Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Public Appearance of Bitter Ex-Soap Stars Who Thought They Could Do Other Things As Well!

The names of several Scum of the World journalists who ordered a private detective to hack into mobile phones belonging to six public figures will not be publicly disclosed after Scotland Yard allegedly intervened to prevent their publication. The names were passed to Steve Coogan on Friday by Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator who worked for the paper, in compliance with a high court order the actor obtained earlier this year. The names are critical to the phone-hacking investigation because they could show how far the practice was widespread at the paper, which was closed down by Rupert Murdoch last month, despite consistent denials from its owner News Group Newspapers. Coogan is one of several celebrities suing the paper for breach of privacy. The high court order instructed Mulcaire to reveal who at the paper asked him to illegally intercept messages left on mobile belonging to former model Elle Macpherson, publicist Max Clifford and four others. Mulcaire, who was employed exclusively by the Scum of the World, was also told to reveal who at the paper ordered him to target Liberal Democrat MP Simon Hughes, PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor, his colleague Jo Armstrong and football agent Sky Andrew. He was refused leave to appeal against the order earlier this month and handed over the names on Friday, the deadline set by the high court for making the information available. Law firm Schillings was contacted by Mulcaire's solicitor Sarah Webb of Payne Hicks Beach on Friday and asked not to make the names public. Webb said: 'The issues of confidentiality are of concern to the Metropolitan police and we asked Coogan's solicitors not to disclose the information until the Met could consider the matter.' She added: 'The issue is not that my client requires to keep matters confidential but rather that the police require him to. We were concerned that our [client] did not breach orders of the court in this respect. The Met are now dealing [with this] and there is nothing more I can add.' Similar high court orders have contained restrictions on publishing the names of Scum of the World journalists on the grounds that doing so could compromise Operation Weeting, Scotland Yard's ongoing investigation into phone hacking, by tipping off potential suspects. There appears to be some confusion over whether the order obtained by Coogan allows the names to be released, however. Sources 'close to the actor' allegedly insisted they can be identified. Mulcaire himself is also taking legal action against News International after it stopped paying his legal fees in July, claiming the company is contractually obliged to do so. Meanwhile, Coogan has also won a separate high court order to force Mulcaire to name the Scum of the World executives who ordered Mulcaire to hack into his own phone. Mulcaire is appealing against that order on the grounds that he would incriminate himself by complying with it because he would be confessing to a crime he has not been charged with or admitted to. Crucially, that defence is not available to him as regards Max Clifford, Elle Macpherson and the others, because Mulcaire already pleaded guilty to illegally intercepting messages left on their mobiles in the original 2007 phone-hacking court case, which resulted in his imprisonment. Mulcaire was jailed in January of that year along with the Scum of the World's former royal editor Clive Goodman.

Channel Four has dropped Ortis Deley as main presenter of its coverage of the world athletics championships following 'hundreds of complaints from viewers.' Deley, previously best known as one of the hosts of Channel Five's The Gadget Show, has struggled in the live presenting role and was described by Giles Smith, a critic at The Times, as wearing an 'expression that brings to mind furry creatures and headlamps.' Channel Four is broadcasting the championships for the first time – after twenty seven years with the BBC – and had promised a showcase for the broadcaster's 'innovative approach to live sport.' But the coverage has not gone down well with some viewers, the number of complaints said to be in the 'low hundreds' since the championships began on 27 August. Not all of the complaints related specifically to Deley, with viewers also unhappy that the coverage is interrupted by advertising having previously been on the commercial-free BBC, a fact that the broadcaster is unable to do anything about. Deley will remain with Channel Four's presenting team in Daegu, but will no longer be the main presenter. He has been replaced by Rick Edwards, who presented the channel's world athletics highlights programmes. Channel Four will be keen to get the tone of its athletics coverage right as it prepares to broadcast next year's Paralympics. It is due to broadcast around one hundred and fifty hours of live coverage from the games which, along with the Olympics, have been the domain of the BBC. Edwards, like Deley, does not have a background steeped in athletics. A former presenter of Channel Four's teen strand, T4, he hosted a show on London radio station Xfm. He also presents Channel Four's Paralympics preview show, That Paralympic Show. A Channel Four spokeswoman confirmed that Deley would 'no longer be lead presenter of its coverage' but said that he would remain part of the broadcaster's presenting team. 'Channel Four is committed to developing new presenting talent and this extends to our coverage of sporting events,' said the spokeswoman. 'Ortis Deley's role in Korea covering the world athletics has been scaled back but he will continue to be on air for the duration of the competition. In total we have a team of ten commentators covering this event from Michael Johnson and well-loved British athletes Dean Macey, Katharine Merry and Iwan Thomas to new presenters.'

ITV's controller Peter Fincham has insisted there will be no hosting changes on flop breakfast format Daybreak and that Adrian Chiles and Christine Bleakley's 'jobs are safe.' The former ONE Show duo have been at the centre of constant speculation about their roles on the show as the GMTV replacement has suffered in the ratings since its launch. However, when asked at the Edinburgh TV Festival if Chiles and Bleakley's jobs are safe, Fincham said: 'Yes, yes, yes. No ifs, no buts.' He commented: 'I'm not sitting here and saying from programme one Daybreak hasn't got anything wrong or has been the full and finished article.' No, indeed, because that would be ludicrous. 'It is a lot better in a sense than it is sometimes characterised.' No it isn't. 'It has improved and will continue to improve.' No it hasn't, and no it won't. 'Would I like Daybreak to evolve and broaden its audience? Yes, but a lot has gone on and a lot of work has gone on.' And, none of it has worked. So ... Commenting on Chiles's criticism of the breakfast flop's production, Fincham insisted that he respected the presenter's honesty and the fact that he 'speaks his mind.'

House's Peter Jacobson has dropped some hints about the future of his character Taub. In the medical drama's seventh season finale, Taub discovered that his ex-wife and his girlfriend were both pregnant with his offspring. Jacobson told TV Guide: 'They're not shying away from where we left off. I've got two kids running around, [and] I'm going to be involved with two women to some extent.' The actor also hinted that Taub could be appointed the new Dean of Medicine, taking over from the departed Cuddy. 'Taub is obviously a candidate,' he said. 'He knows his stuff and he certainly has the ego to pull it off. I think he would like it.' New House cast member Odette Annable recently insisted that her character Dr Adams is not intended as a replacement for Cuddy. House will return to FOX on 3 October.

Graham Linehan, the creator of The IT Crowd, Father Ted and Black Books, has said that the microblogging website Twitter has 'put television back in the crowd.' What a right load of old, utter cum - and from somebody whose opinions this blogger usually greatly respects an'all. Out of the five years that Twitter has been in operation, 2011 has possibly been its most newsworthy. From the Ryan Giggs superinjunction malarkey, to the Arab Spring and the clean-up operation after the UK riots, those one hundred and forty-character tweets have reflected - yet also genuinely shaped - global society, Linehan claims. More often, however, they've reflected the utter banal trivial that is most people's lives and made journalists astonishingly lazy when collecting running stories about 'the public's' reaction to TV shows or the death of well -known people. Why bother to ring people up for a quote, the reasoning seems to go, when you can just take the thoughts of some worthless glake with a screen-name like 'Sex Machine 843' to prove whatever point it is that you want to make? Hateful. Anyway, there were previously fears that social media networks such as Twitter and Facebook would eat into demand for television programmes, but all indications show that they are actually supporting the small screen in a number of allegedly 'interesting ways.' This is, of course, according to the Gruniad so it's probably some completely new use of the word 'interesting' that only applies to people in Islington to work in advertising. Speaking in a session titled The Only Way Is Twitter at this weekend's Edinburgh International Television Festival, Linehan said that the microblogging site has 'put TV back among its consumers.' He pointed to comments made by fellow comedy writer Richard Curtis about his experience in 1983 after the first series of The Black Adder aired on BBC1. As there was no way of knowing how popular the programme was, as TV ratings were not widely available at that time, Curtis admitted to wandering the streets of Shepherd's Bush peeking in people's windows to see if they were watching the Rowan Atkinson sitcom. Linehan, who describes Twitter as 'a party going on in the other room with the door just slightly ajar,' said that the site and other social networks have created more ways than ever for TV shows to get 'back in the crowd' with their viewers and truly engage with them. Among the social networks, Twitter is growing at the most aggressive rate, with twelve per cent of its users new to the service, compared to just one per cent for Facebook - although Twitter is growing from a much smaller user base compared with Facebook's around seven hundred million members worldwide. Many of Twitter's biggest users now have the reach and influence that marketing and PR agencies pay millions of pounds to secure. Stephen Fry has to contact companies in advance to warn them that he is going to link their website on Twitter so that they can back up their servers, as previous linking has led to websites collapsing in the digital stampede. Linehan, himself, who has one hundred and twenty five thousand Twitter followers, confesses to being 'a bit of a slut' on the site, shifting between issues ranging from UK politics, to comedy, to planets made of diamonds. However, he prefers not to talk too much about his own work, or use Twitter for the purposes of marketing, as he wants to keep it a 'pure' platform for him to reach 'likeminded people.' A video played at the session featured a range of other high profile figures discussing Twitter, including Lord John Prescott describing the site as 'the voice of the people - sometimes they are right, sometimes they are wrong.' The Only Way Is Essex's Mark Wright says that it is important not to make tweets too personal, adding, somewhat ironically, that 'you don't want everyone to know details of your private life.' Prime Minister David Cameron also warned that 'too many tweets might make a twat.' Bradford-born magician Dynamo joined Twitter around one and a half years ago, before he found fame via a hit magic series on pay-TV channel Watch. Dynamo has cleverly used the site to create a groundswell of support for his close-up magic, firstly to direct traffic to a range of videos on YouTube and then to point people to TV show, Dynamo: Magician Impossible. For Dynamo, the beauty of Twitter is the opportunity to engage with his fans so as to make them more committed to his magic, meaning when he suggests they should watch a video or an episode of the show, they are more likely to do so. He also said that Twitter can ensure fan support 'constantly builds' and doesn't 'fluctuate' as with more traditional promotion methods. During the session, Dynamo did a staggering card trick which involved the selection of a Twitter name at random provided by people in the auditorium, asking them to pick a card and then retrieving the very card from a sealed pack in his pocket. Magic? No. But certainly an immensely impressive union of entertainment and social media. However, Linehan warned those wishing to jump on the Twitter bandwagon that this particular social networking site is for life, not just when it suits you. The writer criticised TV stars, celebrities and politicians who amass lots of followers but hardly follow anyone else, saying: 'Twitter is a magic mirror, but some people use it just as a mirror.' He criticised the 'arrogance' of users who have no desire to even attempt to follow anyone else or show an interest in the lives of others, as this runs counter to what Twitter is supposed to be all about. Linehan has hired extras through Twitter for The IT Crowd and other shows, as well as scouted locations with help from his followers. He also follows doctors, police and other people working in public services, because he feels that their lives are incredibly fascinating and provide golden insights for a writer. But he also noted the unique possibilities of Twitter to spread misinformation. US comedy legend Steve Martin once likened the site to radio as it is 'so easy to create false reality.' With an Orson Welles-esque flourish, Linehan embarked on an ambitious spoof in May by claiming that when Osama Bin Laden was shot dead by US Navy SEALs in his one million pound compound in Pakistan, he was actually watching an episode of The IT Crowd. So, Linehan posed the question to his followers: 'Well, he was a monster, but was he all bad?' He kept the hoax going for three days, eventually admitting that Bin Laden had actually been watching The Big Bang Theory at his time of death, and so Linehan had 'returned to hating him.'

