Saturday, December 31, 2011

Waiting For Today To Happen

The BBC has released a rather sexy new trailer featuring a range of forthcoming dramas such as Upstairs Downstairs, Sherlock and Call the Midwife. The trailer highlights forthcoming dramas on the BBC which will include the second series of Sherlock - which begins on New Year's Day. The trailer also offers Upstairs Downstairs fans their first glimpse of the second series. The BBC's revival of the classic period drama continues the story of 165 Eaton Place and its residents in the years leading up to the Second World War. Keeley Hawes, Ed Stoppard and Anne Reid return for the second series while Alex Kingston joins the cast as Blanche Mottershead, the sister of Lady Holland. The trailer also features footage from other forthcoming dramas such as 1950s based Call the Midwife, recently announced Prisoners Wives and the adaptation of Birdsong.

Gillian Anderson has confessed that she did not study previous incarnations of Miss Havisham for the BBC's latest adaptation of Charles Dickens's Great Expectations. The actress insisted that she did not want to copy other actresses' portrayals of the tortured spinster and had her own ideas about how the character should come to life. 'My fear is always I've been taking on something else that already exists. So I deliberately haven't gone through other versions or even old line drawings. I'm fascinated by the previous incarnations but will try not to compare. My intention is to be as close to my first impression of her,' Anderson explained to BBC News. 'I had an idea for a grey which I didn't think existed,' said Anderson of her contribution to the character's look. 'There was a specific grey I felt her hair should be, which they were able to find. It's kind of opaque and translucent but at the same time holds light. It's not white, it's not too grey, it's just this middle non-colour.' Anderson, forty three, also defended the fact that she is the youngest actress to have portrayed Miss Havisham on screen, adding: 'Dickens doesn't qualify Miss Havisham's age specifically. If you add up the numbers at the time, it makes sense she would have been about thirty seven. This is me, at this age, this actress being hired for a particular reason and honouring that. I'm not going to say, "I'm not doing this because you should have hired an older actress."'

If you missed Qi XL on Friday evening because you'd seen the standard Qi episode the night before, dear blog reader, then you missed a particular treat. The extended edition of the BBC's popular intelligence quiz, in addition to Big, Shouty, Mad-as-Toast Brian Blessed's hilarious antics also included a wonderful (if downright bizarre) little anti-Showjumping rant from Sean Lock. It was, frankly, worth next year's licence fee all on its own.
The transformation of Stratford in East London, ready for the 2012 Olympics, has been recognised in the opening titles of the BBC drama EastEnders. The new graphics, which show the Olympic Park, including the stadium, will be first broadcast on New Year's Day.
This will also be the final episode for long-serving cast member Pam St Clement, who plays Pat Evans. An EastEnders spokesperson said that the new titles would welcome in what will be a 'truly remarkable New Year in E20. As we say farewell to a legend of over twenty six years we welcome in what will be a truly remarkable New Year in E20 by adding the Olympic Village into the opening title sequence.' St Clement has played Big Fat Cuddly Pat, formerly Butcher, since 1986, a year after the BBC1 soap launched.

Big Justin Moorhouse - whom yer actual Keith Telly Topping met at this year's Edinburgh Festival (he's a friend of a friend) - was the latest winner of BBC1's Celebrity Mastermind on Friday evening. Answering questions on his comedy hero, Les Dawson, Justin (seen to the right with question master John Humphreys) also proved a big hit in the general knowledge round ending up with twenty eight points, ahead of rivals Escape To The Country presenter Jules Hudson, former Test cricketer Matthew Hoggard and Coronation Street actor Ray Fearon.

Eddie Izzard has admitted to finding the filming of Treasure Island 'very hard.' The comedian, who plays John Silver in the much-anticipated Sky1 drama, said that the entire team struggled to cope with the extreme conditions they experienced while shooting. 'We filmed it in Dublin this time last year. It was absolutely freezing and snow was coming down,' he told the Sun. 'Then we went over to Puerto Rico which was lots of winter sun. We had been freezing, then we went there and just moaned about being too hot. The humidity there was unbelievable. And trying to have a sword fight on soft sand is very hard.' Eddie recently told the Digital Spy website that he was pleased the new Treasure Island had snubbed the 'clichéd' representation of pirates. 'I agreed to do it because it is a Goodfellas-style kick-ass version,' he said. 'We want to keep everyone watching it, but we also want to add a real edge to it.'

Fatima Whitbread has reportedly been hired as This Morning's new fitness expert. Must avoid obvious punchline ...

