Tuesday, August 09, 2011

If You Feel That You Can't Go On

Merlin's Katie McGrath has compared her character Morgana to Darth Vader. In so much as she's big, black and has asthma? McGrath told SFX that the fantasy drama's upcoming fourth series will see Morgana become an evil force comparable to the Star Wars villain. 'I haven't played the same character from year-to-year,' she explained. '[Morgana] was a spoilt, stroppy princess at the start. She's an unsure, fearful girl in the second. She's on both sides in the third and now in the fourth she's just Darth Vader! You get the best of all worlds.' The actress added that Morgana felt like a 'ticking time bomb' through the past three series of Merlin. 'Everybody was just waiting for her to go off and by the fourth series you're getting to the point where she might be ready to explode!' she hinted. McGrath also claimed that her character will be 'very confident, very opinionated and very in control' in future episodes. 'She [also] happens to be a little malevolent,' she laughed. 'But, you know, we all have our off days. She's got very good reasons for doing what she does.'

BBC Worldwide has signed a new multi-year production deal with the American broadcaster Starz. The new deal between the two companies will see one-hour dramas developed and co-produced between the two, reports Broadcast. The deal will initially result in two drama series which are yet un-named and over one hundred hours of programming. BBC Worldwide and Starz are currently partnered on Torchwood: Miracle Day, the fourth season of the Doctor Who spin-off series. As yet there's been no official word on renewal for Torchwood - with Starz indicating it depends on the availability of showrunner Russell Davies - but fans will be hoping the new deal between BBC Worldwide and Starz will pave the way for another season.

Jeremy Irons has said that historical drama The Borgias is 'no documentary.' Given that everybody in it died over four hundred years ago, that's probably self-explanatory. The actor plays Rodrigo Borgia - who became Pope Alexander VI - in the show and told Sky Magazine that it is more about the characters than the costumes and period details. Irons said: 'It's not a documentary, it's a great story. It's high drama and high stakes. I hope you will be inside the heads of these people and that the costumes will be the icing on the cake. But it's about the people, what they feel and why they do what they do.' Talking about the power wielded by the House of Borgia in the 1400s and 1500s, Irons added: 'There are great parallels with modern power structures - whether it's Putin and the Kremlin, Berlusconi and Rome, or Bush and America. To get things done you often have to behave in a not very admirable way. The Vatican is a powerhouse with a lot of infighting, shuffling for power, and foreign policy. So, things haven't changed much.'

Top Twenty shows week ending 31 July 2011:-
1 Coronation Street - ITV Mon - 9.40m
2 New Tricks - BBC1 Mon - 9.34m
3 EastEnders - BBC1 Mon - 8.59m
4 Emmerdale - ITV Thurs - 7.48m
5 Top Gear - BBC2 Sun - 6.76m (5.68m BBC2 + 1.08m BBC HD)
6 Ten O'Clock News - BBC1 Mon - 5.72m
7 Casualty - BBC1 Sat - 5.69m
8 Torchwood: Miracle Day - BBC1 Thurs - 5.49m
9 Richard Hammond's Journey To The Bottom - BBC1 Tues - 5.38m
10 Holby City - BBC1 Tues - 5.16m
11 Countryfile - BBC1 Sun - 5.14m
12 Dragons' Den - BBC2 Sun - 4.77m (4.39m BBC2 + 0.38m BBC HD)
13 Formula One: The Hungarian Grand Prix - BBC1 Sun - 4.76m
14 Six O'Clock News - BBC1 Mon - 4.68m
15 Law & Order: UK - ITV Sun - 4.60m*
16 The National Lottery: In It To Win It - BBC1 Sat - 4.55m
17 BBC News - BBC1 Sun - 4.34m
18 John Bishop's Britain - BBC1 Sat - 4.28m
19 The Royal - ITV Sun - 4.13m*
20 The Corrie Years - ITV Wed - 4.04m*
The Law & Order: UK, The Royal and The Corrie Years figures do not include HD so they may be a place or two higher. Top Gear ends with a series average of 6.42m, its highest for three series - bet you won't find an article on that in the Scum Torygraph. The audience for Dragons' Den's is that show's highest ever, beating the previous best by over one million. BBC2's third highest rated show was Restoration Home with 2.79m. Dynamo: Magician Impossible - which was the most watched multi-channel show for the fourth week running - ends it's run with a series high of 1.44m. BBC programmes account for twenty two of the top thirty multi-channel list. Channel Four's highest rated show was, again 24 Hours In A&E with 3.02m.

