News in Brief: James Martin, STV2, Eldorado, robot sex and no more fools

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

The Real Factor

Judge Sharon Osbourne has spoken about the latest series of ITV talent show The X Factor, noting the 2017 series will be ‘real’ and joke acts like the appalling Honey G and Jedward are a thing of the past. The show has to finely balance being an entertainment series with also being a professional search for singing talent, the latter has seemingly given way to the former in recent year, but that is in the past for the Thames Television production Osbourne told The Daily Star on Friday.

The ITV personality noted that the ‘gimmicks’ have gone, including the panto banter between judges, and instead she will be looking for ‘talent’.

“All that is pantomime [reflecting on pouring a glass of water over fellow judge Louis Walsh] and is gone… We have definitely cut the bullshit this year.”

A telling comment that some would believe means the whole talentless acts and antics between judges were somewhat, if not planned, at least enhanced for cameras.

“You can’t keep doing the same thing for fourteen years, its not a gameshow. It has to evolve and move on with the times… you want X Factor to be the best, and that means ratings. You don’t want to be on a show that is failing do you?”

Ratings have suffered the past few years as rival show Strictly Come Dancing has waltzed away with the audiences on Saturday nights, leaving ITV feeling like its back in 1979, just without the stars of 1979 to pull it through. Fellow X Factor star, and music mogul, Simon Cowell however is playing down the importance of beating the beeb in the viewing stakes this year. Speaking to The Sun he simply said  ‘I’ve learnt to keep my mouth shut about that’, adding there is no point in comparing both shows ratings – well no, obviously not, you don’t want to have to keep talking about the other side being way ahead with audiences week after week…

James Martin gets ready and steady to cook…

TV chef James Martin may be stepping into Fern Britton’s old shoes, and grabbing Ainsley Harriots pepper grinder, as the latest host of cookery contest Ready, Steady, Cook.

The series, which aired on BBC Two from 1994 to 2010, and also saw Celebrity specials on BBC One, could see the former Saturday Kitchen host taking on the presenting duties on a relaunched RSC. Noting to The Sun newspaper that it was ‘only a matter of time’ before the half hour show, later revamped and extended to 45 minutes, returns to beeb screens.

“I think Ready Steady Cook is iconic. I think I’d give it a go. It’s a great format. I’d be a lot slower now than when I was doing it, cause I’m a lot older. People remember that show ­however old they were. It was the most successful cooking show of its generation.” – James Martin speaking to The Sun

The format saw members of the public team up with professional chefs to create a three course meal in 20 minutes. The contestants were given a £5 budget to buy produce that the celebrity chef had to create something amazing from, the audience would at the end then vote which of the competitors and chef were best voting for the red kitchen, the red peppers, or the green kitchen, the green peppers. A revamp of the show in 2007 changed the look dramatically and it was never quite the same.

James Martin, ready and steady to get the pans back out

Forthcoming TV Highlight of the Week

STV News and STV2 showing the rest of the “local TV” services how to do it once again. Regional TV should be about events happening in the area, about things going on and issues that matter in the vicinity. Now Made Television might think America’s Got Talent and RuPaul (we love RuPaul, but still) are brilliant time fillers but they’re on practically daily so you have to play ‘find the local show’ in the schedules.

STV2, which has also given viewers extensive coverage of the Edinburgh Festival, tomorrow delivers once more with the opening of the Queensferry Crossing. 53 years after opening the Forth Road Bridge, Her Majesty the Queen returns on Monday (Sept 4th) to officially open the iconic Queensferry Crossing with Prince Phillip also attending. Viewers can witness history with STV News coverage live from 11am. Yes, thats live, its full coverage, that is truly local television…

STV2 presenters – Ewen Cameron, Hayley Matthews, Jennifer Reoch and David Farrell.

Ruth Langsford goes to the dogs

Viewers have criticised This Morning and Loose Women host Ruth Langsford for ‘pulling her dog around’ and it has nothing to do with hubby Eamonn Holmes. Digital Spy reported how the former regional presenter turned national ITV personality, had been branded ‘irresponsible” after posting a video clip of herself dancing with her mutt Maggie to the Strictly Come Dancing theme tune – which the 57-year-old is due to appear on this winter.

“My Maggie helping me break my dancing shoes in, def more poise & grace than me!!” – Ruth said accompanying the visual display.

