the recent season's ratings. 'I think there's a lot of life left in Dexter,' he said. 'Dexter was up eleven per cent in its fifth season, which defies the usual ratings decline.' Nevins continued: 'The audience is still coming to it, and it's not a plot-driven show. It's fundamentally a character-driven show. A lot of what the show is tracking is the evolution and the maturation of Dexter. He's barely an adolescent in the way I watch the show.' Nevins also suggested that the series could continue for several more seasons. 'We've picked it up for one more year, and I personally think there's life beyond that,' he said.

The executive producers of Episodes have revealed that they would not have made the show without Matt LeBlanc. The comedy, which focuses on a British couple remaking their hit sitcom in America, stars LeBlanc as a version of himself. Speaking to Zap2It, David Crane and Jeffrey Klarik said: 'We thought, "If he says no, let's not even do the show."' However, the duo admitted that they were nervous about pitching the character to LeBlanc. 'It's weird, because we're saying to him, "You're the punchline,"' Klarik said. 'We're taking him to lunch and saying, "We want you because you're the stupidest person they could ever hire."' Crane, who previously worked with LeBlanc on Friends, added: 'Initially, he just had to go by blind faith.' And, judging by his faultlessly piss-taking delivery of the line 'a couple of Heathers, a bunch of Jennifers, somebody Dushku' in last night's episode, they made a wise choice!

One of Yer Keith Telly Topping's favourite reviewers, Keith Watson of the Metro, described last night's Glee thus: 'Just when I was ready to join the 'Glee Is So Last Year' Club - when the Radio Times belatedly hops aborad a bandwagon, you know it's time to jump off - along comes aBrtiney special so lipgloss louche it was practically Toxic.'

House's executive producer David Shore has promised that Thirteen's return will be 'cool.' Olivia Wilde, who plays the chracter, took a break from the show to work on some movies but Shore told TV Line that he is looking forward to writing her comeback episode. 'We have something very cool in mind,' he said. 'We're writing an episode built largely around her return. I know [fans] are speculating about what happened to her during her absence and I don't want to rule anything out.' Some rumours have suggested that Thirteen will die from Huntington's disease when she returns but Shore insisted that he wants to keep working with Wilde. 'We'll have to continue to work around her schedule a little bit,' he said. 'But it would be a crying shame for us to let her get away at this point. We've been very good to her and we'd like a little bit of it back.'

Here's the Top Twenty programmes, week ending 9 Jan 2011:
1 Coronation Street - ITV - 12.39 million
2 EastEnders - BBC1 - 11.42 million
3 Dancing On Ice - ITV - 10.23 million
4 Emmerdale - ITV - 9.09 million
5 Wild At Heart - ITV - 8.19 million
6 Come Fly With Me - BBC1 - 7.81 million
7 Lark Rise To Candleford - BBC1 - 7.68 million
8 Silent Witness - BBC1 - 7.60 million
9 BBC News - BBC1 - 7.15 million
10 Above Suspicion - ITV - 7.02 million
11 Casualty - BBC1 - 6.89 million
12 Hustle - BBC1 - 6.84 million
13 Holby City - BBC1 - 6.45 million
14 Countryfile - BBC1 - 6.41 million
15 National Lottery: In It To Win It - BBC1 - 6.17 million
=16 ITV News - ITV - 5.92 million*
=16 FA Cup - ITV - 5.92 million
18 Six O'Clock News - BBC1 - 5.84 million
19 Celebrity Mastermind - BBC1 - 5.71 million
20 Zen - BBC1 - 5.64 million

Elen Rivas has claimed that video footage may have been to blame for her early Dancing On Ice exit. The model and former WAG was eliminated from the ITV reality show on Sunday night along with Australian actor Craig McLachlan. Speaking on This Morning about her failure to attract the public vote, Rivas suggested that the video of her dispute with mentor Christopher Dean over her choreography may not have gone down well with viewers. 'I didn't want to go. I wanted to stay there,' she said. 'I had so much fun. It is just the public vote. It is just what happened. In my VT, it was me being funny and all the people who know me, they all thought it was funny. If people do not know me, they might not think the same. I didn't mean anything bad, I was just joking a lot of the time. I think it showed you that I have a sense of humour, but people may not have got it.' Or, it might've just been that they didn't like you, love. Just a vague possibility, you know? Rivas also revealed that her two children were upset with the judges' harsh verdicts on her debut skate. '[My daughter] was a bit upset with Jason [Gardiner],' she said. 'She was like, "Why do the other ones get more points."'

