The first weekend of October sees ATV Today take a look back over entertainment news from September 2019 with Mike Watkins casting his view over the proceedings.

Elstree Studios expands over Big Brother house

‘The building of the new stages is to fulfil client demand at Elstree Studios. We already have a number of clients who have confirmed interest in hiring the stages once they are built. Elstree Studios is currently home to Strictly Come Dancing, The Crown and BBC Studioworks. The Studios have enjoyed great success in the last ten years and the freeing up of the Big Brother space has opened up great opportunity. The stages will be suitable for both film and high-end television use. We have plans to build more stages at the Elstree Studios site as space becomes available.’ – Roger Morris, Managing Director of Elstree Studios

Elstree Studios to expand with new stages to be built on the former site used by the Big Brother house. The Channel 5 reality show finished in early 2019. The site was also once the old water tank where classic films such as, Moby Dick and the Dam Busters were filmed.

Elstree Studios is planning to build two new super stages similar to the George Lucas stages which are popular with their film and television clients. The two new stages will be available in 2020. Planning applications have been submitted to Hertsmere Borough Council.


Karma is not Cooked

Shane Richie came under social media critical comment following a post seemingly celebrating the demise of the world’s oldest travel agency.

When Thomas Cook went tits-up last month the former EastEnders regular Tweeted ‘Karma’ to the travel service’s social media account. 9000 UK employees lost their jobs as a result of the closure, while 100s of holiday makers were left stranded abroad. Richie seemed to think this was ‘karma’ for a ‘bad holiday’ he’d had with the company in 2018.

In a Points of View style, social media users were quick to point out his comment was at best ‘disgusting’. Richie who burst onto TV screens via a talent show in the 1980s has since apologised for his karma comment.

Karma’d the situation, Richie has apologised.

Scarlett Moffatt revealed cancer scare

Telly favourite Scarlett Moffatt spoke about her cancer fears last month after discussing how she received abnormal results from a smear test. Speaking in a video on social media the 29-year-old Streetmate host went for a biopsy after the screening, however told fans that its simply a precaution and there is nothing to worry about.

The one-time Gogglebox regular also urged other women to go for the test as it can save lives while also praising the NHS and the doctors. “Things can be done if it’s detected really early  on… please, please, please go for your smear.”

It was previously announced in August that Scarlett and her family had filmed a series in Africa that saw their Bishop Auckland home replicated alongside a tribal village as both cultures lived side-by-side to learn from each other.


BBC Archive Clips open for nostalgia

The BBC has made thousands of fascinating clips from its archive available to watch on a new website. More than 1,700 newly published videos are being made available for viewers to watch and enjoy, many of which hold a mirror up to our lives today and help paint a rich social history of Britain in the television era.

The new Archive site will help people navigate an ever-increasing portion of the more than 10 million hours of content that currently sit in the BBC’s archive. It will be curated by the same team that currently mines the vaults for the ever popular BBC Archive social media accounts, which have attracted a loyal and ever-increasing daily following over the past four years.

The launch date coincided with the 50th anniversary of Nationwide, the early evening precursor to The One Show that featured quirky stories from around the UK between 1969 and 1983. Many of the strange and quirky Nationwide reports will be added to the site. Steep yourself in classic footage at: bbc.co.uk/archive

Nationwide, a mix of regional, national and international news and features from 1969 to 1983.

Kemp it in the Family

On Lorraine (6th September), Martin and Shirlie Kemp announced that they are releasing their first album together and told how their late, dear friend George Michael would have loved it. Martin said: “Shirlie and I have been together for nearly 40 years but we have never made music together, but over the summer we have been working with a 40-piece swing orchestra and we have put together this album called In The Swing of It.

“What we found, what I discovered, when we sing love songs nowadays they always make you feel a little bit down but in those days love songs made you feel happy and how good love is. When we sing love songs to each other it’s not like two singers getting together to sing a love song who don’t know each other, acting out the words. Shirlie and I have made this album and what we discovered was that the words that we sing to each other are the words that we say to each other. It’s kind of like an open love letter that everyone can look in on our relationship.”

On what George Michael, their late, very dear friend would have thought, Shirlie said she believed he would have ‘loved it’ adding how she thought he’d have been round to their house ‘and sat with a cup of tea listening to all of [the album.’

