Saturday, January 08, 2011

Week Three: I Felt In Love With The Modern World

Amanda Holden was reportedly 'left scared' by a Britain's Got Talent act who leaped towards her, according to a tabloid report. Hilariously described by Metro as 'a crazed pigeon act,' Phil Zimmerman pretended to be a pigeon and strutted around the stage. To what purpose, we shall, perhaps, never care. However, when he was buzzed off by Holden and her fellow judges Louis Walsh and Michael McIntyre, Zimmerman approached the judges desk and had to be removed by the show's security team. 'Amanda was really scared,' a source told the paper. 'The guy was very strange and she was worried about what he was going to do when he tried to approach her. She was convinced he was going to grab her.' So, there's an idea for your next series of Amanda Holden's Fantasy Lives, chuck, overcoming your ornithophobia. Apparently, when he told Holden that he was very good at feathering his own nest, she asked if he was going cheap. To which he replied, 'no, I was going SQUAWK!' Honestly. That's what I heard, anyway. A little bird told me. They tweeted about it. Zimmerman then proceeded to throw a leaflet advertising his comedy club at McIntyre. Sounds like the best bit of the act, frankly.

The sitcom Not Going Out justified the BBC's decision to renew it with 4.7 million overnight viewers on Thursday evening in a strong night for BBC1. The comedy, starring Lee Mack and Tim Vine, averaged 4.75m from 8.30pm. It was preceded by Come Fly With Me, which drew 6.49m. The two shows easily outperformed Martin Clunes: Man To Mantas, after the programme - featuring the actor swimming with manta rays - pulled in just 3.83m on ITV in the 9pm hour. The penultimate edition of Channel Four's mega-flop Famous And Fearless had a meagre 1.16m viewers from 8pm, down over four hundred thousand on the previous night's episode. Hustle returned to BBC1 with another decent audience on Friday night. And a rather decent episode as well, as it happened (it felt a bit more relaxed than their usual season openers). The seventh series of the heist drama, starring Adrian Lester, Robert Vaughan and Robert Glenister, was watched by 5.74m in the 9pm hour roughly on a par with previous series. Meanwhile, over on ITV the one-off magician show Penn & Teller - which featured Jonathan Ross - took a respectable 4.17m between 9pm and 10.30pm. That was rather good as well, as it happened. Elsewhere, Celebrity Mastermind concluded on a very good audience of 5.64m for BBC1 at 7pm. Later, 4.02m watched the latest episode of Qi.

The BBC has confirmed that the new series of Torchwood will premiere on 1 July. A post on the show's official Facebook page confirms that the first episode of Miracle Day will air on the same day in the UK and US. The show's BBC1 time-slot is currently set as 9pm, while a schedule for US cable channel Starz is yet to be announced. Torchwood Magazine also confirms that filming on the ten-part series will begin next week, with former Angel showrunner Kelly Manners producing in the US and The Sarah Jane Adventures producer Brian Minchin fulfilling the same role in the UK. The first episode, which will feature a guest appearance from Dollhouse actress Dichen Lachman, will be directed by Bharat Nalluri. His past credits include the first episodes of Life On Mars, [spooks] and Hustle. Torchwood: Miracle Day will star series regulars John Barrowman and Eve Myles, as well as new cast additions Bill Pullman, Mekhi Phifer, Alexa Havins and Arlene Tur. The confirmation that the series would be called Miracle Day - rather than the previously touted title The New World - came from the BBC on Friday along with the news that the ten-episode serial will focus on a global conspiracy in which no-one on the planet is able to die. Commenting on the plotline for the new series, a BBC statement teased: 'One day, nobody dies. All across the world, nobody dies. And then the next day, and the next, and the next. People keep aging - they get hurt and sick - but they never die. The result: a population boom, overnight. With all the extra people, resources are finite. It's said that in four months' time, the human race will cease to be viable. But this can't be a natural event - someone's got to be behind it.' The series, the statement continued, will stretch 'from Washington to Wales and the slums of Shanghai.'

