Wednesday, April 20, 2011

If It Wasn't For Chip Fat They'd Be Frozen

If there's one thing always guaranteed to provoke a reaction in yer actual Keith Topping, dear blog reader, it's a semi-final of MasterChef (BBC1, Wednesday). MasterChef's final four amateur cooks - Tim, Tom Sara and Jackie - we were informed by India Fisher, 'are pushed to the extreme edges of modern culinary invention as they battle for a place in the final three.' One can imagine that it was with some glee that John Torode and Gregg Wallace announced they were going to send the contestants to Madrid to learn from Paco Roncero, a master in the art of molecular gastronomy and prodigy of the most influential chef of his time, Ferran Adria. It would be the first time amateurs had ever set foot in Paco's kitchen, Casino de Madrid, and it was clear from the off that this was going to be a steep and scientific learning curve. The amateurs were required to don their goggles as they battled with new processes such as spherification and using liquid nitrogen in order to prepare four of Paco's signature dishes for el maestro himself. With dishes like Paco's carbonara on the menu the cooks were required to hold their nerve if they were to pull off these feats of execution. That was the set-up, anyway. Before the episode even got going, though, we had that husky-voiced BBC continuity announcer who sounds like she's busy choking on a cough sweet trying to give the essential India a right run for her money. But when India can come up with a line like 'the extreme edges of modern culinary invention' there's not much chance of that occurring. Pushing the boundaries between food and science was the name of the game as Jackie got given the task of preparing spherified broad beans with clams and artichokes in a parsley sauce. Her trademark twisty face was also very much in evidence when her initial attempts at making a spherified broad bean didn't look much like any bean she - or, indeed, anyone else for that matter - had ever seen. Personally, I was hoping that Gregg Wallace would come in and ask what she was doing. 'Bean soup,' might've been the reply to which Mr Wallace would retort: 'I don't care what it's been, what is it now?' No? Okay, suit yerself. Tom's dish was mollusc stew with cockles, mussels, oysters, barnacles and - this was the moment when the entire male part of the nation held its collective breath - winkles. Sorry, dear blog reader, but just the thought of India Fisher saying the word 'winkles' has me reaching for a damp flannelette. All of this Tom had to top with pink grapefruit tears frozen in liquid nitrogen. No sweat. 'I don't know enough about what I'm doing to know if I'm doing it wrong,' noted Tom with fantastic understatement. One might've thought that the Mad Professor, Tim, would have been a natural at this sort of thing but, as he rightly pointed out, although he'd done a bit of experimentation, at this level, he's just as much of a novice as the other three. His dish was a weird Japanese prawn tempura and shitake noodle soup with the olive oil-based noodles injected from a syringe into the soup. Last up was Sara with the infamous carbonara dish - a deconstructed spherified egg yoke with bacon and Parmesan cream shell on consommé noodles. All four of the chefs delivered something pretty decent considering their lack of expertise in the skills required. As Paco noted, to expect them in one day to pick up the basics of what its taken him years to perfect was a daunting task but they all did very well. Returning to London, the quartet then had the task of preparing one course each of a dinner at the Royal Society for a number of fellows, including a Nobel Prize winner and dear old Colin Pilkington, the Phil Harding of planetary science. Who clearly loves his grub and cleaned the plate of everything put down in front of him. My kind of scientist, that. Tom's opening course was what he described as a 'Twenty First Century Seafood Cocktail' (as opposed to a Sixteenth Century one?) with lobster and langoustine, avocado and Marie Rose sauce and with the genuinely innovative idea of including a spherified shrimp ball, something he'd picked up in Spain. Jackie's course was rose petal masala halibut with salted potato crisps and pea caviar. Or, as Jackie herself freely noted, fish, chips and peas. It should have included lemon as well but, unfortunately her frozen lemon slivers didn't quite work out as she'd planned. Tim came up with something suitably bizarre as expected, a pig cheek pork pie with a reconstructed scotch egg (which nobody liked much), liquor mash (using mustard and whisky) topped with jellified truffle milk. And, best of all, a 'pub atmosphere' created by having various beers mixed with liquid nitrogen in the centre of the table. Went down a treat with the scientists, that one. Lastly there was Riviera Sara who came up trumps (and got the night's only standing ovation) for her choux buns with raspberry mousse, vanilla ice cream and a mango, passion fruit and rum sorbet frozen (again in liquid nitrogen) and mixed in front of the guests. Jackie was late and cheekily got John to push her hot box for her. Tim claimed that he believed he was getting an ulcer and, as noted, Colin Pilkington ate everything in sight. So, it was back to the last chance saloon (or, you know, MasterChef HQ as 'normal' people call it) where there would be 'no room for error' and where John and Gregg required, from the four, 'one showstopping dish.' Jackie prepared a trio of dumplings - mushroom, potato and pork - with tempura fritters, caramelised black beans and hoisin glaze. Next was Tom with a seafood medley, fillet of sea trout, mussels, scallops and watercress sauce. 'That's a seafood lovers orgy,' said Gregg with almost pornographic delight. When presented with the dish, he seemed on the verge of climax. Even Tordoe was visibly impressed, containing himself after an initial outburst of 'It rocks!' Then there was Tim who, yet again, went so far over the top he was down the other side with a weird concoction that included pork belly braised in cola(!), topped with caramelised celery and mezzo mustard. He called it Bringing Umami Out Of Chaos and, it soon became evident that, yet again, he'd managed just that and that he was rockin' the shack too. Finally Sara produced a ballantine of rabbit, dumplings, liver truffles all in a cheesy cognac fondue. There's no way on earth that should have worked. Yet, somehow, it did. Even the cheesy bits. 'Decision time, Mr Wallace' said John and the four trooped back to the dressing room. Jackie sat there sulking, seemingly having guessed that she would be the one to go and claiming that she'd given 'the moon, the sun and the stars on that plate.' Yes, love, but were they edible, that's the real question. Gregg and John decided that the sun, the moon and the stars weren't a patch of seafood medley, cola-soaked pork or rabbit in cheese and sent her packing as they've sent Alice, Annie, The Gospel According to Saint James, Kennedy, Big Cuddly Polly and plenty of others before. Bye, Jackie. You were entertaining and annoying in roughly equal measure across ten shows and two near amputated fingers. So, we reach the final - and, to be honest, as with last year's final three I'm not really that bothered about which of Tim, Tom or Sara wins, they're all likeable and have their own strengths and weaknesses. The locations for next week's last three episodes look good, however.

