Monday, December 03, 2012

The Movement You Need Is On Your Shoulder

It was another terrific night for Strictly on Sunday according to initial overnight ratings data. A peak audience of just over ten million and an average of 9.31m across the forty minutes watched former England cricket captain Michael Vaughan, m'Lord, Michael Vaughan become the latest contestant to leave the popular dance competition. It was actually a terrific night for BBC1 across the broad, with Countryfile pulling in 6.56m before Strictly and then, after the light entertainment show had ended, Antiques Roadshow scoring 5.94m and the final episode of the three-part The Secret of Crickley Hall concluding with 5.82m. By contrast, it was a strange night for ITV with a rare Sunday night edition of Coronation Street providing a useful lead-in to The X Factor with 6.45m (and a further five hundred thousand plus watching later on ITV+1) but then the Wee Shughie McFee, the sour-faced Scottish chef off Crossroads talent contest again failing to top Strictly with an average overnight audience of 8.75m from 21:00. Up against The Secrets of Crickley Hall, Steppin' Out with Katherine Jenkins was watched by a rather disappointing 3.43m. Earlier in the day, ITV's coverage of the FA Cup tie between MK Dons and AFC Wimbledon had an audience of 1.6m. It was a steady night for BBC2 with Fawlty Towers (1.51m), The Best of Top Gear (1.50m), Dragons' Den (2.01m) and Harry and Paul (1.02m) all close to their respective slot averages. Meanwhile, Channel Four had its best Sunday in a while, with 2.59m watching the afternoon showing for the film Miracle on Thirty Fourth Street and 2.21m seeing the latest episode of Homeland. Overall, BBC1 took pole position in primetime with 24.2 per cent of the audience share versus ITV's 20.7 per cent.

New Zealand channel Prime have announced that it will broadcast the Doctor Who Christmas episode, The Snowmen, on 26 December 2012, less than twenty-four hours after its premiere in the United Kingdom. Reported via their Facebook page, this news also marks the closest transmission of a new episode of Doctor Who in the country to its UK transmission since the series returned in 2005. The episode will also be shown on Boxing Day in Australia, a day after its premiere in Britain, the US and Canada.
The consolidated final ratings for the Top Twenty shows, week ending 25 November 2012:-

1 Strictly Come Dancing - Sat BBC1 - 11.19m
2 I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want) - Mon ITV - 10.51m
3 Coronation Street - Mon ITV - 9.89m
4 The X Factor - Sun ITV - 9.57m
5 EastEnders - Mon BBC1 - 8.84m
6 Countryfile - Sun BBC1 - 7.75m
7 Last Tango in Halifax - Tue BBC1 - 7.30m
8 Emmerdale - Tue ITV - 7.20m*
9 Merlin - Sat BBC1 - 6.86m
10 The Secret of Crickley Hall - Sun BBC1 - 6.64m
11 BBC News - Sun BBC1 - 6.63m
12 Antiques Roadshow - Sun BBC1 - 6.04m
13 Pointless Celebrities - Sat BBC1 - 5.32m
14 Formula One: The Brazilian Grand Prix - Sun BBC1 - 5.25m
15 Six O'Clock News - Mon BBC1 - 5.03m
16 Holby City - Tue BBC1 - 4.84m
17 Have I Got News For You - Fri BBC1 - 4.83m
18 The ONE Show - Mon BBC1 - 4.80m
19= Casualty - Sat BBC1 - 4.67m
19= Ten O'Clock News - Tues BBC1 - 4.67m
Those programmes marked '*' do not include HD figures. BBC2's top performing programmes of the week were MasterChef: The Professionals (3.22m) and University Challenge (3.18m). Channel Four's list was topped by Homeland (3.08m).

X Factor judge Tulisa Contostavlos has blamed the significant ratings dip for this year's series on people going 'clubbing' and 'raving' when the show of broadcast. The singer argued that the reason why Saturday's live editions have been shedding millions of viewers is because fans 'watch The X Factor hungover' the following day. Something not even remotely supported by final consolidated figures released by BARB. Nice try, though.

