Friday, January 14, 2011

Licence To Thrill

Let us kick off today's blog update with some cautiously good news, dear blog reader. Broadcasting legend and all round decent chap Danny Baker has revealed that his treatment for cancer is 'going very well.' The fifty three-year-old was diagnosed with the disease late last year, and has recently undergone what's been described as 'successful chemotherapy.' His spokesperson has now confirmed that Danny is looking to get back to work in 'a couple of months or so,' reports the Mirror. The representative said: 'He has just started radiotherapy. He is feeling unusual but pretty good. His doctors are really pleased with him and his treatment is going very well indeed. He is generally full of beans and is looking forward to being back at work in a couple of months or so.' Great news. Everyone at From The North sends Danny their sincere best wishes for a speedy recovery. Dan, you da Man, and the nation needs you.

The BBC's new documentary series Human Planet premiered with 5.6 million overnight viewers on Thursday evening, the latest audience figures has revealed. Human Planet, narrated by actor John Hurt, averaged 5.65m for BBC1 in the 8pm hour, despite facing strong competition from Emmerdale and Coronation Street on ITV. And, there's a very good review of it by the Torygraph's Ceri Radford here. Spot-on bit of analysis, that. Meanwhile, Kidnap and Ransom, a new drama about hostage negotiation starring whingy Trevor Eve, was watched by 5.65m on ITV in the 9pm hour. Considerably fewer than the average viewing figures for many of the shows that Eve has spent the last few weeks face aching about because they get more money than his own dramas. Boo, bloody, hoo. The comedy double of Come Fly With Me and Not Going Out on BBC1 achieved 5.97m and 4.18m viewers respectively.

Today's 'great forgotten TV theme tunes of the past' isn't, actually, all that forgotten. But it is, undeniably, great. The epic Hammond-driven instrumental 'Blarney's Stoned' by Alan Hawkshaw which served as the opening music for Dave Allen At Large for more than a decade. And, may your God go with you.

Harrison Ford, clearly a man on impeccable taste, has said that will not appear on Piers Morgan's CNN talk show. The Indiana Jones actor currently starring in Morning Glory revealed at the movie's UK press conference that he isn't interested in Morgan's approach to interviewing guests. 'He's promoting his show largely by professing to be looking for the truth from his subjects. So I shall have nothing to do with him,' Ford said. The sixty eight-year-old, who plays a breakfast TV anchor in Morning Glory, added that he is only willing to appear on TV to discuss his movies. 'I'm not interested in the truth, I'm interested in selling product,' he said. 'You want the truth? Go someplace else. Not my business.' Well, at least he's honest about it!

Meanwhile, Lily Allen has told Piers Morgan that she also has 'no interest' in appearing on his Life Stories show unless one million pounds is donated to the charity of her choice. The singer - who suffered a second miscarriage last November - explained on Twitter that she will appear in a tell-all interview if the money is given to Sands, a charity which gives support to those who have lost a baby. Allen tweeted Morgan: 'I'd do it for a million for SANDS. Money, mouth? [sic]' She added: 'Those are my terms. I've got no interest in coming on your show, you've been asking me for years.' Morgan then agreed to get ITV to donate a 'five-figure donation' to her chosen charity. Err ... Piers, chum, a million is seven figures, not five. Don't be a cheapskate, give then dosh. He replied: 'I will get ITV to make substantial five-figure donation to your charity for the interview. Think about it.' She's thought about it. You can't afford her. Next ...

Lauren Ambrose has won a recurring role in the next series of Torchwood. Entertainment Weekly reports that the Six Feet Under actress will appear in seven episodes of the ten-part run as PR guru Jilly Kitzinger. The character will apparently recruit 'the most important client of her career and maybe of all time' and is described as 'sweet-talking with a heart of stone.' Just like Piers Morgan, then? Ambrose played Claire Fisher on Six Feet Under from 2001 to 2005 and also starred in short-lived FOX sitcom The Return of Jezebel James. Her film roles include 2009's Cold Souls and a voice part in Where The Wild Things Are.

