Tuesday, February 22, 2011

You Shouldn't Be Shy For I'm Not Going To Try To Hurt You Or Heal You Or Steal Your Star

The BBC has strongly hit back at criticism of its new children's programme Rastamouse. Well, it's about time it showed a bit of frigging collective backbone against some of the numskull bollocks that gets thrown in its general direction instead of curling up into a little ball and whimpering 'please don't hurt me any more.' The series, which sees Reggie Yates voice the title character, has attracted complaints from a small number of snotty Gruniad Morning Star readers in Islington who believe that 'that the use of non-standard English grammar in the programme sets a bad example to young children.' And 'ting. And, once again, yer Keith Telly Topping is forced to reflect on the utter crap that some people chose to care about. What a bunch of bloody chebs. 'CBeebies is very proud to be transmitting Rastamouse, which is a colourful new animation series about a crime-fighting mouse based on an acclaimed series of books by Michael De Souza and Genevieve Webster,' a - frankly rather pissed-off sounding official response from the broadcaster stated. 'The Rastamouse books are written in Afro-Caribbean Patois rhyme and this authentic voice has been transferred to the TV series to retain its heart, integrity and distinctive quality. CBeebies is dedicated to reflecting the lives of all children in this country and Rastamouse will have a particular appeal to Afro-Caribbean children - an under-represented part of our audience.' One complaint allegedly centred on the programme presenting a 'bastardised' version of the English language. The BBC added: 'However, the series is highly enjoyable and inclusive and its compelling stories, great music and positive messages are there to be enjoyed by all our viewers.' And makin' a bad 'ting, good. Something that, perhaps, a few of its more loud-mouthed and ignorantly borderline-racist critics would do well to consider.

Doctor Who's Matt Smith has promised fans that the return of River Song will not disappoint. Not that many of us expected it to, like, but there you go. The mysterious archaeologist (played by Alex Kingston) first appeared in the 2008 episode Silence In The Library. 'What's amazing about Steven [Moffat] is, he's been plotting this [arc] since [River's] very first episode,' Matt told Radio 1. 'It's all connected. He's had this sort of three-year plan and it's all unfolding.' He added that River will return in the opening two-parter of series six, aiding the Doctor in his battle against the mysterious Silence. 'I think The Silence is going to be the scariest Who monster in a long time, definitely since the Angels,' he suggested. 'Steven's written a killer monster there.' Matt also described the cliffhanger that will split the show's two series in 2011 as 'brilliant. I think the Doctor and Amy are really faced with some quite cataclysmic choices,' he claimed. 'Particularly at the end of episode seven.'

The BBC has responded to further numskull complaints about changes that have made to the format of MasterChef. The seventh series of the popular BBC1 cookery show began last week with a revamped set and a number of changes to the format - including the addition of auditions in front of judges Gregg Wallace and John Torode instead of the weekly heats. However, the BBC confirmed that some complaints have been received from viewers who are 'unhappy' with the changes. Well, pity for them. Try watching something else instead, see if that makes you more happy. 'The MasterChef team have been making the series since it started again in 2005 with John and Gregg and hoped viewers would enjoy the new energy they'd given the show by dropping the heat,' the broadcaster said in an official response. 'The level of cooking on MasterChef has increased phenomenally over the years and the new format will give more people the chance to cook their own food individually for John and Gregg from the outset, and presenting a bigger challenge.' They added: 'With such a high standard of cooking coming through the doors, it's vital that John and Gregg have an informed discussion and agree on the right people to go through to the final twenty, and when they do go into the new MasterChef HQ there will be plenty of familiar territory, tests and challenges as some extraordinary cooks begin their long and quite amazing journey.' In other words, 'shut the hell up and wait a couple of weeks before whinging that they've "ruined my MasterChef" you proprietorial glakes.' Or something.