Tweet of the week is from The Lord Thy God Steven Moffat (Thou Shalt Worship No Other Gods Before He: 'I've probably never mentioned it before, but writing is really, really difficult. And I've completely forgotten how to do it. Bugger.'

Elisabeth Murdoch has agreed not to join the board of her father Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, saying that it would be 'inappropriate' for her to do so. She had been expected to join the board after News Corp acquired Shine Group, the TV production company she runs, in a deal worth four hundred and fifteen million smackers. But the embattled News Corporation said in a statement on Saturday that Elisabeth Murdoch had recently informed the board that it would be inappropriate for her to make the move. Viet Dinh, chairman of the nominating and corporate governance committee of the News Corporation board of directors, said: 'Elisabeth Murdoch suggested to the independent directors some weeks ago that she felt it would be inappropriate to include her nomination to the board of News Corp at this year's AGM, as had been announced by chairman and chief executive Rupert Murdoch at the time of the acquisition of Shine Group earlier this year. The independent directors agreed that the previously planned nomination should be delayed. Both Elisabeth and the board hope this decision reaffirms that News Corp aspires to the highest standards of corporate governance and will continue to act in the best interests of all stakeholders, be they shareholders, employees or the billions of consumers whom News Corp content informs, entertains and sometimes provokes every year.' Murdoch founded Shine ten years ago and built the company into a successful force in UK TV production, making hit shows such as Ashes to Ashes, MasterChef, Merlin and [spooks]. However, shareholders in News Corp have alleged that News Corp's board of directors failed to properly challenge Rupert Murdoch's actions in the deal, amid claims that it was a case of 'nepotism.' The shareholders, led by the Amalgamated Bank of New York and the Central Laborers Pension Fund, also accused Rupert Murdoch of treating his media empire like 'a family candy jar.' The Murdoch family controls nearly forty per cent of News Corp's voting shares through a family trust, and Murdoch's sons James and Lachlan already sit on the board. In an amended lawsuit filed in the US last month, the shareholders also hit out at 'egregious' behaviour by News Corp and failed corporate governance in the phone hacking scandal.

Olympic one hundred metre champion and world record holder Usain Bolt has become the first person to star in Channel Four's distinctive on-screen idents. The sprinter is featured in clip striking his famous 'lightning bolt' pose after winning a race and, as the camera slowly pans out, his outstretched arm appears to form part of the Channel Four logo. Channel Four usually uses clever post-production techniques and camera angles to create its logo from buildings or scenery, rather than people. 'This is the first Four ident to star a human being, and who better to choose than the fastest guy on the planet?' said the Channel Four network creative director, Tom Tagholm. 'It's a great coup for the Channel and 4Creative, and a huge privilege to work with a true sporting legend.' The ident trails the channel's exclusive coverage of the IAAF World Athletics Championships, which are being held in Daegu, South Korea, from 27 August to 4 September. It will debut on Monday night and will air on rotation in the run up to the start of the coverage. Last September the broadcaster pulled off something of a coup by winning the TV rights for the next two World Athletics Championships from the BBC, which has broadcast the event for the past twenty seven years.

Simon Cowell has said that he was 'probably wrong' to sack Cheryl Cole from The X Factor USA. The fifty one-year-old music mogul and towering egomaniac, who agreed with FOX executives that Nicole Scherzinger was more suited to the role, spoke about the saga at the Television Critics' Association press tour. Cowell said: 'There were a few of us who made a decision when we were filming the show that Cheryl we felt - and I probably got this wrong, and I'll admit it - was going to be more comfortable doing the UK show than the American show. And, you know, when you have to make decisions as a producer, you have to make hard decisions. And I'm the first to admit if you get it wrong, you have to take it on the chin.' Cowell also spoke about his failed attempts to reunite Cole with the UK X Factor, saying: 'After two cities, I offered her the job back in the UK, which initially she accepted. And then unfortunately when it went public the negotiations fell apart.'

