TV Weekly: Friends Reunited

Weekly Telly news highlights and ITV News brand on GMB causes ITN to go into hiding, hit stateside sitcom Friends is coming back for a one-off special, is Albert Square ready for the return of Bianca? And the fabulous This Morning return of Richard and Judy.

Caroline Flack

A week of reflection on Caroline Flack

The past week since Caroline committed suicide has seen a lot of soul searching on how the press and indeed social media treat celebrities. While there is a case for critical derision of work where its due, there certainly is a need to – as Caroline herself said – ‘be kind’ when it comes to everyday life of the famous.

This week the inquest into the 40-year-old’s death was opened and adjourned until August. And with the cause of Caroline’s demise confirmed as hanging tributes to the Love Island presenter have been in abundance.

“You were a true friend to me,” said Love Island voice over Iain Sterling in a tribute that aired at the start of the ITV2 show following Flack’s death. Elsewhere current host of the show Laura Whitmore hit out at those who some feel contributed to Caroline’s untimely demise.

“To paparazzi and tabloids looking for a cheap sell, to trolls hiding behind a keyboard – enough,” – Laura Whitmore on BBC Five Live

Channel 4 also announced this week that The Surjury a series, about people hoping to win cosmetic surgery that was due to be fronted by Caroline, will now not be produced.

The CPS has been criticised for taking Flack to court for prosecution following her alleged altercation in December with her partner. The incident lead to Caroline being suspended from Love Island by mutual decision and pages and pages of tabloid coverage. Sean Joyce, Head of Regulatory and Criminal Justice at Stephensons Solicitors LLP, told ATV Today;

“The current CPS approach is too much of a one size fits all policy, it must give greater thought to individual circumstances.  The enforced separation between parties, in individual cases, as highlighted here, often prevents reconciliation and can do more harm than good. It’s important that the CPS takes the time to reflect on this.” – Sean Joyce, Head of Regulatory and Criminal Justice at Stephensons Solicitors LLP

The Crown Prosecution Service detailed how it reaches a decision to charge someone with a criminal offence following the controversy surrounding their case against Caroline Flack. They noted they made their judgement on a two-tier procedure system with every charging decision based on that test in the Code for Crown Prosecutors.

“If as a country we want a criminal justice system that provides justice to all parties, including the alleged victims and perpetrators of domestic violence, then it needs to be properly resourced. At the moment, the police, prosecution and courts often don’t have the time or the money to consider properly the complex issues raised by domestic violence. Perversely, this can lead to inappropriate cases proceeding to trial when a robust review at an early stage would have prevented this.” – Sean Joyce, Head of Regulatory and Criminal Justice at Stephensons Solicitors LLP

In Brief

ITN can’t answer the ITV News branding issue. It seems no one at ITN can think of a decent answer to the question of why is Good Morning Britain branded all over with ITV News logos when it isn’t part of the ITV News Division? Regional news and national news on the network fall under the division and have to adhere to strict guidelines – such guidelines that saw Alastair Stewart dumped last month for a social media opinion post. Surely it’s misleading viewers when GMB uses the ITV News brand on a show that allows their hosts to mouth-off, diminishing the apparent impartiality of said ITV News name?

Jeremy Vine was branded a ‘c*nt’ live on his Channel 5 debate show. There was no love for Vine by a caller, called Tim, on the Valentine’s Day edition when unexpectedly mid-conversation he gave viewers the blue language. After noting he’d never bought his wife a romantic card in 28-years of marriage Tim observed “and by the way, you’re a c*nt!” Vine carried on ever the pro, apologising for the foul mouth.

The Sun is a little, well how do we put it, careless with facts at the best of times but yesterday surpassed themselves by blatantly stealing someone else’s ‘Exclusive‘. The news June Brown is leaving EastEnders was stated in the DistinctNostalgia Podcast, not in any conversation with the tabloid rag. It didn’t stop them plonking ‘Exclusive’ branding all over their article.

BBC Scotland Director Donalda MacKinnon is to stand down as the corporation’s Scottish leader after four years in the role and 33 years with the broadcaster. Speaking to staff at the BBC Studios in Pacific Quay MacKinnon said she believed that having ushered in the biggest ever programme investment there, including the launch of a new TV channel, the time is now right for her to pass on the Director’s baton. She didn’t note that in the last year Reporting Scotland has fell behind STV News in the ratings and the BBC Scotland channel is only watched by three sheep and a pub parrot.

