Friday, March 18, 2011

Look At The Size Of That Sausage

Two further episode titles for the forthcoming series of Doctor Who have been revealed publicly. The two titles are for the opening two-part story of the sixth season of Doctor Who. They are; The Impossible Astronaut and Day of the Moon. The two-part story is set in America in 1969 with some filming also having taken place in the country. Joining TARDIS regulars Matt Smith, Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill will be returning guest-star Alex Kingston as River Song along with Mark Sheppard and Stuart Milligan. Doctor Who will return to BBC1 on Easter Saturday 23 April. And, lo, there will be rejoicing throughout the land. Meanwhile, Matt Smith has revealed that he has no plans to leave Doctor Who. In an interview with the Daily Torygraph, Matt explained that he wants to see how fans react to the next series before making a decision about his future on the show. 'I'm going back this year,' he said. 'I guess [I'll] get another one out the way, see what everyone thinks of that. I love doing it, I don't want to give it up anytime soon, put it that way.' He also admitted that he was nervous before his debut in Doctor Who. 'Before that came out, I didn't know if people were going to hurl tomatoes at me,' he said. 'I had no idea. But then I suppose every actor goes through that period of, "Like me! Like me!" That's part of being an artist, I think.'

Waterloo Road and MasterChef outperformed live Champions League football in prime time on Wednesday night, overnight audience data has revealed. Moscow Chelski's goalless draw with FC Copenhagen at Torpedo Stamford Bridgeski, which sent the Russian side through to the Champions League quarter finals, averaged a meagre 4.3m for ITV between 7.30pm and 10pm. On BBC1, Waterloo Road drew 5.04m in the 8pm hour and MasterChef pulled in 4.85m from 9pm, as Kennedy Leitch became the latest cook to be eliminated from the popular cookery competition. And, have you noticed, most of the national newspapers seem to have stopped quoting MasterChef's ratings all of a sudden? It wasn't like that just a few weeks ago. Elsewhere on the channel, The Boat That Guy Built was watched by 4.54m from 7.30pm, and Film 2010 with Claudia Whatsherface had 1.2m viewers from 11pm. Channel Four's Wars Of The Roses: A Time Team Special had an audience of 1.56m in the 8pm hour whilst Jamie's Dream School managed a pathetic 1.39m from 9pm and two hundred and nineteen thousand further viewers on +1. Time to send in Ofstead, I reckon - that's what they normally do with failing schools, isn't it? And, also, it's now official, it would seem - Tony Robinson is more popular than Jamie Oliver. Although, most of us knew that, anyway. The Model Agency continued with seven hundred and seventy thousand viewers from 10pm. On BBC2, Escape To The Country had 1.77m in the 7pm hour, followed by The Great British Food Revival which was watched by 2.12m. The excellent Leaving Amish Paradise documentary had an audience of 2.34m in the 9pm hour and Mock The Week Again got 1.17m from 10pm. BBC1 handsomely won prime time with 21.5 per cent against ITV's 18.1 per cent.

And still on the subject of ratings, Channel Four has defended Ten O'Clock Live in the face of modest viewing figures. The first episode of the much-hyped topical comedy launched to 1.4 million viewers in January, but the audience has slipped through subsequent episodes to less than half that figure. However Darren Smith, who commissioned the show, says that it attracts an 'elusive young audience,' many of whom don't watch it live – even though that is the point of the show. If repeats and on-demand viewers are added together, Smith says the figure is 1.8 million – thirty eight per cent of whom are aged sixteen to thirty four. He told the trade magazine Broadcast: 'We could have done it as a pre-record but it would have been less exciting and spontaneous. That freshness is part of the reason why lots of people watch the repeat, and why there is an impressive video-on-demand uplift.' The show – featuring Jimmy Carr, David Mitchell, Charlie Brooker and Lauren Laverne – is halfway through its fifteen-episode run. Smith would not confirm whether it would return for a second series. Yer Keith Telly Topping has watched a couple of episodes - although, I'm not sure why he's bothered since he's definitely not a part of the 'elusive' demographic Channel Four are clearly chasing - and he's found it to be okay. The format's reasons, all four of the presenters, to a greater or lesser degree, are funny - although I'm still not entirely convinced that they're using Wor Luscious Lovely Lauren as well as they could be; there seems to be an element of 'tokenism' in her even being there. It's not a British The Daily Show (which it clearly wants to be) but, as topical comedy goes, I've seen far worse attempts.

