Wednesday, March 09, 2011

I'm As Stationary As A Stream, I Am Aimless In Extreme

The Doctor will face two familiar enemies when he returns to our TV screens this spring - the Cybermen and their weapon-like creations the Cybermats. The small, snake-like cybernetic creatures which resemble can tune into human brainwaves and are used in Cyber attacks. The Cybermats first featured in the 1967 story The Tomb of the Cybermen starring Patrick Troughton, and they made regular appearances thereafter until the 1970s. Rumours have been rife that the Cybermats could be returning after they were featured in the Doctor Who: The Adventure Games title Blood of the Cybermen, which was available as a free download on the programme's official website last year. In the video game, they were able to convert humans into Cyberslaves – who were subservient to their Cybermasters. Matt Smith has previously noted that his favourite Doctor Who storyline from the classic series is The Tomb of the Cybermen and recently admitted that he would love to battle the emotionless machine men from Mondas. He told BANG Showbiz: 'I really like the old Cybermen from Tomb of the Cybermen, when they've got those funny little suits on, and I've not really faced the Cybermen properly. There's the bit where I sort of fought an arm in The Pandorica Opens, but I'd quite like to come up against them properly.'

Mark Sheppard has revealed that he loved filming his upcoming guest role on Doctor Who. The actor will play a character named Canton in the next run's opening two-parter, which is set in 1960s America. In a recent Twitter post, he wrote: 'Doctor Who was definitely a dream job for me. Matt [Smith] is my favourite Doctor.' Sheppard also admitted that he is keen to appear in another of showrunner Steven Moffat's television projects. 'I really want [a role in] Sherlock,' he added. Sheppard's previous television credits include roles in Supernatural, Firefly, The X Files, Chuck and Battlestar Galactica.

Christian Bale's mother reportedly had an interview with ITV's Daybreak cancelled over fears that the actor could sue her or the show. I wouldn't worry about that, personally. It's Daybreak, no bugger's going to be watching it anyway. The Mirra reports that Jenny Bale was told that she would not be able to appear on the breakfast programme because her son is 'a very powerful man.' Jenny recently admitted that she wants to be reunited with her estranged son. They have not spoken since a 2008 family row which resulted in Bale being arrested. Her daughter, Sharon, told the newspaper that the decision was made after the show's team spoke to Christian's representatives. 'She got a call from Daybreak saying it was awkward and it hadn't happened before but they would have to cancel,' Sharon said. 'They said he was a very powerful man and they couldn't proceed.' Jenny herself added: 'I'd never say anything bad about Christian. I want to make things better.' However, Daybreak insists that there was no contact made with Bale's team and that it was an editorial decision to scrap the interview. A spokesperson for Bale confirmed that discussions had not taken place with the ITV show. So, it would appear that someone, somewhere is lying.

Silk remained popular in prime time on Tuesday evening, beating Caroline Quentin's new travel series on ITV, the latest overnight audience data has revealed. The third episode of the six-part legal drama, starring Maxine Peake and Rupert Penry-Jones, continued with 4.84m viewers on BBC1 in the 9pm hour. This easily outperformed Caroline Quentin: A Passage Through India, a three part mini-series about the actress's three and a half thousand mile journey from India's north to its southernmost point, which had 2.39m viewers on ITV and a further one hundred and twenty three thousand on ITV+1. So, not a particularly popular passage then, by the look of things. Silk was also too strong for Heston's Mission Impossible, which was watched by 1.86m on Channel Four in the 9pm hour and two hundred and thirty nine thousand on timeshift. Earlier, The ONE Show - which memorably ended with Matt Baker asking the prime minister how, exactly, he sleeps at night to a standing ovation from across the country (and, good on ya, Matt!) - had an audience of just under five million viewers on BBC1 from 7pm, while Grimefighters was watched by 2.79m on ITV from 7.30pm. BBC1's Holby City had an audience of 5.91m in the 8pm hour, beating Lion Country's 2.15m on ITV. Over on BBC2, a repeat of Wonders Of The Universe was viewed by 1.47m in the 7pm hour, before The Hairy Bikers: Mums Know Best got 2.24m from 8pm. Subsequently, Horizon: Predators In Your Backyard was viewed by 1.63m in the 9pm hour and Charlie Brooker's How TV Ruined Your Life nine hundred and sixty thousand from 10pm.