And, speaking of people who used to be on The X Factor Dannii Minogue is reportedly being lined up for this year's I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Face On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long as Possible, I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want! The former X Factor judge is alleged to be 'high on the priority lis' of ITV bosses, according to the Daily Lies Sunday. 'Not only is she a huge name, but she is also hugely popular and could prove a huge pull in her big comeback after leaving The X Factor,' an 'insider' allegedly claimed. Whether it was the same entirely fictional 'insider' who told the Lies all about Lady Gaga appearing in Doctor Who, we can but speculate.
Minogue could potentially be joining her boyfriend Kris Smith, who was allegedly offered two hundred and fifty thousand smackers to sign up for the ITV jungle reality show. Former child star Aaron Carter, Imogen Thomas and Dollar singer Thereza Bazar are also rumoured to be in this year's line up. Not forgetting Kerry Katona, the Chuckle Brothers and Andy Townsend. Oh no, hang on, sorry that's the punchline of a Mad Frankie Boyle joke. Still, if Dannii does go in the jungle, just think, she could end up like Stacey Solomon (right). And get to meet Foxy off Foxy Bingo. That's got to be worth eating a few worms for, Dan, surely?

And, still on the subject of waste-of-space reality TV nonsense, Jenny Frost and Jeff Brazier have landed 'jobs' - if that's the right word - at OK!TV fronting the Big Brother coverage for the magazine show. Brazier - who has two children with late Big Brother regular (and racist) Jade Goody - and ex-Atomic Kitten singer Frost will host regular slots on the teatime Channel Five series, updating viewers on the latest developments from the Big Brother house. Gosh, that'll be exciting. It is not clear whether the pair will be presenting the whole show instead of Kate Walsh and Matt Johnson, or if it will just be a segment. 'I can't wait to present OK!TV. What a dream job!' Frost told the Daily Lies.

Charity activists are mobilising a campaign against the BBC for publicising the 'vile, offensive' comedy of Doug Stanhope – even though the comic actually said nothing untoward on air. The Down's Syndrome Association says that it was 'shocked' Richard Bacon promoted Stanhope's work on his afternoon Radio 5Live show last week. Despite the American's reputation for outrageous behaviour, the interview itself proceeded without incident, and as it drew to a close Bacon even thanked Stanhope for censoring himself, after the comic said that he felt the interview had been rather boring as he couldn't use any of his material. Bacon warned his audience about the nature of Stanhope's act, and said that anyone who didn't believe how it was really was as bad as he made out should seek out his routine about Sarah Palin on YouTube. Because that clip talked about Palin's son Trig, who has Down's Syndrome, the charity was outraged. Or, at least, it claimed to be. In a statement, it urged its supporters to 'bombard' the BBC with complaints about the 'abhorrent' comments, saying: 'The association is shocked that a BBC employee has publicised the work of a comedian which is nothing more than a vile offensive rant and conflicts with BBC guidelines which state a responsibility to "protect the vulnerable and avoid unjustifiable offence." As a public body the BBC should not be promoting the work of such an individual.' It's entirely arguable, of course, that Bacon did nothing of the sort and was merely advising his listeners that if they wanted to look at Stanhope's work and, you know, make their own frigging mind up instead of having it made up for them, then they could do so. Stanhope, who is in London for a month-long run at the Leicester Square Theatre, hit back, urging his own fans to lobby the BBC, too, and branding the charity 'a cabal of cowards and self-important dim-wits.' That's Doug Stanhope's opinion not one that is, necessarily shared by anyone else. In a blog post, he wrote that he had been careful to act appropriately on air, saying: 'Richard Bacon seemed to appreciate that I wasn't throwing his career into disarray by forcing parts of my act in where it didn't belong. The problem with doing a straight interview on a station that appeals to the mainstream is that some of the listeners might actually come to your show having no idea what is in store and will be sadly disappointed or butt-hurt. Mr Bacon did his best to warn his people in a very English, passive-aggressive way by using one thousand big words to say I was very offensive.' Stanhope added that he could make 'defensible points' about the material Bacon alluded to, but admitted: 'The truth is that it was just flat-out shock humor meant to appeal to the most base part of my own personal sense of awful humour.' Addressing his comments to the Down's Syndrome Association, he said: 'That 's the same sense of humor that Richard Bacon repeatedly warned you about for your own good. Yet you still sought out the clip? Imagine if Richard Bacon had actress Sasha Grey as a guest, someone who is known for her cross-over from pornography. He warns the audience over and over that some of her X-rated work would be upsetting. You race to your computer to watch, then blame Mr Bacon and implore folks to file complaints saying that Richard Bacon was "directing" you to do so? Do you see why you suck shit? You see why you are far more deserving of the moniker "retarded?" I don't care if you come after me for things that I've said. You can obviously see that I don't give a fuck. Going after a presenter and the network for having a guest who once said something years ago that was vaguely alluded to? You are a cabal of cowards and self-important dim-wits and the authorities who you run to for muscle should be the same people that deem you unfit to care for those you purport to be defending. In short, you are not fit to protect the retarded. Oh, and go fuck yourself in the head. I'm pretty drunk and bored with yelling at the stone walls that are your minds.' So ... err ... he's not a fan then, seemingly.

