Saturday, January 05, 2013

Rejection Is One Thing, But Rejection From A Fool Is Cruel

It is a sign, no doubt, of the success of your television show when people begin to confuse you with the character you play. All well and good, one might imagine, unless you happen to be luscious pouting Billie Piper, star of four series of ITV2's The Secret Diary of a Call Girl, that is. 'When I moved to the country, people thought I was a genuine prostitute. It happens all the time,' she told Graham Norton on his BBC1 chat show, according to the Daily Torygraph - the very newspaper one suspects, most read by those who confuse the Billster with her Belle De Jour character. But, it gets worse, it would seem. Bill's infamy has spread abroad: 'It happened recently in America, where they tend to introduce people with a little autobiography, and I was introduced as "the prostitute,"' she added. Still, that would seem to be easier for people to understand than 'companion to this time-travelling chap who whizzes around the universe in a police box.' Or is it?

Celebrity Big Brother returned to Channel Five with nearly 3.5 million sad, crushed victims of society on Thursday night, up on the last series but no match for the five million punters who watched its début on the network in 2011. The celebrity reality show, which drafted in former footballer Razor Ruddock as a last-minute replacement for the recently arrested Jim Davidson, had 3.48 million viewers from 9pm on Thursday. This was nearly four times up on the channel's slot average over the last three months. Celebrity Big Brother began on Channel Five with 5.1 million viewers in August 2011, after switching from Channel Four after ten years. The second series launched with 3.5 million viewers in January last year, dipping to 2.7 million for its third series in August 2011. This year's line-up for the reality show also includes jockey Frankie Dettori, The X Factor contestant Rylan Clark and former EastEnders actress Gillian Taylforth along with lots of people you'll never have heard of. Celebrity Big Brother gave Channel Five a rare victory over ITV, which could only manage 3.1 million viewers for the first of its two-part documentary, Trouble Abroad, between 9pm and 10pm. The reality show also beat the final part of BBC2 documentary Queen Victoria's Children, watched by 2.8 million viewers between 9pm and 10pm, and Channel Four's The Restoration Man, with 1.8 million viewers also between 9pm and 10pm. The 9pm slot was won by BBC1's DIY SOS: The Big Build, the Nick Knowles show watched by 4.5 million viewers. But with only one other show rating above one million, spin-off Celebrity Big Brother's Bit on the Side, watched by 1.2 million viewers between 11pm and midnight, Channel Five's peaktime share of the audience failed to leapfrog either BBC2 or Channel Four. The network had a 6.7 per cent share of the audience between 6pm and 10.30pm, narrowly behind Channel Four's 6.8 per cent and BBC2's 9.6 per cent. BBC1 had 22.9 per cent of the peak audience, ahead of ITV's 17.9 per cent. Channel Four's Location Location Location returned for a new five-part series with 2.3 million viewers between 8pm and 9pm. It was gazumped by the final part of BBC2's Nature's Weirdest Events, with Chris Packham, watched by 3.1 million viewers including one hundred and fifty thousand on BBC HD. Channel Four documentary Billionaire Boy Racers, about super car drivers in West London, had 1.35 million viewers between 10pm and 11.05pm, BBC1's Waterloo Road pulled-in 3.9 million viewers between 8pm and 9pm, beaten by ITV's Emmerdale, with 6.6 million between 8pm and 8.30pm but ahead of the first episode of docusoap Nursing the Nation, also on ITV, with 3.1 million between 8.30pm and 9pm.