And, following that good news, here's yer next actual Top Telly Tips:

Friday 14 January
On the last in the current series of Qi - 8:30 BBC1 - Stephen Fry is joined by guests his David Mitchell, Rob Brydon, Sandi Toksvig and regular panellist Alan Davies. To delve, deeply (and hopefully amusingly) into the topic of history. Big subject. The XL edition will, of course, be shown tomorrow. The show, as previously announced, has been recommissioned for another sixteen episode 'I' series for 2011. As ever From The North will bring you news on who is going to be in it, dear blog reader, as soon as our committed squad of sneaky Copper's Narks tell us.

Can't Take It with You - 9:00 BBC2 - is a new series in which Gerry Robinson examines people's emotional and financial legacies, concentrating on two families torn over what to write in their wills. A husband wants to leave his home to his two sons from a previous marriage, but his wife would prefer to give half the asset to charity, and an army major bound for Iraq wishes to include his step daughters in his will, however his partner is against the principle of inheritance. Assisted by lawyer Sue Medder, Gerry sets out the legal options in each case, getting both parties involved in the debate about who should acquire their belongings after they die.

Another new series is Fast and Loose - 10:00 BBC2. Hugh Dennis hosts an improvisational comedy show from the production team that brought us Mock The Week, introducing performances by up-and-coming comedians who compete in games and scenes based on material chosen by the presenter and audience. So, essentially, it's the BBC doing improv comedy ala Whose Line Is It Anyway? All of which features the talents of guests Greg Davies (looking very dignified, left), Justin Edwards, Pippa Evans, Marek Larwood, Laura Solon and Humphrey Ker. From the trailers, yer Keith Telly Topping is required to note that it looks utter shite. And I say that as somebody who really rather likes the work of most of those involved in it. Hopefully, this is another case of first impressions being wrong.

Meanwhile, over on ITV at 9:00, Comedy Rocks with Jason Manford sees the award-winning comedian (and former BBC employee) presenting stand-up recorded near to transmission by leading lights on the circuit, it says here, along with music by rising stars. Sort of just exactly like Michael McIntyre's Roadshow only with a real comedian presenting it. Which will probably mean it'll get far less viewers, sadly. Joining Jase for the first edition are the very good Micky Flanagan, the decent and not yet over-exposed Jim Jefferies, the dreadful Lee Nelson and the 'very popular with students but, personally I can't stand the bugger' Russell Kane (winner of this years Edinburgh Comedy Award). Also featuring a musical performance by The Script. Which is one really good reason not to tune-in to this particular episode.

Saturday 15 January
Pete Postlethwaite: A Tribute - 7:30 BBC2 - is, not unreasonably, a programme dedicated to the actor, who died earlier this month. He appeared in films including The Usual Suspects, In the Name of the Father, and Brassed Off. With contributions from friends and colleagues.

In The Magicians - 7:00 BBC1 - Lenny Henry (whom the Radio Times continue to describe as 'a comedian' despite the fact that there's been no evidence of him saying anything remotely funny since about 1986) presents a magic contest. In which sleight-of-hand artist Chris Korn is joined by (soon-to-be-former) EastEnders actress Samantha Womack, master illusionist Luis de Matos teams up with smug Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? presenter Chris Tarrant, and conjurers Barry and Stuart are paired with another alleged comedian, Stephen K Amos, in a battle in front of a studio audience to prove who is the best act. Amos, of course, once famously included in his act the memorable line 'The ultimate goal is to have my own TV show. But, as we all know, the BBC have a diversity policy. Apparently I have to wait for Lenny Henry to die.' Comically, mate, he died a long time ago. But then, on the evidence of Amos's own BBC2 vehicle last autumn, his own humour is currently sharing a grave with Len. A rather shallow one at that.

Sunday 16 January
On The TV Book Club - 7:50 More4 - Ade Edmondson, Meera Syal, Jo Brand, Dave Spikey and Laila Rouass rate and review books by established and emerging authors. The panel begins by examining Room, Emma Donoghue's Booker-shortlisted novel about a five-year-old boy and his mother who spend all their time locked in a room.

In the final episode of Zen - 9:00 BBC1 - the detective is asked to investigate when industrialist Ruggerio Miletti (one of the Ministry's wealthiest backers) is kidnapped. That's an occupational hazard in Italy, isn't it? However, when the abductee's lawyer is murdered after an illegal attempt to make a ransom payment, Zen realises that dealing with Miletti's treacherous family could prove to be the most dangerous part of the case. Meanwhile, the new Chief of Police sets about making his presence felt - potentially spelling the end for Zen's budding romance with Tania. Drama, starring Rufus Sewell - right - and Caterina Murino, with Sarah-Jane Potts (Waterloo Road, Sugar Rush). Last in the current series. The jury - or, since this is Italy, should that be the investigating magistrate? - is still out on whether it's been a success or not although the audience for the first episode was over five million which indicates a - moderately - decent chance of a return.

