As we start a new month, it’s that time once more to reflect on the good, the bad and Katie Price. Yes with his own views – not likely shared by ATV Today – Editor Mike Watkins casts his newly 40-year-old eyes over November 2018 in the world of showbiz.

Still bringing us sunshine 50 years on

Two BBC episodes of The Morecambe and Wise Show, not seen on UK television since their first broadcast in 1968, are to be screened on BBC Two this festive season.

The editions in question have been located inside an abandoned cinema in Sierra Leone. The first Beeb series of Morecambe and Wise suffered many ‘lost’ editions as the corporation saved storage space and tape costs down by reusing the videotapes programmes were recorded onto. Most overseas finds of UK series are copies made onto film before the tapes were wiped.

In 1968 Eric and Ernie had been lured over to the BBC with the promise of colour episodes, something ATV and boss Lew Grade was unable to bring to the table at the time – ITV would not go colour until the end of the sixties. The comedy duo had spent seven years with ATV on sketch series Two of a Kind produced at the Borehamwood studios of ATV, home to other such series as Emergency Ward 10, The Plane Makers and Market In Honey Lane which all suffered wiped episodes too. ATV had a equally as devastating wipe and reuse policy for tapes, however ironically Two Of A Kind with Morecambe and Wise remains virtually, by luck of film copies, complete.

Eric and Ernie first went to air on the BBC in the early 50s, but the show bombed. However lured back their Beeb shows of the 1970s became the best television material they produced. In 1978 in a big-money deal the pair were lured back to ITV, this time Thames Television produced the series. However failing health for Eric and a lower budget than the Beeb shows saw this era not able to compete with what had gone before.

Sketches to feature in the two programmes include “Old Donegal”, “Instant Camera”, “Sailing Around the World”, “Eric and the Pools”, and “Hollywood Musical”. There is also the first appearance in the M&W run of Michael Aspel, who would later return in the mid-70s for a South Pacific musical number along with a host of other television newsreaders.

Each of The Morecambe and Wise Show’s fill a 30 minute slot, bringing an hour this Christmas time of fun from Eric and Ernie unseen for 50 years.

The Beatles join Eric and Ernie on their ATV series Two of a Kind.

I’m a Celebrity 2018 proves ratings hit for ITV

The launch episode of the 2018 series of I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! is now fully consolidated to a massive 13.7 million viewers and a huge 52% share of viewing – making it the most watched launch episode ever, up on last year’s launch by 1 million viewers and 4 share points. 

With an additional 479,000 viewers on ITV Hub the total audience rises to 14.2 million viewers for the launch episode. 

For 16-34s the launch episode averaged 3.8m viewers with a 74% share of 16-34 year-old viewing, the second biggest audience of the year after England’s World Cup match against Croatia in that age range. Only one episode in the series’ history has beaten the 2018 launch in the ratings – the finale of the 2004 series on February 9th, which was watched by 14.7million viewers, with a 55% share.

The series this year has seen a ‘better class’ of star head to the Australian jungle to spend a few weeks being cruel to insects and dead sheep’s brains. Well known names in the 2018 run include Harry Redknapp, Coronation Street performer Sair Khan, DIY SOS presenter Nick Knowles, singer – Fleur East, popstar James McVey, ‘The Governess’ from game show The Chase Anne Hegerty, Hollyoaks actor Malique Thompson-Dwyer, Emily Atack – whose mother was famous for having a number two in Crossroads, Doctor Who personality John Barrowman MBE, former EastEnders star Rita Simons and House Party host Noel Edmonds. The latter amazingly being the first to go – has the British voting public got no taste?

Big hits for ITV thanks to the celebrity rumbles in the jungle.

Gary Barlow talks about X Factor ‘media dramas’ we’ve all suspected for years

Judges rowing, judges putting through terrible acts just for headlines, sob stories to sell press inches, Louis Walsh being sacked every year, these just some of the ‘organic’ dramas that were never intertionally manifactured by X Factor bosses ever, of course. Well pointing out the bleedin’ obvious was former judge Gary Barlow who went public with thoughts most of us had been thinking since about 2006; the show seemingly creating fake dramas or exposing tensions just to get front page headlines and a ratings boost.

