Wednesday, May 08, 2013

There's No Stars In Your Sky

Neil Gaiman has ruled himself out as a future potential Doctor Who showrunner. Not that there's currently a vacancy open for such a role or, even if there were, that anybody with half-a-brain in their frigging head thinks that Neil would put himself up for it given all the other things he has going on in his life. The fantasy author's second Doctor Who episode, Nightmare in Silver, will be broadcast this Saturday, but Gaiman told SFX that his schedule would prevent him from ever replacing Steven Moffat as the popular family SF drama's head writer. 'I tend to laugh when people say, "Would you like to be the next showrunner after Moffat?" I don't even have time to write an episode!' he claimed. 'You want me to be showrunner? Nothing else will happen in my entire life!' However, Gaiman added that he is keen to write more Doctor Who episodes in the future if his schedule allows. 'I would love to do more Doctor Who,' he said. 'There's so much stuff I'd love to do. [But] right now, it's impossible.'

A combination of some of the first sustained good weather of 2013 and a Bank Holiday combined to produce a number of decidedly low overnight ratings figures across the board on Monday. An example: Sir Ian McKellen's ITV sitcom Vicious dropped around two million viewers for its second episode however, despite the drop, it was still the most watched show outside of soaps for the evening, with 3.52m at 9pm. Which probably gives dear blog readers an idea of just how underwhelming some of the ratings were elsewhere. The Job Lot followed with 2.79m at 9.30pm, also dropping over 1.5m from last week's opener. Earlier, James Nesbitt's Ireland finished with 2.88m punters at 8pm. BBC1's quiet evening saw a Pointless Celebrities repeat watched by 3.32m at 7.15pm. A screening of the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie pulled in an audience of 3.31m from 8.30pm. Ronnie O'Sullivan's victory in the - seemingly never-ending - World Snooker Championship final scored 2.69m on BBC2 from 7pm. On Channel Four, Superscrimpers continued with 1.17m at 8pm while The Hoarder Next Door grabbed 1.99m at 9pm. On Channel Five, Ben Fogle's New Lives in the Wild was watched by 1.22m. BBC4's excellent The Flying Archaeologist was the most watched digital programme of the night with seven hundred and twenty four thousand punters at 8.30pm.

Here's the final consolidated ratings for the Top Twenty Five shows for the week-ending 28 April 2013:-
1 Britain's Got Toilets - Sat ITV - 10.48m
2 Broadchurch - Mon ITV - 9.89m
3 Coronation Street - Mon ITV - 9.62m
4 The Voice - Sat BBC1 - 9.07m
5 EastEnders - Mon BBc1 - 8.72m
6 Emmerdale - Mon ITV - 6.84m*
7 Countryfile - Sun BBC1 - 6.79m
8 The Syndicate - Tues BBC1 - 6.71m
9 Doctor Who - Sat BBC1 - 6.52m
10 Scott & Bailey - Wed ITV - 6.39m
11 Endeavour - Sun ITV - 5.99m*
12 MasterChef - Thurs BBC1 - 5.98m
13 The Village - Sun BBC1 - 5.88m
14 Antiques Roadshow - Sun BBC1 - 5.68m
15 Casualty - Sat BBC1 - 5.60m
16 Have I Got News For You - Fri BBC1 - 5.37m
17 Ten O'Clock News - Tues BBC1 - 5.15m
18 Six O'Clock News - Mon BBC1 - 5.00m
19 BBC News - Sun BBC1 - 4.86m
20 The Ice Cream Girls - Fri ITV - 4.83m*
21 Holby City - Tues BBC1 - 4.56m
22 Off Their Rockers - Sun ITV - 4.55m*
23 Catchphrase - Sun ITV - 4.41m*
24 UEFA Champions League Live - Tues ITV - 4.29mm
25 The ONE Show - Mon BBC1 - 4.18m
Shows marked '*' do not include HD figures which are unavailable at this time. BBC2's top-rated shows of the week were The Politician's Husband (3.35m), The Great British Sewing Bee (3.09m) and University Challenge (2.88m). On Channel Four, Twenty Four Hours In A&E (2.73m) and Edward VIII's Murderous Mistress (2.06m) were the most watched items whilst Channel Five's peak came with CSI (2.02m)

London 2012 Olympic flop Rebecca Adlington has spoken of her hopes to become a TV presenter 'like Sue Barker.' Snivellingly fawning, giggly and really not very good at all in other words. yeah. That should be pretty achievable for someone of Rebecca's talents, one imagines.

