Tuesday, January 29, 2013

I Don't Care How Much I Pay

A peak audience of more than five million punters got oot of their stinking pits early on Sunday morning to watch dour Scotsman Andy Murray suffer an agonising defeat in his bid to win a second grand slam in the Australian Open tennis final on BBC1. BBC1's live coverage of Murray's four-set defeat to Novak Djokovic averaged 4.1 million viewers, a thirty eight per cent audience share, between 8.15am and 12.45pm, with a fifteen-minute peak of 5.1 million between midday and 12.15pm. This was up to four times the size of BBC1's typical audience on a Sunday morning. In the evening, BBC2's Top Gear returned for its nineteenth series on BBC2 - much the obvious chagrin of various disgusting hippie-louse-Communists at the Gruniad Morning Star and some jack-booted thug bullyboys of no importance at the Daily Scum Mail - with 5.3 million viewers between 8pm and 9pm, including nine hundred and twenty nine thousand viewers watching on BBC HD. Remarkably, the motoring magazine show managed to beat vile, odious Twatting About On Ice's 'Skate Off' show which could only muster 5.16m for Anthea Turner's departure between 8.30pm and 9pm on ITV. Which, somewhat, restores one's faith in the viewing public actually having a braincell between them. Earlier, the main Twatting About On Ice show was watched by seven million crushed victims of society between 6.15pm and 7.45pm. Top Gear may have also given a leg-up to BBC2's latest series with Professor Brian Cox, Wonders of Life, which followed it at 9pm, although they would appear to have rather different audiences. (Albeit, yer actual Keith Telly Topping very much enjoys both so that proves they're not mutually exclusive.) The first of a five-part series, Wonders of Life had 3.1 million viewers, including four hundred and twenty two thousand viewers on BBC HD. At the same time on 9pm, ITV's Mr Selfridge continued to hold a - marginal - whip hand over BBC1's Ripper Street in the battle of the Sunday night dramas. Mr Selfridge, the fourth of a ten-part run, had six million viewers, ahead of Ripper Street's steady 5.2 million. Later, and rather gratifyingly, BBC1's Holocaust Memorial Day documentary Prisoner Number A26188: Henia Bryer was watched by 1.9 million viewers between 10.25pm and 11.05pm. Channel Four's terrestrial movie premiere The Fighter, with yer actual Christian Bale, was watched by 1.2 million viewers between 9pm and 11.20pm. Earlier, ITV's live coverage of Oldham Athletic's 3-2 fourth round FA Cup giant-killing over Liverpool Alabama Yee-Haws proved a ratings winner with a fifteen-minute teatime peak of nearly seven million viewers. FA Cup Live had an average of 4.5 million viewers between 3.30pm and 6.05pm. Live coverage of the match itself, which kicked off at 4pm, averaged 5.2 million with a peak of 6.8 million for its climax between 5.45pm and 6pm. BBC1's Call the Midwife was the most watched programme of the day across all channels, with 8.7 million viewers between 8pm and 9pm, down from last week's series opener (and all-time high) of 9.3 million. Blandings (3.71m) and Countryfile (6.24m) also pulled in decent figures for BBC1. Overall, BBC1 led primetime with 23.9 per cent of the audience share versus ITV's 19.9 per cent. BBC2 took a creditable third place with 10.5 per cent, its highest audience share of the year so far.

Meanwhile, here's the consolidated and final ratings figures for the Top Twenty Two programmes week-ending 20 January 2013:-
1 Call The Midwife - Sun BBC1 - 10.79m
2 Coronation Street - Mon ITV - 10.42m
3 Mrs Brown's Boys - Mon BBC1 - 9.66m
4 EastEnders - Mon BBC1 - 9.64m
5 Miranda - Mon BBC1 - 8.88m
6 Africa - Wed BBC1 - 7.97m
7 Death In Paradise - Tues BBC1 - 7.84m
8 Emmerdale - Thurs ITV - 7.81m
9 Lewis - Mon ITV - 7.58m
10 Silent Witness - Thurs BBC1 - 7.44m
11 Mr Selfridge - Sun ITV - 6.98m
12 Ripper Street - Sun BBC1 - 6.95m
13 Twatting About On Ice - Sun ITV - 6.88m
14 Six O Clock News - Fri BBC1 - 6.73m
15 Countryfile - Sun BBC1 - 6.69m
16 Ten O'Clock News - Thurs BBC1 - 6.34m
17 BBC News - Sun BBC1 - 6.25m
18 Casualty - Sat BBC1 - 6.07m
19 The ONE Show - Fri BBC1 - 5.83m
20 Blandings - Sun BBC1 - 5.66m
21 The National Lottery: In It To Win It - Sat BBC1 - 5.48m
22 Holby City - Tues BBC1 - 5.15m