Maybe the recent series have calmed down on the fake-hype thanks to a change in producers, as Digital Spy reported ‘Many of the producers who were working on the show during Barlow’s tenure as head judge five years ago no longer work for the series, but Barlow claimed that, at the time, producers were hands-on in trying to stir things up.’ The Take That frontman was a judge on the ITV series from 2011 to 2013.

“To the last, they [producers] all said the same thing: ‘The only thing anyone cares about in that building is The X Factor. They won’t mind throwing you under the bus, using you to get a headline, feeding you a line that will end your career, as long as The X Factor gets a mention’.” – Gary Barlow quoted from his book A Better Me by Digital Spy

Lenny Henry lost weight for TV role

Earlier this year people were pondering whether Sir Lenny was feeling unwell having appeared to have undergone a dramatic loss of weight. However the comedian and actor, who found fame in the 1970s on ATV’s New Faces talent show, has spoken about losing the weight for a television drama.

The 60-year-old told a tabloid how he’d turned to a vegetarian diet to drop the pounds to play a Jamaican plantation slave in BBC drama The Long Song.

“It’s eating broccoli and not much else. I’ve also been running a lot. It has worked.” – Sir Lenny speaking to The Mirror

The former Tiswas regular will appear in the three-part Beeb drama this December alongside Tamara Lawrance, Hayley Atwell and Jack Lowden. In total he’d shed three stone for the part.

It’s all about mutual respect for Richard and Judy

“We respect each other, and that’s the key.” – Richard Madeley

Speaking to The Sun the Good Morning Britain host spoke of his long lasting marriage to wife Judy Finnigan as the couple celebrated their 32nd wedding anniversary in November. Richard began his television career in Carlisle at Border Television before switching to Yorkshire Television in Leeds. It however wasn’t until a move to Manchester and Granada TV that his career would take a turn into national broadcasting. It was also where he met second wife, Judy.

The pair first worked together on regional news show Granada Reports, later finding national fame as the first hosts of This Morning across ITV. Other shows, both together and solo, followed however Judy has recently stepped back from the spotlight while Richard continues to present for BBC Radio 2 and as an occasional host of Good Morning Britain for ITV Breakfast.

Of course all those years spent working together and living together have left many wondering, how has it been such a long lasting and happy union? 62-year-old Richard puts his happy marriage to 70-year-old Judy down to respect and possibly just luck – as he notes there has been ‘no great panacea’.

“We’ve had our moments, and the occasional screaming, f*** you row, but it’s always been over something trivial. We’ve never had marriage counselling, and never ever so much as discussed divorce. There have been no crisis dinners, nothing.” – Richard speaking to The Sun

I imagine there is also great tolerance and patience… well on the part of Judy.

The unrivaled King and Queen of This Morning, and indeed, ITV Daytime.

Malcolm Hebden ready for Corrie return?

It’s another one of those stories with a question-mark because we’ve not got any 100% confirmation yet, just source quotes in The Mirror.

However the news that Coronation Street busybody Norris Cole may once again wander the cobbles has delighted fans of the long running ITV soap. Hebden, who plays Cole, was unexpectedly written out of the saga after taking ill last year.

The 78-year-old actor suffered a ‘silent’ heart attack, the incident tore a hole in the left ventricle that doctors had to ‘wallpaper’ over. It was touch-and-go with the popular actor spending almost four weeks in a medically induced coma.

“I was so pleasantly surprised to see him. It has been a long battle back to fitness but he looks better than I could have imagined… He looks really well, it is going to be great to have him back. The show has missed him. We’ve missed him.” – an insider at ITV Granada speaking to The Mirror

Norris first appeared in 1994, although Malcolm made his Corrie debut twenty years earlier as Spanish character Carlos who wooed Mavis Riley (Thelma Barlow). 

Cheryl Tweedy hits back at ‘relentless abuse’ following racy X Factor performance

Cheryl Tweedy – although probably best known as Cheryl Cole – has hit back following a ‘sexy’ performance on ITV’s The X Factor. The singer sent Ofcom’s complain form into a data overdrive following a raunchy performance on November 18th.

