TV Weekly: ‘I didn’t touch anyone, and I still managed to be my brilliant self’

TV Weekly this week sees Neighbours carry on, a return to 1996 and big ratings for BoJo.

Neighbours carries on production

After a four-day break in order to bring in ‘very strict protocols’ to keep cast and crew safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, 10 Peach’s Neighbours went back into production. While the soap films in a real cul-de-sac it has the advantage of a backlot set featuring rear gardens of some of the Ramsay Street homes and the hotel complex including pub The Waterhole and a Coffee Shop.

“There are rules on how many people are on the set at any one time. There are sanitisation stations, you can’t touch anybody, they’re shooting everything in wide shot and everything, but we’re adapting. Change is a good thing. I did seven scenes yesterday, didn’t touch anyone, and I still managed to be my brilliant self!” – actress Collett Mann speaking to TV Tonight

However The Seven Network’s Home and Away has closed down production on the soap for the foreseeable. The performers who bring the world of Summer Bay to life are to stay home and self-isolate with logistical issues making it impossible for the show to carry on. Unlike its Aussie counterpart it doesn’t have a backlot set for outdoor scenes, recording in the real Palm Beach in Sydney’s Northern Beaches since 1988.

In order to screen episodes for as long as possible both shows are now airing only twice a week on Channel 5 in the UK, in their usual slots on Monday and Friday. Since their launches in 1985 and 1988 respectively Neighbours and Home and Away have aired five-days-a-week.

BARB Reach to Shrink

The television ratings compilation body BARB has warned that their reporting panel will gradually shrink due to the pandemic. However with the ‘stay at home’ policy issued across the UK they also have revealed that there is a 17% increase in live television viewing from this period last year.

The organisation, who took over logging ratings in the late 1970s, believe the boost to live broadcasting figures comes from a high demand in viewers wanting to watch news programming.

Last week prime minister Boris Johnson’s address to the nation was watched by an audience of 28m (80%) across six channels. Regular programmes have also benefited from the nation being locked inside with BBC shows such as MasterChef and ITV’s Saturday Night Takeaway seeing ratings soar in recent weeks.

Broadcast also report that BARB ‘has been forced to put on hold its plans to deploy wi-fi router meters into contributor homes’. The meter will, once installed, give the organisation a better understanding of viewing habits.

Farewell Liam Donovan

It was an emotional week last week in the world of Hollyoaks, with the demise of the guy viewers loved to hate – Liam Donovan. And it wasn’t just the viewers mourning his passing with the cast of the Channel 4 soap paying tribute to the actor behind the baddie with a heart of gold, Jude Monk McGowan.

“I am gutted, Me and Jude have the nicest relationship. He is one of the nicest and most genuine [people] I know, and he’s a brilliant actor, and a joy to work with.” – Tamara Wall who plays Liam’s sister Grace

“I miss him already… My god I have enjoyed working with him. I’ve made a lovely friend there. He’s such a cool guy, and he’s so talented. When we do scenes together, I love what he brings out in me, and I’ve got a massive thank you to him for that.” – Jennifer Metcalfe who plays Mercedes

The storyline has seen in recent weeks Liam become incredibly annoyed with several residents of the village with his view they had one way, or another, caused him or his family nothing but pain. He hatched a scheme to ravage revenge across all of them culminating in a Devil’s Dinner Party, where he was shoved down the stairs by his own sister… ooh a cruel twist of fate indeed.

It has to be said Jude played the dinner party scenes with aplomb and if The Crystal Maze ever need a new presenter we reckon Jude would fit perfectly into that role…

Strictly Not Dancing

“After four years on Strictly Come Dancing, AJ has decided the time is right to leave the show and follow his dreams to explore opportunities in the presenting world alongside his brother Curtis. AJ would like to thank the team at Strictly and everyone at the BBC for giving him such a brilliant opportunity. AJ would also like to send his love and gratitude to all who have followed him and supported his career.” – Statement

Professional dancer AJ Pritchard has quit Strictly Come Dancing after four years with the BBC One celebrity dancing contest. The ballroom star has decided to change direction and venture into television presenting.

Joining up with brother Curtis Pritchard, a feature of last summers ITV2 series Love Island and a former professional dancer on Ireland’s version of Strictly – Dancing With The Stars, the duo are to host together.

Rewind to 1996

With Euro 2020 postponed for twelve months, the ITV Hub has raided its archives to provide football fans with a slice of sports nostalgia as the platform unearths every match from Euro 96.