ITV’s This Morning presenter Holly Willoughby and former England cricketer turned BBC Top Gear host Freddie Flintoff are being lined up to present a new Olympics-themed show reality TV show reported RTÉ News. The programme will apparently task celebrities with taking on Olympic style games. Can we see Gemma Collins doing a Triathlon?

Channel 5 have announced drama The Drowning that will star Jill Halfpenny. The thriller sees Halfpenny appear as Jodie a mother still recovering from the loss of her son who went missing eight years ago. The four-part serial will be set in Dublin, Ireland where filming will commence later this year.

EastEnders fans were left wondering how Linda was ‘trapped’ in the boat tragedy when all angles showed she probably could quite easily remove her foot from its entrapment. “This is not Titanic…Linda needs to move her foot is not that badly stuck.” said one social media user, in a similar vain to many others.

Coronation Street actor Michael Le Vell spoke of how he still gets nervous about performing on Britain’s best loved soap. Le Vell, who has played Kevin Webster on the show since 1983, said “I still get nervous when I have got big scenes… I love every day, I still look forward to getting my scripts and finding out what is going to happen to Kevin.” He added that the plots still give him ‘a buzz’ in a feature with FemaleFirst.

Filming on the next series of Line Of Duty has begun the Beeb confirmed. The sixth instalment of Jed Mercurio’s hit thriller is set a year and a half on from the events of series five, and will feature a brand new case for AC-12, focused on an enigmatic Detective Chief Inspector. Joining Line Of Duty for the first time this series are Shalom Brune-Franklin, Perry Fitzpatrick, Andi Osho and Prasanna Puwanarajah.

Home and Away confirmed that Angelo Rosetta, played by Luke Jacobz, is set to return to Summer Bay after almost a decade away. The character will be seen back on screen later in 2020. 39-year-old actor Jacobz played the policeman in the Australian soap for three years, before leaving in 2011 to take on other roles.

There is, as to be expected, several shitty reports in the tabloids picking up small faults with the return of Richard and Judy to This Morning as casual hosts. Frankly I thought it was fabulous having Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan back on our screens. A touch of class and professionalism that is all too lacking in TV today. And let’s be frank there have been some shockingly bad stand-ins for the regular This Morning hosts when they’ve been on holiday so quit with the snide reporting dear Daily Mirror and The Sun, appreciate Dick and Jude while you, and we, can!

Class act, Judy and Richard back on This Morning. It’s the second show they’ve hosted in the past year.

Friends to Reunite

Hit stateside 1990s sitcom Friends is to return for a one-off special its been confirmed. The stars of the show have revealed on social media that the comedy will get its much awaited reunion special thanks to HBO. The comeback will appear on the broadcaster’s streaming service HBO Max, along with the entire back catalogue of the show.

Running from 1994 to 2004 the series followed six friends and their work, life and love ups and downs. According to Hollywood Reporter the special episode will be available from May stateside. While fans may be hoping to find out what happened to the characters, HBO have stated that the reunion will be unscripted, so unlikely any character development will be seen. A new episode may be a while off just yet.

The special studio feature will bring back all the key actors Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer as well as series’ creators David Crane and Martha Kauffman.

Sarah Brett and Chris Buckler to host BBC Radio Ulster’s breakfast news programme

Okay its not TV, but we can venture into radio now and again without fear of being accused of deviation, surely? Broadcasters Sarah Brett and Chris Buckler are to return to BBC Northern Ireland as presenters of BBC Radio Ulster’s flagship breakfast news programme Good Morning Ulster.

Born in Northampton, Sarah Brett moved to Donegal when she was four years old. She studied journalism at the North West Regional College, Londonderry, before writing for newspapers including the Sunday Tribune, The Irish News and The Belfast Telegraph. She began broadcasting on BBC radio in 2004.

Chris grew up in Helen’s Bay and studied at Queen’s University and later Ulster University. As a law student at Queen’s he reported for Belfast Community Radio before going on to produce Stephen Nolan’s evening programme when the station became Belfast Citybeat. Chris also worked for the Belfast Telegraph before joining the BBC in 1999.

Bianca for another Return

BBC One saga EastEnders could well be set for another old face returning if a ‘source’ speaking to The Sun is anything to go by. Now if you don’t know, and I’m sure most of you do, often when you see a very definite quote by a ‘source’ its actually a press office person giving an ‘off the record’ response. If you didn’t know that then, now you do.

Anyway the quote in the tabloid seems quite certain of plot development and the reasons why Patsy Palmer’s character of Bianca would return to Albert Square.