ITV has moved to play down speculation that it is to team up with Italian broadcaster Mediaset to purchase Endemol, the debt-ridden production company behind Big Brother and Deal or No Deal. In early trading on Wednesday, ITV's share price rose by around five per cent due to excitement on the markets about the prospects of the deal, which would involve the two firms creating a joint venture to buy Endemol. However, the share price slipped back to just above its previous closing level of 57.85p by lunchtime, after the commercial broadcaster failed to make an announcement to the stock market of its rumoured bid with Mediaset, as stipulated under the regulatory framework. Asked about the takeover reports, an ITV spokesman said: 'We do not comment on speculation.' Except if it involves who going to be on the judging panel on The X Factor, of course. Endemol, which is said to have a two billion Euro debt pile, helped score a moderate ratings success recently for noted soft-core pornographer Richard Desmond's Channel Five with the relaunch of Celebrity Big Brother. The company is jointly owned by Mediaset, Dutch investment group Cyrte, and Goldman Sachs Capital Partners. Talks are ongoing about a 'debt-for-equity' scheme for Endemol involving the three shareholders handing over some of their equity to lenders in exchange for reducing Endemol's loans. The Gruniad quoted an 'unnamed City source' (Manchester, Coventry or Norwich, they didn't say) with 'knowledge of the negotiations' as allegedly saying: 'Mediaset are thinking about all options, all of the players involved with Endemol are, but at this point any story about any deals are completely speculative as no agreement has been reached between any debt owners or equity structure. There may have been some contact, but there is no way it would be anything at all advanced. As I understand it the creditors are far from agreement.' Separately, Endemol co-founder John De Mol, who has links to shareholder Cryte Investments, could return as chief executive or executive chairman of the firm as part of a new link with his Talpa Media. Endemol is currently searching for a new chief executive to replace Ynon Kreiz, who left the company in June.

Daryl Hannah has been arrested outside the White House following a sit-in protest about the construction of gas pipelines. The Kill Bill actress was participating in the protest in Washington DC against the pipeline that would stretch from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. She initially refused to move, but later became much more cooperative after she was handcuffed and taken away, a police spokesperson told The Wrap. Hannah was released from custody after paying a one hundred dollar fine.

David Hasselhoff has allegedly been dropped from the Britain's Got Talent panel. The US actor joined the judging line-up this year, alongside Michael McIntyre and Amanda Holden. Although ratings remained strong for the ITV reality show, Hasselhoff's role came under scrutiny from the tabloids as they criticised the new-look panel for 'lacking chemistry.' Simon Cowell and ITV have apparently now decided to axe the Baywatch star because he 'lacked a connection with the acts,' reports the Sun. McIntyre and Holden are expected to remain for the 2012 series. Louis Walsh has previously been tipped to take over the Britain's Got Talent spot full-time after guest stints on the show in 2010 and earlier this year.

Doctor Who showrunner The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (Thou Shalt Worship No Otehr Gods But He) has insisted that he has 'no immediate plans' to leave the show. Moffat replaced Russell Davies as the show's head writer and executive producer in 2010 and also co-created the BBC's award-winning drama Sherlock. 'I haven't got any kind of plans to leave,' he told AOL TV. 'I take it one [season] at a time.' He described his role on Doctor Who as 'astonishing' and 'an incredible workload. To have that and to have Sherlock, yeah, it's savage,' he admitted. 'I'd like to get out before it kills me. But it's not killing me at the moment. I'm loving doing it, so I have no immediate plans to leave.' Moffat added that he wants to ensure Doctor Who is 'looked after' once he eventually departs. 'You don't want to be the last one [who works on it],' he said. 'I want it to go on and triumph long after I stop.'

A host of actors have been linked to the BBC's new series Titanic: Blood & Steel. These include Kevin Zegers and Chris Noth who are both said to be currently 'in talks' to appear in the drama, Deadline reports. The project focuses on the process of building the Titanic in Belfast. Zegers, who played Damian in Gossip Girl, is claimed to be in talks for the role of Mark Muir. Mark was a metallurgist who discovered that there may be problems in the metal being used to make the ship. Noth, whose credits include The Good Wife and Sex and the City, is expected to play the financier JP Morgan. Other stars linked to the project include Scream's Neve Campbell, who will play a reporter covering the Titanic and veteran actor Derek Jacobi, who will appear as the chairman of the company that built the vessel. ITV is also currently developing a drama about the Titanic, which is being penned by Downton Abbey scribe Lord Snooty Julian Fellowes and will star Linus Roache and Geraldine Somerville.

The Emperor penguin that ended up on a New Zealand beach is returning back to his native Antarctica. Named Happy Feet, the penguin was first found in June on the Kapiti Coast, located on the North Island of New Zealand. Happy Feet successfully underwent surgery on his stomach after he ate three kilograms of sand, apparently mistaking it for snow, reports the BBC. His recovery was complicated after falling ill, but he was eventually nursed back to health. The penguin had been staying at the Wellington Zoo, and a vet there said: 'Everyone's been really curious to see what happens. It was touch-and-go there for a while but he's doing really well now.' Happy Feet departed from New Zealand on Monday and is being carried on Tangaroa, a fisheries survey vessel, for four days. A tracking device has also been fitted on him.

The original recordings for The Beach Boys' legendary 'lost' LP SMiLE are to be released this autumn, forty four years after it was first due to come out. The SMiLE sessions were recorded over five months in 1966 and 1967, but the work was left unfinished after the group's co-founder Brian Wilson suffered a nervous breakdown. It would have been the follow-up to the group's 1966 masterpiece Pet Sounds, widely regarded as one of the greatest LPs ever made. The SMiLE sessions will be available from 31 October. The sessions were recorded in the autumn pf 1966 and early 1967. 'Cousin Brian was at his creative peak during those sessions,' said singer Mike Love, reversing decades of previous pronouncements that SMiLE was nothing but 'marijuana music' and criticised the 'meaningless' lyrics of co-writer Van Dyke Parks. 'I'm unaware of anything that comes close in pop music,' he continued. Brian Wilson's eccentricity during the recording sessions have gone down in music folklore. Four of the song were written inside an eighty-square foot sandbox in Wilson's living room, installed to 'recreate the feeling of being at the beach and the ocean.' For the song 'Vega-Tables' musicians harmonised on various foods, including a carrot munched on by - according to legend - by a visiting Paul McCartney (although Macca himself claims to have no memory of doing so). During 'Mrs O'Leary's Cow' - the 'Fire' part of a planned 'Elements' suite - Wilson set a studio bucket alight and sent out to a toy store for fire helmets for the orchestra to wear. The project was subsequently shelved amid Wilson's punishing work schedule and drug intake, inter-band bickering and friction between the group and their label. Some of the SMiLE songs - 'Good Vibrations', 'Wind Chimes', 'Cabinessence', 'Heroes and Villains', 'Surf's Up' - subsequently appeared in different forms on a variety of singles, later LPs and on bootleg recordings. In the 1990s a Beach Boys CD box-set contained approximately thirty minutes worth of SMiLE recordings and in 2004 Wilson with his backing band re-recorded the CD for a solo release and a following tour to great acclaim, but the original sessions in their entirety remained - tantalisingly - in the Capitol vaults. The forthcoming release will be 'an approximation of what was intended to be the completed SMiLE album,' EMI said. A box set will also include alternative takes, song drafts and studio snapshots.

For today's Keith Telly Topping's 33(s) - and one 45 - of the Day we have a short - but vital - tribute to the greatest living English poet, Nigel Blackwell of Half Man Half Biscuit. In any sort of ordered world, the bloke should be a household name - and probably Poet Laurette - instead of merely a cult legend to a few thousand dedicated fans, a name to be occasionally dropped by a few Gruniad journos or good old 'mega-fan' David Lloyd on Sky Sports. A band whose output has appeared on just one independent record label - Probe Plus - for over twenty five years and who, though they've never sold in anything even approaching great numbers, continue to be eagerly awaited by the cognoscenti. Here's five of their best (and trust me when I tell you dear blog reader, it could have been fifty of their best if I'd had all day!), Starting with Prag Vec at The Melkweg. yer actual Keith Telly Topping once passed through Dawlish on a train, dear blog reader. But if Nigel has asked me to go, I'd've gone.
My choice for favourite HMHB CD would probably be 1993's This Leaden Pall and, if I had to pick one desert island song from it, then it would be the stunning closer, 'Footprints.' Unfortunately, nobody's bothered to put that one up on You Tube it would seem, so we'll have to make do with Running Order Squabble Fest instead! 'You're goin' on after Crispy Ambulance!'
Actually you know, thinking about it, that desert island CD thing might be a bit more tricky when you consider the glories of Four Lads Who Shook the Wirrel - You're Hard, Turn a Blind Eye and, of course, A Country Practice.
And then, of course, there's Irk the Purists on Trouble over Bridgewater. Enough faffing, let's have Vatican Broadside!
And, we'll finish with what I think is still their only TV appearance, on Whistle Test in 1986. And, what remains their best known song. Not undeservedly either. Masterpiece.
Ah, bugger it, let's have another one! Mate of the Bloke off Achtung Bono should do.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Water Froze, In The Generations

Metro's Keith Watson, is - as previously mentioned on several occasions - a particular favourite TV reviewer of yer actual Keith Telly Topping. And, he has been on fine form this weekend. Take, for instance, his review of BBC2's superb espionage thriller Page Eight on Sunday: 'We've become so accustomed to the world of spies and special agents being glamorised in adrenalin-charged, cloak-and-dagger thrillers that the stately, almost dusty feel of Page Eight came as something of a shock. Playwright David Hare's return to the director's chair gave us a whispering-in-the-shadows throwback to the conspiratorial style of the 1970s TV version of John Le Carré's novel Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, a benchmark of simmering paranoia. Not that Hare, doubling up as writer, was harking back to the past. Although there was a timeless feel to the cut-glass accents jousting with the cut-and-thrust dialogue in murky corridors of power, Hare's focus was the shifting sands the intelligence services find themselves wading in as the world hurtles through changes – technological and political – at breakneck pace. At the centre was Bill Nighy's Johnny Worricker, a sophisticated MI5 man from the old school who still believes in the purity of intelligence. But Johnny senses the rules of the game he's been playing all his life are changing, a feeling confirmed when he unearths proof – on page eight of a secret dossier – that the government has been complicit in torture. But though it was this plot line that gave Page Eight its framework, it was the lingering sense of melancholic regret for the passing of a world where everyone knew where they stood that gave Hare's film its emotional undertow. Nighy's exchanges with his boss, Michael Gambon, a man edging near to the end of the tether, were a joy. But there were some off-key notes in this jazz-flecked tale. Johnny's involvement with neighbour Nancy (Rachel Weisz) seemed two-dimensional, more a tongue-in-cheek play on Nighy's older-man heart-throb status than a credible relationship. And the momentum of the story ebbed and flowed, dramatic impetus playing second fiddle to riddles of words laced with eloquent cynicism. Yet, as Johnny edged his way towards making peace with his own sense of integrity, Page Eight emerged as an offbeat plea for the virtue of honesty in a world where the concept has all but lost its meaning.' And, as if that wasn't perceptive enough from yer man Watson, he got Saturday's Doctor Who spot on as well: 'You know that things can only go well for The Doctor and his pals when a feisty young girl, who seems to be turned on by the TARDIS, appears on the scene. Especially when she says things like: "What the hell: I've got a gun, you've got a time machine - let's kill Hitler." Doctor Who returned for the second part of its sixth series with all guns blazing, as new character Mels entered the Timelord's life and forced him to take her, Amy and Rory back to 1938 so that they could kill the Fuhrer. Even with a new face on board, the trio were up to their same old haphazard tricks, clumsily arriving at the Reichstag to kill Hitler, but accidentally saving him from an assassination attempt by another group of futuristic do-gooders. It was a stormer of an episode, in part because it featured Hitler - who is everyone's favourite baddy - and Nazism, which is surely the most intriguing of all the hyper-evil ideologies human kind has come up with. But mostly what made Let's Kill Hitler a great episode were the same things that make most Doctor Who episodes great - the compelling narrative; the brilliant jokes hidden in throwaway bits of dialogue and the endearing incompetence of the BBC's special effects department. As The Doctor tried to teach Mels that most cardinal of all time-travel rules - that sometimes it's best not to change the course of history - Let's Kill Hitler proved to be a cracking way to reignite this series of Doctor Who.' Top man, Keith Watson, top man.

