Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Inflammable Material Is Planted In My Head

The return of Channel Four's Homeland attracted 2.3m overnight viewers on Sunday night, only marginally more than tuned into the launch episode of the then-unknown political drama. Series two of Homeland, which recently netted multiple Emmys, including best actor for Damian Lewis, managed 2.3m in the 9pm slot. The feature-length season finale of the first series attracted 2.8m viewers. In the 9pm slot, Homeland beat Dragons' Den on BBC2, which managed two million viewers, and was pipped by Andrew Marr's History of the World on BBC1, which was watched by an average of 2.4m. Downton Abbey and The X Factor predictably proved ratings winners for ITV. The Sunday night overall winner was Downton Abbey, with the fourth episode of the latest series pulling in 9.6m from 9pm to 10.05pm. It was preceded by The X Factor results show, which mirrored Downton with 9.6m between 8pm and 9pm. BBC1 pitted Fiona Bruce against The X Factor with the return of Antiques Roadshow managing 5.1m between 8pm and 9pm. Earlier in the evening, both major channels posted improvements in the 7pm hour, with Countryfile being watched by 6.43m on BBC1 and The Chase having an audience of to 4.52m on ITV.

BBC Worldwide, the corporation's commercial arm, has announced its first UltraViolet-enabled DVD and Blu-Ray titles in the UK, as it gets on board with the industry's new anti-piracy technology. Launching this month, the first four BBC UV titles are: Doctor Who series seven part one, John Bishop's new stand-up DVD Rollercoaster, the new Top Gear special commission and Attenborough: Sixty Years in the Wild. Both the DVD and Bu-ray releases of all the titles will be UV-enabled. UltraViolet was introduced in the UK last December, with backers including Hollywood Studios Warner Bros, Sony Pictures and Fox, along with the likes of Tesco, Sky, LoveFilm and Samsung. Created by cross-industry consortium Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem, UltraViolet enables consumers to 'buy once, play anywhere,' meaning in addition to the physical DVD, they also get a digital copy that can be played on as many as twelve different devices. The system, designed to tackle online piracy and boost sales, works by consumers receiving a code when they buy a DVD or Blu-ray disc, enabling them to download or stream a digital version. Using cloud-based technology, UV also allows consumers to create a 'virtual locker' of films and TV shows for access on a variety of devices. For its initial slate of UV titles, Worldwide has signed up content delivery partner Flixster to act as the supporting suite for consumers to redeem their digital copies. Details on how this works will be included in the DVD leaflet. 'We're thrilled to be announcing our first UV-enabled DVDs and embrace this new era for home video - the UltraViolet era,' the excellently named Claude London, the digital director for BBC Worldwide Consumer Products, said. 'We hope UV will empower consumers to build digital entertainment libraries and continue to enjoy BBC Worldwide releases either at home or on the move. We will continue to work as part of the UV consortium and with our supporting partner Flixster on further releases for early 2013.'

Dermot O'Dreary has defended his actions at the end of Sunday night's The X Factor, when he refused to accept Louis Walsh's first answer on the ITV results show. Walsh was the final judge to select who he wanted to send home out of the bottom two - Carolynne Poole and Rylan Clark. After much deliberation, Walsh stated that he wanted to save Poole. However, O'Dreary insisted that Walsh had to state who he wanted to 'send home' and not just who he wanted to stay in the competition. O'Drary's question seemingly caused Walsh to change his mind and the Irish judge stated that he wanted to send the show 'to deadlock' and the public vote. Walsh never actually stated who he wanted to 'send home', but O'Dreary was willing to accept his answer. Commenting on his changed stance on the show's rules during the finale, O'Dreary said on Twitter: 'For those asking I have ask who the judges are sending home, not save. Straight question. Been like that's for nine years [sic]!' He later described the incident to fellow TV presenter Phillip Schofield as an 'utter nightmare.' Schofield commented: 'Well done [Dermot]. I'd have thumped Louis! What a fiasco!' Poole's mentor, yer actual Gary Barlow, stormed off in a huff after the final result was announced and looked cross. Very cross.

Justin Lee Collins has been found guilty of harassment of his ex-girlfriend Anna Larke. Collins was convicted at St Albans Crown Court on Tuesday of harassment causing fear of violence between January and July 2011. The thirty eight-year-old TV presenter ha been sentenced to one hundred and forty hours of community service. Collins had denied the charge during the trial, where the jury was told that he had kept a notebook record of Larke's sexual history that he used against her. Larke also claimed that Collins had physically and emotionally abused her and pushed her into moving traffic on one occasion. Collins argued that Larke had tried to blackmail him for twenty thousand smackers during their relationship, a claim which she denied. The jury, it would seem, did not believe him.