Monday 17 January
Tonight's episode of the long-running science show, Horizon asks a question that yer actual Keith Telly Topping poses to himself on an almost daily basis, What Is Reality? - 9:00 BBC2. Good question, matey. One deserving a good answer. This is a documentary exploring the nature of reality itself, revealing how clues have been pieced together from deep within the atom, the event horizon of black holes and the far reaches of the cosmos. If, halfway through, they discover that reality is, in and of itself, inherently illusionary and that the cosmos is, in fact, the delusional ramblings of a damaged mind, expect the episode to disappear in a puff of logic and be replaced by Amanda Holden in Big Top.

And speaking of Big Top, one of Amanda's (hopefully reluctant) cast mates, the great Tony Robinson, turns up on Channel Four with another one of his excellent pop history conceits, Birth of Britain - 8:00. In this, old Bladrick tells the story of how Britain was formed. He begins by unearthing some of the volcanic remnants which lie hidden in the landscape and beneath famous landmarks, and meets experts who reveal the impact of eruptions on the nation's development, from mega volcanos in Snowdonia to unstoppable lava floods in Skye.

Ready Steady Drink - 9:00 BBC3 - sees Inbetweeners actress, ice dancer and Paul McCartney's cousin Emily Atack (see left) investigating the culture of drinking games and speed-drinking in the UK. She meets people who consume alcohol before a night out, a group of 'vodka eyeballers' and spends a night in a new alcohol recovery centre as well as seeing the London Booze Bus paramedic team in action to learn the consequences of this behaviour and what is being done to tackle the problem. Part of BBC3's Dangerous Pleasures season.

Tuesday 18 January
The Year Britain Froze - 8:00 Channel Four - is a documentary which provides - if you really want one - yet another look back at the cold snap which caused the nation to grind to a halt in December 2010. The programme reveals how blizzard conditions brought disruption to Britain's roads, airports and rail networks, and highlights some of the many accounts of heroic rescues and personal tragedies during what was reported to be the coldest December since records began. Yeah, most of us did, actually, notice it mate. Not that the national media did until it hit London in the middle of week three. Then, it became a story.

There's a new series of one of TV's most disturbing conceits starting tonight. Hotter Than My Daughter - 8:30 BBC3. In this wretched excuse for 'entertainment,' Liz McClarnon meets a woman from Plymouth who is embarrassed by her rebellious mother, who insists on wearing revealing outfits, while a daughter who dresses like her grandmother and a mum with supermodel looks feel they need to swap styles. Sick, ladies and gentlemen. The first series of the show led the Gruniad Morning Star's Millie Tant-clone columnist Lucy Mangan to challenge the BBC to explain how Hotter Than My Daughter conforms to that corporation's self-declared mission. That's easy, Luce. It comes under the category of 'to entertain.' Because, by the Royal Charter, the BBC has an obligation to cater to all sections of licence fee payers. Even the glakes.

In Natural World Special: Miracle in the Marshes of Iraq - 8:00 BBC2 - David Johnson heads for the Mesopotamian Marshes in Iraq (which the title sort of gave away). This is believed by some people to be the location of the Garden of Eden, to investigate a large-scale habitat recreation project, headed by ambitious engineer Azzam Alwash, to transform the desert-like region back into a fertile wetland.

One of Channel Four's surprise cult hits of last year was Big Fat Gypsy Weddings which returns tonight at 9:00. The opening Cutting Edge film achieved an astonishing - and unexpected - audience of over five million viewers. An exploration of the often extravagant and surprising world of gypsies and travellers in Britain today, focusing on rite-of-passage celebrations to reveal the community's attitudes toward gender roles, education and outsiders, the programme transcended its stupidly provocative title and was, at times, really revealing and touching. The new series begins with a look at the milestones in a gypsy girl's life, from her first Holy Communion to the strict rules of courtship, followed by her hen night and spectacular wedding.

