Wednesday, March 09, 2011

The Music Of Our Heart is Roots Music

Did anybody else see Cameron on The ONE Show last night? What an oily little turd. Highlight of the entire programme was Matt Baker's closing question: 'How do you sleep at nights?' Well, indeed. That's your prime minister, that is. Get out your mat and pray to the West. From The North's Top Cookery Tip number eighty six (in an occasional series), dear blog reader. If David Cameron should ever appear on TV at any point during Shrove Tuesday, simply point your frying pan towards the screen, and it will have sufficient oil coating it to prevent your pancakes from sticking. (Thanks to Mick Snowden for that one.) Certainly having Cameron on the Beeb on Pancake Day was jolly good idea, given that he is - apparently - one hell of a tosser. (Thanks to Martin Mackenzie for that one!) We bring you the jokes, dear blog reader, to save you the trouble. We control the horizontal and the vertical ... Mind you, I always thought owls were supposed to be the natural enemy of rodents? And, I imagine at this point somebody, somewhere will be watching the Blackadder The Third episode with the Eton/toast rack of shame/buttered crumpet/prime minister joke and being staggered by the serendipity. The executive producer of Doctor Who is giving up his post as head of drama at BBC Wales. Piers Wenger will continue as 'creative leader' of key network BBC TV shows, including the hit SF family drama. He joined BBC Wales in 2007 and has overseen the latest regeneration of Doctor Who with Matt Smith in the role along with showrunner The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat. Faith Penhale, from the independent company Kudos, returns to her native Wales to take up the post of head of drama in Cardiff. Wenger was also responsible for the relaunch of Upstairs Downstairs and the commissioning of Eric and Ernie, Peter Bowker's dramatised documentary of the early lives of comedians Morecambe and Wise. He now plans to focus on the running of his existing slate of in-house shows as well as developing new projects such as Sir Tom Stoppard's adaptation of the Ford Madox Ford novel Parade's End for BBC2. 'I am absolutely thrilled for Wales that it has someone as brilliant and experienced as Faith to bring in the next generation of shows,' said Wenger. Bridgend-born Penhale's production credits include [spooks] for BBC1 and The Fixer for ITV. Penhale joins at a time of growth for BBC Wales drama, with production of the long-running hospital series Casualty moving to Wales in the autumn. It will join Doctor Who, Upstairs Downstairs and the Welsh-language soap opera Pobol y Cwm in the new Roath Lock drama production centre in Cardiff Bay. Penhale said: 'I am thrilled to be joining such an exciting department with a track record for producing some of the most stand out dramas on British television.' Ben Stephenson, controller of BBC Drama Commissioning added: 'We have big plans for Wales drama - not only do we want to sustain its relationships with Welsh indies but we want to build on the success of the in-house department to make it even more vibrant and exciting. I am confident that Faith will be a major player in delivering the ambition of BBC Drama by working with a range of writers on a variety of authentic and original authored drama.'

The BBC has confirmed that topical comedy panel show Have I Got News For You is to return to its previous Friday evening slot, after showing on Thursdays last year. Effectively it's moving into the slot vacated by Qi thanks to the later's move back over to BBC2. After nineteen years of appearing on BBC1's Friday schedule, the satirical comedy programme starring Ian Hislop and Paul Merton was moved to Thursdays in 2010. The decision proved unpopular with several contributors connected to the show, including regular host Alexander Armstrong, who told the Press Association: 'I bitterly, bitterly resent it having moved to Thursday, I have to say. Thursday is a terrible night - that's as a viewer, not as a participant. I don't know what it's doing on Thursday.' BBC1 controller Danny Cohen confirmed this week that the series would move back to its original schedule. 'Have I Got News For You had one very successful series on Thursday nights but we've decided to move it back to Fridays where the whole of the week's news can be discussed and satirised, giving viewers the most entertaining start to their weekend,' Cohen explained.

