Tuesday, September 20, 2011

My Mama Said The Time Would Come When I Would Find Myself In Love With You

ITV Player, the broadcaster's catch-up TV service, crashed on Sunday night after thousands of users went online to watch the first episode of the new series of Downton Abbey. This came just hours after the show's producer and cast had been busy congratulating themselves on a successful night at the EMMYs and hanging out with all the Nobs. And, lovely Joanne Froggatt was looking for all the world like a hamster has just run up her skirt. See right, for proof. Punters hoping to catch up on the return of the acclaimed period drama after it was broadcast on ITV at 9pm on Sunday evening to nearly nine million viewers were left disappointed after ITV Player only showed three adverts on a continuous loop instead of the programme itself. Later, a grovelling apology was posted on the site saying that ITV was experiencing 'technical difficulties' and could 'not offer the show at this time.' The problems were thought to have lasted for at least another two hours once the apology was put up. An ITV spokesman said in a statement: 'We are investigating and apologise to those who were unable to use the service during this time.' Frustrated viewers used Twitter to complain about the crash which, of course, got all of the press's attention as Twitter is now, officially, The Arbiter of All Things. But the ITV Player official Twitter account failed to respond to any of the whinging. Jonathan Wood, the director of marketing and business development for digital media at Interxion, told the Gruniad that ITV's 'sluggish response' to the problems showed that broadcasters 'still view online TV as a secondary priority.' I like this way that's broadcasters - plural - when it was only one that had made an arse of things. Bet the BBC, Channel Four and Sky are delighted by that. 'Due to its rapid growth, online broadcasting is still seen as a poor relation by some broadcast providers, relative to traditional broadcasting,' he said. 'Yet viewers expect to be able to watch their favourite programmes whenever they want, with minimal latency or downtime. A crash like that experienced by ITV Player viewers during Downton Abbey last night results in bad press and lost viewers and advertising revenue. Given the speed at which consumers can find out (and complain) about downtime thanks to social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook, it's surprising that online broadcasting isn't a top priority for all providers.' Wood called on all broadcasters to upgrade their online TV infrastructure to always ensure an 'excellent viewer experience. Broadcasters need to ensure that their streaming platform is hosted in a highly secure, highly resilient environment with multiple routes to the audience and that capacity can be scaled up to meet peaks in demand,' he said. 'While consumers will probably never be aware of its existence within the content delivery supply chain, data centres lie at the heart of fast, efficient streaming and, ultimately, an excellent viewer experience.'

Meanwhile, the Metro really seem to have it in for Downton. Two days ago they ran a piece reporting the comments of the acclaimed historian AN Wilson who described the drama as 'bollocks, basically!' Wilson added: 'Julian Fellowes has claimed that Downton Abbey - which is sheer fantasy and a sanitised version of the past - is realistic and that we ought to go back to the old days. I'm not being po-faced about it, but a programme that depicted the real lives of servants would have been an interesting one. It's worth emphasising how dirty and how smelly life was for almost everybody before about 1950.' Wilson, of course - a very good writer, his 2002 book The Victorians is particularly recommended - has previous form over this kind of thing. Last year, he spoke about the hit series, saying that he considers it glorifies 'an ordering of society that was hateful in real life.' Anyway, not content with that, the next day, Metro led with Downton Abbey fans angered by twenty three minutes of adverts in ninety minute show. Which, to be fair, was also something picked up on by the Daily Scum Mail. Makes a welcome change for the Scum to be whinging about something other than the BBC, admittedly. 'Viewers also accused Downton Abbey, written by Julian Fellowes, of historical inaccuracy after a character used the phrase "As if,"' they added, in a snooty manner that could have come from the lips of Lord Snotty himself. Of course now Lord Snotty will now, likely, spend weeks sulking about this until he finds some obscure novel from 1913 which includes the very phrase (as a signifier of disbelief). And then, he'll do his customary 'Aha! I was right and you were wrong. Because I'm frightfully posh and you're all left-wingers and grubby middle-class oiyks' thing. Which, lets face it, is always amusing. Has the Downton Abbey backlash started? Probably not. But it's fun watching the newspapers trying to decide if it's time to turn on the show or not already.

And, speaking of backs that get lashed for not good reason other than political dogma and rank glakery, Top Gear fans (and yer actual Keith Telly Topping his very self in one of them) you've better hold on to your gear sticks. The massively popular BBC2 motoring show's Christmas special will this year be filmed in India. Jezza Clarkson and his cohorts will be on location in a couple of weeks time, he told his local online news service, Witney TV. 'We always keep it a secret each year then I like to blow it,' said Jez. 'We'll just film and film and film.' Clarkson also reckoned that the show isn't anywhere near as controversial as some sick media scum with an agenda like to make out. 'The Daily Mail calls it "sparked fury" but actually when you look there's been two complaints out of five or six million people. It's not really sparking fury. A couple of people were mildly irritated. You learn to ignore it.'

