Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Total Eclipse

The Doctor Who writer Toby Whithouse has spoken in praised of guest star Ben Browder. The Farscape actor will play the character of Isaac in Saturday's Wild West adventure A Town Called Mercy. 'It's amazing that Doctor Who can attract these international stars,' Whithouse told SFX. 'He was fantastic. I was really, really pleased that we got him because it's an odd part. Ben has this rather beautiful innate nobility that he manages to just convey, very simply and very economically. It was absolutely how I saw the character, so I was really thrilled with him, and delighted with his performance.' Whithouse also joked that he had avoided Doctor Who's previous jaunt to the American West - 1966's William Hartnell adventure The Gunfighters. 'I thought about [watching] it, and I think either Steven [Moffat] or Mark Gatiss forewarned me and said not to bother,' he explained. 'They said it's not exactly the jewel in the crown, so probably best to steer clear!' This blogger rather likes it, if only for the fact that they got away with a line of dialogue like 'never figured you for a back-shooter, Ringo!'

Yer actual Kenneth Branagh has revealed that he hopes to make more episodes of Wallander. The crime drama - based on Henning Mankell's acclaimed novels - recently wrapped its third series on BBC1, with the new episodes now being broadcast in the US on PBS Masterpiece. 'If we went into a fourth series, which we hope to with three more films, they would probably include The White Lioness - a book that has not been adapted before in any of the Wallander series, which is set in South Africa,' Branagh told Assignment X. The actor went on to confirm that the final two Wallander episodes would be based on Mankell's final book featuring the character, The Troubled Man. 'We would make two films of that very dense book,' he explained. However, Branagh also admitted that he is open to making a fifth series of Wallander if Swedish novelist Mankell were to write more books in the future. 'Henning Mankell had said recently that he enjoyed the series so much that it made him want to write some more,' the actor explained. 'I feel our series has particularly taken its DNA from these novels. So if there are more of those, I'm sure we might think about it.'

Ofcom is to investigate a recent EastEnders scene on the grounds that it may have been too violent. The scene, which took place in the 31 August episode of the soap, saw a massive fight kick-off amongst the Queen Vic football team after they were told they had been banned from the local pub league. Geet radge, so it was. Kids were getting sparked and all sorts. The scene lasted for nearly two minutes and featured furniture being thrown, glasses being smashed and the pub being left in total disarray and discombobulation. Broadcast reports that Ofcom received a single complaint about the episode, with a viewer - with clearly nothing better to do with his or her time than to whinge - saying it was 'too violent' for the timeslot. The media regulator will now assess whether the level of violence was 'appropriate' for the 8pm broadcast time. The single complaint is in marked contrast to the record number of complaints received by Ofcom for the EastEnders baby-swap storyline, which a number of viewers found offensive in its depiction of a mother who reacted to the cot death of her own baby by stealing another child. Ofcom ruled in favour of the BBC show on that occasion, saying 'sufficient editorial context' had been provided.

Cheryl Cole has reportedly 'made it clear' to Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads that she did not return to The X Factor for his sake. The Heaton Horror, who fell out with Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads big-style(e) after reportedly 'snubbing' his offer to rejoin the show following her axing from The X Factor USA last year, assisted Gary Barlow at Judges' Houses this weekend. According to the Sun, Cole made it clear, after her former boss welcomed her back to The X Factor on Twitter, that her - allegedly - long-awaited return was done 'as a favour' to Barlow and not to Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads. 'I saw Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads's tweet,' she said. 'I'm not doing this for him,' the Sun quotes her as adding. 'I am doing this for Gary as he's my friend and he asked me to do it.' New extracts from Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads's unofficial biography have claimed that the fifty two-year-old is 'desperate' to also get Dannii Minogue back on The X Factor this series.

