Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Can't You See That You're Wasting Your Time?

Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat has said that the new season of the popular BBC family SF drama show kicks off in a darker style than usual. Launching the first two episodes at London's Olympia on Monday night, Moffat pleaded with journalists to keep the show's secrets under wraps. The opener sees Matt Smith's Doctor reunited with Karen Gillan's Amy Pond, Arthur Darvill's Rory and Alex Kingston's River Song in 1960s America. The quartet team up with President Nixon to fight a new alien threat, The Silence. The aliens - partly inspired by Edvard Munch's The Scream - are introduced in the two opening episodes, The Impossible Astronaut and Day of the Moon. The programmes, which feature scenes shot in the Utah desert last year, will be shown on BBC1 later this month. 'To be honest, it's darker than any other opener of a season,' said Moffat, who wrote both episodes. 'We've been pretty dark before in Doctor Who. But we're coming in from the dark side just because we haven't done it that way before.' Yet Moffat said he did not think the shows were too scary for children. 'First of all, you make Doctor Who frightening to appeal to children. It's the children who find it frightening, not the adults. Children absolutely rank Doctor Who stories in order of frightening-ness - that's what it's about. You put the jokes in and the silly bits in for the adults and you put the scares in for the kids. I've got two kids of my own and I'd never do anything I didn't think was acceptable for them. Having said that, one of them does tend to sleep on our bedroom floor.' Future episodes will feature such guest stars as Lily Cole, Downton Abbey's Hugh Bonneville as a pirate and ex-Coronation Street actress Suranne Jones. The latter will appear in a story called The Doctor's Wife written by fantasy author Neil Gaiman. For the first time this year's season is being split in two. The first seven episodes will be broadcast from 23 April, with the final block of six broadcast in the autumn. 'If you run for thirteen weeks you can start to feel as though you can miss one episode and it'll be okay,' Moffat said. 'We don't want that feeling. We stop for a few weeks and let you all worry about what's happening and then come back.' Moffat went on to ask journalists to avoid spoilers if possible, saying it would be 'a lot more fun for the kids' if nothing was given away. 'Tease them but don't tell them,' he pleaded. Asked about plans for Doctor Who's fiftieth anniversary in 2013, he would only say: 'Yes, there are thoughts.'

Ever since the preview trailer for the new season of Doctor Who, featuring a glimpse of some Nazi soldiers, was released speculation has been rife over what that was all about. And with the season premiere a mere two weeks away, fans of the series don't have long to wait. But if that's not soon enough, the Daily Scum Mail have what they described 'as a sneak peek' at Karen Gillan shooting on location at the Temple Of Peace in Cardiff - 'and it appears as though she may be emulating Steve McQueen in iconic World War II film The Great Escape.' Amateur footage posted on a Doctor Who fan site reveals that 'dozens of half-naked prisoners run screaming from the Temple Of Peace building - a regular filming location for the BBC series - as Amy sits on the bike outside.' According to enthusiasts on the site who flocked to watch filming in Cardiff, 'a scene was filmed where the TARDIS crashed through a wall in Hitler's office.' In another scene, Karen and Arthur Darvill, are seen giving a German soldier the Nazi salute. Crates displaying the Reichsadler were also strewn about the set. Achtung, baby.

Torchwood's John Barrowman has claimed that the upcoming fourth series will be 'bigger and better' than before. The ten-part series, a co-production between the BBC and US network Starz, is currently filming in both Wales and Los Angeles. 'The move to America has been fucking amazing,' Barrowman told Deadline. 'There is so much more we can do with Torchwood now having made the leap to America.' He added that the action sequences in the series, which is subtitled Miracle Day, are 'unbelievable. The audience is going to need a forklift truck to pick their jaws off the ground,' he joked. 'I used to do quite a lot of stunts but now I'm not allowed to because of the insurance policy. I'm much more valuable in America!' Big John also insisted that the sexual nature of his character Jack Harkness will not be toned down for US audiences. 'Jack will have his little dabblings and the audience will get exactly what they want,' he claimed. 'And I had a lot of fun doing it!'

