Tuesday, February 01, 2011

She Calls My Name, Pulls My Train, No One Else Can Heal My Pain

Former Formula One commentator Murray Walker is to come out of retirement to feature in a theatre production based on a children's TV show. Roary The Racing Car is to come to life in a live show called Champion Of Champions. Walker will appear as an animated character, who will provide commentary to a race at the Silver Hatch track. The eight seven-year-old broadcasting legend joked that he felt he had 'achieved fame at last.' Champion of Champions starts its tour next month and will visit ninety venues. The show also features the voice of Peter Kay, who plays Big Chris, and will be narrated by Sir Stirling Moss. Executive producer Greg Lynn said: 'Walker's excitable commentary style was deemed perfect for the fast-paced adventures set at Silver Hatch race track. In true Murray format, the stage show is peppered with Murrayisms, and at eighty seven years, he's definitely still got it.'

It was one of the most successful TV marketing coups of the last decade - the rebranding of the little-watched digital channel UKTV G2 with the unlikely sobriquet, Dave. But now Dave may have to change its name again after its parent company UKTV was defeated in its efforts to register its identity as a trademark by a brand consultancy – also called Dave. Dave – the brand consultancy, that is – is part of London-based communications agency the Engine group, and fought a three-year battle to protect its identity after Dave – the broadcaster – sought to register its name as a European trademark. The legal tussle came to an end last week when the European Union's Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market, the body responsible for trademarks and designs, came down in favour of the brand consultancy. It remains to be seen whether UKTV, jointly owned by the BBC and Virgin Media, will appeal against the European Union verdict. This gave the broadcaster permission to use the name Dave but in a strictly limited number of areas, including decorative magnets, stationery, pens, pencils, pencil sharpeners, erasers and pencil cases, but not as a TV channel brand. Should the broadcaster decide not to appeal then the brand consultancy could pursue it for infringement of its trademark. To confuse matters further, both companies are based in Great Portland Street in Soho, central London. At least this geographical confusion will soon be cleared up, as UKTV is about to move to new headquarters in Hammersmith. Dan Bobby, the brand consultancy's founder and chief executive, said: 'We are very happy with the findings of the OHIM report, which vindicate a lot of our hard work over the past few years to protect our brand. We're now looking closely at our options in terms of enforcing the decision under UK trademark law. As a specialist brand consultancy, we understand the important nature of trademarks and we will protect our own brand as vigorously as we would protect our clients', including using the full force of the law, if required.' Home to repeats of Top Gear, Qi, Have I Got News For You, Mock the Week, and new commissions such as John Sergeant panel show Argumental and Robert Llewelyn's Carpool, Dave was previously known as UKTV G2 until it was relaunched in 2007, based around the idea that 'everyone knows a bloke called Dave.' The new moniker was lauded for giving a previously nondescript channel a strong personality overnight and turned traditional ideas of TV branding on its head. Subsequent relaunches of other UKTV channels, however, such as Alibi, Blighty and Watch, were perceived to be less successful. A spokeswoman for UKTV confirmed that a judgement had been reached but declined to comment further.

Top Twenty Three shows week ending 23 January:
1 Coronation Street - ITV - Mon 11.00m
2 EastEnders - BBC1 - Mon 10.59m
3 Emmerdale - ITV - ITV 8.72m
4 Silent Witness - BBC1 - Mon 8.50m
5 Dancing On Ice - ITV - Sun 8.19m
6 Big Fat Gypsy Weddings - C4 - Tues 7.28m
7 Wild at Heart - ITV - Sun 7.17m
8 Come Fly With Me - BBC1 - Thurs 7.11m
9 Lark Rise To Candleford - BBC1 - Sun 7.02m
10 Casualty - BBC1 - Sat 6.89m
11 Countryfile - BBC1 - Sun 6.88m
12 Hustle - BBC1 - Fri 6.84m
13 Holby City - BBC1 - Tues 6.56m
14 Top Gear - BBC2 - Sun 6.48m
15 The National Lottery - In It To Win It - BBC1 - Sat 6.18m
16 Antiques Roadshow - BBC1 - Sun 5.53m
17 Six O'Clock News - BBC1 - Thurs 5.52m
18 The Magicians - BBC1 - Sat 5.40m
19 Total Wipeout - BBC1 - Sat 5.33m
20 Human Planet - BBC1 - Thurs 5.32m
21 The ONE Show - BBC1 - Mon 5.24m
22 Kidnap And Ransom - ITV - Thurs 5.15m
23 Terry Wogan's Ireland - BBC1 - Sun 5.06m

