Mike Watkins rounds up recent news and views in ATV Sunday celebrating the world of telly, showbiz and whatever else takes his fancy.

Film and television school for BBC Scotland studios

“This is an exciting development for our screen sector which is already an area of growth for Scotland. While we have excellent university and college provision for a range of screen subjects and media skills, NFTS’ plans will complement and expand the training opportunities available in Scotland.” – First Minister Nicola Sturgeon

The BBC is partnering with the Scottish Government to launch a hub of the National Film and Television School (NFTS) at the BBC’s Studios in Pacific Quay, Glasgow, and Dumbarton. Following the announcement of additional funding of £475,000 by the First Minister in her keynote speech at the Edinburgh International Television Festival NFTS Scotland will significantly enhance vital skills provision arising from the expected growth in film and television production in the country.

NFTS Scotland is expected to open in January next year with students enrolling from April. It will specifically work to address gaps in existing provision by delivering courses other providers aren’t currently offering in Scotland, such as production accounting, script editing, factual development and drama, craft and movie production accounting. The NFTS is an acknowledged global leader in the provision of postgraduate, high-level, creative and technical skills for the audio-visual industries.

Diversity and inclusion are key priorities and there is a joint aspiration that a third of all places in the first two years will be fully funded scholarship places. The BBC and the Scottish Government are making a contribution to a bursary fund which will meet the costs of these scholarship places and ensure that students will be drawn from a broad range of backgrounds.

The hub, which has been developed in partnership with the BBC for the whole industry, received strong endorsement from broadcasters and film production companies in the Scottish screen sector including STV, Channel 4, the British Film Institute (BFI) and the BBC will give significant support to start up the hub through its multi-year commitment to provide premises and operational support, in addition to its sponsorship of bursaries.

As a footnote its also Scottish Television (STV) marking a major landmark this coming week – six decades on air. Happy 60th STV.

BBC Scotland in Glasgow.

TV Highlight of the Week

Richard Madeley on Good Morning Britain and GMB Today. A breath of fresh air as the ITV show had Richard on several hosting stints recently. While people may occasionally make jokes concerning his ‘Alan Partridge’ style – which may burst out at times – Madeley proved he’s a total professional and his background in honest journalism proved an asset to GMB. While he may be remembered for his chat show years and magazine show This Morning, Richard had previously worked for the press and of course television news including for Yorkshire Television’s Calendar and Granada Television’s Granada Reports. Hopefully we’ll have a bit more Madeley in the mornings on ITV, preferably Monday to Wednesday from 6am to 8.30am.

The best thing about breakfast TV recently, Richard Madeley back on the box.

Back to the village of dubious types

After much secrecy and speculation, it was confirmed earlier this week that BBC Two would broadcast three special 20th anniversary episodes of cult hit comedy The League of Gentlemen. The beeb later added a few further details on the production.

Once again starring Reece Shearsmith, Steve Pemberton and Mark Gatiss, who have written the shows alongside co-creator Jeremy Dyson, filming will begin on the specials next month in Manchester and the Peak District. After a 15 year absence from television screens, once again the team will be playing dozens of characters, the local denizens of the isolated Northern town of Royston Vasey.

The League of Gentlemen’s radio series, On The Town With The League Of Gentlemen won a silver Sony award 20 years ago this year. The first series of the ground breaking TV series won a BAFTA award, and a Royal Television Society Award, and the prestigious Rose D’Or in Montreux.

“The League of Gentlemen are comedy heroes of mine and I am delighted they are returning to BBC Two. Added to brilliant upcoming shows like Motherland, the second series of Mum, and the return of Upstart Crow, Two is the home to the most amazing, original, British comedy.” – Patrick Holland, Controller, BBC Two

Big Brother just a Big Bore for 5 boss?

Channel 5 executive Ben Frow has spoken about the network’s reality series Big Brother, noting he’d rather the channel make their own original content rather than have to rely on something like Big Brother and Celebrity Big Brother, which began in 2000 on Channel 4.

 “I would be much happier if the channel did not have Big Brother on it. I like the ratings but I want to create our own programmes. I don’t really want other people’s programmes. I want my own programmes that we have created.”

Speaking at the Edinburgh Television Festival Frow cast shade on the programme, despite the fact it often brings in over 1 million viewers to Channel 5 – which is exceedingly good for the broadcaster. While voting may be low – resulting in strange winners – the show still has a fan base, however its ‘glory’ days on Channel 4 are now just a faded memory. The summer CBB winner for example, voted for by a small number of voters, was singer Sarah Harding; who was met with booing from the studio audience. When the winners are being booed something has gone badly wrong…

Big Brother, time to smash up the format?