Danny Baker says he plans to 'un-retire' this month with a return to the airwaves following treatment for cancer. The presenter - who joked that he was tired of watching vintage movies during his lay off - has been off-air since he was diagnosed with the throat disease in October. Danny, fifty three, said he was 'croaky, thinner but none the wiser.' He is 'to give it another go' with his comeback on BBC London on 18 April. A date for his return to BBC Radio 5Live has still to be finalised, but is expected at the end of next month. In a jokey blog he said that he expected to make only a slight dent on Radio 2's audience when he takes over from stand-in Gary Crowley. He wrote: 'I realise this will reduce Steve Wright's overall audience figures by more than three hundred, but it's a tough game we're in Steve. It's just a few vowels from Radio To Rodeo you know.' Danny - who has also been prominent presenter for shows on Radio 1 and Radio 2 - announced his illness in November, shortly before undergoing chemotherapy. He said at the time: 'Once the quacks have soundly thrashed this thing I shall return like a rare gas and as if out of a trap.' He had been due to begin radiotherapy in January of this year. Danny, also well-known as a scriptwriter for his friend Chris Evans, said he would be back 'unless the medics make some last gasp cruel objection.'

BBC2's Lambing Live returned with more than 2.3m viewers on Monday night, whilst Waking the Dead continued to give Law & Order: UK a damned good thrashing according to overnight audience data. Lambing Live, presented by Kate Humble and Adam Henson, averaged 2.36m for BBC2 between 8.30pm and 10pm. In the 9pm hour, Waking The Dead was watched by 5.43m on BBC1, beating Law & Order: UK's four million on ITV and two hundred and forty five thousand on ITV+1 like a big beating thing. Earlier on ITV, The Dales entertained 4.1m from 8pm.

A News of the World reporter and an ex-news editor have been held by police investigating allegations of phone hacking. Chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck, fifty, and former news editor Ian Edmondson, forty two, are suspected of having unlawfully intercepted voicemail messages. The men voluntarily attended two London police stations, although Scotland Yard would not confirm their identities. The News of the World and its owner News International have not commented. Scotland Yard said the arrested pair were also being held on suspicion of conspiring to intercept communications. Edmondson was sacked by the News of the World in January after evidence emerged linking him to hacking claims. His solicitor, Eddie Parladorio, said on Tuesday: 'I can confirm Mr Edmondson was arrested today. He attended voluntarily at the police station. Other than that I have no comment.' The latest arrests are the first since the Met reopened its inquiry - known as Operation Weeting - into claims that staff at the Sunday tabloid had hacked into the phone messages of celebrities and other public figures. The arrests came as Keir Starmer QC, the director of public prosecutions, gave fresh evidence to MPs which appeared to contradict the evidence of John Yates, acting deputy commissioner of the Metropolitan Police. Yates had previously told the home affairs committee that there were only a small number of victims. That was based on what he said had been legal advice that the police would have to prove that messages had been intercepted and also listened to before being heard by the recipient. But in a letter clarifying the affair, Starmer said that advice from CPS lawyers to detectives 'did not limit the scope and extent of the criminal investigation.' The letter says that even though parts of the law were very much untested, one particular offence did not require police to prove that a message had been intercepted before the recipient heard it. In 2007, the first police investigation into phone hacking led to the convictions and imprisonment of then News of the World royal editor Clive Goodman and private investigator Glenn Mulcaire, who was employed by the paper. The newspaper and News International claims at the time that Goodman had be a lone, rouge element and that no other staff were involved in any such dealings, a defence that they stuck rigidly to for three years. Four alleged victims of phone hacking have reached out-of-court settlements with the newspaper, including celebrity publicist Max Clifford, who received a reported one million pounds. Fourteen people, including football agent Sky Andrew, comedian Steve Coogan, sports commentator Andy Gray and the actress Sienna Miller, are now suing News International. Last Friday, a high court judge ordered News of the World to make available Mulcaire's notes to the growing list of people suing the paper. Justice Geoffrey Vos, who is in charge of the hacking cases, ordered 'rolling disclosure' to all claimants. Hundreds of thousands of e-mails will now be handed over to alleged victims. News International later said in a statement: 'In January, News International voluntarily approached the Met Police and provided information that led to the opening of the current police investigation. News International terminated the employment of the assistant editor (news) of the News of the World at the same time. News International has consistently reiterated that it will not tolerate wrong-doing and is committed to acting on evidence. We continue to co-operate fully with the ongoing police investigation.'