Lord Alan Sugar-Sweetie has denied 'glamorising' this year's series of The Apprentice by hiring more attractive candidates. The BBC1 competition returns this week, with sixteen new hopefuls attempting to win a role at one of Sugar-Sweetie's ventures. Sugar-Sweetie told the Sun: 'I don't think the glamour is going to affect ratings. That wasn't intentional. To be honest with you, people make the best of themselves when they know they are going to be on TV. There was no deliberate, "Get a load of dolly birds" or anything like that.' Among the female candidates this year are Luisa Zissman, who suggests she has 'the sex appeal of Jessica Rabbit' and jazz singer Natalie Panayi. Sugar-Sweetie also revealed that he has 'no plans' to quit The Apprentice, as he 'can't think of anyone better' to replace him. He said: 'If I leave there will be a lot of people queuing up to take over. It's the most spoken of thing among some of these so-called high-profile people. They say, "Oh I was offered The Apprentice but I turned it down." Many attempts have been made to replicate The Apprentice and my position. John Caudwell, Peter Jones, Duncan Bannatyne. They've all tried it. Often copied but never equalled. And some people say it may have something to do with me.'

The archbishop of Canterbury has counselled broadcasters against 'cultivating ignorance' by abandoning religious programmes, claiming that such shows 'play a vital part' in fighting prejudice by teaching the public about different faiths. Justin Welby – who was ensconced as leader of the Anglican communion in March – described religious formats as 'the real reality shows' and said programmes such as ITV's Strictly Kosher and Channel Four's Islam: The Untold Story had provided 'considerable insights' into the faiths they documented. He said that although reality TV programmes such as Castaway and I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want) thrived on putting 'ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances,' the genre could also be 'profoundly educational.' Welby told the Radio Times: 'For adults over a certain age who received little in the way of religious education at school – especially of an inter-faith variety – religious broadcasting is likely to be their best guide to the different faiths, not just of the people they see on the news but of the people they meet at the school gates, or queue next to at the post office.' He added: 'It's essential that we support broadcasting that teaches us about those around us. The marvellous portrait of Manchester's Jewish community in ITV's Strictly Kosher is one example of how the media can help us to see the people around us as they really are. 'Likewise, Channel Four's Islam: The Untold Story gave viewers an opportunity to appreciate the rich and fascinating history of the Muslim faith.' Welby said true reality shows told stories 'in a way that celebrates the full scope of what it means to be human.' He also rejected suggestions that faith should be seen as a purely private concern. 'Some people these days firmly believe that faith and religious life should be kept behind closed doors,' he said. 'But if broadcasters were also to adopt the view that religion is something separate and private, rather than stitched into our public life, then we could set off down a dangerous road. We would be cultivating ignorance where what we need is insight, and prejudice where we most badly need open minds.' In an increasingly multicultural society, he added, 'knowing, understanding and celebrating the faiths of our neighbours will help us all to flourish.'

Channel Four broke the broadcasting code when running an advert which appeared to 'make light' of a rape scene in the film The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, the media regulator has ruled. The broadcaster cut to an advert break following a graphic scene of a 'disturbing rape' of the film's main character Lisbeth Salander, played by Noomi Rapace, which included a close-up of her screaming. The Phones 4U sponsorship credit immediately began with a close-up shot of a woman in bed apparently having sex. She pauses, and says: 'I'm faking it, can I upgrade?' The sponsorship credit at the end of the commercial break that led back into the film continued the sexual theme, returning to the man and the woman in bed, with the man saying: 'I've still got my pants on, can I upgrade?' Media regulator Ofcom received seventeen complaints about the Phones 4U ident – the phone retailer sponsors drama and film on Channel Four, E4 and Film 4 – which ran during the Swedish thriller when it was broadcast on 26 December. Complainants said that the sponsorship credit was 'inappropriate' and 'belittled' the serious issues being dealt with in the film's content. The broadcaster said there were thirty seven different Phones 4U sponsorship credits and those with a more adult nature were scheduled to air after the 9pm watershed. Channel Four claimed that the idents were broadcast 'at random' and that 'unfortunately the juxtaposition between the credits and this particular film inadvertently caused offence to viewers.' Ofcom said that under the code broadcasters must take into account the scheduling of adverts to 'avoid unsuitable juxtapositions' between commercials and programmes, especially those that could distress or offend viewers. 'In this case, Ofcom considered that the juxtaposition of a light-hearted sponsorship credit featuring a woman during sex with a disturbing and distressing rape scene in a film was clearly unsuitable,' the regulator said. 'In Ofcom's view this clearly had the potential to be offensive to viewers.'