Labour demanded on Tuesday that BBC Trust chairman designate Lord Patten should cut back on his business activities and leave the Conservative party, two days before the peer appears before MPs tasked with ratifying his appointment to the one hundred and ten thousand pounds-a-year role. Ivan Lewis, the shadow secretary for culture, said that Patten 'must reduce his portfolio of business and voluntary interests,' which include paid advisory roles with oil giant BP and nuclear generator EDF Energy plus the chancellorship of Oxford University so that he can take on what is traditionally a four-day-a-week role. Patten's listing in the register of members' interests in the House of Lords includes a directorship plus four other paid positions, and his position at Oxford which is listed as a 'non-financial interest.' By comparison, the outgoing chairman, Sir Michael Lyons, lists five directorships on his declaration of interests at the BBC. Unlike Lyons, though, Patten is also a Conservative member of the Lords. When Sir Michael joined the BBC he let his membership of the Labour party lapse; he had also previously been a councillor representing the party in Birmingham when he was at the beginning of his career. Lewis said it would be 'churlish' of Labour to resist Patten's appointment, but while accepting the peer had the 'experience and credibility' to do the job, he said that his party's support would 'be conditional' on the peer meeting a series of tests, including clarifying his business and political interests. Patten joined the international advisory board of BP in late 2010. The body meets twice a year and gives advice to the oil giant's chairman and chief executive on 'general non-business matters.' BP will not say how much he earns from sitting on the body – whose ranks also include Kofi Annan, the former UN secretary general, and the company said that it was 'a matter for Lord Patten' as to whether he would stay on. He also draws about thirty thousand pounds a year for his work as a member of the European advisory board for Bridgepoint, a private equity firm that used to own Skins and Shameless maker All3Media, and which focuses on media and technology deals. That board meets four times a year, and members also include Alan Milburn, the former Labour health secretary. Bridgepoint also would not say precisely how much Patten earns, but when Milburn was still an MP he previously disclosed that he was paid between twenty five and thirty thousand smackers – and, according to the Gruniad, it is understood that the Conservative's peer's income from Bridgepoint is of a similar level. EDF Energy said that Patten's role on its 'stakeholder advisory panel' was to enable the nuclear generator and electricity and gas supplier to 'draw on the experience of eminent and diverse senior advisers.' The stakeholder advisory panel meets four times a year, but its members' pay is not disclosed. Patten will go before the Commons culture, media and sport committee on Thursday morning in a 'pre-appointment' scrutiny hearing. Labour members are expected to press him on his business ties and political links, and in particular will ask about his relationship to David Cameron amid concerns that Patten will be a 'political placeman' at the top of the corporation. There are several personal links between Patten and the prime minister. When Lord Patten was governor of Hong Kong his chief of staff was Edward Llewellyn, an Old Etonian Rifle who is now Cameron's chief of staff. Meanwhile, the headhunter that supervised the early stages of the recruitment process was Dom Leonhis, a lifelong friend of Cameron who dined with the prime minister, Rebekah Brooks and James Murdoch over the Christmas period. Lord Patten's office said that the peer would not respond to questions from the Labour party or from the media at this stage. She said that Patten was 'making no comment to the press until he has appeared before the select committee.'

Yer Keith Telly Topping is something of an admirer of the Metro political cartoonist Brook and was especially taken with his deliciously jaundiced view of the SAS/Libyan fiasco on Tuesday.The judging line-up for the BBC series Comic Relief Does Glee Club has been revealed. Strictly Come Dancing's Alesha Dixon, Denise Van Outen and Melanie C will appear as judges and mentors on the charity show, which launches later this month. Hosted by CBBC duo Sam and Mark, the programme is aiming to find the UK's best young singing and dancing Glee Club. Vocal coaches Carrie and David Grant and dancer Sisco Gomez will work with the contestants and train them through heats ahead of a live final on Red Nose Day. It has also been confirmed that The Wanted will perform their new single 'Gold Forever' during the live final. Unmissable.

Peter Fincham, ITV's director of television, has warned viewers to take reports about who will sit on The X Factor judging panel 'with a bucket of salt.' A bucket? That's very bad for you. Speaking to Richard Bacon on BBC Radio 5Live, Fincham insisted that Simon Cowell will still be 'closely involved' with the upcoming series despite his commitments in the US. 'It has to remain speculation,' he said. 'The X Factor is coming back and is back in the ITV schedule this autumn. Simon will be closely involved with it as he is always involved with it. I don't want to sound like an evasive politician, but I'm not in a position to confirm or deny any of the individuals to be sitting in those chairs or on The X Factor this autumn.' Asked if it would be a 'disaster' if Cowell did pull out of appearing on the series, Fincham responded: 'No, of course it wouldn't and you shouldn't look at it that way. The show will be there and when we're ready to announce who will be on it we will announce who's on it.' Reports have suggested that Cheryl Cole will return as a judge on the next series, or not, while Louis Walsh and Dannii Minogue have been told that they have to officially apply for their roles. Or not.