'This isn't fighting talk,' insisted Sky's director of entertainment channels Stuart Murphy as he listed all the on-screen talent currently working for the broadcaster – Steve Coogan, Julia Davis, Emily Mortimer et al – at a Sky Living launch last week. Was there a 'but' coming on? Of course there was. There's always a 'but' coming. 'But five years ago if you saw all those names you would have assumed it was another broadcaster – the terrestrial that used to take big creative risks.' Murphy crowed, though he preferred not to say which one. Was there, however, a clue in his later statement that 'if Channel Four had that line-up it would be really proud of it'? Very possibly. And not a subliminal one. This is, after all, same C4 that Murphy is hotly tipped to one day head.

ITV has purchased its headquarters and studios on London's South Bank for fifty six million quid. The broadcaster has purchased the two and a half-acre site from retail letting firm Coal Pension Properties, ITV announced on Monday. ITV will pay fifty six million smackers to buy out the fifty six-year lease, plus a further six and a half million notes if there is substantial redevelopment of the site in the next ten years. The broadcaster said in a stock market announcement that the purchase would give it 'flexibility' in in its property strategy as it continues to 'transform and rebalance' the company. This follows ITV's move to overhaul its offices and studios in Leeds, and to relocate its Manchester operation to the new MediaCity complex in Salford. The TV company has had an association with London Television Centre – formerly known as London Studios – for more than forty years. The twenty two-storey tower and studio complex, overlooking the Thames, was purpose built for ITV company London Weekend Television in the early 1970s. ITV's corporate HQ and network commissioning operation was for many years based in offices on Gray's Inn Road north of the Thames, with the South Bank site mainly a production centre. The broadcaster's commissioning teams under director of programmes Peter Fincham relocated to London Television Centre from Gray's Inn Road in early 2009, with chief executive Adam Crozier setting up shop there when he joined ITV the following year. Programmes currently produced at the London Television Centre include breakfast flop Daybreak, This Morning, Loose Women, The Jonathan Ross Show, All Star Family Fortunes and Alan Carr: Chatty Man. A load of old risible, lowest-common-denominator shite in other words. Although, to be fair, they do also make The Graham Norton Show and Qi for the BBC so it's not all rubbish.

When news that the utterly wretched and worthless Colin Murray was going to be - satisfyingly - replaced as Match Of The Day 2 host recently, the Torygraph's Jonathan Liew showed little mercy for the Irish broadcaster in a column headlined Good riddance to a man who talks a lot but does not listen. But then, it's difficult to feel even a smidgen of sympathy for someone who once threatened to take you to court for merely expressing a negative opinion. It seems, according toe the Gruniad Morning Star, Liew claimed that after an earlier piece about Murray, he received a five-page letter from celebrity lawyers Schillings the highlight of which was an objection to Liew calling Murray's DJ sets 'pedestrian' ('Our client takes great exception to this. Our client is very proud of his DJ sets and goes to great lengths to ensure that his sets are lively, imaginative and distinct from other performances' they whinged.) The Torygraph rebutted 'every one of its points in some detail,' including the musical moan. Liew, it seems, had experienced one of Murray's DJ sets in Edinburgh four years before which, he stated, was 'indie disco by numbers' and ended in 'the most clichéd way' possible with The Proclaimers' 'Five Hundred Miles.' Which is about how far from the Match Of The Day studio Murray may find himself once the current season is over. Personally, this blogger thinks that Murray is one of the worst sports programme presenters he's ever had the misfortune to watched and/or listen to. Hopefully Schillings won't have any issue with that assessment, especially when they consider that this blogger is voicing this opinion not as a professional broadcaster himself but, rather, as 'a licence fee payer.' You know, one of those 'annoying little people' who pay Mr Murray's no doubt no inconsiderable wages. Still, it would seem it's an opinion that the BBC currently shares.

