Monday, February 07, 2011

When The Smell Of Terror Brings A Thousand Knives, The Red Men Come Again. They Kill My Children And They Kill My Wife

Despite the sustained and suspiciously agenda-driven campaign of spiteful hatred waged against it by some self-righteous hippies at the Gruniad Morning Star and the goose-stepping bullyboys at the Daily Scum Mail, the ratings for Top Gear continue to rise every upward. Sunday night's edition had an overnight average of 6.387 million viewers which included six hundred and seventy nine thousand watching the BBC HD simulcast. In the process Top Gear overtook BBC1's Lark Rise to Candleford (6.184m) for the first time this series. Yes, it's true. Jeremy Clarkson is now, officially, more popular than Julia Swalaha. Peter Kosminsky's ambitious drama about the Israel/Palestine conflict, The Promise, with two interlocking stories set in 2005 and the late 1940s, launched with 1.69m viewers and a further one hundred thousand punters watching on Channel Four+1. This was up twenty four per cent on Channel Four's average share in the Sunday 9pm slot over the past three months. The Promise also compared favourably with the launch episode of Channel Four's last big budget Sunday night drama serial, Any Human Heart, which achieved 1.44m last November. However, Any Human Heart faced far stiffer competition, launching against ITV's I'm a Z-List Former Celebrity ..., which attracted more than ten million viewers. The reboot of the long-running US crime drama Hawaii Five-0 launched with an average of seven hundred and seventeen thousand viewers on Sky1. The second episode in Sky's opening night double bill averaged just under six hundred thousand viewers from 10pm. The opening episode was the sixth most watched multichannel show of the day. However, in the 9pm slot it was overshadowed by BBC3's Being Human, which averaged 1.26m including one hundred and ninety two thousand viewers for the BBC HD simulcast. The third episode of Being Human's third series was slightly down on last week's 1.43m, but it is still on track to be one of BBC3's highest-rated shows of the year. ITV's Dancing on Ice continued to dominate early Sunday evening, averaging 8.39m over nearly two hours from 6.35pm. Yer Keith Telly Topping's beloved Time Team returned with an audience of 1.65m on Channel Four. Later, the BBC's coverage of the Superbowl attracted an average audience of a million across three hours.

And, on a somewhat related note, here's the consolidated figures for the Top Twenty TV Shows week-ending 30 January 2011:
1 EastEnders - Mon BBC1 - 10.37m
2 Coronation Street - Mon ITV - 10.36m
3 Silent Witness - Mon BBC1 - 8.32m
4 Emmerdale - Mon ITV - 8.31m
5 Dancing On Ice - Sun ITV - 8.06m
6 Big Fat Gypsy Weddings - Tues C4 - 7.47m
7 Wild At Heart - Sun ITV - 7.38m
8 Come Fly With Me - Thurs BBC1 - 7.22m
9 Hustle - Fri BBC1 - 6.97m
10 Countryfile - Sun BBC1 - 6.92m
11 Casualty - Sat BBC1 - 6.91m
12 Lark Rise To Candleford - Sun BBC1 - 6.90m
13 The National Lottery: In It To Win It - Sat BBC1 - 6.69m
14 The National Television Awards 2011 - Wed ITV - 6.58m
15 Top Gear - Sun BBC2 - 6.38m
16 Holby City - Tues BBC1 - 6.06m
17 The Magicians - Sat BBC1 - 5.90m
18 Six O'Clock News - Mon BBC1 - 5.49m
19 Ten O'Clock News - Mon BBC1 - 5.36m
20 Human Planet - Thurs BBC1 - 5.30m

Jamie Bamber has admitted that there are similarities between new BBC1 SF drama Outcasts and Battlestar Galactica. Bamber played Apollo Adama on Battlestar and returns to science-fiction with his role as Mitchell Hoban in Outcasts. 'There are parallels, undoubtedly,' he told Metro. 'Both Outcasts and Battlestar tap into so many fears and doubts we have about the future. It's epic storytelling that draws on myths to make modern points. In Outcasts, there's this society that's totally paranoid and wondering what the future holds in an alien world. There's an environmental thread: We've never had such a strong sense before that our planet is so perishable.' Asked about the success of Battlestar, he added: 'It could so easily have just been a one-off TV movie because it was a difficult show for the network to promote. But the press really championed it and it built up a following. It was dealing with issues of technology and religion - the idea of polytheists up against monotheists, for one. Everyone could have a theory about it. I had my own take, of course. I was reading Chomsky while filming Battlestar, so I came to see that it was a lot about how mankind is always making the wrong choices and what can be done about that.'

