Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Been A Long Time Coming

Wednesday evening's edition of The ONE Show on BBC1 was interrupted by a fire alarm going off at BBC's White city media centre. Right in the middle of an interview with poor old Tamisn Greig. The studio apparently had to be evacuated due to an - automated - fire alarm sounding mid-programme. Ah, the glories of live TV, dear blog reader. Matt Baker and Alex Jones managed to handle the sudden (and, very loud) interruption reasonably well before cutting to a film about bats introduced by the deadly killer Miranda Krestovnikov. When that ended, there was a blank screen and about fifty seconds of total silence as the nation held its collective breath. Mainly at the prospect of Alex's horribly charred corpse being featured on the front page of every tabloid tomorrow morning. Finally a rather startled-sounding lady continuity announcer apologised for the 'loss' of The ONE Show and said that they were 'trying to correct the fault.' After that failed the BBC cut to a short clip from Nigel Slater's last series. Which is, presumably, held in reserve for times of crisis and impending blaze-related death. TV cookery shows, dear blog reader. Is there anything they can't make better? But, a tip for the continuity girl. They weren't lost due to a fault, love, they were out in the car park freezing their bollocks off whilst somebody tried to work out if it was a real fire or not. And, presumably, having a shifty fag at the same time. Rumours that a dishevelled cackling figure vaguely resembling Jason Manford was seen in the shadows shortly before the incident cannot, at this time, be confirmed or denied. Finally, a few minutes later came the wonderful confirmation from Alex (via Twitter) that they were alive and well. And church bells were rung throughout the land at this news.

There have been many fine tributes paid to the late Nicholas Courtney, including the BBC's own obituary. But I would like to draw, in particular, dear blog readers attention to the thoughts of the TV writer and Doctor Who fan Javier Grillo-Marxuach. I think, the reaction of many Doctor Who fans to the news was best summed up by my old friend Mick Snowden who noted that Nick was 'such a warm-hearted man, always happy to chat with fans and share anecdotes about his time on Doctor Who.' Tony Jordan, the Doctor Who Appreciation Society co-ordinator told me that 'Nick was a wonderful chap. He was a human being who delighted in the company of other human beings. I honestly can't think of anyone who would say a bad word about him. He's an enormous loss to not just the world of Doctor Who. However we can look back on his body of work with great joy, and those of us who were fortunate enough to have met or known him can reflect on a life well lived.' That was always my own impression of Nick. A gent. Meanwhile, Tom Baker has paid tribute to his former Doctor Who co-star. The actor wrote a message on his official website in memory of Nick. 'Of all the characters in Doctor Who there is no doubt that he was the most loved by the fans for his wonderful portrayal of the rather pompous Brigadier,' Baker said. '"Five rounds rapid" was the line we all loved, always addressed to Sergeant Benton. Nick's close friends simply adored him.' He added: 'He was a wonderful companion and his friends would call each other or e-mail to relate the latest little stories of a night out with the Brig. We shall miss him terribly.'

Filming for the seventh series of BBC3's best-kept secret, Ideal is currently underway in Manchester. Six episodes this time around. I'm told by a 'source ' (allegedly) that the scripts are 'Graham's best yet.' So, no pressure then!

Lynda Carter has said that she supports the new Wonder Woman pilot. Carter starred as the titular superhero in the 1970s TV show. David E Kelley is writing and producing the new pilot starring Friday Night Lights actress Adrianne Palicki. 'I think it is an amazing role to play. I know [Adrianne] is going to be really nervous about it, just because you would be. But I have a lot of confidence in David Kelley and what he's going to come up with. David Kelley's so talented, and that's really where it needs to be, is in the writing,' Carter told the Baltimore Sun about the project. She added: 'I spoke with David yesterday, and he's really, really excited about it.' The actress said that she thinks 'the story needs to be retold,' adding: 'It needs to have a fresh look at it. It affected a lot of people. I think it's time; I think it's important to have it out there again.'

The new BBC legal drama Silk - the first episode of which yer actual Keith Telly Topping rather enjoyed - debuted with 5.3m on Tuesday night, outperforming ITV's Taggart and Heston Blumenthal's new show on Channel Four, overnight audience data has revealed.