MTV has ordered a series based on David Rosen's book I Just Want My Pants Back. Deadline reports that the show is 'a youthful romantic dramedy' set in New York. It focuses on twenty two-year-old Jason Strider and his friends as they struggle with dating and becoming adults. MTV's head of programming David Janollari said: '[Pants] found its right home. It has an amazing, authentic, twentysomething voice, feels contemporary and relatable, and will connect with the audience.' The project has been adapted by Rosen and will be executive produced by Doug Liman, who has previously worked on shows including The OC, Knight Rider and Covert Affairs. Liman is also expected to direct a number of episodes.

Jerry Seinfeld’s American reality show The Marriage Ref could be coming to Britain – with Jo Brand as host. The comic has been lined up to present a pilot edition of the show to be taped later this month, ahead of a possible series on ITV. Brand will appear with a panel of celebrities and comedians to discuss the marital problems of real-life couples who bicker over 'quirky and ridiculous' things. The panel will then side with either the husband or the wife in each of the disputes. And, if you think that sounds tacky and intrusive, it is. Producers give the example of a couple who bicker about the husband's desire to stuff and display his beloved dead dog to a wife who is fed up of her husband taking his wedding ring off every time he goes out with his mates. It is based on the NBC show of the same name, which launched in February last year – to withering reviews. Time magazine called it 'the most God-awful mishmash of a comedy-variety show.' Twelve episodes were broadcast, hosted by comic Tom Papa and featuring guests including Madonna, Ricky Gervais, Demi Moore and Sarah Silverman. Gervais called it 'the weirdest show I've ever been on.' Until this week, anyway. Seinfeld is said to have come up with the idea for the show during a row with his wife Jessica, They got a friend to adjudicate – after which Jessica proclaimed: 'That's a TV show.' So, actually, Seinfeld didn't come up with the idea, he wife did and he just claimed the credit. And then people wonder why marriages get into difficulty.

Struggling Welsh-language broadcaster S4C has shut down its second channel S4C2 in response to major forthcoming cuts to its budget. Following 'a consultation period,' S4C opted to terminate the S4C2 channel over the weekend in order to make 'the best use of current resources.' However, the broadcaster pledged to provide viewers with more live coverage of events such as the National Eisteddfod on its main network. From 2013, responsibility for funding S4C will transfer from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to the BBC. S4C will also face a cut of around twenty five per cent to its annual budget. A spokesman for S4C said: 'In light of recent budget cuts announced by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, S4C has been reviewing how to make the best use of current resources. As a result, a decision has been made to terminate the S4C2 channel. S4C is aiming to provide more live daytime coverage from events such as the National Eisteddfod and The Royal Welsh Show on the main service. We are also aiming to make more use of online services during live events.' S4C2 provided live coverage of proceedings at the National Assembly in Cardiff Bay until the broadcasts moved to the BBC Democracy Live website in early 2010. Coverage of events at the Assembly can still be seen on S4C late on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights. Speaking to the Western Mail, a Welsh Assembly government spokesman described the closure of S4C2 as 'disappointing news. It clearly means less opportunity to further develop Welsh language television services for viewers. However, it is unfortunate that due to its reduced budget from the UK government, S4C is being forced to take some very difficult decisions with regard to the services the channel is able to provide,' he said. 'This re-enforces the need for a root and branch review of S4C including its future funding, governance and most importantly the service it provides to Welsh audiences.'