Those viewing the dog dancing display, along with Maggie having to join in, noted that she should ‘please put her down’ and ‘This puts way too much pressure on her hips and spine.’ Others bluntly pointed out ‘Dogs are not designed to dance!, This is not good for her joints’ also ‘how about not pull your dog about?’ And ‘She’s going along with it to please you. Stop being ridiculous’. I think ITV viewers should have realised by now if you’re a regular on Loose Women you have to live a life that is full of ridiculous, be it intentionally staged or entirely accidental.

Ruth Langsford, former star of TSW that’s gone to the dogs for Strictly.


Lauren Harries is becoming a bit of a Katie Price, getting regular press inches. The Daily Mail reported, and we’ll quote it word for word; “Transgender TV star Lauren Harries, 39, goes for the wet T-shirt look as she paddles braless in the Balearic Sea with 21-year-old toyboy… throwing her head back to worship the sun.” I’m just waiting for the Daily Mail to follow it up on what happened next, did anyone pee in the sea?

The press won’t be able to call it the great British ratings flop just yet as The Great British Bake Off became Channel 4’s biggest show in five years with 6.5 million viewers logged in the overnight ratings on Wednesday. The show, which moved from BBC One to the fourth channel, debuted on Tuesday evening with new hosts Noel Fielding and Sandi Tosvick overseeing proceedings. The episode peaked with 7.7 million viewers all hoping for the sight of a soggy bottom no doubt. What a thought, Naked Attraction meets Bake Off. Naked Bake Off, “was that pube supposed to be in the icing or has it fallen in dear?”

There was a lot of whooping, and good publicity for the archive organisation Kaleidoscope this week over the ‘discovery’ of missing Crossroads film inserts. If this hadn’t been an entirely manipulated story then it would have been worth the coverage; the fact is the material was discovered in 2008 and noted across several sites at the time, and many times since. The inserts were discovered with the 1965 edition 126, which became the earliest surviving episode of the soap which ran from 1964 to 1988.

As a cost-cutting exercise many ATV produced programmes saw their tapes wiped and reused in the fifties, sixties and seventies. Still, the coverage is good for Crossroads and we’re all happy about that.

Speaking of defunct soaps, Eldorado has been back in the news lately to mark its 25th anniversary. The series, which aired thrice a week at 7pm for a year on BBC One, has remained a fond memory for many viewers of the serial, if not the press. To mark two and a half decades since the saga first burst onto TV screens, replacing chat show Wogan, Polly Perkins made a visit to the dilapidated Eldorado set for BBC News. Joined by reporter David Sillito she told him,

“It could do with a lick of paint, this place. If I’d have been here, it would’ve been done by now…. It’s been let go to rack and ruin – I think it’s a terrible shame, what a waste… It’s not like it’s just scenery – these are real homes.”

A sunny soap opera that is still on air is of course Neighbours, seen here in the UK on Channel 5. 78-year-old actor Ian Smith has recently spoken about his iconic character from the saga, and whether he’d return to the sets of Ramsay Street. As Harold Bishop, Ian became one of the longest-serving cast members in the Reg Watson devised series. First seen on screen in 1987 he was last seen in an episode in 2015, to mark the shows 30th anniversary, but had departed as a regular several years earlier.

Speaking about a potential return to the Daily Mail Australia, he noted that he’s enjoying retirement far too much so its unlikely we’ll ever see the bumbling Harold again. However fans of the self-confessed “old fart” may not be too disheartened, he added ‘never say never’ if the time and storyline was right the Bishop may be back on the block.

 Lost but not recently found, Crossroads material from the 1960s was first found nine years ago.

Katie Price Weekly

A weekly watch of one of our favourite 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?

Another week, another endless pile of tabloid coverage from the world of Price. There were stories about her one-woman show failing to sell many tickets. I thought maybe the British public do have taste after all, but doubt was cast on those reports – sadly. Then her husband was quoted as saying he’s a sex addict and his affair with their nanny was ‘cheap, cold and meaningless’ – which sounds like a line straight out of Acorn Antiques.

However the public impression of Katie may not be all it seems according to comedian John Bishop, and he wasn’t joking. Speaking on ITV’s Johnathan Ross Show he spoke about the former glamour model, turned Loose Women regular, after recently interviewing her for his UKTV chat show.

“We’ve just edited the Katie Price show and like everybody else, I’ve got an idea of Katie Price but when you sit down with her and you talk for an hour, you find a completely different person with a different narrative.”