Former president Martin Sheen has said that he is praying for his son Charlie, who is currently battling addictions to drugs and alcohol. The veteran actor - currently on tour with his other son, Emilio Estevez promoting their new movie, The Way, was asked how he is dealing with his son's difficulties after Charlie checked into home rehab last month. Martin told the Press Association: 'With prayer. We lift him up and we ask everyone who cares about him to lift him up, and lift up all those who are in the grip of drug and alcohol abuse, because they are looking for transcendence.' Speaking about his son to Sky News, Martin added: 'He's an extraordinary man. If he had cancer, how would we treat him? The disease of addiction is a form of cancer. You have to have an equal measure of concern and love and lift them up and so that's what we do for him. You realise that we're not all on the same journey all the time. We have to love that much more, we have to be that much more present.'

The winner of the first series of MasterChef has criticised the show for becoming more like The X Factor. The new series of the BBC1 show saw a number of changes made, including the addition of auditions to replace the usual heats. However, Joan Buntin - who won the competition in 1990 - told the Mirra that the programme is now chasing ratings. Which, of course, the Mirra - now into its second week of trying to drum up a scum 'exclusive' about the fact that a few dozen malcontents who used to like the show now claim that they don't any more - were lapping all this up. Getting The Horn, so they were. 'The BBC know that X Factor and Britain's Got Talent are ITV shows that work and they need to copy the format if they're going to survive,' she said. 'MasterChef is all about the drama. In my day it was more about cooking, now it's more about the show and personalities - it has to be if John Torode and Gregg Wallace want to keep their jobs.' Of course, it's worth noting at this point that 'my day' for Joan was twenty one years ago, since which time the show in question had undergone half-a-dozen separate changes of format, timeslot, channel and presenter. So what the hell the Mirra thought they were actually achieving by soliciting quotes from someone who has about as much relevance to the show as it is today as, I dunno, Barney Chuckle maybe, is beyond yer actual Keith Telly Topping. Or, is it simply an example of the Mirra joining the Grunaid Morning Star, the Daily Scum Mail and the Daily Torygraph in having a thoroughly venal and sick anti-BBC agenda and using any old cock and bull nonsense to pursue it? You decide, dear blog reader. She continued: 'I find parts of it really annoying - the bit where competitors leap around like lunatics and look like they have just come out of a night shelter. It is no longer about them being judged by their cooking. That contestants have to give up their jobs to be on the show and are after a top career in cooking adds to the pressure and boosts ratings. That increased intensity makes for better television, just like on The X Factor. The chefs are vying for big prizes. I never was after a career in cooking. I could never jump the hoops that've been set on the show today,' she added. So, it's back to the old Loyd Grossman videos for you a Thursday night is it Joan? Well, good luck with that.

And, from that we come, just like clockwork, to this week's wholly manufactured Top Gear 'row.' The BBC has defended comments made about cyclists by Jeremy Clarkson on Top Gear. During an episode of the show broadcast earlier this month, the presenter commented on reports that some cyclists were now wearing cameras on their helmets to film the behaviour of some drivers. Clarkson went on to detail an incident where a French cyclist had damaged his car, claiming that they 'deserve' what happens to them on the roads. In response to a handful of whinging complaints, the BBC published a statement from executive producer of Top Gear Andy Wilman reading: 'Oh God, not again! Why the hell don't you people get a bloody life.' Actually, no it didn't, because Andy is far too nice a man to voice such opinions. But, this blogger isn't. Not even close. 'Jeremy was singling out what he sees as aggressive cyclists, like the one who scraped his car,' he noted. As should have been patently obvious to anyone with half-a-frigging brain in their head actually watching the show. But, then, that would exclude the majority of those malcontents making such comments. 'I don't think anyone can deny that, as with motorists, there are cyclists out there whose road behaviour is hardly ideal. Jeremy made it clear that in his view cyclists are free to use the roads as long as they behave themselves,' he continued. 'Whilst he'd clearly prefer them to defer to motorists, I think his comments stop a long way short of encouraging aggression.' He added: 'Of course Jeremy's views were balanced out by those of Richard Hammond, who stood up for cyclists.' God only knows what Britain's professional whingers are going to do after next week when the current series of Top Gear finishes. Life is, simply, going to be torture for them for the next four months as they wait for the new series to start so they've got something to complain about again. And, as for the press, it's going to be even worse for them. They're going to have to go back to reporting some proper news. How on earth will they cope?

Comedy Dave Vitty has stated that he and his Twatting About On Ice partner Frankie Poultney have 'no plans' to 'begin knobbing.' Which will, no doubt, be a great relief to ... somebody.