The Thick Of It creator Armando Iannucci has called on the BBC to fight back against its critics in parliament and the press. Something this blog had been saying for years. Iannucci, whose acclaimed Westminster satire returned to BBC2 last Saturday night, said British television felt 'disarmed and confused' because of 'consistent cack-handed interference by politicians goaded by the press.' He said 'supine' television executives had failed to fight back – not just at the BBC but across broadcasting – and said 'now is the time to fight back.' Delivering the annual BAFTA Lecture in London's Piccadilly, entitled Fight, fight, fight, Iannucci railed against politicians and press barons trying to influence what we see on the small screen. 'Governments whether right or left have become commissioners in chief, nudging and cajoling networks into preferred business models without the slightest sensitivity or awareness of what the public wants or the TV industry is capable of,' said Iannucci. He claimed politicians saw television as something to be 'badgered or bullied' and the BBC as 'an easy target.' But he said the Leveson inquiry into press ethics had highlighted public misgivings about the way the press and politicians operated and said viewers would 'never forgive anyone who meddles with British television for their own advantage.' With George Entwistle, the new director general of the BBC due to take up his post on Monday next week, Iannucci said there 'could not be a better time to reset the board.' He said he wanted all UK broadcasters but especially the BBC to be more gung-ho about promoting themselves overseas. 'I want to encourage us to be more aggressive in promoting what makes British TV so good. Be ambitious, arrogant even, in how we sell it to the world. The BBC brand is up there with Apple and Google, I want it to go abroad and prostitute itself to blue buggery in how it sells and makes money from its content.' He added: 'It goes back to the old amateur spirit of the Olympics, that it's wrong to make money. There is still an element of the BBC that feels it is somehow wrong, or it will be open to criticism if it makes more money.' In a question and answer session after his lecture, Iannucci said the BBC had to 'stop being scared' of negative headlines in the Daily Scum Mail. 'The great unspoken support of the BBC is the viewing public and the BBC seems to forget that but is continually aware of bad headlines in the Daily Mail. It's a strange dynamic. What's wrong with having criticism in the press?' Iannucci, who once said the BBC should tell James Murdoch the small to 'fuck off,' said the Murdochs were 'just not as frightening anymore' in the wake of the Leveson inquiry into press ethics and the phone-hacking scandal. He criticised the BBC's licence fee settlement two years ago which saw the level of the fee frozen but the corporation take on extra funding responsibilities including the BBC World Service. 'That was a back of the envelope last minute decision which had nothing to do with public spending. It was a loaded gun,' he said. Iannucci said David Cameron's description of the six-year funding freeze as 'delicious' showed that the Conservatives still had an anti-BBC agenda. He said the traditional Conservative party still saw the corporation as a radical hotbed which was 'determined to bring anarchy to the UK when in fact it put on the Olympics brilliantly.' But Iannucci warned that the changing way in which we watch television meant it was going to be very difficult to justify the licence fee in ten years' time. He said British television was once the 'most adored, copied and influential in the world' but it had lost that crown over the last five or ten years to the US and shows such as The Sopranos, The Wire and Breaking Bad. He used his lecture to call on commissioning executives to give creatives more freedom, and for Sky, which has pledged to double the amount it invests in UK comedy and drama, to invest some of that money in new talent. He said the Olympics opening ceremony was an example of what can happen when creatives are given the freedom to express themselves. When decisions were taken by committee, he said, you end up with the Millennium Dome. Iannucci admitted the title of his lecture was 'rather aggressive' and joked he had originally thought of calling it make good programmes. 'Never underestimate the intelligence of the audience, make good programmes and they will come,' he added.

EastEnders proved the big winner at this year's TVChoice Awards. The BBC show won the Best Soap award, as well as two of its actors winning individual awards at the ceremony, which was hosted by Jo Brand at the Dorchester Hotel. Shane Richie was awarded Best Soap Actor for his role as Alfie Moon, while Tony Discipline was judged Best Newcomer for his portrayal of Tyler Moon. Sherlock won Best Drama Series, with the show's star Benedict Cumberbatch being named Best Actor. Call The Midwife also won a pair of awards, taking the Best New Drama prize and Best Actress trophy for Miranda Hart. Doctor Who won the Best Family Drama whilst Leigh Francis (for his Keith Lemon persona) and Jeremy Kyle both won in their respective categories for a second year running with Celebrity Juice (Best Entertainment Show) and The Jeremy Kyle Show (Best Daytime Show). Which probably gives dear blog readers a rough idea of the kind of people who vote in the TVChoice Awards. Elsewhere, The Hairy Bikers' Bakeation was awarded Best Food Show and Mrs Brown's Boys collected Best Comedy Series.