Airing from May, ITV Hub takes a trip down sporting memory lane and will air all 31 games from one of the most closely contested tournaments in recent history. In addition, ITV4 will also play out the five games that featured the England football team in some of their most memorable head to heads, as well as the final between Germany and the Czech Republic.

Football fans will be able to relive the drama from the epic Summer of ’96, during which host nation England fought to bring the trophy back home, with a squad made up of sporting legends Alan Shearer, David Seaman, Paul Gascoigne, Sol Campbell and Teddy Sheringham.

1996 was the last time England reached the semifinals of the European Championships and remains fondly remembered thanks to Baddiel and Skinner and The Lightning Seeds’ chart-topping anthem Three Lions (Football’s Coming Home).

Weekly Quickies

Health Check UK Live launched this week with presenter Michelle Ackerley and Dr Xand van Tulleken who has been joined by broadcaster Angela Rippon, who like millions of us will be self-isolating at home. Legendary fitness instructor Mr Motivator will be on hand to offer expert advice to get people moving. It also highlights The One Show set can be used for yet another telly show.

Jorgie Porter is heading back to Hollyoaks to celebrate the Channel 4 soap’s 25th anniversary (virus issues pending). Theresa McQueen will be seen for the first time in four years back in the village.

Malory Towers books are to be brought to life on CBBC. The channel will air a 13-part drama based on the iconic novels by Enid Blyton and follow the adventures of Darrell Rivers as she leaves home for the first time to attend an all-girls’ boarding school.

Jake Wood is hoping to bring celebrity boxing to television. The actor, best known for his role as Max Branning in BBC One’s EastEnders, reckons viewers would lap up the charity matches. Wood is talking to a production company about the idea that could see star names battering each other to buggery.

Hollyoaks episodes have been scaled back further to two a week in order to keep the show on air for as long as possible with new editions while filming is halted. The Channel 4 soap will air on Monday and Tuesday with classic episodes filling the remaining slots of the week.

Boris Johnson pulled in an 80% of viewers in his speech to the nation last week that aired across six television channels. The transmission that informed viewers the UK needs to stay at home until the Coronavirus is defeated was watched by 28 million viewers.

ITV revealed a schedule that aimed to ‘inform and entertain’ however ‘Public Service Broadcaster’ isn’t something glowing from the network, nor is it forthcoming in any great measure from Channel 4 or Channel 5. In December the nation seemed happy to be wanting to end the licence fee, however now more than ever the BBC have proved its worth as the only real PSB in the UK. Ofcom should really look into the woeful efforts of in particular ITV and review if it really is deserving of still having all the perks of a PSB network, when it does the bare minimum.

BBC dramas such as Holby City and River City have donated their useful ‘medical props’ to the NHS for real use. Donations include gloves, masks and overalls used by actors during filming however are genuine medical standard items and can be used in real hospitals.

Jackpot role for Corrie’s Kym

Kym Marsh has become so popular while appearing as Michelle Connor in Coronation Street she was honoured with her own Madam Tussaud Waxwork in Blackpool. And while she’s decided to leave the ITV soap while she’s still much-loved by viewers it appears she may be on a winning streak.

Reports suggest Marsh is to join the cast of popular BBC One drama The Syndicate for its forth series. The programme follows the life and times of a group of workers at a Leeds based dog kennel with a lottery syndicate running through the core of the story. Producers hope to be able to begin production in the UK and Las Vegas later this year on the latest episodes.

Kym has played Michelle Connor in Corrie for nearly fourteen years. She decided to quit the 59-year-old saga last year to explore other roles. Michelle’s final scenes were transmitted in December.

“It was very emotional. I was so pleased that the final scene I filmed was in The Rovers with the Connor family and my real family were there to watch. When the scene finished everyone started clapping and I started crying. I got lots of gorgeous flowers, cards, presents. This show has been such a huge part of my life and to know that I had spoken my last words as Michelle, for now at least, was such a strange feeling.” – Kym Marsh speaking in December

Double-take, Michelle the waxwork with Kym the actress at Madam Tussaud Blackpool.

Alcoholism storyline proves a Bright idea

Actress Kellie Bright spoke last week about the “incredible” positive impact that the EastEnders alcoholism storyline has had on BBC One viewers.

Kellie, who stars as the divine Linda Carter, has taken her character through several emotions while Linda struggles with alcoholism, gaining much praise from critics and viewers for her portrayal of the troubled boozing landlady.

