Monday, January 14, 2013

First They Curse, Then They Press Me Till I Hurt

The latest From The North update begins with three days worth of ratings analysis. If you want to sleep through the next bit, dear blog reader, you have yer actual Keith Telly Topping's permission just this once. We start with Friday where a Channel Four documentary about Britain's largest family beat Celebrity Big Brother in the overnight ratings. Which was funny. Sixteen Kids and Counting pulled in an audience of 2.37 million viewers in the 9pm hour, while Channel Five's live eviction episode of CBB attracted but 2.05m. Celebrity Big Brother added two hundred and forty five thousand glakes on Five+1, but Sixteen Kids and Counting managed a very impressive six hundred thousand additional punters on its own timeshift service, C4+1. Elsewhere in the 9pm slot, ITV's new (alleged) comedy drama Great Night Out opened with a below-slot-average 3.41m punters. Disdained by the majority of critics, it lost out to the perennial Silent Witness which was watched by 5.31m. On BBC2, the half-hour quiz programmes Mastermind (2.13m) and Qi (2.14m) both performed well at 8pm and 10pm respectively. Channel Five's Ice Road Truckers got the better of Channel Four's new reality show First Time Farmers with 1.23m versus nine hundred and eighty thousand. The Graham Norton Show continued to pull in the numbers at 10.35pm on BBC1 with 3.53m. Overall, BBC1 edged primetime with 21.3 per cent of the total audience share versus ITV's 20.7 per cent.

