Tuesday, May 07, 2013

I Think That I'll Go Out And Find Her, Just To See If There's A Better World

Endeavour continued its strong showing in Sunday's overnight ratings. The Inspector Morse prequel - featuring Shaun Evans as a younger Endeavour Morse - closed its first full series on ITV with 4.89m viewers in the 8pm slot. Stephen Mulhern's Catchphrase was seen by 3.6m at 7pm, while Off Their Rockers followed with 3.56 million at 7.30pm. BBC1's Countryfile was the second highest-rated programme of primetime on Sunday, taking 4.88m viewers at 7pm. Antiques Roadshow was seen by 4.48m at 8pm, and Maxine Peake and John Simm's drama The Village picked up 4.13m at 9pm. Channel Four's highest-rated programme during primetime was Peter Kay Live: The Tour That Didn't Tour - Tour at 9pm with 2.74m. Meanwhile, BBC2's coverage of the world championship snooker averaged 2.12m between 7pm and 10.15pm. Moscow Chelski FC's Premier League win over The Scum was the highest rated programme across the multichannels, drawing 1.66m for Sky Sports 1 from 3.30pm. The channel's coverage of the Merseyside derby - in which Liverpool Alabama Yee Haws and Everton drew 0-0 - was seen by 1.15m from 1pm.

Doctor Who's latest episode, The Crimson Horror had an Appreciation Index score, of eighty five.
Hat Trick co-founder Jimmy Mulville has defended the low ratings for Sky's comedy programming, insisting that 'creative freedom' is more important for producers and writers than viewer numbers. Hat Trick have worked with Sky on the BAFTA-winning but recently cancelled Spy and the upcoming revival of The Kumars At Number Forty Two. Speaking to Broadcast about why he enjoys working with Sky, Mulville said: 'I talk to writers. What they want is to be treated well, with quick decisions and sensitive development. Sky offers you that and has smart people developing with you. The truth is, I don't care whether five hundred thousand or five million people watch our show, as long as people are enjoying it intensely. I'm in the business of "I love that show", not "that was quite good."' Sky has invested heavily in homegrown comedy over the past two years with shows such as Moone Boy, Hunderby, Stella, the risible Trollied and the return of Alan Partridge. Commenting on the low ratings for series such as Julia Davis's Hunderby, Mulville added: 'With Hunderby, everyone in the business knows about it, it will probably pick up loads of awards, and I'm sure Julia Davis had a very nice time making it.' Mulville also insisted that he held 'no grudge' against Sky for dropping Hat Trick's Spy after two series. 'Sky is a commercial organisation. I've got no complaints. There's still an appetite to work together, he said.

Cheeky gap-toothed Scouse comedian Jimmy Tarbuck has been arrested over an allegation of child sex abuse dating back to the 1970s. North Yorkshire Police confirmed that a seventy three-year-old man was arrested in Kingston upon Thames on 26 April. The entertainer and quiz show host - who has an OBE for services to showbusiness and charity - was released on bail pending further enquiries. A police statement said that he was questioned about an alleged assault on a young boy in the late 1970s. North Yorkshire Police says Tarbuck's arrest came after information was passed on by Metropolitan Police officers working on Operation Yewtree. The force stressed that this arrest 'is not part of Yewtree, but a separate investigation' by North Yorkshire Police.

Sheridan Smith has revealed that the prospect of a career in Hollywood 'doesn't appeal' to her. The thirty one-year-old actress - who has recently starred in Jonathan Creek and ITV's Mrs Biggs - said that she believes she would 'miss home too much.' She told Saturday magazine: 'A lot of people try it after being in a big show, like Downton. That's better, rather than going over to queue for a pilot show. Also everyone's so glam and gorgeous. I'm happy here. It just doesn't appeal. I think I'd hate being away.' Smith admitted that her schedule is 'a bit crazy' at the moment. She explained: 'Recently I had to have a spray tan for one job I was working on in Lancaster, then I shot the scenes, got on a train back to London, and had to scrub all the tan off for another job I had the next morning. I was almost bleeding by the time I'd rubbed it all off. But I like to work. It keeps me out of trouble.' Smith is set to appear in the BBC drama The 7:39 alongside Broadchurch's Olivia Colman.