Yer actual Bear Grylls is to star in a new 'extreme adventure' reality series for NBC. Get Out Alive will mark the host's first US network television project and will test teams of two 'beyond their most extreme imaginations in the wild.' NBC has ordered eight episodes, with the series expected to premiere in a primetime slot in the summer of 2013. 'Get Out Alive will be raw, tough and unrelenting, but it will also inspire and teach the essentials that one day may just save your life,' Grylls said. 'The goal is to empower people with the ultimate in both survival and teamwork, and that brings incredible reward. But, first there must be some pain.' Paul Telegdy - NBC's Entertainment's President of Alternative and Late Night Programming - said: 'To meet Bear is to meet a force of nature. He is a magnetic and charismatic talent, whose infectious enthusiasm for adventure inspires people to push themselves beyond their limits. These contestants are in for the ride of their lives!' Grylls is best known for starring in his Discovery series, known as Man vs Wild in the US and as Born Survivor in the UK. However, the thirty eight-year-old's relationship with the channel came to an end earlier this year when he was reportedly 'unable to commit' to two future projects.

A studio building at Coronation Street's new MediaCityUK set will have to be pulled down due to construction problems it has been reported. The unfinished structure will be removed and rebuilt after 'issues' were identified once the concrete roof was completed, the Manchester Evening News claims. Construction managers Mace have confirmed that engineers discovered the steel framework of the studio had moved 'beyond acceptable construction tolerances' after work was finished on the roof. Despite the delays, Coronation Street producers are still hoping to make the move to Salford Quays in the autumn of 2013. A Mace spokesperson commented: 'Mace confirm they are managing the reconstruction of the partially-built stage areas at ITV's new Coronation Street production facility at MediaCityUK. This work is necessary due to the original steel frame of the stage areas showing signs of slight movement beyond acceptable construction tolerances. Mace confirm that the site is safe and that works to the main support building, the lot and all other areas of the site are continuing.' An ITV representative added: 'ITV's construction manager Mace has recommended a rebuild of two steel structure areas on the new Coronation Street site. Construction of the main building and the Coronation Street lot continues uninterrupted, as does production of the show at the current Quay Street site, and we remain on track to begin ITV's move to the new MediaCityUK base in the autumn.'

Shameless is to end after eleven series, it has been announced. The comedy-drama's final fourteen episodes - again starring David Threlfall as Frank Gallagher - are currently filming in Manchester and will be broadcast on Channel Four in early 2013. Series creator Paul Abbott - who will storyline the final series - said: 'Its tenth anniversary seems a fitting time to shut the book on Shameless. We've had an absolute ball making this stuff up for a living. We've given back in spades and got away with absolute murder, on behalf of such a fantastically outspoken audience. But this is also the year my dad died and he was, in abstract, my core inspiration for starting the whole Shameless party rolling, I wanted to make invisible people vivid. Closing the two eras in the same year feels very right. Now I'm off to build the next whatever-it-is.' Channel Four's Chief Creative Officer Jay Hunt added that Shameless was 'groundbreaking when it launched' and has been 'gob-smacking ever since. We are in Paul Abbott's debt for bringing his defiantly dysfunctional band of characters to Channel Four and I'm delighted to say we have other drama projects with Paul in the pipeline,' Hunt said. 'It's not over yet and I wait to see how Paul, David Threlfall and the talented team at Company Pictures create a fitting farewell to Frank and co on screen early next year.' Shameless began filming in 2003. The series first was broadcast on Channel Four in January 2004, winning a series of BAFTAs and British Comedy Awards.