Now, before we get more ratings - yes, yes, I know - a brief interlude to record some proper tremendous news. Hebburn has been recommissioned by BBC2. The comedy series will return later this year for a new six-part series and a Christmas special. Created by Jason Cook and loosely based on his own experiences, Hebburn stars Chris Ramsey as Jack, a lad from the eponymous North East town who has secretly married his middle-class, Jewish girlfriend Sarah (Kimberley Nixon). The first series concluded with the pair's second, sham wedding, which was interrupted when Jack's father (Vic Reeves) suffered a stroke. 'I'm obviously proper over the moon about the second series,' said Jason. 'Series one was so well received that we always had hopes of getting recommissioned but now it's real! Having a Christmas special really is the icing on the cake; I got quite giddy when I was told we'd got that.' Series two of Hebburn will enter production in the summer and will be broadcast in late 2013, with Ideal's Graham Duff again scripting the new episodes alongside Cook, Henry Normal and Lindsay Hughes of Baby Cow. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping likes this news, greatly.
Right, back to the ratings, and a sad, sad story from Saturday night. Tom Daley's risible, odious Splash! continues to prove a baffling ratings success for ITV despite its many, many, many critics. Of which this blogger counts himself first without equal. Because it's shite. Screened from 7pm, the 'diving reality show' pulled in 5.16 million sad, lonely and crushed victims of society, ranking as the most-watched Saturday broadcast for the second week running. Britain, what the hell are you doing? Come on, people, we're better than this. We produced Shakespeare, Stephenson, Brunel, The Beatles and Henry Cooper. We invented television, the light bulb, the railways, the World Wide Web and those little black rubber things, you know, they go 'neep-neep'. Them. While the audience for Z-List Celebrity Drowning is, marginally, down on last week's 5.5m-rated premiere, BBC1 rival Britain's Brightest - hosted by Claire Balding - fell further to 4.08m. After Z-List Celebrity Drowning, crass, odious, diarrhoea ridden Take Me Out set a new series high of 4.38m from 8.30pm, but despite this still lost out to BBC1's Lottery: Secret Fortune (4.96m) and Casualty (4.93m). Which, slightly, restores ones faith in the general public. Only slightly, mind. In a bad start to the night for the Beeb, You've Been Framed thrashed Richard Hammond's hidden camera show Secret Service - which has been a real flop - with 4.42m versus 2.14m. However, BBC1 got some sweet revenge later on as a Mrs Brown's Boys repeat beat The Jonathan Ross Show with 4.26m against 2.47m punters. They also ended the night with an above average audience for Match of the Day (3.71m). This meant that despite a somewhat underwhelming line-up, BBC1 managed to top the primetime audience share battle with 19.7 per cent, ahead of ITV's 17.3 per cent for its much-hyped schedule. On BBC2, Dad's Army was watched by 2.18m, Fawlty Towers by 1.99m and Qi XL by 1.56m.
If BBC1 had the better of Friday and Saturday night, albeit marginally, the reverse was true on Sunday as ITV's Twatting About On Ice achieved the highest audience for any programme (6.97m for the main show from 6.15pm, 6.6m for the results show at 8.30). Despite being seven hundred thousand viewers down on last week's series opener (which was, itself, the lowest audience for a premier episode for the series since it began) it was still - sadly - the most watched show of the day. To repeat, Britain, what are you playing at?! Mr Selfridge continued to prove a popular hit with viewers keeping the majority of its audience from the previous week with 6.41m in the nine o'clock slot. It's opposition, BBC1's grim but rather effective Victorian thriller Ripper Street also maintained the majority of its audience for its third episode (5.13m compared to 5.37m last week). The only ITV show to lost its slot during Sunday evening was All Star Family Fortunes (5.89m) which was up against the last fifteen minutes of Countryfile (6.36m) and the first half hour of Antiques Roadshow (5.94m). In a night of, generally, more than decent figures across the board, BBC1's PG Wodehouse adaptation Blandings began with 5.7m from 6.30pm. BBC2's night was dominated by coverage of the darts, with an average audience of 2.16m from 5.45pm. On Channel Four, the second episode of the final series of Time Team held steady with an average of one million viewers between 5.25pm and 6.25pm. Overall, BBC1 and ITV tied in first place, both averaging a primetime share of 21.4 per cent between 7pm and 11pm.
BBC3 has cancelled the lesbian drama Lip Service, the show's creator has announced. Harriet Braun, also the show's executive producer, revealed that the corporation hasn't yet offered an explanation for the decision. Probably because nobody was watching it, that's usually why TV programmes get cancelled. Although, the idea that any TV company owes anyone an explanation as to why they chose to stop making a show which they commissioned (and paid for) in the first place is an fallacy. Set in Glasgow, Lip Service centred around a group of gay women and starred Laura Fraser, Ruta Gedmintas, Fiona Button and Heather Peace. Lip Service initially pulled in decent ratings when it launched in 2010, but lost a third of its audience when BBC3 moved the show from a late Tuesday night slot to Friday's 9pm hour. Addressing fans on Twitter, Braun said: 'Sadly BBC3 have confirmed there won't be a third series of Lip Service. A huge, huge thank you to all the fans for all your support.'

There was a very interesting piece by Stephen Fry in the Radio Times on PG Wodehouse in relation to the beginning of the current BBC adaptation of Blandings: 'Had his only contributions to literature been Lord Emsworth and Blandings Castle, his place in history would have been assured. Had he written of none but Mike and Psmith, he'd be cherished today as the best and brightest of our comic authors. If Jeeves and Wooster had been his solitary theme, still he'd be hailed as The Master. If he'd given us only Ukridge, or nothing but recollections of the Mulliner family, or a pure diet of golfing stories, Doctor Sir Pelham Grenville Wodehouse would nonetheless be considered immortal. That he gave us all those – and more – is our good fortune and a testament to the most industrious, prolific and beneficent author ever to have sat down, scratched his head and banged out a sentence. If I were to say that the defining characteristic of PG Wodehouse was his professionalism, that might make him sound rather dull. Wodehouse, who knew just what was expected of authors, was used to having to apologise for a childhood that was "as normal as rice pudding" and a life that consisted of little more than "sitting in front of the typewriter and cursing a bit."'

ITV has, from Monday, rolled out its 'major rebrand' across the entire business, including a 'colour-shifting' new logo and refreshed identities for all five of its channels, including ITV1 changing to just 'ITV'. Of course, some of us never stopped calling it 'just ITV'.