So, with Sara Danesin, Tim Anderson and Tom Whitaker having been chosen as this year's MasterChef finalists, Jackie Kearney missed out on the final cut. Speaking to the Digital Spy website about her experiences on the programme, Jackie said: 'It's about being flawless in that moment and I wasn't flawless. That's a very hard thing to take because you know it's a great dish and it works, but it's a competition and on one day one person runs faster than another person. I have so much respect for the other three. Especially now I've had time to deal with it, I don't feel bad about it. I did for a while, but now when I look at how talented they are and what they've achieved. Maybe it was my time to go.' She also claimed that she found cooking for Torode and Wallace more nerve-wracking than 'labour with twins. Normally I have much steadier hands and I ended up sweating all the time,' she said. 'As soon as John would walk in the room, I'd start sweating. He'd come into the room and ask to shake my hand and I'd have to say, "Sorry John I can't, my hand is really sweaty."'

Doctor Who will pay tribute to Elisabeth Sladen when the show returns for a new series this Saturday. The actress, loved by many fans for her portrayal of investigative journalist Sarah Jane Smith, died on Tuesday morning after battling cancer. Asked if a tribute to Lis would be featured on the upcoming episode, a spokesperson from the Doctor Who office told the Digital Spy website that the show's production team are 'planning something suitable.' Matt Smith will kick-off his second series as The Doctor in The Impossible Astronaut, which premieres in both the UK and US this weekend. Paying tribute to Lis on Wednesday, Matt said that he had been 'welcomed, educated and delighted' by the sixty three-year-old Sladen when he had appeared, recently on an episode of The Sarah Jane Adventures. Meanwhile Matt's predecessor, David Tennant, also paid tribute to Lis. The actor appeared alongside Sladen in four Doctor Who episodes between 2006 and 2010, and also made a guest appearance in a 2009 episode of The Sarah Jane Adventures. In a statement, he said: ' just can't believe that Lis is gone. She seemed invincible. The same woman who enchanted my childhood, enchanted my time on Doctor Who and enchanted generations who have watched her and fallen in love with her, just like I did.' He continued: 'I feel very honoured to have shared a TARDIS with Sarah Jane Smith, and I feel very lucky to have shared some time with Lis Sladen. She was extraordinary.'

