Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I Don't Wanna Lose Your Love (Especially If You "Smash It")

Andy Gray has reportedly complained to 'friends' - well, the four friends that he had left, anyway - about feeling 'stitched up' after being sacked by Sky Sports. All following publicity surrounding a series of apparently sexist comments which he made. The presenter got the old tin-tack from the broadcaster after suggesting on Saturday that assistant referee Sian Massey would not know the offside rule due to her sex and then when previous lewd comments he made to his colleague Charlotte Jackson appeared on YouTube on Monday. According to the Mirra - who for some reason seem to be taking on the role of Gray apologists at the moment, which is probably wholly unconnected to the fact that Gray is currently suing their rivals the News of the World over phone-hacking allegations - Gray believes that his superiors have used the issue to allow them to promote younger staff. 'He feels like he has been stitched up and people working against him at Sky have set all this up to get him the boot,' a 'source' allegedly claimed. Oh, this is really good. Apparently Andy Gray believes that he is the innocent victim of a Miriam O'Reilly-style bit of ageism in the area! Brilliant - I shall look forward to the forthcoming Industrial Tribunal with great interest to see what happens next. Let's be fair, you've really got to admire bare-faced crass denial like that. 'He loved doing that job,' the nameless - and, probably fictional - 'source' allegedly told the Mirra. 'And didn't get much of a chance to get his point of view across. But it feels like a changing of the guard at Sky and this will give bosses a chance to promote Ben Shephard and Jamie Redknapp quicker.' Conspiracy theories that Gray was, indeed, the victim of deliberate leaks by someone - or several someones - within Sky as a direct consequence of his forthcoming legal action against another part of the Rupert Murdoch News Corp empire have been doing the rounds since the Mail on Sunday first got hold of the off-air sound clip from an 'anonymous source' late on Saturday night. They may even be true, far stranger things happen in the TV industry. The excellent Jim White, for instance, makes a highly persuasive argument in this article concerning the 'real' reasons that Gray was sacked. 'The reaction of his employer is far more to do with Sky's anxiety to end a series of damaging headlines at a time of a highly sensitive takeover. This was corporate public relations. He was embarrassing them, full stop. Yet part of that embarrassment came from within. If Sky's own employees had not leaked so prodigiously, no-one would have been any the wiser, the headlines would not have been generated and the corporation would not have been compromised. Gray was, quite simply, knifed by those he had patronised down the years.' But, Gray might like to consider the fact that if he hadn't said what he did, there would have been nothing for any naughty troublemaker to leak in the first place. So, you know, sorry Andy old chap but I've got no sympathy for you whatsoever. You broke the eleventh commandment and got caught. The latest footage to have entered the public domain, let us remember, showed an off-air incident in December, when Gray asked Jackson to 'tuck this in,' gesturing towards the microphone near his groinal area. Jackson can be briefly seen looking a touch embarrassed and turning away, whilst Gray and his co-presenter Richard Keys - who has also been disciplined for his role in the discussion about Massey - burst out guffawing like a pair of ignorant overgrown school bullies. The law firm Schillings have confirmed to the press that they have been instructed by Gray regarding his dismissal. Gray's fiancée Rachel Lewis added yesterday: 'He's wanted to apologise for the last few days, desperately. He was told not to by Sky.' The Gruniad's Richard Williams had a slightly different take on matters: 'The alacrity with which the Sky Sports bosses dispatched Andy Gray to the knackers' yard suggests that they saw no merit in flogging more life out of a dead workhorse. To a channel whose public image is established by the cast of interchangeable junior estate agents and blonde autocuties reading out the bulletins on Sky Sports News, the old centre-forward had passed his sell-by date some time ago. In the estimation of pretty well everyone, except Gray himself, the one-time penalty-area bully has long since lost the aura of authority created by his playing career with Aston Villa, Wolves, Everton and Scotland. When the world – ie the Premier League in Sky's terms – was new, he embodied a certain gritty outspokenness that lent an air of authenticity to the channel's glossy coverage, with its fanfares and fireworks. But YouTube, that deadliest of witnesses, harbours a whole series of occasions on which Gray could be expressing opinions on football matters that entitled him to be seen as the voice of the people only if the people concerned yearned for the days of leather balls, dubbinned boots and casual prejudice. Perhaps Barney Francis, Sky's managing director, feels that Keys is too valuable to sack. If that is what he thinks, much of the nation would disagree. The emergence of another clip seemed to provide a further illustration of his unreconstructed view of womanhood. It is hard to imagine a Save Richard Keys protest outside the channel's Isleworth headquarters. To anyone outside the close circles of the two presenters the only immediate cause for regret is the understandable decision of the referees' association to withdraw Massey from her scheduled duty at tonight's match between Crewe and Bradford. Noting the unusually high number of applications for media accreditations, particularly the requests for photographers' passes, they concluded that the twenty five-year-old official would not be permitted to go about her duties in the right sort of ambiance. The Sun – owned by Sky's major shareholder, Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation – also sank to predictable depths, filling its front page with a photograph of an off-duty Massey dancing at a social function, wearing a skimpy top and a short denim skirt. It was the sort of utterly harmless image that many women of her age put up on their Facebook page but its use here was blatantly exploitative, freighted with a nudging insinuation but having no bearing on the subject's role in the story.' As, indeed, this blog stated yesterday. And, this is one occasion where yer actual Keith Telly Topping does want to say 'I told you so.' To go back to Jim White's article for a second: 'That Gray is not a particularly pleasant bloke will come as little surprise to those who saw him on television exploring the outer reaches of self-importance. And Richard Keys is, so those who have worked with him attest, not much nicer. Their saloon bar banter about the assistant referee Sian Massey was not unusual, apparently. It was as ignorantly incorrect as it was inappropriate. By the very excellence of her performance Massey refuted the pair's laughable insistence that women are somehow genetically incapable of mastering a set of rules. As to Keys's claim that her presence on the Molineux touchline was evidence of a "game gone mad," it might be argued that the elevation of someone on the grounds of their sustained competence marks a rare moment of sanity in the sport. More difficult to defend on mental health terms is the idea that the front man of a television show is worth more than one million pounds a year. Or as they probably don't say in the Manchester City dressing room, fifty nurses. If a haughty self-regard coupled with old-school views preclude someone from doing their job then half the sports media are unemployable. You only have to look at some of the candidates to replace Gray on Sky - Glenn Hoddle, Graeme Souness, Stan Collymore, Paul Merson - to see that inappropriate behaviour is endemic in the calling. If everyone has to be a decent person to do the job, the future is silence.' Of course, the numskull dinosaurs who fill up the comments sections on the websites of newspapers like the Sun, the Daily Scum Mail and the Mirra will continue to bleat their pathetic mantra that this was 'all just a bit of harmless fun,' some 'workplace banter' that, twenty years ago would have been perfectly acceptable. I agree, it probably would have been - this blogger indulged in a fair bit of it himself, I'm sure most dear blog readers, of both sexes, have done too at one time or another. The point isn't that it used to be acceptable, rather that it isn't acceptable now. In life, things change all the time and people (and their attitudes) have to change with them or they become moribund in this society. Bear baiting was the most popular form of Saturday night entertainment in this country once upon a time. If Sky Sports had been around in those days, they would've probably been covering it, live, from the Dung-Heap Arms in Chelmsford with commentary from ye-olde Sir Richard of Keys and Smash It. And they would have got a huge and voyeuristic audience for it and that would have been perfectly acceptable. But society has changed and we know better now. In many ways the changes are for the better, perhaps in some others ways for the worse. But to argue against the process of change, in and of itself, is to show yourself to be an example of exactly what Keys and Gray have been accused of being. Dinosaurs. In other words, soon to be extinct.