What is claimed to be the world's first 3D TV service over digital terrestrial television went live last week in Italy following a successful trial by Italian broadcaster Mediaset. The service, known as 3VOD, operates on the Bestv set top boxes offered by Motive, enabling subscribers to watch a selection of 3D films, reports The Wall Street Journal. Giuseppe Flores d'Arcais, co-founder of Bestv and a director of Motive, expressed his belief that the 3D TV launch over DTT was a 'world first.' He added: 'This latest innovation, 3D on terrestrial television, using our Bestv technology, is a major step forward, both for broadcasters and viewers. The success of this service confirms that Bestv is at the forefront of high added value, low-cost broadcasting.' Previously, 3D TV services have been limited to pay-TV platforms, such as Sky in the UK, due to the high bandwidth required to deliver the picture quality. As 3D TV requires two images per frame, the files are twice as large as normal content. Motive's 3VOD service works by storing files locally on the user's set top box, meaning there are fewer issues of buffering or reduced quality. The system, known as Datacasting, enables broadcasters to offer a limited number of higher-end services to customers over existing DTT networks. It also uses a technique known as 'multiplexing,' which optimises the under-used bandwidth on DTT multiplexes to deliver the 3D content to customers without impacting regular TV services. 'Within a multiplex you will always have different kinds of content. So on one channel you may have a soccer match that requires a lot of bandwidth, maybe on another channel you may have a cartoon or news bulletin,' said d'Arcais. 'Within multiplexing you can always find some free space, even during prime time. We really extract the value of these networks.' Eugenio Pettazzi, head of the premium on-demand projects at Mediaset, added: 'We are very happy to introduce 3D over terrestrial network so early on. The launch of this service confirms that true value added television is possible on the terrestrial platform and confirms Mediaset's lead in introducing ongoing innovation in TV viewing.' Last March, transmission operator Arqiva discussed possible future options for delivering 3D broadcast services over the UK's DTT networks.

Piers Morgan has insisted that Heather Mills and Howie Mandel will never be invited to appear on Piers Morgan Tonight. The CNN anchor - who replaces Larry King on the network this week - told Entertainment Weekly that he has reasons for barring the personalities from appearing on the show. 'I introduced her to Paul McCartney,' he explained about his reasons for denying Mills an invite. 'Next thing, Paul takes her out on a date, next thing they get engaged, next thing they get married, it's all very happy and hunky-dory and then she takes him to the cleaners, and I realised I'd pushed one of the world's great gold diggers in the direction of one of my heroes. So, for those reasons and by way of any tiny reparation I can make to Macca, she has a lifetime ban.' Asked about his issue with Mandel, Morgan replied: 'He's just too irritating. He winds me up every day on America's Got Talent and he would love to be on a show like mine on CNN, but he's going to be banned at the moment. It’s behaviour-related, so he has a chance to redeem himself on season six of AGT, but I don't hold out any hope.'

A cat has been called up for jury service in Boston, Massachusetts. The Daily Scum Mail reports that tabby, Sal, has been asked to report to Suffolk Superior Court. Sal's owners applied for disqualification on the grounds that their cat cannot speak or understand English. They included a letter from their vet with the application. Anna Esposito said: 'When they ask him guilty or not guilty? What's he supposed to say? "Miaow?" Sal is a member of the family so I listed him on the last census form under pets, but there has clearly been a mix-up.' Her husband, Guy, added: 'He likes to sit on my knee and watch crime shows with me, but even so he's still under-qualified for jury duty if you ask me.' The couple's request was denied and if the matter is not resolved, Sal may have to attend court on 23 March.

