TV Weekly: ‘a funny and warm-hearted half hour’

Another newswrap of telly news from the past week.

If Coronation Street isn’t sixty this December I’ll hang my hairnet out on ‘t vestry back gate and smear Martha Longhurst in lard. The nation’s best-loved, and indeed favourite saga, is to mark six decades on air this winter with on-screen plots and off-screen celebrations.

One such tribute to the ITV Granada production comes in the form of something small and lickable.

Eight of the show’s most iconic pairings have been immortalised on a special stamp collection. Memorable characters include Deirdre and Ken Barlow, Rita Tanner and Norris Cole, Stan and Hilda Ogden, Hayley and Roy Cropper, Jack and Vera Duckworth, Sunita and Dev Alahan and Tracy and Steve McDonald. There is also a Rover Return feature with Bet Lynch, Raquel Watts, Liz McDonald and Gemma Winter all posing by a beer tap with the famous boozer behind.

While fans love the idea, some have been left bemused by some of the choices. Gemma Winter rather than Jenny Bradley or Annie Walker? Norris Cole rather than Mavis Wilton? Of course there’s been so many fabulous characters over the years you can’t feature all of them.

Newswrap Headlines

Ofcom received over 240 complaints about actress Miriam Margolyes. Appearing on Channel 4’s The Last Leg Miriam made ‘controversial comments’ about PM Boris Johnson. Following the Tory Prime Minster’s recent spell in intensive care the Harry Potter performer spoke about BoJo and the government’s ‘appalling’ mis-management of the Coronavirus pandemic. She noted she had originally ‘wanted him to die’ but then ‘I thought that will reflect badly on me, and I don’t want to be the sort of person that wants people to die. So then I wanted him to get better…’

Kathy Burke also launched an expletive-ridden social-media rant about Boris. The comedy actress best known for Gimmie Gimmie Gimme and Harry Enfield and Chums, branded the PM a ‘charlatan’ and a ‘shambles of a human’.  The Ab Fab performer was not overly impressed with his policies over lock-down and tweeted her distaste during his televised daily update.

WWTBAM nearly had another million pound winner with Andrew Townsley from Glasgow almost scooping the top prize. Instead he walked away with half a million pounds but had he played on his guess-answer would have been correct. Ouch.

BBC Violins, yes the ‘cash strapped’ Beeb is apparently planning on axing BBC Four in another attempt to show just how skint they are. While in the past people may have had some sympathy for the old corporation it seems times have changed. And that’s thanks to their ‘stars’ who earn massively  excessive wages along with the BBC having layer upon layer of management to mange management who manage something or other. There’s plenty behind-the-screens that could be cut back rather than BBC Four. Cutting any ‘on screen’ programming is just vanity project ‘poor us’ and frankly I don’t think many believe it.

Home and Away bosses have revealed they plan for the Aussie soap to go back into production on May 25th. A shadow of its former self, the serial airs on Channel 5 in the UK. Looking more like some miserable CSI drama than the sunshine soap we all remember it seems things will be even more bleak than usual with beach scenes still on hold due to filming restrictions due to the Covid-19.

Channel 4 is to mark twenty years of Location, Location, Location. The eighteen episode series entitled Location, Location, Location: 20 Years in the Making, will see Phil and Kirsty look back at some of the more memorable moments. Each episode will explore a theme, from the toughest markets over the years and the times people have questioned whether it’s a good time to buy a property, to million-pound homes and first-time buying.

Great Expectations will be adapted by Steven Knight for FX and the BBC. Great Expectations is the second Dickens adaptation penned by Knight, following A Christmas Carol. The six-part series is the coming-of-age story of an orphan nicknamed Pip. Dickens first released it in a series of weekly chapters, beginning in December 1860, before it was published as a novel.

Rinder Linger. A gran who was ordered to pay £1,500 in compensation by Judge Rinder after her dog tried to have sex with her friend’s cat has still not paid the amount it was reported. Now we’re under the impression ITV actually pay the money – up to a maximum of £5,000 – once all the facts are checked over and proven. However MSN News reported Sandra Harrison was expecting letters ordering her to pay, which she hasn’t. Probably because ITV have paid love…

The best thing on BBC Four… Top of the Pops.

A+E Networks UK channel HISTORY has ratings boom.

The History channel saw its best ratings increases in years as the channel grew 35% in all homes compared to the first quarter of 2020: more than four times the 8% growth seen in total TV. Record numbers of viewers in April were attracted by new commissions combined with hit series from the US.

Year on year, HISTORY®’s viewership is up by 46%: which is more than double the increase of 21% in total TV across all homes. April 2020 was the highest rating month for HISTORY since October 2013, and the final week of the month saw an impressive 53% audience uplift compared to the 52-week average.