James May has blamed social networking sites for 'ruining surprises' on Top Gear - and suggested that such spoilsports could 'spell the end for privacy.' At least, that's what the Daily Scum Mail reckon in a rather alarmist piece over, frankly, a few throwaway lines. Hyperbole and making a drama out of a crisis? from the Daily Scum Mail? How very unusual. James had noted that any filming the three Top Gear presenters do in a public place is now immediately filmed or photographed by the public and then often posted online. The forty nine-year-old said that fans post the footage on sites such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube and 'ruin' any surprises for the viewers. The Scum Mail then suggest he predicted a time when they will no longer even need film crews because there will be so much pooled footage available on the Internet that fans will be able to make their own versions of the BBC2 show. Although, this blogger reckons James was, actually, joking when he said that. For the Scum Mail that's an example of 'irony.' You know, what your mum does with your shirts after washing. Writing in the current Top Gear Magazine James says that previously, people would have had to physically pass an image or video around - but now it was possible to let the entire world see a photo through posting online. He wrote: 'These days, it's quite difficult to surprise you on the telly, because everything we do in any vaguely public place is immediately filmed, photographed or noted and then exposed on Twitbook and FaceTube.' May predicted a time where members of the public would be so adept with social media and videos, that they would make the show He said 'spoilers' that people post are usually grainy and unprofessional, and highlight how much work and effort goes into turning the actual filmed stunts into 'a vaguely watchable TV programme.' He praised directors, cameramen, sound recordists, editors, producers and experts for creating the 'magic' of the car show. He wrote: 'So I see a future where we don't need to film and edit Top Gear. You will do it for us. We will arrange to drive some five hundred pound cars to France (where the producers have come up with a series of challenges), and you will pool your footage to make an item.'

Neil Ruddock has been warned by the Celebrity Big Brother producers for 'unacceptable' and 'threatening' behaviour. The incident in question occurred on Saturday night after Spencer Pratt (not, me neither) and Heidi Montag (ditto) were readmitted to the house. Apparently. If anybody knows how any of these people are, please do feel free to write a lengthy biography of all of their achievements and then ... throw it in the bin because this blogger is certainly not interested in the slightest. After Pratt responded angrily to a joke by Ryan Moloney (err ...), Razor 'stuck up' for his housemate by saying 'don't get nasty,' then adding: 'Cause if you wanna get nasty, I could be the horriblest cunt to you in the world.' And, one of two Premier League centre forwards from the 1990s will probably testify on Ruddock's behalf in that regard. After Pratt continued ranting, Ruddock shouted: 'Oi! Don't get nasty!' leading a worried Montag to squeal: 'Let's get security in here.' Security? Like Razor Ruddocks' scared of security! Shortly afterwards, Rylan Clark (who the hell are these people?) stood in front of Ruddock as he shouted at Pratt: 'Stop bullying people.' Later, Clark told Ruddock to 'remain calm' and 'remember where we are.' Razor responded that he 'hates bullies' - which, considering the way he used to put himself about on a football pitch is rather odd - and asked: 'Why were they doing that to poor Ryan?' When Clark asked what would happen if Pratt continued his ranting, Ruddock replied that he wouldn't, saying: 'He shit himself, you should have seen his eyes.' Oooo. Big fight, little people. Ruddock was then called into the Diary Room and told that 'unacceptable shouting will not be tolerated.' He responded: 'It's out of the way, I think everyone knows what person I could be, which I'm really not, but I apologise for my outburst and it will never happen again. My mum will be shocked.' On Sunday morning, Ruddock was called into the Diary Room for a second time, was issued a formal warning for 'threatening and aggressive behaviour', and told that a repetition would lead to his removal from the house. The forty four-year-old apologised and, again, promised that there would not be a repeat of such kerfufflement.

Jason Orange - he's one of the ones in Take That who doesn't actually do anything - will appear in the final series of Shameless. Orange, who is reportedly a big fan of the council-estate comedy drama, will play a festival organiser called Scouse Mouse, according to the Mirra. Orange's character - who will be seen dressed in a large mouse outfit - will stage an event on Chatsworth estate, home of the Gallagher family. An alleged 'insider' allegedly told the alleged newspaper that Orange was 'well received' on-set and put in an excellent cameo performance. The alleged 'source' allegedly said: 'He had a great time on set and was line perfect for a triumphant TV acting début. But it's hard to say who was more excited about it - him or the production team.' Orange will appear in the seventh episode of the fourteen-part series.

