Saturday, March 26, 2011

He's Writing Cheques On His Mother's Womb, He's Gonna be Reborn Real Soon

Good day, dear blog reader. To start off with, a gift from yer actual Keith Telly Topping (via the BBC press office) to you. Have a nice publicity photo for series six of Doctor Who to brighten up your day.Tasty. Meanwhile, Doctor Who Magazine editor Tom Spilsbury has described the first half of the show's upcoming sixth series as 'an unmissable set of episodes.' Having read the scripts for episodes one through seven, Tom posted on Twitter: 'Been thinking about the new series. Haven't seen any finished episodes yet, but get the impression it's going to be amazing.' Tom, whom yer actual Keith Telly Topping has written for many times in the past, so he's clearly a fantastic judge of talent, continued: 'Thinking that [Steven Moffat]'s opening two-parter of the new series might turn out to be one of the best stories of all time. And the two-parter by Matthew Graham is insane and jaw-dropping and amazing - and then it's the staggeringly bonkers cliffhanger finale!' He concluded: 'It's going to be an unmissable set of episodes.' You'd better be right, Tom. A nation expects, and all that ...

Miranda Hart has credited BBC1 comedy My Family, cancelled with week after eleven years on air, for its legacy on the studio sitcom. Reacting to question from a BBC News journalist, the actress and comedienne, whose own hit sitcom Miranda was recently promoted to BBC1 after strong ratings, defended the show and its stars Robert Lindsay and Zoë Wanamaker. She reflected: 'After ten or eleven years, it's not a slight to be taken off air - it's an amazing achievement. And I think it's done a lot for studio-audience sitcoms. It has had some knocks from some people in the industry who are from a different comedy era that Ricky Gervais brought in - it became a bit uncool for want of a better word. But I always stood by it. I mean, having that many viewers says it all really.' Miranda continued: 'Studio-audience sitcoms often do [get knocked]. They're more heightened, they're more surreal and they're sillier, and so they ultimately seem less creative. They seem old-fashioned but they're not. It's such hard work to make a studio sitcom, trust me. I think it's amazing what they achieved and it's always been the way that studio-audience sitcoms that appeal to a wide demographic get the most viewing figures and always get critically slammed - that's the way in America and it probably always will be.' And My Family always has been critically reviled up to, and beyond, the decision to cancel it. See, for instance, from just this week the Torygraph's Catherine Gee's righteous assassination of it which ends with the assessment that 'the problem with My Family wasn't that it was too old. It just wasn't funny.' Asked how My Family would best be remembered, Miranda added: 'Probably with Robert and Zoë. They put a lot of work in and they did fantastic performances that really endeared the nation to them. They're great comedy actors.'

If you were looking for a comedy sounding board, you would struggle to find one better than the gentleman who spent a day lending an ear on his native Tyneside yesterday. Award-winning Geordie stand-up Ross Noble had agreed to be mentor for a day to a group of twelve comedy writers and performers who were putting the finishing touches to the scripts for an upcoming radio sketch show. And, as the Journal reported, from the collective laughter coming from the room they were using as a workshop, it sounded like they may just have a half-hour hit on their hands. 'It has been really good, some brilliant stuff,' said thirty four-year-old Ross. 'There are some really strong sketches. It's going to be great, which is a relief because there is always that fear when you do things like this that some stuff is going to be a bit rubbish,' he added. 'Thankfully, this wasn't the case at all. The good thing is that a lot of the guys in there are already local performers and writers who have got experience, but some of them are starting out too. It's a nice mix and I've had a really good time.' There were some pretty recognisable names sitting around the table at Northern Film and Media in Newcastle, where the workshop was being held. Popular local comedians Gavin Webster, John Scott and Holly Burn and actors Trevor Fox and Joe Caffrey were among the dozen writers and performers who'd had their submissions accepted by the team behind a new comedy initiative launched at the end of last year. Entitled Jesting About, the project is a collaborative effort between the BBC and NFM, aimed at giving people from the region the opportunity to attend masterclasses, workshops and mentoring sessions in the run-up to a string of broadcasting opportunities. It was launched by Bob Mortimer, mentoring those whose work and ideas were selected from the hundreds of submissions received. As well as the radio sketch show, which will be recorded next week at Live Theatre in Newcastle to be broadcast on BBC Newcastle on 2 May five writers are also getting the chance to pitch a sitcom pilot for BBC1, while another six comedians are putting together a stream on online content. BBC Newcastle producer, and completely coincidentally, yer actual Keith Telly Topping's boss, Steve Drayton (so, he's another bloke whose opinion you can take as read as being on the money) said that he was delighted with the way things were going. 'It has been a really good couple of days, and having Ross here today has been great. We originally received around two hundred submissions for the sketch show, so boiling them down to a dozen was a big task in itself, but I think we've got a great group of people and material. And the nice thing has been that everyone has been open to hearing what other have to say, and happy to take it on board. We're really excited about the recording next week and I reckon we may well have enough great stuff for two half-hour shows in the end.' Only, of course, he said it in a Scunthorpe accent. Ross had been able to make the time to offer a constructive stream of thoughts to the assembled writers as he is currently in the midst of an uncharacteristic hiatus from his standard year-round stand-up schedule. 'I've taken a year off,' said the Cramlington-born comic, who played his first stand-up spot at the Hyena Comedy Club in Newcastle when he was just fifteen. 'It's the longest I've had off in nearly twenty years. I'm spending a lot of time on my motorbike and doing bits and bobs. I'm getting a little bit itchy, but I'll be back touring in the UK next autumn.' Ross said that he's also enjoying spending time at his home in Kent, with his Australian wife, Fran and their two-year-old daughter. The family lost everything at the beginning of 2009 when the devastating bush fires in Australia levelled their farm in Victoria. Since then, they have settled in the South of England. 'It's nice not to be spending big chunks of time on the road,' he said, 'and nice to be able to do stuff like this too. I'm still busy working on lots of stuff, but it's different when you can be at home at the end of the day.'