Meanwhile, hairy-hands Keys has blamed 'dark forces at work' for escalating the Sky Sports sexism row, which has seen the dismissal of his friend Gray and put his own job on the line. Keys said that he apologised to Sian Massey on Sunday afternoon - just hours after the initial Molineux recording was leaked to the Mail on Sunday - but was told by his employer that his apology could not be made public immediately. 'We were wrong. It shouldn't have happened, but there are some dark forces at work here,' said an emotional Keys on TalkSport on Wednesday morning. 'From something that was controllable, I have found the reaction to be extraordinary. I cannot believe the frenzy that's blown up. If I had been able to get out the fact that I'd apologised on Sunday I don't think it would have been as frenzied as it has been.' A new video entitled Richard Keys making lewd comments about girlfriend of co-presenter has, as mentioned above, appeared on YouTube showing Keys before a game at Chelsea's Stamford Bridge with Jamie Redknapp, Ruud Gullit and Graeme Souness. Someone off camera mentions a girl and Keys asks Redknapp: 'Did you smash it?' Redknapp replies: 'I used to go out with her.' Keys then adds: 'That's a stupid question, if you were anywhere near it. You definitely smashed it. You could go round there any night and find Redknapp hanging out of the back of it.' During the comments, Gullit looks at his mobile phone, whilst Sounness motions to kick Keys in the ankle. Redknapp laughs rather nervously.