Tulisa Contostavlos has reportedly quit The X Factor after a row with producers. But, then the report was denied. So, two stories about trivia for the price of one. Perhaps the best value on the scum tabloid circuit this morning. The N-Dubz singer, who joined the judging panel of The X Factor in 2011, was reported to have been planning to leave the talent show since learning that Nicole Scherzinger had been invited back for the next series. 'Tulisa had a blazing row with producers when she found out Nicole was coming back,' an alleged 'source' - who almost certainly doesn't exist - allegedly told the Daily Lies Sunday. 'She can't stand working with her and Tulisa is not enjoying the job at all. The producers couldn't wait to get rid of her. She turned her dressing room into a nightclub and would boom out loud music. Despite leading Little Mix to victory [in 2011], she wasn't as available to her acts off-stage as people think. Tulisa got the hump when she was warned about her behaviour.' Contostavlos's father recently claimed that his daughter wanted to leave The X Factor as she 'only does it for the money.' However, Contostavlos subsequently branded the item as 'complete lies.' What, so you're suggesting that the Daily Lies deliberately made up a quote, attributing it to an anonymous source, solely for the purpose of creating a story? Surely not? I mean, they're normally such a fair, balanced and accurate publication. Contostavlos tweeted: 'Some1 [sic] at a certain paper has a very wild imagination 2day [sic]. Really dont [sic] understand how certain media are allowed to print complete lies.' Well, because it's the Daily Lies, m'love. It sort of goes with the territory when it comes to them.
The BBC has launched a search for the next editor of Newsnight after the news and current affairs programme dropped a report into Jimmy Savile's decades-long campaign of sexual abuse. Peter Rippon, who took over at Newsnight in 2008, stood aside when his explanation in a blogpost about why the investigation was pulled was criticised for inaccuracies and had to be corrected. The job advert for his replacement comes a day after official reports revealed the full details of how the authorities failed to build a case against the dastardly old scallywag, who is alleged to have sexually assaulted more than two hundred children and young people over six decades and used his fame to, in the words of a Met police commander, 'groom the nation.' The Newsnight advert, published on the BBC's website, reads: 'After a period of intense external and internal scrutiny and challenge Newsnight is looking for a tough, innovative and creative individual with sound editorial judgment to be the next editor.' Applicants should have 'experience of successfully managing teams through periods of difficult change' and ensuring the programme collaborates with the rest of BBC News and BBC2. 'Making tough decisions at very short notice is an important part of the job and the programme must never shy away from the controversial and the sensitive,' the advert states. Whoever secures the job will be accountable to the head of news programmes, a position which is also currently being advertised by the corporation. Stephen Mitchell, who resigned from that post in December, was criticised for removing the Savile investigation from a list of the BBC's 'potentially difficult' programmes, known as the 'managed risk programmes list.; Mitchell, who was also deputy director of BBC News, oversaw the blog written by Rippon.