Johnny Ball and Fern Britton are among the celebrities you might have actually heard of who will take part in this year's Strictly Come Dancing. Also competing are Olympic stars Louis Smith and Victoria Pendleton, Jerry Hall, Kimberley Walsh of Girls Aloud and former England cricket captain Michael Vaughan. Denise Van Outen and actor Colin Salmon will take part alongside EastEnders' Sid Owen and Westlife's Nicky Byrne. Actress Dani Harmer, Daybreak's former gurning buffoon of a 'showbiz' editor Richard Arnold and ex-Emmerdale actress Lisa Riley will also line-up in Saturday's show. In the first episode the stars will be matched with their professional dance partners. At seventy four, former children's TV host Johnny Ball is the oldest competitor to participate in this year's show. Sir Bruce Forsyth and Tess Daly will return as hosts, while returning judges Craig Revel Horwood, Bruno Tonioli and Len Goodman will be joined by Darcey Bussell. She previously appeared as a guest judge on the show and will now become a full-time member of the panel to replace greed bucket (and drag) Alesha Dixon.
Saturday's show will feature a red carpet event and a dance number around BBC Television Centre featuring the professional dancers, judges and hosts. Pendleton, who retired from her sport after winning gold and silver medals at the London 2012 Games, had previously spoken of her desire to take part in the show. Harmer, best known for playing the title role in Tracy Beaker on CBBC, was the first celebrity to be unveiled ahead of the latest Strictly series. Walsh, whose involvement was confirmed over the weekend, has since tweeted a photo of herself practising with dancer Anton du Beke.

Some awful news now, I'm afraid, dear blog reader, Red or Black?'s presenters Ant and/or Dec have denied rumours that the show has been dropped from ITV. But, this is simply appalling. There have been reports in various newspapers - specifically the Sun - that the game show would be dropped after the current series ends. Damn you, the Sun, for getting all of our hopes up. Damn you straight to hell! Co-produced by ITV Studios and Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads's Syco TV, the show gives contestants the chance to win up to three and a half million smackers. Ant McPartlin said 'nothing had been confirmed or denied' adding that the rumours were 'just rumours.' Well, yeah. That's, sort of, the nature of the beast, bonny lad. 'I'm sure you've read what I've read and we've had no conversations with ITV whatsoever,' he said. 'So since they are still rumours, and nothing has been confirmed or denied, then there's not really much to say.' But, he said it anyway. Red or Black? has been reformatted but viewing figures show far fewer people are watching this series. The audience for the latest episode was a mere 3.5 million on Saturday. The opening episode of the first series, in 2011, was seen by 7.11 million viewers - albeit with significantly diminishing returns thereafter, despite the ITV press office's brazenly mendacious attempts to paint it as a huge success. Co-presenter Declan Donnelly also said it was 'premature' to be discussing the third series while the second one is still being televised. 'We genuinely haven't had a conversation with ITV about moving forward from this one. We're still half way through the second series. So any talk of a third, whether it will or it won't, is pretty premature I think.'