The BBC World Service is to close five of its language services. It is thought that about six hundred and fifty jobs will be lost from a workforce of some two thousand four hundred. It is believed staff will be informed on Wednesday of the redundancies. The Macedonian, Albanian and Serbian services will be axed, as will English for the Caribbean and Portuguese for Africa, in a bid to save forty six million pounds a year. The BBC said it had to make savings after its government support was cut, but unions have called the move 'ferocious.' Last October, the government announced that the BBC would take over the cost of the World Service from the Foreign Office. The service, which started broadcasting in 1932, currently costs two hundred and seventy two million pounds a year, and has an audience of over two hundred and forty million people worldwide across radio, television and online. It is believed that the BBC will make a statement on Wednesday about the latest wave of redundancies, to be phased over two years. It is understood that two-thirds of the jobs will go in the first twelve months. A reduction of programmes in another seven languages is also set to be announced. The National Union of Journalists said it planned to hold a demonstration outside the World Service headquarters in central London on Wednesday. It has also written to the chairman of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs committee, Richard Ottaway, and the chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee, John Whittingdale, calling on them to review the plans. As though a pair of Tories who have never shown the slightest bit of respect or affection for the BBC are going to do that or anything even remotely like it. The NUJ said that if early reports were correct, the 'drastic cuts' would 'severely damage the national interest of the UK. These ferocious cuts to a valued national service are ultimately the responsibility of the coalition government, whose policies are destroying quality public services in the UK,' general secretary Jeremy Dear said. BBC global news director Peter Horrocks said the closures were 'not a reflection on the performance of individual services or programmes. They are all extremely important to their audiences and to the BBC,' he said. 'It is simply that there is a need to make savings due to the scale of the cuts to the BBC World Service's grant-in-aid funding from the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and we need to focus our efforts in the languages where there is the greatest need and where we have the strongest impact.' On Monday, the BBC said it would cut about two hundred websites and up to three hundred and sixty posts from its online division as part of a plan to reduce its budget by thirty four million pounds. Among the websites set to close are teen services Switch and Blast, and the 606 football forum. The corporation said the changes were intended to make its website more distinctive, and to reduce competition with commercial sites.

House's Lisa Edelstein has revealed that the majority of the show's cast have not yet signed up for an eighth season. The actress recently told reporters that series lead Hugh Laurie is currently the only actor contracted for another run of the Fox medical drama. 'There are still some issues to be worked out,' she explained. 'I believe NBC [Universal] wants FOX to take over the cost of production, and FOX doesn't want to.' She added: 'Until that's resolved, they can't even begin to talk to any of us.'

Phil Jupitus has claimed that Terry Wogan's guest spot on Never Mind The Buzzcocks is his favourite ever episode of the quiz show. The veteran Irish broadcaster appeared on the music programme last year and became the first ever presenter to get a standing ovation from the audience, according to Jupitus. Speaking on 5Live, the comic said: 'The Wogan show, with all due respect to anyone who has hosted the show, was my favourite two hours in a television studio. You are on telly with someone you used to watch as a kid and that was the difference for me. I think he gave it an extra bounce and it was the only time we've had a standing ovation in the audience.' Jupitus also ruled out ever taking over the hosting role himself. 'Never, never. I hate those middle chairs,' he said. 'I like my spot on the left.'