Wednesday 19 January
Hattie - 9:00 BBC4 - is a biopic of the much-loved Carry On actress Hattie Jacques, a dramatisation of her secret affair with a younger man, John Schofield, in the early 1960s, while she was still married to Dad's Army actor John Le Mesurier. A love triangle developed between the three and Hattie used her charm and ingenuity to control escalating family tensions and threats of public exposure - but she ultimately made a decision that risked leaving her alone. Sounds great. And the cast, which includes Robert Bathurst, Being Human's Aidan Turner and Jeany Spark looks top quality. What a shame, therefore, that the part of Hattie herself has been taken by the most vastly over-rated comedy actress on British TV, Ruth Jones. Meanwhile Eric Sykes has criticised the production for 'raking over' the love life of his late co-star. The eighty seven-year-old says Hattie doesn't tally with his fond memories of his friend. Sykes told the Mature Times: 'It's very sad that parts of her life are being raked over, but I never saw her like that. Hattie was just wonderful – she'd read out the script in rehearsal and know her next line without turning the page as if she was telepathic. Hat wasn't a small lady but her size was never mentioned in our scripts. She trained as a ballet dancer and was incredibly agile. When she was well over forty she'd jump up and do the splits.' That must, yer Keith Telly Topping is forced to concede, have been a sight to see.

In Mary Portas: Secret Shopper - 9:00 Channel Four - the presenter works with brands and high-street chains to help improve the quality of service offered to their customers. In the first episode, she explores the `fast-fashion' sector, and helps an expanding chain's poorest performing store in Essex to boost its appeal with shoppers. She then challenges the company's managing director to implement her ideas through his other branches - but his disenchanted staff make it a difficult task.

Sometimes BBC3 does a real public service by asking the questions that no one dares to. Is Oral Sex Safe? - 9:00 - is something that yer Keith Telly Topping has often wondered. I mean, it tastes good, sure, but, is it safe? You know, it's the same with chocolate. I remember, I got in a lift once. The lass asked 'going down?' I said, 'yes, I am actually. I need to get to the ground floor so I can catch the bus, go home and have me some oral sex...' Anyway, this documentary examines the increase in young people suffering from oropharyngeal cancer - a rare disease caused by the sexual transmitted infection human papillomavirus. Actress Jaime Winstone sets out to discover why there has been such a sharp rise in the number of people with oral cancers, meeting people who have contracted it, experts in the field and questioning the Department of Health over why a vaccine to prevent HPV is only available to girls.

Thursday 20 January
In Who Does What? - 7:00 BBC2 - six couples undergo a thorough relationship audit, with twenty four-hour surveillance footage monitoring household activity over eight days, beginning with Lisa and Jon from Essex and Jayne and Neil from Salisbury. After viewing a statistical breakdown that reveals exactly who does what in each relationship, they discuss the changes that need to be made to improve their lives for the better. Narrated by Tracy Ann Oberman and Hugh Bonneville.

Rome Wasn't Built in a Day - 9:00 Channel Four - sees six skilled builders head for Wroxeter in Shropshire, where they are challenged to construct a full-size Roman villa for English Heritage, using only tools and materials known to their ancient counterparts. The team begins by meeting archaeologist Dai Morgan Evans, who demonstrates how to get in touch with the spirit world to make sure the gods approve of the site.

Come Fly With Me - 9:00 BBC1 - has certainly divided opinion since it began on Christmas Day. In the latest episode, immigration officer Ian Foot pulls Taaj in for questioning as part of a random security check, Fearghal takes desperate measures to get nominated for Steward of the Year, and Tommy Reid applies for pilot training. Meanwhile, Helen's last day on the FlyLo desks arrives, and Melody and Keeley prepare to find out who is receiving a promotion. Spoof airport documentary, guest starring Anna Friel and Germaine Greer. Meanwhile, it might not be the sort of praise they want but Jim Davidson has come out in support of Matt Lucas and David Walliams' sketch show. The duo had been accused of racism after 'blacking up' to play such characters as Indian ground crew worker Taaj and lazy coffee shop worker Precious. Now Davidson, who has long been accused of racism in his stand-up, especially over his black character 'Chalkie,' has written a piece in - of course - the Sun defending the characters. Using words of less than two syllables, no doubt. Although with, hopefully, joined-up writing. When told of Davidson's suport, Walliams and Lucas were said to be 'considering their future.'