Rhod Gilbert is working on a pilot of a new Friday-night panel show for Channel Four. The format of Is It Just Me? involves four 'celebrity' guests discussing 'the freakish things we think, the ridiculous things we do and the embarrassing things we think about doing.' Unusually for such a format, audience members will form a jury to interrogate the celebrity guests and then vote on whether they agree with the apparently outlandish thoughts of the guests.Also, audience members will share their own thoughts and opinions, to see if it is 'just them.' Or not. It is believed the show is being developed by Zeppotron for a possible Channel Four slot. If successful, it would be the second panel show Gilbert fronted, following Ask Rhod Gilbert for BBC1 last year. Gilbert has recorded a non-broadcast pilot for the new format at the Cockpit Theatre in London this week, and will do another on 16 March. Meanwhile the second series of Rhod Gilbert's Work Experience, in which he tries his hand at different jobs, starts on BBC1 Wales this week.

ITV chief executive Adam Crozier earned almost £1.7m for just eight months' work after the broadcaster reported bumper profits last year thanks to a resurgent TV advertising market. Crozier, who joined ITV on 26 April, received a total remuneration package just under £1.2m last year. This included a five hundred and thirty two thousand pound base salary, a three hundred and forty four thousand pound 'golden hello' and a quarter of a million pound as a 'short-term' cash bonus. The chief executive's total bonus was seven hundred and fifty seven thousand four hundred and eighty eight pounds – which amounted to ninety five per cent of his full entitlement according to the company's annual report released on Tuesday. Crozier has been able to obtain such a substantial bonus thanks to an upswing of about fifteen per cent in the general TV advertising market, which the broadcaster was able to outperform thanks to ratings winners such as The X Factor and Downton Abbey. ITV's remuneration committee based its bonus payouts on increasing profits, converting profits into cash and, in Crozier's case, on achieving 'individual targets.' In terms of profit generation – judged on earnings before interest, tax and amortisation – ITV managed to more than double profits year-on-year to four hundred and eight million pounds. The committee said this represented one hundred and thirty two per cent of the target set. Crozier also received a payout level of ninety per cent of the maximum possible amount set against a number of unspecified personal targets. Already this year Crozier has been awarded a three per cent increase in basic pay – matching the three per cent increase handed out to all ITV staff earning less than six thousand smackers. Employees who earned more than sixty grand, but are not directors, received increases in line with their performance, the report said. However, Crozier's total bonus opportunity was increased to one hundred and eighty per cent. ITV said it was giving directors higher bonuses, but requiring them to increase the amount that is awarded in deferred share payments. However Crozier - pictured, right, laughing all the way to the bank - has yet to make a substantial strategic move to change fundamental issues facing ITV such as the dependence on free-to-air advertising, the 'subscale' operation and the ongoing difficulties inhouse production division ITV Studios faces in producing global hits. Overall ITV paid out almost £3.7m to directors last year, including almost £1.2m in cash bonuses. Former executive chairman Michael Grade, who left ITV on 31 December 2009, was paid one hundred and sixty seven thousand pounds for the remainder of his contract until 30 April last year. In 2009 Grade received a total remuneration package of £2.1m, including a bonus of £1.16m.

The UK Border Agency has praised Coronation Street for highlighting the issue of sham marriages in its latest storyline. A new plot centring around Xin Chiang (played by Elizabeth Tan) is at the forefront of the soap this week as Graeme Proctor plans to marry the waitress, allowing her to remain in the country once her student visa expires. The Manchester Evening News reports that the UKBA worked closely with Corrie scriptwriters while the plotline was being devised. Eddy Montgomery - the North-West regional director of the UKBA - told the newspaper: 'We are pleased to see the profile of our work raised and to see this sort of storyline being featured in the media. We have been really happy to work closely with Granada on this, as we have seen this cynical crime in action in the region.' It is currently unclear whether Graeme, Xin or fellow plotter Tina McIntyre (Michelle Keegan) will face punishment or escape detection as the storyline continues over the coming weeks.