The Channel Four documentary series on gypsy weddings soared past the six million mark on Tuesday evening, according to 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 6.03m for Channel Four from 9pm, up four hundred thousand viewers week-on-week. A further one million viewers tuned in an hour later on C4+1, the biggest multichannel audience of the night.

STV has confirmed plans to cover the sentencing of disgraced Scottish politician Tommy Sheridan using Twitter as a way to circumvent the ban on TV cameras in courtrooms. Following an application by STV News, the Scottish Judiciary confirmed today that journalists will be allowed to send live electronic text updates from the hearing. Last month, Sheridan was convicted of committing perjury during his defamation case against the News of the World. He is due to be sentenced at the High Court in Glasgow tomorrow, and a jail sentence is widely expected. During the trial, STV will provide regular updates on its website and microblogging site Twitter, marking the first time that such reporting has been allowed in a Scottish courtroom. The move follows recent interim guidance from the Lord Chief Justice for England and Wales, which permitted journalists to cover the bail hearing of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. 'We're delighted to be able to offer this innovation for our viewers,' said Matt Roper, digital news editor at STV News. 'Fair and accurate reporting of court has always been central to the principle of open justice. Now technology will allow journalists to bring us what is happening inside court without delay.' STV will also provide a video stream from outside the court on its website, offering live coverage of the aftermath of Sheridan's sentencing. Last month, Sky News boss John Ryley called for an end to the ban on TV cameras in courtrooms, arguing that it would help tackle the 'growing public dissatisfaction with the judicial process.'

Jo Brand has claimed that female comics are being held back from the mainstream because of a lack of confidence. The veteran stand-up said that the shortage of prominent female comedians is because very few can take the knocks and derision that they are greeted with on the comedy circuit.

Billie Piper has admitted that she would love to be a judge on The X Factor. The Doctor Who and Secret Diary Of A Call Girl actress first found fame in the late 1990s as a singer with hits including 'Because We Want To', 'Girlfriend' and 'Honey To The Bee.' Asked if, as a fan of the show, she would like to join the X Factor panel, Piper told Heat: 'I would love that more than anything! There are two things I fantasise about: being Beyoncé and being a judge on The X Factor. The worry is whether you'd be taken seriously as an actor afterwards. But you know what? I'd deal with it, because it's all I want to do! I think I'd take it very seriously and end up crying a lot.' When it was suggested that Cheryl Cole may not be picked for the US version of the show because of her Geordie accent, Piper said: 'Surely she could just speak a bit more slowly. Or else I can do it, obviously.' Ah, regionalism. Tasty. 'Wasn't Dannii [Minogue] brilliant this time round? I think having a baby really suits her. And it's given her huge breasts! Massive ones!' Yes, we noticed, Bill. We just don't talk about it publicly, or near to any recording devices because that would be sexist. Piper has jested that her neighbours consider her to be 'filth' due to her role in Secret Diary Of A Call Girl. The twenty eight-year-old, suggested that locals in her West Sussex village have struggled to separate truth from fiction and have accused her of leading her husband, Laurence Fox, astray. She told Style: 'Laurence is the hero, because he's in Lewis. He's so famous in our village and his fanclub is considerably older. They adore him and see me as his tainted, mucky wife. Honestly, they're not big on me. I think they see him as muddying himself with "that filth." It can get quite cold. The looks I get off some of the older guys in the street. Some of them like to think you're a prostitute for real. No, I'm an actress playing a prostitute.'

Channel Four has commissioned a second series of Stand Up For The Week. Another ten episodes are to be made, starting this March, to air at 10.30pm on Fridays. And Kevin Bridges – a regular on the last series – has been promoted to host, replacing previous frontman Patrick Kielty. That wretched, unfunny fellow Jack Whitehall, Rich Hall and Andi Osho will all return as regulars, with Jon Richardson joining the line-up. As before, the show will be filmed at the Koko club in Camden, North London, and feature a guest star each week. Bridges said: 'I'm chuffed to be back for a second series of Stand Up For The Week and I'm excited to be hosting the show this time. It's a brilliant line-up and hopefully we can capture everything that makes a comedy club gig work and bring it to Friday night TV.' Stand Up For The Week is made by Open Mike – the company behind Live At The Apollo and Michael McIntyre's Comedy Roadshow, and the sister company to agents Off The Kerb, which represents Bridges, Hall and Richardson. So, not the slightest trace on any incestuous nepotism there, clearly.

