A lot of news to wrap up in brief from the past few days with ATV Today’s Mike Watkins putting his own unique view on the stories.

Tonight, a new actor for Midsomer Murders, ITV were dished up a fine for I’m A Celebrity’s unique take on pest control, the BBC reveal their stars salaries while the corporation want to help mankind, product placement is outlined – and more.

Neil Dudgeon Replaces John Nettles for Murder Viewing

ITV announced today that Neil Dudgeon is to replace John Nettles in the long running detective drama Midsomer Murders. Neil is to play DCI John Barnaby, a cousin of the original DCI Tom Barnaby, who also works in the force.

Producer Brian True-May added: “Although we will miss the huge contribution that John has made to the series, the brand of Midsomer is so strong that I am confident of its continuing success. We look forward to our new Barnaby tackling more murder and mayhem in Midsomer.”

He will appear in tomorrow nights ITV1 episode -10 February- entitled ‘The Sword of Guillaume’, based in Brighton. Tom Barnaby is despatched to the South Coast and enlists his cousin’s help in solving a crime.

John has appeared in more than 80 episodes of the drama over 13 years and finishes filming in July. Neil will then take on his role when the 14th series of Midsomer Murders later in the year.

John Nettles said: “I wanted to die in noble fashion in the service of my country and then be buried with full military honours in Westminster Abbey. In the event, Tom and his long-suffering wife Joyce will simply retire. It’s always better to leave when people want more. It has been a joy to be involved in such a long running series, with so many good actors and great storylines. If Neil has half the good times that I have had on Midsomer then he will be in seventh heaven. I am only worried that he is much younger than I am and a much better actor!”

The BBC In Search Of Improving Humankind

“…Let’s not neglect our race, let unity become – life on earth be one…” as Boyzone once sang.

However the BBC don’t want to sing about mankind, they want to find ways of improving it through a new series fronted by Dave Gorman.

In a second run of his popular series, Genius, Gorman is calling on the British public to come forward with ideas to help improve humankind. Once again he will enlist the help of some celebrity guests and together they will debate the merits, imagination and fun of the brilliant and bizarre ideas sent in by the public.

Dave Gorman said: “I’m obviously delighted that Genius is coming back for more. In times like this we should remember that ideas – clever ideas, hair brained schemes and the downright daft – are perhaps this country’s greatest natural resource. I’m looking forward to celebrating more of this nation’s most eccentric thinkers soon.”

Some would suggest finding the answer to humankind would be to re-think religion, which leads nicely onto…

BBC Losing Faith

More and more people are ‘opting out’ of religion, but the church is fighting back. Maybe if this religious lot stopped spouting negatives so often they might get a bit further forward. All you ever here is ‘You must not’ or ‘This is wrong’. The only place religion shows some positive views these days is on television in the long running –hymn-a-long BBC series Songs of Praise.

Which may be why the Church of England’s Synod is concerned the beeb is slacking with religions broadcasting. Some Anglicans are said to be frustrated about what they see as the part played by the media in eroding Christian influence in UK national life. The BBC report.

Or maybe the world has moved on from fairy stories and its time religion did too…

In Brief

  • Blue Peter host Helen Skelton has tripled the Guinness World Record for the longest solo journey by kayak. The 26-year-old Children’s BBC presenter broke the existing record of 326.98 miles set in 2006 while completing her journey along the Amazon for Sport Relief. Which is nice, isn’t it?


  • The BBC has published the amount it pays to its performers across television and radio. Maybe it’s time to introduce ‘performance related pay’ to the corporation. Or even better ‘talent related pay’ – in which case Jonathan Ross wouldn’t have earned a lot at all, and Russell Brand would have been working there for free


  • ATV Today were sad to hear of the death of John Dankworth at the weekend. Best remembered by us for his television themes including The Avengers and Tomorrow’s World.


  • ITV were fined $3000 Australian dollars this week after a rat was killed and eaten on I’m A Celebrity. The fine, brought about by the RSPCA down under, was for animal cruelty. The reality series, broadcast from the Australian jungle, sees ‘celebrities’ having to cope with no luxuries in the outback. Sick of the lack of decent food chef Gino D’Acampo cooked the rodent. ITV apologised for the incident.

Product Placement Coming To Commercial Television

In November 2009 Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw announced that product placement would be accepted in UK commercial broadcasting. The policy of allowing products to be subtly placed in programmes and movies has been long established in the USA.

Bradshaw in a statement said: “As a result of… consultation the Government has concluded that we will be able to allow television product placement in a way which will provide meaningful commercial benefits to commercial television companies and programme makers while taking account of the legitimate concerns that have been expressed..”

The belief is that with advertising revenues falling, due to the Government allowing so many low-quality, low-rating digital channels to broadcast in the UK, mainstream channels in the commercial sector have found their ratings decrease – and the quality of programme content also curtailed as it’s no longer viable to spend lavish budgets on shows that get a smaller audience share.

The new policy is hoped to boost revenue for UK programmes that should help restore the fortunes of the main broadcasters such as ITV and Channel 4.

We have therefore decided to legislate to allow UK television companies to include product placement in programmes which they make or commission to appear in their schedules.

“Adherence to our current position in which UK TV programme-making cannot benefit at all from the income potentially to be generated by product placement would lead to continuing damage to its finances at a time when this crucial part of our creative industries needs all the support we can give it.” Bradshaw adds.

After years of successful product placement in the USA, other countries in the EU have followed suit – with the exception of Denmark. In the UK audiences have been aware of product placement through big-screen movies in both cinema screening and television airing. However programmes from the USA have had their product placement removed where possible, often with a very visible blurring of the item – which makes it all the more prominent. The government are however restricting what can been placed within UK television.

“It is right for us to proceed with caution and in particular to be very careful about the types of product for which it is permitted.” Bradshaw says.

Over in Coronation Street the regulars need not worry that the fictional Newton and Ridley brand will be replaced with something more well-known as alcoholic drinks are banned from being promoted. Also food high in fat, salt or sugar will not be allowed. Betty’s hotpot is also safe then.

There have also been many gamblers in soap opera, but we won’t be seeing Emmerdale’s Viv Hope fluttering away her fortune in a well known casino, while puffing on a popular cigarette, as gambling and smoking products also fall into the banned list.

And had The Royal Today not been an almighty flop for ITV and remained on air, it wouldn’t have been able to boost its finances with plugs for over-the-counter medicines or infant formulas as they’re unacceptable in product placement too.

“In reaching this decision the Government has had the issue of potential effects on health and welfare, and especially children’s health and welfare, particularly in mind. The Directive contains a ban on product placement in ‘children’s programmes’, and our legislation will enact that. However, children’s viewing is not confined to children’s programmes. An alternative to a ban on placement of HFSS foods and alcohol might have been restrictions of some kind on their placement in shows which have a large child audience, or which are shown before the watershed. But this would be complex to administer and would not provide the certainty which the Government seeks.” Bradshaw said in his statement.

Ropey regulator Ofcom will also apparently be able to set further conditions for ensuring editorial integrity, including in relation to the prominence of products which have been placed in a television programme.

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