Tom Baker has also paid tribute to his former Doctor Who co-star. The actor played the fourth incarnation of The Doctor alongside Sladen's Sarah Jane Smith. Writing on his official website, Baker expressed his sadness at news of the actress's death. 'Sarah Jane dead? No, impossible! Only last week I agreed to do six new audio adventures with her for Big Finish Productions,' he wrote. 'She can't be dead. But she is, she died yesterday morning. Cancer. I had no idea she was ill; she was so private, never wanted any fuss, and now, gone. A terrible blow to her friends and a shattering blow for all those fans of the programme whose lives were touched every Saturday evening by her lovely heroic character, Sarah Jane Smith.' Recalling how he had joined the show, replacing Jon Pertwee, Baker explained: 'Lis Sladen was very important to me. When I joined the little world of Doctor Who Lis was already a star. She had an enormous success with John [sic] Pertwee. She was good pals with The Brigadier, our beloved Nicholas Courtney; she knew all the regular directors. She was adored by Barry Letts, the producer who cast her in the role. She always said she was Barry's girl. It was for that reason she decided to leave the show. But it was not necessary at all. The fans adored her, Philip Hinchcliffe our new and glamorous producer adored her, so did David Maloney, her favourite director.' Baker said that he and Sladen soon clicked as she 'laughed at my silly antics. We both came from Liverpool, that small detail helped,' he said. 'We both loved old movies. And quite suddenly Lis and Ian Marter and Tom Baker were a trio. It is so consoling when one is sad and bereft to remember the good times, the laughter, the glamour: we three switched on the lights at Blackpool! A very great honour. We performed a little melodrama directed by (guess who?) yes, David Maloney! And now Lis was adored by Ian Marter and Tom Baker too. And it never ceased. And in the evenings, Lis would simply disappear back to wherever we were staying and the rest of us would often be raucous! And too soon she decided to leave; no fuss at all, all was calm. And Philip Hinchcliffe gave her lovely farewell party at the Hilton. Those sweet memories of happy days with Lis Sladen, the lovely, witty, kind and so talented Lis Sladen.' He concluded: 'I am consoled by the memories. I was there, I knew her, she was good to me and I shall always be grateful, and I shall miss her.'

Actually, you know, yer Keith Telly Topping has a confession to make, dear blog reader. I'm not going to be a hypocrite here, I'm on record as saying - and I still believe - that Sarah Jane, as a character, was rather over-rated. Time never quite withered my lack of patience with Sarah. I found her rather whiny and, sometimes, not particularly sympathetic (this is the character, you understand, not the actress) in many episodes. Although not in Pyramids, or Terror of the Zygons, or The Time Warrior, or Seeds of Doom. In all of which she was great. But, I always thought there was something a bit from the naff-end of the 1970s about Sarah Jane (who was, let's remember, a character devised by a bunch of middle-aged men as representing what women were supposed to be all about in 1973). As far as The Sarah Jane Adventures were concerned, that was never really my thing either. Which, given that I'm a man of forty seven is, probably, something of a relief to the people who make it. It was never meant for me, it was made for thirteen year olds, who, it would seem, really enjoy it. Nevertheless, the Lis Sladen that I met, once, in 1998, was a lovely, funny, rather 'aunty-ish' lady (in the nicest possible way) who was pleasant and gregarious and thanked a bunch of fanboys sitting with her for forty five minutes whilst she was waiting to go and do a signing for 'being nice to me and asking me questions I didn't mind answering.' I thought that was classy. I might not have been the biggest fan of her work, but the lady herself was lovely and my horror at her passing is genuine and heart-felt. When doing the obituary on this blog last night I suddenly found myself recalling Lis's appearance in a now virtually forgotten second division ITV sitcom from the 1970s, Take My Wife, with Duggie Brown. Real, bottom-of-the-barrel stuff, it was. Full of crass mother-in-law jokes and rubbish stereotypes. The only good things in it, frankly, were Lis and Duggie themselves as the titular married couple. That's one of the things I'll remember Lis Sladen for; as somebody who made something really bad somewhat better by the sheer likeableness of her personality.