Quickies…

Lauren Harries flashed her legs on Tuesday (Aug 22nd) as she took out the rubbish (no jokes) in rare moment away from her toyboy lover while on their Spanish holiday. “Lauren Harries took a break from flaunting her romance with her tomboy lover to flaunt her legs instead.” said The Mirror. Well if you’ve got it flaunt it they say, and in this case even if you ain’t got it, just give the boys a show anyway. Whatever makes Lauren happy I guess…

Jane McDonald, speaking to HuffPost UK, says she’d love to return to ITV debate show Loose Women at some point in the future. McDonald, who is back on Channel 5 with a ship-to-shore based series was a regular on Loose Women (on and off) over the course of a decade. “Do you know, I had the best time on ‘Loose Women’ and I’m very, very fond of the show still.” She then added she’d happily return to it at some point, possibly, maybe…

Chloe Jasmine confronted an online troll who threatened to rape her for Channel 5’s Celeb Trolls: We’re Coming To Get You. However she was left stunned when the troll showed no interest or remorse for his words when she met him face to face. “If you’re going to hurl abuse, at least say sorry and hold your hands up. There was just no accountability there.”

Kate Garraway is to report on a Hollyoaks trial when she makes her soap cameo shortly. The Good Morning Britain presenter, and Smooth Radio DJ, will feature during the ‘Who Killed Amy Barnes?’ trial next month. Kate, who has also worked for GMTV, will be seen outside the crime scene where a shrine to the murdered Amy resides as well as at the courthouse of the trial.

Now to the ATV Sport news desk for the sad news that the England team’s leading goalscorer Wayne Rooney has announced his retirement from international football. The 31-year-old made the decision after turning down an offer to be part of the squad for the World Cup qualifiers. England manager Gareth Southgate had formerly requested that the Everton striker join the country squad for Malta and Slovakia, however Rooney declined. “Every time I was selected was a real privilege but I believe now is the time to bow out,” he told BBC Sport.

Former Home and Away actor Martin Lynes has been sent to prison after being found guilty of aggravated sexual assault while inflicting actual bodily harm Nine News Australia reported on Wednesday (Aug 23rd). The 50-year-old actor had also starred in hit shows such as McLeod’s Daughters and All Saints. Nine News noted that it took the jury two days to reach a guilty verdict in the Gosford District Court however he was found not guilty on two other sexual and physical assault charges. Among the allegations they had to consider were that Lynes flicked an ironing board at his victim, banged her head up and down on a couch, pushed her into a wall and bit her nose. He will be sentenced in October, however remains in custody until the decision as bail was refused.

Glutton for Punishment

EastEnders actor Jamie Borthwick who plays Jay Brown in the beeb saga spoke this week how he wouldn’t mind being the ‘Enders version of Coronation Street’s Ken Barlow. During an appearance on ITV’s This Morning on Tuesday (August 22nd), Borthwick spoke to presenters Eamonn Holmes and Ruth Langsford telling the pair that he has no intention of leaving the soap he joined at the age of 12.

“I love the show and my character. I love where the show is filmed, the people, the way the show is filmed with the quick schedules. I am happy and that’s good for me.” Asked by Eamonn if he saw himself as the next Ken, Jamie said “Why not? I’m happy and that’s it,”

In other ‘Enders news the soap’s former executive producer Diederick Santer has commented on the show’s recent crisis. Speaking at the Edinburgh television festival The Guardian newspaper reported the former boss of the BBC Elstree production said ‘the programme has “gone the wrong way” following a period of turmoil’ and the series has “not been brilliant in the last few months” adding he had “not found it massively watchable”.

The show had been overseen by a former The Archers executive until recently and while some ‘back to basics’ ideas such as everyday lives stories proved a good idea – rather than having OTT storylines and nightly high drama – it failed to be executed wisely on-screen with plots like issues with wheelie bins and uninteresting market stall issues. The show has also been branded a prime time Grange Hill due to its overuse of, as Grotbags always called them, ‘brats’.

We should of course remember Diederick Santer was the boss who changed the opening titles in 2009 because he couldn’t understand why the text rose from the bottom to the top – when the entire sequence revolved around the River Thames (aka water) so the EastEnders logo was done like water rising – doh! Having to deal with the Elstree press office and its honchos for ATV Today, I think I can safely say stupidity is something than runs through several of the staff, although that’s due to the misplaced ideas of grandeur; they seem to think they’re Inspector Morse when they’re Take The High Road.

Could still be there in 50 years, if EastEnders lasts that long. Jamie as Jay.

Katie Price Weekly

A weekly watch of one of our favorite telly personalities. Following in the footsteps of the likes of Antony Cotton and Roxanne Pallett ATV News turns to the one and only – thank God – Katie Price. What’s our darling of the television screen been up to this week?

