Thursday, April 28, 2011

You May Find, From Time To Time, Complications

The BBC have revived their much-loathed animated linking trailers for early Saturday night programming which brought such abject howls of protest last year when one was used during the final few seconds of an episode of Doctor Who. You remember Dancing Graham Norton-gate, surely? In a - seemingly desperate - attempt to increase the flagging ratings of the disastrous Don't Scare the Hare and the only marginally less disastrous So You Think You Can Dance. Expect Doctor Who fandom to spontaneously explode with impotent fury at the very concept. If, on the other hand, an animated well-known horrorshow, faceache (and drag) Arlene Phillips waltzes across screen during injury time in Day Of The Moon, you will probably be able to hear the reaction on the moon. Laugh? Laugh? I nearly started.

The MasterChef final - won by Tim Anderson (see right) - served up a record performance, and it performed strongly against ITV's Champions League coverage of the El Classico clash between Real Madrid vs Barcelona. The finale of the popular BBC cookery show averaged an overnight audience of 5.92m across the 9pm hour with an audience peak of 7.12m (at 21:50). This compares to last year's final which had an overnight audience of 5.75m and a final consolidated figure of 6.13m. Excluding the final four episodes - for which final figures are not yet available - the current series has had an overnight average audience of 4.84m per episode, a healthy two hundred and seventy thousand viewers up on last year's consolidated series average. During the last series, only two episodes - the final two - broke the five million barrier. The current series - one which some dear blog readers may recall several national newspapers erroneously claimed had 'lost viewers' - had yet to see an episode fall below an audience of five million. (Last Wednesday's episode had an overnight audience of 4.55m and this Monday's of 4.71m but final figures for both will not be available until next week.) So, one imagines that the BBC will regard that as a very unqualified success. The Champions League semi-final averaged a very healthy 6.26m with a further forty seven thousand viewers watching later on ITV+1. The football's peak came at 21:30 with 7.78m watching.

Television is in danger of broadcasting programmes with 'too many male detectives' and 'too much crime,' according to the BBC1 controller, Danny Cohen. Insert your own Don't Scare the Hare joke here, dear blog reader. Discussing the decision to cancel BBC1's Rufus Sewell drama Zen two months ago, Cohen said: 'You can't keep on doing everything if you want to bring in new things. I felt that we risked having too many male detectives and arguably we have had maybe too much crime.' He went on: 'Detectives and crime is the real staple of quite a lot on the BBC but also a huge amount of ITV drama. I want to broaden the palette a bit.' Speaking at a Broadcasting Press Guild lunch in London, Cohen said: 'I want to broaden the range and make sure we have got enough that is not detectives and crime.' Cohen pointed out that BBC1 already has hit series Sherlock and Wallander, starring Kenneth Branagh, which is returning next year. Other BBC1 male detective dramas include Luther and George Gently, while ITV has Lewis, Midsomer Murders, DCI Banks and the recent well-received one-off drama The Suspicions of Mr Whicher. ITV is also due to broadcast new dramas starring female detectives – Vera and Case Sensitive. Recently the long-running Waking the Dead, starring Trevor Eve and Sue Johnston, came to an end on BBC1. A spin-off series called The Body Farm, centred on Tara FitzGerald's character Eve Lockhart, is currently in production that doesn't have Trevor Eve's massive pay demands to contend with. Following Life of Riley actor Caroline Quentin's recent call for Cohen to address the issue of more television roles for older actresses, the BBC1 controller said: 'I think we know there's more work to do there. It's not a BBC issue, it's an industry issue, we have to get better.' When asked why one of his channel's most famous faces, David Dimbleby, has yet to agree a new contract with the BBC, Cohen at first said that Dimbleby has signed up to host more editions of Question Time. However he then corrected himself and said a deal has not yet been done and that it is being dealt with by the BBC News director, Helen Boaden. Cohen said 'I want him to stay and do Question Time,' adding that part of the talks with Dimbleby include the veteran presenter doing a landmark series for BBC1 following the success of programmes such as Seven Ages of Britain. He went on to say that he sometimes wonders about 'the degree of scrutiny of the BBC' on a daily basis in newspapers and warned: 'Britain would be a poorer place without the BBC, we should be careful how far we kick it.' This blog, as you might have noticed, wonders about the degree of scrutiny on the BBC on a daily basis in newspapers also on a daily basis. And is appalled by its scum-sucking agenda-driven nature.