Mad Frankie Boyle's contribution to the current Operation Yewtree malarkey was posted on Twitter this week: 'Nostalgia programmes are going to be trickier - "I Remember The 70s" just full of people crying, with a helpline number at the end.' The lad does, undeniably, have a point.

A man who died in a speedboat crash off the North Cornish coast, which also killed his daughter, was a senior executive at BSkyB. Nicholas Milligan, fifty one, and his eight-year-old daughter were among six people thrown from the boat in the Camel Estuary, off Padstow on Sunday. Four other family members, thought to have been hit by the boat, are in hospital with serious injuries. The vessel was stopped after a local waterskiing instructor jumped on board. The injured family members are thought to have been hit by the boat while it was going round in circles. The four injured are a thirty nine-year-old woman, a four-year-old boy and two girls aged ten and twelve. They suffered leg injuries of varying degrees of severity, John Oliver from South Western Ambulance Service said. Police and marine investigators have begun an inquiry. The boat is owned by the family, who are from Wandsworth in South London, said police, who called it 'a tragic incident.' Supt Jim Colwell, of Devon and Cornwall Police, said that some of their injuries were 'life threatening' as well as 'life changing. The key lines of enquiry are primarily witness enquiries, those eye witnesses that were at the scene at the time and have already started to provide us with information as to what the circumstances were and what the boat was doing at the time of the incident,' he said. Colwell said that a mechanical examination of the boat, with the involvement of the Marine Action Investigation Branch, would take place 'just to make sure there were no factors to do with the vessel itself which may have caused this incident.' The sunny bank holiday weather had drawn a lot of visitors to the harbourside, and the surrounding waters of the Camel Estuary were said to have been calm on Sunday afternoon when the accident happened.

Matthew Cain, Channel Four's first ever culture editor, who was recruited from The South Bank Show with a brief to work alongside Channel Four arts commissioners in generating programme ideas as well as beefing up arts coverage, is quitting after three years to pursue his 'dream' of becoming a novelist – his first book has been delivered to Macmillan and a second is under way. According to the Gruniad Morning Star, 'Cain never seemed to be that comfy on camera, and there is no indication yet that Channel Four News is looking for a replacement.'

Eyebrows remain somewhat raised over the exaggerated enthusiasm of the BBC's embrace of Charles Moore's authorised biography of Margaret Thatcher, with no satisfactory explanation given of why the tome was not only Radio 4's daily Book of the Week last week, but also promoted via a tie-in BBC2 documentary (Young Margaret) and yet another Radio 4 programme, presented by Moore (Living with Mrs T). It can't have hindered the biography's chances, of course, that its editor is Stuart Proffitt, whose line-up of authors also includes Chris Patten. Proffitt was to have published Patten's memoirs at HarperCollins, but billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch notoriously axed the book; so Proffitt resigned and Patten followed him to Penguin, where the BBC Trust chairman now sits alongside the BBC-feted biographer on the publisher's roster.

TV bosses are failing to take their responsibility to educate viewers seriously enough, Professor Brian Cox has warned. The particle physicist and broadcaster said the BBC should make more TV shows that educate viewers, rather than seek simply to entertain them. While also taking a swipe at reality shows, he told the Radio Times: 'The director general of the BBC has a tremendous opportunity to shape TV. If I had that job, I'd tell them: this is not just about entertainment. I'd get a flag with "education" written on it and plant it in the sand. Television is the most powerful way of getting ideas across. Often, it doesn't take its responsibilities seriously.' Asked which shows would not stand the test of time, he added: 'We have had enough of talent shows. I don't want my kids exposed to them and get it into their minds there's a short cut to riches. I want them to go to university and work hard for everything they get.'