Surely times have moved on since the 1950s when Elvis Presley and Cliff Richard had thousands of parents complaining about hip gyrations on television during song performances, however it seems we’re going backwards rather than forwards in regards to trivial complaints with the pre-watershed routine for Love Made Me Do It pulling in 100s of complaints from ‘outraged’ viewers.

‘Did that dirty Geordie do a blow-job motion with her hand and mouth’ one disgruntled asked ATV Today. But we can’t be sure they were even talking about Chezza on the X Factor.

‘The performance was packed with hordes of backing dancers and an impressive lighting show, as well as racy dance moves that saw her gyrating with male dancers, writhing on the floor, and at one point, licking her wrist, but it was heavily criticised by viewers’ reported Metro Paper. Cheryl however hit back;

‘I wanted to start by saying thank you all so much for your lovely comments and support of my performance on Sunday. You may not have read about them but I definitely saw and felt them! Having spent 16 years in the public eye I have always been accepting of people’s opinions. Me personally, my music and performances are never going to be for everyone. And that’s OK. ‘I let a lot of things lie but the sheer level of unbalanced negativity towards me in the tabloid press these past few days has been quite frankly shocking and I need to address it. This level of relentless abuse should not be tolerated in any walk of life. From my appearance, my body size and shape to my performance and even dragging innocent people into this like they did to Nile Rodgers simply for a clickbait headline is totally uncalled for. It also gives the trolls a bigger voice and platform.” – Cheryl on social media

I think in ‘Geordie’ what our Chezza is saying is they’re a ‘loada numpties’ who’ve complained.

Cheryl, back in the day, on The X Factor.

Faisal Islam leaves Sky News for the Beeb

Faisal Islam is currently the ‘Political Editor’ at Sky News, however, the amount of air time given to the ‘former’ Political Editor  – whom still seems to do most political output on Sky News, Adam Boulton – you probably wouldn’t have realised it. So it comes as no surprise to me that Islam is buggering off to the BBC where no doubt his talents will be put to better use and more screen time.

Faisal joins BBC News as its new Economics Editor. With decade of economic journalism experience, he previously held positions as The Observer’s Economics Correspondent and Economics Editor for Channel 4 News.

During his career, he has exposed the Icelandic banking crisis, watched Lehman Brothers fall from Wall Street, investigated emerging economies in India and Singapore and interviewed everyone from the Prime Minister to the President of the World Bank. Faisal has been decorated with several RTS awards including interview of the year in 2017.

“It is a great honour to be taking up this crucial role at the BBC at this critical moment in the country’s economic history. Economics has been the heart of how I have viewed the rapid changes here and around the world over the past two decades – the best lens on the world. I am at heart a numbers man and I look forward to sharing the numbers stories that matter for all of the BBC’s viewers, listeners and readers over the years to come” – Faisal Islam

Faisal Islam will take up his Beeb role in the New Year.

Rewind Quickies

Is fiction blurring into reality? I often wonder that sometimes. Especially last month when the news broke that Coronation Street actress Jennie McAlpine welcomed a baby girl into this wide, wide world. But Jennie who plays Fiz in the long-running Weatherfield set saga named her lass Hilda.

Hilda just happens to be the name of one of Corrie’s best loved characters, Hilda Ogden. Is it deliberate? Anyway, the latest bundle of joy is the 34-year-old performers second child with husband Chris Farr. If Hilda starts wearing curlers and singing out of key we know where the inspiration is coming from.

Zayn Malik has said he did not make “a single friend” for the five years he was a member of One Direction, RTÉ News report. The 25-year-old singer was quoted as stating that despite their fame and fortunes and the formation of the group via ITV’s The X Factor he was no longer in touch with his fellow ‘1D’ ‘family’ and hadn’t spoken to the rest of the group in “a long time”. He also noted to Vouge Magazine that the “relationships had broken apart” by the time the band members decided to go their separate ways.

Sorry ‘1D’ fans it doesn’t look likely there will be a Spice Girls-style reunion any time soon.

Channel 4’s Head of Comedy, Fiona McDermott, also announced in November the appointment of Jon Petrie as Commissioning Editor. He will join the channel early in 2019.