There's an excellent piece by the always thought-provoking Charlie Brooker in this week's Gruniad Morning Star which combines a, mostly very positive, review of Tarantino's Django Unchained, a think-piece on the concept of taking and giving offensive, and some very accurate shit-stirring against the Daily Scum Mail. Which, let's face it, is always good for a laugh. King Charlie notes: 'There has been much pointing-and-chortling of late at the Daily Mail's embarrassing failure to stoke national outrage over a mildly irreverent comment about the Queen's sex life blurted out by Jack Whitehall on a festive panel show. This is fusty, old-school outrage, spluttered in your mind's eye by a swivel-eyed ex-colonel with dangerously high blood pressure. But because it flopped, it's actually sort of poignant, like watching an old man ineffectually waving his fist as they concrete the duckpond and put up a Nando's. Whitehall's offensive joke was scarcely offensive, and scarcely a joke. In fact it only worked as a joke if you imagined someone being offended by it. Enter the Daily Mail. Q: Who has won here? A: Jack Whitehall. Of course the Daily Mail holds one of these outrage-drives roughly every six months. This is because it is a bastion of creaky old media. In the hyperspeed world of social media, there's a similar whipround every five minutes, often over far shakier stuff. Twitter and Facebook are seemingly full of people actively seeking out statements to be offended by, parsing every word as it scrolls upscreen, panning for turds. And the moment they find one, they launch into a performance of such deranged, self-assured haughtiness, the Daily Mail seems hopelessly amateur by comparison. What's the psychology here? Is it a narcissistic compulsion to demonstrate how much more thoughtful and sensitive you are than the ignorant clod who offended you? An earnest belief that a better world will only be reached after several thousand hours of angry dissent over absolutely every linguistic transgression ever made? A cathartic howl of vague personal unhappiness disguised as a campaign of improvement? Or just something to do between bowel movements?' And: 'The most depressing thing about the climate of endless, instant outrage isn't just the sheer futility of it all – because nothing actually changes apart from a few keys being bashed on the head by angry fingers – but that this very futility allows strange and frightening new creatures to thrive: weird specimens such as the "James Delingpole", which as far as I can tell is a sort of stick insect whose sole function is to irritate passing liberals. Their cries of dismay are his oxygen. Without them he will die. Consequently, there isn't a week that goes by without Delingpole causing some sort of kerfuffle, then running away laughing like a naughty boy who has just blown off through the headmaster's letterbox. This is every day on Twitter, for ever. 9am: James Delingpole says trees are lesbians so we should saw their flat ugly tits off and fire them at Muslims using a petrol-powered catapult. 9.03am: An enraged section of Twitter spends nine hours ceaselessly promoting James Delingpole, to the delight of James Delingpole. 6pm: James Delingpole triumphantly closes his laptop and strolls away whistling, clicking his heels as a cartoon vignette closes around him. Q: Who has won here? A: James Delingpole. Q: What's more offensive than that? A: Nothing.'

Judi Dench lobbied unsuccessfully to persuade former BBC director general Mark Thompson to abandon the practice of squeezing programme credits more than five years ago, The Stage has revealed. The actress wrote to Thompson in 2007 to complain about the practice of 'credit squeezing', in which the credits are boxed up in the corner of the screen while voice-overs tell viewers about forthcoming programmes. The BBC and Dench's agent declined to reveal the contents of the letter but the Corporation confirmed that Dench objected to the practice in a letter in which other grievances were also aired. 'Dame Judi did send the letter and that was among the issues that was raised in it,' said a BBC spokeswoman. Dench's agent declined to respond to enquiries. The BBC would not confirm whether Thompson responded to her requests, but nothing was done to remedy the issue for more than four years after the letter was written. The issue has, however, returned to the agenda of the television industry following last February's report by performers' union Equity, which revealed that the majority of viewers objected to the practice of credit squeezing, complaining it ruined their viewing experience and prompted them to switch channels. As a consequence, the BBC undertook a number of promises, including pledging that at least one episode of a drama or comedy series that has more than one episode will not be squeezed. Sky has now promised to abolish the practice altogether after its own research found three-quarters of its viewers believe credits are important for actors. Its research also found more than a third of its customers – thirty six per cent – like to read end credits, and thirty nine per cent feel they are 'important' for viewers.