Film-makers working with the celebrity shopping guru Mary Portas on her reality TV show lobbied government officials to direct taxpayer funds to high streets because they would be 'popular with television audiences', documents obtained by the Gruniad Morning Star appear to suggest. Although, frankly, any claim made by the Gruniad should be taken with a pinch of salt because, like as not, it'll be smeared with 'agenda' like most people's keks are smeared with plop. The funding for the so-called 'Portas pilots' was part of a high-profile government policy to renew town centres. Portas produced a twenty eight-point plan on how to revive moribund town centres for David Cameron in December 2011. Twenty eight commandments, eh? You'll remember that God only needed ten, dear blog reader. Anyway, less than six months later, from almost four hundred entries, more than two dozen towns – the Portas pilots – were picked to receive one hundred thousand smackers of state support and advice each. On Tuesday Portas fronts the first of three hour-long programmes in a series on Channel Four, Mary: Queen of the High Street, focusing on three of the winning bids. The Gruniad now claims to have 'established' that the production company hired by Channel Four and Portas's staff 'suggested' some locations for winning bids. In one example, the production crew advocated taxpayers' cash for a deprived part of London because 'social history is currently really popular on television.' The government's high-profile policy was handed to the local government minister, Grant Shapps, early last year. In February he wrote to the retail expert saying there would have to be 'clear blue water between the selection of the pilots and the television show. This will be best achieved by me selecting the pilots, with [Portas's] Yellow Door and [TV production company] Optomen having no involvement.' The Portas team proposed a list of favoured choices. Government e-mails, released under the Freedom of Information Act, reveal that on 13 April last year a Portas agency director e-mailed Shapps's private secretary to say: 'We already have our proposed twelve [Portas pilots].' Four days later, the same director e-mailed David Morris, the civil servant in charge of the pilots, to say: 'We have now done some early reviewing of the entries with Mary and have come to an early shortlist from our end,' adding a list of thirteen towns. Morris responded twenty four hours later to warn the Portas agency that 'we need to avoid any perception of a conflict of interest between pilot selection and the TV show – which are separate projects.' When the first list of twelve Portas pilots was announced by the government from three hundred and seventy one entries on 24 May last year, it included three of Yellow Door's favoured high streets: Croydon, Market Rasen and Stockport. A spokesperson for Portas denied that Portas had 'sought to influence' the government's selection process. Channel Four and Optomen also strongly deny any attempt to 'influence the process.' One of the high streets selected for filming, Roman Road in East London, did not make the initial top dozen pilots. In an e-mail, Optomen explained to Morris that Channel Four 'loved' the idea of renovating an East End market: 'Social history is currently really popular on television and Roman Road would be the perfect road to bring back to its former glory.' The second tranche of pilots offered another opportunity for it to receive funding. On 28 May, London mayor Boris Johnson announced a three hundred thousand knicker fund for three more pilots. Forty-eight hours later, Optomen wrote to Morris to ask: 'Do you know when Boris is planning to announce his towns and whether there will be another call for submissions? Will this be going through your office or his? Roman Road is on top of our list and we're still hopeful that all our towns are part of the government selected towns, hence the question.' Morris replied a week later after a meeting with the Greater London Authority, who he said 'are aiming to work to the same timetable as us – but they will be making the selections. I have told them you are interested in Roman Road! Are Channel Four interested in any of the others?' There is, the Gruniad hurried add at this point, no suggestion that the mayor was