Top Gear was crowned the best TV entertainment programme at this week's TRIC Awards, despite the latest series being, allegedly, 'one of the most controversial yet.' According to those shit-stirring Communists at the Gruniad, that is. Nobody else was much bothered. The BBC series, presented by Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond, beat MasterChef and Harry Hill's TV Burp to the award at Tuesday night's Television and Radio Industries Club Awards. This year's series managed to, once again, cause controversy amongst those looking for some, with comments about Mexican cars made on the show sparking a - wholly manufactured - media storm. But despite the criticism, the show remains as hugely popular as ever, their TRIC award following their a recent win for best factual programme at the National Television Awards.

Twatting About On Ice judge Jason Gardiner has described fans of the show as 'idiots' for attacking him over his recent spat with ousted contestant Denise Welch and her husband, Tim Healy. And, he's advised them to turn over if they can't stomach his style. Okay then. Bye.

The Sunderland PA who impressed the judges on BBC's Masterchef last year is about to expand the cake business she runs in her spare time. Divine modette and tasty cake-maker Stacie Stewart, who reached the final four of the television cooking contest a year ago, said that demand for her cakes was growing so fast she has had to take on three staff and lease a test kitchen. Stacie said: 'Although there has been a huge demand for the services I've begun to provide since starting up last year, I've been careful to expand slowly, by initially basing the business at home while testing the market and building my brand. This has all been managed alongside a full-time job, which I had before appearing on Masterchef.' Since her Masterchef success Stacie, from Whitburn, has built up her reputation with a number of other television appearances and has been winning contracts across the country. She is excited about recruiting her first staff and opening the Beehive Bakery at the BIC centre in Sunderland.

The past few years have been one of the BBC's strongest periods despite some 'memorable' gaffes, BBC Trust's outgoing chairman Sir Michael Lyons has said. In a speech to the London School of Economics, Sir Michael praised the BBC's comedy, factual and news outputs. However, he said the corporation had 'shot itself in the foot' several times including over the Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand phone scandal. It was one of his last speeches before stepping down from the role next month. Sir Michael described the 'Sachsgate' incident as a 'uniquely toxic combination of profanity, misogyny, bullying and black farce' which had revealed an 'unforgivably cavalier attitude' to editorial standards. He also mentioned other episodes including fake competition scandals and the trailer for a documentary about the Queen which wrongly implied she walked out of a portrait session. Reflecting on recent years, Sir Michael described the events leading to the publication of Lord Hutton's report examining the death of weapons expert David Kelly as the 'greatest existential threat the BBC has faced in recent times.' He added that despite some of its 'recent failings,' the BBC continued to be 'the greatest cultural institution the UK has ever produced. These have been turbulent years, but the fact that the BBC has come through them in good shape to face the future is evidence of its fundamental resilience,' he added. Lord Patten is expected to succeed Sir Michael after being named last month as the government's preferred candidate for the job. But Sir Michael refused to 'deliver some kind of handover note' to Patten whom, he said, was 'quite capable of shaping his own agenda without any help from me.'

Louise Lombard is to reprise her role as Sofia Curtis in an upcoming episode of CSI. TV Line reports that the actress, who last appeared in the first episode of the show's eighth season three years ago, will return for a one-off episode in May. 'Sofia's a deputy chief now,' explained executive producer Carol Mendelsohn. 'She's gotten her shield and she has a real "take no prisoners" attitude.' Mendelsohn added that Sofia will assist Langston (Laurence Fishburne) in his search for the escaped serial killer Nate Haskell. 'Langston becomes involved because Sofia wants to call in the feds, since they've now had Haskell sightings in Mexico and all over, which means he's clearly not in Vegas,' she revealed. 'Of course, Langston begs to differ [and] the episode is really about where Nate Haskell [really is].' Mendelsohn also hinted that Lombard may return for an additional episode later in the eleventh CSI season. 'You may see her in the finale, too,' she suggested.