Daybreakwatch, now: You know, the show which has 'turned the corner' according to numerous statements coming out of ITV at various intervals over the last few months. Well, in that case the latest set of ratings figures will, presumably, come as something of a blow to the commercial braodcaster.
17 Jan 723,000
18 Jan 737,000
19 Jan 675,000
20 Jan 713,000
21 Jan 631,000
24 Jan 716,000

Arse-licking minion Dermot O'Dreary has praised Simon Cowell for being 'a great boss.' The presenter, who took over as host of The X Factor in 2007, told Absolute Radio's Christian O'Connell that he had been taught a lot by Cowell. 'He's a workaholic. He's a great boss, and I'm not just saying that,' he said. Well, you are just saying that. Clearly. We all heard you just say it. Perhaps you wish you hadn't just said it. But, you did. 'He's very loyal,' continued O'Dreary in a seemingly endless stream of wholly unsolicited brown-tongued sycophancy. 'He's very honest, and he just wants that in return. He smells fear though. He's like a wolf.' What, literally? Blimey, that's a revelation. 'If you're confident in your own opinions then he's good, but he doesn't like indecision, he doesn't like fear, he likes people to be confident. He's taught me a lot actually in that regard, I owe him a lot.' O'Dreary went on to reveal that Cowell enjoys having a bath in his dressing room. Oh God, this is just homoerotic pornography, essentially, isn't it? 'Simon's decked out his whole dressing room [in] monochrome. It's like his house, and he's got a bath in his dressing room as well, no word of a lie,' he said. 'I have been in there. He loves a bath, Simon, it gives him time to think.' Listen, we're all broad-minded people here Dermot, if you love him that much, I really think you ought to tell him.

Channel Four has confirmed that Shane Meadows is to follow This Is England '86 with a one-off Christmas special catching up with characters including Lol and Woody in 1988. Meadows, who yesterday picked up the best TV drama prize at the South Bank Sky Arts Awards for This Is England '86, will direct the follow-up and co-write with Jack Thorne. The two-hour drama will be set during Christmas 1988 and is to be broadcast on Channel Four over the festive period. It will begin filming in the spring. Meadows first introduced his group of young people growing up in the Midlands in the 1980s in the 2006 Film4-backed movie This Is England, following up with the four-part Channel Four drama last year. 'I've never done a follow-up to something I've made as a film but there was something about This Is England, meeting Thomas Turgoose and the whole cast. We got as close as I have ever got to a family in this film,' he said at the South Bank Sky Arts Awards. He added as well as This Is England '88, he hoped to make another follow-up set in 1990.

Six more things on YouTube that you really need to see and/or hear before you die:-
1 William Shatner murders 'Rocket Man'

2 The pronography that was the Denim aftershave advert

3 Sammy Davis Jr sings the Kojak theme!

4 Jeremy Paxman calls Sting a hypocrite

5 'Tie Your Laces Tight' By Foffo Spearjig

6 And finally, the seven greatest words in the entire history of TV. 'Matt Bianco? You're a bunch of wankers!'

NBC has reportedly picked up a new pilot from writer Stephen Gaghan. Variety says that the show is known as S.I.L.A, which stands for Special Investigations LA. The project focuses on various aspects of Los Angeles, such as crime, law enforcement and city hall. Gaghan, who will direct the pilot, won an Oscar for his adaptation of Traffic in 2001. He also worked on Rules Of Engagement and Syriana. NBC is currently developing a number of projects, including a programme about supernatural crimes and a drama about staging a Broadway production.