On a marginally related subject, Doctor Who viewers have, allegedly, 'complained to the BBC' after believing they heard a German guard swear on Saturday's episode. At least, this is according to the Sun, so that probably gives you an idea of how many viewers allegedly 'reported that one of the soldiers, an extra, shouted: "Where the fuck is he?" on the Let's Kill Hitler episode' dear blog reader. Think of a number between none and, you know, none. 'Corporation bosses', the tabloid rag - one that knows all about Nazis - went to on claim, had insisted that these mysterious and nameless (and seemingly Mutton-Jeff) viewers had 'misheard' a German phrase which was dubbed in after filming had finished. A spokesman explained that the spoken phrase was actually: 'Halt, was machen sie?' meaning, 'Stop, what are you doing?'

Mind you, if you want to see an even more disgraceful example of tabloid lies, dear blog reader, I direct you to those past masters of the dark art of 'talking total bollocks,' the Daily Lies and their quoting of 'ratings figures' for Celebrity Big Brother. 'Celebrity Big Brother has proved a massive telly hit. More than eighteen million fans have tuned in so far,' they claim. Err ... yes. If you add together the entire audiences for the first seven episodes and assume that not one those viewers watched more than one episode, then that's - technically - a truthful statement. Otherwise, we'll stick to the slightly less contentious fact that - on overnight figures anyway - the average nightly audience for CBB is about 2.8m. Not bad for Channel Five, certainly well-above slot average, but not eighteen million. Or anywhere even remotely close to it.

BBC1 comedy has become so governed by political correctness that programmes like The Two Ronnies would be unlikely to get made today, according to a leading producer. John Lloyd, creator of the panel show Qi, said that executives were so terrified of causing offence that 'saucy' banter was banished from the flagship channel before the watershed. Lloyd expressed relief that the show is leaving BBC1 and returning to its original home on BBC2 for its latest - ninth - series which begins a week on Friday. Even though that will almost certainly lead to a drop in viewing figures. 'Sauciness is no longer allowed before 9pm anywhere on the BBC - particularly not on BBC1,' said Lloyd, writing in Radio Times. 'The Commissioning, Legal, Compliance and Editorial Policy police hover over the scripts and the recordings, alert to the merest potential offence. There are blanket proscriptions, passed down from on high, which reduce everything to a bland vichyssoise that suits comedy programmes not at all. Heaven knows what they would have done to The Two Ronnies.' And, of course, the irony here is that Lloyd's comments have - inevitably - been picked up and used as a stick to beat the BBC with (in the completely non-agenda-driven away) by, for example, the Daily Torygraph and the Daily Scum Mail two of the very organs of the media that so enjoy printing critical stories about anything related to BBC content. So, no obvious and quite staggering hypocrisy there then. Qi, of course, began in 2003 and proved to be one of BBC2's biggest ratings winners with regular audiences around two and a half million. That success prompted executives to move it to BBC1 in 2008 where it proved to be even more popular - it's average audience being usually around four million with certain episodes (Christmas specials and the like) picking up nearly six million. However, Lloyd lamented: 'Our relocation to BBC1 increased ratings, but there was a cost. It had to stop being what we had become - eclectic, uncompromising, slightly saucy. It's a happy return. Qi can be itself again, instead of masquerading as something else.' Lloyd, fifty nine, began his career as a radio producer before into television. His CV boasts Not The Nine O'Clock News, Spitting Image and Blackadder. He said: 'The BBC that I joined in 1974 was very different. Focus groups were confined to the advertising industry. Producers were hired, not so much for their talent - the writers and actors did that bit - as for their judgment. If anyone complained, it was the producer - not the Complaints Department - who wrote to the enraged member of the public. Believe me, that way, you learn fast what the audience will and won't accept.'

Top Twenty programmes week ending 21 August 2011:-
1 The X Factor - ITV Sat- 11.05m
2 New Tricks - BBC1 Mon - 9.87m
3 EastEnders - BBC1 Mon - 8.60m
4 Coronation Street - ITV Mon - 8.36m
5 Who Do You Think You Are? - BBC1 Wed - 7.00m
6 Emmerdale - ITV Mon - 6.79m
7 Countryfile - BBC1 Sun - 6.23m
8 DIY SOS: The Big Build - BBC1 Tues - 5.91m
9 Ten O'Clock News - BBC1 Mon - 5.68m
10 All Star Family Fortunes - ITV Sat - 5.61m
11 Ocean Giants - BBC1 Sun - 5.56m
12 Holby City - BBC1 Tues - 5.15m
13 Casualty - BBC1 Sat - 5.13m
14 BBC News - BBC1 Sun - 4.96m
15 Torchwood: Miracle Day - BBC1 Thurs - 4.60m
16 Six O'Clock News - BBC1 Mon - 4.59m
17 Britain's Hidden Heritage - BBC1 Sun - 4.58m
18 Match Of The Day - BBC1 Sat - 4.34m
19 The ONE Show - BBC1 Mon - 4.28m
20 Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? - ITV Sun - 4.24m
According to BARB there is no data available for Channel Five for this particular week. Given that the opening episode of Celebrity Big Brother had an overnight audience of 5.1m it's likely that it would have featured in the top twenty had figures been available. (It's worth remembering that overnight ratings figures use a slightly smaller sample of the audience than the final consolidated figures. For that reason it is possible for the final ratings figure to actually be lower than the overnights. This rarely happens because any discrepancy is usually cancelled out by timeshifting. However for live events, which people are unlikely to record, the final figure can sometime be lower than the overnight figure.) The top BBC2 performers were Dragons' Den (3.72m) and The Great British Bake Off (3.10m). Channel Four's best audience came for Seven Dwarves (2.89m).

The woman who has accused the actor Matthew Fox of attacking her has revealed that she is 'definitely' pressing charges. Cleveland party bus driver Heather Bormann, who has previously claimed that Lost actor Fox assaulted her outside an Ohio bar at the weekend, said that he smelled 'like a bar' at the time of the alleged attack. Bormann told TMZ in a video interview: 'I told him several times that he was trespassing, that it was a private party. He never said a word to me, he just stood there staring at me. He was inebriated and the smell of him was like a bar. After the third time I told him to get off my bus, he just stepped in for a right hook to my pelvis area and started wailing on me like I was a man. I had no idea who he was at the time. I did not know until after he was in custody. I'm pressing charges. Assault is wrong, I really do feel violated. He was hitting me in places I didn't think anybody would hit me. My breast area, my pelvis area.' Bormann continued: 'I just started punching him back. The first hit landed on his jaw. It happened so quickly - at least I got that one good hit [but] I ended up messing up my hand. I have bruises on my arms, my legs, my hands.' Bormann has said that she will meet with lawyers this week to officially press charges.

Jason Dohring has signed up for a recurring role in Ringer. The new CW drama stars Sarah Michelle Gellar as Bridget, a woman on the run who assumes the identity of her twin sister Siobhan. Dohring has now joined the cast as a character called Carpenter, Entertainment Weekly reports. Carpenter teaches at the school attended by Siobhan's stepdaughter Juliet (played by Zoey Deutch). Dohring is probably best known for his role as Logan in Veronica Mars. He also appeared in Moonlight and has guest starred in shows including Lie To Me, CSI, Party Down and Boston Legal. Billy Miller, Michelle Stafford, Justin Bruening, Ioan Gruffudd, Jaime Murray, Kristoffer Polaha and Nestor Carbonell are among the other stars who will appear in Ringer. Gellar recently revealed that three seasons of the show have already been planned out.

The British Film Institute is to preview the final series of The Sarah Jane Adventures with an special family exclusive screening of the first story followed by a question and answer session. The final six episodes of the series, made before the tragic death of series star Elisabeth Sladen, are due to be shown on CBBC this Autumn. In the first adventure, Sky, Sarah Jane discovers a mystery baby on her doorstep. But with explosions, power surges and reports of a metal man falling from the sky, Sarah Jane is convinced that there's more to the baby than there first seemed. The screening on 16 September at 6:30pm is a family event, so all adults must be accompanied by children. If you haven't got one of your own, try to borrow someone elses.

Jeff Stelling will leave Countdown at the end of the year, a 'show insider' has allegedly claimed. The Sky Sports broadcaster, who has hosted the long-running Channel Four game show since January 2009, was said to have had a change of heart last month. However, channel controller Jay Hunt is keen to bring in a new face following a flurry of e-mails and letters from other presenters who are interested in the job, according to the Mirra. A 'source' allegedly told the paper: 'Jeff really hoped to stay on Countdown. He loves doing the show and felt he could have made a mistake by quitting. But we felt he messed us around a bit. Jay was considering keeping him but saw the wave of e-mails from talent and agents asking to do the job. So she stood her ground and has decided it is time for a change.' The 'insider' allegedly added that Stelling was believed to be unhappy about the decision, but said: 'perhaps he should have thought about that when he originally quit, out of the blue.' It is thought, the newspaper claims, that 'channel bosses' may consider an all-female line-up for the programme. Co-host Rachel Riley, who replaced Carol Vorderman in 2009, will reportedly stay with the programme for at least another year.

Cheryl Cole is on the verge of signing a deal to front a number of ITV shows, reports claim. Which would be curious since she can barely talk English at the best of times. The singer - formerly a judge on ITV's The X Factor before her proposed move to the US show ended in spectacular failure - will 'turn to being a presenter in a primetime chat show,' according to the People. The Girls Aloud singer and Heaton Horror was, allegedly, offered deals with other major broadcasters including the BBC and Sky, but chose to stick with ITV despite her X Factor dumping experience. A 'source' - presumably a different one to the geezer telling all the tales about Jeff Stelling to the Mirra - allegedly said: 'Cheryl's been inundated with offers but knows ITV and its staff from her X Factor days so has gone with them. The exact contract details are to be thrashed out, but Cheryl is determined to take a well-deserved break until next year.' Yeah, she must be knackered what with all the work she's been doing for the last few ... oh. Cole, who is rumoured to be returning to The X Factor in 'a mentor capacity' later this year, has apparently already agreed to appear in an Evening With ... special.
Rupert Murdoch and his son James Murdoch the small are reportedly to be quizzed under oath by a judge at the High Court about the phone hacking scandal at the Scum of the World, and the session could potentially be broadcast live to the public. Hopefully, the subsequent execution will be too. Lord Justice Leveson, the judge who prosecuted serial killer Rose West, has been asked by Prime Minister David Cameron to run his investigation into phone hacking at the Royal Courts of Justice. The Murdochs are expected to be called to give evidence, as well as former Scum of the World editors Andy Coulson and well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks. The wide-ranging probe is also likely to result in Cameron and other senior political figures being questioned about their connections to News International, publisher of the now-defunct Scum of the World. Cameron will, hopefully, face some uncomfortable questions about the decision to hire Coulson as his director of communications, particularly after details recently emerged of alleged payments made to Coulson by News International after he started working for the Conservative Party. Lord Justice Leveson is thought to want the proceedings, which will be held in the same court as the inquiry into the death of Princess Diana, to be televised live to 'ensure transparency.' Under the inquiry remit, he has the power to call witnesses to give evidence and then compel them under the Inquiries Act 2005. According to the Daily Torygraph, 'dozens of letters' have already been sent out to potential witnesses asking to them co-operate in the inquiry, with the deadline for submissions being Tuesday. 'Sources close to the inquiry' allegedly told the newspaper that Leveson would not be restricted in who he asked to testify, and 'will go where the evidence takes him.' That was a single by Tina Charles, wasn't it? Alongside his day in the High Court, James Murdoch is also 'likely' to be recalled by the Commons culture, media and sport select committee to clarify potentially misleading evidence he gave to the MPs in July.