A film allegedly showing an underage Marilyn Monroe having sex has failed to sell at an Argentinian auction. Memorabilia collector Mikel Barsa had wanted at least two million Argentine pesos (about three hundred thousand quid) for the six-minute, black-and-white eight-mm film. Barsa claimed it showed the actress, known then as Norma Jeane Baker, around 1946 or 1947 when she was poor and desperate to break into showbusiness. However Marilyn Monroe's estate has called the film a fraud. Nancy Carlson, from the licensing company Authentic Brands Group which protects Monroe's image and estate, said the film 'doesn't even resemble' the actress. Experts on Monroe's life also say it is highly unlikely the smiling young blonde in the film is her. Barsa said it was not surprising the film did not sell. 'The latest statements of Nancy Carlson didn't do anything good for all this,' he said. 'Of course I understand their stance - Marilyn gives and produces many millions per year. They are thinking of protecting her image. There is no other way in which to interpret it,' he added. Barsa said he was still negotiating with an unidentified buyer from the US whom he said was offering much less than a fair price. But he also said his lawyers were reviewing the matter as the Authentic Brands Group warned they would sue him if the sale went through. Carlson said that any sale of the film would invite legal action for 'perpetrating a fraud on the public, violating the Monroe estate's exclusive rights to her image and other claims of intellectual property infringement.'