Meanwhile, the top three multi-channel shows for the same week were:
1 Glee - E4 - Mon 2.63m
2 Hattie - BBC4 - Wed BBC 4 2.00m
3 Being Human - BBC3 - Sun 1.57m

Dominic Cork has expressed his frustration with Dancing On Ice's Jason Gardiner and Emma Bunton. On Sunday night's show, Cork scored a three and a 3.5 from Gardiner and Bunton respectively, while fellow judge Robin Cousins gave the former England cricketer a more respectable 4.5. Cork, who was ultimately voted off the skating competition, has now criticised Gardiner and Bunton, claiming that Cousins is widely regarded as the best judge by the celebrity contestants. 'Jason's there for entertainment and that is what you have got to remember,' Cork told the Sun. 'You try to smile and laugh, but inside you are thinking, "I'd love to see you round the back and give you a smack." Course you would, but amazingly enough, his car is right outside the door with about eighteen bodyguards.' He continued: 'Emma said to me, "What are you doing here"' I would ask her the same question, "What are you doing here?" She is supposed to be the judge - either say something bad or something good. What the judges need to understand is we want constructive criticism. When it gets personal it doesn't give you confidence or anything good to look at. People want to be judged on skating, not on who you are. Robin is the ice skater and everyone on that show looks at Robin's scores and takes them more seriously than anyone else's.' Despite his opinion of the respective merits of the three judges, Cork went on to admit that he was upset by Gardiner's negative reaction to his performance. He added: 'Would you take his comments seriously when someone rips into you like that? Of course it hurts. You are only human. You've got feelings.'

William Petersen may be about to reprise his role of Gil Grissom in a forthcoming CSI episode, reports have claimed. As previously announced Grissom's wife Sara (Jorja Fox) will clash with her domineering mother-in-law Betty (played by Phyllis French) in new episode called The Two Mrs. Grissoms. TV Line now reports that Petersen may also make a brief appearance in the episode. The actor originally announced his decision to leave CSI in 2008 and his character departed the show early in the ninth season. A spokesperson for the CBS drama apparently refused to comment on a possible Petersen appearance. Since leaving the show, the Manhunter star has filmed a role in high school drama Detachment alongside Adrien Brody and Christina Hendricks.

24's former executive producer Howard Gordon has revealed that he is 'really dismayed' about the cancellation of The Kennedys. The miniseries, which stars Katie Holmes and Greg Kinnear, was made for the History Channel but the network announced earlier this year that it will not broadcast the drama. Gordon worked with The Kennedys' executive producer Joel Surnow on 24 and has now told Zap2It that he is disappointed that the miniseries has been dropped. 'I honestly have no idea [why it was cancelled],' he said. 'I assume that the Kennedys did what they could to put the kibosh on it and that it got some traction. I think it feels to me like censorship. But Joel is trying to deal with it - this is my sense - from a business perspective, just get it out there. I don't think he wants to take it to the media. He just wants people to see it.' Gordon added: 'It's terrible. It's really a shame. It's a little maddening. It feels like a kind of censorship. I don't understand it. I need to find out more - it's terrible. I've seen pieces of it and it looked good, it really did. It's really unfortunate - really bad.' HBO, Starz, Showtime, FX and DirecTV have all turned down the opportunity to broadcast The Kennedys but recent reports have suggested that it may be aired in syndication.

Gordon Ramsay's future with Channel Four has reportedly been cast into doubt as a result of a string of controversies. The Mirror reports that recent issues - including the suggestion that he had been shark fishing eighteen months prior to making a documentary about the animal's extinction, as well as continued speculation over his private life - could result in his contract with the channel being dramatically reduced when it is up for renewal in June. A source said: 'His personal life has been unhelpful and he no longer gets the big audiences.' Ramsay's friends are apparently also sceptical of his future, saying: 'He realises his reputation in the UK is not what it was years ago.' When question about the situation, a spokesperson from Channel Four said: 'We have a second series of Gordon’s Great Escape coming up and are discussing other ideas.'