The BBC has confirmed plans to offer coverage of the London 2012 Olympics in Super Hi-Vision, a broadcast technology sixteen-times sharper than normal high definition, while an announcement on live 3D is expected by the end of the year. The BBC's Olympics boss Roger Mosey this week announced that Super Hi-Vision coverage of the Olympics will be shown on three specialist screens during the seventeen-day Games, with the locations expected to be London, Bradford and Glasgow. The initiative is part of a partnership with Japanese public service broadcaster NHK and the available content is expected to be highlights of the opening ceremony and some live coverage of events. The six hundred-inch screens (around fifty feet) capable of showing Super Hi-Vision are being specially produced in Japan. The broadcast will not be beamed to homes as there are no TV sets in the UK that can support the 4320x7680 pixel signal, as current 'full HD' sets only display 1080x1920 pixels. The transmission will run at sixty frames per second, but Super Hi-Vision could operate at up to double that. Last September, the BBC teamed up with NHK to broadcast a gig by The Charlatans in Super Hi-Vision between London and Tokyo, the corporation's first ever live transmission using the technology. NHK has worked with the BBC to compress the massive video signals for Super Hi-Vision to three hundred and fifty Mbps using the JANET network, down from the usual transmission rate of twenty four Gbs leading to one gerjillion snots of memory. Or something. The BBC believes that Super Hi-Vision could be 'a better long-term prospect' than 3D, but that would depend on bringing down the currently massive cost of producing sets that can handle the signal, along with the heavy bandwidth requirements of the broadcasts. NHK expects to offer Super Hi-Vision to homes in Japan by 2022. Over the years, the Olympics has proved a breeding ground for new broadcast technologies, from the first televised events - by the Nazis, admittedly - at the 1936 games to the first live broadcasts by the BBC for the 1948 Games to HD captures in Los Angeles in 1984 and 3D in Barcelona in 1992. Alongside Super Hi-Vision, Mosey confirmed that the BBC has a 'long-term aspiration' to broadcast live 3D coverage of London 2012, following the 3D transmission of this year's Wimbledon Finals. He said that the BBC is aware that there is 'a trade off' between serving the mainstream need for high definition coverage of the Games and the 'minority' interest in 3D. Only one hundred and forty thousand people watched the 3D coverage of the men's Wimbledon final last month on the BBC HD channel, suggesting that the appetite for sport in 3D remains relatively small. However, Mosey expects that the BBC will offer 'some' 3D coverage of the Games next year, and further announcements are likely to come 'by the end of the year.' The Olympics in London coincide with various momentous moments for Britain in 2012, including the Diamond Jubilee and the shift from analogue to digital TV signals in the capital. For the London 2012 Games, the BBC has committed to broadcasting all the events 'from first thing in the morning to last thing at night.' This means bringing masses of content to four screens - TVs, connected TVs/Red Button, mobiles and tablet computers - to allow viewers to 'watch what they want, when they want.' There will be twenty four live streams during the Games showing a range of events online, to smartphones and tablet computers using a new carousel-style, video-rich website.

For today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day here's a topical state of the national address from Mssrs Strummer, Jones, Simonen and Headon (or, Crimes on this performance. Or, indeed, Pete Howard on this one!)

Monday, August 29, 2011

Describe An Arc Of Your Own

After the high of Saturday night's ten million plus audience for The X Factor it was back down to earth with an undignified muffled crunch for ITV twenty four hours later. Their Sunday evening schedule of Joanna Lumley's Nile (1.7m), David Jason's Great Escape (2.1m) and the final episode of Penn & Teller: Fool Us (1.9m) gave the channel an overnight primetime audience share of just 8.2 per cent, their lowest ever. (The channel's previous lowest was 9.5 per cent in August 2009.) Ironically, crowned earlier that day as 'Channel of the Year' at the Edinburgh International TV Festival, the brighter side had the fourth highest primetime audience share for the night out of the five main channels, only managing to beat Channel Five and being outperformed by both BBC2 and Channel Four. Frankly, the forthcoming Red Or Black?, Sunday night X Factor episodes, and the returns of Downton Abbey and Doc Martin can't come quickly enough for ITV. By contrast, it was a terrific night for BBC2 - even with Top Gear having finished its summer run. Dragons' Den pulled in 2.83m and the much-trailed - and excellent - David Hare drama Page Eight getting a whopping 3.9m. The channel's total primetime audience share was just over twelve per cent. Channel Four also scored well in the nine o'clock slot with their premier of the movie Rush Hour III getting 1.86m. Their primetime audience share was 10.2 per cent. BBC1 won the night easily with Britain's Hidden Heritage (4.28m), Countryfile (5.62m the highest audience of the night), Ocean Giants (4.08m) and Match of the Day (4.1m, with an audience peak of 5.1m in the first half-hour watching The Scum being The Shit 8-2). On Channel Five, Celebrity Big Brother was the only programme to top two million viewers (2.08m). Given that Countryfile's five and a half million was the highest rated show of the night, that certainly puts The X Factor and Doctor Who's overnights from the evening before into sharp perspective.

Doctor Who's Matt Smith hopes that a future episode will be filmed in 3D. The actor said that the fiftieth anniversary of the popular family SF drama, which he previously emphasised should be 'an event,' could be the perfect opportunity. Speaking to Bang Showbiz, Smith revealed: 'I'm interested in all the 3D stuff. If it could be filmed for 3D TV that would be fun, especially with Doctor Who. 'I love making Doctor Who and I get to be part of that fiftieth year which they'll do something mental for. You know it will be brilliant.' However, Smith admitted that the BBC may not have the budget to screen a 3D special, cautiously adding: 'But it's very expensive. I don't know how they'd do it.' The twenty eight-year-old actor also admitted that he is unaware of how the next series of Doctor Who will be scheduled. Smith explained: 'For me, it's just that I know that I'm going to shoot fourteen episodes, of which I'll be in all of them. How they'll actually schedule it, I don't know. But all I know is that we start in February.' Showrunner The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat recently attempted to clear up confusion sparked by BBC1 controller Danny Cohen in June over whether or the drama will be broadcast next year. Last week, Moffat revealed that Doctor Who would be shown 'later' in 2012, and insisted that rumours of a reduction in the number of episodes per series were untrue.

The football pundit Tony Cascarino has, reportedly, sparked 'outrage' by describing a player as having 'a holocaust' of a game. At least, on Twitter if not actually anywhere that actually matters. Cascarino made the comment on Sky Sports News during Manchester United's game against Arsenal, which saw the North London team soundly beaten 8-2. Which was, of course, funny. Discussing the defender Armand Traoré's performance on the pitch, Cascarino said: 'Poor Traoré at right-back is having a holocaust because he's finding himself against Nani, who's literally running him from everywhere and Arshavin's just not tracking his runners.' Angry fans immediately responded to his comment on Twitter. because, of course, as we all know, Twitter is now the arbiter of the worth or otherwise of all things. At least, according to some pondscum newspaper reporters who seemingly can't be bothered to get off their arses and actually do some real reporting but rather sit in their office scanning the Internet for stuff that makes half-a-dozen cretins irate to create their next 'Shock! Horror! Pictures!' story. One Twatterer - or whatever it is that these people are called - wrote: 'Tony Cascarino should be sacked on the spot. He said an Arsenal defender was having a "holocaust." Appallingly ignorant.' Another social networker added: 'I can't believe he said that!' A third observed: 'Looks like Tony Cascarino could be the next ex-pro on the persona non-gratis [sic] list after that on air comment.' Err, I think you mean non-grata there, matey. Never use Latin on the Internet unless you know what you're doing, or it'll just end in tears. A clip of the incident, broadcast during the Old Trafford match, of course, quickly appeared on YouTube. Another micro-blogger branded the comment 'horrendous,' adding: 'I hope Tony Cascarino is dealt with appropriately.' But, what is 'appropriate' in this case, young man? Having his 'nads smeared in pear juice and then let loose the bees? Sky Sports News said that the presenter Natalie Sawyer - who can, apparently, walk in a straight line and talk at the same time - had apologised straightaway for Cascarino's remarks. Which she did indeed, although with a look on her face like she'd just shat herself. It added in a statement: 'Tony Cascarino made his comments in the heat of the moment. An immediate apology on behalf of Tony and Sky Sports was made on air as soon as possible for any offence caused.' As well as being a Sky Sports pundit the forty eight-year-old former Chelsea and Republic of Ireland striker has written for The Times and presented for talksport radio.

Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and DB Weiss have claimed that they do not worry about upsetting fans. Expect someone to start whinging about that on a Twitter near you anytime soon, dear blog reader. In a joint interview with Deadline, the pair insisted that they are 'more concerned with making a good show' than satisfying fans of George RR Martin's original novels. 'As far as pressure goes, we put our careers on the line with this series,' they said. 'After nearly six years invested, if the show had failed we would have thrown away a hefty portion of our working lives.' Benioff and Weiss also suggested that Game of Thrones appeals to viewers who were not previously interested in fantasy. 'You meet and hear about people who haven't engaged with the genre in the past who love the show,' they said. 'That is hugely gratifying.' Asked to pitch the HBO drama's upcoming second season, they spoke of: 'More characters. More locations. More dragons. Less sleep. Less Ned. Less frequent bowel movements.' Game of Thrones will add a number of new actors to its cast next season, including Natalie Dormer, Gwendoline Christie, Carice van Houten, Stephen Dillane, Liam Cunningham, Gemma Whelan, Ben Crompton and Nonso Anozie. Tom Wlaschiha, Roy Dotrice, Hannah Murray, Robert Pugh, Michael McElhatton, Patrick Malahide and Salladhor Saan are among the other actors confirmed to appear on the show.

Sky News foreign correspondent Alex Crawford has fiercely defended the organisation's editorial independence while recounting her experiences of reporting from Libya. During a session at the Edinburgh International Television Festival, chair Jon Sopel appeared to suggest that Crawford and her colleagues were 'Murdoch reporters' as he prefaced a question on the phone-hacking scandal. But the Sky correspondent, speaking via a live satellite link from Tripoli, rejected the idea out of hand. She responded robustly: 'We do not consider ourselves Murdoch journalists. We are an independent news organisation, there is no Murdoch influence.' Which is a very interesting thing to say about the people who pay your wages. Crawford added that she had only met Rupert Murdoch once and she 'accused him of nepotism' for appointing his son James as the chairman of BSkyB. The correspondent spoke candidly about her experiences of reporting from the frontline in Libya and, particularly, on her rival-beating account of the rebel assault on Tripoli last week. Asked why Sky News sometimes trumps competitors - including the BBC and ITN - to the punch, she said that the organisation is 'very small' with a 'flat hierarchy' meaning that decisions are made quickly. 'We started off as rebels in the industry. We have a "we'll prove them all wrong" approach to our work,' Crawford explained. But she also opined the values of securing a story that 'can change lives' and revealed that sometimes 'the normal rules of engagement' are dropped and the 'fiercely competitive' news organisations help each other out. Crawford gave the example of how ITV News' international editor Bill Neely helped her 'smuggle' tapes out of Zawiya by texting the location of tanks on the route out of the city. She also spoke about being a woman and a mother in the industry and admitted this had been a disadvantage when trying to become a foreign reporter. 'I got a lot of comment and a lot of criticism when I went to meet the Taliban and it's insulting. There are dangers everywhere,' she said.

Absolutely Fabulous will celebrate its twentieth anniversary with three specials on BBC1, it has been announced. Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley will return to their roles as international PR guru Edina Monsoon and sex-crazed magazine editor Patsy Stone in the award-winning sitcom. Original cast members Julia Sawalha, June Whitfield and Jane Horrocks will also star in the three thirty minute episodes. Absolutely Fabulous was first broadcast in 1991 and finished with a special episode entitled White Box in 2004. The new specials will be set in the present day, where Eddy and Patsy are still working in the PR and magazine businesses. In the first episode, fans will 'rejoin the beloved ensemble in the midst of a life-changing experience for one,' while the final third episode will feature Eddy and Patsy's own special influence on the London 2012 Olympics. 'It's great that we are able to celebrate our twentieth birthday with all the original cast. Like a good bottle of champagne we hope that we have got better with time without losing any of our sparkle,' said Saunders. 'Last week when we started filming in dear old West London, it was as if nothing had changed. It was raining. Nevertheless, we are so happy to be working for an audience that has grown just a tiny bit older like us, but is still willing to let us fall over on TV in the name of PR.' BBC Comedy executive producer Jon Plowman added: 'Viewers have been fantastically loyal in their devotion to our show, so we're really thrilled to say that it's coming back for three new shows to celebrate our twentieth anniversary. All of the originals who are back together again are still truly absolutely fabulous and the new adventures of Edina, Patsy, Saffy, Bubble and Mother, plus a few surprising guests, will be a real treat for viewers.'