Hundreds of thousands of people lined the route of a victory parade through London for Britain's Olympic and Paralympic athletes. Competitors were also honoured with a flypast over Buckingham Palace, the day after the end of the 2012 Paralympics. Some eight hundred competitors travelled on twenty one floats which made their way through the city over two hours. One of them featured the British Olympic swimming team who should've been too ashamed to show their faces in public, frankly, especially after their Paralympic counterparts showed them how it should be done. Rower Kath Grainger said 'we could never have expected this' and Paralymic swimmer Ellie Simmonds said it was 'amazing.' The event near the Queen Victoria Memorial, which followed the parade, kicked-off with a fly-past, led by the British Airways plane which initially brought the Olympic flame to the UK. The celebratory show also featured the Red Arrows, performances from Amy MacDonald, The Pet Shop Boys, and speeches from athletes and the prime minister. It was watched by fourteen thousand ticket-holders who had made 'an invaluable contribution to the games,' including volunteers, members of the emergency services, military personnel, competitors' coaches and support staff. But the rest of the parade route, starting from Mansion House, was open to all - and many of the athletes on the slow-moving floats expressed surprise at how many people came out to greet them. Six-time gold medal-winning cyclist Sir Chris Hoy said: 'I just didn't think it was possible to see so many people out on the streets supporting us. I want to say thank you. It's been emotional. If you have to end an Olympic career anywhere this is the place to do it.' Speaking from the rowing team's float, Olympic gold medallist in double sculls rowing Kath Grainger said: 'We never really knew how many people would turn up, maybe we thought people would have gone back to work or been fatigued by the last month. But my word, we could never have expected this. It is an amazing time to have a celebration with the Paralympic athletes too and a chance to say thank you to all the fans.' From the equestrian float, Zara Phillips said: 'This is unbelievable. To think everyone has come out for all of us is just amazing. We are so grateful to them.' Ellie Simmonds said: 'It's amazing to celebrate with the public, who are the ones that helped us have that home advantage during the games.' After the parade, oily Prime Minister David Cameron expressed his thanks to the athletes - who he called 'the heroes.' He told them: 'You have given us moments that we will never forget. The whole country salutes your brilliance.' He then whispered, under his breath, 'except for the swimmers, they were a bloody disgrace.' Cameron also thanked 'all those who made this possible,' including volunteers, the police, and the servicemen and women, who 'proved again that you are the greatest in the world. Let that spirit that delivered these games live on for generations to come.' The prime minister then introduced yer actual Princess Anne her very self, president of the British Olympic Association who told the crowd: 'What a pleasure it has been to be president of BOA for a home Olympic Games. To see so many faces out there of the people who have been critical to producing the stages, platforms and support for these athletes is fantastic. This has been a really remarkable period of time.' Cyclist Sarah Storey said: 'The athletes want to thank all the UK as without them we couldn't have done what we did to bring home all this bling.' More than ninety per cent of Britain's medallists, including Mo Farah, Jessica Ennis and Jonnie Peacock, paraded on twenty one open-top floats through the city. They were grouped by their sports - and travelled in alphabetical order with archers and athletes on the first floats, and weightlifters and the water polo team at the rear. Olympic diving bronze medallist Tom Daley said: 'Today really for me is about, and for the whole team, about going round and giving something back to all the sporting fans, all the people that supported us at the Olympic Games, at the Paralympic Games. Hopefully, if we get lots of people out here today, it just really does give you a last kick of the Olympic buzz before it all finishes.' The parade marked the end of eight weeks of Olympic and Paralympic events, which have put London at the centre of the sporting world. The final word of the event was reserved for London Mayor - and hairdo - Boris Johnson who said: 'We should thank the people without whom the last six weeks would not have made sense and not have been possible: the most successful team of athletes this country has ever assembled. My God there's a lot of you,' he added, turning to the gathered competitors. 'Every single one of you - this was your achievement, you brought this country together in a way we never expected.' Johnson drew huge cheers and laughter from the crowd during the speech, saying: 'You routed the doubters and you scattered the gloomsters and for the first time in living memory you caused Tube train passengers to break into spontaneous conversation with their neighbours about subjects other than their trod-on toes. And, speaking as a spectator, you produced such paroxysms of tears and joy on the sofas of Britain that you probably not only inspired a generation, but helped to create one as well.' That was the next leader of the Conservative party, there. Just, you know, so we're all straight on this.

Yer actual King of the Mods his very self Bradley Wiggins said that he was disappointed to miss the celebration parade - but he had to 'get on with the day job.' Instead of joining his team-mates in London, the cycling gold medallist was in Nottingham for the second leg of the Tour of Britain race. He said: 'We don't have the beauty of having a year off now because the cycling calendar is still going on. It would have been nice to have been there with the rest of the team but we're all enjoying it this week.'