The government and Ofcom refused to comment on a report that the media regulator has recommended News Corporation's bid to take full control of BSkyB should be referred to the Competition Commission. Robert Peston, the BBC's business editor, said that he was 'as sure as I can be' from conversations with 'sources close to the process' that the regulator had told the lack of culture secretary, the vile and odious Jeremy Hunt, that the bid 'should be subject to further scrutiny.' Ofcom was asked last year by the business secretary, the equally vile but marginally less odious Vince Cable, to assess whether News Corp's bid to buy the sixty one per cent of BSkyB which it does not already own would have an adverse effect 'on media plurality.' The regulator filed its report to the vile and odious Hunt on 31 December, after he was handed the business secretary's responsibility for ruling on media mergers on public interest grounds. That decision was taken by David Cameron after Cable told two undercover Daily Telegraph reporters that he had 'declared war' on Rupert Murdoch, the really vile and odious chairman and chief executive of News Corp. A spokesman for Ofcom refused to comment on Peston's report. Sources close to the vile and odious Hunt also said they had no comment to make when asked by the Gruniad Morning Star. The vile and odious Hunt is still expected to make his decision on whether to allow News Corp's bid to proceed by the end of the month, slightly later than originally planned. His department is holding talks with News Corp this week, prompting speculation that he could be trying to negotiate a settlement with the company that could allow the bid to proceed without the need for a Competition Commission inquiry. He has the power to waive the bid through, but could attach conditions to the deal, including a guarantee that News Corp's newspapers, which include the Sun and The Times, would remain editorially and operationally independent from Sky News. But the vile and odious Hunt is also aware that the deal is acutely sensitive commercially and politically and is determined not to rush through the decision for that reason. He is anxious to observe every legal nicety to avoid giving News Corp or any other interested party grounds to appeal his decision when it is announced later this month. The advice from Ofcom will remain confidential until then, but the vile and odious Hunt will publish it in full when he announces his verdict. It is highly unusual for a secretary of state not to follow Ofcom's advice, however, and most media commentators believe it would be a surprise if the vile and odious Hunt ignored it giving the controversial nature of the News Corp bid. A powerful alliance of media groups, including BT, Torygraph Media Group, Gruniad Morning Star Media Group, Daily Scum Mail & General Trust and the BBC, have all urged the government to block the bid. They argue that it would concentrate too much power in the hands of a single media company with a dominant market position in newspapers and a growing power in broadcast news. A recommendation by Ofcom to refer the proposed deal to the competition authorities is regarded as the most likely outcome, because the regulator only has to meet a fairly low threshold on whether it represents a potential threat to UK media plurality to conclude that the Murdoch merger needs to be examined further. Last month, a lawyer advising one of the newspaper groups opposing the deal said: 'All the regulator has to prove is that there is a potential for a reduction in plurality in the UK. If there is such a potential then it has to recommend that it be referred to the Competition Commission.' An inquiry by the Competition Commission would take between six and nine months.

The actor Colin Firth has been presented with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, dedicating the honour to his wife. Firth, nominated for a Golden Globe for his role in The King's Speech, was seen to wipe away a tear at the ceremony. Speaking of his wife Livia, Firth said: 'When I look down there at that star, it's her name I see.' Firth rose to fame in the BBC's Pride and Prejudice, before starring in The English Patient and A Single Man. He is in Los Angeles for Sunday's Golden Globes, in which he is tipped to win the best actor award for The King's Speech. The film sees Firth as King George VI, who enlists the help of Australian speech therapist Lionel Logue, whose controversial methods helped the King overcome his stammer. 'I want to thank everybody that has accompanied me on this extraordinary journey, but probably more than anybody I could ever imagine Livia who has walked every step of this with me joyfully and truthfully,' said Firth on being presented with his star. The Hampshire-born actor's career has spanned serious drama and romantic comedy, with his performance in A Single Man earning him a best actor Academy Award nomination in 2010.