ITV has ordered two more series of the daytime game show The Chase and a run of celebrity specials. The Bradley Walsh quiz series has been commissioned to film three hundred further standard episodes (two series of one hundred and fifty shows) and twenty four 'celebrity episodes.' Or, episodes featuring some people you've never heard of, more likely. The Chase places contestants in a quiz race with 'The Chaser', a general knowledge and quiz expert who wants to beat the contestants at all costs. Although, sadly, not with an actual beating implement. The contestants must stay ahead of The Chaser by answering questions to win a share of the final prize pot. The show, which is broadcast daily at 5pm, has pulled very decent ratings over recent weeks with a peak audience of just over five million on Monday 21 January when most of the country was snowed in their gaffs. ITV's 5pm slot ratings average has been boosted heavily by the show, which has recorded a thirty nine per cent rise year-on-year. Director of factual and daytime Alison Sharman said: 'The Chase has been a consistent star performer for ITV Daytime. Now in its sixth series it continues to grow in popularity and we are thrilled to secure it into 2014 for our ITV Daytime viewers.' Michael Kelpie, creative director of ITV Studios and executive producer of The Chase, added: 'The Chase continues to go from strength to strength. I am thrilled that our success has been reflected in such a confident commission for ITV. For the next two years, The Chase is most definitely on!'

Big, cuddly Dawn French is to play odious talentless lard bucket (and drag) James Corden's mother in his new comedy-thriller. So, that should be well worth avoiding, then. The Vicar Of Dibley actress has been added to the cast of BBC2’s The Wrong Mans, which Corden co-wrote with friend Mathew Baynton. The plot involves two office workers – Corden and Horrible Histories star Baynton – who become unwittingly caught up in a conspiracy. It also stars Dan Renton Skinner, temporarily ditching his Angelos Epithemiou character, Rebecca Front as the head of MI5 and Sarah Solemani from BBC3's Him And Her. Meanwhile, Silent Witness's Emilia Fox and Nick Moran will play the mysterious duo on the trail of the hapless duo. Executive producer Mark Freeland said: 'We are trying to do a comedy with explosions, a lot of running about, murder, extortion, friendship and love.' yeah. But, it's got Corden in it, so it'll be lousy.

Tim Vine, Nina Conti and John Culshaw are to take part in the next series of Let's Dance for Comic Relief. The high-profile series will run over three Saturday night heats from 16 February, followed by a final on 9 March. Although the full line-up has yet to be revealed, it has also been announced that former boxer Ricky Hatton will be among the contestants while judges will include Frank Skinner and Jo Brand. Alex Jones, who hosts the show with Steve Jones (no relation), said: 'I'm ridiculously excited to be back on Let's Dance. We have some of our best comedians as panellists, and an unbelievable line-up of brave celebrities who are all prepared to don their dancing shoes to raise lots of money for this year’s Red Nose Day.' At least, we think that's what she said, with her it's difficult to tell. Last year's competition was won by Roland Rivron, with his interpretation of Fatboy Slim's 'Weapon of Choice'. The show has previously helped boost the profiles of the likes of Rufus Hound and Robert Webb, while raising money for Comic Relief.

Film 2012 was already looking bad, and now Film 2013's condition appears terminal. The Gruniad Morning Star claims that Danny Cohen has 'plainly lost patience with the Claudia Winkleman vehicle.' Relatively lenient December start-times have degenerated to two 11.50pm starts in January, including (especially insultingly) last week's show, which had two Best Picture Oscar nominees to cover, Lincoln and Zero Dark Thirty, but had to wait for League Cup highlights to finish first. Will Cohen kill off the long-running movie review show before its exiled ex-presenter Jonathan Ross starts his ITV film show in April?