Actress Helena Bonham Carter and diminutive veteran comedian Ronnie Corbett are among the stars of stage and screen to be recognised in the New Year Honours. They both become CBEs. Bonham Carter said that she was thrilled 'though not sure that I deserve it.' Something which could be said about others receiving official recognition for what they do. Whatever that is. TV mogul Peter Bazalgette, Royal Opera House music director Antonio Pappano and poet Geoffrey Hill become knights. Author Penelope Lively is made a dame. Clive James, Lorraine Kelly and Stuart Hall are also honoured. Clive James? What the hell was his gong for? Services to being odiously smug? Bonham Carter, forty five, who won a best supporting actress BAFTA and an Oscar nomination this year for playing Queen Elizabeth in The King's Speech, said: 'I always thought my father deserved a medal for facing twenty five years of chronic disability with quiet daily heroism, so I am delighted to accept such a wonderful honour in his memory.' She added: 'I am wondering does it mean I get to command? Because, at the moment, it's my four-year-old daughter who does the commanding in our household. Must inform her of the change in situation.' Poet Dannie Abse, Royal Court Theatre chairman Anthony Burton and Scottish National Portrait Gallery director James Holloway are also among those who are appointed CBEs. Writer and broadcaster James is also becomes a CBE, for 'services to literature and the media' apparently. So, not for being odiously smug, then? Okay. Glad we cleared that one up so quickly. Music producer Steve Lillywhite, who has worked with acts including The U2 Grup (featuring Mr Bonio), Morrissey and Peter Gabriel, is made a CBE for services to music. Sports reporter Stuart Hall, eighty two, who joined the BBC in 1959 and who also presented It's a Knockoutand its international spin-off Jeux Sans Frontières between 1972 and 1982 is appointed OBE alongside Sky News special correspondent Alex Crawford. Presenter Lorraine Kelly, a patron of the Association for International Cancer Research (and surrogate mum to a generation of students), becomes an OBE for services to charity and the armed forces. Marcus Davey - artistic director at London's The Roundhouse - novelist Maggie Gee, and Frieze Art Fair founders Amanda Sharp and Matthew Slotover are also among those receiving OBEs. Actor David Harewood, whose roles include Nelson Mandela in BBC drama Mrs Mandela, becomes an OBE, as does illustrator Alex Brychta, best known for his work with author Roderick Hunt on The Magic Key series of educational books.

The Football League reportedly 'remains hopeful' that a new deal can be agreed with the BBC over match highlights, despite the corporation angering fans by scaling back its coverage over the festive period. Football fans were 'shocked' (according to a bunch of national newspapers although they provide no actual evidence of this) at the decision by the BBC not to air a highlights package of the Boxing Day games this week. They face further disappointment as the broadcaster will not air a show on News Year's Eve either. This means that the next scheduled Football League Show will not be broadcast until 14 January, despite a full schedule of fixtures on Bank Holiday Monday. After a handful of fans showed their frustration at the move on Twitter, Football League Show presenter Manish Bhasin tweeted: 'I understand your frustration.' The BBC said that the decision was made because its deal with the FA only covers highlights of Saturday games, meaning any other fixtures are outside its 'contractual obligations.' It added that the lack of a programme tomorrow, despite it being a Saturday, was due to the 'packed BBC1 schedule' for the end of year celebrations. The BBC has rights to broadcast ten live matches from the Football League under its current deal, but Sky will be the sole broadcaster of live games from next season. Sky is understood to have agreed to pay one hundred and ninety five million smackers for a new three-year deal - around sixty million quid less than its current joint deal with the BBC, which expires this year. The corporation is facing tough budget constraints and has already announced plans to scale back its sport coverage, including a fifteen per cent reduction in expenditure on sports rights. The Football League is understood to be in negotiations with the BBC over a new deal which would result in The Football League Show continuing on BBC1 on Saturday nights. However, BBC head of sport Barbara Slater told the Daily Torygraph last week that bidding for live football rights may be out of the BBC's reach in the future. She said: 'The truth is that some live football rights have got out of reach in terms of their value.' The BBC's current Premier League highlights deal - enabling it to screen Match of the Day on Saturday nights - expires in 2013. The rights will be put out to tender in the New Year.
News International has allegedly set aside a one hundred million wonga legal fund to serve as settlements for the victims of phone-hacking. Rupert Murdoch's company, currently facing civil litigation actions involving about fifty five people, is believed to have added to the initial twenty million quid it invested in the fund upon its creation in April. The newspaper group's legal team are in the final stages of negotiation in several of the cases and, according to the Independent, settlements for those involved are to be announced imminently. News International will see several test cases - including actions from Jude Law and Paul Gascoigne - go to trial in February, prompting a senior lawyer to comment that its eighty million knicker cash injection 'indicates they are serious to avoid further damage in court.' Metropolitan Police have claimed that at least around eight hundred people were hacked by News International, meaning that the company could still face many more claims for damages. News International has so far settled thirteen cases and is believed to have paid out between seven and ten million quid in total. Alleged 'sources' at the company allegedly say it is allegedly 'committed' to reaching speedy resolutions 'with those who have been affected.' Or, in other words, with those who have been criminally wronged by the organisation.