Yer actual Benedict Cumberbatch has described Elementary as 'absolutely fantastic.' The Sherlock actor was previously quoted as saying that he was 'cynical' about the casting of his friend and Frankenstein co-star Jonny Lee Miller in the CBS series, before then claiming that his apparent criticism was a 'misquote' and that there was no feud between the two shows. 'I've seen [Elementary] and it's absolutely fantastic,' Cumberbatch told an audience at the Cheltenham Literature Festival, according to the Radio Times. 'It's really good, you should all watch it.' He added: 'Under no circumstances would I want Jonny to have anything but a rip-roaring success because, first and foremost, he is my friend.' Cumberbatch admitted that, while he was originally 'cynical' about the choice of Miller due to the pair's Frankenstein association, his feelings were not directed towards Miller himself. 'I've yet to go and talk to [the producers] about where their original thoughts came from to cast him, but I know for a fact that they kept on going back to him so he must have knocked it out of the park in the auditions,' he explained. '[Jonny is] phenomenal; he's completely different; he's far more contained. He's stunning to watch as well - he's just a beautiful specimen, Jonny – and he really knows what he's doing, he's completely got under his skin and it's another Sherlock for the Twenty First Century.' The thirty six-year-old concluded by saying that he wishes to 'put a cap' on stories of a rivalry and accusations that he is 'not happy' about Elementary. 'I do wish him all the best with it, he's got a phenomenal job ahead of him because he's got twelve or thirteen episodes and maybe a five-year series,' Cumberbatch said. 'There was another two sheets worth of fish paper in The Times today about [the supposed rivalry] – apparently I'm not happy about it, apparently Steven [Moffat]'s not. I mean, it's just fine. It's more than fine, it's brilliant.' Lucy Liu - who plays Joan Watson in Elementary - previously stated that the makers of Sherlock had seen the US show and approved of it. 'I thought that the creator from the original Sherlock had seen the pilot and he said that he was really impressed and pleased with how it turned out, and he saw that the correlation was completely different,' the actress suggested. This blogger has never seen or heard yer actual Steven Moffat say that or anything remotely like it but, perhaps, Lucy Liu moves in different circles to yer actual Keith Telly Topping. Actually, come to think about it, there's no 'perhaps' about it.

Former Radio 1 presenters Mike Smith and Jackie Brambles have disputed Liz Kershaw's claims that the station had a reputation for sexual harassment. This weekend, 6Music DJ Kershaw alleged that 'a well-known broadcaster' - whom she chose not to name - had groped her on several occasions when she worked on the BBC's flagship station in the 1980s. The fifty four-year-old broadcaster said that it was a sexist and threatening environment to work in as a young woman. However, Brambles told Radio 5Live that she did not agree with Kershaw's description. 'I was surrounded by a network of extremely supportive male broadcasters,' she said of her time at Radio 1. Brambles added that there was a 'hilarity and wildness' among staff, but that it was far from the 'rugby club locker room' Kershaw remembered. Smith also questioned why Kershaw had declined to identify her alleged assailant, saying she should 'stand up and name names.' He added: 'There's a danger here that an awful lot of innocent, hard-working people are going to be smeared by the comments of Liz Kershaw and particularly Janet Street-Porter in her Daily Mail article. This is an epidemic caused by the media; there's no epidemic going on and there wasn't an epidemic at the time. This witch hunt has got to stop.' Yeah. But, it's not going to, mate. Well, at least, not until somebody starts asking what conditions were like for female journalists working in Fleet Street in the 1980s.

The BBC has launched iPlayer Radio as it attempts to revamp its online audio content. The new service will see audio content taken out of the existing BBC iPlayer and instead offered as part of a separate service on desktop and mobile. The service seeks to highlight select snippets from BBC output, including associated video content. An iPhone app is to be launched soon - however apps for other devices, such as Google's Android, are not yet ready. The iPhone app also features a built-in alarm clock. The BBC's Daniel Danker, general manager for programmes and on-demand, blamed complications with Flash for the delay in the Android app, but added that 'discussions are ongoing' to resolve the problems. Danker said other mobile platforms, such as Windows Phone and Blackberry, were not having apps developed yet - but users on these operating systems can still access iPlayer Radio within the web browser. The new app will mean users will need to download separate iPlayer apps in order to access either television or radio content. Danker said this was necessary in order to 'create apps tailored specifically to type of content being consumed.' There are currently no plans to offer the app to international listeners.