Stacey Solomon has been named as 'the new face of Iceland.' That's, err, the cheap frozen food supermarket rather than Iceland the country, dear blog reader. The former X Factor finalist and I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity ... winner will appear in the company's new advertising campaign later this year, reports the Press Association. Speaking of her new venture, Solomon said: 'I'm really excited to be working with Iceland. I still can't believe it. And I have always been such a big fan so it feels perfect. Wahoo! I can't wait to get started and shoot the ads.' Or something like that, anyway. We can't be entirely sure that's what she said because, as usual, most of what emerged from her gob wasn't recognisable as yer actual English. Iceland's executive director Nick Canning said that Solomon had been chosen because she is 'a genuine Iceland customer and is someone [they] know [their] customers already love.' Somebody common as muck from guzzling their chicken drummers, in other words. The supermarket chain was previously fronted for four years by Kerry Katona, before she was sacked following drug allegations in 2009. Actually, you know, come to think of it it's something of a pity that this wasn't Iceland the country, rather than Iceland the cheap frozen food supermarket as if that had been the case it would, in all probability, mean Stace would have to spend most of her time in Reykjavík. Which would be preferable.

Full-of-his-own-importance bell-end - and drag - Jason Gardiner has reportedly threatened to boycott tomorrow's Twatting about On Ice final. The judge is said to be 'furious' that head coach Karen Barber did an interview dismissing his claims that she was reprimanded after talking about their live TV row in the media. Gardiner caused controversy last month after telling Barber: 'If your opinion still mattered Karen, you would still be on the judging panel.' According to the Sun, Barber told a magazine: 'Jason saying I was given a warning was totally untrue. I did nothing wrong, so that wasn't the case at all. But I wouldn't hesitate to do it again if Jason crossed the line.' A 'source' allegedly told the newspaper: 'Producers are desperately trying to calm things down but the situation is not good. Jason was furious and has had enough of the rows with Karen and wants an apology.' Gardiner recently admitted that the pair still don't talk following their on-air row. As if anybody actually gives a frigging stuff about any of this bloody nonsense.

Radio 1 DJs Fearne Cotton and Edith Bowman will be among the BBC presenters joining Huw Edwards for the corporation's coverage of the royal wedding across two TV channels and four national radio stations it has been announced. A case of the blonde leading the bland there, dear blog reader. Edwards was confirmed last year as the main anchor for BBC1 and BBC News Channel coverage of the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton at Westminster Abbey on 29 April – leaving no room for David Dimbleby, who has fronted the corporation's coverage of most major state events for more than a decade. The BBC1 10pm news presenter will be based at Buckingham Palace, with fellow newsreaders Fiona Bruce and Sophie Raworth also based at key central London locations. Hopefully together in a jacuzzi cos that'd certain put the ratings up. Cotton and Bowman, meanwhile, will be part of the BBC team providing coverage from across London, along with sports presenter Jake Humphrey, BBC Breakfast's Chris Hollins and The ONE Show's Alex Jones and Anita Rani. Christ, that's going to be a meeting on minds, isn't it? Still, you think that's bad, remember, ITV's coverage of the entire day is being fronted by Philip Schofield, and Sky's by the pieman's best friend Eamonn Holmes. Royal wedding coverage on Radio 4 will be led by Edward Stourton and James Naughtie, while over on Radio 5Live Victoria Derbyshire and Richard Bacon will be the main presenters. Vernon Kay and Scott Mills will be covering the wedding for Radio 1, with Chris Evans and Ken Bruce performing similar duties for Radio 2. Buckingham Palace has ruled out 3D TV coverage of the 29 April event, despite BSkyB going to great lengths to try to persuade the royal family of the possibilities afforded by the new technology. Sky even filmed a mock wedding with the two leads played by stand-ins at a church in Eastbourne, Sussex, earlier this year, and followed up with a 3D demonstration at the Guards Chapel in Windsor. However, the palace decided against 3D coverage, largely on logistical grounds, in consultation with the royal couple, William's private secretary Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton and Westminster Abbey officials. And it's also worth remembering, dear blog reader, even if you decide to go abroad to try and avoid the damn thing, thanks to BBC Worldwide, it'll still be on everywhere.