On making the album together over the summer Martin noted how ‘I’ve never seen Shirlie so happy as over the last six months.’ and that she had ‘got her mojo back.’ Shirlie agreed adding that it was ‘the best thing I have ever done.’


Rewind Quickies

[] Next year the BBC are downsizing their ‘red button service’. The information hub was seen as the modern day version of Ceefax, which launched in the late 1970s on the beeb. Both services offered national, international and regional headlines, football scores, weather, travel news while the red button also brought the latest lottery results. The streaming options of the red button will remain. Red Button launched in 1999 as Ceefax was phased out.

[] Work began on the demolition of the original Crossroads Motel building from the TV soap of the sixties and seventies. Walford Hall, Shropshire, is clearing away its 1940s and 50s built complex – nicknamed the Crossroads buildings – as used in the ATV soap from 1964 until 1981. The site is a local college with the famous motel ‘frontage’ actually a canteen. The Grade II listed Georgian House however will not be demolished, this was the main family home in the saga. The buildings outlasted their fictional lifespan by nearly 40 years, when in 1981 the motel was supposed to have burned down and been entirely rebuilt.

[] Naga Munchetty breached BBC guidelines while broadcasting on BBC Breakfast the corporation’s complaints unit ruled. The decision came after Naga commented on President Donald Trump and his perceived racism. In a broadcast of the morning show back in July the Beeb host took issue with Trump over comments he made that some of his opponents to “go back” to the “places from which they came”. The top dog of the Beeb, Tony Hall, later reversed the complaints unit decision. Ofcom however are said to be still looking into complaints about Naga’s rebuke of Trump.

[] Coronation Street fans were left unimpressed with Faye Brookes’ exit from the show in September. The Sun reported that viewers had branded her departure scenes as ‘diabolical’. Faye, 32, played Kate Connor in the ITV Granada saga. In the episode aired on September 13th Kate was seen saying farewell in the Rovers Return as she planned to head off to Singapore to travel around the world. Fans of the character, the tabloid noted, said the it was a ‘underwhelming exit.’

[] Singer and presenter Mel B is to take over the team captain role on ITV2’s Celebrity Juice previously held by Paddy McGuinness. The Spice Girl will lead her weekly stars against This Morning’s Holly Willoughby on the entertainment game show hosted by Keith Lemon aka comedian Leigh Francis.

[] Ready, Steady, Rylan! BBC Two cookery show Ready Steady Cook is set to return to BBC One Daytime next year it was announced. But there is no return for ex-hosts Fern Britton or Ainsley Harriot as Celebrity MasterChef finalist Rylan Clark-Neal takes over the red and green peppers. Twenty 45-minute editions have been commissioned. This adds to Rylan’s already busy schedules which includes Strictly Come Dancing: It Takes Two, Supermarket Sweep and You Are What You Wear to name only three of the endless productions.

[] Christopher Timothy was revealed to be leaving EastEnders after two years playing Ted Murray. The character was seemingly pointless from the start; having being pretty much just another version of Les Coker, without the frocks, played by Roger Sloman. Might as well just left Les where he was…

[] Giovanni Pernice was robbed by muggers who blinded him with pepper spray the tabloids reported. The Strictly Come Dancing professional dancer had his watch and rucksack grabbed in Essex. The attack is just one of a number to have befallen Strictly stars in recent times.

[] Baby News: In happier Strictly Come Dancing news professional dancers Ola and James Jordan announced they are expecting their first child. While former EastEnders Lucy Beale actress Melissa Suffield announced that she too is pregnant with her first child.

Check it out, Rylan is on-screen more than the ITV symbol.

‘Me Too game’ leaves viewers goggle boxed

Channel 4 viewers were apparently left feeling disgusted following an episode of Gogglebox.

Show regular Ellie Warner regaled a story of how she and her friends had made up a ‘tag’ game called #MeToo. The #MeToo movement was launched to highlight sexual harassment and sexual assault.

However during the Gogglebox episode Ellie and her sister Izzie conversed about the playground game ‘tag’, things however went downhill for several viewers when the chat turned to the ‘adult version’ of the game that involved Ellie and her friends chasing each other and grabbing each other’s ‘boobs or bum’ shouting ‘me too’ when caught.