Matt LeBlanc has revealed that he does not need to work now after making so much money on Friends. In an interview with Details magazine, LeBlanc explained that he spent a long time turning jobs down after the cancellation of his show Joey. 'I had grown some roots on the couch,' he said. 'Thank God I didn't need the money. You know there's that saying that you make your fuck-you money in Hollywood? I made that.' He continued: 'My daughter's education is paid for. Her grandchildren's education is paid for. My mother's house is paid off. My father's house is paid off. My house is paid off. I come from a blue-collar background and there's nothing in my upbringing that prepares you for that. "Money is not an issue? What do you mean?" Everyone in my family used to work with some kind of tool in their hands every day. That's what we do. That's what I did before I got into acting.' However, LeBlanc admitted that having so much wealth and fame can be difficult. 'It's a little bizarre, because it's not like you can call your buddy and go, "Hey, let's jump on the bikes for a week and ride to Colorado," because he'll say, "I've got to go to fucking work, dude,"' he explained. 'There are only five other people that have this thing in common with me. Fame is like a jacket that's too small. It's like, "Fuck, I want to take this off sometimes." And then it looks okay for the photo. You can't really move, but it looks nice.' LeBlanc also revealed that he would like another season of his new show Episodes but added: 'I feel like the rest of my career is kind of like gravy. It's like a hobby now. It's not work. It's like if nothing else happens, that's okay.'

Joan Collins has said that Gemma Arterton is her preferred choice to play Alexis Carrington Colby in the Dynasty remake. Dynasty creator Richard Shapiro this week revealed that the feature will serve as a prequel to his 1980s TV show, which starred Collins and John Forsythe as a wealthy couple in the oil business. Speaking to E! Online about Tamara Drewe actress Arterton, Collins said: 'She has all the qualities that Alexis needs. She's sexy, she looks clever and she's kind of vixenous.' Asked who she would like to portray Blake Carrington - Forsythe's part in the long-running ABC series - Collins recommended Star Trek's Chris Pine, who she described as 'a wonderful actor.' Collins added that her own idea to continue Dynasty would involve her reprising her role as Alexis. 'I always thought they should do it today with Alexis's grandchildren, who about twenty years ago were five and six,' she said.

And, it would seem that there are, quite literally, no new ideas in US TV at the moment. Because, ABC has ordered a pilot of a Charlie's Angels reboot. The project has been in the works since 2009 and was originally penned by Terminator producer Josh Friedman. Smallville creators Miles Millar and Alfred Gough took over the revival last May and TV Line reports that ABC has now officially requested a pilot. The show is expected to be set in Miami and previous rumours have suggested that the character of Bosley will be revamped. Meanwhile, Gough has revealed that he does not want the series to be 'campy or retro.' Charlies Angels' original producer Leonard Goldberg is also working on the remake along with actress Drew Barrymore, who produced the movie version of the franchise. Which was rather good, actually. And its sequel. Which really wasn't.

Gerry Anderson may have set the pulses of Thunderbirds fans racing yesterday when it emerged that he wishes to create a new series of the 1960s children's show. However, according to the Sun the subsequent Anderson/Thunderbirds nostalgic love-in seems to have irked his ex-wife, Sylvia. Proving that old bones of contention never die, the seventy three-year-old – who voiced Lady Penelope and Melody Angel on Captain Scarlet and The Mysterons, co-created Stingray and Joe 90 and provided the groovy fashions on UFO – is peeved that her ex-husband is always the one to receive all the praise. 'It's not about the money, it's about the recognition. I invented all the characters and he came up with the stories.'

Syfy has announced that two former Buffy writers will script a new version of Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased). The original version of the series, which starred Mike Pratt as detective Jeff Randall and Kenneth Cope as his ghostly partner Marty Hopkirk, ran on ITV from 1969 to 1970. Syfy originally purchased the rights to the show from ITV in May last year. Entertainment Weekly now reports that Jane Espenson and Drew Z Greenberg will write a new hour-long pilot. Greenberg has previously worked on Dexter and Warehouse 13, while Espenson, who is currently working on the fourth series of Torchwood, has scripted episodes of Battlestar Galactica and Dollhouse and is one of yer Keith Telly Topping's favourite TV writers, an effortlessly funny and inventive lady with a keen ear for brilliant dialogue. A previous remake of Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) was broadcast on BBC1 from 2000 to 2001 and starred comic duo Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer as the mismatched detectives. That was pretty decent as well. But, see what I mean about no new ideas in American TV at the moment. Next, a remake of My Wife Next Door, mark my words!