A contestant on RTL's Real Girls in the Jungle got a nasty surprise when she tried to pick up a boa constrictor. Ymke Wieringa was a contestant on the Dutch reality show, where girls have to compete against each other in daring or scary tasks. When offered the chance to open the box containing a boa constrictor the others passed but Wieringa stepped forward. As she reached into the box the snake leaped up, biting her hand and constricting around her arm. Four crew members from the show, shot in Suriname, rushed in to pull it off her. Though the snake is not poisonous, Wieringa was later rushed to hospital when the bite became inflamed and was kept in for a few days for observation. Now, if I'm A Celebrity ... was like that, I'd watch it every week.

Phil Oakey of The Human League has said that Glee executive producer Ryan Murphy was 'out of order' for criticising groups who don't wish to have their music featured from his show. The singer-songwriter explained that he was happy that his own band's 1981 hit 'Don't You Want Me' was used in second season episode Blame It On the Alcohol, but maintained that musicians should be free to choose whether or not their material is covered on the FOX comedy. Kings of Leon were criticised by Murphy for refusing to let the show feature their single 'Use Somebody' and the rock group later received support from ex-Guns N' Roses guitarist Slash and Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl. Oakey told the Digital Spy website: 'The producer was really a bit out of order with them. It's their music. If they wanna ban it from being in there I think they've got a right to ban it from being in there. But I think that Glee is something like us because we always wanted to be a bit more theatrical. We're not rock. Almost the only point of The Human League is that we're not rock, so to fit into that stage thing seems alright.'

Courteney Cox has suggested that she would have loved Friends to continue past its tenth season. The NBC sitcom ran from 1994 to 2004 and was a massive success with both critics and fans throughout the duration of its run, going on to receive sixty three Prime time Emmy nominations and six wins. Cox, who played neurotic chef Monica, told E Online: 'Ten's a long time, but I wish we hadn't stopped. It would've been nice to do eleven.' Asked what storylines Friends had yet to explore, she added: 'Oh my gosh. I don't know, but I was watching an episode the other day and it still holds up!'

Channel Four is reportedly launching a Father Ted app for Apple's iPhone that will enable people to turn themselves into Father Jack. The app, titled Father Jack Me, allows users to upload an image of themselves to be transformed into the veteran, alcoholic priest, reports Broadcast. There are options to add boils, a milky eye, dandruff and bushy eyebrows to the photos and then share the doctored images with friends over e-mail or social networks. And say 'fek' and 'arse' a lot. How desperately grown up. Frank Kelly, who played Father Jack, has provided a series of classic and original catchphrases for the mobile app. Hat Trick Productions and digital agency Tag Games have been involved in the development process, along with Father Ted writer Graham Linehan. Father Jack Me, which will launch in the coming weeks on iTunes priced at fifty nine pence, is part of Channel Four's drive to leverage the possibilities of mobile apps. Or, in other words, to make loads of money from any old crap. The broadcaster has set aside around one hundred thousand pounds for the development of new mobile and digital apps, with a series of launches planned to test the emerging market. Jody Smith, Channel Four's multiplatform commissioner of entertainment and comedy, said that the commercial performance of Father Jack Me would inform future trials. Smith said: 'It's amazing how popular the show remains and it attracts a younger audience too. There are a lot of soundboard apps out there, but this is something entirely different and original.' Father Jack Me follows a Come Dine With Me app launched last year with ITV Studios, featuring recipe suggestions and acerbic quotes from narrator Dave Lamb.