Channel Five has confirmed that it has signed a deal to broadcast the Endemol reality show Big Brother.

A woman who attacked a painting by Paul Gauguin hanging in the National Gallery in Washington DC said the French artist was 'evil,' court records show. Susan Burns pounded Two Tahitian Women with her fists and tried to rip it from a gallery wall on Friday, officials said. The 1899 painting, which depicts two women's bare breasts, was behind a plastic cover and was unharmed. Burns was charged with attempted theft and destruction of property and is being held pending a mental evaluation. For example, is she or isn't she. On Friday afternoon the accused slammed her hands against the plexiglass cover between the canvas and the frame. A museum security officer intervened and detained her. Burns, fifty three, from Virginia, told police that she thought the painting should be burned, according to court records viewed by the Associated Press news agency. 'I feel that Gauguin is evil,' she was quoted as telling police seemingly unaware that the painter has been dead since 1903. 'He has nudity and is bad for the children. He has two women in the painting and it's very homosexual.' Oh, one of those sort of people. The oil-on-canvas painting is on loan from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. It is expected to go back on display on Tuesday morning, National Gallery spokeswoman Deborah Ziska told the BBC. The work depicts two serene, golden-skinned Tahitian women offering a bowl of flowers. 'The painting captures Gauguin's mythical idea of Tahiti as a paradise of beautiful, mysterious women,' museum curators write. The incident was the first act of vandalism at the museum since the 1970s, when over the course of about five years, one man destroyed a Renaissance-era chair and another defaced twenty five works, including by Renoir and Henri Matisse, with a 'sharp object,' Ziska said. Eugène Henri Paul Gauguin (1848-1903) was a leading French Post-Impressionist artist. He was an important figure in the Symbolist movement as a painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramist, and writer. His bold experimentation with colouring led directly to the Synthetist style of modern art while his expression of the inherent meaning of the subjects in his paintings, under the influence of the cloisonnist style, paved the way to Primitivism and the return to the pastoral. Apparently.

ITV has confirmed that it has commissioned a fourth series of crime drama Above Suspicion. Kelly Reilly and Ciaran Hinds will reprise their respective roles as Anna Travis and James Langton in the new three-part drama. The new series, adapted by Lynda La Plante from her novel Silent Scream, will focus on the brutal murder of a glamorous British film star. 'I'm thrilled to be making a fourth series of Above Suspicion for ITV, which will see Travis progress even further up the career ladder investigating one of her most challenging cases to date,' said La Plante. ITV Drama Commissioner Laure Mackie added: 'Above Suspicion has grown into a really strong brand for ITV and the fourth instalment, Silent Scream, is set to be another gripping story for Travis and Langton to investigate.' Back in 2009, the first series of Above Suspicion premiered to 6.7m viewers, while last year the final instalment of sequel The Red Dahlia attracted a slightly higher 6.8m.