Petrie joins Channel 4 having most recently produced Channel 4’s new comedy Stath Lets Flats. He began his career working on comedy entertainment shows such as Never Mind The Buzzcocks, QI and Comic Relief. In 2008 Petrie moved to Ash Atalla’s company Roughcut Television to develop online comedy content. He produced the hugely successful Misery Bear shorts, which amassed over 10 million views. Since 2009 Petrie has produced the sketch show Anna and Katy, five series of the BAFTA Award-winning People Just Do Nothing and also Hospital People.

With his track record I should be shatting myself with laughter then surely come 2019 via Channel 4 content. I won’t buy the incontinent pants just yet though. “I can’t wait to get started at Channel 4.” Said Petrie.

‘Amanda Holden left devastated over suspicions Phillip Schofield got her axed as Holly Willoughby’s stand-in…’ screeched The Sun headline over the fact Holden, who had stood-in on ITV’s This Morning several times in the past, had been ditched for Rochelle Humes. The tabloid reported Holden believes that for some reason daytime darling Schofield had stepped in and persuaded bosses to offer the job to Humes instead.

I can imagine it now, ITV Daytime run like some third-rate Grace Brothers ‘Are You Being Served?‘ Department Store where the boss goes into hiding the first sight of trouble (Colleen Nolan V Kim Woodburn anyone?) and bends in to any demands of the Peacock and blonde with the big knockers. ‘You’ve all done very well’.

If its true, and we’ve no idea if it is – Schoffie is hardly going to come out like some big mafia king and say ‘yeah I had her head on the TV block, so what? – It does, however, play into the view, that is often shared on social media; the daytime stars have far too much say and sway. Back in the ‘regional days’ of ITV the programmes were all made across the country, with different bosses in each TV studio – no love-in (again as seen with the Nolan debacle), no cosy ‘all pals with each other’ issues (that Nolan farce again) so issues didn’t exist. You probably for once have to envy Jeremy Kyle; at least he’s away from the luvvie love-in being all the way up there in Salford while Good Morning Britain, Lorraine, This Morning and Loose Women all share the same studios in London. Oh, and if there is a hierarchy in ITV Daytime, surely Ruth Langsford should be the queen of This Morning’s mafia – the little-noted fact that she is the longest serving presenter on the show currently.

Little Mix fans were left upset by Graham Norton on the recent Children In Need telethon. The annual fundraiser to help needy kids saw the king of Beeb chat suggest there were only three members of the girl group. Realising his error, Graham announced minutes later: “We must apologise to Little Mix fans. There are four members. But there were three in that.” Making reference to the fact only three members had featured in a pre-recorded segment of the programme. Well, we can’t all know our Little Mix’s from our Pic ‘N’ Mixes. I’m still listening to Bananarama and I’ve no idea how many female singers or bananas are in that group.

Over on Digital Spy, TV Critic for ATV Today Vivian Summers spotted the headline ‘Stuart Manning has revealed…’ and she tells me ‘I thought not another nude photo expose. Although Stuart I must say nice manscaping going on, although you probably can cope with a bit more bush when you’ve got hairy tits. But that’s another story… No, this time Manning revealed to the website that he was feeling pretty gutted his Hollyoaks character had been bumped off. Yes, Russ is just the latest in a long line of ‘Oaks residents that have met the grim reaper in recent times.

‘It was a shocking – unexpected – murder that saw him off, which in the scheme of things is a good way to go – rather than a hilarious death by storm/tree/bouncing to the ground that Tegan had the misfortune of. He’d been having an affair which was exposed, rather like his willy, for all to see.’ Thanks Vivian…

Craig Revel Horwood apologised to Strictly Come Dancing fellow judge Shirley Ballas for comments he made about her “fake boobs”. Entertainment Daily reported Revel Horwood ‘went on a rant about Shirley, 58, during his book tour, where he claimed that her “fake boobs” were “hanging out” during her Strictly audition.’

“What happened is that she came to the audition and literally had her thing open to her navel.” I am not joking. Her boobs were like La BaZooKa things hanging out.” – Craig Revel Horwood

He’s now, Ballas says, made a full apology to her over the ample display of tit comment. So all is happy at the Elstree Studios once more.