Former president Jimmy Smits has reportedly landed a role in a new NBC pilot. The drama, which was formerly called S.I.L.A., focuses on crime, law enforcement and politics in Los Angeles. According to TV Line, Smits has now signed up to play Los Angeles mayor Alfonso Morales. The character is described as very ambitious and is said to be interested in power and women. However, he is also thought to care about the city. Smits starred in NBC's new drama Outlaw this season but the show was axed in October. He has previously appeared in shows including Dexter, The West Wing, NYPD Blue and LA Law.

Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation is being sued by shareholders for the six hundred and seventy five million dollar deal to buy his daughter Elisabeth's Shine Group, amid claims that it was 'a case of nepotism.' On Wednesday, shareholders the Amalgamated Bank of New York and the Central Laborers Pension Fund alleged that News Corp's board of directors failed to properly challenge Murdoch's actions in the deal. The takeover of Shine, the producer of shows such as MasterChef, Ashes To Ashes, [spooks] and Hustle, will see Elisabeth Murdoch earn around three hundred and twenty million dollars in return for her fifty three per cent stake in the firm and take a seat on the News Corp board. The transaction is expected to close on 31 March after regulatory approval has been secured. 'In short, Murdoch is causing News Corp to pay six hundred and seventy five million dollars for nepotism,' said the lawsuit, filed in Delaware's Chancery Court. 'In addition to larding the executive ranks of the company with his offspring, Murdoch constantly engages in transactions designed to benefit family members.' Don't you just lurv the pointed use of the word 'larding' there, dear blog reader? The lawsuit accuses Murdoch senior of treating News Corp 'like a wholly owned family candy store,' and also argues that a fair price was not agreed for Shine. It added: 'Although the transaction makes little or no sense for News Corporation and is far above a price any independent, disinterested party would pay for Shine, it is unsurprising that the transaction was approved by News Corporation's board.' The lawsuit is seeking damages and a declaration that News Corp's directors failed to uphold their fiduciary duty to shareholders. However, News Corp spokeswoman Julie Henderson described the lawsuit as 'without merit,' adding that Shine is a 'very attractive business.' Which, thanks to its ownership of Kudos and the MasterChef franchise, it very much is.

Former BBC chairman Gavyn Davies has said that the BBC Trust is 'so flawed' as a regulator for the corporation that he would be 'happy' to hand the job to Ofcom. Blimey, I wouldn't. Davies, who served as chairman of the BBC's board of governors from 2001 to 2004, this week expressed his belief that the BBC Trust has proved an ineffective regulator since it was introduced in 2007. Which is true. He also said that the current three-day-a-week role fulfilled by the outgoing BBC chairman Sir Michael Lyons has been 'devalued,' and the corporation is now in desperate need of a proper figurehead, according to some Communist at the Gruniad Morning Star. Speaking alongside another former BBC chairman, Sir Christopher Bland, Davies told the Lords communications committee: 'We were chairmen of the BBC and we were ultimately in charge of the BBC for good or ill. We were practically full-time and we were in the building full time.' Later, he added: 'The BBC should not have [a] cheerleader. It should have somebody who runs the organisation in the interests of the public and that should be a chairman.' Davies, who resigned from the BBC following the publication of the Hutton Inquiry report in 2004, also suggested that media watchdog Ofcom should oversee the BBC's activities. 'I would now be happy with Ofcom to regulate [the BBC]. I can't take the position which I took in 2003 where I said that there was no better system,' he said. Davies even indicated his regret at the decision to change the name of the BBC's board of governors to the BBC Trust. 'The governorship of the BBC was a real honour in the UK. The public understood it and the people who did it understood that honour,' he said.