“Someone at work recently told me about her godson who had been removed from his family home because his mother is an alcoholic… He is only about 11 or something but since he has been removed, he has not spoken at all. But I was told he has been watching the show and he has actually started to talk again. She told me that story with tears in her eyes. This is the impact that the storyline has had. I do believe the soap has the incredible ability to reach millions and millions of people on a level that perhaps others don’t.” – Kellie Bright, speaking to The Mirror

Soap opera has long been seen as a place that social issues can be shared with viewers in a way that can inform while entertaining. While many would not take in the information of a public service film a character that is cared about can get across information in a non-preaching way in the content of a soap opera.

Previous socially strong plots have seen Hollyoaks raise teen cancer awareness and male rape, Coronation Street have dealt with miscarriage and currently domestic abuse, Brookside highlighted drug abuse and school bullying, Emergency Ward 10 covered suicide, mental health and death through poverty while Crossroads brought the needs of carers to screen and the first story concerning a downs syndrome child to name only a few from each serial.

More Quickies

This Morning saw viewers complain that married couple and Friday hosts Eammon Holmes and Ruth Langsford were not social distancing on the sofa while presenting the programme. The clue came in the fact the pair are married and share a house, so can happily sit on the sofa next to each other, and if they so wished snog each other into a commercial break – although I don’t think anyone wants to see that.

Good Morning Britain gave us a lighter side to the social distancing when Edwina Currie, broadcasting to ITV viewers via webcam at home, had an unexpected interruption when her semi-clothed husband accidentally gatecrashed her TV interview.

Coronation Street bosses are still planning to get a 60th anniversary special on-air to the nation – even if the soap is off air for months. Currently in the vaults there are enough episodes of Corrie and Emmerdale to last until the end of the summer, however when the pile runs out the screenings will come to an end – and the soaps could be off air for weeks, or even months. It leaves Corrie hoping they’ll be able to get things back to normality in time for December’s big anniversary special. It’s the first time since 1979 that the show has been on a production halt. The 70s’ close came due to a national ITV strike that lasted three months.

The Great British Bake Off could see its forthcoming eleventh series another victim of the Coronavirus closedown. Reports suggest Channel 4 may have to postpone the tent cookery contest due to the pandemic.

E4 has announced the air date for new sitcom Maxxx, starring O-T ​Fagbenle and Jourdan Dunn. The six-episode comedy will air from April 2nd on E4 at 9:30pm

TOWIE personality Chloe Sims spoke about her mental health struggles, revealing that worries over her anxiety medication saw her pull out of a lucrative stint on I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!.  Speaking on social media she noted, “I had bad panic attacks, I had to go onto medication for it, I lost out on a really big job, which obviously would have been life-changing for me.”

Courtney Cox suggested that her memory of working on stateside sitcom Friends is limited due to a terrible memory. While she noted that she recalls her co-stars and happy moments during the production she has no recall of episode scenes, plots or character facts stating that she is hopeless when asked trivia about the comedy.

Remembering Ken Hayes

Last week ITN dedicated its ITV News London March 27th edition to behind-the-scenes executive Ken Hayes who has died aged 59 from cancer.

Ken began his regional news career with Thames Television in 1987 working on Thames News as a reporter and programme editor. He moved to the incoming London News Network in January 1993 launching London Tonight. He carried on his London Tonight roles as programme editor when production moved over to ITN in 2004. In between his local news years he also had a spell at the BBC World Service and TV Tokyo.

In 2013 Ken moved over to sister company ITN Productions working on network shows, as a producer, such as Channel 5’s revival of crime series Police 5 and Channel 4’s The Alternative Election Show.

Tributes to Hayes were paid by a number of ITN personalities including Mary Nightingale who said Ken “..was the loveliest, kindest man. I first worked with him in the early ‘90s for TV Tokyo and BBC World Service. Then London Tonight and ITN. He was always so cheerful and team spirited – just the most fun. He was also quietly, utterly brilliant at his job.”

“Such a lovely kind hearted man.. I was lucky to start my careee under his wing at Thames News and was delighted to work with him again at LNN and ITN. One of the nicest men in TV News…God bless you Ken” – Sky News Director of Content, Cristina Nicolotti S

While ITV News London reporter Faye Barker noted Hayes was ‘A kind, brilliant, generous, warm and witty gentleman who was taken too soon. We are so sad that he has left this world.’ Matt Teale of ITV News Central added ‘Such sad news. A lovely man and a great journo. Thoughts with his family and friends.’

“Incredibly emotional end to ITV News London tonight, we lost a dear former colleague to cancer, but also the love shown from Londoners to our glorious #NHS. Much love to them and, to Ken” – ITV News presenter Lucrezia Millarini
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