Michael McIntyre has reportedly left Britain's Got Talent. ITV has confirmed that McIntyre will not return for a second series. He is believed to have quit in order to focus on a UK stand-up tour. 'We wish him all the best and look forward to working with him again,' an ITV spokesman said. McIntyre is quoted by the Sun as saying: 'I absolutely loved being a judge but have been itching to get back on stage myself. I wish the show and production team every success.' A 'source' allegedly added: 'Michael has been weighing it up for a while as he does like the show and enjoyed being on the panel, but his first love is comedy and he wanted to embark on a tour and concentrate on that.' McIntyre joined Britain's Got Talent at the end of 2010. It is not yet known who will replace the Comedy Roadshow host on the talent programme. It was recently alleged that fellow judge David Hasselhoff's position on the ITV show was also under threat, although Simon Cowell later insisted that 'no decisions' have been taken on the make-up of next year's panel. Soon, only lonely Amanda will be left.

Rupert Everett, Miranda Richardson and Anne-Marie Duff are joining Benedict Cumberbatch in Tom Stoppard's adaptation of Parade's End for BBC2. Filming has already started on the five-part drama, which also stars Rebecca Hall and heralds Stoppard's return to British television. The adaptation of four novels by Ford Madox Ford is set during a formative period of British history – the time between the last years of the Edwardian era and the end of the first world war. Cumberbatch plays an English aristocrat, Christopher Tietjens, and Hall his wife Sylvia. The supporting cast includes The Thick of It's Roger Allam, Janet McTeer, The Shadow Line's Freddie Fox, Boardwalk Empire actor Jack Huston and Luther's Steven Robertson. Parade's End is produced by Oscar and BAFTA-winning David Parfitt, whose credits include Shakespeare in Love, and directed by award-winning Susanna White, who worked on films including Jane Eyre and Nanny McPhee. The production is being made by Mammoth Screen. Stoppard is executive producing Parade's End, along with Mammoth founders Michele Buck and Damien Timmer. It is being made in association with HBO and will be broadcast next year. The BBC controller of drama commissioning, Ben Stephenson, said: 'It's great to be working with HBO again on this ambitious project which further demonstrates BBC2's ongoing commitment to original British drama in 2012. 'The stellar cast assembled simply confirms the buzz and excitement around Sir Tom Stoppard's return to British television.'
The Attorney General is to decide on whether the police's proposed prosecution of the Gruniad under the Official Secrets Act (until they squeak) was 'in the public interest.' The Gruniad's editor four-eyed little twerp Alan Rusbridger posted on Twitter on Monday afternoon that 'a legal source' - anonymous, of course, which seems to be the only sort of source the Gruniad is comfortable in quoting these days - had 'indicated' that the police had contacted the Crown Prosecution Service to 'seek advice' on using the Official Secrets Act against the newspaper. A spokesman for Attorney General, Dominic Grieve, said that he would liaise with the CPS to assess whether there was 'sufficient evidence' that the act had been breached by the paper, and whether a prosecution would be in the public interest. 'It is a matter for the police to decide how best to carry out any investigation. If the police provide evidence that would support a charge under Section Five of the Official Secrets Act the Attorney General's consent would be required,' said the spokesman. 'If that stage is reached, the Attorney General, with the DPP, will consider whether there is sufficient evidence and whether the public interest is in favour of bringing a prosecution.' Scotland Yard detectives, the Gruniad claim, want to use the act to force Gruniad journalists, including Nick Davies and Amelia Hill, who revealed that murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler's phone was targeted by the Scum of the World, to disclose their sources. Earlier this month, Hill was also questioned by police investigating alleged leaks from the Operation Weeting investigation into hacking at the Scum of the World. The attempt to use the Official Secrets Act against the Gruniad has been widely condemned by rival newspapers and many politicians. And Hugh Grant but, to be honest, nobody was all that interested in him. Dear God, even the Scum Mail's fighting the good fight for them. Well, once you get past the first paragraph, anyway. Alan Rusbridger said last Friday that the newspaper will 'resist' any demands from the Metropolitan Police to disclose its confidential sources. As noted previously, if this does go the distance then one possible final outcome is spekcy little full-of-his-own-importance Rusbridger himself spending a bit of time at Her Majesty's. Which would be a journalistic tragedy, an outrage, a dreadful abuse of official power - and quite possibly against European Human Rights law. But it owuld, also, admittedly be really funny.

According to the TV Rage website, the new four part Phil Glennister BBC1 drama Hidden begins on Monday 3 October. It's provisional slot for now, the final schedules will be confirmed on Wednesday. Written by Ronan Bennett, Hidden looks a corker. Glenister stars as Harry Vennas a solicitor who finds himself being forced to revisit his past and quickly finds himself caught up in a much more complex and deeper conspiracy.