Kirstie Alley has said that training for Dancing With The Stars is good for her soul. There's literally no punchline necessary for that one.

Karren Brady has said that she does not consider herself to be a celebrity. The vice-chairman of relegation-haunted West Ham United appeared as a guest interviewer on The Apprentice before replacing Margaret Mountford as one of Alan Sugar's two assistants in 2009. Brady told Metro: 'I don't and never will consider myself a celebrity. I'm a businessperson who takes part in the show because I love it and I've been friends with Alan for nearly twenty years. I don't dance, I don't skate and I don't eat kangaroo testicles - so I don't consider myself in the celebrity bracket at all.' Asked what she enjoyed about the show, she added: 'I liked seeing the transformation of candidates. Some of them start brash, saying they're the best salespeople in the universe, then learn how to interact. At the end of it they're more polished.'

Some ITV scheduling updates - if there is no sixth round replay required for the FA Cup, then the first Neil Dudgeon episode of Midsomer Murders will be broadcast on Wednesday 23 March. According to the press pack, if the first episode is on this date then the second will be broadcast a week later on on the 30 March. In the event of any replays, the first episode would go back to the 30 March and the second would appear on the next football-free Wednesday, which is likely to be 20 April.

Discovery Channel has launched a new look, video-rich website in the UK, aimed at bringing the broadcaster's 'intelligent entertainment' to the digital world. The site, targeted at Discovery's core ABC1 male audience, is designed to 'align with the channel's mission to promote entertainment, enlightenment and participation.' Right, got that? Because there will be a quiz afterwards. Visitors to the site will be able to access exclusive content from key Discovery programmes and personalities, including Mythbusters, Bear Grylls and James Cracknell. Alongside a heavy focus on short-form video content, the site also offers a topical blog written by a UK editor and links to Twitter and an expanded Facebook presence. 'The essence of the Discovery brand in the UK is to celebrate the maverick spirit through great storytelling and we have taken this concept and applied the same philosophy to offer intelligent entertainment online,' said Simon Downing, Discovery's vice president of marketing communications, Western Europe. 'We firmly believe that our new digital website will appeal strongly to both consumers and advertisers, by offering topical, relevant and engaging content, whilst remaining uncluttered and user-friendly.' Discovery hopes that the new site will 'improve its engagement with audiences and promote key channel content.' The launch will be supported by 'an above-the-line TV advertising campaign.' Downing added: 'With pre-roll slots available, there are exciting opportunities for the advertising community to connect with our ABC1 male audience in the digital space through our unique character-based content.'

The BBC has confirmed that an online Being Human spin-off will be broadcast on BBC3. Eight-part series Becoming Human continues the story of vampire Adam (Craig Roberts) as he attends college and meets werewolf Christa (Leila Mimmack) and the ghostly Matt (Josh Brown). The entire run will now be transmitted as a fifty-minute compilation special on Sunday, 20 March, a week after the third series of Being Human concludes its run. 'We were delighted when Becoming Human found such a loyal and enthusiastic audience online,' said creator Toby Whithouse. 'The reaction was beyond our most optimistic dreams. And so for the BBC to give us this opportunity to share the show with a wider audience is fantastic news.'

Husky-voiced siren Georgie Thompson has said that she does not mind being the only female regular on A League Of Their Own. The Sky Sports News presenter appears alongside smug, unfunny James Corden, Andrew Flintoff, Jamie Redknapp and John Bishop on the Sky1 sports panel quiz. Asked what it was like to be the only girl, Thompson told Sky Magazine: 'It doesn't faze me - I work in a male-dominated industry in my day job and boys are less complicated than girls.' On being teased on the show, she added: 'James refers to [my partner] Dec as 'Ant and Dec,' he won't ever just call him Dec!' Well, most people can't tell them apart, to be fair. Even in their own families. 'And, obviously the fact I'm knee high to a grasshopper is always mentioned. I take no offence - I give as good as I get.' Thompson recently admitted that she enjoyed Christine Bleakley's guest appearance on the programme because 'it's nice to occasionally have another girl on the show.' Albeit, one far oranger than herself.