And this really is ‘news just in’ from the ‘we couldn’t care less’ news wire. The past few days has seen a number of reports with speculation about Price and her husband having ‘troubles’. And it seemed they were not TOWIE style scripted ones to sell some third-rate product or boost a Loose Women appearance.

The Sun however loved the news latest and today ran with “love rat husband Kieran Hayler calls her his ‘wifey’ just hours after it’s revealed she’s divorcing him following a year-long affair with the children’s nanny”. The newspaper went on to say, the alleged affair lasted a year, and furious Katie has insisted the marriage is over, but she will be allowing him to stay on at the house so her five kids can get used to the idea of a separation. Kieran called Katie ‘wifey’ as they watched TV together yesterday.

Just when we were starting to worry there wouldn’t be enough Price personal life gossip to fill up magazine colums and  talk it appears another years worth of twaddle will come from this latest ‘shocking’ development in her showbiz life.

The Chase is on for Doctor Who

Several outlets reported this week, although it is still to be confirmed or denied by the beeb, that The Chase presenter Bradley Walsh is to be the new Doctor Who sidekick. The Mirror noted ‘The first female Doctor Who will have a male sidekick old enough to be her father,’ the tabloid went on to add, ‘Jodie Whittaker, 35, will be accompanied on her travels through space and time by former Coronation Street star and quiz-show host Bradley Walsh, 57.’

Walsh is no stranger to acting but is best known for his comedy routines and entertainment appearances.

“Bradley is super excited to be joining the cast of Doctor Who in such a key role. It means that his schedule over the coming months will be jam-packed – so he won’t be able to continue with the full range of programmes he currently makes for ITV. But, crucially, it won’t affect his role as presenter of The Chase. He loves that show with a passion and so does the audience, so he’s delighted to have found a way to make it all work” – A ‘friend’ of Walsh speaking to The Mirror

Bradley could be taking to time and space rather than going on The Chase.

Queen for the big screen

The official Queen website, for the long rocking music group, has revealed that a big screen version of the life and times of the band is to go into production.

“You’ve been hearing rumours about Bohemian Rhapsody The Film for some time… so starting right now, here’s what we can confirm at this stage. Award winning director Bryan Singer is the man who will be bringing the Queen and Freddie story alive. If you’ve ever seen Singer’s X-Men films, or the groundbreaking movie The Usual Suspects, you’ll know this is a director with extraordinary imagination and style. A perfect choice to recreate the fabulous Queen years which brought us such unforgettable moments as Live Aid, which we can reveal will be faithfully recreated for a key sequence the film.”

The production reportedly will star Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury, with the other three members of the band Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon yet to have casting announcements made. The real Roger and Brian will server as the movie’s music producers. Queen were a regular force in the world of music across the 1970s, 80s and early 90s. Tracks included We Will Rock You, Radio Gaga, These are the Days of our Lives and Heaven for Everyone. There has already been a successful stage musical featuring songs by Queen, however the storyline was entirely fictional and didn’t feature anything of the band or their lives. Lead singer Mercury died in 1991 from AIDS.

A little less politics for Andrew

Daily Politics presenter Andrew Neil is to depart the weekend version of the show. The Evening Standard reported this week how ‘Neil, known for his tough questioning, is stepping down from the BBC’s Sunday Politics.’ The paper noted he will be replaced by BBC Scotland Editor Sarah Smith. Smith, the daughter of former Labour leader John Smith, will host the programme when it returns on Sunday September 17 at 11am, following its summer break

In a statement from the BBC Press Office Andrew Neil noted:

“I loved presenting Sunday Politics, it was a privilege and honour to hold the political discourse up to the light for all those years and while I will miss it greatly I am delighted to continue to work for the BBC on This Week, Daily Politics and other projects. I wish Sarah the best of luck with this challenging and wonderful production.”

As noted Andrew will still continue to present the main show Daily Politics, and the weekly political review series This Week.

Andrew Neil has been on our screens for decades, here pictured 4th left with Rupert Murdoch and other presenters at the launch of Sky News in 1989.

ITV News guest milks the moment

A toddler decided to use the ITV News desk as a climbing frame on Wednesday’s Lunchtime News. The child was one of two who had been asked by producers to sit with their mum as she discussed milk allergies. The brother and sister initally sat comfy next to mummy, before  the girl decided the desk would be much more fun. The ITN production saw newsreader Alastair Stewart deal gracefully with the unexpected moment of being upstaged, as you can see in the video below.


Views expressed here are those of the author and not of ATV News, ATV Today, ATV Network Limited or Associated Television Network Limited.
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