The Daily Scum Mail have finally cottoned on to what many of us have known for the last six months. That Daybreak is broken. 'ITV’s ailing breakfast show Daybreak is one of the most unpopular shows on television new research has revealed,' they reveal. 'The broadcaster ploughed fifteen million pounds into launching Daybreak and poached Adrian Chiles, forty four, and Christine Bleakley, thirty two, from the BBC to front it with a bumper pay offer. Ratings have dropped to below seven hundred thousand – less than half of its rival BBC Breakfast and well below predecessor GMTV's average audience of around one million,' they continue. And, here's where it gets interesting: 'Now in a further blow, audience research has shown that Daybreak regularly comes bottom when viewers are asked to rate shows they watch. Leaked figures from the BBC's Audience Appreciate Index – known as AI – reveal that the ITV breakfast show is often named one of the least popular programmes on television. The corporation have been using the AI, which sees as much as twenty thousand viewers polled daily, for decades to ensure it is meeting its public service commitments. Across the terrestrial channels and the BBC's digital stations every programme gets a rating out of one hundred – with the most popular shows scoring ninety and above.' Slight correction for the Mail, as anyone whose had any dealings with AI figures will know, these are actually collected by GfK NOP Talkabout a market research company not just for the Beeb but for all terrestrial and some of the multi-channel broadcasters too. 'On average programmes get a rating of eighty two,' continues the Mail 'but insiders have revealed that Daybreak is consistently getting scores in the mid-to-low sixties for the past few months. Such figures are regarded as "poor" and it means that viewers are dissatisfied with the quality of the programme. One source said: "Daybreak is regularly the bottom show or in the bottom five shows in the table - across the channels.' Gotta say, this news is hardly, well, news - this website has been reporting the figures (which are freely available from the BBC press Office, all you have to do is ask!) for months. 'The leaked research comes as it is revealed that Daybreak's ratings dropped to six hundred and ninety thousand this week. The show launched in September [2010] with a high profile advertising campaign but within months ratings had plummeted to as low as five hundred thousand.' Again, a slight bit of context here, the 'average' AI figure the Mail quotes of eighty two is for drama; factual shows usually average slightly less than that, around seventy five to seventy eight. But, otherwise, that's actually a pretty accurate summation of what the AI is and what it tells us about how a show is regarded by those who watch it. 'Audiences complained the programme was too lightweight, cold and that Chiles and Miss Bleakley lacked the chemistry that made them famous on The ONE Show. One said: "The chemistry between Chiles and Bleakley was lost once she got the massive pay rise as she thinks she is more important than she is. And Chiles' demeanour and delivery are okay for evening TV but not first thing. At 8am I want bright and pleasant." Many felt Chiles was simply too grumpy for the morning and that Daybreak had too many light features and not enough serious news content. Others complained it was not clear what the show was trying to be and the show was in danger of alienating its core audience of housewives with children.' For what it's worth, my own occasional viewings of Daybreak have suggested to this blogger that it is, quite simply, vapid rank nonsense. As yer actual Keith Telly Topping noted last year when naming it one of the fifteen worst TV shows of the year: 'Daybreak is, in short, horseshit. At least Chiles is honest enough to admit that it's a disaster. It's virtually unwatchable, patronising, shallow, vacuous, lightweight and features Bleakley, the world's least convincing "woman of the people" who spent the entire month of September in a state of permanent orangeness. Every couple of weeks, there'll be a burst of publicity in one of the tabloids which claims that the show has 'turned the corner' but there's been remarkably little evidence of it on-screen or off.' The Mail also quotes 'one viewer on an Internet messageboard' as saying: 'The problem is the show does not seem to have any real identity. It lacks the gravitas of its BBC competition for those who like serious news in the morning and has lost contact with those who thrive on trivia. Bleakley comes across as a giggling air head and Chiles has just lost his touch,' They also quote an ITV spokesperson coming up with their usual media bollock-speak: 'Daybreak has seen a steady growth in audiences since the turn of the year. Year-on-Year share of viewing is up 3.5 per cent for our core audience of Housewives with Children gaining 1.2 share points on last year. March was our most successful month since launch.' Whatever the hell that is supposed to mean.