“Bianca is a legendary character and the writers are always delighted to be able to invite Patsy back to play her. Whitney’s admission [she’s murdered her stalker] in Friday’s episode will lead to some tough times for her, so her adoptive mum comes back to help her out. Although it remains to be seen how helpful Bianca back will be for her.” – ‘source’ in The Sun

Last night’s edition saw Whitney (Shona McGarty) admit to topping stalker, weirdo, Leo. Free Whitney anyone? Anyway Bianca has featured in Walford plots since 1993. She first departed in 1999 returning nine years later. After that second six year stint we said farewell to Bianca again in 2014. The character was last seen briefly last year visiting troubled daughter Tiffany. Patsy relocated to LA after quitting ‘Enders in 2014 to spend more time with her family so its unlikely this return, if it happens, will be anything other than fleeting.

Patsy Palmer has had a number of stints in ‘Enders.

Strictly believe in yourself

Former Big Brother winner, and later host, Brian Dowling has departed Ireland’s version of Strictly Come Dancing. The Irish personality was the fourth to cha-cha out of the Dancing with the Stars ballroom last weekend.

However while it maybe farewell Brian is positive about the experience. RTÉ One, who broadcast the show, note Dowling as saying the show has taught him to be “a little more positive and to believe in myself”.

Dowling also made television history in Ireland with a same-sex dance on the show. As part of the ‘Switch Up Week’ his regular partner Laura Nolan was swapped for Kai Widdrington.

Simon Warr departs BBC airwaves

Having being diagnosed with a ‘very serious health condition’ a few weeks ago BBC presenter Simon Warr has emotionally said farewell to his listeners in a social media post.

‘Dear friends/followers, I’m unlikely to be on Twitter again. As some know already, I have a very serious health condition & am now receiving care in a hospice. I have asked a close friend to let you know the outcome, but I’d like to thank you all for your friendship & support…’

The BBC Radio Suffolk regular, and frequent contributor to BBC Radio 2’s Jeremy Vine Show said his legacy would not be his broadcast years but his campaigning against false sexual allegations.

‘I like to think that my legacy will be a greater awareness of the human costs of false sexual allegations & wrongful convictions. It is a comfort to know that my book ‘Presumed Guilty’ has been useful for so many who have faced this ordeal & for their families…’

The former school headmaster, who also played headmaster on Channel 4 series That’ll Teach ‘Em, was the victim of fake abuse claims eight years ago. Two ex-pupils alleged inapt behaviour in the 1980s, the case was thrown out in 2014 in less than an hour of the hearing.

‘There is still much work to do, but I’ll not be able to be part of it. I have greatly enjoyed tweeting & campaigning, as well as meeting some of you. Goodbye to you all, dear friends. Yours, Simon‘.

More time made for Alan Partridge

Steve Coogan, the man behind the fluff-prone Alan Partridge, confirmed via BBC Radio 2 that there will be a second series of The One Show spoof, This Time.

The show, which aired in February 2019, is produced by Coogan’s own indie company, Baby Cow, with a new television era for the inept presenter who had spent the past twenty years on local radio following his fall from grace when his ‘flagship’ BBC chat show, Knowing Me, Knowing You, was axed. The character of Partridge first appeared on TV screens in the spoof news programme The Day Today where Alan appeared as the sports news presenter.

This Time features Susannah Fielding as co-host Jennie Gresham, with Tim Key and Felicity Montagu as sidekick Simon Denton and Partridge’s loyal and often neglected PA Lynn Benfield.

Ah-Ha! More from the Richard Madeley wannabe, Alan Partridge.

35 Years of EastEnders, can you Adam and Eve it?

The BBC One soap this week celebrated, if that’s the word, their 35th anniversary and the show wasn’t just about big drama with the production team placing a few little nods to the glory years past with scattered tributes over recent episodes. It all began with the homage to Den and Angie’s famous divorce papers moment of 1986 when Linda gave Mick the same treatment in the same spot last week. However unlike Den’s termination of his marriage to Ange, it seems things may have a happier ending for Mick and Linda.

Elsewhere there were nods to creators Julia Smith and Tony Holland with the party boat that this week’s episodes have centred on named Smith-Holland. There was also a nod to sultry old tart Christine Hewitt with the name of a bus company ‘Hewitt’s’. Christine warmed up Arthur Fowler’s evenings when he grew tired of the constant winging from wife Pauline. The boat’s captain had the surname of Cox, just like ‘Enders’ first demise Reg Cox in episode one. There were several others, but life is too short to be that much of a geek…

In a related tribute Aussie soap Neighbours also marked the Albert Square anniversary with a ‘happy half hour’ at the Waterhole pub. The sign displayed the half-hour would take place from 7.30pm, the time EastEnders’ airs on Tuesday and Thursday while drinks included Walford Sour and a Fowler Fizz.