The BBC has launched an investigation into newspaper allegations that paid extras were hired to pose as supposedly conned members of the public on The Real Hustle. Broadcast on BBC3, The Real Hustle features con artists Paul Wilson, Alexis Conran and Jessica-Jane Clement showing how easy it is for people to be scammed. However, reports in the tabloids the Sunday Mirra and Scum Mail On Sunday allege that paid actors appeared on the programme in episodes from 2006 and 2008. An extra named Lucas Yashere alleged that he was paid twenty pounds to use a bogus cashpoint in the programme aired in March 2006. He said that producers got in contact with him via e-mail after finding his details on an acting website. Another actor named Alexander Hathaway claimed that he earned thirty pounds for pretending to work at a car dealership and allowing a Real Hustle conman to steal a car. Yesterday, Objective Productions - maker of The Real Hustle - said that the company 'categorically' denied the allegations. 'All the people on the show have been hustled for real and their reactions are genuine. We have never employed an actor as a "mark," briefed them in advance and asked them to fake their initial reaction to the scam,' the company said. They added: 'Occasionally, because of, for example, equipment problems we have had to re-shoot short elements of the set-up after the hustle.' A BBC spokesman confirmed that the corporation was taking the allegations 'very seriously' and would meet with Objective this week to discuss the matter. 'We will examine any alleged breaches of our editorial standards as a matter of urgency and will take appropriate action if required,' said the corporation.

Benidorm creator Derren Litten has announced that the next series of the show will be his last. The programme, which was recently named 'Most Popular Comedy' at the National Television Awards, begins its fourth run this Friday. However, Litten has confirmed that the six-episode series will be his final one. 'I'm really looking forward to series four although it is with mixed emotions because, for me, it is the end of my Benidorm journey,' he wrote on a blog. 'I can't begin to tell you what this show means to me, it has changed my life in so many ways. Not least the amazing friends I have made along the way. I won't be writing any more episodes of Benidorm, for me the story of the Garveys and all of the other characters I created ends at episode six of series four.' Litten went on to say that the show could well live on without him at the helm. 'This is not to say the show won’t continue without me, that’s in the hands of ITV and Tiger Aspect,' he said. 'Two companies I have loved working with and hopefully will again in the future on other projects. The recent winning of the National Television Award for 'Most Popular Comedy' was incredible; thank you so much for all of you who voted. But all good things must come to an end and as hard as it is for me to say goodbye to these characters, who are all so close to my heart, the time is right.'

New BBC1 drama South Riding began with an audience of 6.6 million viewers on Sunday evening, despite tough competition from Twatting About On Ice and Wild At Heart, overnight audience data reveals. South Riding, a three-part mini-series starring David Morrissey and Anna Maxwell Martin, averaged 6.62m in the 9pm hour. The programme held its own against Wild At Heart, with the long-running ITV drama pulling in 6.76m from 8.30pm and a further eighty nine thousand viewers on +1. South Riding also stood up to Twatting About On Ice: The Skate-Off, which was watched by 6.63m from 9.30pm, down seven hundred thousand week-on-week. The show, featuring the (admittedly hilarious and long-overdue) elimination of Kerry Katona, was watched by a further one hundred and ninety four thousand viewers on timeshift. Elsewhere on ITV, the main Dancing On Ice programme had 8.32m viewers from 6.15pm. Over on BBC2, Graham Hill - Driven achieved a highly respectable 1.44m in the 7pm hour before Top Gear which had an audience of 5.26m from 8pm and a further seven hundred and fifty six thousand on BBC HD.

Top Twenty programmes week ending 13 February 2011
1 Coronation Street - ITV - 10.33 million
2 EastEnders - BBC1 - 9.94 million
3 Big Fat Gypsy Weddings - Channel Four - 8.80 million
4 Dancing On Ice - ITV - 8.60 million
5 Emmerdale - ITV - 7.84 million
6 Wild At Heart - ITV - 7.46 million
7 Top Gear - BBC2 - 7.28 million
8 Lark Rise To Candleford - BBC1 - 7.01 million
9 Hustle - BBC1 - 6.87 million
10 Casualty - BBC1 - 6.79 million
11 Countryfile - BBC1 - 6.48 million
12 Marchlands - ITV - 6.31 million
13 Holby City - BBC1 - 6.27 million
14 Antiques Roadshow - BBC1 - 6.19 million
15 National Lottery: Secret Fortune - BBC1 - 6.09 million
16 Push The Button - ITV - 5.85 million
17 Harry Hill's TV Burp - ITV - 5.82 million
18 International Football: Denmark vs England - ITV - 5.48 million
19 BAFTA Film Awards 2011 - BBC1 - 5.45 million
20 Waterloo Road - BBC1 - 5.44 million