Ant McPartlin has said that a recent incident in his local pub will not put him off drinking there. The presenter was, allegedly, targeted by fellow drinker Ross Hamilton at The Barley Mow in Chiswick, last week. Speaking about the confrontation, McPartlin told the Sun that he would not 'be scared off. I'll still go back to the pub. It's one of my locals,' he said. 'I'm sure I'll see that guy again but hopefully that's the end of any bother. It was a storm in a teacup.' He continued: 'Look, I grew up in Newcastle and me and Dec have been to pubs all over the country. I know all about the kind of colourful characters you occasionally get in them.' You mean, 'the local psycho'? Well, aye. Every pub in Th' Toon's got one of them. 'I'm not the first person in Britain to get some hassle in a pub, let's face it. I live in the real world. I love living around Chiswick and I'll just carry on drinking where I like. It hasn't put me off at all. I can look after myself. People keep asking if I'm okay and all that and it's great that they care. But I'm fine.' And, that the next time he went back there it'd be with a crew. Or, maybe not. The Push The Button presenter also admitted that he'd had 'a good laugh' at the paper's Ant and Decked headline.

Paul O'Grady Live will return for a second series. ITV announced another run of the popular prime time chat show. Full of surprises as always – Paul will be chatting to 'A-List celebrities' as well as 'home-grown stars,' throwing himself 'into a few scary stunts' and 'show spectaculars' and of course, sharing his views with guests and the studio audience. 'I'm really looking forward to being back behind my desk! We've got some fabulous guests lined-up and I'll be having a good gossip and getting up to my usual antics!' O'Grady said. As well as 'amazing' guests, the first series gave viewers the opportunity to see Paul fire eating with Bob Hoskins, doing gymnastics with Spellbound and dancing with Diversity as well as having a political rant that had a nation standing on its chair applauding. 'Paul brings his own brand of irreverent humour and chat to the channel and we are delighted to welcome him back to ITV for a second series. His warmth and wit are the perfect way to start the weekend,' said Elaine Bedell, ITV's Director of Entertainment and Comedy.

Dom Joly has revealed that he is working on a reality show with ex-Big Brother producer Daniel Nettleton. The Trigger Happy TV comedian met Nettleton after taking part in last year's I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity ... Nettleton, who was the voice of Big Brother's Tree of Temptation, worked on last year's jungle series as part of the creative team. Speaking to the Digital Spy website about the joint project, Joly said: 'I think I'm supposed to hate reality TV, but I'm obsessed by it. Not all of them, but well-made reality TV is a real skill I think. I am trying to put one together actually. When I was in the jungle I recognised the traits of the guy who did the Tree of Temptation on Big Brother, because he was the producer on this year's I'm A Celeb and he did the spy challenge and things like that. We got on after the show and we're coming up with a reality show that I'm quite excited about.' When asked how the show might work, Joly claimed that he wanted it to be more interesting than just 'chucking a load of people together. I want something that will fuck with your head a little bit more,' he said.

Craig Revel Horwood has said that he does not think Vernon Kay would be the right replacement for Bruce Forysth on Strictly Come Dancing. Amid continued speculation about the eighty three-year-old's future on the BBC dancing competition, reports have suggested that Kay could co-present it alongside his wife Tess Daly. However, speaking on OK! TV, Revel Horwood said that Forsyth would need to be replaced by 'a song-and-dance man.' Not that anybody actually heard him, of course because, well, let's face it, this was OK! TV he was speaking on. That's got an audience of about three at the moment. Asked if Forsyth would be hosting the next series, Revel Horwood said: 'I'm hoping that he is. I would not like it to just fizzle out and tail off - I think he is the show. There isn't anyone in this country - I think - that can do what he does. He's a song-and-dance man and if anyone was to ever take over, I'd say it would have to be a song-and-dance man.' He continued: 'Is Vernon a bit of a song-and-dance man? I don't think so darling. There's no one that matches to him. You can go through a plethora of stars, people or hosts that could do it but you can't get better than Brucie. He's perfect for our format - absolutely perfect. I would hate to see him go.'