Unloved by many of the more up-their-own-arsehole TV critics it may be, but BBC1 sitcom Mrs Brown's Boys proved the unsung star attraction in the Christmas TV ratings war, watched by more viewers than tuned into Miranda, EastEnders or Downton Abbey when consolidated viewing figures are taken into account. An unlikely festive hit, not least because of creator Irish comedian Brendan O'Carroll's fondness for four-letter words which so gets on the Daily Scum Express's tit-end, the first of a two-part seasonal special had more than eleven million viewers on Christmas Eve, eclipsed over the festive period only by Strictly Come Dancing. Like My Family before it Mrs Brown's Boys pulls in big audiences for BBC1 despite being a turn-off with many critics. The sitcom, born out of a character created by O'Carroll twenty years ago for Irish radio, began with fewer than three million viewers when it first aired on BBC1 in 2011. One review, in Metro, described it as 'jaw-droppingly past its sell by date ... a seaside-postcard boarding-house nightmare that tossed off near-the-knuckle masturbation gags and sloppy sentiment in equal measure.' But ratings rapidly increased – that year's Christmas special was watched by six million viewers, and it won best sitcom at last year's BAFTA awards. The Christmas Eve episode had 11.7 million viewers, a 41.3 per cent share of the audience, according to the consolidated TV ratings published this week, despite going out at 10.15pm. The consolidated figures add timeshift viewing on personal video recorders such as Sky+ over seven days after first transmission to the overnight ratings. The second part of Mrs Brown's Boys, on Boxing Day, rated only slightly lower, with 10.7 million viewers. The Independent, while praising the skill it takes to write something as'"bold, ragged and wholly cherished,' previewed this year's Christmas special as 'Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps, but more than ten times as crass and not as cerebral.' Fans of the show can now look to a big-screen adaptation due out in 2014. The consolidated TV figures for the festive period, from 21 December to 26 December, were topped by the Strictly Come Dancing final and its results show, both broadcast on 22 December, with 13.4 million viewers each. Along with the two editions of Mrs Brown's Boys, the top ten was made up by BBC1's Miranda, EastEnders, Call The Midwife, The Royle Family and Doctor Who and ITV's Coronation Street.

The new series of Yes, Prime Minister was made for a rival channel because the BBC asked its creators to make a pilot episode, it has emerged. Co-writer Jonathan Lynn said the BBC had been 'given first refusal' on the revival out of 'courtesy,' because it aired the award-winning original series. But, he called the request for a test episode 'extraordinary,' as 'there were thirty eight pilots available on DVD.' A very ignorant response from, seemingly, a very ignorant and up himself individual. The first new episodes for twenty five years will, instead, be broadcast on the digital channel Gold. Where it will have an audience of about four. Lynn told comedy website Chortle that the BBC 'said it was policy' to order a pilot episode before commissioning a full series. 'So we said our policy was to not write a pilot.' In response, the BBC said: 'Yes, Prime Minister was last on air twenty five years ago so it would not be unusual to ask for a pilot as clearly a lot of the elements, including the cast, would be different. UKTV was involved in the initiation and development of the project; the BBC decided not to broadcast a new series as it was felt a better use of resources to invest in new comedy, for example Mrs Brown's Boys and Miranda.' The BBC's in-house entertainment team was later commissioned to produce the new series by Gold. Yes, Minister and its sequel Yes, Prime Minister were both written and created by Lynn and Antony Jay, with the first episode broadcast in 1980. They portrayed the struggle between Paul Eddington, as Jim Hacker MP, and Nigel Hawthorne as his permanent secretary. Labour MP and ex-minister Gerald Kaufman once described the tales of double-dealing Whitehall mandarins and hapless politicians as 'chillingly accurate.' It was also said to be Baroness Thatcher's favourite television programme. The new series was filmed last summer and is based on a recent stage production, which launched in 2010. Gold said Hacker would return as the leader of a coalition government, with plots focussing on the economic crisis, a leadership crisis with his coalition partners and a Scottish independence referendum. David Haig will take the lead role, with Henry Goodman as Sir Humphrey. Both have appeared in the stage version of the show. They will be joined by Dame Maggie Smith's son, Chris Larkin, as Bernard Woolley, and Robbie Coltrane.