ITV News was yesterday ordered to broadcast the summary of an Ofcom ruling that the broadcaster took a police officer's quotes about anti-social behaviour out of context. In January 2010, South Yorkshire Police chief constable Meredydd Hughes agreed to speak to ITV News about a problem family in Doncaster, who had a total of four anti-social behaviour orders against them and numerous complaints. In the report, Hughes appeared to say: 'Let's keep it in perspective, no-one's being murdered, no-one's being assaulted, no-one's being robbed. In this case, we have neighbours who have to get along and we'll do our best to sort it out.' Hughes complained to media regulator Ofcom that the clip had been taken out of context and unfairly portrayed him as making light of the problem. His comments were also later repeated by an ITV News presenter during an interview with the then-prime minister Gordon Brown, as a way of giving an example of 'a chief constable who doesn't seem to get it.' ITV News refuted any suggestion that the interview was unfairly edited or that Hughes was negatively characterised by the presenter. The broadcaster claimed that his comments were fairly summarised in all reports, including the Brown interview. After watching the unedited interview footage, Ofcom noted that Hughes made it very clear that anti-social behaviour was an important problem that needed addressing. In its ruling, Ofcom said: 'The programme makers' failure to fairly represent these comments and only to rely on the limited extract in the programme as broadcast resulted in Mr Hughes's comments being used out of the full context. Ofcom concluded therefore that to present Mr Hughes's comments out of the context in which they were given resulted in unfairness to him.' The media regulator upheld the chief constable's complaint of unfair treatment and ordered ITV to broadcast the summary of its adjudication.

Toby Stephens has reportedly signed on for a role in NBC's upcoming remake of Prime Suspect. The network have ordered a pilot episode of the remake, which is based on the popular ITV series starring Dame Helen Mirren. According to Deadline, Stephens has been cast as the romantic interest of lead character Jane Timoney, who will be played by ER actress Maria Bello. Stephens will play Timoney's live-in boyfriend, who helps her deal with both professional and personal struggles. The actor is best known for playing the Bond villain in Die Another Day, but more recently starred in the BBC2 comedy Vexed.

Jason Isaacs has signed on to appear in a new television series from the creator of Lone Star. Isaacs will play a police officer who wakes up to discover he is living in two realities, according to Deadline. He previously starred in the TV series Brotherhood, which was cancelled in 2008. The actor was subsequently offered a variety of pilots but had to decline due to his obligations to shoot the seventh Harry Potter film, in which he plays Lucius Malfoy. Isaacs will also produce the new series, which is entitled REM. Described as 'an Inception-style thriller,' REM will broadcast in the fall if the pilot is picked up by NBC.

Adrian Pasdar has admitted that he does not know whether he wants to have a lead role in another television series. Pasdar's show Profit was axed after five episodes, while Heroes was cancelled last year before it had a chance to properly wrap up its storylines. The actor, who will guest star in upcoming episodes of Castle, has now told Zap2It that he is not sure he wants to work on a new series. 'I've tried it a couple of times, and it always goes wrong,' he said. 'I think the supporting parts are more interesting. Being asked to carry a major show with the restrictions that are thrown on you is very limiting. I'd rather hit it hard, do it right, and walk away.' Pasdar added that he would be happy to stick to supporting roles but confessed that he might get involved in pilot season again in the future. 'I'll probably do it again,' he said. 'But I'll hate it.'

Minnie Driver has been cast in a new pilot for CBS. Deadline reports that the actress will play a single mother in Hail Mary, a detective drama. Driver was nominated for a Prime time Emmy and a Golden Globe for her role as Dahlia Malloy in The Riches. She has also made recent appearances in ABC comedy Modern Family and the BBC1 drama The Deep. Although, that wasn't very good. Hail Mary was created by Jeff Wadlow, who will executive produce the show with Joel Silver (Sherlock Holmes, Veronica Mars) and Ilene Chaiken (The L Word). According to Variety, Brad Silberling (Land of the Lost) will direct the pilot.