Neighbours bosses faced a real-life drama last week when a roof collapsed on one of the soap's sets, it has been revealed. Blimey, I know they inherited Crossroads reputation for wobbly sets, but that's ridiculous. The incident occurred at the show's base at Global Studios in Nunawading, Melbourne last Friday, according to the Herald Sun. Although builders were on site at the time of the collapse, it is understood that there were no injuries. Additionally, no actors were present as Neighbours' annual production break does not conclude until 24 January. Although ,to be fair, even if any of the cast had been injured it would still, probably, have been fair to say 'no actors were involved.' Reports suggest that the set in question was still being built at the time of the incident. Due to the damage caused, it will now have to be completely demolished and constructed again from scratch. A spokesperson for Neighbours' production company Fremantle Media insisted that the delay in completing the new set will not affect filming. He said: 'It was not going to be in use straight away.'

A representative for Adult Swim has denied reports that Turner Broadcasting Systems Europe has been awarded a UK licence for a channel of its programming. It was previously suggested that Ofcom had offered Turner a licence for a dedicated network to broadcast the adult-oriented shows. 'Unfortunately it's not true,' a spokesperson responded via the official Adult Swim UK Facebook page. 'We've actually just had to renew a licence for our existing mobile TV services. Business as usual!' In the US, Adult Swim broadcasts original animated programmes such as Robot Chicken, Aqua Teen Hunger Force and Sealab 2021, as well as syndicates programmes from several other channels.

A protest was staged against right-wing scum talk show host and plank Glenn Beck, calling for his immediate removal from FOX News. The organisers, Jewish Funds for Justice, a charity that campaigns for social change, delivered a petition with ten thousand signatures. In the wake of the Tucson shooting, the TV and radio personality has had to defend his record against accusations that he has whipped up hatred within the public discourse. For a media figure who has been variously lambasted as a liar, a buffoon, a clown, a bigot and a racist, Beck is no stranger to the vitriol that currently passes in America as public debate. In fact, he's built a multimillion dollar empire out of it. The petition was part of a groundswell of opinion that when it comes to Beck, arguably the most extreme of America's multitude of right-wing talk hosts, enough is now enough. Amid the billowing criticism, Beck has defended himself by claiming he has 'softened' the tone of his monologues over the past couple of years. 'Nobody wants to recognise this. Why? Because it hurts their dialogue.' But the evidence belies his claim of moderation. The JFSJ accompanied the petition with a list of ten of Beck's most egregious comments in 2010. They include Beck's radio comment on the financier and philanthropist, George Soros, that 'here's a Jewish boy helping send the Jews to the death camps.' This disgraceful remark was made in reference to Soros as a thirteen-year-old teenager in Hungary, who survived the Holocaust because his father hid their Jewish identity through elaborate forged documents. The comment was made as part of a three-part Beck 'exposé' of Soros on FOX News last November called 'The Puppet Master.' Beck's portrayal of Soros was so mendacious and malicious that he was accused by the New Yorker of broadcasting tropes that corresponded 'uncannily to those of classical antisemitism.' The Daily Beast noted that 'nothing like it has ever been on American television before.' Simon Greer, JFSJ's president, said that following last Saturday's Tucson shootings, in which a Congresswoman was shot and six people died, it was time for action. 'We are not accusing Glenn Beck or Roger Ailes or Rupert Murdoch of pulling the trigger in Tucson, only one man did that. But we are accusing them of playing to the worst in all of us.' He said that over the past eighteen months Beck had referred to Hitler and Nazi Germany more than four hundred times in his show. There is no love lost between Soros and the FOX News stable. A month after The Puppet Master was broadcast, Soros hit back that the combination of FOX News, Beck and the Tea Party movement was a threat to America that might lead 'this open society to be on the verge of some dictatorial democracy.' The billionaire has donated one million dollars to the liberal media research body, Media Matters. The organisation's founder, David Brock, this week wrote to Murdoch calling on him to do something about Beck and Sarah Palin, who also appears on FOX News. 'In the wake of the [Arizona] killings, your network must make a stand,' Brock wrote. 'You have the power to order them to stop using violent rhetoric. If they fail to do so, it is incumbent on you to fire them or be responsible for the climate they create.'