Definitely no more Fools and Horses

The Express reported this week that the cast of BBC comedy Only Fools and Horses were rumoured to be planning another new outing for Del Boy, played by David Jason, and Rodney Trotter, actor Nicholas Lyndhurst, however the actor behind Boycie told the newspaper this isn’t true. The speculation has come about following a special series commissioned by UKTV charting the history of the long-running Beeb sitcom.

Crossroads and Benidorm actor John Challis, who played Boycie in the main show, as well as spin-off The Green, Green Grass, said:  “I doubt it really, because the writer passed away five or six years ago. I think it would be very difficult for anyone to come up to their standard.”

It isn’t the first time its been ruled out. David Jason himself has noted a number of times due to the death of creator and writer John Sullivan there would be no more adventures for Del and Rodney. David, however, has seen a revival success in recent times with Still Open All Hours which saw him revisit his character of Granville, first seen alongside the late Ronnie Barker as tight shop owner Arkwright. in the 1970s and 80s sitcom Open All Hours.

Only Fools and Horses, there will be no further episodes.

Will the ‘The Next Jamie Vardy’ please stand up

A Sky fly-on-the-wall documentary is to explore Jamie Vardy’s V9 Academy, as he seeks to discover the next big talent from non-league football, and help them realise their professional dream while providing them with a unique experience into what it takes to play at the top level. With unprecedented access, this six-part series provides a dramatic view into the fortunes of some the most talented non-league players, who have been shortlisted to attend the V9 Academy in front of scouts from around the world in a bid to be ‘The Next Jamie Vardy’.

42 of the most talented players in non-league football will attend a training camp at the City Football Academy in Manchester where they will play in front of invited scouts from around the world in a bid to be the next Jamie Vardy. The show starts later this month on Sky 1 from Saturday 16th September at 11.30am and Sky Sports Premier League at 6.30pm on Sunday 17th September. I guess any plans for the next Wayne Rooney have been well and truly abandoned after his recent drunken escapades, and lets face it there isn’t enough elderly sex workers to recreate previous alleged encounters circa 2004.

Robotic Sex

As the first season of dystopian robot drama Westworld returns to TV streaming service NOW TV, new research reveals over a third (39%) of Brits think by 2050 we’ll regularly be having relationships with robots instead of each other. A third of Brits also admitted they would be up for a sexual encounter with a human-like robot, and 40 per cent believe this would NOT constitute cheating.

In Westworld, visitors can live out their darkest fantasies in a futuristic theme park staffed by artificially intelligent robot hosts. Four in ten (41%) Brits said they would consider visiting a park-like Westworld, with 48% claiming they would feel less guilty about acting out their darkest desires with a robot than with a human. However nearly half of those considering a trip (19%) would only visit if there were no repercussions and 79% believe it would be ethically wrong to harm an artificially intelligent robot.

The research did show that not everyone thinks robot relationships are a good thing, a third of Brits (29.7%) would be horrified if one of their mates embarked on a relationship with one, with 16% saying they’d convince them to abandon it. A further 41 per cent thought robotic relations could affect normal sexual relationships between human adults. So then, the sexiest robots of televisual all time? The B-9-M-3 General Utility Non-Theorizing Environmental Control Robot from Lost In Space with all its flashing lights must be up there somewhere, but surely the winner has to be Metal Mickey?

Fancy a shag? Metal Mickey star of the same titled LWT series, seen here on ATV’s Tiswas.


This week it was a stateside goodbye to Shelley Berman the comedian and comedy actor best known in recent years for his role as Larry David’s dad in sitcom Curb Your Enthusiasm. While most comedy performers were noted as being ‘stand up comedians’ Shelley became famous as a ‘sit-down comedian’ thanks to giving his performances from a chair. Berman died on Friday, September 1st, aged 92 in California, USA

In the UK Soul II Soul singer, Melissa Bell passed away on Monday (Aug 28th) aged only 53. The performer is also the mother of Strictly Come Dancing regular Alexandra Burke who has vowed to carry on with the BBC series in tribute to her late mum.

STV Celebrates 60 Years on air

The last of the old school Independent Television broadcasters, STV launched as Scottish Television, on August 31st 1957. We’ve covered in a much bigger item that landmark date, but below is a tribute to the station that has gifted viewers with shows such as Taggart, Wheel of Fortune, Rebus, High Road, Catchphrase and Funhouse – to name only a few.

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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