Monday, August 29, 2011

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!