Sunday, February 20, 2011

You Wonder Why We're Only Half-Ashamed Because Enough Is Too Much - Look Around, Can You Blame Us?

David Walliams will, as previously rumoured, play an alien in the next series of Doctor Who, sources have claimed. The Come Fly With Me comedian, who announced his involvement in the show earlier this month, is apparently portraying a cowardly individual called Gibbis. Compared to Mole from The Wind In The Willows, a 'source' allegedly told the Sun: 'They thought Walliams would be perfect for the role of alien Gibbis. He is well known for his love of using prosthetics to get into character on his comedy shows, so this won't be much different for him. But it will be a lot scarier than the stuff he normally does.'

The overnight audience for BBC1's Hustle fell marginally for its seventh series finale on Friday night. The con-artist drama pulled in 5.15m in the 9pm hour, down five hundred thousand week-on-week. However, even with before timeshifts are factored in for the last two episodes, series seven of the show ranks as Hustle's most-watched run of episodes, finishing with an overnight series average of 5.65 million - an increase of 0.18 million on 2010. There was little competition elsewhere, as Embarrassing Bodies managed 3.18m for Channel Four and just under five hundred thousand on timeshift. Meanwhile, ITV's Comedy Rocks had an audience of just 2.58m viewers and one hundred and forty thousand on +1. I suppose it's possible that when yer actual Keith Telly Topping said a few weeks ago Russell Kane was popular with students I might, actually, have been giving him a bit too much credit.

However, speaking of Russell Kane, he and Katie Price have been named as the first two acts to reach this year's Let's Dance For Comic Relief final. Kane received the most public votes for his performance of Beyoncé's 'Crazy In Love', leading him to declare that the honour was 'more of a punishment, really.' A bit like some of his comedy, really. Acquired taste. Price was put through by judges Frank Skinner and Graham Norton, after finishing in the top three with Waterloo Road's Rebecca Ryan and Philip Martin-Brown. Reflecting on the model's rendition of 'I Want To Break Free', complete with Freddie Mercury-style fake moustache and arm hair, and the school drama stars' take on Run DMC's 'It's Like That,' Norton said that he was faced with 'a dancing Sophie's Choice.' Not literally, of course, because that would involve giving one of them up to be killed. He finally declared that Price had 'earned her place' in the final. Skinner agreed, saying: 'I thought Katie was marvellous, so it's got to be her.' Camp design duo Colin and Justin's performance of 'Xanadu' failed to inspire viewers, along with Ed Byrne's 'We Love To Boogie' and Rebecca Front's turn as Bjork in 'It's All So Quiet.'

Blue Peter presenter Helen Skelton is to walk a tightrope between chimneys at Battersea Power Station to raise money for Comic Relief. The twenty seven-year-old is due to walk the one hundred and fifty metres long wire at the south London building on 28 February. She will be at a height of sixty six metres and holding a pole in front of her to help balance. A safety belt will be attached to her in case she falls while walking along the wire. And because it's bloody dangerous. Obviously. The BBC children's presenter said she was inspired to take on the challenge after watching the documentary Man On Wire, which shows Frenchman Philippe Petit walk a tightrope between the twin towers at New York's World Trade Center in 1974. 'I was so impressed when I saw the film that I said "wouldn't it be amazing to do something like that,"' she said. Amazing. And bloody dangerous. Skelton has been secretly training in France for the challenge. 'I knew it would be scary and a challenge to stay focused but I really hadn't realised how physical it would be. I am covered in bruises from falling on the wire, which is incredibly painful. It has been hard work but that's what is going to make me grit my teeth and keep going when my arms burn. I only hope I can hold my nerve and keep my eyes on the wire - if I stay focused I'm sure I can make it across.' Skelton became the first person to solo kayak the Amazon during a challenge for Sport Relief in February 2010. Remember, don't try this at home, kids. Because it's bloody dangerous.

