Weekly Telly news highlights and BBC Comedy’s baffling decisions, Phillip takes out the elephant, a randy dog causes no ‘Ender trouble and the ITV axe doth swing again.

‘Allo ‘Allo, Sharon will say this only once… Letitia Dean without her recent delightful beret.

Randy Dog causes no ‘Ender trouble

She may be the beret wearing queen of EastEnders but Letitia Dean has been somewhat distracted by a studio sex pest. No, not the ghost of Jimmy Savile, but the aptly nicknamed ‘big beast’.

Letitia, who has – on and off – played iconic Sharon Watts/Rickman/Mitchell, since the first episode of EastEnders 35 years ago, spoke about ‘big beast’ causing chaos on the BBC Elstree sets of the fictional Walford based cockney saga.

“That big beast is always getting an erection, apparently… He loves Tilly Keeper!” – Letitia Dean quoted by The Sun

The big beasty is the character of Bronson, a Staffordshire bull terrier that appears as the Taylor family dog. The real name of ‘big beast’ hasn’t been revealed as yet. The role was previously played by the less horny Cyrus who was sacked while on sick leave due to being less responsive to commands than big beast.

The Staffie, so The Sun note, gets a big stiffie every time he’s around actress Tilly Keeper who plays Louise Mitchell. Bronson has been on-screen since 2017.


In Brief

There will be no further series of Gavin and Stacey or any festive specials co-creator James Corden revealed. Viewers to the BBC One comedy had been hoping for more following the ratings success of the 2019 Christmas special. 11.6 million tuned in to the series also written by Ruth Jones. It won’t just be fans crying, BBC Comedy bosses will be weeping into their trendy suits.

Ian ‘H’ Watkins and his pro-ice skating partner Matt Evers departed ITV’s Dancing On Ice last weekend (Sunday 9th Feb) but not before H of Steps suggested it was about time Strictly Come Dancing had a same-sex partnership competing for the glitterball trophy.

He said in his farewell speech that ‘Strictly, it’s your turn now!’. The BBC One series has featured a same-sex dance routine, but not a contestant and pro-dancer in the main contest, as yet.

Filming has begun on BBC Drama Bloodlands. Joining James Nesbitt in the drama are Lisa Dwan, Lorcan Cranitch, Charlene McKenna, Ian McElhinney, Lola Petticrew, Chris Walley, Michael Smiley, Kathy Kiera Clarke and Susan Lynch. Additional cast include Peter Ballance, Asan N’Jie, Cara Kelly and Flora Montgomery.

Following the success of The Repair Shop At Christmas, which attracted 5.5m viewers, the Beeb have announced that the programme, where family heirlooms are restored to their former glory by a team of craftsmen and women, is the latest show to switch over to BBC One. The move comes after Top Gear was also announced to be on the move from Two to One.

Channel 4 is to return to Victorian London for a second helping of Year of the Rabbit. The six-part comedy series will once again focus on tough booze-hound detective Rabbit (Matt Berry), his hapless partner Strauss (Freddie Fox) and the country’s first female police officer Mabel (Susan Wokoma) as they fight crime in London’s east end.

A teary appearance on ITV’s Loose Women saw Rebekah Vardy talk about suffering with ‘crippling anxiety attacks’ following an online spat with Coleen Rooney – which Vardy seemingly compared to being ‘abused when younger’. Unimpressed with the appearance Rooney hit back.

According to The Mirror, ‘Coleen remains confident in the legal process and sees no reason to take the numerous opportunities that have been offered to engage in further public debate in this matter. She has nothing to add to what she has already said.’ The fall out came after Rooney went public with her views on whom, she believed, was leaking information to the press about her private life. The wag’s finger firmly wiggling in Vardy’s direction.

The Ofcom Board this week announced the appointment of Dame Melanie Dawes as Chief Executive. Dame Melanie has been Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government since 2015. She will take up her new position in early March. In addition to her current Permanent Secretary role, Dame Melanie chairs the Civil Service People Board, leading workforce strategies across all government departments. She is also Civil Service champion for diversity and inclusion.