The Times and Daily Torygraph have attacked football's governing bodies as the lockout of sports journalists from matches over media accreditation disrupted newspaper reports over the weekend, with Tuesday night's coverage of the Carling Cup also expected to be hit like one of Peter Lorrimer's thunderbolt free kicks. Newspaper coverage of the opening matches of the football season was hit as sports journalists from national titles, news and picture agencies were locked out of all but a handful of the thirty six games, after talks broke down on Wednesday night between the Premier League, Football League and a media coalition. Many, but not all, national newspapers dropped match reports over the weekend, with a number also dropping, or limiting, mentions of sponsors' names. Many regional newspapers which take copy and pictures from news and picture services were also affected after the Press Association, a major supplier of sports content, said on Friday that it would not be covering any Football League fixtures over the weekend.
On Monday The Times opted to raise the issue in its third leader on page two, calling the opening weekend of the new season 'a farce' and saying that administrators at the football bodies 'could not be more inept. Instead of encouraging maximum coverage of matches on a marquee weekend, football's ruling bodies have minimised the projection of their product, to the detriment of fans and sponsors alike,' the paper said. Henry Winter, the Torygraph's highly respected football correspondent, called the football bodies 'short-sighted' and argued that the lockout was 'a spectacular own goal. How naïve are the leagues? Do they not want publicity? Do they not appreciate that newspapers, whether in print, online or via Twitter, keep fanning the flames of supporters' interest in clubs?' he said in a piece published on Saturday evening. 'The intelligent clubs understand the mutually beneficial relationship between them and newspapers. Rapprochement is required before a great sport suffers lasting damage.' Winter threatened that if newspapers 'fall out of love' with football they could choose focus more on sports such as cricket or rugby union to make the sport's governing bodies 'realise to their cost what an own goal this ban has been.' The Gruniad also referred to the dispute in its Monday sports section, with Matt Scott reporting that the paper's coverage had been restricted by 'our being denied access to grounds.' One of the key areas of dispute in the agreement is outdated live reporting rights – the existing deal dates back to 2003-04, two years before Twitter even launched – which are currently restricted to a number of 'windows' in a game when updates can be provided. A league source close to the negotiations rejected the notion that the football bodies are out-of-touch 'dinosaurs' and argued that newspapers are not being given the full facts on the proposals by the coalition bargaining on their behalf. 'We are not dinosaurs and we understand the mutually beneficial relationship we have with newspapers,' said the source. 'The way it's being painted I can understand the newspapers' reaction, but the feeling is over here is that they're not being given the full facts by the News Media Coalition.' They added: 'The position over Twitter and social media has been totally misrepresented by the News Media Coalition. Journalists will have greater freedom to tweet under the proposed new agreement.' Among the Football League's Championship, League One and League Two clubs which began their season at the weekend, only Brighton & Hove Albion, West Ham United and Accrington Stanley (who are they?) defied the order to bar journalists from matches. Clubs were ordered by the football bodies not to admit reporters from newspapers and media outlets who had not signed a temporary rights deal. The two sides are understood to be no closer to resuming negotiations, meaning that coverage of the thirty two matches of the opening round of the Carling Cup being played on Tuesday night look set to hit. Npower, the title sponsor of the Football League, did not provide an updated comment on the disruption beyond the statement issued on Friday that it 'hopes negotiations can be concluded swiftly.' A spokesman for Premier League sponsor Barclays, which is likely to see coverage of its brand curtailed if an agreement is not reached before kick-off this weekend, said: 'We are not going to pass any comment on this story at as we see it as separate dispute between the Premier League, Football League and the media.' The football bodies have offered media an extension of the existing deal, with a seven-day termination clause so no media outlet is tied to it, with the aim of hammering out an agreement in the first few weeks of the season. The News Media Coalition, which is collectively bargaining for news and picture agencies with the Newspaper Publishers Association, which represents most of the national titles, has rejected this offer.

Still on the subject of footie, Gabriel Obertan is set to move from The Scum to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (but, still unsellable) Magpies on Monday. The twenty two-year-old French winger signed for the Old Trafford club from Bordeaux in July 2009 but failed to gain a regular place in the first team. 'I wanted to bring pace and he will bring us genuine pace,' manager Alan Pardew told BBC Newcastle on Saturday. 'I think away from home last year that was a problem for us hitting teams on the break - Obertan will offer that.' He added: 'He hasn't had many opportunities at Manchester United. I think he'll get more opportunities here and his confidence will grow. He'll become a stronger and a more physical player. Sir Alex is somebody I know well and he thinks he'll do very well for us and so do I. It's done so much as medicals, you don't want to say it's definitely done, but we're looking forward to seeing him.' Obertan is a former attendee of France's famous Clairefontaine academy. He made twenty eight appearances and scored once in regular competition during his time at Manchester United. That strike came in United's 3-0 win away to Turkish side Bursaspor in the Champions League in November 2010. Obertan would become the fifth French speaking player to sign for Newcastle during this transfer window, following the arrivals of Demba Ba, Yohan Cabaye, Sylvain Marveaux and Mehdi Abeid. Add those to the three Frenchies (or, French speakers) they already have in Hatem Ben Arfa, Cheick Tiote and Yven Moyo and it might be a case of onions, frogs legs and a bit of the old ooh-la-la in Les Toon's salle de kit next season. C'est la Vie. Rumours that Monsieur Joey Le Barton has a bit of the hot Latin temperament in him cannot, at this time, be confirmed or denied.