It's all comedy tonight as Ten O'Clock Live returns at 10:00 Channel Four. Described as a 'light-hearted current affairs show,' which frankly seems like a contradiction in terms, this features David Mitchell, Jimmy Carr, Charlie Brooker and Lauren Laverne. They are joined by guests from the worlds of comedy, politics, science and culture for debates, interviews, topical comedy, investigations and opinion pieces.

And, so to the news: James Caan has announced that he has quit Dragons' Den. The Pakistan-born millionaire, who joined the BBC show during its fifth series, confirmed this week that he is leaving to focus on his other work commitments. 'I have greatly enjoyed my time in the Dragons' Den, however my work and philanthropic interests mean I can't devote the time required to the Den any longer,' he said in a statement. 'Dragons' Den has been an integral and exciting part of my professional life and I thank the show profusely for letting me be a part of it for so long. Unfortunately, I'm out!' Dominic Bird, the show's executive editor added: 'James has been a fearsome dragon over the last two years and, although we'll be sorry to see him leave the den, we appreciate he is very busy with his new endeavours. We wish him luck and hope to work with him again soon on new projects.' Caan has had a long-running public feud with fellow Dragon Duncan Bannatyne, who last year said that he hoped the fifty-year-old would not return for the new series.

BBC2 has announced an all-star cast for its new thriller Page Eight. The show, which is David Hare's first original screenplay for twenty years, will feature actors including Bill Nighy, Rachel Weisz, Judy Davis, Michael Gambon and Ralph Fiennes. The drama follows Nighy's character Johnny, a long-serving MI5 officer who is shocked when his boss and best friend Benedict (-played by Gambon) dies suddenly, leaving him a mysterious file. Meanwhile, Johnny has a seemingly chance encounter with his next-door neighbour Nancy (Weisz), a political activist. Eventually he ends up walking out of his job and 'out of his identity' to find out the truth. The cast also includes Ewen Bremner, Felicity Jones, Tom Hughes, Alice Krige and Saskia Reeves. Hare said: 'The last decade has been as testing as any in the history of the British intelligence community - the compromises and dilemmas they've faced in the new century make a fascinating story. I'm thrilled to be working with such an extraordinary ensemble of great actors.' Filming for Page Eight will begin this month and it will broadcast later this year.

Amy Acker has signed up for a role in USA's new pilot Common Law. The show stars Michael Ealy and Warren Kole as two homicide detectives who are sent to couples counselling to resolve their differences. TV Line reports that Acker has landed the only female regular role in the project, playing the duo's therapist. Acker previously starred in Angel and Dollhouse and has also appeared in shows including The Good Wife, Happy Town and No Ordinary Family. Common Law is being written and executive produced by National Treasure scribes Cormac and Marianne Wibberley.

Lucy Lawless has revealed that her husband encourages her to star in sex scenes in Spartacus: Gods of the Arena. The actress, who is married to show producer Robert Tapert, told Access Hollywood that her partner pushes her to throw herself into nude scenes, rather than asking her to stop doing them. Lawless explained: 'He's a funny guy. He just says, "This is a great story." It goes against me sometimes. He's like, "Lucy, I know you're gonna be uncomfortable with this but that's the way it is."' However, the former Xena: Warrior Princess star said that Tapert does not remain on set while filming for the raunchier sequences goes ahead. She commented: 'He's not on set those days. He's busy producing upstairs and he doesn't hang around making us all uncomfortable.'

Stefan Dennis has dismissed suggestions that crew cuts at Neighbours indicate an uncertain future for the soap. Last month, it was announced that a number of production staff were to lose their jobs, including the show's location manager, catering team, technical directors and art directors. The changes - instigated by production firm Fremantle Media - mean that fewer cameras will be used during filming and location scenes are likely to be seen less frequently. Speaking to Holy Soap about the shake-up, Dennis, who plays Paul Robinson, commented: 'To the audience it shouldn't change the look or feel of the show whatsoever. It's purely a business decision. People are saying they are trying to kill the show but it's the exact opposite. Fremantle Media is a big global company. They're cost-cutting because of the financial climate. Neighbours is a business for Fremantle Media and it's their prerogative to run it as they want. If it means cost-cutting to keep it running, of course that's what they're going to do. Particularly over Christmas it's very sad for people to be made redundant on a show they've been working on for years, but that's the sad reality. It's very easy for me to say because I'm one of the fortunate ones and I really feel for people losing jobs as they're my work colleagues and mates. But it's a decision to keep Neighbours going - it's not a decision for the slow demise of Neighbours. There's no way Fremantle Media wants Neighbours to end.'