The top civil judge in England and Wales has suggested televising hearings to increase confidence in justice. Master of the Rolls Lord Neuberger said that broadcasting some cases could boost public engagement in the court process. He said that judges should have a veto over what could be shown and did not suggest allowing cameras into criminal trials. Only the proceedings and judgements of the UK Supreme Court can currently be televised, although there have been a number of other experiments. In a speech to the Judicial Studies Board, Lord Neuberger revisited proposals for televising courts which were last raised in 2004. In that year, cameras were allowed to film Court of Appeal cases at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, in a pilot scheme. The resulting footage was never broadcast and the experiment ended without agreement. Lord Neuberger said it was a long-standing legal principle that justice should be done in public - but it also had to be understandable to the public. 'If we wish to increase public confidence in the justice system, transparency and engagement, there is undoubtedly something to be said for televising some hearings, provided that there were proper safeguards to ensure that this increased access did not undermine the proper administration of justice,' he said. 'Such an idea would have to be looked at very carefully, and it would not be sensible for me to try and make any firm suggestions. But, if broadcasting of court proceedings does go ahead, I think it would be right to make two points, even at this tentative stage. First, the judge or judges hearing the case concerned would have to have full rights of veto over what could be broadcast; secondly, I would be very chary indeed about the notion of witness actions or criminal trials being broadcast - in each case for obvious reasons.' Lord Neuberger said there was a case for making hearings from the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal available on a judicial version of the BBC's Parliament channel or on the BBC iPlayer. He said Brazil's Federal Supreme Court now had a dedicated channel, TV Justica. Lord Neuberger said he also endorsed the Lord Chief Justice's provisional decision to allow the use of Twitter in court. 'Why force a journalist or a member of the public to rush out of court in order to telephone or text the contents of his notes written in court, when he can tweet as unobtrusively as he can write?' he said. 'Whatever the outcome of the consultation, I doubt, however, that we will see the development of tweeting from the bench.' Following the 2004 pilot, the then Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer, said that a majority of people who had responded to a formal consultation on the issue of broadcasting were opposed to it. Fifty five per cent supported a complete ban on televising criminal cases, forty five p[er cent said there was a case to allow cameras in, if only for parts of a trial. Among the concerns raised at the time was the potential impact that televising proceedings could have on victims and witnesses and, in particular, their willingness to take part in cases that many would already regard as an ordeal. Another major concern was the potential for an 'OJ Simpson effect' where a trial became a media circus. Cameras are allowed into courts in Scotland under strict conditions, but in practice, very few cases have been televised. The director of public prosecutions in England and Wales, Keir Starmer, said in 2009 that he was in favour, in principle, of broadcasting some proceedings.

Media regulator Ofcom is to review how airtime deals are struck in the three and a half billion pound UK TV advertising market, which could result in a fundamental change to the way commercial broadcasters such as ITV do business. The review is the first in-depth look at the UK airtime trading system and potentially, depending on the outcome, the most important action in the market since the contract rights renewal regime was introduced in 2003 governing ITV's deals with advertisers. Ofcom, which in recent years has avoided tackling the complex issue of TV trading between media buying agencies and broadcasters, said that there has been 'perennial anxiety' over whether the system is being abused. 'The time is now right to consider whether there are reasonable grounds for suspecting that the trading mechanism prevents, restricts or distorts competition in the sale of TV advertising airtime,' said the Ofcom chief executive, Ed Richards, speaking at the annual conference for UK advertisers' body Isba on Thursday. Richards said that in Ofcom's advertising sales review last year the media regulator agreed that the model is 'complex and that the pricing is opaque' and 'some features of the market may interact with market power in such a way that restricts competition in the sector.' If the Ofcom review 'finds cause for concern' it will refer the issue to the Competition Commission to carry out a formal review as part of a full market investigation. Last year the commission ruled that CRR – which was designed to prevent ITV abusing its dominant market position – should remain in place, for now, but that a full TV advertising market review was required. 'It has become a perennial anxiety, voiced by one or another party in one or another form and at various points in every one of the last five years, if not longer,' said Richards. 'We are aware that the way advertising is traded could be constraining or even preventing the sector from evolving, as the media market around it is doing so significantly.' Bob Wootton, media and advertising director at Isba, said that the review is 'a major development' which follows 'widespread and concerted pressure over many years and from many quarters. This is a very complex and difficult challenge for Ofcom, no one expects this to be easy for the reviewers or indeed for our industry if the Competition Commission picks this up,' Wootton added. 'There is a fundamental dichotomy here: an effective review needs to look at one point in time but the complexity of the issue means this will take much longer than that to complete.'