The X Factor has escaped censure by media regulator Ofcom over raunchy performances by Rihanna and Christina Aguilera during last year's final. Despite a suspiciously concerted campaign of feigned outrage by several national newspapers, and the Daily Scum Mail in particular. Ofcom said it received two thousand eight hundred and sixty eight complaints that the pre-watershed performances were 'too sexually explicit.' But, it ruled that although Rihanna's routine 'featured some gentle thrusting,' it was 'suitably limited.' It added that Aguilera's performance was justified as she was singing a song from her film, Burlesque. Ofcom noted that Rihanna - who performed her single 'What's My Name?' - was largely shot at a wide angle to show all of the dancers on the stage and from a distance. It added although the dance routine had some 'mildly sexual overtones,' the camera panned quickly and continuously throughout the performance, resulting in the shots of the individual dance movements being very brief. 'Ofcom was therefore of the view that, taken as a whole, the performance by Rihanna was presented in a style which would not have exceeded the likely expectations of the audience,' the regulator said. For Aguilera, Ofcom said the performance taken as a whole was sexualised to some extent due to the nature of the dancers' revealing costumes. As it reflected the burlesque theme and storyline of the singer's film Burlesque - which she was promoting - it was editorially justified, the adjudication added. Ofcom said that approximately two thousand of the complaints about the programme were received 'following coverage about the performances in a daily national newspaper' reporting on 'concerns the show was too explicit for a family programme.' Their concerns, nobody else’s. Ofcom did not name the paper directly in its ruling, but the Gruniad gleefully noted that it understood the comments refer to the Daily Scum Mail. At the time, the Daily Scum Mail published a double-page story reporting 'viewer outrage' at The X Factor performances and featuring pictures of Rihanna and Aguilera. After including a number of still images of the performances that were 'significantly more graphic' than any of the material which had been broadcast in the programme, Ofcom concluded that readers of this vile rag would have been 'left with the impression the programme was more graphic than was broadcast.' So some of them, seemingly, complained about it even though they hadn't actually watched the show in the first place. How delightfully British. Elsewhere, Ofcom found 4Music and MTV in breach of its code for protecting children from unsuitable material after they both broadcast the music video for Flo Rider's 'Turn Around' before the watershed. Ofcom said it received three complaints from 4Music views and two complaints from MTV viewers about the scheduling of the video which featured female dancers in bikinis 'repeatedly shaking and playfully slapping their buttocks. The cumulative effect of the repeated close up images of the female dancers' buttocks, together with some of the provocative dancing and actions in the video, resulted in the video's imagery conveying a highly sexualised theme,' Ofcom considered. It concluded that the video was 'unsuitable for children' and as it was broadcast at various times of the day, and sufficient measures were not in place to prevent children from viewing it.

Ofcom has also dismissed Nadia Almada's complaints that she was unfairly treated during her time on Ultimate Big Brother. The series five winner re-entered the Big Brother house along with previous housemates for a special 'farewell' series last year. You know, for the show which is shortly to return on Channel Five. Short farewell, that. Almada complained that she was unfairly treated in the editing of a heated row with fellow contestant Coolio. The thirty four-year-old alleged that the edited version made her reaction to the rapper's behaviour appear unreasonable. She also claimed that Coolio (real name Artis Leon Ivey, Jr) 'bullied' her by making 'transphobic and homophobic' comments towards her. However, in its ruling Ofcom agreed with Channel Four that footage of Coolio's 'prank' on Almada had been 'presented in the programme in a fair manner and was a truthful depiction of the incident.' It went on to reveal that unedited footage had appeared to show Almada spit on Coolio's duvet and proceed to wipe her crotch and buttocks on it, telling him: 'Look, look I spit on it, look! That is all yours now, that is all yours, look. My arse and my fucking cunt is on it.' delightful. Ofcom concluded that the broadcast footage was 'unlikely' to have 'affected viewers' opinion of her,' adding: 'The shoe incident had not been edited in a way that was unfair to Ms Almada and the footage included in the programme fairly reflected Ms Almada's reaction and her reasons for it.' Meanwhile, Almada also lodged a complaint against a comment made by presenter Davina McCall on spin-off show Big Brother's Big Mouth. While introducing a guest, McCall referenced the Portuguese housemate's 'boyish good looks,' something Almada claimed amounted to 'transphobic and offensive comments.' McCall later apologised for the joke and said that she was 'horrified' about upsetting Almada or viewers. However, Ofcom ruled that the presenter's comments about Almada's appearance were 'in keeping with the general light-hearted tone of the programme.' Despite noting the 'potentially hurtful nature of Ms McCall's comments' it was concluded that they had 'not been made with the intention of offending or upsetting her Ms Almada' and 'that they did not amount to a derogatory comment on her transgender status.'