Lord Patten's pitch to win the job of BBC Trust chairman was simple – give me the job and I will stand up to both the government of the day and the organisation itself, if necessary. It was exactly what the lack of culture secretary, the vile and odious Hunt, wanted to hear – evidence of strong-minded independence, which would allow him to say 'this is not a political appointment' even though it is - Patten is, of course, a former Conservative cabinet minister. Now Patten's name sits with David Cameron for the Big Bad Chief's approval – having been put forward by the vile and odious Hunt – and insiders said on Friday afternoon that the prime minister's consent was expected to be a formality next week. That would propel Patten into the one hundred and ten thousand pounds-a-year, four-day a week role at a time when the public broadcaster has just asked for twenty per cent cuts to meet the flat licence fee settlement imposed by the government last year. Patten – aged sixty six and currently chancellor of Oxford University – made it clear to both the vile and odious Hunt and an interview panel that he badly wanted the BBC job as the final act in a long career in politics and public life. But whereas the vile and odious Hunt felt that his predecessor, Sir Michael Lyons, had too cosy a relationship with director general Mark Thompson and the BBC executive, the lack of culture secretary believes Patten would not hesitate to tell BBC bosses where they have got it wrong. The vile and odious Hunt can also point to right-wing Conservative party opposition to Patten as evidence that he has not simply put a Tory forward to a plum job. Many on the right of the party have still not forgiven Patten for his 'wet,' Europhile politics from the 1980s and early 1990s. Labour, meanwhile, is not expected to make a fuss. Because that, of course, would be too much like revealing that they actually have a collective backbone. Insiders said on Friday that 'it would be churlish' for Labour to oppose an appointment that remains within the government's gift. Patten's closest rival was Sir Richard Lambert, the former director general of the CBI and one-time editor of the Financial Times. But Lambert cannot have felt too confident about his chances, after choosing to take a month-long holiday in Venice, from which he has now no need to return promptly.

Some general scheduling news: Alan Sugar has said The Apprentice won't be returning until May (presumably after MasterChef finishes). Meanwhile, Mary Portas has revealed that 'Secret Shopper [is] finished. Onto my next project. Back on-screen September!' suggesting that her most recent series was only a one-off. Waking the Dead is set to return for its final series in March on Sunday and Monday nights. It was originally scheduled for this month, straight after Silent Witness ended. However the BBC reportedly swapped it with Outcasts, presumably when they saw that ITV were planning to air weak opposition on Monday and Tuesday evenings currently whereas things might be more competitive in March where Waking the Dead can hold its own. Current industry speculation is that the BBC couldn't really shunt Outcasts away from a high profile slot that it probably would have been better in even if they had wanted to. They had to at least give it a go with heavy promotion due to the expense of the series and to keep a good relationship with production company, Kudos, so the BBC did the best they could with what they got. A turkey. The press pack for Monroe is up at the ITV press office which means it will begin more likely during the week commencing 7 March. The question, of course, is which day because it is also predicted that the second half of series two of Law & Order: UK is due to begin at some point in March. So whichever programme gets the 9pm Monday slot (when The Biggest Loser mercifully ends) the other will get Thursday 9pm (the Marchlands slot).

The BBC is investigating allegations that actors were hired to pose as members of the public featured in reality TV show The Real Hustle. The BBC3 programme features a team who con members of the public in order to show viewers how frauds work. Objective Productions makes the show for the BBC and said it 'categorically' denied claims made in - of course - the Scum Mail on Sunday that the 'victims' were briefed. The firm said: 'All the people on the show have been hustled for real.' In a statement, it added that 'their reactions are genuine. We have never employed an actor as a "mark" [victim of a hustle], briefed them in advance and asked them to fake their initial reaction to the scam. Occasionally, because of for example, equipment problems, we have had to re-shoot short elements of the set up after the hustle has been completed and that can involve giving some direction to the "marks" to ensure that the footage matches. However it is completely untrue to say that any "mark" was an actor who was fully briefed in advance and paid to act as though they had been hustled.' So, if this statement is true then the Scum Mail on Sunday are lying. Well, there you have it, dear blog reader, a potentially explosive and very serious claim from Objective Productions. Over to you, Scum Mail for a rebuttal. The BBC said it was 'of paramount importance to the BBC that our audiences are not misled by the programmes we broadcast.' A BBC spokesman said: 'We will examine any alleged breaches of our editorial standards relating to The Real Hustle as a matter of urgency and will take appropriate action if required.'