Hawaii Five-0 producer Paul Zbyszewski has claimed that Dane Cook's role on the show will surprise viewers. The actor will appear in this week's episode of the CBS drama as Matthew Williams, the younger brother of Danno (Scott Caan). 'I think he's going to surprise a lot of people,' Zbyszewski told TV Guide. 'He wants to expand his repertoire [and] he doesn't just want to be pigeonholed as wacky comic relief. So, while he does have some fun moments on the show, he's also got some dramatic stuff that he's got to carry in the episode.' The producer added that there will be 'no real overt hostility' between Matthew and Danno. 'They have a great relationship, and while Danny's brother hasn't been out to visit him in Hawaii, these are two guys who are definitely not on the outs,' he said. Zbyszewski also hinted that Cook's character could return in a potential second season of Hawaii Five-0. 'The way that we leave Danny's story with his brother remains open for perhaps revisiting it in season two, in terms of their relationship and how things work out,' he revealed. 'I don't want to give away the fun and pay-off of the episode, but I think people will be very excited to see what happens.'

David Morrissey has confirmed there will be a second series of thorne for Sky 1, which starts filming later this year.

A forthcoming Holby City plot will see nurse Kieran Callaghan lose his leg after being caught up in a bomb blast in Afghanistan. The show newcomer - played by former Hollyoaks actor Barry Sloane - has been acting as a Territorial Army medic in a plot which is due to take a tragic twist in the weeks ahead. According to the Sun, Kieran will suffer serious injuries in an IED explosion during his time in the warzone. After being flown home for treatment, there are further complications and his leg has to be amputated. Speaking about meeting real-life amputees to research the plot, Sloane told the newspaper: 'It was important for me to see some of the guys that had suffered in that way. I wanted the character driven and gave him a goal that he wanted to get better quickly. It comes from the wounded guys. They don't sit around and feel sorry for themselves - they are so driven. If they set a target to be walking in six months, if that's at all possible, that's what they will be doing.' He added: 'I don't know how I would react if I lost a limb - I wouldn't be as strong-willed as these guys.' The plot culminates in Kieran and love interest Donna Jackson (Jaye Jacobs) leaving the BBC medical drama on 8 March.

The BBC has started developing a television adaptation of the Radio 4 comedy Bleak Expectations. The Gruniad reports that the spoof of Victorian novels, which has aired for four series on the radio, will be renamed Old Shop Of Stuff when it appears on BBC2. The comedy's scriptwriter Mark Evans is penning the television adaptation, but it is not yet clear whether it will be a one-off or a series. The BBC's head of in-house comedy Mark Freeland said: 'For many years we have been looking to do the Victorian romp and there it is sitting on our doorstep.' Old Shop Of Stuff is scheduled for broadcast in 2012 to mark the bicentenary of Charles Dickens' birth.

Channel Four has confirmed plans for a Christmas spin-off of their hit documentary My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding. The popular series, which has been a ratings winner for the broadcaster, ended its five week run earlier this month. The Gruniad reports that the one-off special, likely to be titled My Big Fat Gypsy Christmas, is one of several spin-offs that are under discussion along with My Big Fat Gypsy Birthday and My Big Fat Gypsy Funeral. Liam Humphreys, the broadcaster's deputy head of factual entertainment, said: 'Big Fat Gypsy Weddings was a huge ratings success and we're currently discussing a number of ideas going forward. We also have a one-off Christmas special planned, which has already been filmed. We're obviously delighted that the programme has resonated with viewers so much.' An 'insider' allegedly added to the paper: 'Of course, with eight million people tuning in we would be stupid if we said "that was it" and we will not be doing anything more on the subject. It hasn't just been a success, it's been an astonishing success. No documentaries, not even ones on BBC1 or ITV1, get more than eight million these days.' The newspaper claims that another 'source' told them: 'Future programmes may involve the people from the series, it may be other Travellers, but Channel Four will definitely be doing more programmes on this subject. As well as offering a fascinating insight into a group of people many people in the UK didn't know much about, the series is jaw-droppingly visual and brilliantly made.'