Producers of The X Factor USA apparently cannot decide on whether to offer pouty Cheryl Cole a role on the judging panel or not, it has been reported. The Heaton Horror is still said to be 'in the dark' about her inclusion in the show and the delay has been caused by disagreements among FOX executives. Two, apparently, love her whilst the other two aren't convinced that she is right for the job given that Girls Aloud mean absolutely nothing in the US, the Sun reports. Cole, who is apparently 'stressing out' about her X Factor USA deal, has had more screen tests than any of the other contenders and has even had to watch footage of her performances from Popstars: The Rivals and give comments on them. Presumably they also asked her to explain what her conviction for assault occasioning actual bodily harm was all about. Or what the hell she was thinking of when she married that ... thing. 'Two big chiefs are extremely keen to sign her,' a 'source' told the paper. We'll have to presume that 'big chief' in this case is a euphemism for 'US TV newwork executives' and not a reference to native American tribes. 'They loved her feistiness and, obviously, her look on the UK version. And they love the fact she has such great chemistry with Simon Cowell. The other two bosses are dead against Cheryl as they want to sign a big US star.' I don't know what to make of this, dear blog reader. Are we supposed to feel sorry for Cheryl Cole over this or what? I mean, at a time when people in Japan have lost everything they ever owned due to a tsunami, people in Libya are being killed in a violent civil war, people in the UK are suffering the affects of an austerity drive that means many are being made unemployed ... and some rich lass from Newcastle is 'stressing out' because she might, or might not, get a job on American television. I'm not sure what's the most sickening aspect here; the sense of entitlement that you get from Cheryl Cole's people over this, the constant 'everybody look at me, me, me, me, me!' spoiled little pop princess news stories which surround her or the fact that Sun seems to genuinely believe people will be heartbroken over such a calamity.

A Cornish film festival has announced producer and director Martin Scorsese will be its guest curator this summer. The Mean Streets director has selected films that will be played on an outdoor, drive-in style cinema at the Port Eliot Festival in July. Organisers said they were 'currently unsure' whether Scorsese would attend the event. His choices include the 1974 version of Murder On The Orient Express and All About Eve. Festival co-founder Catherine St Germans said: 'We could not have dreamt of a more illustrious programmer.' It's 'dreamed' Catherine, not dreamt. Just, you know ... one of my bug-bears, that. Martin's other films, of course, include Gangs of New York, Raging Bull, The King of Comedy and Goodfellas.

Two neighbours in the US state of Mississippi drew weapons and fired at each other as an argument over a defecating dog ran out of control. Associated Press reports that Jerry Blasingame, sixty, has been charged with assault for shooting Terry Tehnet, fifty two, with a shotgun. Tehnet was angry because he thought Blasingame's dog had defecated on his lawn, in a rural part of the state. Tehnet, whose injuries are not said to be life-threatening, may also be charged. The two men gave AP very different versions of what happened. Tehnet said that he visited his neighbour to complain about dog 'poop' on his property. Blasingame blamed Tehnet for shooting his dog the week before, Tehnet said, and allegedly told him: 'Just meet me at the levee and I'll shoot you down.'' Blimey, that's a line from a Johnny Cash song isn't it? And, if it isn't, it should be. Blasingame, meanwhile, told AP that he got his gun and drove off but Tehnet did not follow so he returned to the neighbourhood. The two men confronted one another again and each claimed the other produced a weapon first. 'He shot twice, I returned fire,' said Blasingame. Tehnet said Blasingame opened fire first with his shotgun so he took his pistol from his car and fired back. He said he was hit in both hands, the shoulder, chest and side by shotgun pellets. Washington County Chief Deputy Sheriff Billy Barber said: 'Homeowners and property owners need to respect each other's property. If a dog did that in your yard, call the law. Don't take matters into your own hands.' Or, indeed, don't take what the dog did into your own hands either.

A temple in China has reportedly launched a football training centre based around the martial art of Shaolin kung-fu. According to AFP, the initiative was launched last October in Henan province and boasts over forty students aged around ten, who are trained by retired Cameroon footballer Alphonse Tchami. Shi Yanlu, head coach at the training base, told the official Xinhua news agency: 'Chinese football is in the doldrums, and when some elements of Shaolin kung-fu, particularly its spirit, are integrated into soccer, we hope it will help improve the training level of football.' He added that the physical aspects of Shaolin kung-fu could also help improve the footballing ability of potential players. Director/actor Stephen Chow's 2001 hit Hong Kong sports comedy Shaolin Soccer tells the story of a Shaolin kung-fu master who tries to popularise the martial art through football.

To conclude, here's the latest Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day - a howl of violent, dangerous anti-everything protest from yer actual Cathal Coughlan and The Fatima Mansions. 'You can no longer depend on the existence of silence in you mind when you close your eyes.'