Waking the Dead actor Tara Fitzgerald is to feature in a new spin-off drama series about a private forensic unit, The Body Farm, for BBC1. The six-part commission, which goes into production in April, was announced this week by the head of BBC drama series and serials, Kate Harwood. Harwood said that it would deal with new, gritty territory, and dark themes, moving on from Waking the Dead. The BBC announced in October that Waking the Dead will end after its final, ninth series, which is broadcast in March, as five two-part dramas. Fitzgerald's character, forensic scientist Eve Lockhart, will feature in the new show. Lockhart is known for conducting experimental procedures on dead bodies. Trevor Eve, who plays Peter Boyd in Waking the Dead, will not appear on screen in the new show. But he will co-produce the drama through his company, Projector Pictures, in association with the BBC. And, whinge about other shows whilst he does so. Waking the Dead, in which Boyd and his team solve 'cold cases' has been a consistent ratings winner for BBC1 since launching a decade ago and has sold well abroad. It was devised by Barbara Machin. The new series, created by Declan Croghan, chimes with current political developments such as the outsourcing of forensic science examinations to private contractors.

ITV News and US network NBC have jointly appointed Rohit Kachroo to act as an Africa correspondent for both broadcasters as part of a collaboration agreement. Kachroo, currently a crime correspondent for ITV News, is expected to start his new post later this month, based out of Johannesburg in South Africa, reports the Press Gazette. His appointment coincides with the launch of a joint operation between ITV News and NBC aimed at sharing reporting resources around the world. ITV News Middle East reporter John Ray will become a joint correspondent for NBC News, supported by the NBC production team in Israel. In September, ITV opened a new bureau in Dubai and reshuffled its network of foreign correspondents, including Africa correspondent Martin Geissler moving to become the ITV News Europe correspondent. The restructure resulted in the closure of the ITV News Johannesburg bureau, but the broadcaster retained a production base in the city. Kachroo was only appointed ITV News's crime correspondent in September, after previously working as a reporter in the Midlands. 'We're expanding our foreign operations at a time when many news organisations are retracting theirs, and we're proud to do so hand-in-hand with America's market leader,' said Jonathan Munro, deputy editor of ITV News. 'Rohit is an excellent reporter who has proved himself on many home and international stories. His first posting as a foreign correspondent will enable us to comprehensively cover Africa from Johannesburg as well as our hub in Dubai.' Chris Hampson, NBC's international news director, added: 'In a world of cultural and political interdependency, it is vital that we deliver to our audience first-hand reporting from wherever news happens. This partnership with award-winning ITV News expands our depth and reach into cultures, governments and events in parts of the world that are of critical importance to our viewers.'

Mad Frankie Boyle has launched a 'stinging broadside' against fellow comic Mark Watson for daring to criticise Boyle's material. The controversial Tramadol Nights comedian posted a tweet to his one hundred and twenty thousand followers saying: 'Amused to be sent an attack on my work by Mark Watson. A sellout who takes money to advertise booze to his teenage fans. A cunt.' Lovely. Watson, who has advertised Magners Pear cider and, to be fair, is undeniably a smug and rather unfunny man at the best of times, also made several appearance on Mock The Week alongside Boyle. So, maybe it's personal. The row stems back from a blog posting Watson made in April last year, when Boyle had been criticised for telling a joke about children with Down’s Syndrome, after being taken to task by one of his audience members whose daughter had the condition. At the time, Watson wrote: 'Pretty much since I became a comedian, I've wondered whether comedy awards itself too much licence by playing the hey-calm-down-we're-just-joking-here card, and thus making anyone who objects feel like, well, like a Daily Mail reader. In my time in comedy clubs I've seen scores and scores of gags at the expense of fat people, gay people, disabled people, women, pretty much every minority group other than forty five-year-old, slightly paunchy stand-ups in suit jackets. A lot of them are just jokes, and everyone (including the victims) finds them funny, and it's cool. Or, the victims aren't there, so it's sort-of cool. But all these jokes do contribute to keeping certain stereotypes nailed in place. If you're a kid at school who gets called "gay" every day, you're aware that you are not actually being accused of being a homosexual – it's just a joke – but nonetheless you will come to the end of seven years with a pretty strong instinct that being gay is a really shameful thing. In the same way, if you laugh at a misogynist joke in a comedy club, it doesn't mean you are going to go home and beat up your wife, but it probably does mean that, on some level, you recognise and agree with the assumptions that underpin the joke.' Ironically, although Boyle criticised Watson for advertising cider, his show – like all Channel Four comedy – is sponsored by Foster's lager.