The BBC is suing an Italian television channel owned by Silvio Berlusconi after accusing the broadcaster of ripping off the Strictly Come Dancing format. BBC Worldwide, the corporation's commercial arm, has brought in the lawyers over claims that Mediaset breached copyright by commissioning a raunchier version of the dance show, which returned to UK screens this month. An Italian version of Strictly Come Dancing, given the international title Dancing With The Stars, has been produced by the Italian public broadcast channel Rai for six years and is fully licensed by the BBC. However, Berlusconi's Mediaset is understood to have plans to launch a rival show called Baila! on its Canale Five channel. The programme is based on a South American format, called Bailando Por Un Sueno, or Dancing For A Dream. The BBC has already threatened legal action against the 'pornographic' version of Bailando broadcast in Argentina, after a model danced topless and simulated sex with her partner. Rai and the BBC have now jointly lodged a legal action against Mediaset in a court in Rome. But Mediaset claim that there are key differences in the two formats, such as that Strictly Come Dancing partners celebrities with professional dancers, while Bailando mixes talented amateurs with famous faces. Pier Silvio Berlusconi, the prime minister's son and Mediaset deputy chairman, said in a statement: 'It is a dancing talent show with the peculiarity of involving both celebrities and normal people. The dance talent show is a format that works on commercial television everywhere in the world. We certainly wouldn't claim that the only reality format is Big Brother.' Strictly Come Dancing has become one of the BBC's most successful exports, licensed to over thirty five countries around the world. The brand - along with the BBC's other successful brands like Doctor Who and Top Gear - helped Worldwide deliver record underlying profits of one hundred and sixty million smackers in the year to 31 March on recession-defying revenue of £1.16 billion. A spokesman for the BBC said: 'BBC Worldwide takes the protection of its copyright extremely seriously and is currently undertaking legal action in Italy to protect its Dancing With The Stars format. It has been named as the world's most successful reality TV format and has been licensed to over thirty five international broadcasters. It is very important to BBC Worldwide and its international licensees that the format is protected from infringement.'

Chinese regulators have told a TV station to stop broadcasting a popular talent show called Super Girl. The authorities say the programme is 'too long' - although many suspect other reasons for its removal. Hunan Satellite Television, which makes the programme, said it would broadcast shows which 'promote moral ethics and public safety instead.' Chinese officials often ban TV programmes which they think are 'too vulgar' or 'not suitable.' The State Administration of Radio, Film and Television told the Hunan station that Super Girl broke time rules for this kind of show. They should be no more than ninety minutes long, but episodes of Super Girl - in which women of all ages compete in a singing contest - can last more than three hours. But a 'senior employee' at the station told the BBC that regulators were 'jealous' of the popularity and financial success of Super Girl. 'It is widely believed that the real reason for the ban is that Hunan TV's talent programmes have been extremely popular,' she said. 'Sometimes its audience can exceed that of the national broadcaster, something that causes unhappiness in SARFT. It's all down to interests.' Some media commentators have also suggested that the programme was 'too low-brow' or in bad taste - a reason often given by regulators for banning a particular programme. Or, as the Washington Post argues, China's Super Girl talent show canceled for being too democratic? The authorities have just taken a whole channel off air for a month because it broadcast a show that it said had caused a 'negative impact on society.' The station, in Shijiazhuang in Hebei province, got into trouble for putting out a drama showing a son abusing his father. Regulators said they had taken action because it had 'misrepresented' events, magnified family conflict and 'depicted disrespect to an elderly parent.' The production company involved has had its licence revoked for three years. Hunan Satellite Television said it would abide by the regulators' decision to ban Super Girl next year and would instead show more uplifting programmes. 'The channel will air programmes that promote moral ethics and public safety, and provide practical information for housework," Li Hao, the station's deputy editor-in-chief, was quoted as saying.

This one definitely put a smile on yer actual Keith Telly Topping's face. The Horror Channel has acquired a selection of Hammer classics from Studio Canal to run a season devoted to the golden age of British gothic filmmaking this Halloween. The channel, part of a joint venture between CBS Studios International and Chello Zone, has announced this week that its Hammer Horror Halloween Season, featuring classics such as Dracula, The Curse of Frankenstein and The Mummy airing every Saturday night in October. The season has been made possible after The Horror Channel secured a deal for thirty classic horror movies from Studio Canal. The deal includes both the terrible - The Scars of Dracula and the var-nigh perfect - Frankenstein Created Woman along with movies like Blood From The Mummy's Tomb and influential zombie favourite The Plague of the Zombies. Each film will be accompanied by an exclusive introduction by horror aficionado, author, broadcaster, critic and all-round top chap yer actual Kim Newman. The season will also be covered by a two-week, on-air sponsorship campaign from Sega for its new Xbox Kinect game Rise of Nightmares. The deal starts next week. Adam Robinson, the director of programming for Chello Zone, said: 'We are proud to bring classic Hammer Horror, representing the best in British gothic, to UK audiences this autumn. The collection will offer a brilliantly bloody run-up to Halloween. The Sega deal, in the meantime, celebrates our search for new innovations in horror and represents our dedication to the genre, both film-based and beyond.' And, remember, if you need a half-way decent guide book to many of the movies featured then I can think of at least one potential purchase. Tragically, you have to sell your granny to afford a copy these days.