Two and a Half Men producer Chuck Lorre is reportedly interested in replacing Charlie Sheen with Rob Lowe. Sheen's contract with the CBS/Warner Bros sitcom was terminated on Monday following a production shutdown after Sheen made controversial remarks about Lorre. According to sources for TMZ, Lorre's production team have already 'reached out' to Lowe's management firm about hiring the actor to join the show. Lowe, the former star of The West Wing, is currently appearing on NBC's Parks and Recreation.

Tess Daly has reportedly said that she wants Sean Connery to appear on Strictly Come Dancing. Although the chances of Connery saying 'yesh' to the offer are not thought to be high. Daly, who hosts the show with Bruce Forsyth, also admitted to 'a hankering' for the former James Bond actor despite the fact that he's old enough to be her grandfather. The Sun quotes her as saying: 'I would love to see Sean on Strictly. I have a bit of a hankering for him.' There you are, told you she had a 'hankering.' 'My co-host, Bruce Forsyth, is a mate of his, so he can put in a word and hopefully get him on.' Strictly Come Dancing is due to return to BBC1 in the autumn. Channel controller Danny Cohen recently labelled speculation surrounding Forsyth's continued role on the show as 'confusing.'

Robert Carlyle has landed a role in ABC's pilot Once Upon A Time. The drama focuses on a woman with a difficult past who moves to a small town in Maine, where the magic of fairytales appears to be real. Deadline reports that Carlyle has signed up to play Rumpelstiltskin in the project. The character is said to be an expert in dark magic who agrees to help Snow White and Prince Charming fight the Evil Queen's spells. Carlyle played Nicholas Rush in Stargate Universe until it was cancelled in December. He has also appeared in movies such as The Full Monty, Trainspotting, The World Is Not Enough and 28 Weeks Later. Once Upon A Time has been written by Tron: Legacy and Lost writers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz.

A US judge has ordered a trial to decide who will own the broadcasting rights to the Golden Globe awards for the next seven years. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which organises the event, is suing Dick Clark Productions, claiming it sold broadcast rights without proper permission. The HFPA also allege the rights to the show were sold to the NBC network for less than they were worth. The trial will begin on 6 September. The HFPA claims DCP and its owner, Red Zone Capital Partners, did not have permission to negotiate a long-term deal with NBC because it only had rights to produce the show up to 2011. Lawyers for Red Zone had argued that the contract was 'ambiguous' and had sought to have the case dismissed. 'Now that their attempt to evade responsibility for their bad-faith conduct has been rejected, we look forward to presenting our evidence at trial,' the HFPA's lawyer Linda Smith said in a statement. The trial, she continued, would 'establish once and for all that no sale of any rights connected to the Globes is possible without the HFPA's participation and consent.' Other claims by the HFPA of copyright infringement and seeking an accounting of profits will be decided later. Dick Clark Productions said it would wait until the judge's final written ruling was issued before making any comment. Held each January, the Golden Globes is the first major prize-giving event of the Hollywood awards season. British comedian Ricky Gervais hosted the last two ceremonies, making headlines this year with his acerbic jibes.