Wonder Woman is to return to UK screens on the Horror Channel. The cult 1970s drama - starring Lynda Carter as the DC Comics heroine - will be broadcast from Monday 20 May at 6pm. Further episodes will follow at a rate of two per day - at 9am and 6pm each weekday on the Horror Channel (Sky 319, Virgin 149, Freesat 138). The channel acquired the UK repeat rights to the series after securing a deal with Warner Bros International Television Distribution, according to Broadcast magazine. 'This iconic series encapsulates the spirited adventure that our audience enjoys in daytime,' said Alina Florea, director of programming, CBS Chello Zone Channels. 'We're glad to be bringing the series back to UK audiences after so many years.' Wonder Woman originally ran for three seasons between 1975 and 1979.

BBC4 controller Richard Klein is leaving for a job at ITV, as the rival broadcaster's director of factual, after nearly four and a half years running the channel. ITV also announced on Tuesday that Helen Warner is joining as director of daytime. Warner and Klein will join ITV in the summer, taking over responsibilities formerly handled by director of factual and daytime Alison Sharman, who left at the end of February after seven years at the company. Klein will be working with Jo Clinton-Davis, who has been looking after Sharman's patch since Sharman's departure and has been promoted to the newly created role of controller of factual. Klein's move follows his BBC4 budget being cut as part of the corporation's Delivering Quality First cost savings initiative. The channel's critically acclaimed original drama and comedy output, which has included The Thick of It, was one of the main victims of the cuts. Peter Fincham, the ITV director of TV, said: 'He's been a highly successful controller of BBC4 and I know he's looking forward to a return to mainstream television and the challenge of making high quality programmes for broad audiences. ITV factual has scored some notable successes recently and Richard is exactly the right person to take it on to a new level. He and Jo Clinton-Davis will make a formidable team.' Klein said: 'The ambition is to make programmes that people watch and talk about in equal measure, and that's a challenge I relish.' Warner is a former Channel Four head of daytime who has previously worked as a programme-maker, editing This Morning and launching Loose Women. Danny Cohen, the BBC director of TV, thanked Klein for his 'very great contribution' to the corporation since joining in 1996 in an e-mail to staff on Tuesday. He said Klein had helped make BBC4 'feel like a big place – a place that people talk about.' Cohen added that Klein would be leaving the BBC immediately, 'because of obvious sensitivities' with him joining a rival broadcaster, and an acting BBC4 controller would be appointed. Klein said in an internal BBC e-mail: 'I felt it was time for a change and a new challenge and so I have accepted a new job at ITV.'

Margaret Groening, the mother of The Simpsons creator Matt Groening and the basis for animated matriarch Marge, has died in Portland, Oregon aged ninety four. Her death was announced in an obituary notice in The Oregonian, which stated she died in her sleep on 22 April. Many of Matt Groening's family details went on to feature in The Simpsons, among them his mother's maiden name - Wiggum - and his father's name Homer. Homer Groening, a World War II veteran and cartoonist, died in 1996. According to her obituary, Margaret taught high school English before starting a family and was a talented needlework artist. A spokesman for The Simpsons confirmed her death and said that Matt Groening was not available for comment. Last month The Simpsons creator confirmed that the inspiration behind the show's fictional town of Springfield was Springfield, Oregon. First broadcast in 1989, The Simpsons is the longest-running animated series on US television.