This Morning presenter Alison Hammond dedicated Valentines thoughts to her mother, who she revealed had passed away from liver and lung cancer. Hammond became a telly hit following a short stint on Big Brother. Since then she’s become a much-loved ITV personality on the morning magazine show.  “I am dedicating this Valentines to my beautiful Mother” Alison said, noting the funeral had taken place on February 13th.

Celebrity Come Dine With Me on Tuesday (February 11th) ended with the Crossroads theme, now as lovely as it was to hear it – the link being one of the celebs is from Blazin’ Squad who did a track un-related to the famous soap motel called Crossroads. It also fitted when said Marcel Somerville burnt his main course by cooking it via the grill when it should have been oven done. Shughie McFee would be running to the cold store in horror. Another horror was the edit to the theme to fit the closing credits, Meg Mortimer would be most indignant.

Karim Zeroual was the latest name revealed for Sport Relief: On Thin Ice – a triathlon with a perilous icy twist. Previous names announced saw Frankie Bridge, Rob Rinder and Louise Minchin join Krishnan Guru-Murthy, Samantha Womack and Nick Grimshaw.

Brits named BBC presenter Sir David Attenborough as the most influential celebrity environmental activist. Experts at waste removal company Clearitwaste.co.uk were curious to find out which celebrities the British public think are most influential and most likely to make a change when it comes to environmental issues. Second on the list is Elon Musk, the famous engineer and entrepreneur, who is trusted by 78% of those polled while 66% believe in Greta Thunberg making a change.

Brits name Sir David Attenborough as the most influential celebrity environmental activist


First immersive drama for Sky

A major collaboration between Sky Studios and HBO (among others) sees The Third Day become the world’s first immersive TV drama with an innovative live event staged as part of the series.

Created by writer Dennis Kelly and Felix Barrett, artistic director of Punchdrunk, the ground-breaking project will tell three, stand-alone but interconnected stories, not only on screen but also in a live, immersive event.

The first part is ‘Summer’, starring Jude Law, written by Dennis Kelly and directed by Marc Munden. Told over three episodes, which will air on Sky Atlantic and streaming service Now TV, Summer follows the story of Sam (Law), a man who is drawn to a mysterious Island off the British coast where he encounters a group of islanders set on preserving their traditions at any cost. Following ‘Summer’, viewers will get the chance to become part of The Third Day world at a major immersive theatre event. Created by Punchdrunk and directed by Felix Barrett, audiences will inhabit the story as it happens, live. Places will be limited, so audiences will be able to follow the events online.

The Third Day concludes with ‘Winter’: told over a further three episodes on Sky Atlantic and Now TV. Starring Naomie Harris, written by Kit de Waal, Dean O’Loughlin and Dennis Kelly and directed by Philippa Lowthorpe, it follows Helen (Harris), a strong-willed outsider who comes to the island seeking answers, but whose arrival precipitates a fractious battle to decide its fate.

The six-part limited series will air in May in the UK and Ireland on Sky Atlantic and in the states on HBO.


King Gary goes where Scarborough failed…

A second series. Yes King Gary will be back for more. Last year however Beeb comedy bosses revealed Scarborough wouldn’t return for a second series. On what merits BBC One have taken the decision is unknown, but it can’t be ratings.

Derren Litten, creator of ITV’s Benidorm and the Scarborough series observed that while his show rated better it wasn’t recommissioned, leaving his social media followers to think up the reasons why the BBC would decline to renew a higher rating series.

Speaking on social media he said, “If only we’d had Friday night BBC One viewing figures as good as King Gary. But we didn’t. Ours were considerably better. #Scarborough. Right I’ll shut up about it now. I mean literally forever. Just had to have this final say.”

Fans of the show were quick to join Derren in his derision of the latest Beeb comedy decision. ‘Every right to feel aggrived’ Said Phil Mealey, adding ‘Problem? Northern/working class/funny. It’s a disgrace how biased BBC Comedy is and the way it’s now commissioned in favour of the ‘comedy cliques’ and individual’s opinions which are clearly out of step with the public.’