Radiohead will perform on an hour-long special of The Colbert Report. That's one certain way to make one of the funniest programmes on television a whole hell of a lot less funny.

The Iranian authorities have arrested a group of film-makers and accused them of working for the BBC Persian service, which is banned in the country. Rumours that some lice in this country would also like to make working for the BBC a criminal offence cannot, at this time, be denied. Iranian state TV reports that the group of six were 'paid to make secret reports' for the Farsi-language service. The BBC says no-one works for the Persian service inside the country - either formally or informally. The arrests came just a day after the service had showed a documentary on Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. The BBC's James Reynolds says that the channel's signal, which is sometimes accessible inside Iran, was disrupted during the broadcast. The corporation said the documentary on the ayatollah was an in-house production and none of the six film-makers had been involved with it. 'The individuals in question are independent documentary film-makers whose films have been screened in festivals and other venues internationally,' said the statement. 'As is common practice for the channel's documentary showcase programme, BBC Persian television bought the rights to broadcast these films.' The BBC's language service chief Liliane Landor said BBC Persian had done 'nothing unusual' in buying the rights to independent films. She said the arrests were part of the 'ongoing efforts by the Iranian government to put pressure on the BBC' to 'influence its impartial and balanced coverage' of its Farsi-language TV broadcasts. Which will probably sound familiar to the Daily Scum Mail. The corporation said BBC Persian has been subject to 'increasing and aggressive jamming from within Iran'. The channel has suffered deliberate attempts to interfere with its signal intermittently since its launch in 2009.

A German drinks company has succeeded in trademarking the word fuck. In German, admittedly. Liquor manufacturer EFAG was this week awarded legal protection of the brand name 'Ficken', which translates to the popular four-letter swearword in English, by the country's Federal Patent Court. The company launched its challenge after being denied exclusivity of the name 'Ficken' schnapps by the German Patent and Trademark Office, which repeatedly refused to register the name after deeming it to be socially offensive. EFAG will now own the 'Ficken' trademark for clothing, mineral water and fruit drinks, as well as alcoholic drinks. The court ruled that although the brand name was' in poor taste,' it was not 'sexually discriminatory' and did not violate public morals.It therefore told objectors to 'fick aus.' EFAG's case was helped when the court discovered 'ficken' in the definitive German dictionary and determined that it was used by people 'in the widest range of social classes and age groups.'

Barry Gibb lookalike Robbie Savage has reportedly 'blasted' the Daily Scum Mail over an article about his Strictly Come Dancing partner Ola Jordan. Savage mocked the newspaper's reporting of a story based around pictures of the pair leaving training with what they describe as a glum expression. 'Is that actually a story a man carrying a lady's bag! Wow,' he wrote on Twitter. 'Just seen piece in Daily Mail! For the record, I was carrying Ola's bags, we are not staying at hotel together and we are happy. Then Ola came to my house for dinner with Mrs S who got on so well! Ola was not, hasn't been glum at all. We are like brother and sister!' Earlier, Savage confessed that he had been struggling in early Strictly training sessions. 'I'm just not getting it and am a massive weak link,' said the footballer.

According to the Metro, Geri Halliwell says her daughter is 'just like me in every respect.' So, to sum up, she's not a very good singer, not a very good dancer but she's still, infinitely, preferable to any of the Beckham children? Sounds about right.

And, finally, the new film adaptation of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy - which, of course, yer actual Keith Telly Topping went to see yesterday - has topped the UK and Ireland box office. And, rightly too. The movie, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival earlier this month, took a total of just under three million in ticket sales during its opening weekend. The Inbetweeners, which had held the top spot for four weeks, fell one place. The Change-Up debuted at five, I Don't How She Does It opened in seventh place and new release Thirty Minutes Or Less was at number ten. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, based on the seminal espionage novel by John le Carré, stars Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Benedict Cumberbatch, Toby Jones, Mark Strong, John Hurt and, in a movie-stealing cameo, Kathy Burke. It was originally adapted into a BBC drama in 1979 featuring Alec Guinness. At number three this week was romantic comedy Friends With Benefits.

The latest Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day is a necessary reminder that it's not just Red Bull® that gives you wings. Here's The Assembled Maccas. With a masterpiece.