Some two hundred people have demonstrated outside the BBC studios in Carmarthen in protest at the plans for the Welsh language television channel S4C. Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg, the Welsh Language Society, accused BBC Wales of 'betrayal' by co-operating with the 'London government' to take over S4C. As though they has any choice in the matter. Among the speakers were former Plaid Cymru president Dafydd Iwan. From 2013, S4C will be funded from part of the BBC licence fee. Last month, twenty people staged a sit-in at the lobby of BBC Wales' headquarters in Cardiff, blocking the entrance. Protesters want the corporation to change its mind about taking over the funding of S4C. Cymdeithas said the changes will make the channel a 'sub-department of the BBC' from 2015. In a statement, it said: 'We call on young parents who appreciate the Cyw and Stwnsh programmes for children, we call on rugby supporters that S4C has given such a financial boost to, we call on young people who want to see a future for their channel. This could all come to an end if we don't raise our voices now.' Following the protest at the BBC studios, demonstrators said they plan to travel to the Whitland offices of Conservative Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire MP Simon Hart. S4C had considered seeking a judicial review over the UK government's decision to change the channel's funding arrangements but last month confirmed it had abandoned such plans. A spokesperson for BBC Wales said: 'The decision to change the funding arrangements for S4C was made by the UK government, not the BBC. Discussions are ongoing between the UK government, S4C and the BBC and further details will be provided in due course. However, Mark Thompson, director general of the BBC, Menna Richards, former director BBC Cymru Wales, and Elan Closs Stephens, BBC national trustee for Wales, gave evidence to the Welsh Affairs Committee in the House of Commons recently and Mark Thompson has also agreed to meet with Cymdeithas yr Iaith within the next few weeks.' They didn't add, although they probably should have, that the BBC would be delighted not to have to take on the over one hundred million pounds funding of S4C that's been dumped on them and that, furthermore, the vast majority of their licence fee payers outside of Wales would, also, be happy not to have to fund the damn thing. But, unfortunately, that's what happens when the Tories are in power. S4C's budget is being cut as part of the UK government's Spending Review. UK Culture Minister Ed Vaizey has said the UK government is 'committed to Welsh programming and committed to S4C.' Just, not to actually paying for it. They expect some other poor sod to have to do that.

Michael Grade has criticised Richard Hammond for his derogatory remarks about Mexican cars on Top Gear three weeks ago. Hammond joked that Mexican cars are 'lazy, feckless [and] flatulent' on the motoring programme, which led to a complaint from the Ambassador and a statement from the BBC. And a hunger strike and various other bits of abject glakery if you believe everything that lice scum newspapers with a sick agenda tell you. Lord Grade told one such newspaper, the Daily Torygraph: 'I don't think that's acceptable in this day and age. That was disgraceful. How dare he sit there, [on] prime-time television, casting aspersions on a whole nation. What's he going to do next, talk about the Jews making money? Or the slitty-eyed Chinese, like the Duke of Edinburgh? I'm not a PC fascist, but it seemed to me to take us back to the dark ages of television.' Like when you were running BBC1, you mean Michael? That would be terrible. However, Grade defended the corporation regarding the recent ageism row, which saw former Countryfile presenter Miriam O'Reilly win a tribunal case after being dropped by bosses. On the subject, the broadcaster stated: 'I think that's nonsense. You've got to be free. Anything that constrains the editorial chiefs having the ability to pick and choose and exercise their professional judgment about who's right for the show is a detrimental backward step. If what was said to have been said to [O'Reilly] was true - about Botox and the rest of it - that was absolutely unacceptable. And she was quite right.' So there you have it, ladies and gentlemen. Michael Grade still talking utter crap about a number of subjects even after all these years. Isn't it good that in an ever-changing world some things remain reliably constant.

Dame Judi Dench has admitted that she's surprised by the success of As Time Goes By in the US. In an interview with USA Today, the five-time BAFTA winner marvelled that the BBC1 sitcom has proved popular in America. 'It's on a continuous loop,' she noted. 'They can't help it! It's in front of them.' The actress added: 'I had a woman writing to tell us she was sending a quilt for the bed because that's not the kind of quilt we'd have. Very curious.' As Time Goes By chronicled the lives of two long-lost lovers for nine series, before wrapping up with a reunion special in 2005. Despite a string of award-winning performances in both television and film productions, Dench revealed that she now tries to avoid reading criticism of her acting. 'I don't read them now. You get to know because people tell you, of course. You have a shrewd idea of how things went,' she added. Dench will next star with Michelle Williams and Kenneth Branagh in My Week With Marilyn, which is scheduled to be released in US cinemas later this year.

According to the Mirra, Simon Cowell is holding 'secret talks' with the lack of culture secretary the vile and odious Hunt about a new TV talent show involving 'sporty schoolkids.' Not so secret talks now, it would seem. Earlier this month the vile and odious Hunt announced plans for a Classroom Games – with up to five hundred schools going head-to-head in the run up to the Olympics. And Cowell is, the newspaper claims, poised to cash in on the idea. A source said: 'He already has the two biggest shows on TV in Britain's Got Talent and The X Factor. Now he is working on another featuring sport. He thinks it could be the third jewel in his TV crown and is going to work with the Tories to try and get them to back it. Sport could be the new showbiz in 2012 and Simon is interested in getting his piece of the Olympic action.'