Featuring numerous racy sex scenes, it is the BBC2 drama that executives say represents the future of the second channel, which faces the prospect of seeing its daytime output axed to save money. The Crimson Petal And The White – hailed by the BBC drama controller, Ben Stephenson, as 'a drama that only the BBC could make' – details the relationship between a clever Victorian prostitute and a wealthy but insecure industrialist with an ailing wife. Starting later this month, the four-part adaptation of the book by Michel Faber is the first fruit of the tripling of the BBC2 drama budget at a time when the corporation faces a twenty per cent cut in its budget elsewhere. It features a heavyweight cast including Gillian Anderson, Richard E Grant, Mark Gatiss, Romola Garai and Chris O'Dowd. Stephenson said that he made the return of adult drama series one of his key priorities for BBC2, after taking on the drama job two and a half years ago. 'This marks the beginning of the story – the re-emergence of drama on BBC2,' he said at a screening of the programme on Tuesday. The BBC2 controller, Janice Hadlow, has also pledged to make drama a priority despite the budget cuts, boosting spending from ten million pounds to thirty million. However, this week it emerged that the BBC was considering axing BBC2's entire daytime output to save money – forcing shows such as Perfection and Pointless off the channel. Instead it would run the BBC News Channel until 7pm each day, providing a viewing boost to the rolling news service. Stephenson said that despite the overall cutbacks – which are creating debate about axing daytime, off-peak services and screening more repeats – drama was being ringfenced as it was too important to the identities of the television channels and to the audience. It is also, subject to agreements with unions and producers, expected to play a more prominent role through repeat screenings during the week of transmission. The Crimson Petal And The White has been adapted by film and theatre writer Lucinda Coxon, in her first venture into television, and is directed by Marc Munden (who made The Devil's Whore and The Mark Of Cain). It is produced by Origin Pictures, which is headed by David Thompson, the former head of BBC Films, in a co-production with Canada's CBC. Other series which will follow during the year include seven-part conspiracy thriller The Shadow Line, The Hour by Abi Morgan about a television newsroom in 1956 during the Suez crisis, The Night Watch by Paula Milne, Page Eight, the first original television play from David Hare for twenty years and United, a drama about Manchester United and the 1958 Munich air crash starring Dougray Scott and David Tennant.

The advertising watchdog has banned a TV campaign run by the Sun after complaints that it 'directly exhorted' children to buy the paper. The campaign featured former footballer and failed TV presenter Ian Wright discussing a Sun football trading card promotion, called Topps Match Attax, with a group of children. One of the children asked if any of the players featured on the cards were 'worth a week's pocket money,' while another said that the promotion was 'giving away the new season.' The Advertising Standards Authority challenged whether the advert 'directly exhorted' children to buy the Sun or encouraged them to ask other people to buy it for them in order to get hold of the trading cards. News Group Newspapers, the Sun's publisher, denied the accusations and said that references to money in the advert were 'a humorous juxtaposition' between a children's football game and the 'escalating prices in the English transfer market.' Something the Sun and its owners, News International, via their TV outlet Sky Sports have done more than anyone else to facilitate. Just something to stick into your toaster and see if it pops up brown. The use of children was 'a comedic device' aimed at adults, the company claimed. The ASA, however, didn't buy that one little bit and said that the use of the phrase 'pocket money' as a joke about Premiership footballers' pay was 'subtle. [The joke] might be lost on some young viewers, who would instead understand the claim to mean it was worth buying the Sun with their pocket money in order to get the Match Attax cards, particularly because the line was said by a child.' The ASA added that the use of Wright meant that the commercial was 'likely to be seen to directly target children. Because we considered some young viewers would understand the reference to pocket money as an encouragement to purchase, we considered the ad directly exhorted children to buy the Sun to obtain the promotional football cards,' the ASA said. It banned the advert for breaking rules on marketing to children.

Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi has said his people will take up arms if a no-fly zone is imposed by Western nations or the UN, as many of the rebels have been calling for. In an interview with Turkish TV, he said that a no-fly zone would show the true intention was to seize Libya's oil. it's a bit hard lines of flies, banning them from Libyan airspace. I mena, I know they can be a pest and all that, but they're not as bad as wasps. Meanwhile, pro-Gaddafi forces shelled Zawiya's suburbs and tried to gain control of the main square. The US has said any decision on a no-fly zone over Libya rests with the UN. More than one thousand people are believed to have died since rebels began their uprising nearly three weeks ago to end Col Gaddafi's forty one years in power. About two hundred and twelve people - most of them migrant workers - have fled the country, the UN estimates. 'If they take such a decision [to impose a no-fly zone], it will be useful for Libya, because the Libyan people will see the truth, that what they want is to take control of Libya and to steal their oil,' Colonel Gaddafi said in an interview with Turkish TRT TV. 'Then the Libyan people will take up arms against them,' he added. The mad as toast Libyan leader also made a speech broadcast on state TV in the early hours of Wednesday morning, in which he said European governments and al-Qaeda were trying to divide the country. 'There is no choice for the people of Benghazi but to go out on the streets - men, women and children to rid Benghazi of this betrayal,' Gaddafi said. 'Benghazi, which used to be beautiful, is turning into ruins. It must be liberated.' The eastern city of Benghazi has become the headquarters for the revolt. The BBC's Wyre Davies, in Tripoli, said that the Libyan leader appeared in increasingly confident and belligerent mood. He showed no sign of willingness to compromise or talk to the opposition. The city of Zawiya, which fell to the rebels two weeks ago, is almost completely cut off. However, there were reports of heavy shelling and considerable loss of life, as the rebels tried to repel a huge onslaught by pro-Gaddafi troops. One resident spoke of seeing fifty tanks and dozens of pick-up trucks loaded with pro-Gaddafi troops. The main hospital was said to have been overwhelmed with casualties. 'There are many dead people and they can't even bury them,' a fighter called Ibrahim told the Reuters news agency. 'Zawiya is deserted. There's nobody on the streets. No animals, not even birds in the sky,' he said. Reuters also said that the refinery in Zawiya had been shut down by the fighting, quoting an official at the plant. Libyan state TV said Zawiya had been 'liberated' from the rebels. 'Security is at about ninety five per cent. There are some rats that could be lying in some alleys and inside some flats. We are capturing them one group after the other,' a Libyan Army captain said. Calls for military intervention are growing as pro-Gaddafi forces step up their counter-offensive. However, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has cautioned that any decision to impose a no-fly zone over Libya should be made by the UN and not by Washington. A no-fly zone would probably ban military flights by government forces through Libyan airspace. And flies. Any aircraft violating the exclusion zone would risk being shot down by international forces. or, any fly for that matter. No-fly zones were imposed on southern and northern Iraq in the wake of the first Gulf war in 1991, and during the war in Bosnia in 1994-95. The UK and France are working on a UN Security Council resolution for a no-fly zone; however, Russia has already stated its opposition to military intervention. NATO defence ministers will discuss options for Libya on Thursday and Friday. By which time it's likely that half the country will have been bombed back to the effing stone age and the only things left alive will be flies.

Sony Pictures Television has announced that its new television channel will launch next month on Sky, replacing the defunct Film24 service. The channel, titled Sony Entertainment Television, will become available on 7 April on Sky channel 157 in the UK and Republic of Ireland. Aimed at women aged between twenty five and fifty four, the station will broadcast a range of dramas and comedies, including new show HawthoRNe, award-winning series Huff and marital comedy 'Til Death. Movies will air from 9pm on the channel from Thursday to Monday, including blockbusters such as The Da Vinci Code, All The King's Men and Philadelphia. Classic Hollywood films will be broadcast in a dedicated afternoon slot from 2pm. 'The UK is a pivotal market for us as we continue to grow our television business,' said Eddie Nelson, SPT's senior vice president of networks. 'Sony Entertainment Television has enjoyed success around the world bringing the best international hits to viewers and we intend to create that same success here, with content specifically chosen for the UK audience.' Sony Entertainment Television was made possible after SPT acquired the slot on Sky's electronic programming guide previously owned by Film24, which went into administration after its funders pulled out. The channel, headed up by Sony's senior vice president of broadcast and channel development Kate Marsh, will also have a +1 channel at 190 on Sky's EPG.