Britain's fourth biggest supermarket, Wm Morrison, forecast by analysts to be the worst performing of the major supermarkets over Christmas, is hoping an advertising tie-up with entertainment duo Ant and/or Dec will revive its flagging fortunes. Recent industry data shows Morrisons losing market share to big rivals Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury's, as well as discounters Aldi and Lidl. In November the four hundred and eighty two-store grocer posted a worsening sales decline and parted company with its commercial director, Richard Hodgson, saying it had failed to get its selling points across to consumers. The Bradford-based firm says Ant and/or Dec will front a campaign throughout 2013, showcasing the grocer's traditional skills – over five thousand trained butchers, bakers and fishmongers – that it claims sets it apart from the rest of Britain's major supermarkets. Morrisons' deal with broadcaster ITV, FremantleMedia Enterprises, Syco and James Grant Management will see the grocer sponsor ITV's flagship Saturday night shows Britain's Got Talent and Ant and/or Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway, as well as an advertising and brand campaign. Morrisons will, on Monday, give a trading update for the six weeks to 30 December. Analysts forecast a fall of around two per cent in sales, excluding fuel, at stores open over a year – a decline that is likely to make it the sector's laggard of the festive season, though it partly reflects the firm's lack of online presence and minimal number of convenience stores.

Former X Factor winner Shayne Ward has insisted that his pop career isn't over. Yeah. I think, actually, that's something you don't get to decide for yourself, Shayne.

Radio presenter and actress Daphne Oxenford has died at the age of ninety three. Known to millions as the voice of Listen With Mother, Oxenford would open each programme by asking: 'Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin.' She was also one of the original cast members of Coronation Street and was a regular in Midsomer Murders until 2008. Oxenford died on 21 December, her family told the BBC. 'We were so proud of her,' said daughter Kate Bradley. 'She touched so many people through her life,' she continued, acknowledging 'the amount of children anywhere, everywhere, who grew up devoted to that fifteen minutes of Listen With Mother.' Beginning in 1950, Listen With Mother consisted of stories, songs and nursery rhymes for children under the age of five. It began at 1:45pm every weekday, to coincide with the end of children's lunchtime meal. At its peak, it had an audience of more than a million. Oxenford narrated the programme from 1950 to 1971, and her meticulously modulated opening phrase was eventually included in the Oxford dictionary of quotations. Regular listeners also recall the words that would precede her arrival: 'And, when the music stops Daphne Oxenford will be here to tell you a story.' Born in Barnet in 1919, Oxenford made her stage début aged thirteen, and went on to train at the Embassy School of Acting in Swiss Cottage. She joined ENSA, the armed forces' entertainment body, at the end of World War II and toured Britain and Germany playing in revues. Her big break came in 1947, when she went to give a friend moral support at an audition, only to be dragged onto the stage herself, where she performed for music hall star Joyce Grenfell. 'I did a schoolgirl sketch,' she told the Theatre Archive in 2005, 'and I wasn't aware that people [were] sitting in the audience watching the audition. Miss Grenfell rather rose to her height and she sent someone to ask where I had got that material. I said I wrote it for this little revue. So then I had to go for a music audition [and] somehow I was in.' She married David Marshall in 1951 and moved to Manchester, where she appeared in local theatres, including the Library Theatre and the Royal Exchange, while making weekly trips to London to record Listen With Mother. In 1960, she was cast in the role of the spinster Esther Hayes in Coronation Street. Making her début in the second episode, Esther was a carer for her bed-ridden mother, and kept an eye out for the street's younger characters, including Christine Hardman, Ken Barlow and Lucille Hewitt. She left the series in 1963, but made frequent returns for weddings and funerals. Oxenford continued to appear on television throughout her career, often taking supporting or cameo roles. She appeared in Heartbeat, The Sweeney, The Duchess of Duke Street, Juliet Bravo, The Children of Green Knowe, Drop The Dead Donkey, Land of Hope & Gloria and Man About The House, and played village shop-owner Mrs Patterson in 1970s sitcom To The Manor Born. She was also one of the voice-over artists on Granada TV's What The Papers Say, a weekly review of the best and worst offerings from the press. And she forged a long partnership with comedian Les Dawson, appearing as his comic foil both on the TV sketch show The Dawson Watch and the Radio 2 series, Listen to Les. After her husband died in 2003, Oxenford moved to Denville Hall, a retirement home for actors, in Northwood, Middlesex. The actress continued to work until 2008, filming her last role alongside David Tennant in the Doctor Who episode The Unicorn and the Wasp. Oxenford played an elderly Dame Agatha Christie, but her scenes were cut from the episode as broadcast (though they were later released on DVD). She had previously appeared in the series in the three-part story Dragonfire in 1987. She is survived by her two daughters, Kate and Sophie, and two grandsons.