The Daily Lies, meanwhile, has falsely claimed that the BBC has 'scrapped' Frankie Boyle in the face of tabloid-fuelled fury. The paper on Thursday reported that BBC2 dropped a planned repeat of Never Mind The Buzzcocks which Boyle hosted following 'outrage over his obscene jokes about AIDS and cancer. Bosses at the BBC have abandoned plans to repeat the broadcast after complaints from viewers and uproar on Twitter,' the paper alleged. However, the show – which attracted only a small handful of negative comments online (and just ten directly to the BBC) – was never scheduled to be repeated in the first place. Listings magazines published as long ago as last week, long before the supposedly contentious episode had been broadcast, advertised the show as a 'best of' compilation hosted by David O'Doherty. Nonetheless, the Lies claimed:'‘Last night the Beeb scrapped its usual Wednesday repeat, instead choosing to show a compilation of series highlights.' And, of course, it quoted a - conveniently unnamed - 'source' saying: 'In true BBC fashion they'll try to close ranks, refusing to admit publicly that they'd made a mistake. Privately they realise they did and it is unlikely to be shown again. Frankie went way too far.' Perhaps it was the same 'source' who told them that Lady Gaga was going to be appearing in Doctor Who last year? The episode of Never Mind The Buzzococks presented by Boyle, incidentally, is still freely available on iPlayer.

Rumours that Hollyoaks is 'facing the axe' have today been rubbished by the soap's production company and Channel Four. Earlier, a newspaper claimed that Channel Four's new chief creative officer Jay Hunt - who takes office at the network next week - has plans to scrap the serial following its fifteen-year stint on the air. The report suggested that the recent departure of Hollyoaks' series producer Paul Marquess and appointment of Gareth Philips as acting producer came as part of a plan to 'breathe new life' into the programme amid fears over Hunt's arrival. However, a spokesperson for Hollyoaks' production firm Lime Pictures told the Digital Spy website: 'There is no link between Paul Marquess's departure and Jay Hunt's arrival. Paul Marquess agreed to a twelve-month term and in that time he has done a great job of delivering dynamic storylines and exciting new characters. The show is still the only nightly drama for young people and remains hugely popular with audiences. Hollyoaks is currently enjoying consistent viewing figures and the show's success is reflected in Channel Four's increased investment in Hollyoaks' brand extension - programming includes another series of Hollyoaks Later, the Hollyoaks Music Show and a number of multi-platform initiatives for There have been no discussions of the show being axed.' Camilla Campbell, Head of Channel Four Drama, added: 'Channel Four have absolutely no plans to axe Hollyoaks. It's a crucial part of the schedule. Soaps are ever-evolving and with some exciting new storylines coming up, we look forward to seeing the exciting new journeys Gareth Philips will take us and the Hollyoaks fans on in the future.'

And, speaking of - alleged - tabloid horseshit, Katherine Jenkins has dismissed as 'nonsense' a tabloid report which claimed that she is 'a happy drunk.' The story, also in this week's Daily Lies, alleged that the classical singer - who appeared in the recent Doctor Who Christmas special - was a 'wild party girl' who loved 'getting a bit crazy on a night out. I always manage to get so sloshed I fall over and flash my knickers to everyone!' the paper allegedly quoted her as allegedly saying. 'It's just a shame that I'm normally wearing highly unsexy granny panties when I give them an eyeful.' Yes, that sounds like just the kind of thing a young woman would say to tabloid scum reporter. I don't think. However, writing on Twitter the following afternoon Jenkins stated: 'Biggest load of nonsense I have ever read about myself!' Oh, stick aroundm, love. Now you're on the Lies radar I'd expect at least one of those per month for the next couple of years.