While Shaun Berry noted ‘Yep, agreed. Early Doors another classic example. Loved by everyone who sees it, live shows attended by 60/70 thousand, but deaf ears at the BBC.’ Rich Swales noted ‘Makes my blood boil. BBC One the evidence is there in black and white, Scarborough was the ultimate feel good Friday evening show, listen to your licence fee payers!!’

Craig Atkins observed that ‘The thing I liked about Scarborough was that the characters spoke to each other like real humans do, not just an endless stream of one-liners. So much more authentic.’

Maybe the less northern, more trendy, King Gary just got lucky. Gary (Tom Davis) and love-of-his life, Terri (Laura Checkley) bowl through family-life in suburbia. The first series saw the couple handle minor crises at home, at work, on the local Little-League football pitch and even on Deliveroo, as only a pair of major drama-queens can. The BBC have also recommissioned The Goes Wrong Show.


Casualty victim of homophobe complaints

BBC One medical saga Casualty gave some bigot’s a rise in blood pressure when the show recently aired a gay kiss. The BBC and TV regulator Ofcom received over 100 complaints about the smooch that aired after the 9pm watershed on January 25th.

Many complaining noted that the homosexual content was ‘offensive’. The scene which was transmitted 25 minutes into the programme at twenty-to-ten saw regular Marty – played by Shaheen Jafargholi – found love with new character Jack, however it was short-lived when Jack’s husband was later admitted into the Holby Hospital’s A&E department.

The Casualty complains follow recent ridiculous viewer disdain over Dancing on Ice over on ITV having the first same-sex couple with pop singer Ian ‘H’ Watkins paired up with Matt Evers.


It’s a success, but it wasn’t the first chuck.

The British Soap Awards were a little bit overly keen to celebrate Coronation Street’s recent 10,000 episode landmark. While Corrie may be the longest-running telly soap – the longest-running serial being radio saga The Archers – the ITV saga doesn’t have the most episodes for a soap just yet with 18,262 the figure to beat from defunct NBC Radio/CBS TV saga Guiding Light. The still-running ABC saga General Hospital is at 14,557 and as it is still on the air, its unlikely Coronation Street will overtake it any time soon.

The confusion arose when The British Soap Awards noted for Corrie it was ‘The first programme in the world to achieve such a remarkable feat!’

Former Corrie writer Daran Little cleared up the matter ‘Whilst agreeing its a fantastic achievement, I’d like to point out US classic soap All My Children celebrated it’s 10,000th episode in 2008’.

ITV soap episode numbers see Coronation Street top with 10,006, Emmerdale are at 8750 while Crossroads managed 4832 and Emergency Ward 10 saw 1,016 broadcast. The UK General Hospital created 340 editions, Honey Lane ran for 116 shows while Albion Market managed 100 episodes and Weavers Green only 50 editions.

10,000 episodes sees Corrie become ITV’s soap with the most editions.


ITV axe for Jason Manford game show

Following the news Paddy McGuinness’ Take Me Out was being taken off, ITV bosses have also dumped Jason Manford game show What Would Your Kid Do? if tabloid reports are true at least.

The family aimed production has run for two series on the network with the general premise of the programme to see how much parents know about their own young children. The kids were secretly filmed in a classroom, having to deal with certain tasks, to gain their views and reactions.

“The shows did OK in the ratings but ITV wants to freshen up its schedule a bit so is cutting some of the dead wood,”  – a source told The Sun.

ITV doing anything new across their schedules can only be a good thing. Take Me Out was noted to have ‘run its course’. There are a few other mainly ITV Daytime shows that have also run their course, but with such lack of imagination before 5pm they’ll not only run their course they’ll dig up the track and fall into the sewer before a clean sweep is made of the schedule.