However, according to a hysterical story in the Daily Lies, 'the future of Big Fat Gypsy Weddings was thrown into chaos this week as travellers refused to take part in any future series. Furious communities say they have suffered a flood of prejudice and been branded "thieving scum."' Which, of course, never happened to a single member of the travelling communities before the series started, did it? Meanwhile, also on the subject of Channel Four, the reality show Famous and Fearless 'has been axed after one series - because it wasn't fearless enough' claim the Sun. A 'source' allegedly said: 'It was an innovative idea, but it just didn't work as well as we had hoped. It was a tough act following Celebrity BB and it needed to pull in bigger ratings than it did.' The Chris Evans-fronted live show had been tipped to serve as a long-running replacement for Big Brother. However, poor reviews saw ratings halved during its week-long run last month. The series, eventually won by Charley Boorman, featured eight celebrities including Rufus Hound and Dame Kelly Holmes competing in various stunts including BMXing, a demolition derby and power skateboarding.

Kate Walsh has admitted her surprise at being drafted in to replace Denise Van Outen on OK! TV. Van Outen quit the Channel Five show just days before it went on air last week, citing 'other contractual commitments.' Former Live From Studio Five host Walsh was later confirmed as her replacement. 'It really was [a surprise],' she told New magazine. 'I'd come to terms with Live From Studio Five finishing and was considering my options. I'd put a showreel together but was also thinking about business opportunities. I don't know what went on with Denise but, to be completely honest, it doesn't matter - I'm just really grateful!' Asked how she deals with criticism directed at her on Twitter, Walsh added: 'It's tricky. In any other job, you're judged on your performance and people don't make it personal, but you're never going to win everyone over and it's better to be criticised than ignored!'

Princess Michael of Kent has revealed that she wants Lord Snotty, Julian Fellowes to adapt her novel for television. Speaking to the Daily Torygraph, of course, she explained that she has already asked the Downton Abbey creator to write a screenplay based on The Serpent and the Moon. The novel focuses on royal love in Renaissance France. 'It has been picked up by a producer and been optioned to be an eight-part series,' Princess Michael said. 'I have written an outline and I am hoping Julian will write it. His wife has been my chief lady-in-waiting for twenty five years, so no pressure.' She added: 'The agents are talking. If Julian can, I know he will.' Ah, the lifestyles of the rich and idle.

I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity ... Get Me Out Of Here! producers are reportedly struggling to reunite some of the show's biggest names for an all-star series. As previously revealed, bosses had hoped to round up contestants including former winners Tony Blackburn, Joe Pasquale, Kerry Katona and Phil Tufnell to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the ITV show. 'Trying to convince some of the most outspoken celebrities to spend so much as a night together is proving incredibly difficult,' a 'source' allegedly told the Mirra. 'A lot of the show's former stars absolutely hate each other, and as soon as their names are mentioned together all hell breaks loose. It's a real headache for the show's producers.'

Smug gitface Jack Whitehall is to star in new Channel Four comedy show Hit The Road Jack. Oh, if only he would. And not come back no more, no more, no more, no more. So, I wouldn't bother with that one, dear blog reader. Because, it'll be rubbish.

Audrey Roberts's latest Coronation Street love interest Marc Selby will be attacked by a group of thugs in a forthcoming storyline, reports have claimed. The show newcomer - who will soon be revealed as a secret cross dresser - has to be rescued by police when he gets beaten up, according to the Daily Lies. It is thought that Audrey (Sue Nicholls) is later called to the police station to collect Marc (Andrew Hall), still unaware of his fetish for female clothing. However, when she comes face-to-face with Marc at the station, she sees that he is dressed as his alter ego 'Marcia' and discovers his secret. Marc will be at the centre of a love triangle plot in the coming weeks as Audrey and Claudia Colby (Rula Lenska) battle for his affections.