Peaches Geldof has claimed that her upcoming talk show is more like Question Time than The Jeremy Kyle Show. Saint Bob's daughter told Heat magazine - who, of course, run stories about Question Time even single week - that OMG! With Peaches Geldof is 'not combative' like Kyle's show. Geldof said: 'This is people from all different walks of society. It is more like Question Time. It's not about self-help in that way.' She added: 'I get to meet and film unusual people and hang out with them over a period of time before the show starts. For example, I got to hang out with polyamorous people who believe you can love more than one person, so they're all just living in this house. It's weird. It's really fascinating, though. They were all, like, these Oxford-educated toffs - really normal, really intelligent. They did this thing called a "cuddle party" where you all had to lie in a big pile and this guy who was like, really gross and beardy was like, "Is it okay if I stroke you?" I had to say "yes," so he was just there, stroking my arm! Then I bring it to a live environment where there's a studio audience and we all discuss it. It's like a debate show.' So, just like Question Time, then. Only, with cuddling. Tasteful.

Craig Revel Horwood was reportedly forced to apologise on live television when he referred to members of the gypsy community as 'pikeys.' The Strictly Come Dancing judge was discussing the hit documentary series My Big Fat Gypsy Weddings on Channel Five's The Wright Stuff when he made the comment, the Mirra reports. 'Be a gypsy and stick to your codes and don't involve us,' he said of the show. 'And get off our TVs. All those pikeys though, darling. Do we really need them?' Host Matthew Wright informed him: 'That's an offensive term to gypsies like using the N-word to black people. You will have to apologise.' Doing so, Horwood said: 'I do apologise to the nation for the pikey remarks. I take it back.' According to the newspaper, one viewer commented on Twitter: 'Craig Revel Horwood just told "pikeys" to "get off telly." Hello, Ofcom.' That was the comments of 'Snitchy the Copper's Nark' for you there, dear blog reader. He's available for parties, weddings, grassing you up to the tabloids, all the usual services.

ITV has reportedly ordered a second series of Adrian Chiles's That Sunday Night Show. The panel-show, which takes an allegedly comical look back at the week's news, has averaged just over three million viewers in its slot directly after the Twatting About On Ice results show, Broadcast reports. Which, frankly, some might be consider to be a small return for the six million quid that ITV are reported to be paying Chiles over the next five years. Even if you take into account the daily audience of seven hundred thousand that he's also got on Daybreak. Yer Keith Telly Topping can't answer that, dear blog reader. Unlike that bloke from ITN who was commenting on Andrew Marr's salary, I'm not an accountant. Just a TV viewer. And a simple one at that. While the first series of Chiles' show, which has featured guests including Lord Alan Sugar, Frank Skinner and Shaun Ryder, concludes this Sunday, the broadcaster has not yet confirmed how many episodes it has ordered from Avalon Entertainment or when they will broadcast. Elain Bedell, ITV's Director of Entertainment commented: 'That Sunday Night Show has established itself very quickly as a popular part of the ITV weekend entertainment line-up.'

Hallmark Channel has unveiled plans to make a television movie about Prince William and his fiancée Kate Middleton. The channel announced on Tuesday that production will soon begin on William & Kate: A Royal Love Story, which will be broadcast on 13 August. The biopic will detail the couple's courtship at St Andrews, William's military training at Sandhurst, and the pair's brief split and subsequent reconciliation. It will also explore their engagement, wedding planning and advice received from The Queen. 'While biographical, the film is a love story with an inside look at the nuances of a modern monarchy,' said Barbara Fisher, senior vice president of original programming at Hallmark. The project will be executive produced by Linda Yellen, who previously worked on the movie The Royal Romance of Charles and Diana. The cast has yet to be announced. Americans, dear blog reader. They fought a revolution to get rid of the monarchy now, seemingly, many of them would quite like it back. Go figure. If it was up to this blogger, of course, they could have 'em. But, unfortunately, since I never did get my place in the coalition government as Minister for Britpop, Telly and Curries, I don't really have much of a say in the matter. (Although, yer Keith Telly Topping has heard that his opinion is sometimes heard in certain circles of The Establishment. If he shouts loud enough from one end of Whitehall and the wind's in the right direction.)