BBC2 has commissioned a series of dark comedies from two of the the writers and stars of The League of Gentlemen and Psychoville, featuring Gemma Arterton, Tamsin Greig and Timothy West. The series, written by Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith, will be broadcast on BBC2 late next year. Given the working title Inside Number Nine, the comedy will consist of standalone stories of the bizarre goings on at very different houses with the same numerical address. Each of the six stories will be set in a different house – from a grand country manor to the flat of a primary school teacher – where 'the ordinary and mundane rub shoulders with the extraordinary and macabre,' according to the BBC. 'We wanted to explore the sense of claustrophobia and intensity that is brought about by limiting the action to one location in each story,' said Pemberton and Shearsmith. The series will also feature The IT Crowd's Katherine Parkinson, Anne Reid, currently starring in BBC1 drama in Last Tango in Halifax, The Hour's Anna Chancellor and The Thick of It's Ben Willbond. 'I hope these six dark little tales will be as enjoyed and talked about as their highly acclaimed work to date,' said Janice Hadlow, controller of BBC2. 'That, combined with the stellar cast, will make an exciting addition to BBC2's comedy offering next year.' The series is being executive produced by Jon Plowman.

A collection of rare radio scripts recorded by comedy stars such as Tony Hancock, Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers are being sold. The 'extraordinary and rather moving' collection has been catalogued by actor and rare books dealer Neil Pearson. It includes seven or eight scripts for episodes of the radio series Hancock's Half Hour, the recordings of which have been destroyed. Other items include original scripts for early episodes of The Goon Show. 'The recordings of these episodes have been lost. People are not buying the copyright, they're buying the artefact,' Pearson explained to the BBC. 'Some of the scripts are heavily annotated by technicians or the performers. What collectors are buying is that direct link back to the time when the show was made.' Pearson, who has been collecting books for more than thirty years alongside his acting day job, has set up his own rare books dealership. The Hancock's Half Hour scripts include one 1955 episode where Hancock and Sid James travelled to Swansea to thank Harry Secombe, who had replaced Tony for three episodes when he failed to turn up. They found Secombe singing down a coalmine, but the recorded episode was wiped, so the script is the only record of it. Another features Hancock dreaming that he is Father Christmas and is being prosecuted in court by Sid James for not carrying out his duties properly. Pearson, who is best known for his role in 1990s Channel Four comedy Drop the Dead Donkey and the BBC crime drama Between the Lines, said several items in the catalogue would 'excite' collectors. 'We have two of Terry Nation's own scripts that pre-date Doctor Who. In 1963 he invented The Daleks and wrote the fifth ever episode of Doctor Who,' explained Pearson. Nice to see someone in the television world actually has a bit of knowledge about Nation which doesn't include the erroneous claim that he 'created' Doctor Who. Genuinely. Well done, Neil, mate. 'The two scripts we have are from the 1950s, including Fine Goings On which starred a very young Frankie Howerd.' The collection also includes an original script for the one and only episode of Terry's Topics in 1947, an early attempt to launch Terry-Thomas as a radio star. Co-written by Terry-Thomas and Frank Muir, the show was recorded but never transmitted, and is now lost. There are also a number of original scripts for The Goon Show, including one from the first series when it was still called Crazy People. 'This is material that the book trade tends not to find, as they tend to be looking elsewhere,' said Pearson. 'I've spent my professional life around this kind of material and somehow this fabulous collection has made its way to me.'

There's a very good interview with Sons of Anarchy's Michael Ornstein at yer actual Keith Telly Topping's old mate Malcolm Holt's Sunny Side of the Street blog. Check it out, here.