ITV has secured the exclusive rights to broadcast The Royal Variety Performance for the next decade, it has been announced. The deal, which will keep the show on ITV until 2021, ends almost fifty years of a shared broadcasting agreement with the BBC, Broadcast reports. The Entertainment Artistes' Benevolent Fund also awarded ITV Studios the production rights for the show. The organisation's honorary life president Laurie Mansfield said: 'As we approach the one hundredth performance of the Royal Variety Show, this agreement marks the beginning of a new era for the Entertainment Artistes’ Benevolent Fund. We can look forward to the future with renewed confidence and financial security for the next ten years. It confirms the successful relationship that the Entertainment Artistes' Benevolent Fund has with ITV, and of course Britain's Got Talent.' The winner of the ITV talent show has been guaranteed a performance slot at the show as part of the prize package. ITV's director of entertainment and comedy Elaine Bedell added: 'Almost a century on from its first appearance, The Royal Variety Performance remains one of the UK's most popular entertainment events. I'm delighted that ITV will broadcast the show exclusively for the next ten years.'

Elisabeth Murdoch will join the board of her father's News Corporation and avoid reporting directly to her brother James after News completes the four hundred and fifteen million pound buyout of her Shine Television group. The deal value the forty two-year-old's controlling stake in Shine – maker of Outcasts, [spooks], Hustle, MasterChef and Merlin among others – at close to two hundred million pounds, once the long-anticipated transaction completes around Easter. Shine will report into Chase Carey, News Corp's US-based deputy chairman, after the purchase completes regulatory approval – even though the television producer is based in London. That means Shine will remain outside the direct remit of James Murdoch, the London-based chief executive of News Corporation, Europe and Asia – putting the two siblings on a more equal footing at News Corporation. Although James Murdoch is widely seen as the heir apparent to Rupert Murdoch, the Shine purchase markedly steps up Elisabeth's influence at the business. She left BSkyB eleven years ago 'with regret' after a series of disagreements with Sky's then management team, and went on to set up Shine, which she built through acquisitions funded by a mixture of debt and family money. She will remain in charge at Shine, and has told colleagues the television producer will continue to be her 'main interest.' It is not clear what, if anything else, she will take on. Elisabeth Murdoch currently sits as an observer on News Corporation's board, but her father said he expected her to join the board as a voting member. That means Shine will no longer be a 'qualifying independent' for the purposes of the public service broadcaster's output quotas, which could make it marginally harder for the company to win work from the BBC, ITV or Channel Four. News Corp disclosed that it would pay founr hundred and fifteen million pounds for Shine, which includes absorbing its debts. Following an acquisition spree, Shine had borrowed fifty five million according to the last set of accounts published in 2009. These debts are understood to have reduced modestly since, but Shine was not releasing an exact number for its current debt load – suggesting that the equity will be valued at somewhere around three hundred and sixty five million. Liz Murdoch owns fifty three per cent of Shine, so the buyout would value her holding at somewhere slightly over one hundred and ninety million pounds. However, she is unlikely to be able to cash in that much from her father's company. News Corp did not say if it was paying for Shine in cash or shares – and it is understood that the final structure of the buyout is not yet complete. Banking sources have indicated that the deal was likely to be a paper one. Rupert Murdoch commented: 'Shine has an outstanding creative team that has built a significant independent production company in major markets in very few years, and I look forward to it becoming an important part of our varied and large content creation activities.' Elisabeth Murdoch added: 'In a rapidly consolidating global TV industry, this alliance uniquely provides the conditions in which Shine Group can continue to lead and prosper. Shine shares News Corporation's long-standing belief in creative excellence and ambitious expansion.'

Channel Four has secured more Paralympic broadcast rights, after sealing a multiplatform deal to cover the BT Paralympic World Cup in May. The London 2012 Paralympic Games host broadcaster will provide 'unprecedented television coverage' of the event, which takes place in Manchester from 23 to 28 May. The BT Paralympic World Cup is the largest annual international multi-sport competition in disability sport, featuring events such as athletics, swimming and wheelchair basketball. Channel Four will broadcast a two-hour live programme on 28 May, as well daily highlights packages on 26 and 27 May. Live daily streaming of each sport will also be made available on the Channel Four Paralympics mini-site. Deborah Poulton, Paralympics sports editor at Channel Four, said: 'We are thrilled to be adding the BT Paralympic World Cup to our TV sporting schedules. Alongside the London 2012 Paralympic Games, the BT Paralympic World Cup is another opportunity to help increase awareness of Paralympic sport and make the British viewing public the best informed and most engaged in the world. We believe the combination of online streaming and TV highlights coverage will attract new audiences to the BT Paralympic World Cup and give the event and its competitors the profile they deserve.' ParalympicsGB chief executive Phil Lane added: 'The quality and depth of the coverage that Channel Four will bring to the BT Paralympic World Cup truly demonstrates the vision that they share with us for bringing Paralympic sport to the forefront of the public's minds. We are delighted that such a commitment has been made by the broadcaster and look forward to welcoming them to Manchester.'