More Comic Strip Presents… episodes are in the pipeline following the revival of the comedy brand for a new Tony Blair spoof. Delegates at the Edinburgh International Television Festival this weekend were given a sneak peak at the new Channel Four film The Hunt For Tony Blair, which reunites the team for the first time in six years. But writer Peter Richardson revealed that other films were in the pipeline, saying: 'I think we're already planning more stuff for Channel Four.' The next will see a return to the Enid Blyton spoof which launched the series on Channel Four's opening night in 1982. Richardson said: 'I think we're already planning more stuff for Channel Four. Five Go To Rehab, we've already started working on. The Famous Five thirty years later. They all bump into each other and think it's a hotel. That will just be a one-off.' The sixty-minute Hunt For Tony Blair will star Stephen Mangan as the former Prime Minster, a deranged serial killer on the run who is seduced by Lady Thatcher. A host of Comic Strip regulars play political figures including Jennifer Saunders as Thatcher in the style of Bette Davies in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane. Nigel Planer is said to steal the film as a vampiric Peter Mandelson while the cast also includes Harry Enfield as Alistair Campbell, Still Game's Ford Kiernan as Gordon Brown and Morgana Robinson as Carol Caplin. An important last-minute edit to The Hunt for Tony Blair, is rumoured to be nothing to do with any legal issues – at least 'not yet,' according to Richardson – but rather the spelling of Gordon Brown's Scottish constituency of Kirkcaldy, which appears in the comedy's joke postscript. 'You've spelt it wrong,' Newsnight presenter Kirsty Wark told Richardson on the way out of its world premiere in Edinburgh. Other than that, it was entirely accurate.

Malcolm McDowall has reportedly joined the cast of Syfy's upcoming remake of the science fiction classic The Philadelphia Experiment. The network have ordered a remake of the 1984 original film, about the mythical World War II-era US Navy experiment which rendered an entire ship invisible. Entertainment Weekly reports that the Clockwork Orange star has been cast in the role of the scientist who originated the experiment. McDowall will be joined by Kyle XY actor Nicolas Lea, Sanctuary stars Ryan Robbins and Emilie Ullerup and veteran actor Michael Paré. The remake will move the film's setting into the modern day, as a team of scientists attempt to replicate the original experiment with disastrous consequences. McDowall recently confirmed that he will reprise his role as cult leader Brett Stiles on the fourth season of The Mentalist.

DB Woodside has reportedly signed up for a recurring role on NBC family drama Parenthood. The Hollywood Reporter has claimed that Woodside will portray Joseph Prestige, an Ivy League graduate and potential love interest for Joy Bryant's character Jasmine. Woodside's character will appear for five episodes over the show's upcoming third season, causing problems in Jasmine's relationship with Crosby, played by Dax Shepard. The actor is best known for his recurring role in 24 (as the second president Palmer), as well as playing Principal Wood on season seven of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Woodside most recently appeared on The CW's cheerleader series Hellcats, which was cancelled back in May. The new season of Parenthood will also feature guest appearances from Rosa Salazar, Brittany Belt and John Corbett.

How not to pitch to BBC2 controller Janice Hadlow: 'I was once pitched to when I was standing naked in the shower at Highbury baths - by a very keen female indie I might add. It wasn't my favourite experience,' Hadlow told a session at the Edinburgh International TV festival. A fully clothed Peter York made his own pitch. The broadcaster and co-author of The Sloane Ranger Handbook had a new take on class diversity, asking the BBC2 controller: 'Why aren't there more programmes about rich people for rich people?' Cue chuckles.

Channel Four chief executive David Abraham has said that the next decade in broadcasting will be all about programme makers getting 'connected' with viewers, as broadcasters search for ways to turn convergence into cash. Speaking at Edinburgh this weekend, Abraham said that the last ten years had been about broadcasters 'dealing with the fragmentation' of the digital multi-channels, video on-demand and personal video recorders. But he now feels that the supposed 'death of the TV' has proved a misnomer, as linear viewing has grown to record levels and most on-demand consumption is for catching up on the live TV schedule. Abraham said that the next ten years will be about making more 'connections' with viewers around programming, utilising the possibilities of social media, digital platforms and rich audience data. He said that the goal is getting more 'connected' with viewers, pointing to the recent series of Embarrassing Bodies, which used Skype for a remote diagnosis of medical problems, resulting in three to four hundred thousand people using the Microsoft-owned IP telephony service to contact the show. For The Inbetweeners Movie premiere, Channel Four asked a fan of the E4 show to produce red carpet reports for streaming online. Then there was The Million Pound Drop, which has won awards and plaudits for its accompanying online game enabling viewers to play along and engage. Abraham was speaking at a session discussing one of the hot topics at this year's festival - 'convergence.' Broadcasters are increasingly courting social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter - because it's the arbiter of all things, remember - to 'gain new revenue streams around TV shows.' In other words, to wallow in their own crapulence whilst making vast wads of wonga. From glakes. The panel also included Christian Hernandez, the head of international business development at social networking giant Facebook, the lack of culture minister the vile and odious rascal Vaizey and Fru Hazlitt, ITV's managing director of commercial and online. Hazlitt said that people like to share programming experiences, usually the big live moments such as The X Factor final, and now they can follow the conversation in more ways than ever via social networks and forums. However, she said the 'biggest threat' in the converged world 'is to assume consumers will just take what you give them,' meaning there has to be intelligence in the way ideas are delivered. Hazlitt said that UK broadcasters have failed to fully bring together the traditional and digital strains of their business, whereas companies in the US have embraced digital convergence, meaning subscription entertainment firm Netflix is now able to compete alongside the cable TV giants. She said that it is vital for broadcasters to 'create a format relationship that goes way beyond the legacy,' which means bringing together the commercial, the digital and the social to create campaigns that strike a chord with viewers. But the biggest hurdle facing broadcasters is how to turn the growing trend for convergence into hard cash, and Hazlitt admitted that it is still unclear 'just what content people are willing to pay for,' including micro-payment transactions for video on-demand content and mobile applications for hit shows. Broadcasters have instead made more progress in securing sponsorship deals that tap into the converged world. ITV plans to launch a multiplatform promotion for new game show Red Or Black? involving a play-along game on the Jackpot Joy website that is designed to increase integration with the show, while also featuring Red Or Black? sponsor Domino's. The commercial broadcaster recently ran a campaign with Argos for Emmerdale, in which the drama featured a particular item available in the Argos catalogue. Argos then ran adverts asking viewers to find the item in their catalogue and enter online to win ten thousand smackers worth of credit at the store. Hazlitt said that she never thought anyone would enter, but forty thousand people did, showing the potential reach of campaigns such as these. The recent series of Britain's Got Talent also featured a tie-in with Marks & Spencer, involving parents sending in videos of their gifted youngsters to appear in a new advertising campaign for the retail chain. Facebook's Christian Hernandez said that the social network is increasingly becoming a platform to bring together TV shows and brands. He claimed that during Champions League games there was an upsurge in 'Likes' on the Facebook page of sponsor Heineken. Endemol has introduced social voting with broadcaster RTL for the series of Big Brother in Germany, involving fans purchasing Facebook credits to vote on the eliminations (with Facebook taking thirty per cent and the content owner getting the remainder). Hernandez said that ten per cent of the voting on the show now comes through Facebook, suggesting a growing demand and potential revenue stream from 'social voting' on popular programmes. Discussing future developers in the TV industry, the vile and odious rascal Vaizey said that it is 'not the government's job to predict shifts or trends.' Which is true. it's also not the government's job to tell judges what sentences they should be handing out but they've been doing plenty of that recently. Is there anything else that isn't the government's job? What it can do, the vile and odious rascal Vaizey claimed, was to 'give more freedom to those who do.' He said that the proposed new Communications Bill will include measures to free up some of the regulation around the industry, but admitted that the government is 'stuck in an analogue world trying to push forward legislation in a world that is changing week by week.' Abraham said that one area where regulation should be changed is in the access to data on the viewing habits of consumers. The Channel Four chief executive has set aside a multi-million pound investment fund for compiling a database that can 'defend the power of TV' against the threat of the Internet and other competing entertainment sources. Abraham, who joined the broadcaster last year from UKTV, also repeated calls for platform holders, such as Sky - who put free-to-air content behind paywalls - to make their viewing data more widely available. In a recent Royal Television Society speech, Abraham expressed concern that pay-TV firms could be gaining commercial benefit from the audience data drawn from content that is free-to-air, or even public funded, rather than sharing the information with other broadcasters. The vile and odious rascal Vaizey said that the government is willing to 'talk about' the issue, while media regulator Ofcom is also said to be monitoring the situation.

Speaking of Abraham, he was rather more settled in his role with the broadcaster at this year's festival than he was last year, when he had been in the job for just a matter of months. 'This time last year I was shitting myself,' revealed the former UKTV man with admirable candour. Perhaps we will have to wait until next year's festival to find out what he was really thinking at this one.

Belfast-born comedian Frank Carson - it's the way he tells 'em - has had an operation for stomach cancer. He is said to be feeling 'fine' and is waiting for the all-clear, a spokesman for the comic said. Carson, eighty four, cancelled dates across the UK after he was diagnosed earlier this year. 'He had an operation which was a great success and he will be back working again,' the spokesman added. 'They have removed it and he had a test on Friday and he is waiting for the all-clear.' Carson should have been appearing in Blackpool this week for a stage version of his 1970s hit The Comedians. His place in the show was taken by former Catchphrase presenter and fellow Irishman, Roy Walker. When, at the first gig, somebody shouted 'you're not Frank Carson,' Walker replied 'say what y'see now, say what y'see.' Carson became a popular performer on Irish television before moving to England to work as a stand-up club comedian. He had success on shows such as The Good Old Days and Opportunity Knocks but is perhaps best known for The Comedians.

Rowan Atkinson's older brother has tried to take some of the credit for the Mr Bean character. Rodney Atkinson, whose famous sibling Rowan created the comedy character with writer Richard Curtis, said that he used to encourage his brother to create a 'nerd' character, but Rowan wasn't interested. Rodney told the Daily Torygraph: 'I tried for years to get Rowan to take the "nerd on a park bench eating his lunch" character, which he used in his one-man show, and expand it into a series which would "go international." This was the early seventies and I was at the time experimenting with British comedy as a teaching aid for German students at the University of Mainz. I noted that comic action - without the sound - was a good vehicle to get German students to give a [recorded] English running commentary on the action. It proved an excellent analytical teaching aid. The universal nature of silent comedy and its international appeal was obvious and Rowan had created the basic character already.' Rodney said that when he made the suggestion, his sibling responded with 'a grunt.' He said: 'Whether he took my persistent advice or made his own mind up I can't say. I received no royalty.'

A diner in Cambridge threatened to attack the staff of a local pub after they served him what he considered to be a 'below par' beef and onion sandwich. Fifty four-year-old Clive Davies vented his frustration with the food on offer at the White Horse to employees at a nearby grocery store, showing them a seven-inch blade that he claimed he would use on those responsible for his disappointing dish. Staff then contacted police and Davies was apprehended at another local tavern, the Cambridge News reports. Davies this week appeared in Cambridge Crown Court to plead guilty to threatening and abusive language, possessing a bladed article in a public place and possession of cannabis. His lawyer claimed that he had been struggling to cope with the death of his girlfriend in a road accident last year and had entered the grocers 'mumbling under his breath about how he was angry at the landlord at the pub after being served a below par sandwich.' He was sentenced to a twelve-month community order with supervision and alcohol treatment requirements, a four-month curfew and a concurrent twenty eight-day curfew for cannabis possession for the incident in May.