Ricky Gervais is to make a second appearance in The Simpsons – this time as an awards show host. The comic is returning to the animated comedy following his much talked-about turn at the Golden Globes earlier this month. He will appear as himself in the episode Angry Dad: The Movie, to broadcast on 20 February in the US. Gervais said: 'If the latest animated me is anything to go by, then I think I'm getting more handsome as I get older.' The episode's plot revolves around Homer and Bart winning an Oscar for their animated short film. Executive producer Al Jean said it is 'a bit of a satire of the different Oscar acceptances where two people clearly race to the stage to get there first, and Homer and Bart are fighting to be the one that accepts.' Halle Berry also co-stars in the episode. Gervais previously appeared in a 2006 episode Homer Simpson, This Is Your Wife, about a Wife Swap-style reality show, which he also wrote. He has also just recorded a guest role on Seth MacFarlane's animated hit Family Guy. 'It was absolutely fucking brilliant working with Seth, and he let me go crazy with ad-libbing,' Gervais wrote on his blog. 'A new highlight in my career.'

Monday saw Torchwood: Miracle Day return to its 'ancestral' home of South Wales. The lead-up to the week saw the cast and crew, currently located in Los Angeles, make their way to the UK. Of the principle cast, this meant a return home for John Barrowman, Eve Myles, Kai Owen and Tom Price, and joined by Mekhi Phifer and Dichen Lachman. Crew-wise, Director of Photography Nathaniel Goodman and Directors Bharat Nalluri (episode one) and Bill Gierhart (episode two) also travelled. Russell Davies and Julie Gardner were back amongst the familiar faces from the UK, including Producer for the UK segments Brian Minchin. Filming this week sees the crew ranging between Cardiff International Airport, a village farm, Rhossili Bay and the streets of Swansea. Unlike in the US, production in the UK has not been shrouded in heavy security, and with a (mostly) UK production team in attendance, the traditional approach to filming that fans here are used to have continued.

One of the characters on Brothers & Sisters will die in an upcoming episode of the show. E! Online reports that Nora and Saul's mother Ida (Marion Ross) will pass away in a future instalment. The family decide to hold the funeral quickly in accordance with Ida's Jewish faith and Jonathan (Richard Chamberlain) returns to comfort Saul (Ron Rifkin). Meanwhile, Justin (Dave Annable) turns thirty at around the same time as his grandmother's death and begins to re-evaluate his life. Ida's death is expected to take place in the eighteenth episode of the season, which will be broadcast in the spring.

Billie Piper has admitted that she put plans to pursue her acting career in Hollywood on hold due to her son. The Secret Diary Of A Call Girl actress revealed that she had considered attempting to launch her career in America but was put off due to family commitments. 'I keep thinking about it, but then I like England,' the Press Association quotes her as saying. 'To be out there with a baby and to do seven, eight auditions a day is just not massively appealing at the moment.' The twenty eight-year-old revealed that she hopes to take on something 'radically different' now that she has filmed the final series of the ITV2 show. 'I don't know what that is yet. I think I've just chosen things that have interested me and then kept trying new and different things,' she added. 'It has worked out well and I can thank Doctor Who for all of that really. It was wholly responsible for giving me a great opportunity.'

Holly Willoughby has revealed that she had to borrow a pair of shoes from a member of the Dancing On Ice studio audience on Sunday night. I think that's sending out a terrible message to people that they can just loan their shoes out to celebrities willy-nilly. remember, dear blog reader, shoes have soles too.

Bad press behaviour leads inevitably to politicians pushing for laws to curb press freedom. The flouting of the law of contempt (in the Joanna Yeates murder case, for example) has had an inevitable result. The Sunday Times reported this week that there is support among MPs, including a couple of cabinet ministers, for a change in the law to prohibit the identification of crime suspects before they are charged. Among the reported backers of the measure are the justice secretary, Kenneth Clarke, and the attorney-general, Dominic Grieve. It would mean that media could not name a person who had been arrested for questioning by the police until, or unless, the person was charged. The private members' bill was tabled was made by Anna Soubry, a journalist-turned-lawyer who last year became Conservative MP for Broxtowe. She is parliamentary private secretary to Simon Burns, a junior health minister. Soubry clearly had the Yeates murder inquiry in mind. Like so many others, she was outraged by the media 'feeding frenzy' suffered by Chris Jefferies when he was arrested 'on suspicion of murder.' She is quoted by the Sunday Times as saying: 'The law as it stands means an innocent person can be vilified, have their lives dismantled and their reputation sullied with complete disregard to his or her right to privacy. Since the media don't seem able to regulate themselves, parliament should do something about it.' She was also influenced by the coverage of the arrest of TV presenter Matthew Kelly in 2003. He endured speculative and negative coverage, but was never charged. Soubry said the reporting of the Kelly case had convinced her that people should not have their identity reported while under police investigation unless a good enough reason could be provided to a crown court judge. The Sunday Times quotes Society of Editors director Bob Satchwell as saying: 'The public are entitled to know when someone is arrested. Not naming people who are arrested only leads to speculation and rumour in place of absolute fact.' He added: 'If anyone oversteps the mark there are laws of libel and contempt that are already quite capable of dealing with these issues.' All utter rubbish, of course. The current wording of the contempt law is wholly inadequate to prevent feeding frenzies of the kind that the modern media world seems to demand. As for libel, that's all very well, but it's usually impossible for people of modest means to pursue a legal action. Unless, of course, they benefit from a conditional fee (aka no-win, no-fee) arrangement.