Doctor Who ‘unkind and insensitive’ to Cancer

That was the opinion of some BBC One viewers when a conversation between the timelord and her assistant Graham got onto his possible cancer concerns. The episode, entitled Doctor Who: Can you Hear Me?, saw viewers take to social media and also complain to the Beeb about the scene over it being insensitive when the Doctor dismissed Graham’s cancer concerns.

“We never set out to upset our viewers with what we show and this episode tackled some sensitive themes. The episode used dreams and nightmares to explore the inner lives of the companions. Thanks to Zellin’s nightmare powers, Ryan, Yaz, and Graham were forced to confront their worst fears, many of which relate to the way traveling with the Doctor has changed their lives.

“When Graham opened up to the Doctor about his fear of his cancer returning her response was never meant to be dismissive. The Doctor’s friend was scared, and we see her struggling to deal with the severity of the situation.

“The intention of the scene was to acknowledge how hard it can be to deal with conversations on this subject matter. When faced with these situations, people don’t always have the right words to say at the right time, and this can often lead to feelings of guilt. By showing the Doctor struggling to find the right words, the intention was to sympathise with all those who may have found themselves in a similar position.” – BBC statement

Doctor Who, not dismissive of cancer concerns.


Schofield’s first week as a closet-free gay

There has been many stories over the past week about Phillip Schofield since he openly admitted he fancies fellas. Now it shouldn’t be an issue in 2020, but tabloids need to sell newspapers and so several stories, from the positive to the petty, have all hit the headlines.

Two of the nicer ones firstly came from RTÉ News that reported how Schofield’s wife, Stephanie Lowe, was full of support for the former face of Children’s BBC. She said  “Everyone should be proud to live their own truth,” adding “Although this is difficult for us all, I support Phillip in this taking this brave step and I will still be there, holding his hand… I love Phillip, as much today as I ever have, and always will.”

Phillip, who also hosted fondly remembered Saturday youth magazine series Going Live!, also co-hosts ITV’s Dancing on Ice with Holly Willoughby and following the revelation hosted his first live edition on Sunday. The Manchester Evening News reported that prior to DOI going on air Schofield brought rehearsals to a standstill in an emotional moment for the 58-year-old.

‘OK I just need to say this, I don’t want to be the elephant in the room anymore, if you want to give me a hug, give me a hug’. Schofield reportedly said at the DOI rehearsals. Generally the nation has been hugging Phillip since the announcement online. And those who have been less than kind have been put in their place by his old pal Gordon The Gopher on said social media.

Phillip came out last Friday, February 7th on This Morning to pal Holly Willoughby.


Video Special of the Week

Our News Editor Shaun Linden thinks we should make more of special videos and pictures when it comes to big landmark soap or TV moments. But, well we were a bit too busy, when this was issued, watching This Morning and Loose Women – to be Frank Butcher about it, my old son. So we’ve bunged it in here in a none special way.

Anyway not to make us into ‘some sort of doughnut’ lets take a look at the EastEnders’ 35th anniversary trailer, just on the off chance you’ve yet to see its watery delights.

The trailer features a number of Albert Square residents – including Kat, Kush and Patrick – enjoying a boat party on the Thames before something goes very wrong. Phil Mitchell is seen embroiled in a brawl with love rival Keanu Taylor; Linda Carter looks to be in trouble as water seeps into the vessel; and paramedics fail to revive a character whose identity isn’t being given away by the saga before transmission.


Sky reveal more on Gangs of London

Set in the heart of one of the world’s most dynamic and multicultural cities, Gangs of London tells the story of city being torn apart by the turbulent power struggles of the international gangs that control it and the sudden power vacuum that’s created when the head of London’s most powerful crime family is assassinated.

For 20 years, Finn Wallace (Colm Meaney) was the most powerful criminal in London. Billions of pounds flowed through his organisation each year. But now he’s dead – and nobody knows who ordered the hit. With rivals everywhere, it’s up to the impulsive Sean Wallace (Joe Cole), with the help of the Dumani family headed by Ed Dumani (Lucian Msamati) to take his father’s place. if the situation wasn’t already dangerous enough, Sean’s assumption of power causes ripples in the world of international crime.