MTV have released the cast photos from the forthcoming horrorhow that is Geordie Shores. As you can see, they're a right intelligent looking bunch. Yer Keith Telly Topping probably went to school with a few of their dads, dear blog reader.

The text of the superinjunction obtained by the banker Sir Fred Goodwin has been handed to the Treasury select committee so that MPs can examine whether it 'raises public interest issues.' The latest manoeuvre by John Hemming, the Liberal Democrat MP for Birmingham Yardley, adds to growing political pressure for clearer regulation of the system of secretive court orders. Hemming has previously exploited parliamentary privilege to reveal the existence of the ban which, he said, prevented Goodwin, the former head of the Royal Bank of Scotland, from even 'being identified as a banker.' Once Hemming had done that then it allowed newspapers and other media outlets to report that he had done that without breaking the terms of the original injunction. Hemmings told the Gruniad that he had given the superinjunction to the committee in case its contents related to financial or public affairs. Goodwin, who presided over the near collapse of RBS, became popularly known as Fred the Shred through his costs and jobs cutting. He was forced to step down in 2008 as a non-negotiable condition of the bank's twenty billion pound bailout by the taxpayer. You know, taxpayers, dear blog reader. That's you and me. 'I can't tell you what's in the injunction,' explained Hemming. 'It will be up to the committee to consider whether there's a public interest in it or not. I believe it might be of public interest and they should have a look at it. They might decide to ask him questions or invite him to an "in camera" session. If they want, they can publish it.' Hemmings believes that superinjunctions are creating one law for the rich who want to suppress embarrassing allegations and another for the poor. He called on parliament to legislate about what constitutes an individual's right to privacy and where the media's right to freedom of expression begins. 'Parliament needs to give a clear line where that balance should be,' he said. 'We need statutory guidance for the judiciary. The judges have changed their interpretation of the law.' One judgment that may significantly shift the balance is the ruling, due to be released on 10 May, by the European court of human rights over the challenge brought by Max Mosley, the former Formula One Association president. Mosley, who successfully sued the News of the World in 2008 over a story detailing his various sexual activities, has argued that newspapers should notify people before stories are published about them. Robin Shaw, who represented Private Eye in the case that forced the BBC interviewer Andrew Marr to relax the terms of an injunction banning reporting of an extra-marital affair, said: 'The law is not unworkable at the moment but it's a bit uncertain. It would help to have more clarity and guidelines about when injunctions should be granted. If Mosley is successful then one of the nightmares is that it could cover anything.' Last week David Cameron accused judges of creating a privacy law and usurping parliament's legislating role. Asked whether the government would draft a privacy law, a Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: '[We] recognise the importance of finding the correct balance between individual rights to privacy on one hand with rights to freedom of expression and transparency of official information on the other. The government's proposed reforms of the law of defamation are one aspect of this balancing process. Another is the Master of the Rolls' committee to examine the use of superinjunctions and other issues relating to injunctions which bind the press.' The committee is due to report next month. 'The government will await the report from the Master of the Rolls Committee before deciding on next steps,' the MoJ said.

Meanwhile, former Big Brother contestant Imogen Thomas has said that she has been 'thrown to the lions' after an alleged affair with an alleged married footballer who may or may not play for a Premiership team which may or may not be situated in the North West of England. Or otherwise. Twenty eight year old Thomas spoke after the Premier League player - who may or may not be an international - obtained a so-called superinjuction in the so-called High Court preventing him being so-called. As it were. Or not. That's if he even exists. Which he might or might not, don't come to me looking for a short answer on that one. Although Louise Bagshawe, MP, apparently knows whom he is rumoured to be. Or, maybe not. Thomas told ITV's This Morning (which, tragically for everyone concerned, does exist) that she had 'no intention' of selling her story before she was warned about the ban. She didn't, however, say if that situation had now changed now as a result of the ban. Fighting back tears - which, like the footballer's identity, may or may not be real - she added: 'I just wish my name was protected. I didn't have fifty thousand pounds to get an injunction. I've been thrown to the lions and told to "deal with it."' Oh, so he plays for the Lions, does he? Hang on, Millwall aren't in the Premier League. Gosh, this is getting really confusing. 'I can't deal with it,' she continued. In which case, some might consider it rather odd that she chose not to deal with it by appearing on a national TV show to talk about her not dealing with the subject. Or not. 'I'm coping with a lot of stress and pressure on my head at the moment and this has just been such an awful experience for me.' But, enough about her time on Big Brother, what about the affair, you might be wondering?