Terry Jones has 'escaped death' after a sixty foot tree smashed into his North London home, crushing his garage over the weekend. The seventy-year-old Monty Python's Flying Circus veteran told the Evening Standard: 'It was a huge tree and we were so lucky to escape. It hit the garage wall and the ends of the branches were just touching the house front after hitting other trees on the way down. When we opened the front door all we could see was the tree. If it had been six foot taller it would have hit the roof and Siri [his three-year-old daughter] sleeps in that room. We were so lucky because she could have been killed.'

Yer actual John Barrowman his very self has been injured during a performance of Jack and the Beanstalk at a Glasgow theatre. The Doctor Who and Torchwood actor was taken to hospital from the SECC Clyde Auditorium as a precaution. His injuries were not serious, although he was milking them for all they were worth by all accounts! Barrowman had fallen off a live horse (as opposed to, you know, a dead one) during the matinee show, which also stars The Krankies. An SECC spokeswoman said: 'During today's matinee performance of Jack and the Beanstalk, John Barrowman suffered an injury on stage and has been taken to hospital as a precaution. His understudy, Greg Barrowman, has already stepped in to finish the rest of the show.' She added: 'John Barrowman is completely fine. He is just a little bit bruised.' Rumours that, as he was coming round, Barrowman's first question was whether or not Steven Moffat had called to tell him Captain Jack was going to be in the Doctor Who fiftieth anniversary episode cannot, at this time, be confirmed or, indeed, denied.

Fans of 1970s post-punk band The Durutti Column have rallied to help frontman and guitarist Vini Reilly after three strokes left him unable to pay bills. Reilly's nephew Matt posted an appeal on The Durutti Column website saying the influential guitarist had 'hit a bit of a rough patch money-wise.' Fans sent three grand and Matt posted a new message saying Vini was 'ecstatic. Enough has now been donated to ensure that he can pay off all of the backlog of rent that he owed,' Matt wrote. 'He's asked me to pass on his huge gratitude to you all and let you know that no further donations are needed. He's explained that going forward he should be able to afford to pay his rent, but the debt relates to the period after he had his three strokes but before he was assessed for disability allowance. It has been a stressful time for Vini, with the constant worry of knowing that he couldn't afford to pay his debts and that could mean being evicted from the place he rents. But he says he now feels like you've lifted the weight of the world off his shoulders.' The Durutti Column were among the first acts signed to Manchester's Factory Records label - which was also home to Joy Division, New Order and The Happy Mondays. His band were highly influential although never a commercial success. Reilly also played guitar for Morrissey on his début solo LP, Viva Hate. He had his first stroke in 2010 and two more followed in 2011. 'He has asked me to send his love to all of you,' Matt Reilly wrote. 'You've given him the best start to his new year that anyone could have asked for. And he's determined to fight his way back to fitness and rebuild the power in his hands so he can play guitar again. It's going to be a hard road ahead for him, but you've all made his life a lot brighter.'

And so to Keith Telly Topping's 33 of the Day on one of Vini's finest three-minutes of shrieking discordant noise.