Morena Baccarin has signed up for a guest role on CBS drama The Mentalist. Entertainment Weekly reports that the actress, who currently stars in ABC's V, will play a character named Erica Flynn. The owner of a matchmaking business, Flynn will be forced to hide some dark secrets when she crosses paths with Jane (Simon Baker). Baccarin previously starred in short-lived FOX SF drama Firefly and has also featured in episodes of The OC, How I Met Your Mother and Stargate SG-1.

Ben Elton's Australian comedy show, Live From Planet Earth, has been cancelled after just three episodes. The Nine Network initially commissioned six episodes but pulled the plug in the face of desperately poor ratings. The show, a combination of stand-up and sketch broadcast entirely live, attracted just four hundred and fifty five thousand viewers in its first week. Overnight estimates put the audience for this week's show at just one hundred and eighty six thousand viewers – though it had been shunted to later in the schedules due to the coverage of the New Zealand earthquake. Nine issued a statement saying: 'Ben and his team have done a fantastic job uncovering new Australian talent and we appreciate all of their hard work and dedication. We are all very proud of the show but unfortunately it has not found the audience we had hoped for. We thank Ben and all the cast and crew for their commitment and wish them all the best.' Elton – who now lives mostly near Perth with his Australian wife – had previously said comedy shows need time to build an audience, and shouldn't be judged on instant results. Unfortunately for him, his has. If you see what I mean. His name's Ben Elton, goodnight.

After Nadia Sawalha having a nasty touch of the flaming abdabs the other day, they're dropping like flies out in the desert, it would seem. An 'emotional and exhausted' Kara Tointon reportedly broke down on the second day of the Red Nose Desert Trek as the celebrities continued their fundraising challenge in one hundred and two degree heat. The Strictly Come Dancing champion, who has undertaken the walk alongside various other celebrities including Dermot O'Dreary, Crayyyyg Dayyyvid and Olly Murs, was one of several members of the team who struggled during the latest stage of the trek. Scott Mills and Peter White both faced problems with growing blisters on their feet. Dayyyyvid commented: 'This is so much harder than I ever thought and the heat is beyond anything I could have imagined. Walking in the midday heat is so intense but knowing that we are raising money with each step is keeping me going. Proper Bo! Cha'mone. Where's me kestrel?' Well, okay, he didn't actually say that last bit. But, I would have given them a fiver if he had. As they continued across the desert with rising temperatures, Murs added: 'Yesterday was tough but it is harder than ever today and I've got the feeling that's the way this is going to go. Each day is getting harder than the last as we get further and further into the desert.' Olly, mate. Did you really finished second in X Factor for this? Mind you, while you're out there in the desert getting a suntan, Joe McElderry is probably stacking shelves in Morrison's so, you know, I think you might still have got the best of the deal, frankly. The group's journey is being filmed for a documentary which will be shown in the run up to Red Nose Day next month.

BBC1 have recommissioned John Bishop's Britain for a second run. Why, they didn't explain.

A woman has claimed that Downing Street's new cat is actually her own lost pet. Larry the rat-catcher was unveiled at Number 10 earlier this month, but Margaret Sutcliffe has said that the feline is called Jo, a pet she adopted as a stray two years ago, the Daily Scum Mail reports. Sutcliffe's nephew, Tim, has started a Facebook group - Free Jo The Cat From Downing Street - urging people to contact Prime Minister David Cameron and ask for the return of the cat. 'I just wish they'd see sense and send Jo home,' Margaret wrote on the site. 'I still can't believe that my Jo has ended up being taken into Downing Street. I nearly died when I saw him in the papers. He never let anyone hold him except me, so I'm not surprised he scratched those journalists. It sickens me that David Cameron isn't satisfied with cutting all our services and hiking up the VAT he's taking our pets as well!' The bastard. Mind you, he's an Eton Rifle, Margaret, just be thankful he isn't chasing the poor creature up and down The Mall on horseback with a gang of slavering dogs, that's how the nobs usually get their kicks. She added: ''I've just found some of his cat hair on the sofa, so we can prove it's Jo with a DNA test if we have to.' And, we'll get the police right onto that, Madge, as soon as they've solved the riddle of Lord Lucan. And twenty nine unsolved murders that they have to use their DNA machine for first. Tim reportedly claimed that the cat went missing and ended up at Battersea Dogs & Cats Home before it was re-housed with the Prime Minister. And, you thought the tug-of-love over Madonna's Malawian orphans was heart-rending, dear blog reader.