Big news from the geezer with the large body, and tiny head, Dan Wootton over at The Sun. The X Factor, currently pulling in ratings almost as appalling as EastEnders, is to remain on ITV until at least 2020.

“We’ve just been offered an extension on both shows because of the 16 to 34-year-old audience. We could probably do three years or five years. It makes a lot of money” Cowell was quoted as saying. Explains a lot about TV output these days.

‘The top boss of The Great British Bake Off‘s production company – Love Productions – has claimed that the show “would have died” if it had remained on the BBC rather than chase the dosh over at Channel 4.’ The Daily Express reported. Rather like how Neighbours and Home and Away have “thrived” since their move respectively from BBC One and ITV to Channel 5 and now have a fraction of the audience and about twelve people in the UK actually care about the plots.

Strange logic, but Richard McKerrow speaking at Leeds Trinity University went on to note “The move has been characterised as greedy producers going for the money. I say simply we did it to protect the format.”

If anyone is interested in the goings on in Neighbours, 2018 will be the first time in its history it will air through Christmas, and as actor Alan Dale revealed in September he’s popping back as the ghost of Jim Robinson over the festive period probably to give son Paul the willies. ‘If your Ramsay Street needs haunting just call Rent-a-Dale…’

MEDIA MOVERS: BBC News Online has appointed Harriet Agerholm as a journalist, reporting on UK news and current affairs for the website. BBC Scotland Television has appointed Connor Gillies as a news reporter. Connor was previously news editor, Scotland, at Global Radio, BBC Radio 1 has confirmed that Rickie Williams, Melvin Odoom, and Charlie Hedges will be taking over as hosts of the station’s late night show next year.

Also at the Beeb Radio 2 has confirmed that Rylan Clark-Neal will present a Saturday afternoon show from January 2019 and BBC Radio Cumbria has appointed Ewan Murrie as a reporter to cover local Cumbria news and national stories with a local slant.

5 News has hired Jay Akbar as an Output Producer while 5 News’ Minnie Stephenson has taken her reporter skills over to Channel 4 News – both produced by ITN. Over at Sky News they’ve hired Ali Fortescue as a Home Affairs Reporter. Ali was previously a Reporter at BBC Look North and ITV’s This Morning has appointed Charlotte Seligman as Head of News and Entertainment.

Coronation Street’s famous Hilda, with her pussy Romulus.

Is Bradley Walsh getting his own ITV chat show?

That was the question the Radio Times asked last month. It isn’t the first time the Doctor Who actor and former Wheel of Fortune host had been mooted to front a chat show. Gossip suggested he’d done a pilot when Paul O’Grady left ITV for Channel 4 a decade ago, then in 2011 rumours of a prime-time chat vehicle surfaced again. This time, however, Walsh who currently pulls in the ratings for ITV with quiz The Chase, seems more likely to be hopping into the hot seat once occupied by the likes of Russell Harty, Des O’Connor, Michael Parkinson and Terry Wogan.

Walsh reportedly shared a promo from ITV asking viewers to apply to be part of the series ‘We are looking for fun, confident big characters and groups of friends and families to come and take part in a brand new entertainment chat show pilot for ITV.’ The search for members of the public to join Walsh added, ‘If you are up for getting involved in our studio games and challenges alongside our brilliant celebrity guests – get in touch!’ ITV, however, have yet to confirm the programme, so no the Radio Times, nor anyone else, can answer their question as yet.

What’s Happening With Katie Price This Month?

We’ve had Antony Cotton, we’ve had Roxanne Pallett, but no one can top Katie Price as the zelebrity gift that keeps on giving.

This month The Sun brought us the shocking headline on November 30th of how Katie’s pet chameleon, named Marvin, had died and apparently Price was putting the blame on former husband Peter Andre for its untimely demise.

‘CHAM OFF IT: Katie Price’s pet chameleon Marvin is dead – and she’s blaming Peter Andre!’ – The Sun headline

Katie, the tabloid note, ‘the reptile died of a broken heart after her children Junior, 13, and his 11-year-old sister Princess moved in with Peter over the summer’.