X Factor USA has been criticised for offering a five million dollar Sony recording contract as a prize. Sociology professor Chris Rojek, from Brunel University, has suggested to the Daily Scum Mail that offering such a large reward in the competition has contributed to the idea that money is everything. 'The X Factor is part of a culture that persuades people to think that money is everything,' he told the newspaper. 'Of course, when there is so much money on offer, it reinforces people's desires to make it, when they may not have the necessary talent or skill.' He went on to say that we now live in a 'culture of aspiration' where children are often told they are 'special and unique' no matter their level of talent, which can lead to a 'distorted view of their own impact and importance.' Rojek, who authored a book called Celebrity looking at trends in fame, also told the newspaper that more children would prefer to watch the X Factor than the upcoming royal wedding, while a previous study in 2008 found that the majority of school children now aspired to be celebrities such as popstars rather than royalty. 'Those born into fame are on the downslide and we are now getting figures constructed by Simon Cowell coming up,' added Rojek. Royal biographer Christopher Wilson previously voiced a similar opinion when he told Reuters that the royal family 'has in a sense stepped into the showbiz arena and they do compete for interest with the X Factor,' but insisted that interest in the monarchy would always exist. The first X Factor US auditions in Los Angeles attracted a record-breaking crowd of over eighteen thousand. Simon Cowell previously admitted to some nerves over deciding to offer the record breaking five million dollars prize to the winner of the FOX competition, but said he is 'confident that it was the right thing to do. I think it should be a life-changing prize,' he explained earlier this year. 'And just to be clear, this isn't a dressed-up five million dollars, this is a guaranteed five million payable to the winner. The recording, marketing and video costs are completely separate to that. It will be paid over five years at one million dollars a year.'

Jezza Clarkson has dismissed claims that he had an affair with a Top Gear colleague. The fifty-year-old was alleged by a Sunday tabloid to have cheated on his wife, Frances. However, the Top Gear presenter has now said that he enjoyed 'a lovely lunch' with his wife and three children for Mother's Day, adding: 'I'm surprised to find that I'm the new Tiger Woods.' According to the Sun, a 'friend' allegedly commented: 'He's stunned by these claims. He's been working hard on Top Gear for a while and is enjoying a holiday with his family. As far as we're concerned life is going on as usual.'

Cheryl Cole has reportedly been advised to quit smoking if she wants to crack the lucrative US market. According to the Sun, Fag-Ash Lil's elocution teacher recommended that the Heaton Horror quit her twenty-a-day habit if she wants her voice to fully respond to the 'training' she is receiving. No punchline necessary.

Glee creator Ryan Murphy has admitted that he regrets his comments about Kings of Leon. Earlier this year, Murphy described the band as 'self-centred assholes' and added: 'Fuck you, Kings of Leon' after they refused to let him use their songs in Glee. The band later responded on Twitter, while Dave Grohl and The Human League are among the musicians who have supported the band's stand and said that songwriters shouldn't have to agree to be featured in Glee if they don't want to. Murphy has now admitted that he should have chosen his words more carefully and joked that he has learned not to 'say fuck you to someone in the press. I didn't speak with as much clarity as I would have liked,' he told The Hollywood Reporter. 'Who am I to say, "fuck you?" That's not what I meant. I completely understand when artists don't want a show or another artist to interpret their songs. In fact, I respect it. It's their personal work and I'd feel the same way. We get turned down all the time and I don't fight it or even go back after a rejection.' Murphy also revealed that he has been 'trading texts and e-mails' with members of Kings of Leon since his comments were made public. He continued: 'I've never felt that if you don't give Glee your music, there's something diabolical about you. To the contrary - I support artists and what they choose to do. I think Kings of Leon are cool as shit. The Foo Fighters are brilliant. We'd love to do one of their songs, if they were ever interested. But if it's not their thing, then okay. I personally wish them luck and will still listen to their music.'

Alexander Armstrong is to pilot a new comedy panel show – in which the comics have to think up the questions as well as answer them. And – like his daytime quiz show Pointless – he will have a sidekick on hand to verify the answers; in this case Come Dine With Me's voiceover man Dave Lamb. In Alexander Armstrong's Big Ask (steady!) the panel of three comedian will face categories drawn at random – 'anything from Scooby Doo to Viagra,' say producers. A pilot episode is being recorded this week although it is not yet known if the format has a broadcaster lined up.