A trapped Australian woman who used her mobile phone to call her family to say goodbye has been saved from a building in Christchurch following the massive earthquake there. Ann Voss, whose mobile phone allowed her also to talk to various media outlets, had spoken to her son and daughter while buried under her desk in the Pyne Gould Corporation Building, had said that she was struggling to breathe. She'd told her son 'I don't think I'm going to make it. I've got to wait now, I've gone through all this, they're going to come and get me,' she had said in her last call. Ann is now recovering in hospital with broken ribs and cuts and bruises. She told Network Seven News how she didn't think she would make it out alive. 'I had a concrete block on my shoulder,' she said. Her had ran out of battery twenty four hours after the earthquake hit. Initially, rescuers thought they had found Ann some hours earlier when they lifted another woman called Ann from the rubble. But it turned out to be another worker called Ann Bodkin. Bob Parker, the mayor of Christchurch, who witnessed the rescue, said: 'She was complaining of being a bit sore, because she's been lying on one side for a long time. But in the midst of what is by and large one of the bleakest day in the story of our city, the sun came out at the same moment as they removed Ann from that building. You might have seen the guys down there laugh because somebody made the comment that they got Ann out of that building, so God turned on the lights.'

And now a particular favourite recurring feature on From The North, Daybreakwatch. The last seven episodes of the flop ITV breakfast show have achieved average audiences of between a 'high' (and I do use that word ironically) of eight hundred and twenty two thousand viewers on Thursday of last week and this Monday's low of six hundred and twenty two thousand. The Audience Appreciation Index scores for the first six of these seven episode have been sixty eight, sixty eight, sixty five, sixty five, sixty eight, and sixty seven. Remember, any score under seventy five is considered to be 'below average.' The five episodes of Daybreak last week occupied five of the bottom six AI scores for any TV show across the entire week. (Their only rival was Five's Europe League Football coverage on Thursday which also copped an AI of sixty eight.) So, things aren't, exactly, looking rosy for Daybreak. Spare a thought, however, for Channel Five's new early-evening magazine show, the wretched OK! TV. It's first episode was broadcast on Monday 14 February and had an audience of four hundred and forty six thousand viewers. Hardly great but, admittedly, a slight improvement on the average audience of the show it replaced, Live From Studio Five. The second episode promptly lost a whopping one hundred and ten thousand of those viewers. Or, to put in another way, a quarter of the show's entire audience. Since then, things haven't improved much with audiences mired in the mid three hundred thousands with a low on Friday of three hundred and twenty three thousand. I'd love to inform you of what the AI scores have been, dear blog reader but, tragically, the show appears to be getting such low numbers watching it that the AIs don't have enough respondents to actually register a figure. Incidentally, speaking of AIs, the first two episodes of the new series of MasterChef last Wednesday and Thursday (you know, the show that according to a bunch of know-nothing tabloid newspapers had many of its fans 'up in arms' about the changes made to its format) got scores of eighty one and eighty respectively. Or, comfortable above average. Seems that many viewers don't particularly share the concerns of a bunch of whingers writing on the Daily Scum Mail website. Or, if they do, they're not so concerned about it that they actually mark a show down just because of aesthetics. Which is something of a surprise since such people are, usually, such an accurate barometer of the mood of the nation. Or, at least, that's what the Daily Scum Mail always tells us.

Engineers are set to start drilling a hole deep below Newcastle in the search for a renewable energy source. The Newcastle and Durham Universities team plans to sink a hole two thousand metre below the planned Science Central site, in the city centre. Scientists hope the nine hundred thousand pound project will result in water at a temperature of about eighty degrees being pumped to the surface. The plan is that the water could be used to heat the site and the surrounding city centre buildings. The project, which starts on Wednesday, is expected to last six months with the team hoping to pump out the first hot water in June. Just don't do it in my street all right, guys. There's enough holes in the road here already.

For the latest Keith Telly Topping's 45(s) of the Day, we reflect on the more socially-aware end of the sixties pop in a piece I like to call, really pretentiously, real soul music. Starting with a stunning record which, thanks to Barack Obama's use of its lyrics on several occasions during the 2009 Presidential campaign, probably could be said to have - in its own small way - changed the world. And, there aren't that many songs which one can honestly say that about. Next, Marvin, and his glorious tribute to the civil rights movement. You kind of knew there was change in their air when even Elvis was getting in on the act.