BBC Radio 2's Electric Proms has fallen victim to the corporation's latest-round of cost-cutting with last year's event, featuring Robert Plant, Neil Diamond and Sir Elton John, set to be its last. The Radio 2 controller, Bob Shennan, said the five-year-old spin-off from the classical music Proms was being axed because of efficiency savings. Shennan added that he was 'disappointed' to lose the annual festival but pledged more high quality live music programming in an 'alternative, more cost-effective ways.' The BBC director general, Mark Thompson, is looking to make twenty per cent of savings over the next four years, higher than the original target of sixteen per cent imposed by the freeze in licence fee funding, to free up more resources for programming and technology. Last week Thompson unveiled up to six hundred and fifty job cuts at the BBC World Service as part of these cuts. More than two thousand job losses are expected across the corporation in the coming years as the BBC tightens its belt. Shennan said: 'In the current climate, we are faced with making difficult decisions, including how best to deliver high-quality live music programming throughout the year in light of continuing efficiency savings. I feel that Radio 2 can achieve the same impact of the Electric Proms in an alternative, more cost-effective way. I'm disappointed that the lifetime of Electric Proms has come to an end, but very proud of its fantastically rewarding run of creating new moments in music for the past five years.' The Electric Proms was launched in 2006 as a modern music equivalent of the Proms, promising a 'celebration of new and innovative musical styles,' featuring James Brown, Nitin Sawhney and Damon Albarn's The Good, The Bad & the Queen among others. It was broadcast over a wide range of BBC outlets, including Radio 2 and 6 Music, which Shennan also oversees. Jeff Smith, head of music for Radio 2 and 6 Music, said: 'Radio 2 remains as committed as ever to live music programming, and we will replicate the spirit of Electric Proms within the live music schedule. In addition to Electric Proms last year, Radio 2 featured live performances ranging from Paolo Nutini performing in Paisley to Paloma Faith at the Cheltenham jazz festival; Scissor Sisters performing live on Ken Bruce's mid-morning show to Bryn Terfel singing Christmas classics at the Mermaid theatre for Friday Night is Music Night.' Radio 2 broadcast an exclusive live Manic Street Preachers gig from their home town of Blackwood in Wales last week, later made available on-demand online and on digital TV. Smith added: 'We intend to create more of these special moments throughout 2011. It's also our ambition to work with BBC2 again very soon as the radio/television/online offering was hugely enjoyed by listeners and viewers.'

China Central Television has been accused of using a clip from Top Gun in a news report about air force manoeuvres. According to AFP, the footage was aired on 23 January during a piece about a People's Liberation Army Air Force training exercise. The clip featured one plane being destroyed by a missile fired from another and was aired alongside interview footage. However, some online viewers recognised the scene from the 1986 Tom Cruise movie and the Wall Street Journal later posted a comparison of both clips, showing that they were identical. The video has reportedly since been removed from the website of the state broadcaster.

And so to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45(s) of the Day and, this time around, it's another couple of prime examples of something that we actually do rather well in the UK; white-boys-with-jangly-guitars! Starting, with what can only really be described as a Merseybeat classic. And, from the Godlike genius of Lee Mayers, to the early young Scene. Check this out for yourselves, Scenesters, little Damon Minchella looks about twelve on this!Oh, and just a quick note that the b-side - the stunning 'Another Girl's Name' - is, if anything, even better!