Kerry Katona has admitted that she 'feels like damaged goods.' There's really no answer to that. Next ...

All of the major US broadcasters have reportedly declined to pick up the new Wonder Woman television series. In October last year it was revealed that Warner Bros Television had teamed up with Ally McBeal creator David E Kelley in an attempt to bring the iconic DC Comics character back to the small screen. However, according to Entertainment Weekly, all of the major networks have now passed on the project. Despite this setback, the Wonder Woman team are apparently still keen to pursue the series but will not be 'moving forward' at this stage. Lynda Carter starred in a live action Wonder Woman series from 1975 to 1979 on both ABC and CBS. However, various attempts to relaunch the character on television - and in the movies - since then have all failed to get to production stage.

Katie Holmes' upcoming television mini-series about the Kennedy family has been dropped by the History Channel only months before its premiere. The drama series had been scheduled to begin on the channel sometime in March. However, the network issued a statement yesterday indicating that it will no longer be broadcasting the show. According to USA Today, the channel claimed: 'This dramatic interpretation is not a fit for the History brand.' The network did acknowledge the high standard to which The Kennedys had been produced, but failed to further elaborate on its decision to drop the show. The eight-part series, which stars Holmes herself as Jackie Kennedy opposite Greg Kinnear as US President John Kennedy, has already received criticism for a number of historical inaccuracies. The Kennedys will continue to boradcast internationally, although it is unknown whether another US broadcaster will pick up the show following the History Channel's decision to pull out.

Claudia Rosencrantz, director of the Living TV Group acquired by Sky last year, is to leave the company by mutual agreement. Rozencrantz, as dear blog readers with longer memories will remember, was responsible for such brilliant examples of innovative programming as Jade: A Year Without Her and Bedlam. According to media reports, an official announcement about Rosencrantz's departure will be issued early next week and it is thought she will go on gardening leave. Rosencrantz is among a number of high-profile departures from the Living TV Group management team since the broadcaster was acquired by Sky. Group managing director Johnny Webb is to leave the firm at the end of January, whilst director of programmes Daniela Neumann has already left her post. Rosencrantz, who also managed the Bravo, Challenge and Channel One (formerly Virgin1) channels, is understood to have judged that there was no suitable role for her in the new Living TV Group management structure. Sky has already confirmed plans to rebrand the flagship Living channel as Sky Living and increase its programming budget by twenty five per cent. Sky Living will also move to channel 107 as part of a new entertainment trio with Sky1 and Sky Atlantic. During her five years at Living, Rosencrantz oversaw a revamp of the Living channel, bringing on new programmes such as Four Weddings and Dating in the Dark. She also agreed a deal with Katie Price in July, poaching the plastic one from ITV2. Prior to joining Living, Rosencrantz spent ten years working at ITV and was credited with helping to launch a range of shows, including The X Factor, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? and Hell's Kitchen.

Cheeky Girl Gabriela Irimia has reportedly been caught shoplifting in a Sainsbury's store in Alderley Edge, Cheshire. According to the Sun, the singer was taken to a local police station and cautioned by officers after stealing groceries and beauty items worth around forty quid. A witness said: 'I saw her being dragged off by security. I recognised her face from the TV and couldn't believe what was going on. I don't know what she was playing at.' A police spokesman added: 'A twenty six-year-old woman was detained on suspicion of theft of grocery items. She was interviewed about the circumstances of the incident and subsequently given a caution for theft.'

A vulture from Israel has reportedly been 'detained' by the Saudi Arabian authorities on suspicion of being used for spying. The griffon vulture had a GPS transmitter from Tel Aviv University attached to it when it landed in the city of Hyaal, BBC News reports. According to Ma'ariv, locals discovering the transmitter handed the bird to the security forces, sparking rumours that it was involved in espionage. A bird specialist at Israel's Park and Nature Authority said: 'The device does nothing more than receive and store basic data about the bird's whereabouts, and about his altitude and speed. Now, this poor bird is paying a terrible price. That's very sad. I hope they release the poor thing.' Israeli officials told the newspaper that they were 'stunned' by suggestions that the bird had been used for spying.

And finally, we've got today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. One, two, three, for, five, six ...