Speaking of deranged, mad as badgers psychopaths, the Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe has lost a bid to go to the highest court in the land to challenge an order that he can never be released. Sutcliffe received twenty life sentences in 1981 for murdering thirteen women and attempting to murder seven others. The sixty four-year-old had previously applied for permission to challenge a High Court order in 2009 that he must serve a 'whole life' tariff. Now his effort to take his case to the Supreme Court has failed.

And, speaking of yet more deranged psychopaths, the singer, drummer and all-round balding irritant Phil Collins has confirmed reports that he is to retire from the music business. And, lo, there was rejoicing throughout the land. His decision, he said, was not down to 'dodgy reviews, bad treatment in the press or because I don't feel loved.' On the contrary it was, probably, because he'd finally worked out what the rest of us had known for some time. That he's rubbish.

When Facebook gets involved, relationships can quickly fall apart – as Hosni Mubarak and Muammar Gaddafi have discovered recently. But dictatorships are not the only ties being dissolved by social networking sites: now Facebook is increasingly being blamed for undermining American marriages. Even though the rate of divorce in the US has remained largely stable in recent years, American divorce lawyers and academics have joined Middle East analysts in picking out Facebook as a leading cause of relationship trouble, with American lawyers now demanding to see their clients' Facebook pages as a matter of course before the start of proceedings. 'We're coming across it more and more. One spouse connects online with someone they knew from school. The person is emotionally available and they start communicating through Facebook,' said Steven Kimmons, a clinical psychologist and marriage counsellor at Loyola University Medical Centre near Chicago. Yet while the US media has been quick to trumpet any evidence of Facebook as the country's leading marriage-wrecker, the truth is 'It's complicated,' as the site's relationship status would have it. A recent survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers found that four out of five lawyers reported an increasing number of divorce cases citing evidence derived from social networking sites in the past five years, with Facebook being the market leader. Two-thirds of the lawyers surveyed said that Facebook was the 'primary source' of evidence in divorce proceedings, while MySpace with fourteen per cent and Twitter with five per cent lagged far behind. Those statistics included not just evidence of infidelity but other legal battles, such as child custody cases in which parents deny using illicit drugs but boast of smoking marijuana on their Facebook pages. Photographs harvested from social networking sites – including those posted by friends or colleagues on their own pages – are a particularly rich source of damning evidence, according to divorce lawyers. 'This sort of evidence has gone from nothing to a large percentage of my cases coming in,' Linda Lea Vicken, a member of the divorce lawyers' group from South Dakota, told the Associated Press. Marlene Eskind Moses, president of the AAML, said the openness and sharing of social networking sites left their users' public and private lives more exposed. 'If you publicly post any contradictions to previously made statements and promises, an estranged spouse will certainly be one of the first people to notice and make use of that evidence,' said Moses. Statistics for January from online analysts Nielsen showed one hundred and thirty five million people in the US visiting Facebook during the month – nearly seventy per cent of the country's entire Internet users. On average, users spent more than seven hours a month visiting the site, far longer than the less than half an hour spent on visits to Amazon or the average of two hours and fifteen minutes on Google, America's most popular web destination. The overall rate of divorce, however, appears to be unaffected by the advent of social media. The most recent published data – from 2009 – shows the overall divorce rate declining, slightly more slowly than the shrinking percentage of Americans who get married every year. It is little wonder that negotiating 'Facebook divorce' status updates has become another unhappy event for failed romances, over when to launch the site's infamous broken-heart icon out into the glare of the world's news feed.

Katie Price has said that it would be wrong for her to complain about constantly being filmed. Yes, it would. Next.

And so to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, dear blog reader. Some positive proof that not everything released in Britain between the demise of the Smiths and the birth of Oasis was complete rubbish. Just most of it. Here's Edinburgh's excellent Goodbye Mr McKenzie - Big John Duncan, Shirley Manson and all - and the best song about the life of a bisexual rent-boy ever written. I always thought singer and lyricist Martin Metcalf was one of the great undiscovered poets of the eightiess. Great band, great songs. This was their masterpiece.