Joanna Lumley has reportedly confirmed that she will film new episodes of Absolutely Fabulous later this year. In November, Lumley revealed that she was keen to return to the sitcom. The actress has now been quoted as telling Hello magazine that she will begin work on new episodes this summer. 'In late August I start filming on three episodes of Absolutely Fabulous, which we are all ecstatic about,' she said. However, Lumley said that she has no idea what will happen when the show returns, saying: 'Miss Saunders has been so busy writing Uptown Downstairs Abbey for Comic Relief and also Spice Girls: The Musical, I don't think she's started [the script]!'

Actors from the cast of Happy Days are suing CBS Studios for more than ten million dollars in damages, claiming they have been denied profits from merchandise according to reports. They say that CBS released DVDs and allowed their images to be used on products including lunchboxes and gambling machines without sharing revenue. Anson Williams, who played Potsie, and Don Most - Ralph Malph in the long-running sitcom - are among cast members who have brought the case in Los Angeles. The actors contend that a 'if you don't ask, then we don't pay' policy conflict with contracts promising the cast a share of merchandise revenue. The case is also being brought by Marion Ross, who played Marion Cunningham, Erin Moran (Joanie) and the estate of the late Tom Bosley, who played Howard. Happy Days - which ran for two hundred and fifty five episodes for ten years from 1974 - was set in the 1950s and 1960s and starred Henry Winkler as Arthur Fonzarelli. Significantly, neither Winkler or Ron Howard - who played Ritchie and went on to become an Oscar-winning film director - are part of the claim. It is also unknown as to whether the participants are demanding any further payments for the spin-off series Joanie Loves Chachi in addition to the five pee they were paid for what it was worth.

The concluding part of the ITV drama The Reckoning lost more than two million viewers on Tuesday evening, overnight audience data has revealed. The Reckoning, starring Ashley Jenson and Max Beesley, averaged 3.43m for ITV in the 9pm hour, down 2.12m on the previous night's opening episode. A further two hundred and fifty thousand viewers watched the show on ITV+1. The drama was outperformed by the BBC's comedy drama Candy Cabs, which had an - admittedly not particularly impressive - audience of 3.62m in the 9pm hour.

Boardwalk Empire's Paz de la Huerta has been charged with five misdemeanours including two counts of assault at a Manhattan criminal court. De la Huerta, who plays mistress Lucy Danziger in the HBO drama series, was also charged with fourth degree criminal possession of a weapon, attempted assault and harassment. She was arrested last month after allegedly being involved in an incident with The City actress Samantha Swetra. De la Huerta is accused of throwing a glass at Swetra and punching her in the face following a verbal dispute at the Standard Hotel in the Meatpacking District. A restraining order has also been placed on De la Huertra, which means that she cannot contact Swetra.

Marisa Tomei is reportedly in talks to star in a new HBO pilot. More As The Story Develops has been penned by The Social Network and The West Wing scriptwriter Aaron Sorkin and focuses on life in a broadcast newsroom. Jeff Daniels has already signed up for the lead role as a cable news anchor. The New York Post claims that Tomei is now in negotiations to play an executive producer working on the programme. She is already thought to have met with Sorkin, his collaborator Scott Rudin and the project's director Greg Mottola, but some sources have suggested that there are several people in talks for the role. Tomei previously appeared in several episodes of Rescue Me and has starred in movies including The Wrestler, The Lincoln Lawyer, What Women Want and Anger Management. Sorkin recently said that he is 'loving the idea of coming back to television' and described More As The Story Develops as 'aspirational' and 'wish fulfillment.' Mind you, he said many of the same thing about his last TV series, Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip, which was a great but was cancelled after one series. Because NBC don't know their arse from a hole in the ground.