It says a lot about the complete conquest of America by Hugh Laurie that the most surprising thing about his probable next role is that it will see him speak with an English accent. Laurie, whose star turn in the medical drama House has made him an, if you will, household name in America, is believed to be close to signing a deal to play the notorious pirate Blackbeard in a new NBC drama. Called Crossbones, the mini-series is set to feature Blackbeard as the rough, tough pirate leader of an anarchic, rogue nation of cut-throats, sailors and vagabonds on an island in the Bahamas in the early Eighteenth Century. It is based on the book Republic of Pirates, by Colin Woodard. The new role, which would be very different to that of tormented medical anti-hero Gregory House, is just the latest stage in Laurie's astonishing success in the US, where his classic British comic past in shows such as Blackadder and A Bit of Fry and Laurie has been all but forgotten. Since the programme first broadcast in 2004, House became one of the most famous characters in modern American television, building on a wave of anti-heroes who helped to overturn the conventional notion of what a popular TV show character should be. Few of Laurie's British fans would perhaps have predicted such fame for the Old Etonian and Cambridge Footlights stalwart. But House, which ended its eight-series run earlier this year, has achieved that. In fact, some suspect that many American fans of the show might be unaware that its central character is played by someone who is not American. 'Some had seen Blackadder, but the vast majority of House's audience when they saw it for the first time would not know he was English. They would get a shock when they saw him appearing on chat shows and suddenly speaking in a different accent,' claimed Professor Bob Thompson, an alleged 'popular culture expert' at Syracuse University. Laurie is in exalted company as an English-born screen actor who made it big in America. It includes people such as Charlie Chaplin, Stan Laurel and Bob Hope. Some experts believe Laurie's Englishness helped him to make the unusual role of House into a success. 'It did not matter what he had done before. Brits get a free pass on that stuff in the way an American actor would not have done,' alleged Hollywood correspondent Gayl Murphy. Nor is Laurie's talent confined to the screen. In 2010 he signed a contract with Warner Bros to record a blues CD that was released last year entitled Let Them Talk. He's even played piano on a song by Meat Loaf. But, we won't hold that against him any more than we will the fact that he went to the same school as David Cameron. But, it is his small-screen career that has made Laurie so beloved in America, nominated for no fewer than six EMMYs and the winner of two Golden Globes. The challenge for Laurie is to prove he can move out from the shadow of House and create another role just as popular. Blackbeard certainly seems to offer that opportunity. The plot of the coming show features an assassin sent to kill Blackbeard, but who is gradually drawn into the orbit of the darkly charismatic pirate chief and the band of outlaw that he heads. 'His biggest problem is going to be escaping the gravitational force of House,' claimed Thompson. Married with three children, and still living in London, despite spending most of his time in California, Laurie is also someone who has not succumbed to any of the pitfalls of American fame. 'He is not out clubbing or dating starlets,' said Murphy. 'American viewers are standing on the sidelines cheering for him and saying, "Bring it on. What else you got in that bag?"'

Olivia Colman has been nominated twice in the best actress category at the British Comedy Awards. The thirty eight-year-old is recognised for roles in two BBC shows - religious sitcom Rev and Olympic satire Twenty Twelve. The latter leads this year's awards field, with four nominations in total. Colman has already had a successful year, winning multiple awards for her portrayal of a charity shop worker abused by her husband in the gritty drama Tyrannosaur. BBC1's Twenty Twelve is short-listed for best sitcom, while Downton Abbey star Hugh Bonneville is in the running for best actor, for his portrayal of Ian Fletcher, head of deliverance at the Olympic Deliverance Commission. Colman is nominated for her role as his long-suffering assistant, Sally Owen. She faces competition from her Twenty Twelve co-star Jessica Hynes, who plays jargon-spewing PR consultant Siobhan Sharpe, and The Thick Of It's Rebecca Front, for her portrayal of bungling MP Nicola Murray. The Thick Of It is one of five programmes to receive three nominations - alongside The Graham Norton Show, Rev, Cardinal Burns and Harry Hill's TV Burp, which broadcast its last episode in March. For the first time, the best newcomer category is dominated by a non-terrestrial broadcaster - with Sky filling three of the four available slots. The satellite company has been ploughing more resources into original programming, promising to spend six hundred million smackers on homegrown productions by 2014. It has impressed the comedy award judges by persuading Steve Coogan to return to his Alan Partridge character in Welcome To Places In My Life and by commissioning Chris O'Dowd to recount his Irish upbringing in Moone Boy. Also nominated for best newcomer are Hunderby, a period comedy created by Nighty Night star Julia Davis, and E4 sketch show Cardinal Burns.
Shami Chakrabarti, the director of Liberty and one of the six advisers to Lord Justice Leveson, has moved to 'lift confusion' about her stance on the report, saying that she supports an independent press regulator but believes it would be possible for a judge to determine whether the new regulator was fulfilling its goals. Over the weekend, Ben Emmerson writing in the Gruniad Morning Star wrote: 'Comments attributed to Shami Chakrabarti of Liberty are the kind of nonsense that give human rights a bad name.' This was after Chakrabarti had given a series of quotes to the Daily Scum Mail seemingly criticising aspects of the report. A far more important question to ask, of course, is just exactly what the bleeding, bollocking hell is Shami Chakrabarti doing talking to the anti-libertarian-and-proud-of-it lice at the Daily Scum Mail in the first place. Chakrabarti said that she agreed with Leveson's plan for a new press regulator and for his recommendation that the board be independent of current editors, owners and politicians. 'No statute is needed to create such a body,' she wrote on the Liberty website. She said that while Leveson had proposed an independent body such as Ofcom should determine whether the regulator was compliant with its goals, Liberty 'would rather leave the question of whether the tests are met to the courts and not involve a quango which is ultimately appointed by politicians.' She added: 'Ethical publishers who set up, join and comply with such an independent body should be rewarded in the context of costs and damages in any court action that they nonetheless face.' Her chief disagreement was with a fall-back mooted by Lord Leveson to introduce statutory regulation of the newspaper industry if the press resolutely refused to embrace better self-regulation. She wrote: 'It is this alternative that Liberty cannot support and which would in our view, breach article ten of the [European convention on human rights] and Human Rights Act. As this last-ditch alternative is not even a recommendation of the report, it is misleading to suggest that Liberty or its director is in any way dropping a "bombshell" on the Lord Justice's report, not least as this position was clearly footnoted in it.'