Martin Freeman has revealed that he almost turned down the role of Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit. Freeman spoke to Total Film about having to reject the offer due to commitments to BBC series Sherlock, until director Peter Jackson changed the shooting schedule to accommodate him. 'I had to turn it down because of being contractually obliged to do the second series of Sherlock for the BBC, which we are doing in the middle of this year,' said Freeman. He continued: 'When I found out I couldn't do both it was very sad. And then it was very flattering when Peter Jackson rearranged the filming around my availability.'

Phillip Schofield has admitted that he thought Karen Barber was going to hit Jason Gardiner during their row on Dancing On Ice on Sunday night. The pair clashed following the notoriously mouthy judge's critique of Johnson Beharry's performance. During the disagreement, broadcast live on the show, Gardiner told Barber that her opinion was no longer valued because she did not sit on the judging panel. Speaking on ITV's This Morning, Schofield and Holly Willoughby discussed the incident and admitted that they had feared it could escalate. 'I was listening to what Jason was saying and the next thing I know, is that this tiny little lady - who's packing a real punch - comes in beside me,' Willoughby said. Schofield added: 'That was the worry, I thought she was packing a punch. I thought she was going to backhand him!' The presenter confessed that while he would normally defend Gardiner's controversial comments, he believed he had crossed a line. 'He makes me laugh, even when he's bad he makes me laugh and I would always defend him,' he said. 'But I think he had more than a foot over the line last night. Karen's role is important. Her opinion is incredibly important - she sits and works with the skaters all week.' He added: 'I've not got down to the bottom of the fact of why they genuinely can't stand each other. They don't get on at all and this is not made up or put on for the telly.'

Ofcom has rejected a complaint from a psychic about being unfairly treated on Channel Four's Derren Brown Investigates. The programme, broadcast in May last year, featured Brown following Liverpool psychic Joe Power as he allegedly helped people connect with their dead loved ones. The show saw Power giving one-on-one readings with women called Wanda and Roz, as well as running a session with several actors from Hollyoaks. It was suggested that the psychic had prior knowledge about the subjects before giving their readings, such as his sister living next door to Wanda, or guessing rightly that Hollyoaks actress Claire Cooper owned a Mini after seeing her pull into the car park driving the vehicle. Power complained to Ofcom that he was treated unfairly in the programme and was misled about the nature and purpose of the series before agreeing to do it. He also claimed that the programme makers 'presented, disregarded or omitted material facts in a way that was unfair.' However, Ofcom found that Power 'was provided with sufficient information about the programme before participating in it' and 'clearly understood that Mr Brown was a sceptic.' The regulator also found that the readings for Wanda, Roz and the Hollyoaks cast were 'presented fairly,' with Power given sufficient chance to respond to any criticism. Ofcom noted that Power was given a full description of the programme's aims beforehand, in which it was made clear that it would have a 'sceptical element. In Ofcom's view it was likely that, if a programme was described to a potential contributor as having a sceptical perspective whilst viewing paranormal phenomena, that contributor should expect to be questioned, if not, challenged,' said the regulator. 'Ofcom also noted that Mr Power had sight of the programme description a month before filming began and signed the release form after negotiations had taken place.'

The divine Clare Grogan has revealed details of her guest role in Skins. Grogan will appear in this week's episode as the mother of Mini (Freya Mavor). 'I play a mad mum who is a bit of a sad case,' Clare told the Daily Record. 'She absolutely loves her daughter but the way she relates to her is by trying to be young and be her pal, as opposed to her mum. That's something I think a lot of people can identify with. It is quite a painful episode but really poignant.' Grogan also revealed that she loved working with Mavor, saying: 'I was hugely impressed with her. She was away from home for the first time and to me she was handling herself really well. She seemed very mature and hard-working. I think she saw she had this amazing opportunity and wanted to impress. Her episode is brilliant. We had some emotional scenes together and there was a lot for her to deal with, but she managed it all.'