Emily Atack has revealed that she drank fifteen vodkas during a night out filming for BBC documentary Ready, Steady, Drink. The Inbetweeners actress was examining the UK's binge drinking culture for the BBC3 show, which is part of the channel's Dangerous Pleasures season. Speaking about her filmed night out with a group of students, Atack told the Mirror: 'By the end of the five-hour ­clubbing session, I'd drunk about fifteen vodkas, some of them doubles. It was an experiment and I had to keep up with the students. I've had some hangovers before but that was something else. I just wanted to die. I went back to see the students and they had lectures, but they seemed all right. They must have built up a tolerance to it. I had to stop filming so I could be sick. I must have done it about five times.' Speaking about the country's drink culture, she added: 'It's so depressing, so undignified and humiliating. Girls are collapsed in the street and have their skirts up round their necks. Some have crapped themselves. It's disgusting. It's so dangerous too, ­especially for the girls.'

James Corden has admitted his 'disappointment' at negative comments about his return to host the Brit Awards. It was confirmed yesterday that the Gavin & Stacey actor - who previously hosted the awards in 2009 with Matt Horne and Kylie Minogue - will take charge of the ceremony at London's O2 arena next month. However, Corden revealed that he had received comments from people who were unhappy with the decision. 'I just read some comments about me hosting the Brits,' he wrote on Twitter. 'I'm not sure what to say really except ill [sic] try my best. I was looking forward to it.' In one message the comedian retweeted, he was described as 'unfunny, uncharismatic, [and] mingy,' which, to be honest, sounds to yer Keith Telly Topping like fair and balanced comment. Another added: 'If the Brit awards wasn't bad enough, it just got a whole lot worse. I despise James Corden.' Well, of course, you don't have to watch it, mate. I'm certainly not going to. Replying to a favorable comment from the Sun's lickarse showbiz editor Gordon Smart, Corden admitted that he was 'a bit shocked' by the reaction. Dunno why, you'd think after the pasting Horne & Corden and Lesbian Vampire Killers took in 2009, he'd be well used to it by now.

Screenwriter Terry Rossio has signed up to write the fifth Pirates Of The Caribbean movie, reports Deadline. Disney has completed a deal with Rossio, who co-wrote the first four films in the adventure series, to return for the next instalment. It will be the first Pirates movie he has written without his partner, Ted Elliott. The studio is also trying to tie up a deal with On Stranger Tides director Rob Marshall for the sequel, while Johnny Depp is likely to reprise his role as Captain Jack Sparrow. Or at least, if he doesn't, they might as well not bother making it because the audience for it is going to be about three. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly about portraying Sparrow for a fifth time, Depp said: 'As long as we can put all the puzzle pieces together, I would most definitely consider it.'

West Midlands traffic unit has unveiled Britain's faster ever police car. Lotus has provided one of its fifty five thousand pounds one hundred and sixty two mph Evora models to the force for use on the M5, M6, M42, M6 toll road and other major routes, Rex Features reports. PC Angus Nairn said: 'It's a very quick car and we hope it will prove an effective deterrent to anyone thinking of speeding or trying to outrun us. It has incredible performance yet still does around thirty miles to the gallon. It will attract a lot of attention on the motorways but that is the whole idea - it will remind drivers of the need to keep to their speed limits at all times.'

Which brings us to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45(s) of the Day. And, given this week's positive news about the next Bond movie being back into pre-production, perhaps now is the opotune moment for little subsection I like to call 'No Meezda Bondt, I Expect You To Skank.' Let's kick-off underneath de mango tree in dowtown Jamaica ... Meanwhile, one hot summer's day in summer 1962 somewhere deep within Cine-Tele Sound Studios in Bayswater, Vic Flick and The John Barry Seven (and Orchestra) are discovering the wonders of reverb. Ten years on, it was Sir George and Sir Paul's turn. And, Roger's. 'Names is for tombstones, baby!' And finally ... 'Ha! Ha! De Killa!'