On a more-or-less related subject, there's a very good piece by the Gruniad's Mark Lawson on the subject of TV and superinjections: 'This dynamic is particularly apparent on TV and radio programmes, where all those involved in discussions of injunctions could name the Mr Xs but aren't allowed to. And, although BBC lawyers muted the sound and slapped a black rectangle over the mouth of Louise Bagshawe MP when she hinted at the name of one court-protected footballer on last week's Have I Got News For You, those in the studio audience who didn't already know now do and will spread the name virally. The result is that news and comedy shows are now being watched by two audiences: the bewildered and the knowing, with the second group also enjoying the spectacle of contributors trying to refer to the unmentionable in code.'

The Syrian ambassador's invitation to Friday's royal wedding has been withdrawn. The decision to invite Dr Sami Khiyami had been criticised, amid condemnation of a violent crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in the country. Khiyami was summoned to the Foreign Office on Tuesday and told that the violence was 'completely unacceptable.' Well, that'll really show them murdering bastards in Damascus that we mean business. After this, presumably, the next step will be to stop selling arms to them - although, clearly, that's a last resort.

I'm indebted to the very excellent Svelte Kroton at the Gallifrey Base forum for the following piece of sage wisdom: 'BBC3 really need some better announcers. "We've got all the Indiana Jones films. Next up is Temple of Doom on Friday. That's the one with the big ball chasing him and the spikes coming out of the ground" Er, no, you're thinking of Raiders of the Lost Ark. You know, the film you're currently talking over the end credits of, you John-Williams-botherer!'

The BBC Trust has rejected two sets of viewer complaints from utter whinging malcontents who haven't got anything better to do with their, no doubt valuable, time about daytime programmes and one about a radio jingle. Daytime programming, please note. Haven't you people got jobs to go to? No, stupid question, really, I don't know why I asked really. One of the complaints concerned a one-finger gesture on Doctors, while the second argued a Countryfile item on microlighting – flying in very lightweight planes – 'legitimised a commercial business where that legitimacy was clearly uncertain, to the advantage of that business.' The radio complaint regarded a jingle on Radio Wales, which the viewer claimed gave the erroneous impression it was available on DAB. The Trust did not uphold any of the complaints. In the case of Doctors, it described the gesture as 'offhand rather than aggressive or explicit sexual innuendo,' adding it 'would not have exceeded audience expectations for the drama.' Regarding Countryfile, the body said the item was 'duly accurate and had been appropriately researched,' saying 'this was a light feature about an unusual sporting activity with the specific aim of promoting audience engagement in such activities.' In the case of the radio complaint, the Trust's committee concluded that the advert was 'not intending to mislead, but rather to offer options to listeners,' noting that 'such a short trail could not provide detail about differing availability and accessibility.'

Dermot O'Dreary has signed up to host The Marriage Ref. The new ITV show is based on a US series hosted by Jerry Seinfeld and sees a celebrity panel trying to resolve a married couple's arguments. Jo Brand was originally rumoured to be 'in the running' for the role but the Sun claims that O'Dreary has now signed a two hundred and fifty thousand knicker deal to front the programme. And, if it's as bad as it appears to be from the pre-publicity then Jo might just consider herself jolly lucky that she didn't get the gig. Just as Miranda Hart and Vernon Kay are probably down on their hands and knees thanking a diety of their choice that their participations in the pilots of Don't Scare the Hare and Sing if You Can, respectively, didn't lead to a permanent gig. 'It's a great show and the kind of thing I want to present because it's not your usual show,' O'Dreary claimed, although he might have been distracted by reading his cheque at the time. 'It's something I'd watch. I'd never do a game show. ITV have big plans for it, so fingers crossed.' Celebrities who have taken part in the show in the US include Madonna, Bette Midler and Demi Moore. It is not yet clear who would lower themselves to become involved with ITV's series but Jack Dee has been linked to a role on the panel. Oh Jack. I used to have so much respect for you, an'all.