For today's batch of yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45(s) of the Day, we have an essay on modernism, dear blog reader. In the summer and autumn of 1979 something rather strange happened. Yer Keith Telly Topping acquired a parka, for one. Mod culture, something which had flowered in Britain a decade before and then gone into something of rapid decline made a big comeback. The revival was the subject of some considerable scorn in much of the more snotty end of the music media, who saw it as a risible magpie-like example of pop eating its own history. In actual fact, for those who knew about these things, Mod had never really gone away - the scooter clubs of the Midlands and North (and, the Northern Soul scene, of that matter) had kept the flame burning in small pockets throughout the 1970s. The mod revival's mainstream popularity was relatively short, and did attract a certain proportion of bandwagon jumpers, although its influence has lasted for decades since. The movement - such as it was - combined musical and cultural elements of the 1970s pub rock and new wave genres with influences - specifically fashion - from 1960s mod and beat bands such as The Who, Small Faces and The Kinks. The revival was largely spurred on by The Jam, who had already adopted a stark mod-style look and mixed in their music the energy of punk with the sound of 1960s mod bands - specifically Paul Weller's adoption of the early Who sound in his songwriting. The Great British Music Festival, with the Jam, at Wembley in 1978 may have helped to kick start the mod revival proper but it was the release, in 1979, of the film Quadrophenia, Pete Townshend's romanticising of the original 1960s mod subculture, which widened the impact and popularity of the revival across the UK. The original mod revival fanzine, Maximum Speed started in 1979 and spawned other home-produced fanzines from then until the mid-to-late 1980s. Apart from The Jam, few of the bands involved in the movement made any lasting impact but several of them did manage to produce a number of glorious singles in the 1979-1980 period that still get spun in the Telly Topping household on the old dansette every now and then. There was The Purple Hearts, Essex Boys with sharp suits who produced a bunch of cracking singles, including 'Millions Like Us,' 'Jimmy,' and, their masterpiece, 'Frustration.' The Lambrettas came from the Mod Mecca of Brighton, signed to Elton John's Rocket label, and produced one of the great revival artefacts, the LP Beat Boys In The Jet Age. They had one big hit with their cover of The Coasters' 'Posion Ivy' although, far more reflective of their sound was the follow-up, the gorgeous pop single 'Da-a-a-ance' which also made the top twenty and came out as an attractive picture disc with a union jack on one side and picture of Brighton Pier on the other. Tasty. Probably the best of the revival bands was The Chords. From South London, they possessed a quality songwriter, Chris Pope, and their first five singles all made the lower reaches of the British charts. They supported both The Jam and The Clash on tour, managed to get themselves on Top of the Pops and produced a great LP (So Far Away, which included a great cover of The Beatles' 'She Said, She Said'). For about twelve months they seemed to be on the verge of a major breakthrough. Which, sadly, never came. But, their singles - and especially 1980's 'Maybe Tomorrow' still bring a smile to the face. A big favourite of the late John Peel, Birmingham's Quads were responsible for a couple of great singles, the best of which was 1979's 'There Must Be Thousands.'Squire, from The Jam's neck of the wood, Guildford, also had a fine songwriter, Anthony Meynell. Their second single 'Walking Down The Kings Road' (backed by the anthemic 'It's A Mod, Mod World') was a much-loved and very danceable single that should've been a far bigger hit than it was. Interestingly enough, Squire were signed to I-Spy, the indie label set up by one of the most popular - and most criticised - and mod revivalists, Secret Affair. Seen by some in the movement as a bunch of chancers who'd all been punks a year earlier, in fact they were a very decent live band, far more Motown-influenced than many of their contemporaries. They had a great drummer, Seb Shelton (who ended up in Dexy's Midnight Runners) and singer-songwriter-trumpeter, Ian Page who, briefly, rivaled Paul Weller as the movement's Face. Their LP, Glory Boys, was decent and they had two huge hits with 'Time For Action' and 'My World.' Ironically, it was the single in between, a relative flop, that was their golden moment. 'Let Your Heart Dance' is a simply fabulous single. A clarion-call to Mod everywhere to assert their identity. For a few months, in the summer of 1980, Mods were everywhere. But the genre as a populist movement, disappeared as quickly as it had risen and went back to being something of minor cult with pockets of popularity - especially in Yorkshire. Meanwhile the band that had kicked it all off, The Jam, went from strength-to-strength plowing their own, individualistic furrow. And it was their legacy that would lead, over a decade later, to another bunch of excellent Mod-influenced bands like Oasis, Blur, Ocean Colour Scene, The Charlatans, The Ordinary Boys and The Kaiser Chiefs. White boys with guitars, you just can't keep 'em down!