Viewers of a newly restored silent film showing London in the 1920s are to be given the opportunity to create their own bespoke soundtrack. Flowers of London contrasts footage of the city's dirty streets with pictures of flowers, designed to signify hope. It will be made available on The Space website, a collaboration between Arts Council England and the BBC. The BBC's New Radiophonic Workshop will invite site users to choose their own combinations of sound effects. Flowers of London is one of six films in the Wonderful London series, all from the 1920s, that have been restored by the BFI National Archive. The Radiophonic Workshop, which made theme tunes and soundtracks for the likes of Doctor Who and Blake's Seven, reopened last September after fourteen years. 'What initially appeared to be a straightforward commission ended up being one of our most challenging projects,' said composer Matthew Herbert, leader of the workshop. 'We were keen to allow the viewers the chance to customise their listen, and so they are able to choose what kind of soundtrack they think the film should have.' 'We believe that sound is as important as the image,' said Peter Maniura, curator of The Space. 'Flowers of London is particularly special as it allows the audience to control their listening experience - tailoring music, narrative and effects to build their own soundtrack.' Flowers of London will be made available on The Space from 7 February.

Channel Four has announced details of a new documentary about the recent increase in fried chicken shops in the UK. Developed with the working title The Fried Chicken Shop (imaginative), the show will be filmed in a single shop in South London. The show will be shot from fixed cameras, which will capture interviews with customers and staff. Channel Four wants the one-off documentary to be 'surprising and celebratory' and is examining the 'cultural and economic urban landscape of modern Britain.' Emma Cooper, commissioning editor at Channel Four, said: 'The Fried Chicken Shop will explore the scale of the nation's obsession and increasing love of fried chicken. Filmed in one of the UK's popular fried chicken shops and serving the diverse community of London, it has produced a surprising yet exciting and genuinely illuminating film and tells us the story of Britain today through our voracious appetite for chicken wings.' The Fried Chicken Shop is being produced by Mentorn Media for Channel Four's flagship documentary brand Cutting Edge.

Andrew Scott, best known for playing Jim Moriarty in Sherlock, has been named best actor at a ceremony honouring the best of BBC radio drama. Scott picked up the prize at the BBC Audio Drama Awards for his role in Harold Pinter's Betrayal on Radio 4. Scott won the best supporting actor prize at last year's awards. At this year's event, hosted by yer actual David Tennant, Michelle Fairley was named best actress for her part in John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath. This Is England star Vicky McClure picked up the award for best supporting actress for Radio 4's Kicking the Air. David Troughton was named best supporting actor for Singles and Doublets, broadcast on Radio 3. 'Acting on the radio is challenging, inspiring, delicate and always a privilege,' said former Doctor Who star Tennant, who won best actor at last year's inaugural ceremony. 'Radio drama is often overlooked and undervalued next to its showier younger siblings on the television and in the cinema. Yet it is on the wireless that so many important and brilliant talents have been discovered and nurtured.' The award for best single drama went to On It, Tony Pitts' play about a heroin addict. The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum, adapted from the novel by German author Heinrich Boll, took best series or serial.