Stephen Merchant has apologized after reportedly 'shunning' a place on a Walk Of Fame being installed in Bristol Zoo. The comic was one of fifty names chosen by the public – including Bill Bailey – to be immortalised on the memorial. But after zoo chiefs heard nothing back from repeated requests to use Merchant's name, they had to leave the last plaque empty. However it seems the message never got through to The Office co-creator – who only learned he had 'spurned' his home town when he got an call from his upset mum, who'd read about it in the local paper. 'I didn't know anything about it until my mum read [it] in the Evening Post,' he claimed. 'She was very upset about it because she is very proud of Bristol, as I am. When she rang I was a bit shocked and cross I had missed out. I really don't want people in Bristol thinking I have got too big for my boots. I am incredibly proud of my Bristol roots. Not only would I have been delighted to have a plaque at the zoo this year I'm angling eventually to have a statue of me next to Cary Grant in Millennium Square.' Merchant's name will now be added to the zoo wall sometime next year.

Tiger Aspect has won a trio of factual commissions including a series about the trials and tribulations of moving home and a legal series to help people resolve 'bitter, petty or outrageous disputes.' Channel Five has ordered the six part series The Removal Men, which follows crews from Pickford Removals as they transport families and businesses to new homes in the UK and abroad. Each episode will feature two stories and centre around recurring characters in the crews. Ordered by C5 head of factual Andrew O’Connell, The Removal Men will be executive produced by Tiger's Lionel Mill and series produced by Oliver Wilson. The company's factual team has also won two commissions from Channel Four. The first is a pilot for a new legal show, which Tiger hopes will be taken to series. Created with the working title On Your Case, the documentary features three top lawyers who help resolve disagreements. Tina Flintoff commissioned the show and Tiger's Jo McGrath will executive produce, with Anna Bonnaddio producing. Broadcast is to be confirmed, but McGrath said the team was 'very keen to get this out as quickly as possible.' She added: 'Legal formats are notoriously difficult to crack, but with cuts in the legal aid budget, this show is perfectly timed. Our three formidable lawyers will be faced with an array of emotional disputes, everyday consumer issues and unusual legal dilemmas. They'll be giving straight-talking advice and people won't always like what they hear.' C4 has also recommissioned Restoration Man, this time as an eight-part series, with six updates following. The series was ordered by Andrew Jackson, and McGrath and Mill will once again be involved. The series director is Emma Slack.

A statue of Les Dawson in his home town has had to go in for repair – after too many adoring fans hugged it. Ther adulation reportedly caused the memorial to wobble on his base – causing a potential health and safety issue. A council spokesman in Lytham St Annes said: 'People put their arms round Les to have their photos taken and they get scared when he moves. We have used cement to pack it up but a permanent repair is required.' Fittingly, the first attempt to take the memorial away for repair ended in farce. It was lifted into the air on a hoist, but then abandoned as it was too heavy for the van the workers had brought.

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has blamed 'powerful' television companies for the lack of a winter break in the English football schedule. The veteran miserable old Scotsman feels that a two-week break across all English competitions would give the soft-a-shite players 'a rest' and 'reduce the risk of minor injuries' to the big poufs later in the season, reports Metro. '[The winter break] is not just to give the players a rest, it is to get rid of all the little injuries they carry,' wninged Ferguson. 'It would also freshen everyone up mentally, including my staff because they could do with that break as well.' From you? That, I can believe. Despite a post-Christmas break being supported by current England boss Fabio Capello and other managers, Ferguson believes that there is little chance it will ever happen. He accused football's governing bodies of failing to take into account the views of players, coaches and clubs, claiming that this is an indication that 'TV has too much power.'

An unidentified man has urinated on around one hundred and ten packets of cough drops in a pharmacy. According to, the incident took place in a Walgreens store in Sanford, Florida at 10.30am last Thursday. After relieving himself and costing the drugstore an estimated three hundred dollars, the man tried to fill his prescription but didn't have the right paperwork. The mess was only discovered when an employee of the store went to re-stock the shelves and noticed a strong smell of urine. A customer expressed her disgust, saying: 'I hope [the police] find him. He's gross.' The man 'didn't appear to be drunk or intoxicated,' stated Sergeant David Morgernstern. 'I'm not sure what the problem is, but he does need something. He does need to go to jail for what he did. But he [also] needs some sort of help, because why would you urinate in Walgreens on cough drops?' Maybe he just, you know, really needed to go. or maybe the manager told him to piss off. So he did. Police have released CCTV footage of the incident in the hope that they can find the phantom slasher responsible before he strikes again.

For today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, we've got one of the greatest singles ever made from yer actual Jesus of Cool, Curtis Mayfield, dear blog reader. Bite yer lip, and take a trip.