Visual effects master Ray Harryhausen, whose stop-motion wizardry graced such films as Jason and the Argonauts and Clash of the Titans, has died aged ninety two. The American animator made his models by hand and painstakingly shot them frame-by-frame to create some of the best-known battle sequences in cinema. His death in London was confirmed by a family representative. 'Harryhausen's genius was in being able to bring his models alive,' said an official statement from his foundation. 'Whether they were prehistoric dinosaurs or mythological creatures, in Ray's hands they were no longer puppets but became instead characters in their own right.' Born in Los Angeles in June 1920, Raymond Frederick Harryhausen had a passion for dinosaurs as a child that led him to make his own versions of prehistoric creatures. Films like 1925's The Lost World and the 1933 version of King Kong stoked that passion and prompted him to seek out a meeting with Willis O'Brien, a pioneer in the field of model animation. He attended Los Angeles City College and continued his experiments with a new stop-frame sixteen millimetre camera. When, in 1940, George Pal, the puppeteer film-maker, fled to Hollywood from Europe, Harryhausen showed him his work and was subsequently hired to work on Pal's Puppetoon series for Paramount alongside O'Brien. Its unjointed wooden figures did not really suit either Harryhausen or O'Brien. Harryhausen made room to begin his dream project: Evolution of the World, a history of the planet. Surviving footage and sketches show a debt to Gustave Doré and to King Kong, but the time it would take to complete, combined with the release of Disney's Fantasia (1940) – in which the Rite of Spring sequence covered much of the same ground – stopped the project. In 1942 Harryhausen enlisted in the army, was assigned to the Signal Corps and got himself drafted into Frank Capra's unit to work on propaganda films. He also contributed to the Army-Navy Screen Magazine as an assistant photographer. Unemployed after demobilisation in 1946, he began a series of animated two-minute fairy tales using out-of-date Kodak stock that he had found. Tied together with a Mother Goose prologue and epilogue, the resulting short film was successfully sold to schools and libraries. O'Brien, who was working on Mighty Joe Young (1949), then called on Harryhausen to be his assistant. The film did not do well commercially, but O'Brien won an Oscar for the special effects. Harryhausen returned to his fairy stories, using the pseudonym Jerome Wray for his photography, and then began work on The Beast from Twenty Thousand Fathoms (1953), inspired by Ray Bradbury's short story The Fog Horn. He devised a dynamic split-screen technique which enabled him to eradicate the then expensive system of inserting miniatures or glass paintings to combine stop-motion with live action. This process was eventually named Dynamation for the marketing campaign for The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad and subsequent sequels. Harryhausen was hired by Hammer Film Productions to animate the dinosaurs for One Million Years BC, released in 1967. It was a box office smash, helped in part by the presence of shapely Raquel Welch in a cavewoman bikini. In 2009, he released colourised DVD versions of three of his classic black and white Columbia films (Twenty Million Miles to Earth, Earth Vs the Flying Saucers, and It Came from Beneath the Sea). He is perhaps best remembered for animating the seven skeletons who come to life in Jason and the Argonauts, a sequence which took him three months to film, and for the Medusa who turned men to stone in Clash of the Titans. Harryhausen inspired a generation of film directors, from Steven Spielberg and James Cameron to Peter Jackson. Peter Lord of Aardman Animations was quick to pay tribute, describing Ray as 'a one-man industry and a one-man genre' on Twitter. 'I loved every single frame of Ray Harryhausen's work,' tweeted Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz director Edgar Wright. 'He was the man who made me believe in monsters.' George Lucas is reported to have said, 'Without Ray Harryhausen, there would likely have been no Star Wars.' A modest and charming man with a delightful sense of humour and ineffable courtesy, Harryhausen was always good company. He published his Film Fantasy Scrapbook in 1972, dedicating it to his mentor Willis O'Brien. It also included a preface from Ray Bradbury, whom Harryhausen had met as a teenager at the Los Angeles Science Fiction League; he was the best man at Bradbury's wedding. The veteran animator donated his complete collection - about twenty thousand objects - to the National Media Museum in Bradford in 2010. He published his autobiography, An Animated Life, in 2004. In retirement he had also returned to sculpting, and lectured and toured the world with exhibitions, culminating with one at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Los Angeles and at the London Film Museum in 2010 to celebrate his ninetieth birthday, together with a special event at the National Film Theatre hosted by John Landis. In 2012 the documentary Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan was released. Once, when asked if he had a favourite among his creatures, Harryhausen replied: 'It would be Medusa. But don't tell the others.' He married Diana Livingstone in 1962. She survives him, along with their daughter, Vanessa.

For today's Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, here's a splash of The Primitives.