FOX International has been given a warning by Ofcom after the FX channel broadcast an episode of American Dad! featuring 'violent scenes and sexual innuendo' before the 9pm TV watershed. Ofcom said that FOX International must put in place 'revised and robust' programme-checking practices 'as soon as possible' after upholding a viewer complaint about the US animated comedy. A - lone - complainant contacted Ofcom about an episode of American Dad! - the show created by Seth MacFarlane following a dysfunctional American family headed by CIA agent Stan Smith - which was shown on FX on 11 August at 8.30pm. The episode in question featured a storyline revolving around Stan bullying his son, Steve, in order to make him stand up for himself. It included a flashback scene shown at 8.48pm in which Francine, Stan's wife, recalled stabbing and killing someone when she was a teenager. The sequence lasted thirteen seconds and showed Francine fighting another girl in an underground fight club. The other woman produced a knife and stabbed Francine in the shoulder, but then Francine retrieved the knife and stabbed the woman in the stomach. Ofcom observed that she 'then triumphantly taunted the dead girl.' Although, quite why that was an issue more than the initial stabbing which required it to be highlighted separately, Ofcom didn't say. In the same episode, there was also a prolonged ninety-second sequence involving Stan repeatedly kicking and punching a man who had bullied him as a child. Ofcom further noted three occasions of Stan making 'sexual taunts', such as stealing Steve's bike and then saying: 'I'm gonna mount this and ride it hard. Like I did your mom last night.' Heh. Sorry. Anyway, FOX said that it 'takes violence very seriously' and accepted that the episode of American Dad! should not have been shown before the 9pm TV watershed. It said that this was down to 'human error,' as the 'fifteen' rating given to the episode, meaning it should not be shown before 9pm, was not picked up by its compliance teams. The human who erred has now, reportedly, been given his own talk-show on FOX News. Fox International said that it was moving to a new automatic checking system which 'will prevent programmes being scheduled in unsuitable slots,' and in the meantime it is 'manually reviewing' all episodes of American Dad! to prevent 'further slip-ups.' In its latest Broadcast Bulletin, Ofcom said that the scenes of violence and sexual taunts in the American Dad! episode were 'unsuitable for children.' Although exactly how many 'children' were watching FX at quarter to nine of a Saturday night in August when they were far more likely to be out on the streets wearing hoodies, drinking Alcopops and indulging in anti-social behaviour, and how Ofcom knew the numbers in question, they didn't say. The regulator said that 'considering the content' and the fact that the programme was aired on a Saturday evening, when children were 'more likely to be watching,' young viewers were 'not sufficiently protected' by FOX from the 'unsuitable material. Ofcom had concerns about the compliance procedures in place because material suitable for a post-watershed transmission only was scheduled for broadcast pre-watershed, even though [FOX] had already reviewed it previously and decided it should only be shown after 9pm,' Ofcom said. 'Compliance with the Code therefore relied on manual checks picking up inappropriate scheduling and - as in this case - such a compliance arrangement was clearly not satisfactory. Ofcom expects FOX International to complete its review of its compliance arrangements for scheduling and put in place revised and robust arrangements as soon as possible.'