A signed copy of the Beatles single 'Please Please Me' has sold for nine thousand smackers at auction in Liverpool. The 'very, very rare' 1963 Parlophone red label 45 was sold by a local lady who had asked all four members of the group to sign it after watching them at the city's Cavern club as a teenager. The Beatles were a popular beat combo of the 1960s, you might have heard of them. They can be seen, right, captured during an intimate moment in London as they raced off in search of the hooligan who had just cut off the end of George Harrison's tie. Other items to be sold at the annual Beatles memorabilia auction included a cap once owned by alcoholic Scouse wife-beating junkie John Lennon - during his 'trying to look and sound like Bob Dylan' phase - which fetched three thousand two hundred quid, and the door of number thirty eight Kensington - where the band first recorded in 1958 - which went for two thousand three hundred pounds. Two grand for a frigging front door? Some people really do have more money than sense. Speaking of the moment the seller of the single brought it to him, Stephen Bailey, manager of the Liverpool Beatles Shop, told the BBC: 'It was just a local lady with a signed record asking: "Is this worth anything?" I said: "Yes, that's worth several thousands of pounds." And here we are, nine thousand pounds later. People often wander into the shop asking: "Is this worth anything?" There is still massive attraction for Beatles memorabilia. There are still people willing to pay fantastic prices.'

It's fascinating to speculate how much a signed copy of today's actual Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day will fetch in a couple of decades. I doubt The Blue Aeroplanes will command those sort of prices (although, you never know). Either for the original, or the - superior - remix for that matter.

Oh Dad! She's Driving Me Mad!

Let's start with the great news before we get on to the good, the bad and the ugly. Qi returns to BBC2 on 9 September for its ninth - 'I' - series. First episode is I Spy, with Jimmy Carr, Lee Mack and Sandi Toksvig. The extended Qi: XL will return on Saturday 10 September at 9pm. There is also rumoured to be a Making of ... documentary to be shown that evening as well. There, that's the great news.

Sherlock has been named Best Terrestrial Programme at Saturday night's Arqiva Channel of the Year Awards, while ITV was crowned the top terrestrial channel. At the Edinburgh International Television Festival, BBC1's flagship drama series - starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman - scooped the terrestrial programme honours. Elsewhere in the ceremony hosted by the comedian Russell Kane (very popular with students), ITV was named Terrestrial Channel of the Year for the first time in the history of the awards. For its cutting-edge diet of soaps, talents shows and, erm ... Well, that's about it, really. 'Digital Channel of the Year' was handed to BBC3 (no doubt the grinding of teeth from various snobs at the Gruniad Morning Star, the Daily Torygraph and the Daily Scum Mail), and E4's The Inbetweeners - which is now a hit movie - took home the Digital Programme of the Year award for the second year running. Among the three new categories at this year's awards, Indie of the Year was given to TalkThames, the production firm behind The X Factor, Britain's Got Talent and The Apprentice. Channel Four and Endemol's live game show The Million Pound Drop was awarded the Cross Platform Innovation Award for its interactive online game. Rob Leech won Producer or Director Debut for My Brother The Islamist, the acclaimed documentary which was broadcast on BBC3. E4's cult drama Misfits celebrated winning The Network And Fast Track Programme Choice Award at the tenth consecutive Channel of the Year Awards.

Doctor Who achieved a more decent overnight ratings on Saturday as it returned for its six-episode autumn run. Let's Kill Hitler, reportedly Matt Smith's 'favourite episode to date,' had an average overnight audience of 6.23m at 7.15pm. It was BBC1's most watched programme of the night and second only across all of the terrestrial channels to The X Factor which pulled in 10.6m, slightly down on last week's 2011 debut. Doctor Who Confidential was then watched by four hundred and sixty eight thousand viewers on BBC3 between 8pm and 8.45pm. Saturday's episode had more overnight viewers than June's mid-season finale A Good Man Goes To War, which had an overnight audience of five and a half million at the earlier start time of 6.40pm. The BBC was criticised by some of the more mouthy end of fandom earlier this year for showing episodes during the 6pm hour. However, showrunner Steven Moffat points out - on an almost daily basis - that the popular family SF drama's extraordinarily high timeshift audience and BBC iPlayer figures tend to get forgotten whenever anyone starts doing articles on Doctor Who's 'ratings.' For example, the previously mentioned A Good Man Goes To War had a final consolidated audience figure of 7.51m thanks to a near two million timeshift. The episode's seven day 'reach' audience, taking into account BBC3 repeats and iPlayer figures took the total audience for the episode above ten million. Currently Let's Kill Hitler tops iPlayer's 'Most Popular' list, while BBC3 broadcast catch-up repeats every Friday evening.
And speaking of Matt Smith, the first pictures have emerged of his forthcoming period Olympic drama, Bert and Dickie.
Yep that is, indeed, Matt Smith, not Les Dawson doing Cosmo Smallpiece.

Billie Piper will play a lead role in new BBC3 comedy Tom and Jenny. The former Secret Diaries of a Call Girl and Doctor Who star will play Jenny, one half of a feuding couple who have split up, but refuse to leave their shared house. Penned by Star Stories and Kevin Bishop Show writer Lee Hupfield and directed by The Inbetweeners Movie's Ben Palmer, the Objective Productions pilot was one of a raft of new shows announced by BBC3 controller Zai Bennett over the weekend. 'It's been a busy five months since I started with the channel but my thoughts for BBC3 are starting to take shape,' said Bennett. 'These programmes reaffirm my commitment to continue investing in new British comedy and quality documentaries for a young audience.' Tom and Jenny joins a new-look line-up of comedies on BBC3 including a second series of Will Mellor's White Van Man and Sharon Horgan's highly-anticipated new series Life Story. Other news shows confirmed by Bennett included documentaries Gareth Gates Stammer House, a Born Survivors season and comedian Andrew Maxwell's 9/11 - Conspiracy Road Trip.

Professor Brian Cox - you know, him that used to be in D: Ream - has said at the Edinburgh International Television Festival over the weekend that the BBC has a vital role to play in pushing science programming into primetime. Foxy Coxy was giving the alternative MacTaggart Lecture to Friday night's landmark speech from Eric Schmidt, in which Google's executive chairman said that the search engine giant can help build a bright future for the television industry (see below). However, Schmidt also bemoaned the lack of passion among young people in the UK for science, computing and engineering, which he feels is due to a lack of proper inspiration in education and culture. Former pop star turned physics professor Cox said that he now spends most of his nights 'explaining thermodynamics to people in pubs' after starring in a range of hit science shows on BBC2. His shows including the breakthrough hit Wonders of the Solar System - which attracted around four million viewers per episode - and Stargazing Live - which pulled in around three million - have made Foxy one of the BBC's rising stars. If you'll pardon the pun. His programmes have also generated two hundred thousand in book sales. Cox, who is still an academic at the University of Manchester, wants to 'make Britain the best place in the world for science and engineering,' and he feels that the BBC can play an important part in pushing science into the mainstream, particularly as the corporation's unique funding model enables it to back primetime science shows. Wonders of the Solar System and its follow up Wonders of the Universe were lavish programmes, costing hundreds of thousands of pounds to produce as Cox was sent all over the world to visually explain physics concepts. For example, one particular sequence featured Cox travelling to Death Valley in California to calculate the temperature of the sun using an umbrella, a thermometer and a tin of water. 'If I said to Channel Four that I wanted to make Wonders of Life, which is the next one in the series, would there be the funding model there for it?' Cox asked. He added that few broadcasters beyond the BBC would have taken the 'massive financial risk' of approving the original investment in the show when Cox was an unknown presenter, despite his music background. Cox said that there has been a shift in young people's interest in science due to 'the BBC's commitment to science programming.' He pointed not only to his own shows, but also programmes such as Bang Goes The Theory. He said that BBC2's controller Janice Hadlow 'doesn't mind' about the ratings when commissioning, but rather wants programme makers to feel free to 'make great content.' However, the BBC's science coverage is certainly not without criticism. Last month, a review conducted by University College London emeritus professor Steve Jones highlighted that BBC journalists sometimes give too much weight to what he described as 'fringe views' on controversial stories such as climate change and GM crops in the interests of balance. Cox welcomed the review findings, claiming that 'science is the best process we have to get answers, and it must be reported on with proper balance.' He added that when there is a 'peer-reviewed concensus' on scientific subjects, this should be reflected by the BBC. As Cox is now something of a celebrity, he often has young people asking him how to break into science programme presenting. 'What I say to kids is the reason why I have been able to make programmes is because I got a degree and a PhD in science,' he says. In a sense, Cox feels that this is a 'strong message' which runs counter to talent shows such as The X Factor, in that people are encouraged to become experts in their field and then make the jump to being star presenters. Cox feels that science shows are well on the way to becoming mainstream, demonstrating that high ratings can be achieved with content that also has educational value. He pointed to a forthcoming, big budget remake of the acclaimed Cosmos solar system series being developed by FOX and the producers of Family Guy in the US as potentially proving to be a 'big turning point' for science programming in America. The professor added that science must be in the 'prime seat in popular culture' if new blood is to be brought into the physics-based industries that underpin sixty per cent of the UK's GDP.

BBC1 is aiming to broadcast more shows for older viewers, in a bid to reflect the channel's late middle-aged audience. According to the BBC1 controller, Danny Cohen, the average age of a BBC1 viewer is 'about fifty' and he believes that the channel should put on more programmes aimed at them. Speaking at the Edinburgh International Television Festival on Saturday, Cohen said that as 'the average audience age [of BBC1's audience] is around fifty it would be good to reflect that back to people. New talent doesn't have to mean young. Talent can be all sorts of ages. BBC1 reaches eighty per cent of the public each week, and the most young people of any channel,' he added. 'So we need to find programmes that appeal to young people, but we need to reflect the audience back to itself, and have talent of all ages.' This represents something of a step change for Cohen, thirty six, who is the youngest ever BBC1 controller and who was previously in charge of youth-oriented digital channel BBC3. In addition to providing more shows for older viewers, Cohen said he wants BBC1 'to be known for being innovative and experimental.' He announced that next year his channel will broadcast the largest live natural history broadcast in the BBC's history. Called Fight For Life, it will follow young animals from around the world as struggle for survival over the first four weeks of their lives next spring. Cohen also revealed that for the first time, BBC1 will broadcast a series of improvised dramas and four sitcom pilots in a bid to 'supercharge' comedy on his channel. He declined to comment on what effect the forthcoming twenty per cent savings the BBC is having to make as a result of last year's licence fee settlement freeze will have on his channel, saying that he does not yet know what his budget will be. And, he said he will once again ensure the that the new series of Strictly Come Dancing does not clash with The X Factor, adding: 'I'm not massively interested whether we beat it or not. On BBC1, you want people to watch the programmes,' he said but added that you need 'a mix of the popular and intelligent programming like Panorama.' Cohen has vowed that audiences will see a 'big step change' in the channel's drama output towards the end of this year. Cohen said drama on the channel would be key to addressing a report from the BBC Trust into BBC1, which said the channel had to show more creative ambition at 9pm. He revealed that from Christmas there will be a 'huge amount of new drama on BBC1,' with around twenty one new series and serials being broadcast from the end of the year. He promised that viewers will see changes in terms of the 'breadth and range' of dramas to be broadcast, and claimed 'we will be expressing ourselves in different ways.' Cohen added that while there will be returning favourites, including Sherlock and Luther (see below), there will be 'new high-quality shows as well.' He said that he wanted to make sure there is more than just crime in BBC1's schedules, and said: 'Crime is a staple and much loved staple, but if your ambition is to have creative range and to take risks you need to be doing things other than crime as a big part of your mix.' One of Cohen's new commissions outside of the crime genre is The Village, written by Criminal Justice's Peter Moffat, while another will be a previously announced serial by Dominic Savage called Love Life, starring David Tennant, Billie Piper, Ashley Walters and David Morrissey. And, sadly, Jane Horrocks. The serial will be created by improvisation. In entertainment, Cohen said the 6pm tea-time Saturday slot was a priority for him, but he admitted this was a hard slot to fill as 'you are not spending the money you would on something like The X Factor or Strictly Come Dancing.' Cohen defended the flop BBC1 game show Don't Scare The Hare. He admitted that the Jason Bradbury-fronted teatime series 'didn't work,' which might be the understatement of the decade, but claimed that it was right for the broadcaster to take risks on 'creative and innovative ideas.' Which is true. Although quite what that statement has to do with Don't Scare The Hare he didn't elaborate. 'Some [shows] will work and some won't. You have to be prepared to fail,' he said. 'It didn't quite catch on. People didn't engage with the robot in the way we hoped.' Yeah, that'll be the reason why it failed then. Because of the robot. The fact that the show was moronic, lowest-common-denominator shite that should never have been commissioned in a million years doesn't enter into it, obviously. Cohen added that he was on the lookout for new formats to fill the 'Total Wipeout teatime slot,' which he described as one of the trickiest to schedule. Cohen admitted there would be less on BBC1 next year, with So You Think You Can Dance not returning. To which there were cheers in the auditorium. Interviewer Jeremy Vine questioned Cohen on the differences between BBC1 and BBC2 now that the former has nabbed Miranda whilst Qi was going in the opposite direction. Cohen appeared to imply that there's not much rhyme or reason to the methodology about what goes where. 'We just want some shows to reach the biggest audience possible,' he noted. He added that he doesn't want 'rigid' channel barriers. 'You need fluidity,' he argued. He also confirmed that EastEnders will not stop for the Olympics. 'You don't want to miss EastEnders,' he added. Perish the very thought.