Quote of the Week

ATV legend Jimmy Tarbuck revealed this week that he is putting up a fight to beat prostate cancer. The host of The Jimmy Tarbuck Show, Jimmy’s Back, The New Palladium Show and the TV Times Awards for ATV revealed on ITV’s Good Morning Britain he was facing treatment for the disease.

“I have prostate cancer and I’m going to try and beat it… All men out there watching, and all wives, get your husbands to go for the tests. I think after 50, just have a test, let them have a look at you. …You will be relieved and be with your families for extra years.” – Jimmy Tarbuck

Tarby revealed his diagnosis a day after his 80th birthday. This week Dame Julie Walters also announced she had been having treatment for bowel cancer in an interview to mark her 70th birthday.

Jimmy Tarbuck outside the ATV Elstree Studios in 1966.

Miriam Margolyes, Julia Deakin and Simon Day join the cast of The Windsors

Miriam Margolyes is to guest star as Queen Victoria while Julia Deakin and Simon Day will play Carole and Mike Middleton in the new series of The Windsors on Channel 4.

Wills (Hugh Skinner) is torn when the older royals decide to go on strike and Charles (Harry Enfield) tries to persuade him to join forces. When trying to make his decision Wills is given advice by a portrait of Queen Victoria played by Miriam Margolyes.

Charles and Camilla (Haydn Gwynne) reluctantly agreed to visit the Middletons’ house with Wills and Kate (Louise Ford). While there Charles thinks he hears Mike threatening to chop off his and Camilla’s heads! Charles informs Camilla who takes matters into her own hands and plots to kill the Middletons but will Wills stop Camilla’s evil plan before it’s too late?

Ofcom fines for impartiality failures

Ofcom on Monday (Feb 17th) fined the licence holders of Talk Radio £75,000 and NTV Mir Baltic £20,000 for breaking their broadcasting rules.

Under Ofcom rules, all broadcasters must remain duly impartial when covering matters of major political controversy. Talk Radio failed to do so in three episodes of the George Galloway programme during discussions about the poisoning of Yulia and Sergei Skripal in Salisbury, and allegations of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party.

An episode of the news programme Today on NTV Mir Baltic also discussed the political aftermath of the events in Salisbury, but failed to maintain due impartiality.

Talk Radio is a national digital speech radio station. NTV Mir Baltic is a television channel broadcasting to the Russian-speaking community in Latvia.

Motel Checkouts

Two faces from the Crossroads Kings Oak era of ITV Central’s motel based soap opera recently passed away within a short time of each other, Frances Cuka and Patrick Jordan.

Patrick, who appeared as Thomas Darby in the series, arrived with the show’s first big revamp in 1985 staying until the final episode while Frances was lured to appear as part of the shows second – and terminal – reboot in 1987 as Mary, wife of new motel owner Thomas ‘Tommy’ Lancaster played by the late actor Terence Rigby.

Patrick Jordan passed away earlier this month aged 96. As well as his four-years at the Crossroads Motel he also had made appearances in some of British television’s other big ratings hits of the day including Thames Television’s Minder, Central Television’s Shine On Harvey Moon and BBC One medical soap Angels. Films included playing an Imperial Officer in the debut Star Wars movie.

Frances Cuka, appearing as new motel boss Mary Lancaster in Crossroads Kings Oak for six months, may have had a short stint in the soap – but one that is still fondly remembered by fans of the show. A mutual parting of the ways came with producers when she felt she wasn’t getting enough big storylines and some viewers had taken to writing in complaining to her about exec William Smethurst casting a ‘Noele Gordon’ look-a-like in the role. Nolly, the original motel queen Meg Richardson, had passed away two years previous.

Frances had a long and successful theatre career but is best known to television audiences in recent years for her role in Channel 4 comedy Friday Night Dinner from 2011 to 2017. Other TV appearances include a recurring role in BBC medical saga Holby City, three different characters in BBC daytime soap Doctors and played Lil in EastEnders prequel Civvy Street.

After Crossroads she was cast as the original Peggy Mitchell in BBC One saga EastEnders, but after initial rehearsals was replaced by Jo Warne who featured in ten episodes before being recast with Barbara Windsor – who made Peggy uniquely her own. Frances died earlier this month aged 83.

At a Crossroads, Patrick as Thomas Darby and Frances as Mary Lancaster.

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


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