The newspaper famed for big tits and big headlines also spoke to a ‘source’, one once close to the dead chameleon possibly, that ‘her cold mucky mansion may be to blame after recent money worries meant Katie has been unable to heat her home’. The also note Price wanted to keep the children’s pets at her home in the hope they’d visit her/the pets more.

“He was never asked to look after it. It’s outrageous that she’s blaming him.” – a source ‘close to Peter Andre’ speaking to The Sun.

Well what can I say? Maybe its best left to that great poet Boy George; ‘Karma karma karma karma karma chameleon. You come and go, you come and go..’

Quote of the Month

November’s quote comes courtesy of Shirley Ballas who spoke of the tabloid created ‘Strictly Come Dancing Curse’. ‘The curse‘ apparently makes the professional dancers and their celebrity ballroom partners fall into bed for a horizontal tango.

“If they are single there is no problem, is there? …And I don’t think it’s a curse because some people really do find love.” – Shirley Ballas, speaking to The Sun

Strictly no curse.

Beeb bring us Christmas comedy with Click & Collect

Stephen Merchant and Asim Chaudhry star as two mismatched neighbours driving across the country to pick up the one toy that will make a little girl’s Christmas dreams come true. But will they get there before the shops shut for the festive season? Can they make it back in time for Christmas? And will they manage to avoid driving each other crazy along the way?

So many questions that I’ll probably never get the answers to, after all, ’tis the season to be merry and come Christmas I’ll be three sheets to the wind on sherry, Baileys, Babycham and voddy-coke.

Anyway the plot is something like it is obviously Christmas Eve and Andrew Bennett (Merchant) has somehow failed to buy the one present his six-year-old daughter really wants – Sparklehoof the Unicorn Princess. Unfortunately, it also happens to be the must-have toy of the season, and he can’t track one down in London for love nor money. In my house it would end there with the words ‘tough titty’ and a box of Quality Street. Make do bitch…

Rewind RIP

The actor who originated the character of Jack Sugden in Emmerdale FarmAndrew Burt – passed away aged 73, people’s champion and war hero Harry Leslie Smith died aged 95 after a short illness, actor David Conville left us aged 89, film director Nicolas Roeg aged 90, folk singer Roy Bailey passed aged 83, 71-year-old High Hopes actor Robert Blythe, 93-year-old Richard Baker best known as a BBC News anchor, Sapphire and Steel performer Jennie Stoller aged 72, Little House on the Prairie actress Katherine MacGregor died aged 93, Grange Hill actor George A. Cooper passed away aged 93 and Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee passed aged 95.

American singer/songwriter Scott English who co-wrote the song Brandy – later made famous as Mandy by Barry Manilow and Westlife died aged 81, journalist Paul Ferris, aged 89, Al James died aged 72 – best known as part of group Showaddywaddy who found fame via ATV’s New Faces, Vicar of Dibley actor John Bluthal aged 89, actress Anne Carroll aged 78, Fireball XL5 illustrator Mike Noble aged 88, Sunday Night Theatre performer Jane Wenham passed at 90, Anglia TV’s Go Fishing! presenter John Wilson died aged 75, ELO performer Hugh McDowell passed at 65, 73-year-old journalist Kenneth Roy and British poet Alistair Elliot died aged 86.

Also a quick remembrance to Mario Segale who Super Mario was named after. The inspiration for the video game character died aged 84. Screenwriter William Goldman died aged 87, Baroness Trumpington died aged 93 and Irish racehorses ‘Sinndar’ aged 21 and ‘Monet’s Garden’ aged 20 who all departed in November.

Picture of the Month: BBC Scotland’s ‘Nine’ News set

Imagine ITV’s Daybreak meets Channel 4 News with a bit of STV’s Scotland Tonight thrown in. Yes its purple, its got a balcony backdrop and its content is a mix of UK, Scottish national and international news. Welcome the Beeb’s second BBC Scotland channel cometh 2019. BBC Alba (Scotland) already transmits programmes in Scottish Gaelic. Which let’s face it if the people of Scotland had to fund as a subscription service would likely say ‘on yee bike Jimmy’ or however its spoken in Gaelic.

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