ITV has recommissioned The Cube for a fourth series. Phillip Schofield will return to host the popular game show, in which contestants compete in various challenges to win a cash prize. Made by Objective Productions, the new series will begin filming later this year. 'The Cube has proved itself to be a firm hit with viewers,' ITV's controller of entertainment John Kaye Cooper said. 'We are delighted to commission this compelling game show for a fourth series.' Adam Adler, the show's creator, added: 'We're delighted that The Cube has been recommissioned. We've got loads of ideas for exciting new games that people will be able to play both in the real Cube and in their living rooms across the country.'

The actor who portrayed Prince William in Lifetime's critically-reviled William & Kate: The Movie has defended the project. Nico Evers-Swindell reportedly 'hit back' at critics who have broadly rubbished the production, which one described as being 'toe-curlingly, teeth-furringly, pillow-bitingly ghastly.' 'There's a good reason I'm not reading the reviews,' the actor told The Hollywood Reporter. 'You're dealing with the golden boy and golden girl of Britain right now. This wasn't a British production, Tom Hooper didn't direct this, this isn't The King's Speech. This isn't an in-depth look at the royal family.' And these are all reasons why we should watch this abomination, yes? Curious way of promoting your product telling us all of the things it isn't. He continued: 'I don't know [what] anyone could have expected in thirty days of development, from a network that's known for romance. It was always intended to be a fun ride, a light romance, a love story at the heart, and just a jolly good time.' You left out 'utter tripe,' mate, but we get the general idea. Even the star of it doesn't seem to think much of it and reckons it was thrown together without much basis in reality. Thanks for the advance warning, pal. Describing the script as 'fun, whimsical and romantic,' Evers-Swindell insisted that the film was 'built to get people excited' about the royal wedding and to serve as a 'nice compliment to the coverage.' Despite a tight filming schedule, which saw Evers-Swindell and Camilla Luddington (who played Kate Middleton) shoot twelve to fifteen hours a day, the actor admitted: 'That's the nature of the beast when making a TV movie. For my first lead role, it was an incredible learning experience,' he said.

CSI's Jorja Fox has dropped hints about the upcoming eleventh season finale. The actress, who plays Sara Sidle, told TV Guide that the climactic episode will focus on the rivalry between Langston (Laurence Fishburne) and his serial killer nemesis Nate Haskell (Bill Irwin). 'Haskell kidnaps Langston's ex-wife [Gloria] and she's presumed dead,' revealed Fox. 'It's a harrowing story because [his] ex-wife is the love in his life. Haskell has really hit Langston at the core of his being.' She added that Langston's reaction to the disappearance of Gloria (played by Trace Ellis Ross) will shock his fellow team members. 'All of the characters on the show have to examine or re-examine their beliefs about certain things, [like] their ethics,' she added. It was previously announced that former Lost actress L Scott Caldwell will appear in the season finale as Gloria's mother.

Crimewatch host Rav Wilding has reportedly faced questioning by 'BBC bosses' over press reports about his private life. According to the Mirra, the thirty three-year-old was 'called in' after pictures showed him rowing with Chantelle Houghton in a South London park. The ex-policeman later confirmed the end of his four-month relationship with the Big Brother non-entity, claiming that it 'wasn't the genuine thing I thought it was.' The paper claims that, whilst Wilding does not face losing his job, he has been told to 'go on holiday' to 'sort things out.' 'For many executives, Crimewatch is the BBC's flagship serious show,' a 'source' told the paper. What, more so than Newsnight? I think not. 'So they weren't thrilled with his choice of girlfriend. Bosses were even less impressed when they started doing Mills & Boon-esque glossy magazine shoots, declaring their love - hardly in keeping with the Crimewatch ethos.' Oh, I dunno, all he had to do was turn the camera whilst hugging his honey and exclaim 'don't have nightmares' and it would've been bang-on Crimewatch's 'ethos.' A BBC 'insider' - nameless of course - allegedly told the Mirra: 'As far as we are concerned, it is a personal matter. Rav was spoken to as a matter of course but it was a case of pastoral care more than of him being hauled in.'