A judge is determining how much to charge the legal firm ACS:Law after officially closing a piracy case that it brought alleging file-sharing, during which it sent people letters threatening court action if they did not make 'settlement' payments of up to five hundred pounds for copyright infringement. ACS:Law, created by solicitor Andrew Crossley, and its client Media CAT, which licensed a number of pornographic films, apparently collected hundreds of thousands of pounds from people using its 'speculative invoicing' procedure before it brought twenty seven cases before the Patents County Court in London. But it then tried to halt the trial before it had to bring any evidence. Judge Birss, who presided over the trial, officially ended it on Thursday following a request from Guy Tritton, a barrister acting for the alleged file-sharers. The judge is now considering how much to bill Crossley's company and Media CAT – and warned that 'if ever there was a case of conduct out of the norm, it is this one.' Tritton said that the two companies wasted court time because they had no intention of following through with the trial and had merely used the threat of legal action as a means to squeeze money from those targeted in the letter-writing campaign. A previous attempt by ACS:Law to end the trial was rejected by the judge on the basis that it had not clarified whether the ultimate copyright owner might have grounds to pursue the alleged infringers. Judge Birss insisted that the process should be carried through so that the defendants in the civil suit could have their legal status clarified. ACS:Law and Media CAT could now be liable for payments running to more than one hundred thousand pounds: one solicitor representing five of the defendants says its bill is ninety thousand pounds. The bizarre saga in which ACS:Law's site has been hacked, spilling thousands of e-mails and client details over the web, has run on for months. Details that leaked in November revealed that ACS:Law kept about forty per cent of payments; it was unclear how much, if any, of the payments reached the original copyright holders. In January Crossley said his company would cease to pursue alleged infringers while trying to abandon the cases. Judge Birss said then: 'I am not happy about this. I get the distinct impression that at every twist and turn there is a desire to avoid judicial scrutiny. It seems to be first instinct to avoid judicial scrutiny. There's been thousands of letters, and only twenty seven cases have had to be dropped – I doubt that. Copyright infringement is a serious matter, but this is just mindboggling.' In February, ACS:Law appeared to shutdown – which may complicate the recovery of costs. Crossley is still being investigated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority over the letter campaign.

The humble cumberland sausage has been successful in its bid to be made only in Cumbria. It now ranks alongside the likes of Champagne, Parma ham and Greek feta cheese in having Protected Geographical Indication status under EU law. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said that the move would guarantee its heritage and be a major boost for Cumbria's butchers. Other protected UK food and drink products include Cornish clotted cream , Melton Mowbray pork pies and Stilton cheese. To display the PGI mark, the sausage must be produced, processed and prepared in Cumbria and have a meat content of at least eighty per cent. Recipes vary from butcher to butcher, but must include seasoning and be sold in a long coil.

And finally, for the latest Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, a slab of manic come-and-have-a-go-if-you-think-you're-hard-enough indie-thrash from Hull, and the Luddites. Tragically, their epic performance of 'Doppelganger' on The Tube seems to have disappeared from You Tube.