Ellie had previously been criticised for how she treated her dog during one edition, and later in the same episode last month was also attacked for a joke about Boris Johnson’s penis.


Better than the Real Thing

On September 3rd a BBC News Channel segment on the royal couple accidentally used photographs of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s Madame Tussauds waxworks instead of the real living tax-funded moaners.

MSN News noted that ‘Markle and Harry’s waxworks were unveiled in the London museum shortly before their royal wedding in May 2018. However, Madame Tussauds angered fans earlier this year as they split up Markle and Harry’s figures.’

To be honest the waxworks are most likely far more interesting than the real things, give me photos of them any day.


Rewind Quickies

[] Kevin Kennedy spoke about his years being sober last month, praising his former Coronation Street bosses for saving his life after they sent him to rehab. Kevin, who played Bettabuys manager Curly, as seen currently on the ITV3 repeats of classic episodes, marked two decades of booze-free living following ITV Granada bosses checking him into a clinic to beat his alcohol addiction in 1998. Kennedy, 57, says he’d like to complete the recovery circle by reprising his role of Curly.

[] Carry On being a memory. A dreaded return to the Carry On movies was announced with plans for three new films in the early stages of production. Carry On Films Ltd is in the early stages of plotting the first outing of the slapstick saucy comedy since 1992. Thirty one films were produced by Peter Rogers and director Gerald Thomas. The first Carry On Sergeant in 1958 and the final one Carry On Columbus in ’92. Columbus flopped 14-years after the 30th outing had hit the cinemas in ’78. The nineties offering failed to win over Carry On fans as a whole, and now with even fewer of the original cast left, its unlikely any new versions would fair any better.

[] Birmingham-born actress Annette Badland was named the latest patron of the Old Rep Theatre. Badland who has gone from a waitress in Crossroads to baddie in EastEnders via Doctor Who, Midsomer Murders and Cutting It has been issued with a dedicated seat plaque at the city theatre to celebrate her achievements in the arts and performance. She joins a list of patrons including Brian Cox, Toyah Willcox, June Brown and Brian Blessed.

[] Axed Emmerdale actor Asan N’Jie apparently argued with Hollyoaks regular Jamie Lomas over a mutual friend and a financial situation. The Sun revealed that Lomas’ Acting school had been managing a young up-and-coming actor and secured him a role in Emmerdale. However the performer ‘wants to leave Jamie’s agency, which Jamie is fine with, but Lomas wants the commission he is owed.’

[] John Humphries hosted his final edition of Radio 4’s Today programme. His departure on September 19th brought to a close 32 years on the flagship show, during which time BBC News noted ‘he built a reputation as a tenacious interrogator of politicians.’

[] Singer Rod Stewart announced he was ‘in the clear’ after being diagnosed with prostate cancer. The Sailing and I was only Joking performer urged men to get checked, “Guys, you’ve got to really go to the doctor.” The 74-year-old says he caught his cancer early enabling the happy outcome of all-clear.

[] It’s a soapsuds line up for the stage production of Band of Gold. Emmerdale’s Gaynor Faye, EastEnders’ Laurie Brett, Hollyoaks’ Kerion Richardson and Coronation Street’s Shayne Ward, Andrew Dunn and Sacha Parkinson are all performing in the production.

Kevin Kennedy as Curly Watts in ITV Granada’s Coronation Street.

Rory Cowan is fair in the city

Former Mrs Browns Boys star Rory Cowan, one of the funniest performers in our recent times, has thankfully been snapped up by RTÉ One soap opera Fair City. Sadly the saga isn’t screened anywhere in the UK anymore following the demise of STV2. But lucky RTÉ viewers have been able to see Rory as John Bosco Walsh – a name worthy of Dallas if ever there was one.

The 60-year-old Dubliner told RTÉ News how it was “totally different” acting in the drama to his comedy acting on the sitcom Mrs Brown’s Boys. “In Mrs Brown’s Boys Rory was a huge character with big camp reactions to any given situation. And on stage his reactions had to be even bigger,”

“In television drama you’ve got to bring everything back and make your performance as real as you can for any number of situations your character finds himself in. The timing and pace is different. It’s another skill altogether. So acting in Fair City is totally different to acting in Mrs Brown’s Boys, but that’s what I find so interesting about it.”