BBC comedy chief Mark Freeland says the corporation shouldn't be afraid to court controversy with the humour it puts on air. He denied that BBC comedy had 'lost its teeth' following the compliance clampdown in the wake of the 'Sachsgate' affair – and said that his aim was to 'ruffle feathers.' And, although he accepts the corporation probably wouldn't have made Frankie Boyle's Tramadol Nights, he points to Psychoville and Stewart Lee's Comedy Vehicle as recent examples of 'bold programming' that has made it to air. In an interview with the Gruniad Morning Star, the BBC’s head of in-house comedy added: 'People were saying comedy had gone into its shell. But it hasn't retreated from saying the unsayable. As long as your processes are right and you've made a judgment call that you can back up. I find the fact that I'm sitting on a very combustible slate very exciting. I fully expect people not to like stuff we do. If some people were not getting antsy about some of our output I would worry.' However, Channel Four's head of comedy, Shane Allen, said the BBC should have defended Jonathan Ross more vigorously – as he has done with Boyle. 'Comedy like this definitely doesn't get a fair crack of the whip. Alf Garnett or Little Britain can do it but people seem more reluctant to understand the context of a comedian like Frankie,' he says Allen. 'Maybe class is at the root of it – he is from that working class Glasgow comedy tradition and so is not allowed to get away with it.'

Underworld have admitted that they cannot turn down any request from filmmaker Danny Boyle. The dance trio are providing the score and audio effects for Boyle's stage version of Frankenstein starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller in rotating lead roles. They previously featured on the soundtrack to Boyle's Trainspotting and scored his 2007 film Sunshine. Karl Hyde told official newsletter Scribbles: 'At this point (a week into public previews), we've created music, soundscapes and atmospheres that feature in about seventy per cent of a two-hour play. There are also alternate versions of each piece prepared in case scenes get extended. I think if you laid all the Underworld contributions end-to-end, it would represent hours of new material.' He added: 'Every time Danny asks us to get involved in a project, we say yes 'cos we know it's going to be a journey that will take us to strange new places - one that will push us harder and make us dig deeper than anything we might think to do on our own. He is the kind of director who can bring things out of us that even we didn't know were there. Being around [writer] Nick Dear and seeing how his work evolves has been a real eye-opener too. Every day, it's like going back to school being taught new lessons, new skills.'

Simon Pegg and Nick Frost's Paul has topped the box office on its first week in UK cinemas. The SF road comedy, which yer Keith Telly Topping saw (and rather enjoyed) yesterday, boosted by an early release on Valentine's Day, racked up five and a half million pounds in ticket sales to send last week's chart topper Gnomeo & Juliet into second place. Colin Firth's Oscar-tipped royal drama The King's Speech is at number three, having taken in more than thirty seven million smackers in the UK since its release in January.

A moviegoer was shot and killed at a screening of Black Swan in Latvia. According to the Gruniad Morning Star, the forty three-year-old victim was irritated by another moviegoer who was reportedly chewing his popcorn too loudly. The alleged shooter then waited for the movie to end before supposedly pulling a gun on the victim and shooting him. Other moviegoers then phoned the police, who took the alleged assailant into custody. The alleged shooter holds a law degree and has graduated from a police academy.