Celebrities including Lorraine Kelly and Dermot O'Dreary are to trek across the Kaisut Desert, in North Kenya, for Comic Relief. Hopefully none of them will get lost in a sandstorm and never be seen again. Because, that would be terrible. The pair, along with Strictly Come Dancing winner Kara Tointon, singer Olly Murs and others, will begin their journey later this month. The team will cover one hundred kilometres in five days. A BBC1 documentary about the trek will be shown in the run-up to this year's Red Nose Day on 18 March. Members of the team will burn an estimated eight thousand calories each day as they lead a caravan of camels carrying their camping gear and other equipment. A Comic Relief spokeswoman said money raised would help to prevent thousands of people in Africa from going blind or contracting eye conditions. Impressionist Ronni Ancona, actress Nadia Sawalha and Radio 4 presenter Peter White will also take part along with Radio 1 DJ Scott Mills and singer Crayyyyg Dayyyyyvid.

Stephen Tompkinson has admitted that filming Wild At Heart on location in Africa has its dangers. Yeah. Getting out-acted by giraffes, for one. The actor, who plays vet Danny Trevanion in the popular ITV series, revealed that he has clashed with some of the animals that the cast film with. 'I've been kicked by a zebra and left with a perfect hoof mark on my right cheek,' he told the the Press Association. '[The on-set vet] has had a wildebeest horn where the sun don't shine. This thing made a beeline for him.' However, he insisted that the incidents were just among 'the hazards of our work. A lot of these animals have grown up on the farm because it's a sanctuary for orphaned and abandoned animals, so they've had quite a bit of human contact,' he said. 'But they are wild and haven't been trained in any way. One of the directors said he'd heard things he's never heard on any other film set,' he added. 'Things like, "You can't film with the wildebeest today, they're double booked for a commercial" and another one was, "You won't be able to film with the cheetah today, it was attacked by a baboon."'

Christina Aguilera - seen right, looking uncannily like she's just shat in her own pants - fluffed the fourth line of 'The Star-Spangled Banner' as she belted out a version of the US national anthem to open Sunday's Super Bowl in Texas. The singer should have sung: 'O'er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?' but effectively repeated the second line from the first verse instead ('What so proudly we watched at the twilight's last gleaming'). And, she even got that wrong - it should've been 'hailed,' not 'watched.' For God's sake, I'm English - the song's about them lot there giving us lot here a damned good (and, not entirely undeserved) kicking in 1812 - and even I know that! Aguilera, thirty, said in a statement afterwards she had 'got lost in the moment.' The anthem is one of the set piece events of the glittering Super Bowl pre-game ceremony. Aguilera's mistake immediately set social networks abuzz with chatter. At least ,the ones that weren't talking about Top Gear and Albanians that is. The singer quickly added: 'I can only hope that everyone could feel my love for this country and that the true spirit of its anthem still came through.' The NFL final - which was this year contested by the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers - is one of the most-watched programmes in US television. Last year it drew a record one hundred and six million viewers. The half-time show of Super Bowl in 2004 created controversy when Justin Timberlake ripped a piece of Janet Jackson's top, resulting in viewers getting a glimpse of her right breast. The pair said that the incident had been accidental, calling it 'a wardrobe malfunction,' but broadcaster CBS TV was fined five hundred and fifty thousand dollars after hundreds of complaints from viewers. Odd, they never seem to get upset about watching a tit every week on Piers Morgan's new chat show.