Cowan left the sitcom and theatre tours of Mrs Brown’s Boys to care for his mother Esther who had been diagnosed with  dementia. The Fair City plot also sees his character dealing with a family dementia situation with on-screen mother Rose.


The Masked Singer heads to ITV

Joel Dommett will take the helm as host of the show that has proved popular in several other countries. Described as a ‘surreal and surprising guessing game’ the programme will see 12 famous faces compete to pull off the best performance, with their identity elaborately and imaginatively concealed behind the mask.

Although they won’t be judged on their singing, the celebrities will still need to give their best performance to avoid being eliminated and their identities revealed.

Viewers at home will be lead in their quest to discover who the celebrities are by a lively and multi-talented panel made up of award-winning broadcaster, Jonathan Ross; global superstar and chart-topping music artist, Rita Ora; much loved TV favourite Davina McCall and Hollywood actor and comedian, Ken Jeong, who also appears on the panel of The Masked Singer in the US.

The panel will have to try and guess the masked singers’ identities before they are unmasked as they leave the competition. I can’t wait, I really can’t. The excitement is making my pastries sag.


Strictly don’t shag your professional dance partner

Craig Revel Horwood apologised for comments he made concerning how to be successful on Strictly Come Dancing as a celebrity participant. In what was reported to be in reference to former winner Stacey Dooley shacking up with her professional dance partner Kevin Clifton bitchy ole Craig suggested anyone wanting to win the show should be inspired by the progress Dooley made while on her way to the glitterball trophy with Clifton.

He then, reportedly, added that contestants should consider sleeping with their dance partners if they want to win the competition. This didn’t go down too well with Dooley, her mother who ‘left in tears’ and Clifton. He RTÉ News reported later said “I’m deeply sorry for the offence caused to Kevin and Stacey and everyone who works on the show. I recognise that what I said was hurtful, cruel and incredibly disrespectful. It was a huge error of judgment that I very much regret.”


Set for Quicker Scene Changes

Beeb bosses down at their Elstree site should be able to make structural changes to their exterior backlot sets quicker in future for EastEnders – if a new local council policy is accepted. Plans have been submitted to allow the BBC Elstree production to make changes to the Albert Square set without planning permission should the new policy be approved.

The site has been in the past home to ITV exteriors such as an east end market street in soap opera Honey Lane, a partial recreation of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre for a drama on the ‘Bard of England’, a twee country village for a Bing Crosby festive special and a West German building site in Auf Wiedersehen Pet. However those days of large four-story structures in the sixties and seventies have long gone with EastEnders bosses having to seek approval before making any alterations to the backlot in Hertfordshire.

BBC News reported how this red tape ‘is restricting scriptwriters’. An issue in September that was taken up with Hertsmere Borough Council. The authority have backed plans to introduce a Local Development Order, which would allow changes to be made without the council’s approval, BBC News note. A public consultation period on the proposals is currently taking place.

Left: The Honey Lane set on the site of the current EastEnders backlot back in the sixties. Right ‘Enders Bridge Street a decade ago.

RIP September

In September we said goodbye to, and fondly remember…

Terrance Dicks who was a writer and script editor on shows such as BBC One’s Doctor Who and ATV’s Crossroads passed away aged 84, Olympic medallist Blanca Fernandez Ochoa died aged 56, songwriter LaShawn Daniels passed aged 41, country singer Kylie Rae Harris died aged 30, actress Carol Lynley passed at 77, singer Eddie Money died aged 70, The Cars frontman Ric Ocasek died aged 75, actor Aron Eisenberg died at 50, former French president Jacques Chirac died aged 86 and actor Rob Garrison passed at 59.

And Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwean dictator, went off to hell aged 95.


Chris Packham gives gong show dig to I’m A Celeb

Chris Packham speaking at the TV Choice Awards last month did something many of us have been saying for years – taking ITV’s I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! to task for the ‘alleged’ animal cruelty.

The naturalist and BBC personality collected an award for Best Factual Show on behalf of Blue Planet Live and used the stage to make a point.
“I’m A Celebrity…, can you please think about no longer abusing animals on your programme?”
Quit with the Kangaroo’s bollocks, please ITV.


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