Saimaiti Aishan clinched his fourth Guinness World Record on Saturday after walking across a fifteen-metre steel tightrope suspended thirty metres above the ground by two hot air balloons. It took him just three minutes and thirty eight seconds to cover the distance on a windy day in Xinning County in southern China's Hunan Province. Aishan now plans a similar feat with helicopters instead of balloons...
Meanwhile, rioting has spread across London on a third night of violence, with unrest flaring up in other English cities. An extra seventeen hundred police officers were deployed in London, where shops were looted and buildings were set alight. Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester and Bristol also experienced disturbance. The prime minister has returned early from his holiday to discuss the unrest, which first flared on Saturday after a peaceful protest in Tottenham over the fatal shooting of a man by police. Because, of course, as everyone knows, what's really needed to calm down an already inflamed situation is to thieve a new pair of trainers and a wide-screen HD-ready telly. Two football matches have been postponed and questions raised over other sporting events after a third successive night of rioting. Tuesday's games at Charlton and West Ham United were called off on police advice. In the case of the latter, that was something of a pity as this blogger feels obese buffoon Sam Allardyce could've been given to the rioters for target practice to appease their wrathful and naughty ways. Might've helped. Might not have, but it would have been pure dead funny in any case. BBC Sport says that it understands the Football Association will 'hold a routine meeting with police' on Tuesday over whether England's friendly with the Netherlands will go ahead. England's cricket team were locked in their hotel ahead of the Test against India amid trouble in Birmingham. The team are staying in the city centre ahead of Wednesday's contest at Edgbaston, with England scheduled the practise at the ground on Tuesday. Batsman Kevin Pietersen relayed the information to broadcaster and oily twat Piers Morgan in a tweet. 'They have just locked our hotel in Birmingham mate. Riots just started here. Insane,' stated Pietersen. His colleague Tim Bresnan added on the social networking site: 'Just seen the rioters in Birmingham fleeing down the main street followed by a load of police in the full get up. What's going on?' It's a riot, mate. You're from Leeds, surely you've seen one of them before? BBC sports news reporter Joe Wilson said on Tuesday that nearby hotels had been advised to lock their doors. He wrote: 'Helicopters circling over Bull Ring, about half mile from England hotel. Spoke to England head of security, confident all players safe.' Meanwhile, the FA will be guided by police advice, but at this stage is planning for Wednesday's game between England and the Netherlands to go ahead. A Metropolitan Police spokesman added: 'Every football match in London is subject to assessment around police resources.' The managing director of Club England, Adrian Bevington, stated that he was heading to Wembley Stadium early on Tuesday to discuss the matter. 'Deplorable scenes of disorder once more - heading into Wembley now for meetings,' he tweeted. Isn't it just beyond great to know that, these days, journalists appear to get all of their information about anything from frigging Twitter? West Ham said in a statement that they were informed by police that 'all major public events in London were to be rearranged because of the need to focus police resources elsewhere.' A Metropolitan Police spokesman said they were 'aware' of the West Ham statement, but were 'unable to comment' on any potential impact on the England game at this stage. Crystal Palace are also set to play Crawley Town at Selhurst Park on Tuesday and that game may also be affected, given the stadium is close to the scene of disorder in Croydon. In London, violence broke out for a third consecutive day with riot police deployed and firefighters tackling blazes across the capital, following disturbances in Tottenham on Saturday evening and Enfield on Sunday night. Shops were looted and buildings, among them a furniture store in Croydon, set alight as police clashed with youths. West Ham's game against Aldershot was the first to be called off, announcing the news on the Hammers website. Charlton's stadium, The Valley, is close to Lewisham where rioting occurred on Monday. A statement on Charlton's website read: 'Clearly the most important factor is the people's safety. The police have told us they believe the match should be postponed on safety grounds and obviously we have taken that advice.' Meanwhile, BBC sports news reporter Leon Mann tweeted: 'Organisers of Ghana v Nigeria tell me game still set to go ahead tomorrow at Watford FC as planned.' Nevertheless, there is a very good - thoughtful and balanced - piece in, of all papers, the Torygraph by Mary Riddell on the subject of 'the underclass.' 'Over a few days in which attacks became a contagion the capital city of an advanced nation has reverted to a Hobbesian dystopia of chaos and brutality.' Aye. It's happened before, and it'll happen again. I am, however, indebted to Danny Baker for retweeting a posting by Andrew Male on watching these events from a safe distance. 'Newsnight. It all feels like the Du Long bridge scene in Apocalypse Now: Willard: "Who's in charge here, soldier?" Soldier: "Ain't you?"'

And, finally, there's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. Which, today, comes from Levi and the boys. Style.