Doctors and government health officials should set limits, as they do for alcohol, on the amount of time children spend watching screens – and under-threes should be kept away from the television altogether - according to a paper in some nanny-state medical journal published on Tuesday. A review of the evidence in the Archives Of Disease in Childhood says children's 'obsession' with TV, computers and screen games is 'causing developmental damage' as well as 'long-term physical harm.' And, in other news, television and computers are also 'The Devil's Work' and should be thrown into The Bottomless Pit. Doctors at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, which co-owns the journal with the British Medical Journal group, say they are 'concerned.' Guidelines in the US, Canada and Australia already urge limits on children's screen time, but there are none yet in Britain. The review was written by psychologist Dr Aric Sigman, author of a book on the subject, who sounds like a right laugh, following a speech he gave to the RCPCH's annual conference. On average, he says, a British teenager spends six hours a day looking at screens at home – not including any time at school. In North America, it is nearer eight hours. But, claims Sigman, 'negative effects' on health kick in after about two hours of sitting still, with increased long-term risks of obesity and heart problems. The critical time for brain growth is the first three years of life, he says. That is when babies and small children need to interact with their parents, eye-to-eye, and not with a screen. Professor Mitch Blair, officer for health promotion at the college, said: 'Whether it's mobile phones, games consoles, TVs or laptops, advances in technology mean children are exposed to screens for longer amounts of time than ever before. We are becoming increasingly concerned, as are paediatricians in several other countries, as to how this affects the rapidly developing brain in children and young people.' The US department of health and human services now specifically cites the reduction of screen time as a health priority, aiming 'to increase the proportion of children aged zero to two years who view no television or videos on an average weekday' and increase the proportion of older children up to eighteen who have no more than two hours' screen time a day. The American Academy of Pediatrics has also issued guidance, saying 'media – both foreground and background – have potentially negative effects and no known positive effects for children younger than two years.' The Canadian Paediatric Society says no child should be allowed to have a television, computer or video game equipment in his or her bedroom. Sigman goes further, suggesting no screen time for the under-threes, rising gradually to a maximum of two hours for the over-sixteens. Parents should 'encourage' no screens in the bedroom, he says, and 'be aware' that their own viewing habits will influence their children. But the issue is controversial and his opinions and standing are questioned by Dorothy Bishop, professor of developmental neuropsychology at Oxford University who says that although this is an important topic, Sigman's paper is not 'an impartial expert review of evidence for effects on health and child development.' In other words, the good doctor is talking a load of old effing toot. 'Aric Sigman does not appear to have any academic or clinical position, or to have done any original research on this topic,' she said. 'His comments about impact of screen time on brain development and empathy seem speculative in my opinion, and the arguments that he makes could equally well be used to conclude that children should not read books.' Sigman says he 'chooses not to have a job' at a university and works 'in health education.' Whatever the hell that means. 'I go into schools and talk to children, usually about alcohol – trying to delay the age at which they start drinking,' he said. Limiting the use of electronic media, he said, was a similar public health issue. Doctor Louise Arsenault, senior lecturer at the Institute of Psychiatry, said: 'The findings from this study are intriguing and add to an increasing body of evidence suggesting that a sedentary lifestyle is not optimal for the future of young children.' It was 'crucial to keep this activity in context with the rest of children's lives.' Screen media could be a marker of a more generally unhealthy lifestyle that needed to be talked about by health practitioners, she said. Professor Lynne Murray, research professor in developmental psychopathology at the University of Reading, said there is 'a well-established literature showing the adverse effects of screen experience on the cognitive development of children under three,' but the adverse effects could be mitigated if the child was watching and interacting with 'a supportive partner – usually adult.' The RCPH's Professor Blair said there were 'some simple steps' parents could take, 'such as limiting toddler exposure as much as possible, keeping TVs and computers out of children's bedrooms, restricting prolonged periods of screen time (we would recommend less than two hours a day) and choosing programmes that have an educational element.' But Justine Roberts, co-founder of Mumsnet, said it was hard for parents to compete with technology. 'It would be great if someone could invent a lock that could automatically ensure a daily shut down of all the different devices in and around the home after a designated period. Until such a thing is invented, it's going to be an ongoing battle to keep on top of everything,' she said. There is, Justine. It's called 'the off switch.'