Members of the Royal family have expressed 'dismay' at the grand old Duke of York’s friendship with a convicted sex offender, the Daily Torygraph claims to have 'learnt.' How many times - it's 'learned'! A 'well-placed source' has 'disclosed' that there has been 'concern' for at least two years that the Duke's choice of company would 'blow up' and embarrass the Royal household. The Duke's sale of his former home, Sunninghill, to a Kazakh billionaire for three million smackers above the asking price in 2007 also 'raised eyebrows' in the royal palaces but the Duke, the newspaper claims, 'refuses to listen' to advice. The 'source' spoke out as the Duke's close friend Goga Ashkenazi, who reportedly helped him sell Sunninghill, claimed that the Duke was 'very, very worried' about whether he can continue in his role as the UK's trade ambassador. Ashkenazi said the Duke had messaged her from his BlackBerry at the weekend asking 'Have you seen the papers?' She added that he was 'very, very upset' at the furore over his relationship with the disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein. The thirty one-year-old businesswoman also claimed for the first time that her former lover, Timur Kulibayev, bought Sunninghill with the intention of turning it into 'a charitable school' for Kazakh children. The twelve-bedroomed house in Berkshire has been left empty and slowly falling apart ever since Kulibayev, the son-in-law of the Kazakh president, bought it for fifteen million quid four years ago. A 'source' has told the Torygraph that the sale of the house at an apparently inflated price immediately rang alarm bells in the Royal household, and questions were asked about the Duke's choice of friends. 'Members of the Royal family have been waiting for this to blow up for at least a couple of years,' the 'source' supposedly said. 'There has been dismay about the company he has been keeping, but he refuses to listen to advice.' The Duke has been under intense pressure ever since a photograph of him with his arm around Epstein’s seventeen-year-old 'personal masseuse,' who claimed she had been groomed for underage sex by the billionaire, was published more than a week ago. Kazakh-born Ashkenazi, who now lives in London, gave an insight into the Duke's own feelings about his predicament, saying: 'He knows it was unwise to fraternise with this Epstein character and it was silly to be photographed with his arm around Epstein's masseuse. But I know Andrew as a lovely, lovely man, kind-hearted, impeccably-behaved and honourable, and I'm quite sure that at the time he had no idea that she was underage or anything more than a masseuse to Epstein.' Ashkenazi, who was introduced to the Queen when she was a guest of the Duke in the Royal Box at Ascot in 2007, told the Evening Standard: 'I told Andrew not to worry, that he'd done nothing wrong, and that it was being blown out of proportion.' Buckingham Palace swiftly denied that the Duke discussed his role as Special Representative for UK Trade and Investment 'at any time' and stressed that he 'remains committed' to the job. Referring to the Duke’s controversial meetings with Saif Gaddafi, Ashkenazi also said: 'Andrew is not the only one to have beaten a path to the door of dodgy dictators. When you travel as much as he does, situations are bound to arise where you find yourself shaking hands with people you later wish you hadn't met.' Oxford-educated Ashkenazi also discussed the sale of Sunninghill, saying: 'Sunninghill was never bought for personal use. The plan, as I understand it, is to convert it into a charitable school for bright Kazakh children who can come here to do their A-levels and then try for the top British universities. The first step is to get planning permission.' Explaining the reason for the inflated price, she added: 'Apparently Andrew had other offers to buy the house for the same amount. The way the deal happened was like, "I saw the house, I like it, how much is it? Fifteen million? Okay, great, done!' Bracknell Forest Council said yesterday that no requests for planning permission on Sunninghill had been submitted, nor had there been any informal approaches to the council. Ashkenazi is the second woman in the Duke's life to make a high-profile attempt to defend him. On Monday the grand old Duchess of York (she had ten thousand men) said that she had made 'a gigantic error of judgment' by allowing Epstein to pay off a fifteen thousand quid debt on her behalf.

For today's Keith Telly Topping's 45(s) of the Day one of them's actually a 33 of the Day! Sorry, but, you know ... whatever. yer Keith Telly Topping has an admission to make here, dear blog reader. I didn't get into reggae via Bob Marley records - well, not entirely, anyway. I actually got into the genre in exactly the same way as I got into punk, and post-punk, and indie - by listening to The John Peel Show. Not that this is huge admission, I reckon that's probably true of course seventy five per cent of white kids in this country who, eventually, developed a deep love for a bit of stonewall dub groove. Peelie's championing of radical roots reggae - years before it was fashionable - is, of course, widely acknowledged. Two records, in particular, demonstrate perfectly what a superb spotter of thoroughly righteous music yer man Peel was. The first is, as he once famously noted, 'as close as we have to a philosophy on this show.' Complete with its full - glorious - spoken-word introduction, here's Misty in Roots at the 1979 Counter-Eurovision Festival. 'Music which recalls history, because without the knowledge of your history you cannot determine your destiny.' Damn right. Mankind, you a sinner. The second record (which is an single) comes from a couple of years later and is gentler, yet equally spiritual, song of sincere devotion. If all religious music was like this, dear blog reader, yer actual Songs of Praise would be a hell of a lot more watchable. And, as a special extra treat, here's The Natural Ites and The Realistics live on The Tube. Jah is widdin I.