Meanwhile, Helen Skelton accidentally flashed her knickers to the nation during the climax to the athletes' parade.
After introducing Paralympian Sarah Storey and Olympian Sir Chris Hoy to the stage, Skelton was caught by a sudden gust of wind and suffered from a wardrobe malfunction. She exclaimed, 'Oh my word!' before quickly recovering, pushing down her dress and continuing the interview. Her co-presenter Ben Shephard quipped: 'That's one way to welcome them!' 'My skirt's down, good,' said Skelton calmly, before continuing. From the North will, of course, bring dear blog readers news on how many scum viewers complained to the BBC and/or Ofcom about this matter as soon as we know. Because some louse of no importance somewhere almost certainly will, of that you can virtually guarantee.
Siobhain McDonagh, the Labour MP, has launched a legal action against News International and the Sun in relation to the theft of her mobile phone and is seeking loads and loads of damages for alleged invasion of privacy and breach of confidence. The claim, which was lodged with the high court on 6 September, comes two months after a Sun journalist was arrested and bailed by officers working on Operation Tuleta, Scotland Yard's investigation into computer hacking and other invasions of privacy. The thirty five-year-old Sun journalist was arrested on suspicion of 'handling stolen goods' in July in relation to a reported phone call from a member of the public who believed they had an MP's mobile phone. McDonagh, the Labour MP for Mitcham and Morden, is seeking an order to prevent News International 'from obtaining or using confidential information from the claimant's mobile phone and, or, publishing, or causing to be published or processing of confidential information by individuals in the Sun newspaper or elsewhere,' according to the high court document. The civil claim alleges 'breach of confidence, misuse of private information' and 'wrongful interference with stolen goods.' McDonagh is seeking damages in relation to breach of privacy and breach of confidence. McDonagh's solicitor, Mark Thomson, said: 'We can confirm that proceedings have last week been issued in respect of my client's stolen mobile phone, but we can make no further statement on this matter.' Deputy Assistant Commissioner Sue Akers, the head of Scotland Yard's investigations into alleged phone-hacking, computer hacking and illegal payments to public officials for stories, told the Leveson inquiry earlier this year that in April 2012, her officers had been handed information by News International's management and standards committee that 'staff at News International titles appear to have been in possession of material downloaded or otherwise obtained from stolen mobile phones. It appears from some documentation, which is dated around late 2010, that one mobile telephone had been examined with a view to breaking its security code so that the contents could be downloaded by experts (whose identities are unknown to Operation Tuleta at present) in different parts of the country,' Akers said.

A thirty one-year-old prison officer has been arrested by police investigating alleged corrupt payments to public officials. He was arrested in Northampton on suspicion of conspiracy to corrupt and misconduct in a public office. The man is being questioned at a police station in Northampton by detectives. He is the forty fourth person to be arrested as part of Operation Elveden - the inquiry into allegations of naughty and corrupt payments to public officials by scum journalists. It is linked to Operation Weeting, the investigation into mobile phone-hacking and assorted nefarious skulduggery by journalists which has seen twenty five people arrested and eight people charged, including former Scum of the World editor and ex-Downing Street press director Andy Coulson and former News International boss and well-known Crystal Tipps lookalike Rebekah Brooks. The prison officer is the second serving prison officer to be arrested as part of the inquiries. A spokeswoman said: 'The Prison Service is committed to dealing robustly with all forms of corruption, including the unauthorised disclosure of sensitive information for financial gain. We are fully supportive of Operation Elveden currently investigating the potential misconduct of public officials involved in selling information to the press. If any prison staff are identified, we will work with the police to facilitate investigations and prosecutions.' Scotland Yard said the latest development came as a result of 'information passed to police by News Corporation's management standards committee.' The company set up the committee to conduct internal investigations relating to allegations of wrongdoing at its newspapers.

Police have removed a severed head from a canal near to where the body of EastEnders actress Gemma McCluskie was discovered. A headless torso found in Hackney was confirmed to be the soap actress, after she went missing in March. A member of the public made the grim discovery in Regent's Canal in Hackney on Sunday. McCluskie played Kerry Skinner in EastEnders in 2001, and had been missing for a week after she attended the opening of the new Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel. She had last been seen at the home she shared with brother Tony McCluskie in Pelter Street, Hackney. A police spokesman stated: 'We can confirm that a head was recovered from Regent's Canal yesterday afternoon. It is still yet to be identified.' Tony McCluskie, thirty five, will stand trial accused of committing the murder on 12 November.