The BBC is making a TV pilot of Radio 4 comedy panel show Act Your Age. The series – which has been running on Radio 4 with host Simon Mayo since 2008 – pitches three generations of comedians against each other. Regulars on the radio series have included Jon Richardson and Holly Walsh on the 'Up-And-Comers' team, Lucy Porter and Rufus Hound for the middle generation and Roy Walker and Tom O'Connor for the old guard. The TV version is being produced in-house at the BBC, with BBC1 being seen as a possible home. A non-broadcast pilot is being recorded on 2 June at Television Centre in West London.

Rastamouse has been added to the line-up of this year's Glastonbury. The children's TV character joins the Gruffalo and the Zingzillas on the Kidz Field during the festival at Worthy Farm from 22 to 26 June. 'Another superstar of the children's books/TV world has been added to the bill,' organisers confirmed. 'Rastamouse, the reggae-playing, crime-fighting mouse who's become something of a phenomenon since hitting TV screens at the beginning of this year, will make his worldwide live debut at this year's festival, with a daily performance alongside his Easy Crew.' Irie!

Photographer Tim Hetherington has been killed covering the escalating violence in the Libyan city of Misrata while three other western journalists have been injured. Hetherington, the British photographer and co-creator of Oscar-winning documentary Restrepo, was killed in Misrata on Wednesday. He is believed to be the first western journalist killed covering the Libyan conflict. Chris Hondros, a US Pulitzer prize-winner who works for Getty Images, and British photographer Guy Martin, who works for the Panos agency, were critically injured in the same incident, according to a New York Times report. The fourth photographer injured was reported by the New York Times to be Michael Christopher Brown, although his condition was not said to be life-threatening. Hetherington posted on Twitter on Tuesday: 'In besieged Libyan city of Misrata. Indiscriminate shelling by Qaddafi [sic] forces. No sign of NATO.' According to colleagues at the scene, Hetherington and Hondros were among a group of about eight or ten journalists reporting from the bridge on Tripoli Street in Misrata on Wednesday afternoon, regarded as the frontline between rebels and Gaddafi's forces. When shooting broke out, the group split in two. Hetherington's group of five journalists took shelter against a wall, which was then hit by mortar or RPG fire. Rushed to hospital, Hetherington died soon after arrival. Heavy explosions in Misrata continued into the evening. André Liohn, a colleague of the photographers who said he was at the hospital in Misrata where the photojournalists were taken, wrote on his Facebook page on Wednesday afternoon: 'Sad news Tim Hetherington died in Misrata now when covering the front line. Chris Hondros is in a serious status.' The death comes as foreign observers, including United Nations officials and press freedom bodies, voice growing concerns over violence against the media in Libya. Three journalists have now been killed in Libya since the conflict began in January. The al-Jazeera cameraman Ali Hassan al-Jaber was killed when fighters ambushed his car as he travelled to the eastern city of Benghazi on 12 March. Mohammad Nabbous, the Libya al-Hurra TV reporter, was killed in a firefight seven days later in Benghazi. The Committee to Protect Journalists said about ten journalists have been killed covering the Arab spring uprisings this year – out of fourteen deaths worldwide. The international criminal court warned Libyan authorities about the treatment of journalists in the country on Wednesday. Around sixteen journalists are missing in the country, according to ICC prosecutor José Luis Moreno Ocampo. The UN said on Wednesday that the Libyan government's reported use of cluster munitions and heavy weapons in Misrata may amount to war crimes, which the ICC has said it will investigate. Eight people, mostly civilians, were killed in the coastal city on Tuesday. Liverpool-born Hetherington won numerous awards for his coverage of conflict zones, including Afghanistan, Liberia, and Nigeria. His latest work, the war documentary following a platoon of US troops in Afghanistan, Restrepo, won the best documentary feature Oscar earlier this year. Hetherington co-directed Restrepo alongside journalist and author Sebastian Junger.

For the next Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day we have a Hellish depiction of Leeds City Centre just after the pubs have closed from The Jam. Sorry, I mean The Kaiser Chiefs.