Plans for a TV version of I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue were dropped – because executives thought the teams were too old. The show is currently celebrating its fortieth year on radio, but has never transferred to the small screen. And speaking at the Slapstick Festival in Bristol, regular panellist Tim Brooke-Taylor revealed why. The seventy two-year-old told an audience at the Old Vic theatre: 'We did a pilot for ITV, and they said "Yes, we'd like to go along with it, but can we have some younger people doing it?" I think they missed the point somewhat.' Thec same oculd, of course, also be said for Lord Timbo his very self whose latest TV venture, Animal Antics is so much of a dog it's in danger of shedding. It's certainly shed much of its audience. Even the pilot of the radio show got off to an inauspicious start, according to legend. Graeme Garden created the improvised format as an outlet for the team behind sketch show I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again – who were finding it increasingly difficult to work on scripts as their TV work began to take off. He called in jazz star Humphrey Lyttelton to host but, he told the festival: 'We said "never again" at the end of the pilot. We all had a terrible time.' At the time, producer David Hatch said he might be able to sell it to the BBC as a one-off – but it turned into one of the corporation's most enduring shows. Garden, sixty nine, added: 'Humph always used to say he liked pilots as you turned up, got paid, and nothing ever came of it. Not only did he say "never again" after the pilot, he said it after the end of the first series, and every subsequent series. I never quite know if he enjoyed doing the show or not.' The first series also starred John Cleese and Bill Oddie (when he used to be funny), but both quickly dropped out. 'John liked to be in control of everything, and do eight rewrites every time,' Garden said. 'He hated doing it on the hoof. He got so fed up with one round that he took his glass of water and poured it over the microphone. And Bill Oddie was terrified of the show. He used to throw up before going on. And we couldn't have that.' Barry Cryer and Willy Rushton then took over as regulars, and the team shared memories of Rushton, who died in 1996. Cryer seventy seven, recalls them both checking into Belfast's Europa hotel at the height of The Troubles, when it had the dubious honour of being Europe’s most-bombed building. On the check-in form, where it asked, 'Where did you hear about it?' Rushton allegedly wrote: 'News At Ten.' He also recalled Rushton telling a blind piano tuner at the theatre in Andover becoming something of an irritation as he kept chatting to them as they were preparing for a show. As the man finally left them alone, disappearing out of their dressing room with his guide dog, Rushton cried out: 'How cruel of them to give you a cat!' Pianist Colin Sell recalled him opening a show in the Isle of Man with the line: 'As Oscar Wilde said, "It's great to be in Douglas."' The team also recalled how Jack Dee was not accepted by all fans when he took over hosting duties after Lyttelton died in 2008. At one recording at the Rose Theatre in Kingston, a voice rang out from the stalls: 'It's not the same without Humph, is it?' – causing the atmosphere to sour. But Dee replied: 'Aaah, dear Humph, I wonder where he is now?' Adding, after a pause: 'I envy him!' However the team refused to be drawn too deeply into the controversy surrounding their running jokes about Lionel Blair. Producers have recently dropped the gags, amid reports that Blair was angry at how he was portrayed as an insatiable homosexual. 'That's a tricky question,' Brooke-Taylor said, when one audience member asked about the Blair situation. He revealed that Blair had been approached to appear on their last Christmas show – but turned them down. 'He initially said he would be very happy to be on it,' Brooke-Taylor said. 'But his wife said no.' Their comments came at a session at the Slapstick Festival, after they recreated some of the best gags from the show's forty-year history. And the irony of a radio show being part of a silent comedy festival did not pass unnoticed.

BSkyB suffered a rare defeat in a sports rights battle last week, losing out to News International – owned, of course, by the pay-TV broadcaster's controlling shareholder News Corporation – in the battle for the exclusive rights to Internet and mobile highlights for Premier League matches. Moreover, News International's winning bid was led by a former senior Sky man – Mike Darcey, who after six years as chief operating officer joined the newspaper publisher as chief executive at the start of the month. Darcey is a veteran of as many as five Premier League TV auctions, including last year's successful but eye-watering £2.3bn Sky bid tabled in the face of a challenge from BT. The satellite broadcaster was one of at least four companies, which are understood to have included existing rights holder Yahoo, mobile operator O2 and Leonard Blavatnik's Perform Group, to have submitted sealed bids in the Premier League's digital rights auction held last week. Sky has been aggressively developing a mobile content strategy, launching Sky Go and Sky Now services in the last year, and was understood to be keen on the digital rights, but nevertheless failed to top the offer submitted to the Premier League by News International. News International's bid is thought to be worth about thirty million quid over three years to use Premier League clips on the websites and apps for the Sun, The Times and The Sunday Times. This is close to double the seventeen million notes the last three year deal is thought to have been worth, according to alleged sources. Under the previous deal the rights were split between Yahoo, which had Internet clips, and mobile, which was controlled by ESPN. The split of the seventeen million knicker total value of the deal is not known. 'We were informed that the Premier League has not accepted Yahoo's bid for the award of the Near Live Clips Package for the 2013-2016 seasons,' said a spokesman for Yahoo. 'However, mobile, video and sports will continue to be a focus of ours as we continue to inspire and entertain our millions of UK users in their daily habits.' ESPN, which was shut out of the Premier League live TV rights deal following a seven hundred and thirty eight million smackers bid by newcomer BT, is not thought to have submitted a bid for the digital rights. 'We're very proud of the success that we have had with ESPN Goals mobile app this season and the past two seasons,' said a spokesman for ESPN, who huffily declined to comment on whether the company bid. 'Fans can enjoy ESPN Goals for the rest of this season and though we will not continue with these rights, we will continue our extensive online and mobile coverage of the Premier League and the wide array of UK football across our digital platforms.' Indeed. Or, they can watch the matches of Sky and the highlights on the BBC like normal people. It's all about choice, apparently. It is thought that BT did not submit a bid, although this has also not been confirmed. Under the current deal for Internet video rights Yahoo has syndicated highlights to third parties including the Daily Scum Mail, the Gruniad Morning Star, the Sun, The Times, the Daily Torygraph, the Evening Standard and the Independent. News International has said that it has no intention at this stage of offering the clips to third parties. The Premier League combined the Internet and mobile rights for the latest deal, the first time it has done so. Mobile is regarded as having the most revenue potential. This is due to factors including the huge growth of smartphone and tablet sales, which has fuelled the rise of paid app usage. The mobile rights package also gives News International the opportunity to offer up to eight thirty-second highlights clips during all live Premier League matches. The Internet highlights offer longer clips, but cannot be shown online until the Monday after matches have been broadcast, making them less valuable. In 2007 BSkyB and News International launched Twenty Four-Seven Football, an on-demand football clips service for mobile users. For five quid a month, or fifty pence per video clip, users bought access to goal highlights. This summer News International will become part of billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch's new demerged publishing venture, which will retain the name News Corporation and run by former Times editor Robert Thomson. It is understood that Thomson is 'keen to assess the strategic merits of buying other valuable digital rights, most likely outside the UK, that can help drive the publishing operation's strategic shift to digital.' Late last year News Corp made a filing to the Securities & Exchange Commission in the US which showed that if the publishing company was split off it would have had $1.1bn in cash on its balance sheet at 30 June last year.