influenced by Portas or the TV project. Two months later, the government announced that among the three successful Portas pilots 'selected by the mayor' and receiving 'funding from the Greater London Authority' was one in Tower Hamlets which included Roman Road. The first Portas hour-long reality show centres on the renewal of the East London market. When contacted, the mayor's office said it was only 'part-funding' the Tower Hamlets pilot with local council cash used to update Roman Road. There were also an impression within government that TV pilots were getting 'more attention' than those high streets not featured by Channel Four. In early June civil servants e-mailed to ask if Portas' agency 'could clarify what additional support those who agree to filming will get.' One government official told Yellow Door: 'I am aware of two pilot areas where they have been told – one by your office and one by Optomen that they would only get Mary's time if they signed up for the TV series.' In Margate, which features in the second episode of the Channel Four series, the original bid-winning team resigned and the town split over the pilots, with some claiming Portas had threatened to withdraw cash unless the cameras were let in. A spokesperson for Mary Portas said this was 'well documented.' A month later, on the eve of the announcement of the second round of fifteen Portas pilots, Portas told the government she would not be 'personally involved' in supporting the winners – in effect withdrawing from the scheme. Half the second round pilots have yet to spend any of the one and a half million quid allocated to them. Labour claims that the e-mails show the government was more interested in 'publicity than public policy.' Roberta Blackman-Woods, the shadow local government minister, said: 'The government promised their Portas pilots scheme would lead the way for proper regeneration on the high street. Now it appears the real intention of this competition was to mask the government's abject failure to support businesses at the heart of our communities.' A spokesperson for Mary Portas said: 'Any suggestion that Mary was involved in influencing the government's selection of Portas pilot towns is categorically untrue. Early correspondence between Yellow Door and the government simply reflected a former employee's enthusiastic response to the hundreds of inspirational video pilot applications. The government clarified protocol and there was no influence by Yellow Door on the selection of the Portas pilot towns whatsoever. Mary's work preparing The Portas Review for the government, and her subsequent and ongoing advice, is unpaid. In July last year Mary let the government know that she was stepping back from personal involvement in the second round of Portas pilot towns. This in no way diminishes from her commitment to the high street campaign.' Channel Four said: 'The final decision on selecting Portas pilot towns always rested with the government and at no point did Channel Four make any attempt to influence that decision or government policy. We strongly dispute that anything was constructed. We are aware of a number of complaints – many of which are in the public domain – and the programme fairly and accurately portrays events as they happened during filming.' A spokesperson for Optomen said: '[We] had no influence over or involvement in the selection of the Portas pilot towns, which was solely a decision for the government. The programme tells the story of what occurred when Mary went to work with three towns that applied to be Portas pilots. More of Mary's time would inevitably be spent in the towns featured in the series. No sweeteners or financial inducements were offered or made by Optomen to the towns to encourage their participation in the programme. Great care has been taken to ensure that the programme is a fair and honest representation of Mary's work in these towns.' A Department for Communities and Local Government spokesperson said: 'We have always been completely clear that the twenty seven Portas pilots were selected for the leadership, commitment and innovation shown in their application, that Mary Portas had absolutely no role in choosing the towns, and that their status as Portas pilots was in no way dependent on their participation in any show.'