Coronation Street character John Stape will create a hostage situation in a cellar in a forthcoming storyline, a tabloid report has claimed. According to the Mirra, the climactic conclusion to the Stape saga will see the former schoolteacher imprison his wife Fiz and her brother, Chesney, along with family friend Kirk Sutherland and Charlotte Hoyle's parents Alan and Dorothy. It is thought that the dramatic showdown takes place in the cellar of the Hoyles' home as the truth about John's various and naughty crimes starts to emerge at last, leaving viewers to wonder whether he could kill again. A 'source' allegedly told the newspaper: 'John's world starts to crash around him in spectacular fashion when all the terrible secrets he has been hiding start to piece together in one big jigsaw. It ends with all five people being locked in the cellar fearing for their lives as Stape mulls over how to get out of the biggest mess of his life. He finds himself in a situation where everyone knows what he has done.' Reports suggest that John's past will start to catch up with him when fresh building work at Underworld leads to the discovery of Colin Fishwick's body. John and Charlotte hid his corpse at the factory last summer after he died during a heated argument at the Stape household. As his dark storyline continued last year, John attacked Charlotte with a hammer after she made his life hell by blackmailing him. She later died in hospital, but John managed to fool authorities that her injuries were sustained in the street's tram crash disaster. More recently, John was also involved in the death of Colin's mother Joy Fishwick after befriending her amid his guilt. 'Truth will out' - it's always been one of Corrie's key mission statements ever since it began. Nobody ever gets away with anything forever. Rumours surrounding the character's departure have yet to be confirmed or denied as Corrie bosses do not comment on future storylines. Unless it involves tram crashes, of course, in which case one usually can't shut 'em up.

Blue Peter's pet dog Lucy has died after twelve years on the programme. Presenters paid tribute to the golden retriever, who died of cancer, with a special montage of highlights on Monday's show. Lucy had appeared alongside twelve Blue Peter presenters on hundreds of editions of the popular children's show and loved to play with a yellow squeaky ball. She was the seventh Blue Peter dog with thousands of children sending in their pictures of her over the years. Lucy recently appeared alongside boy band The Wanted and has met figures including the Queen and JK Rowling. Presenter Helen Skelton, whose own dog Barney also appears on the show, said: 'When you join Blue Peter you join a family and Lucy was a loyal and loving member of that family unit. I know the viewers will miss her as much as we already do.' Presenters Gethin Jones and Andy Akinwolere were soaked a few years ago when they tried to bathe Lucy for the programme. Other famous dogs to have appeared on Blue Peter include Petra, Shep and Bonnie.

The BBC has sold its building on Oxford Road in Manchester ahead of the summer switch to the new BBC North headquarters in Salford Quays. Manchester-based developer Realty Estates has snapped up the New Broadcasting House building, with reports putting the fee in the region of ten million smackers. Following a competitive bidding process, Realty beat three rival suitors to secure the site and will now have twelve months to present redevelopment plans to Manchester Council. Peter Skelton, strategic development director at LSH Manchester, which brokered the deal on behalf of the BBC, confirmed that contracts had been exchanged. 'Four parties were involved and Realty Estates has been chosen,' he said. A spokesman for the BBC added: 'Following a period of open marketing, the BBC has exchanged contracts for the sale of its Oxford Road site in Manchester to Realty Estates.' The BBC has occupied the three hundred thousand-sq ft building since 1976, but decided to sell the facility as part of the move to MediaCityUK in Salford Quays. Hundreds of BBC employees will start relocating to BBC North from May, including staff from the children's, sport and learning departments, as well as parts of 5Live and the future media and technology team. New Broadcasting House is currently home to BBC Radio services and North West Tonight, but has previously hosted shows such as A Question of Sport and Mastermind. Staff are expected to start moving out of the building in May, with a complete relocation to BBC North due by the end of the year.

Keanu Reeves has revealed plot details for the next Bill and Ted sequel. The actor played time-travelling metalhead slacker and dude Ted Logan in the two cult excellent 1991s films, with Alex Winter co-starring as his equally challenged best bud Bill Preston. Speaking to MTV, Reeves said: 'When we last got together, part of it was that Bill and Ted were supposed to have written the song that saved the world, and it hasn't happened. So they've now become kind of possessed by trying to do that. Then there's an element of time and they have to go back.' However, he did not mention what age the characters would be in the update of 1991's Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey. The first sequel to Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure was set in the future, with time-travelling cybernetic versions of the buddies going back to kill the originals before they get to take part in a world-saving 'Battle of the Bands' contest with their metal duo Wyld Stallyns.