Sheep are far more intelligent than previously thought, new research has revealed. The Daily Torygraph reports that scientists at the University of Cambridge have discovered that the animals can adapt to changing situations and map out their surroundings. They can't, however, pick up a hammer (no opposable thumbs, see), so they can't built stuff. Just in case you thought they could. They also can't fly. Monty Python proved that. In some tests, the flock of seven Welsh Mountain sheep showed equal brainpower to humans. Professor Jenny Morton, a neuroscientist at the university, said: '[Sheep] have a reputation for being extremely dim and their flock behaviour backs that up as they are very silly animals when in a group. I didn't expect them to be so amenable to testing and certainly didn't expect them to be so smart. In our tests they performed at a level very similar to monkeys and humans in the initial learning tasks. When we then changed the rules, they still performed as well as monkeys and better than rodents.' The research was carried out to see if scientists could use sheep to study Huntington's disease.

The Monkees are to reform for a tour celebrating the group's forty fifth anniversary. Three members of the original made-for-TV band - Davy Jones, Peter Tork and Micky Dolenz - are set to play their first UK tour in twelve years. The other founder member, Michael Nesmith, is not taking part this time around. To busy counting all of his billions, no doubt! The trio commence their UK dates at the Liverpool Echo Arena on 12 May, the Daily Torygraph reports. Despite starting out as an entirely manufactured group, created purely for the TV show, the foursome put out some of the sixties best-loved hits - 'I'm a Believer', '(I'm Not Your Steppin' Stone)' and 'Last Train to Clarksville' among 'em. At first relying on songwriting abilities of the likes of Neil Diamond, Boyce and Hart and Goffin and King, The Monkees eventually fought off company attempts to keep then away from the creative end of their music and gained more independence, aligning themselves with the decade's growing counterculture. The TV series ran from 1966 to 1968 (fifty eight episodes) before it was cancelled. The band continued, however, concentrating on recording and touring. When the Monkees toured the UK in 1967, there was a major press controversy over the revelation that the group did not always play all of their own instruments in the studio, although they did play them all while touring (except for the solo segments, which used backing band the Candy Store Prophets). The story made the front pages of several shit-stirring scum tabloids (some things never change), with the group derisively dubbed The Pre-Fab Four. Nevertheless, they were generally welcomed by many British artists, who realised the group included talented musicians and sympathised with their wish to have more creative control over their music, and The Monkees frequently socialised with the likes of The Beatles, The Spencer Davis Group, and The Who. Many Monkees admirers argued then that the controversy unfairly targeted the band, while conveniently ignoring the fact that a number of leading British and American groups (including critical favorites such as The Byrds and The Beach Boys) habitually used session players on their recordings, including many of the very same musicians who performed on records by The Monkees. This commonplace practice had previously passed without comment. After the series ended, the band put out their own psychedelic movie, the fabulous - if wilfully uncommercial - Head (1969, co-written by Jack Nicholson) and one of greatest LPs of the 1960s by anyone, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn, Jones Ltd. From which this little slab of myth-crushing comes (probably the first song ever released to feature a Moog synthasizer on it. Micky Dolenz owned the third one ever built.) The group dissolved in 1971 after first Tork and then Nesmith left, but the original TV show has continued to be syndicated around the world. Since then, The Monkees have reconvened to tour and record sporadically, though Nesmith last played with them in 1997. When yer actual Keith Telly Topping saw them in Newcastle - and they were very good, too. So, perhaps inevitably for today's Keith Telly Topping's 45(s) of the Day we're going on madzap, zany helter-skelter trip through my own favourite Monkees singles. And, they're probably not the ones you'd expect, dear blog reader. Well, the first one might be. Actually, come to think of it, this one could well be too!In early 1967, they toured England, got invited to all the groovy sex and drugs and rock and roll parties in Knightsbridge, Kensington and St John's Wood and even wrote a damned peculiar hit song about it. This next one is reputed to be Lou Reed's favourite song. Make of that what you will, dear blog reader. You can find it on the b-side of the much more famous - and much less interesting - 'Daydream Believer.' And finally, from Head, there's Carole King's quite beautiful ballad 'As We Go Along'. (By the way, that's Neil Young and Ry Cooder playing two of the several acoustic guitars on this, fact fans.) And, as a bonus, the great 'single that never was,' also from Head, Nesmith's wonderfully spunky 'Circle Sky'.