More has emerged about the unlikely leisure pursuits of John Whittingdale MP, the former political secretary to Margaret Thatcher and now chairman of the Commons' culture, media and sport select committee. Well-known already is his love of heavy metal - AC/DC, Deep Purple et cetera - but who knew that he also had a penchant for hardcore horror movies? Lunching with the Broadcasting Press Guild last week, he talked with enthusiasm about the new Eli Roth TV series, Hemlock Grove (the TV version of the movie Hostel, sometimes labelled 'torture porn'). 'I quite like really nasty films,' Whittingdale confided. 'I have seen Hostel and Hostel: Part II, which is undoubtedly the most unpleasant film I have ever seen. And the trailer of Hemlock Grove,' he continued enthusiastically, 'contains a transformation scene of a man turning into a werewolf which makes the one in An American Werewolf in London look like Mary Poppins.' Perfect credentials for commenting on BBC corporate horrorshow (and drag), then?

Big Billy Connolly says that he has 'no regrets' about reducing a photographer to tears by verbally abusing her during one of his live shows. The comic is said to have called Valerie O'Sullivan, the in-house photographer at the INEC venue in Killarney, a 'fucking cunt' after she strayed into his eye-line. She had previously obtained permission from Connolly's Irish promoters to document last Thursday's gig. According to reports, O'Sullivan was 'clearly distressed' by the exchange - as you would be if a big hairy Scotsman gave you a taste of the verbals - and, reportedly, left the venue in tears. But Connolly was unrepentant, telling RTE Radio: 'I told her to go away but she wouldn't, so I told her to go away properly - in a Glaswegian fashion. It only takes two words.' Asked if he regretted the incident, he said: 'Certainly not. I'm very proud of it.' He showed a similar attitude on his Twitter feed, positing: 'I seem to have caused a little ripple on the Lakes of Killarney by telling a photographer to get the Hell out of my eye-line. No regrets.' Connolly later added: 'The photographer from Killarney seems to have run to the media weeping about the big bad comedian who gave her a hard time. Boo Hoo.' Actually, O'Sullivan herself doesn't appear to have been interviewed but several members of the audience have. According to some of those present O'Sullivan was sitting on the steps about halfway down the auditorium when the comedian made some remarks about photographers making money out of him. He is said to have told her to, 'Get the fuck out of here,' before dropping the C-word. Audience member Caroline O’Sullivan (no relation, presumably) told the Irish Examiner: 'I could only describe it as an abusive tirade. It was shocking. Initially, some members of the audience thought it was part of the show, but they soon realised this one woman was being singled out for an absolutely mortifying and appalling experience.' Comments on Connolly's Facebook page also voiced disappointment. One Cathy Scannell (whoever she is) said: 'The way you spoke to the woman in the audience was absolutely awful. So very disappointed in you. Way over the top to the point of being embarrassing both for the woman and a high percentage of the audience I would say. I do not go to any performance to watch members of the audience being humiliated like that and I will not be going to any of your shows again.' Which, Bill will, no doubt, be mortified by. Or not. Carol Carroll (no, me neither) added that she was left with 'a bitter taste in my mouth after the very rude and unnecessary treatment of an audience member.' Local politician Michael Healy Rae is calling on the public to boycott Connolly's shows until he apologises for the incident. Which, they're not going to do and he's not going to do so that's, basically, the end of Healy Rae's contribution to this story. Thanks for that, Michael. In a statement, the INEC said: 'Valerie O'Sullivan has been the in-house photographer for the INEC and Gleneagle Hotel Group for the past twenty years. As our official press photographer and as part of our ongoing public relations strategy she was engaged to photograph the recent Billy Connolly performance for INEC exclusive use. Permission had been granted for same in advance by Billy Connolly's Irish promoter. The success of Valerie as our in-house photographer and her popularity with visiting artists is due to her discreet demeanour, professionalism and unobtrusive nature. Valerie is a highly regarded professional photographer and also a highly respected member of the Killarney community, a tireless volunteer and supporter of local charities and groups. The numerous messages of goodwill and support that we have received is testament to the high regard in which she is held within the local community.'

Ben Elton’s new, if you will, 'sitcom' (allegedly) The Wright Way, has come in for a lot of flak for its tired and dated comedy set around a council health and safety office. But Glynn Gibson, the real health and safety advisor at Basildon Council seemingly has the most stinging criticism yet. Elton shows the fictional 'Baselricky' department dealing with road defects. But Gibson has been keen to point out to anyone that will listen (so, that'd be the Daily Scum Mail, basically) that in real life, Basildon town council did not deal with roads, as they come under Essex County Council's remit. Well, thanks for shattering illusions about council life, Glynn.

For yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 33 of the Day today, dear blog reader, you're getting two for the price of one (perhaps the best value on the bloggersphere this very day. Perhaps not). The same song, like - a particular favourite of yer actual keith Telly Topping, as it happens - just two different versions. First up, here's the original, from The Shop Assistants.
And, as if that isn't enough, an ever better - far more dramatic - cover by one of the most underrated bands from Planet Edinburgh, yer actual Goodbye Mr MacKenzie.
Right. Yer actual Keith Telly Topping feels ready to face that day after those!