Perhaps the one man who might be able to help him and be his ally is Elliot Finch (Sope Dirsu), who up until now, has been one of life’s losers, a lowlife chancer with a mysterious interest in the Wallace family. But as the wind of fate blows, Elliot finds himself transported to the inner workings of the largest criminal organisation in London.

This nine-part Sky original drama which is co- production with Cinemax, will launch on Sky Atlantic later this year.


Extra Quickies

Good Morning Britain revealed that former BBC Breakfast host Bill Turnbull will be co-hosting GMB alongside his former Beeb on-screen partner Susanna Reid later this month. Reid and Turnbull will reunite for three editions of the ITV morning show while Piers Morgan is away filming other programming.

Sticking with GMB the ‘bore-fest’ that was the Good Morning Britain Oscars Special – that saw viewers flocking to BBC One – those who did stick with the programme described it as a ‘shambles’. Digital Spy reported how the show was struck with several technical issues including failing microphones and blank screens. A perfect outcome for those who aren’t fans of Morgan in the morning. Sharon Osborne being heard swearing was just an added bonus.

Hollyoaks character Azim Desai devastated viewers when he split from Scott Drinkwell in the saga. And for fans of the characters Lime Pictures confirmed their worst fears this week that Azim won’t be back. The character played by Nav Sidhu was seen heading off for a new job in London – and that it was a one-way ticket out of the village. The other two in the love-triangle Mitchell Deveraux (Imran Adams) and Scott Drinkwell (Ross Adams) are however not leaving presently.

Whitney became a killer in EastEnders this week, putting to an end stalker Leo. Albert Square will shortly be full of more murderers than victims at this rate, and we’ve another mystery demise on the boat this coming week. Not another murder surely…

Ru Paul’s Drag Race regular Michelle Visage has recorded a pilot episode for a possible new series for BBC Three reports suggest. The programme, a mix of make-over and talk show, will be fronted by Visage who has appeared on both the stateside and UK version of Drag Race. The pilot is noted as being titled Get Off Your Ass.

Coronation Street actress Sair Khan denied online rumours that she is pregnant, following a photo that appeared to make her look up the duff. Fans of the soap thought the image showed her cradling a baby bump. Khan confirmed that she had just enjoyed a good meal and was hugging her freshly eaten fish and chips.

 


The Death Tool makes for grim reaping

With one of EastEnders‘ main characters set to perish on the Thames on its 35th anniversary next week, a new online tool has predicted that some of the UK’s favourite soap characters including Dot Cotton and Corrie’s Roy Cropper should already be dead.

Using data based on gender, eating and stress levels (which we all know is pretty high in Walford and Weatherfield), a new tool which is the first of its kind can take various data points and predict how long you will live, compared to other people.

It can predict who will die first, second, third and so on out of a group of people, no matter the size. It means you could predict the fate of your office, your family, sports team or favourite TV cast.

For the soap fun Roy Cropper should have departed the cobbles in a hearse in 2018, Rita Tanner in 2012 and over in Albert Square Dot Branning in 2005. Ken Barlow only has six years left to go before the character is pushing up the Salford daisies while Sharon Mitchell has a further 37 years left to pout around The Queen Vic.

“The stresses associated with the rollercoaster lifestyle that comes from living in Albert Square and our other most-loved soap locations provides the perfect recipe for an early death and we wanted to find out who was doing well to survive this long and who might be up next to be killed off.

We see first hand, the conversations that some people are often forced to have about death and how uncomfortable they can seem. Death is a certainty in life, and with it comes an inevitable fall out, impacting those around us and causing somewhat of a ripple in families, finances and jobs, just to name a few.

“Our hope with this tool is to get people talking, if the tool can bring death as a topic of conversation among friends and family, then the reluctance to talk about it will be addressed and we can think more realistically about what is just a simple fact of life.” – Phil Zeidler, Co-founder of Dead Happy

EastEnders’ Dot should have died in 2005 according to the tool.


The views in this opinion piece is those of Mike Watkins and are not endorsed by ATV Today.



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