The line-up for the third series of Let's Dance For Comic Relief has been revealed. Steve Jones will return to host the third run of the fundraising entertainment show, and will be joined by co-presenter The ONE Show's Alex Jones. Sort of Alas Jones & Jones, then? 'I can't wait to join Steve and the team. It's come at the perfect time for me having just returned from filming in Africa for Comic Relief where I saw first-hand how we can really make a difference,' Alex Jones said. Only, you know, far less coherently and with a voice that can strip paint at fifty paces. Steve Jones added: 'I'm really looking forward to working with Alex on this year's show. We've got a great line-up and I can't wait to see the performances - I'm anticipating an exciting, flamboyant and ridiculous show!' Let's Dance will run for three weeks and features a selection of famous solo acts, duos and groups performing popular dance routines in front of a live studio audience. Those already confirmed to take part include Noel Fielding, Russell Kane, camp designers Colin and Justin, Penny Smith, Andi Osho, Ed Byrne and Rebecca Front. Producers have teased that some of the routines being performed include 'Crazy In Love', Michael Jackson's 'Bad' and 'I Love To Boogie.' The judging panel will feature a rotating selection of comics and former contestants, while JLS and Jessie J are also confirmed for live performances on the show.

Laura Hamilton has said that the worst part of Dancing On Ice has been the false stories in the press. The children's TV presenter claimed that reports about her using up all the fake tan in week one were nonsense, revealing that she was too embarrassed to spend a long time having her skin tone changed because it required getting naked. 'I'm reading stuff in the papers which is untrue and hurtful, and that's the worst part about [the show], I guess,' she told New. 'That was the first spray tan I've ever had in my life and I was mortified that I had to take my clothes off in front of someone I've never met. There's no way I would have been hanging around in that spray tan booth any longer than I needed to!' Speaking about her professional partner Colin Ratushniak, she added: 'He's so cheeky. He gave me a lesson on how to be sexy the other week and he ended up licking my face! He's very good-looking, which is always nice.'

The three stars of Smack The Pony are to be reunited on stage for the first time in nearly ten years. Sally Phillips, Doon Mackichan and Fiona Allen will be performing together at the Celebrity Autobiography as part of next month's Leicester Comedy Festival. The show, which originated on Broadway, has a changing line-up of comedians reading extracts from stars' genuine memoirs. Phillips said: 'It's been years since we all worked together. It's mad really and I can't wait to get back together. I won't say it is the last time you will see us working together – I certainly hope it isn't – but it's a rare opportunity and the first time in almost ten years. The show is absolutely brilliant. You wouldn't believe what people write about themselves.' Mackichan added: 'I am over the moon to be back working together. It's going to be such fun. We are all going to get together and get the train to Leicester and it's going to be brilliant. It's the first time we have been working together since we all went off to have children. We have eight between us.' Their show at the De Montfort Hall on 4 February will be the first time the team have worked together since Smack The Pony last broadcast on Channel Four in 2002. In 1999 and 2000, Smack The Pony won International Emmy awards for best popular arts show.

McFly's Tom Fletcher has filmed an appearance on a celebrity edition of ITV game show The Cube. Previous personalities to appear on the Phillip Schofield-hosted programme include Dame Kelly Holmes and Kelly Osbourne. Writing on Twitter, the singer refused to reveal if he had been successful in the various challenges. 'I've had a VERY tricky afternoon inside The Cube,' he told fans. 'Won't tell you how I did. You'll have to wait and watch.' Describing the episode as 'intense,' Schofield also revealed that he has completed filming the third series. 'Our best yet without question,' he wrote. 'I'll let you know when it's on the telly but I'm guessing Spring.'

Katie Price reportedly wants Piers Morgan to help her become a 'celebrity' in the US. According to the Daily Star Sunday, Price believes that the CNN presenter will be able to boost her profile in America. He'll need to boost his own first, chuck.

For the latest of yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45(s) of the Day, a question dear blog reader. 'Just what is it that you want to do?' Tell 'em all about it, wee Bobby.
'I wanna get deep down/Wooo-yeah.' Sometimes, dear blog reader, you don't need many words to convey a feeling! And, here's the Primes in all the incadescent, inspiration glory doing it live in 2011.