Broadcasting analysts have predicted that the launch of new channel Sky Atlantic could usher in a fresh wave of content piracy, as young fans seek illicit ways to access shows such as Boardwalk Empire and Mad Men. While many non pay-TV viewers are happy to wait for DVD box sets of popular shows, younger people are increasingly turning to unofficial websites offering illegal streams of content. Sky Atlantic, which launched last week exclusively to Sky subscribers, is now the only place to watch HBO shows in the UK, along with a range of other major US programmes. According to a report in the Gruniad Morning Star, analysts expect illegal streaming from unofficial sites to peak in the next few months, but decline as more legitimate ways of accessing content become available in the future. John Enser, a partner at media law firm Olswang, told the alleged newspaper that the trend of illegal streaming is even more pronounced among people who are used to accessing music from pirate websites. 'Young people already know where to stream from. And, broadly speaking, they know a legal site from an illegal one,' said Enser. Well, obviously, they'll have to be killed then. 'Most of the time it is pretty clear. If you Google "Lady Gaga download," certainly not every site that comes up is legal. We tried it for Top Gear and the official BBC site came about halfway down.' Enser noted that complexities in the law mean few people who illegally access copyrighted material ever get fined or punished. He said: 'Most programme rights holders are not interested in pursuing individuals who download illicit material. The record industry did play with the idea of taking a tough line, but it doesn't necessarily get the right people.' However, Enser believes that the industry is more concerned about what the 'vast majority of the public are doing,' and online viewing still has a way to go before it achieves 'commercial traction.' Last Thursday, one of the advocate generals from the European Court of Justice issued advice that pubs should be allowed to screen live football from whichever TV service provider they choose. In a non-binding recommendation, Juliane Kokott said that preventing a British pub landlady from accessing Premier League games from any other broadcaster than Sky was 'a serious impairment of the freedom to provide services.' Discussing the development, Enser said that the advice could usher in a major change in the way live programme rights are sold across Europe. 'The decision taken last week is not binding yet,' he said. 'If the court does go the same way, it could lead to a complete revision of the way rights, particularly sports rights, are handled around Europe.'

Isabella Rossellini has said that female ducks have interesting vaginas. The Blue Velvet actress stars in a series of short films called Seduce Me about the sex lives of various animals. Rossellini told the Observer: 'I don't know about the most interesting sex life but the female duck has an interesting vagina. It has a lot of dead ends, like a maze. Female ducks are often raped violently by a group of males. She can decide where the sperm goes. If she is mated by a male she likes and thinks would be good for her babies, then she would let his sperm go to a channel that leads to her eggs. Otherwise, she can send the sperm to a dead end. Extraordinary.' One short film features Rossellini, wearing a duck outfit, being sexually attacked by other ducks and describing the experience. In the clip, Rossellini says: 'They all want to mate with me with their corkscrew penises - ouch - forced copulation - get away! But I evolved vaginal complexity to keep control. Ouch ouch, one of them is raping me, I don't care! My vaginal structure is a twisted tunnel - a labyrinth. I can block the phallus! I can discombobulate the phallus - I can trick the phallus.' The Seduce Me films are a spin-off of the Webby-award winning Green Porno series. Seven of the films will be broadcast as part of the Sexual Nature exhibition at London's Natural History Museum.

For the latest Keith Telly Topping's 45(s) of the Day we have a few quality slabs of black vinyl from one of yer actual Keith Telly Topping's most favouritest madcap geniuses, the one and only Mister Julian Cope. Bless his cotton socks, he's in the news: As the lead singer, occasional bassist and lyricist of distinction with The Teardrop Explodes, he was responsible for a handful of the best post-punk-indie-soul-psychedelic records of the early eighties. Like this one, for instance. (A particularly favourite of yer actual Keith Telly Topping who, like Jules, has spent much of his life living through changes). And this one (I think I'm right in saying this might well be the only actual footage of the classic Kilimanjaro line-up of the Teardrops: Cope, Dave Balfe, Gary Dwyer and Alan Gill. By the time they started having actual hits and appearing on TV, a few months later, Gilly had gone back to Dalek I Love You).And this one. (A proper Top Ten hit which, for about six months in 1981 meant that every concert they played had ten rows of screaming schoolgirls at the front! That's Troy Tate and Dave Balfe up on the top of the tower pretending to play the trumpets, incidentally.)And this one. (At least one of the performances on Top of the Pops of which was, allegedly, done whilst both Julian and Dwyer were tripping off their collective faces on some serious acid.)After the Teardrops - spectacularly - imploded in 1982, Jules went off on a staggeringly esoteric solo career that included periods of decent popularity with others where he couldn't even get himself arrested. But he's always been interesting and entertaining, just a bit carzy and has produced some stunning singles.And some breathtaking LPs too.God bless ya cotton socks, Jules. Shine on you crazy diamond, find yer Second Head (or the first one started off with) and keep ranting at the moon and you'll have one ageing fortysomething telly reviewer ready to carry on buying your records till the day he dies.