“In such uncertain times, there is a human instinct to understand more about the past in order to help us make sense of the present. It’s natural that HISTORY’s informative and engaging shows are resonating so much with viewers; audiences seek out our brand when their lives are changing in unexpected and surprising ways.” – Heather Jones, General Manager UK and Senior Vice President, Content and Creative, A+E Networks® UK

The opening episode of the UK commission from Fired-Up Films: Lost Relics of the Knights Templar, became the channel’s highest rating commissioned episode ever. The premiere episode pulled in a total audience of more than 400k, as viewers followed treasure hunters tracing the origin of an amazing hoard of relics. The hugely popular Curse of Oak Island, now in its seventh series, continues to engross fans, as it pulled in HISTORY’s best ever consolidated viewing figures for a non-fiction show – more than 460k viewers.

The first episode of Race To Victory premiered on Friday 8th May as part of the VEDAY 75 programming every Friday from 8pm. The channel will become Sky HISTORY on 27th May on all broadcasting platforms across the UK, moving from Sky EPG 130 to 123.

TV Weekly Rewind

Back in Action, the UK government has given its approval for high-end TV and film productions to resume shooting as soon as employers have put in place coronavirus safety measures, Deadline reported.

Mwaka Mudenda has been announced as the latest Blue Peter presenter. Her appointment into the role sees her as the programme’s 39th host. Mwaka will have a low-key entrance to the show due to the current social distancing, and will be seen via video link from her home. None of the Blue Peter programmes are currently being produced in a studio.

“Despite lockdown, I’ve felt so welcomed by the incredible behind-the-scenes team that help run and deliver such a wonderful show – and I already feel like a big part of the Blue Peter family. “

Suranne Jones spoke out about her time on ITV’s Coronation Street suggesting the programme had “used” her by getting her to take part in sexy photoshoots for lads’ mags. The actress joined Corrie in 2000 as down-to-earth Karen Phillips, later marrying dubious Steve McDonald. (Simon Gregson). She stayed with the saga for nearly five years. “I don’t think Coronation Street was alone in that, I think all of the soaps used their girls in that way.” she told the Give Me Teeth podcast.

BBC Arts has commissioned Cactus TV to make a six-part series for BBC Two celebrating the joy of reading. Between The Covers, hosted by Sara Cox, will feature some of the UK’s best known personalities chatting about their favourite books in a funny and warm-hearted half hour – a book club just for BBC Two.

Phil Middlemiss is wanted for questioning by police in Africa, according to The Sun. Detectives in Ghana, the tabloid reported, want to speak to the Corrie and Where The Heart Is actor over an alleged £50 million air bribery scandal. Best known for his eight-year stint in Weatherfield as bookie Des Barnes he was named by authorities in Africa. The former actor, living in Manchester, denied any knowledge of the scam.

ITV soaps will resume production in June telly executives have announced. Emmerdale and Coronation Street both halted their crews and creative teams working at their Salford Quays and Leeds studios in March due to Coronavirus. Social distancing measures will be put in place to keep a small team of actors and crew safe during production when it resumes. It is expected Emmerdale in Leeds will start-up first, followed by Salford based Corrie. Both soaps are currently airing three episodes a week, which is half of their usual output.

The code to success is 404

Sky original Code 404, a comedy based on a crime fighting duo and an experimental A.I. project set in the near future, starring Stephen Graham, Daniel Mays and Anna Maxwell Martin, has been renewed for a second series after the first proved to be popular with audiences.

Code 404 launched on Sky One and streaming service NOW TV on 29 April with a cumulative seven-day audience of 1.9m viewers for the opening episode, making it Sky’s biggest comedy launch in eight years. The show is also Sky’s fastest binged original comedy box set ever, with over 360,000 viewers watching the whole six-episode series before episode 2 aired on linear television.

Code 404 is co-produced by Kudos, part of EndemolShine UK and Water & Power Productions and is executive produced by Phil Temple, Tom Miller and Sam Myer. The series was commissioned by Jon Mountague, Director of Comedy at Sky Studios and Zai Bennett, MD of Content at Sky UK & Ireland and was co-funded by Sky Studios.

“We’re blown away by the love our customers have shown Code 404. The winning combo of Stephen Graham, Daniel Mays and Anna Maxwell Martin has proven a force to be reckoned with and we’re ecstatic to be working on the second series. Code 404 becomes the latest in an exceptionally strong run of original British comedies on Sky One including Brassic 2, Breeders, Intelligence, The Trip, Avenue 5 and Hitmen. We’re privileged to be tickling the UK’s funny bone right now.” – Jon Mountague, Director of Comedy at Sky Studios

The views are those of Mike Watkins, and are not endorsed by ATV Today or ATV Network.

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