as noted above, the big announcement made by Danny Cohen was that he had ordered a third series of Luther, the psychological crime drama starring Idris Elba, which recently enjoyed a hugely popular second series. The re-commissioning of Luther comes despite Cohen's previous statements about wanting to moving away from crime/detective dominated dramas, a reason given for his decision not to renew the Italian based drama Zen for a second series despite its relatively good performance. A second four-part series of Luther broadcast on BBC1 in June to consistently stronger audiences than the six-part first series in 2010. And, better stories as well, frankly. The second series, on average, had over five million viewers and was well-received by critics. And by this blog! Luther also stars Paul McGann, Warren Brown, Aimee-Ffion Edwards and Ruth Wilson. There's no word yet as to how many episodes the third series will have, or when it will be broadcast, though one would imagine it will be sometime in mid-to-late 2012. Idris Elba's next project will be Pacific Rim which is scheduled to begin principal photography in October. It's possible that the actor could very well go straight into Luther production shortly after that. Idris himself has already expressed his desire for a big screen version of Luther. 'The ultimate Luther story will unfold on the big screen,' he said in an interview a couple of months ago.

Another very welcome announcement from Danny Cohen concerned the Scottish stand-up comedian Kevin Bridges who has secured his first primetime show on BBC1. What's The Story? will feature Bridges getting to the bottom of burning questions such as 'Why would any self-respecting party-goer want to take a microwave to the party?' and 'Is it possible to buy a Nissan Micra for forty quid?' Bridges' comedy and entertainment series will look into his family life, friends and upbringing in Clydebank. 'I'm delighted at the news that someone at the BBC has deemed me worthy enough to be let loose with a camera crew in an attempt to make something funny,' said Bridges. 'I'm excited at being given this opportunity and to be able to produce the show from Scotland is an added bonus. It'll be great to see something on national TV made from Scotland that doesn't have an appeal for witnesses before the closing credits.' Cohen, added: 'It's great to have a major new show for BBC1 starring one of Scotland's brightest new talents. Kevin is a unique comedian, and he's part of our plan to develop the next generation of talent for BBC1.' Cohen added that the return of  Lee Mack's Not Going Out for another - fifth - series is not confirmed. He also claimed that he wants more comedy panel shows.

Meanwhile, in another Edinburgh session, full-of-his-own-importance Ricky Gervais praised BBC4 but said that the amount of red tape within the BBC could stifle creativity. When asked why some of his recent shows have been made for Sky, rather than the BBC, Gervais said: 'Honestly for all their faults, I haven't got a bad thing to say about [the BBC]. The BBC never interfered with anything I've done and The Office wouldn't have happened without them. BBC4 is an amazing channel and I would hate to lose something like that, sometimes you need art for art's sake. On the downside you get a lot of red tape. A lot of people join the BBC keep their head down and die at sixty five, you can't get fired from the BBC.'

Miranda Hart has claimed that she doesn't believe that Miranda is a middle-class comedy. Speaking at Edinburgh, Hart described her sitcom as 'universal. I don't think about being middle-class or writing a middle-class sitcom,' she said. 'I really shy away from labels in comedy. Funny is funny. It's irrelevant really. If you wrote a middle-class sitcom, the problems would be a broken Land Rover or buying a new watch. My problems in Miranda are universal. It's classless.' All of which is utter bollocks, of course - if Miranda isn't a middle class sitcom then nothing is! That doesn't mean it isn't funny, mind! Hart confessed that she did have concerns about the show's move to BBC1, claiming that 'two or three million more viewers are expected.' On the subject of the show's breakout success, she added: 'I can't believe it, I'm still in shock. I knew we'd do excellent with the WI, but I really didn't think the broad demographic would. I knew the industry wouldn't because studio shows get slammed.' She also played down stories about her wanting to star in Doctor Who, adding: 'Everyone wants to be in Doctor Who! We all want to be in Downton Abbey and Doctor Who.'

Channel Five's controller Jeff Ford has explained the decision to axe the Big Brother live feed. Ford claimed that people had 'moved on' from watching the live feed and cited a drop in numbers of live feed viewers in the later Channel Four years as a primary reason for the decision. 'We could have done it if we wanted to,' he said during a Q&A session at the Edinburgh TV Festival. 'Channel Four did do live streaming, but then they did less and less and less, then it became subscription so it hasn't completely changed radically. There was a time when people sleeping or something major happening was the most interesting thing and you had to watch Big Brother, but then we all moved on.' Ford said that Channel Five had opted to spend the cash on Facebook and Twitter applications and the biggest ever house rather than the feed. He also teased 'more surprises' in the current celebrity series, confessing that 'there are still more celebs to go in.' Well, since the people who are in there already are anything but 'celebs', one might be nice.

The BBC4 controller, Richard Klein, has said that his channel is 'not going to be axed,' but confirmed its scope is likely to be reduced. Speaking at the Edinburgh International Television Festival on Friday, Klein said that inevitably his digital channel would feel the effects of the twenty per cent cuts the BBC is making across the board due to last year's licence fee settlement freeze. 'BBC4 will not be axed as far as I'm aware. Obviously it's still under review. Will BBC4 face some consequences of the BBC-wide reduction in our funding of twenty per cent? I'd imagine so. It's inevitable,' he added. An online Save BBC4 petition, launched earlier this month after the Gruniad Morning Star - who else? - reported that the channel was facing cuts, has attracted more than eighteen thousand signatures in ten days. Or, you know, 0.001 per cent of the average audience of an episode of The X Factor. Klein said the campaign to save BBC4 was 'flattering' but irrelevant and reiterated: 'The channel is not going to be axed. That's not going to happen.' However, he added that it was 'difficult to see the vast majority of savings coming from cutting budgets further' and said that viewers will notice a difference on screen. 'People will see a difference, I'm sure. You can't take twenty per cent out of the BBC and not.' He said drama will continue on the channel but did not go into any detail about its scope. BBC executives are reported to be considering reducing BBC4's UK originated drama and comedy output, with the focus shifting to so-called 'arts and archive' programming. Despite BAFTA award-winning single dramas such as The Road to Coronation Street and biopic Enid, some corporation executives have questioned whether BBC2 should instead be broadcasting such shows. BBC4 has also commissioned a smaller number of comedies, such as The Thick Of It and Getting On, which have attracted critical acclaim. 'One thing that will be true is that the channel as far as I'm concerned will stay true to its ideals of what we do as much as we can.' Klein said he did not think BBC4 should be annexed by BBC2 in the way that 6Music has been by Radio 2. He passionately defended the channel, saying 'BBC4 is completely different,' adding, 'I don't think there's any call at the moment to say that BBC2 and BBC4 fit that well.' Klein also eased fears about the future of original drama on BBC4 by announcing plans for an adaptation by Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais of Alan Furst's The Spies Of Warsaw. The story spans the decade from 1933, against a backdrop of Nazi Germany expanded its power and influence across Europe and eventually provoking the outbreak of the second world war with its invasion of Poland. Klein also unveiled a new arts series called Art Nouveau, a new series later next year on the recession, plus Jo Brand will look at kissing for a new show and a season of programming about the British Army.

Sky1's controller Stuart Murphy has admitted that he tried poaching Gavin & Stacey and The Inbetweeners from the BBC and Channel Four respectively. Presumably because Sky can't come up with any original comedy ideas of their own. Murphy revealed at the Edinburgh TV Festival that he actually made an offer to Henry Normal, head of Baby Cow, to try lure the Gavin & Stacey producers into leaving the BBC. Baby Cow were offered two series and a film as part of the deal, he said. 'They wanted to stay at the BBC and finish at the BBC and I respect them for that,' Murphy said. Through gritted teeth, no doubt. Gavin & Stacey creators Ruth Jones and James Corden have both ended up working on new Sky 1 shows instead. Jones has written sitcom Stella, which will air in 2012, whilst that fat unfunny cretin Corden is currently working on a fourth and fifth series of the completely shite panel show A League Of Their Own. Murphy added that he 'tried to nick' The Inbetweeners following its huge success on E4 and said that he was still keen to work with the cast and writers of the show in the future.

The Only Way Is Essex was offered to Channel Four before ITV2, it has been revealed by the show's producers. Lime Pictures' Tony Wood and All3Media's Ruth Wrigley said that they originally pitched the idea for the reality soap to Channel Four, but they were 'snubbed.' Speaking at the Edinburgh TV Festival, the producers said: 'We went to Channel Four first. We pitched it as "Big Brother-meets-Hollyoaks." It's a difficult thing to explain and they thought it would be like The Family.' Wrigley also revealed that the original plan for the show was for it to be based in Bournemouth and that it should focus on the lives of surfers. Speaking about the show's breakout success - among glakes - she added: 'There was a whole generation of viewers who knew how reality TV worked. This was a natural progression. Audiences got it and ten years earlier they wouldn't.' This, ladies and gentlemen, is progress, apparently.

Around half of the savings being made as part of the BBC's Delivering Quality First cost-cutting exercise will come from budgets for programming and other content. With just a few weeks to go until the final proposals from the long-running DQF initiative is made public to staff, BBC Vision chief creative officer, Pat Younge, said the corporation is still looking to make about half of the sixteen per cent cut to operating costs from 'scope' – content budgets. Speaking at Edinburgh on Sunday, Younge said: 'We have to take sixteen per cent out of operating costs. Mark Thompson said from the outset we're looking to take out sixteen per cent and about eight per cent of that from scope, meaning content and the rest coming out of how we do things and how we organise ourselves.' Younge admitted the uncertainty surrounding DQF, which has involved senior executives sifting through numerous cost-cutting options, many proposed by staff, over the past few months, is 'hurting us' but said 'we want to get it right.' The panel at a session called TV Question Time was asked what they would cut from the BBC. ITV director of comedy and entertainment Elaine Bedell, a former BBC Vision executive, said: 'I don't know enough across the board but my hunch is it might be braver to do one big thing than do it piecemeal but that's for the BBC to decide. Only the BBC could come up with DQF – cutting, as the rest of us would call it.' Channel Four director of creative diversity Stuart Cosgrove suggested the BBC 'cut the acronyms' but applauded it for moving programmes out to the regions and nations. Panellist and comedian Dave Gorman questioned why the BBC is moving Breakfast to Salford, when 'This Morning said we're going to have to move to London' because it could not get guests. Cosgrove also spoke about Channel Four's attempted bid for Formula 1 with the BBC: 'We made a bid for F1 that we felt we could afford but money is king and we lost out.'