The BBC has commissioned a third series of The Sarah Millican Television Programme. The stand-up comic's first series was a moderate ratings success in the spring - along with broadly supportive critique - and a second run will start at Christmas and broadcast through January and February 2013. Filmed at MediaCityUK in Salford, the third series is expected to be shown in late 2013. Dead Canny Sarah said: 'It is so exciting to be invited back for a third time. The show is a joy to make with such a creative and fun production team.' BBC executive editor for entertainment commissioning Alan Tyler added: 'Sarah is a genuine star and a joy to work with. We are delighted to be commissioning a third run of her show for the BBC2 audience. 'So Scotland and Chopsy have put together a terrific team and we look forward to seeing where they take the series.'

The Great British Bake Off will return for a celebrity Comic Relief special in 2013, it has been confirmed. Show judge Paul Hollywood confirmed plans for a charity special during an appearance at a live baking show at the weekend. Match of the Day host Gary Lineker, comic Michael McIntyre and Miranda Hart will compete in the series, according to the Mirra. The Great British Bake Off will return for a full fourth series at the end of 2013. Judges Hollywood and Mary Berry have both landed their own individual cookery shows, which will also be shown next year. The third series of Bake Off was a ratings sensation for BBC2, regularly pulling in over five million viewers for the channel.

Yer actual Sir Paul McCartney MBE has fulfilled a 'personal ambition' by being immortalised in The Dandy. The former Beatle and, you know, Wing, will appear alongside Desperate Dan in the last-ever print edition of the comic, which goes on sale this week. According to publishers DC Thomson, Sir Paul got in touch after they announced the end of the comic in August. He wrote: 'In 1963, in the NME, when asked what my personal ambition was, I replied "to have my picture in The Dandy!" I hope it's not too late! The Dandy was a favourite comic of mine when growing up in Liverpool and each week I would look forward to the exploits of Desperate Dan and his other comic book colleagues.' Sir Paul will be seen grimacing as Desperate Dan, unaware of the strength of his formidable handshake, crushes the bass player's fingers (thankfully the ones on his right hand). He then leads fifty of the comic's most famous characters in a sing-along version of 'Hey Jude'. Hopefully, it'll be a bit better than his own, notoriously out-of-tune version at the Olympic opening ceremony. Published in Dundee, The Dandy is one of the world's longest-running children's comics, launching characters such as Bananaman, Korky the Cat and Beryl the Peril. But sales have slumped to eight thousand a week from a peak of two million in the late 1950s. This week's edition marks its seventy fifth anniversary, after which it will continue in digital formats only. The announcement has, ironically, increased demand for the struggling comic. One Scottish newsagent claims to have received more than seven hundred orders for the final edition, with fans getting in touch from around the world in hope of reserving a copy. Des Barr, who runs Sinclair Barr Newsagents in Paisley, now plans to set up a pop-up stall in the Braehead Shopping Centre, near Glasgow, dedicated solely to the final issue. 'The Dandy's famous cowboy character, Dan, might be desperate, but it's the public who are really desperate to get their hands on the final issue. My staff will be posting the comic out to people all over the country,' he said. 'I think there is a huge nostalgia thing going on here. Since it was first published in 1937, millions of people will have grown up reading The Dandy. It will have been part of their childhood.' Yer actual Keith Telly Topping always rather preferred The Beano, personally.

And on that bombshell, dear blog reader, here's today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. Watch out for the naughty swear word at two minutes fifty nine into the song and, for God's sake, nobody tell Ofcom or they'll be all manner of trouble and badness.