Claire Sweeney has said that Richard Gere was 'really rude' when she interviewed him. The former Brookside actress and Celebrity Big Brother contestant told Metro that she responded in kind when Gere was unpleasant to her. Sweeney explained: 'I interviewed him for a TV show when I was in Chicago and the film of Chicago he was in had just come out. He tried to put me down and was just really rude. At the end I asked about his courtroom scene, which was his big scene, and said, "So in the courtroom scene were you advised to sound like Dick Van Dyke or was that a character choice?" He just looked at his publicist and said, "This interview is terminated." I thought, "Stick it up your arse."' Oh God, Sweeney, don't mention Richard Gere in the same sentence as the phrase 'stick it up your arse' people might get the wrong idea.

Arsenal footballer Jens Lehmann is reportedly suing fellow German goalkeeper Tm Wiese for insulting him. Lehmann had criticised the Werder Bremen goalie while commentating in their game against Tottenham Hotspur last year, prompting Wiese to tell Bild that Lehman should 'go on The Muppet Show.' Wiese added: 'That man should be on a couch. Maybe someone would be able to help him there. Commit him - best to an asylum.' According to The Associated Press, Lehmann has filed a lawsuit asking for more than twenty eight thousand dollars for the supposed 'violation of his personal rights.' The case will reportedly be heard in a court in Munich, Germany on Thursday. Lehmann was Arsenal's goalkeeper from 2003 to 2008 and was part of the unbeaten side which won the Premier League in 2004. He moved to VfB Stuttgart in 2008 and retired in 2010, but returned to Arsenal on a rolling contract last month as a result of their current injury crisis.

The Goddamn Modfather his very self, Paul Weller, has revealed he has finished work on his latest record. The singer and songwriter told Xfm that his time in the studio completing the CD has come to an end, with the work 'all ready to go.' Weller - who was speaking backstage at the Japan Disaster Benefit gig he had helped to arrange - added that no official release date has yet been set, although he is hopeful it will see the light of day at some point in 2011. The charity gig at the O2 Academy in Brixton managed to raise around one hundred and fifty thousand pounds to support the work of the British Red Cross in Japan, after the nation was hit by an earthquake and a tsunami. Along with the former Jam frontman, performances were given by the likes of Liam Gallagher's Beady Eye, Primal Scream, The Coral, Graham Coxon and Richard Ashcroft.

Kate Bush has been given the green light to use text from James Joyce's Ulysses in a song - more than twenty years after first requesting it. The reclusive performer had wanted to use the words of Joyce's character Molly Bloom for the title song of her 1989 LP The Sensual World. But she was refused permission by Joyce's estate and had to write her own lyrics for the song. Now Bush, fifty two, has re-recorded the song - renamed 'Flower of the Mountain' - with Joyce's words. 'I am delighted I have had the chance to fulfil the original concept,' she said. The song will be included in Bush's forthcoming CD Director's Cut, a collection of reworked songs from her Sensual World and Red Shoes LPs. 'When I came to work on this project I thought I would ask for permission again and this time they said yes,' she added. Another song from The Sensual World, 'Deeper Understanding', now features the voice of Kate's son Albert and is being released as a single. The video includes an appearance from the alleged comic Noel Fielding, who recently mimicked Bush on BBC1's Let's Dance For Comic Relief. Director's Cut is released on 16 May. Bush's last CD, Aerial, was released in 2005.

And so to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. The latest of which is an obscure mod/freakbeat/psych gem from 1967. I know next to nothing about Mike Proctor (not the Gloucestershire cricketer, obviously. I know plenty about him) but his - seemingly - only single, 'Mr Commuter' is a little bloody classic. And, lyrically, probably inspired by Ray Davies' more cynical side, it's a virtual prototype for every song about faceless conformity and doing what you're told by The Man for, ooo, the next forty years, I'd've said. ('Mr Clean', 'Remote Control', 'Frankly Mister Shankley', 'Cardiac Arrest', 'Chemical World' etc. etc.)