A football writer who lost a bet about the future of yer actual Keith Telly Topping's beloved (though unsellable) Wongalicious Newcastle United's manager has swum across the River Tyne to honour his side of the pledge. The excellent Henry Winter - senior sports writer at the Torygraph - said he did not believe that Alan Pardew would receive a long-term commitment when he was appointed boss of The Magpies two years ago. Following the announcement of an eight-year contract, the writer took to the chilly waters. He also used his swim to raise money for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation. Tony Greener, an experienced swimmer and organiser of the annual Tyne Ten Mile River Swim, accompanied him. The pair, wearing wetsuits, set off from a pontoon at the base of the Tyne Bridge. It took them about five minutes to reach HMS Calliope on the Gateshead bank. Winter said: 'The first two-thirds were a doddle and I thought "This is OK, a nice gentle paddle across the Tyne. But then suddenly the current hit and it was like the fast lane of the motorway. I could actually feel myself being dragged along and I was fortunate to have an experienced swimmer alongside me in Tony. In fact, at one point I think I grabbed Tony's toe.' Referring to the late Sir Bobby Robson, who set up the cancer charity bearing his name prior to his death in 2009, Henry said: 'He was simply one of the greatest managers this country has produced and a great man.' On his arrival, Henry was wrapped in a Newcastle United towel and handed a note from Pardew. The message read: 'Henry, you're a man of your word and congratulations. I can't imagine how cold it was in the Tyne today but rest assured we'll give you a warm welcome when you arrive at the stadium later. What's more, well done for raising money to support the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation. It's a superb charity that's close to all our hearts here at Newcastle United.' Henry said: 'I thought it was a class act of Alan Pardew to send me a congratulatory note and a club towel. He was obviously confident I'd make it because he sent it to the Gateshead side of the river.'

Ashley Cole has been charged with misconduct by the Football Association in relation to a Twitter comment he posted about the governing body. Responding to the FA's judgement in the John Terry racism case, he tweeted on Friday: 'Hahahahaa, well done FA. I lied did I, BUNCH OF TWATS.' The full of his own importance Moscow Chelski full-back, thirty one, never short of an opinion or two on many subjects, most of which have nothing whatsoever to do with him, has since apologised for the tweet. He has until four o'clock on Thursday 11 October to respond to the charge. A brief statement on the FA's website read: 'Ashley Cole has been charged by The FA in relation to a Twitter comment which was improper and/or brought the game into disrepute.' Cole's tweet came after his evidence to an independent FA commission - which found John Terry guilty of racially insulting Anton Ferdinand during a match between Moscow Chelski and Queens Park Strangers last season - was questioned as unreliable. As well as deleting the message, Cole soon issued a grovelling 'unreserved apology' to the FA. His statement read: 'I had just finished training and saw the captions on the TV screens in the treatment rooms about what was said in the FA commission ruling about me. I was really upset and tweeted my feelings in the heat of the moment. I apologise unreservedly for my comment about the FA.' Former England captain Alan Shearer told the BBC at the weekend that Cole should be banned for Friday's World Cup qualifier against San Marino as a punishment. Then he elbowed somebody in the mush.

ITV has bought an obscure TV production company in Finland, reports The Times. It paid an undisclosed sum for Tarinatalo whose distinctions including the Finnish version of Dragons' Den. It is a far cry from 2002 when Alain Levy, then boss of EMI revealed to an astonished world: 'We had forty nine artists in Finland – and I don't think there are forty nine Finns who can sing.'

An elderly couple have unwittingly grown 'the biggest cannabis plant' police officers had ever seen after buying what they thought was an innocuous shrub from a car boot sale. The couple, who live in Bedford, had planted the shrub in their garden. Police officers were astounded when they spotted the plant. They have collected it and a spokesperson said it would be 'disposed of.' Oh, I imagine it will be. The couple themselves will face no action from the police.
Swedish police who were called to defuse a 'suspicious-looking parcel' at a regional airport turned up to find a board game in a bin. The suspected explosive device - spotted in a rubbish bin in the departures hall toilets at Midlanda airport in Sundsvall - was discovered by a cleaner on 30 September, according to local paper Sundsvalls Tidning. Staff kept the terminal open overnight, but cordoned off the toilets and called in police explosive experts to inspect the package. Officers arrived the next day and spent half-an-hour examining the parcel. After using an x-ray machine, they managed to determine that the object was not a bomb, but a discarded board game called Sundsvallsspelet which had been dumped in the bin a few days before. Police spokeswoman Annica Odelind said that the incident had 'wasted valuable police time. As a traveller you are responsible for what you leave behind at an airport, as security has been heightened for a few years,' she told the paper. Airport authorities said that they did not consider the parcel to have been a 'major threat,' but decided to 'consult experts' to be sure. 'In this kind of situation you have a choice; either you decide it is nothing or that it could be a problem,' said local police officer Mats Rasmussen. 'To be able to brush it aside you need to be pretty certain otherwise you will go with the option of having it checked out just to be on the safe side.'

And so to yer actual Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. And, a long overdue opportunity to play some Stiff.

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