Louis Walsh and Dannii Minogue fear that their X Factor jobs are at risk, according to 'a source.' Allegedly. Female First reports that the pair are 'seething' with Simon Cowell for his 'coyness' over the fate of the UK show. Walsh allegedly told a friend: 'He's driving me insane! The show is going to crumble to pieces. I am meant to have a two-year contract but the way things are going I could be gone, too. None of us have a clue if we're going to be back for the new series or if the new series will even go ahead. We're in total limbo.' Meanwhile, an 'insider' allegedly claimed: 'Louis is really uptight about the whole thing. So is Dannii. Neither of them are happy with what's happening. They feel Simon is obsessed with the American project now and he has no passion for what's going on in the UK. It's like there's a big axe hanging over all their heads. Louis thinks the show could be ruined here. As if that wasn't bad enough, Simon is only communicating with Cheryl over the whole thing. She's the only one who seems to know what's going on and that's driving Louis and Dannii mad.'

Chloe Madeley says that she is willing to battle through criticism about being the child of famous parents for a TV career. Madeley, who is currently taking part in Dancing On Ice, claimed that there were 'massive positives and massive negatives' to her current level of 'fame,' but said that she would persist in looking for work in the media. 'It is a mixed blessing and it has its ups and downs. I want to go into television. The press talk about me because of my mum and dad, which can help, but it can also be detrimental when it comes to the work side of things,' she told The Vanessa Show. 'It is a bit embarrassing, but as soon as you say that you want to be on TV you are allowing the press and public to look into your life. I am still young and I have made mistakes, which is embarrassing, because I don't want to let down my parents.' She added: 'I'm willing to battle my way through. I have had a couple of columns before and I'm doing that freelance now. I'd love to do more telly of course, but right now I'm totally focused on Dancing On Ice. I think I might be doing the tour as well, so that's really exciting.'

James Corden reportedly got smacked in the eye when hosting The Brits – by a stray firework. He said: 'I felt this hot thing smack me in the eye. It was a firework from the flares Take That’s dancers were using. It hurt.' Nothing remotely trivial, one trusts.

Composer and music editor John Strauss, who worked on films including the Oscar-winning Amadeus, has died at the age of ninety in Los Angeles. Strauss, who had Parkinson's disease, died at a nursing home on Monday night, the Los Angeles Times reported. As a composer, his best-known work in the US was the theme tune to 1960s comedy Car 54, Where Are You? which he co-wrote with show creator Nat Hiken. He also worked as music editor on a number of Woody Allen films. They included Take the Money and Run as well as Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex (But Were Afraid to Ask). In Miloš Forman's 1984 biopic Amadeus - the story of the rivalry between composers Mozart and Antonio Salieri - Strauss was music co-ordinator and also briefly appeared in the film as a conductor. He also won a Grammy as producer of the film's soundtrack LP. The Recording Academy president Neil Portnow said Strauss's diverse credits 'portrayed his versatility and wide range of skills as well as his notable contributions to the arts.' In 1978, Strauss shared a sound editing Emmy for his work on TV movie The Amazing Howard Hughes.

Shots of horse semen will be introduced at an upcoming New Zealand food festival. The item will be on the menu at next month's annual Wildfoods Festival, along with raw scorpions and chocolate-covered beetles. Racehorse breeder Lindsay Kerslake claimed to Fairfax Media that the shots would 'taste like a milkshake.' Spunk-flavoured milkshake, obviously. He added: 'The idea is you'll have as much zizz as a stallion for a week afterwards.' So, jizz gives you zizz, is the claim? Organiser Mike Keenan told AFP that Kerslake thought it would offer 'something different,' adding: 'He's working on a number of flavours, from vanilla right through to strawberry and chocolate.'

A pupil has been permanently excluded from school and three others suspended after a photograph was taken of one of them with his genitals in a teacher's mug. The prank, which happened in a corridor at Benfield School in Newcastle, left the unsuspecting female teacher distraught when she found out, as she had unwittingly used the cup afterwards. For drinking tea out of, obviously. It is believed that a photograph of the offending incident was posted on the Internet, though it is thought to have since been removed. The photograph, that is, not the bollocks. An investigation by the school revealed that the boy who took the cup had been urging friends on Facebook to dare him to carry out risky or bad-taste pranks. It is another example of the growing phenomenon of pupils using social networking sites to bully, abuse teachers or boast about misbehaviour in class. One 'source' allegedly said: 'The photo was of the lad dangling his balls inside the cup belonging to the teacher. She later drank her tea from it.' It appeared the teacher was off work for some time after the incident, though she has returned now. Another 'source' said: 'The boys saw the cup, in a classroom, which they then took. They did the deed in the corridor. It all came from one of them on Facebook asking his friends "Who dares me to do this?"'

The latest Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day is realliy interesting. Because there are, indeed, some bad people on the right.