Producer Jake Eberts, who played a key role in such Oscar-winning British films as Chariots of Fire and Gandhi, has died at the age of seventy one. The financier founded Goldcrest Films in the 1970s and served as executive producer on several prestigious titles. Award-winning movies he steered into production include Driving Miss Daisy, Dances with Wolves and Chicken Run. According to Variety, Eberts died on Thursday in Montreal of complications from a rare cancer of the eye. Goldcrest's support for such films as Local Hero, The Killing Fields and others helped revive the British film industry after a long period in the doldrums. But the company stumbled after backing such expensive box-office disappointments as Absolute Beginners and Revolution. Eberts left the company in 1987 and went on to chronicle its misfortunes in his memoir My Indecision Is Final: The Spectacular Rise and Fall of Goldcrest Films. The 1990s saw him produce or executive produce such popular titles as A River Runs Through It and James and the Giant Peach. Eberts collaborated again with Kevin Costner, director and star of Dances with Wolves, on his 2003 western Open Range. As chairman of National Geographic Feature Films, he helped make 2005 nature documentary March of the Penguins an international box office hit. Canadian director Denys Arcand, a close friend of Eberts, told the Montreal Gazette Jake had been 'an extraordinary film producer and an extraordinary man.' US film critic Roger Ebert tweeted that the two had become friends 'because at festivals we were always getting each other's mail.' David Sproxton, executive chairman of Aardman Animations, said Eberts had been 'instrumental in introducing us to the key players in Hollywood. He was a real gentleman,' he told the BBC News website. 'He had quite a cosmopolitan view of life, which gave him a broader view of how films might play and what appealed.'

The wife of the former German president has included Google in legal action to stop rumours about her private life. When the name Bettina Wulff is typed into Google's search engine, suggested search terms are reported to include the words 'prostitute' and 'red light district.' Google says the auto-generated text reflects what others are already searching for online. Wulff denies that she has ever worked as a prostitute. German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung reported Wulff had given a sworn declaration denying all allegations relating to prostitution or escort work before her marriage. The rumours, it would seem, have spread both online and in various media outlets. It has been reported such salacious rumours were started in order to disrupt her husband Christian Wulff's political career. German newspaper Die Spiegel reports that she has spent over two years fighting allegations she was once employed as an escort. 'Her lawyers have already issued thirty four successful cease-and-desist orders, including one against a prominent German television personality this weekend,' the paper notes. The same paper claims that a defamation suit was launched against Google last week. Google Northern Europe spokeswoman Kay Oberbeck said the site's search terms were 'algorithmically generated' and 'include the popularity of the entered search terms. All terms that appear have been previously entered by Google users,' she added in a statement. The same text generates in rival search engine Bing.com. In March 2012 Google was ordered to disable the autocomplete function relating to search results for an unnamed man in Japan, who said his name was being associated with crimes he had not committed.

Unbearably smug Neil Seann in Metro's gossip column The Green Room asks if his readers are: 'Missing loudmouth Kerry Katona?' Not really, mate but, I sense a punchline coming. It seems that yer actual Katona her very self 'has been told to keep quiet while work finishes on her latest "tell-all" book due out before Christmas.' Don't all rush to the shops at once, dear blog reader.

A Bank of America employee has lost his appeal against being fired for mooning his boss. Jason Selch claimed that he had been wrongfully dismissed in legal documents seen by Time magazine, but the Illinois Appelate Court upheld the original trial court's verdict in a judgement handed down last week. Selch is said to have become upset when he heard that a work colleague had been fired after refusing to accept a lower wage following the merger of their organisation with a Bank of America subsidiary. He is then alleged to have walked into a conference room, dropped his pants and mooned two fellow employees, one of whom was his direct line manager. Selch had originally testified that he asked the two men if he had a 'non-compete' clause in his terms of employment which would have prevented him from working for a competitor, as he was aware that his behaviour could potentially lead to his dismissal. He was originally given a formal warning, but dismissed when senior executive Keith Banks returned from holiday and heard about the incident.

Which brings us to today's Keith Telly Topping's 33 of the Day. This is the dark side of The Moon.