There's still time to go for the exciting job of the BBC's head of communications, international, the head spin doctor of its Global News division. The usual range of superhero-like talents are specified in the job advert, inevitably including 'crisis management' experience, with midnight on 29 January the deadline to apply to join the corporation's elite. Hang on, though, this not particularly impressive example of communication also says that 'interviews will be held on 6 December.' Only The Doctor need apply, it would seem.
YouView, the Internet TV service that has acquired a reputation for tardiness, is inviting applications to replace its advertising agency, and those tempted to go for the ten million smackers account will be reassured that Lord Sugar-Sweetie (who pocketed five hundred thousand knicker last year for chairing the venture, a grand coalition of broadcasters) will not be presiding over the pitch process in a replica of the The Apprentice boardroom. Instead, the decision-makers will be his marketing team, albeit with 'input' from Sugar-Sweetie his very self. That mean bellowing gormlessly, 'you're fired', basically. This limited role – perhaps fuming on the other side of a one-way mirror? – seems wise, as Sugar-Sweetie has made it clear that he views ad-men much as he views the blundering young boasters in his BBC1 show. 'If ever there was a case of watching the mother-in-law drive the Ferrari off the cliff, this is it,' the peer said last year, explaining why he was steering clear of dealing with agencies himself. Disappointingly, the statement fails to reveal whether the former incumbents, Adam & Eve/DDB, were, nevertheless, fired and sent away with their wheely suitcases by him in the traditional manner.

A man hoping to erect a statue to George Harrison in Oxfordshire has halted his campaign following a response from the late guitarist's widow. James Lambert from Henley-on-Thames, wrote to Olivia Harrison to inform her of his hopes but was informed that she would prefer a community project in George's name. Lambert admitted: 'The statue could create problems of different types of fans turning up, the unwanted fans.' Harrison, of course, lived in the town until his death in 2001. Lambert added: 'Gauging the pulse in terms of Henley residents I think there was a lot of support. This petition wasn't tapping into The Beatles fanfare worldwide, it was much more to recognise George's contribution to Henley and the affection Henley had for him. It is slightly disappointing but you have to respect Olivia's wishes, as she still has a house in Henley, Friar Park. And the danger was it wouldn't just become a Henley acknowledgement of George's work but would encourage more people to visit Henley. I think what she's suggesting in terms of a community project would be great and it'll be very exciting to see exactly how this transpires.' George moved to the town in the early 1970s when he bought a large stately home - Friar Park - and saved it from demolition. The Beatle, who died aged fifty eight in November 2001, was also stabbed seven times at the house by an intruder in 1999.

A young girl has saved her diabetic father with jelly babies. Lilly Fitzpatrick in Longbridge in Birmingham saw her father Dave fall dangerously ill when his blood sugar levels dipped, according to the Mirra. The six-year-old at first tried to apply oral glucose gel, but Dave's condition did not improve. However, she then grabbed jelly babies from her lunchbox and fed them to her father to save his life before calling for an ambulance. 'I wouldn't be here without her,' said Dave. 'She's a little hero.' Lilly recalled: 'I knew jelly babies are really sweet, so I got them and popped them into my dad's mouth.'

Finally, today, we end on a short personal note, a Mama Telly Topping Update for those of you, dear blog readers, who've been following the saga: Sadly, after five or six really good days around - and immediately after - New Year, the last few days have seen a significant decline in yer actual Lily Topping's condition. For those who didn't know, she was diagnosed with terminal stomach cancer in June of last year. Although she is still able to take on fluids and get her medication down, the mental confusion which had been an off-and-on factor for the last couple of months has got rapidly (and distressingly) worse over the last three or four days. This includes lengthy periods of general confusion including some apparent hallucinations - thinking there are cats in the room, for example - and only the odd lucid moments to remind one of the fierce intellect that's in there somewhere, struggling through the fog of medication. Sometimes it can be hard work and on more than one occasion it's been downright upsetting to see someone so full of life in barely coherent state and, genuinely, unaware of their surroundings. Some days are better than others, of course, and actually today has been one of the better ones. But, it looks like we're moving towards the end stages of her illness now. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping wishes to thank all of the sincere best wishes he's received on his mother's behalf in the past (from those on Facebook, Gallifrey Base and, indeed, this blog). When she was a bit more clued-in she did ask me to say how - genuinely - touched she was by being in other people's thoughts.

For today's Keith Telly Topping;'s 45 of the Day we have something a little bit special. No, in fact, we have something a lot special. One of yer actual Keith Telly Topping's favourite songs from The Clash. Because I could do with a bit of cheering up this morning. Not than one ever needs any excuse to play this at full volume.  Sing, Michael, sing!