The chairman of Google has delivered a devastating critique of the UK's education system and said that the country had 'failed to capitalise' on its record of innovation in science and engineering. Delivering the annual MacTaggart lecture in Edinburgh, Eric Schmidt criticised 'a drift to the humanities' and attacked the emergence of two educational camps, each of which 'denigrate the other. To use what I'm told is the local vernacular, you're either a luvvy or a boffin,' he said. Schmidt also criticised Lord Sugar, the Labour peer and star of the BBC programme The Apprentice, who recently claimed on the show that 'engineers are no good at business.' Schmidt told the Edinburgh International TV Festival: 'Over the past century, the UK has stopped nurturing its polymaths. You need to bring art and science back together.' The technology veteran, who joined Google a decade ago to help founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin build the company, said Britain should look to the 'glory days' of the Victorian era for reminders of how the two disciplines can work together. 'It was a time when the same people wrote poetry and built bridges,' he said. 'Lewis Carroll didn't just write one of the classic fairytales of all time. He was also a mathematics tutor at Oxford. James Clerk Maxwell was described by Einstein as among the best physicists since Newton – but was also a published poet.' Schmidt's comments echoed sentiments expressed by Steve Jobs, the chief executive of Apple, who revealed this week that he was stepping down. 'The Macintosh turned out so well because the people working on it were musicians, artists, poets and historians – who also happened to be excellent computer scientists,' Jobs once told the New York Times. Schmidt paid tribute to Britain's record of innovation, saying the UK had 'invented computers in both concept and practice' before highlighting that the world's first office computer 'was built in 1951 by the Lyons chain of teashops.' However, he said the UK had failed to build industry-leading positions or successfully transfer ideas from the drawing board to the boardroom. 'The UK is the home of so many media-related inventions. You invented photography. You invented TV,' he said. 'Yet today, none of the world's leading exponents in these fields are from the UK.' He added: 'Thank you for your innovation, thank you for your brilliant ideas. You're not taking advantage of them on a global scale.' He said British startups tended to sell out to overseas companies once they had reached a certain size, and that this trend needed to be reversed. 'The UK does a great job of backing small firms and cottage industries, but there's little point getting a thousand seeds to sprout if they are then left to wither or transplanted overseas. UK businesses need championing to help them grow into global powerhouses, without having to sell out to foreign-owned companies. If you don't address this, then the UK will continue to be where inventions are born, but not bred for long-term success.' Schmidt said the country that invented the computer was 'throwing away your great computer heritage' by failing to teach programming in schools. 'I was flabbergasted to learn that today computer science isn't even taught as standard in UK schools,' he said. 'Your IT curriculum focuses on teaching how to use software, but gives no insight into how it's made.' Barack Obama announced in June that the US would train an extra ten thousand engineers a year. 'I hope that others will follow suit – the world needs more engineers. I saw the other day that on The Apprentice Alan Sugar said engineers are no good at business,' he said. 'If the UK's creative businesses want to thrive in the digital future, you need people who understand all facets of it integrated from the very beginning. Take a lead from the Victorians and ignore Lord Sugar: bring engineers into your company at all levels, including the top.' Schmidt also announced that Google TV, which allows users to search the Internet on their TV sets, would be launched in Europe early next year, with the UK 'among the top priorities.' The product is already available in America, although sales have been disappointing. Schmidt said Google TV did not threaten broadcasters and would enable them to experiment with new formats online. He defended the company's contribution to the TV industry, pointing out that it had invested billions of dollars in IT infrastructure that media companies use. Google also announced it would fund a new course in online production and distribution at the National Film & Television School in London for three years.
Labour is seeking cross-party support to tighten rules on media takeovers in the wake of the controversy over News Corporation's bid for BSkyB. Shadow lack of culture secretary Ivan Lewis wants a wider public interest test and greater powers for the government to intervene in the process. The News Corp bid for BSkyB was withdrawn amid claims of phone-hacking at its newspaper Scum of the World. A Tory 'source' allegedly said that the government was already committed to reform. BBC's political correspondent Carole Walker said that News Corp's bid to gain full control of the digital broadcaster was controversial even before the phone hacking row scuppered the deal. The main question for regulators was whether the takeover would leave sufficient plurality in the media market. The BBC says that Labour wants a much wider public interest test to be applied from the start of a media takeover process. The party is calling for the lack of culture secretary - the vile and odious rascal Hunt - to be given more power to intervene and order regulators to consider whether a bidder is a 'fit and proper person' to run a media company. The Conservative 'source' allegedly said that the issue would be considered as part of Lord Leveson's independent inquiry into phone hacking and media practices. Lord Leveson will make recommendations on media plurality, regulation and cross-media ownership by July 2012. News Corporation has closed the Scum of the World but still owns the Sun, The Times, The Sunday Times and thirty nine per cent of BSkyB. After the Scum of the World was shut down, Labour leader Ed Milimolimandi called for new media ownership rules to limit what he described in the Observer as News Corp boss Rupert Murdoch's 'dangerous' and 'unhealthy' concentration of power. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg backed Milimolimandi's call. He told the BBC there was a need to 'look again in the round at the plurality rules to make sure there is proper plurality in the British press.' Business Secretary Vince Cable (Lib Dem, allegedly) has also said there should be 'clear' rules on how powerful media groups can be. Cable was responsible for media ownership rules until he was recorded by a pair of Copper's Narks from the Torygraph saying that he had 'declared war' on Rupert Murdoch in December.

BBC1 is set to make a series of comedy pilots, similar to Channel Four's Comedy Showcase, in an attempt to find the next big sitcom. Danny Cohen said he does not get offered enough scripts for the mainstream audience. He said: 'Comedy in all its forms is incredibly important for BBC One but we don't get enough great sitcom scripts coming through – so I’m delighted to be announcing this initiative. By committing to a group of [broadcastable] pilots, we hope to help unearth a new generation of national comic gem.' The BBCs controller of comedy commissioning, Cheryl Taylor added: 'The BBC's commitment to laugh-out-loud comedy is as strong as ever and we hope that this dedicated pilot initiative will galvanise writers to think about more inventive, likeable and enduring characters for our mainstream channel. We are very proud to have shows like Mrs Brown's Boys, In With The Flynns and Outnumbered on BBC1, but there is certainly room for more.' Cohen experimented with broadcast pilots during his time as head of BBC3. He added that he was inviting writers to send in scripts by November, with the best being broadcast by the middle of next year. Details of how to enter scripts will be released soon.

Bill Nighy has revealed he never watches himself on screen nor reads reviews of his work. Despite his status as one the UK acting scene's stalwarts, with recent roles in movie's like The Boat That Rocked, Pirates of the Caribbean and Love Actually and the BBC's excellent Page Eight, the actor will do anything to avoid reading reviews of his work. He said: 'I can't take it. Frankly, I can't pay the price so I don't do it any more. I never used to be able to resist reading them, got burned a couple of times and thought, "I can't take it!" Similarly, if I'm doing theatre and I'm told I peak in the second act during a particular passage, that's not good for me either, because I'll become too wonderful,' he joked. Another awful thing about acting, he added, was having to audition when he first started out. He said: 'I can't exaggerate how horrible a life of auditioning is. Imagine if you had to go fifty times a year to some place to meet strangers who for the most part were not over-excited about meeting you, to demonstrate your job, and ninety per cent of the time they say "no." That's what actors do. It can't be overstated how wonderful it is not to have to audition any more. Any actor will tell you, it's like Christmas.'

X Factor judge Louis Walsh is said to be 'livid' with Simon Cowell after being 'lumbered' with Sinitta as a mentor. Ooo, mad-vexed, so he was. Incandescent with rage. It is understood that Walsh, the only original judge remaining on the panel, had secured Adele to join him at the Judges' Houses stage of the competition in Barcelona and was 'over the moon.' Like Michael Collins in Apollo 11 only without the spacesuit. However, she was replaced at the last minute by Sinitta, who traditionally helped former judge Cowell pick his acts for the live shows, the Sunday Mirra reports. 'One minute he was lined up with an international star who's the woman of the moment, the next he was lumbered with an '80s has-been whose high point was the questionable number two hit 'So Macho',' a 'source' allegedly said. One whom, it would seem, has some taste in music but, also, an almost Asperger's-like memory for chart positions. 'Adele was really "up for it" and had agreed in principle,' the allegedly snitch added. 'Everyone was ­gobsmacked. Louis tried to find out what had changed and if there was a chance they could keep Adele. But he was told Sinitta was on and it was final.' Adele is now expected to be a guest mentor on The X Factor USA instead. Sinitta's role is apparently a 'kiss and make up' gesture after Cowell chose Mariah Carey as his sidekick in America. Meanwhile, Walsh is reportedly still angry that he was overlooked as head judge on the new-look panel. 'This is entertainment,' he said. 'Gary Barlow is a musician and a songwriter and he doesn't get the novelty value of some acts that I'd get or Simon would get. Simon and I like these odd people, because that's what makes the show.' That's certainly an accurate description of the audience, anyway.

A footballer has sparked controversy by slapping a linesman during a televised match in Uruguay. Montevideo striker Diogo lashed out part way through his team's game against Danubio after receiving a red card for kicking an opponent. Other players and officials immediately rushed to the linesman's aid, while Diogo's teammates escorted the twenty two-year-old off the pitch. Diogo later told El Observador: 'I'm very sorry and I was wrong. Even my mother who was in Brazil watched what I did. I've never experienced anything like this and I was crying on the pitch because I realised that what I had done was bad for my teammates, my family, fans and everyone who was watching.' Diogo claimed that he has tried repeatedly to contact the linesman since the incident. He could be facing a life ban from the game for violating a FIFA statue regarding aggressive behaviour towards officials. Montevideo eventually lost the game 1-0.

The Scum inflicted a very amusing humiliation on The Shit and their embattled manager, Arsene Wenger, with a brutal victory 8-2 at Old Trafford. Sir Alex Ferguson's Premier League leaders responded in spectacular fashion to local rivals Sheikh Yer Manchester City FC's earlier 5-1 win at Spurs by returning to the top of the table with a result that represented Arsenal's worst defeat since 1986. Wenger, already with a face like a smacked arse even before kick-off, sent out a makeshift side depleted by injuries and suspensions - but even that cannot excuse the manner in which they were comprehensively outclassed in all aspects of the pitch and swept aside with such ease by The Scum. Wayne Rooney was United's inspiration with the sixth hat-trick of his Old Trafford career, but Ashley Young also made his mark with two stunning goals. Danny Welbeck, Nani and Park Ji-sung were the other scorers. Theo Walcott reduced United's three-goal advantage on the stroke of half-time but Robin van Persie's strike late in the second half-represented no measure of consolation for a dispirited, broken Arsenal. United keeper David de Gea distinguished himself with a fine penalty save from Van Persie moments after Welbeck had opened the scoring - and in a game of almost unrelenting misery for Arsenal, teenager Carl Jenkinson ensured they have failed to end a game with eleven players in any of their league games so far this season when he was sent off for a second bookable offence. All in all it was a reet good laugh, frankly. Earlier in a bad day for North London, Stottingtot Hotshots had suffered a similar pants-down Arab Strapping at home. Edin Dzeko scored four as Sheikh Yer Manchester City FC maintained their own one hundred per cent start to the season with an impressive display. In the day's other Premiership games, yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though still unsellable) Magpies kept their unbeaten start to the season going with a 2-1 win over Fulham, Leon Best scoring both goals. And, Stoke maintained their unbeaten start as Ryan Shotton poached a goal in the last minute to consign West Brom to their third straight defeat. Bet that'll put a curl on Adrian Chiles' lip when he gets up bright and early tomorrow for Daybreak. What a shame. The two Manchester clubs top the league with nine points each from three games with Liverpool, Moscow Chelski FC, surprise package Wolves and Newcastle just behind on seven points each. At the bottom, West Bromwich, Blackburn and Spurs remain pointless (although the latter have played one game less than the others in the relegation zone), with Arsenal and Fulham hovering just above with a solitary point from three games.

For today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day here's a TV tie-in and a stroke of androgynous glam racket from the guys in suede jackets. Before Brett crawled up his own arsehole, when they had Bernard and they were, you know, good!