The family of a big fast food fan arranged a unique journey for his funeral procession. The friends and relatives of World War II veteran David Kime arranged a trip for his funeral hearse to make a stop at a Burger King restaurant drive-thru in Pennsylvania. Each passenger in the hearse picked up a Whopper Jr burger at the drive-thru, according to The AP. Kime also received his own favourite Whopper meal, which was placed on his coffin in the cemetery. His daughter, Linda Phiel, said: 'He lived a wonderful life and on his own terms.' She explained that her father - who died on 20 January, aged eighty eight - had eaten whatever he fancied after his wife Grace died twenty five years ago. 'My mother kind of kept him in check. When she died, for a while, he would eat with us. But he considered us health freaks because we ate things that were green, like broccoli.' Phiel continued that her father refused to alter his diet despite being a diabetic and having a pacemaker fitted. She said her father told her: 'I won't live longer, it will just seem like it because I'll be more miserable faster.' The manager of the Pennsylvania Burger King said she was happy to have Kime as a loyal customer. 'It's nice to know he was a loyal customer up until the end - the very end,' Margaret Hess said.

The Who (well, the two of them that are still alive, plus Kid Ringo, and various other people) have announced details of a UK arena tour for later in the year. And, the really sad thing is, yer actual Keith Telly Topping his very self will, almost certainly go even though he probably can't afford to. Because I've seen them on every tour they'd done since 1979 working - each time - on the assumption that this might be the last one! The band will play ten dates across the country in June this year, performing their iconic 1973 work Quadrophenia in its entirety as well as a selection of their other hits. The Quadrophenia Tour has been personally directed by yer actual Roger Daltrey and focuses on the original rock opera, replacing the narrative used in previous stage versions with imagery projected on screens. The shows follow their North American tour, which kicked off in November 2012 and wraps up in Rhode Island in February. Quadrophenia peaked at number two on the UK chart upon its initial release and is often cited as one of the greatest rock and roll LPs ever made. By anyone. Bar none. A film - somewhat loosely - based on the LP was released in 1979, directed by Franc Roddam and starring Phil Daniels, Ray Winstone, Phil Davis and Lesley Ash. And Sting. But, thankfully, he didn't ruin it. Tickets for the gigs go on sale February 1 at 9am. As to how much the tickets will cost ...

Which, of course, brings us nicely to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. How much? Too much.