The lack of culture secretary has rejected claims that the London 2012 Games should be an 'austerity' Olympics. The vile and odious rascal Hunt told the Daily Torygraph that rather than cutting its budget, the economic downturn meant the event's opportunities must be 'harnessed.' What a pity he didn't use the same rationale with regard to the BBC, eh? The vile and odious rascal Hunt said voters would not forgive the government if it failed to make the most of the Games. The government has provided over nine billion smackers for the Games - up from an estimate of two and a half billion at the time of the bid in 2005. The vile and odious rascal Hunt said: 'You can take two attitudes to the Olympics. You can say: "These are times of austerity and therefore we should pare them down as much as possible." Or, you can say: "Because these are times of austerity we need to do everything we possibly can to harness the opportunity of the Olympics."' The minister said that hosting the Olympics would have 'a massively positive impact' on economic confidence. 'We're going to be the centre of global attention and it will be the first time that we've had a major sporting event that's watched live by half the world's population. People would not forgive us if we didn't make the absolute most of this moment. This is going to be an incredible expression of Britain's culture, Britain's history and Britain's creativity. So, we decided that the sensible thing to do is to make sure that we finance it properly.'

Sacked breakfast TV flop Adrian Chiles has 'opened up' about his axing from Daybreak, admitting that he has to take 'a lot of blame' for the show's failure. Yes, we'd noticed, mate. Chiles moved to the ITV breakfast programme along with his former ONE Show colleague Christine Bleakley last September in an outburst of sheer greed, but the pair were ignominiously fired just fifteen months later following consistently low ratings and a public reputation somewhat lower than rattlesnakes piss. Speaking after he and Bleakley hosted their final Daybreak episode earlier this month, Chiles confessed to being 'dead wrong' for a daytime audience and noted that viewers had started to pick up on the 'doubt' that he harboured. Yes, we know. 'Looking back on it, am I right for breakfast TV? I thought I was dead right for it, and now I think I was probably dead wrong,' he told the Daily Scum Mail. 'What housewife wants to look at me in the mornings? A lot of blame has to come to my door. At the end, we felt as if we were getting somewhere. That's the frustration of it. It did start to gnaw away. The game's up when you start to doubt yourself - and sometimes I did. I'm generally not happy in my skin. Everyone would say I didn't look comfortable, and the more they said it, the more uncomfortable and grumpy I got.' Chiles also addressed his somewhat fiery comments about ITV's handling of is Daybreak departure last month, explaining that he had 'lashed out' because he felt 'humiliated' that the news of his being tin-tacked had leaked. 'It got a bit messy in the end, as these things always do,' he said. 'Maybe if I'd gone in on all fours and begged, it might have made a difference. But probably not - the decision had been made at a high corporate level. Perhaps there was a conspiracy. I don't know. I was a bit humiliated. But it wasn't as if they'd leaked that I had six nipples - it was something that was true.' Yes, we know. The forty four-year-old added that still he does not regret his decision to defect from the BBC. One imagines that his bank manager doesn't either. 'I've learned so much about television in the last eighteen months. I'm a better and much more experienced broadcaster than if I'd stayed at the BBC. With ITV you live and die by the sword, but I haven't got a problem with that. I'm battered, but not broken, and, ultimately, I still feel very lucky.' And very rich too, he forgot to add that.

Revellers around the world are celebrating the end of 2011 and starting to see in 2012. Bad weather prompted some New Zealand planners to cancel outdoor events, but a fireworks display off Auckland's Sky Tower started at midnight (11:00 GMT). Sydney is set to kick off New Year's Eve celebrations with a multi-million dollar fireworks display later. They usually do that kind of thing very well, the Aussies, to be fair. Samoa and Tokelau were first to toast in 2012 after skipping a day by jumping west across the international dateline. As the clock struck midnight as 29 December ended, the two South Pacific island nations fast-forwarded to 31 December, missing out on 30 December entirely. Samoa announced the decision in May in a bid to improve ties with major trade partners Australia and New Zealand, and neighbouring Tokelau decided to follow suit in October. Tourists and locals partied throughout Saturday as Samoa revelled in being the first country to ring in the new year, rather than the last as it always has been in the past. Now it's in line with other Pacific island groups like Kiribati, Tonga, Nauru, Tuvalu and Fiji. In New Zealand, heavy rain meant celebrations in Palmerston North, Mount Maunganui, Rotorua and on Wellington's waterfront were called off, the New Zealand Herald reported. Paris, Rome, Athens and other major European cities will likely be glad to see the back of a year that has seen the continent embroiled in economic woes. For the UK, meanwhile, New Year's Eve is just the start of a year of festivities that will include the Queen's diamond jubilee and the London Olympics. In Brazil, revellers are set to enjoy a fireworks display on the beaches of Rio de Janeiro. And hundreds of thousands will pack into New York's Times Square later for the ceremonial ball-dropping at midnight. New year celebrations will continue well into Sunday morning UK time with the Mariana Islands Eniwetok and Kwaialein, American Samoa and the tiny island of Niue having to wait until twenty three hours after Samoa to celebrate the arrival of 2012.
For today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of Day, as we reach the end of another long, difficult and at times frustrating year, it's important at times like there to remember the words of Half Man Half Biscuit. 'The light at the end of the tunnel, is the light of an oncoming train.' Here's The Lightning Seeds with their thoughts on the matter.