Ricky Gervais to sign Channel 4 deal after Life’s Too Short ratings flop

The 50-year-old comic has filmed a pilot for a new sitcom for the network and is said to be “very pleased” with the show, which has a working title of Derek.Ricky Gervais is set to sign a deal with Channel 4. 

Channel 4 chief Jay hunt is reportedly “thrilled” with the show, which is set in an old people’s home and features Ricky as elderly and confused resident Derek Noakes. The show features the comic’s sidekick Karl Pilkington in his debut acting role and is expected to feature a series of guest stars, including the likes of Sir Sean Connery.

The proposed move to Channel 4 comes after Ricky’s last series, Life’s Too Short – which starred Warwick Davies – was a ratings flop for the BBC in comparison to the funnyman’s previous shows The Office and Extras.

A source told the Daily Mirror newspaper: “There have been many meetings in a bid to discover why it missed the mark. No one really knows. Some you win, some you lose.”

Despite recording the pilot, Channel 4 executives insist they have not yet commissioned Derek for a full series.

A spokesperson said: “This is a continuation of our relationship with Ricky Gervais.”

The Comic Strip returns to TV with original stars

With lashings of ginger beer no doubt, The Comic Strip is set to return to our screens.

The classic series – which helped launch the careers of Jennifer Saunders, Dawn French, Keith Allen, Alexei Sayle and Adrian Edmondson – has been re-commissioned by Channel 4 for a one-off special.

The special will see former Prime Minister Tony Blair on the run after committing a murder.  A source said: “Tony Blair vows to clear his name no matter what.”

Original stars Jennifer Saunders, Nigel Planer, Robbie Coltrane, and Rik Mayall will appear alongside newcomers James Buckley, John Sessions, Ross Noble, Catherine Shepherd, Ford Kiernan and Morgana Robinson.

Channel 4 comedy boss Shane Allen told The Sun newspaper: “It’s an irresistibly hilarious script from the Godfathers of modern comedy. There are so many juicy parts for the big comedy hitters of the Comic Strip team alongside newer talents.”

The Comic Strip was first devised by Peter Richardson in 1982 to showcase emerging talents, before going off the air in 1993.

The show then returned for three specials in 1998, 20000 and 2005.

You can see the first ever Comic Strip, the Enid Blyton spoof, Five Go Mad in Dorset, below:

The Comic Strip Presents… Five Go Mad In… by deathbyplastic


Channel 4 has recomissioned ‘Big Fat Gypsy Weddings’

Channel 4 has recomissioned ‘Big Fat Gypsy Weddings’.

The station were thrilled with the response to the first series of the programme – which averaged 9.1 million viewers over five episodes – and Firecracker Films executives have already begun meeting members of travelling communities ahead of filming the six-episode series, which will air early in 2012.

Jes Wilkins, the show’s executive producer, said: “We are excited about the creative challenge of how to follow up such a successful series.

“We are extremely grateful to all the gypsies and travellers who have opened up their lives to us over the last two years and we look forward to cultivating more relationships going forward.”

The new series will explore similar rituals to the first – including lavish weddings and confirmation ceremonies – while also exploring life on the road, health, family, prejudice, cultural differences and relationships in different travelling communities, as well as work and finance issues.

Tina Flintoff, Channel 4 factual entertainment commissioning editor said:”‘Big Fat Gypsy Weddings’ was a phenomenon.

“It would have been very easy for us to just commission more of the same but we wanted to enhance the series by adding more journalism and offering an even deeper insight into the gypsy and traveller way of life without losing what makes the show accessible – the weddings, christenings and spectacular celebrations.”

As well as introducing new families, the second series will also feature popular stars of the first series, including some of the brides, Irish traveller Paddy Doherty and dressmaker Thelma Madine.

Largebaps become ‘graspable’ on Countdown conundrum anagram

Countdown Conundrum’s largebaps

Once in a while Countdown gets interesting and schoolboys up and down the land (and let’s face it grown ups too) start sniggering. Rather than a random series of letters that probably spell a nine letter Polish surname (but nothing decipherable in English greater than four letters) the Countdown conundrum throws up a rude word.

Recently, it was ‘shitfaced’ which was deemed to rude to broadcast. But apparently ‘Largebaps’ which went out yesterday during the Countdown Conundrum was OK. Who decides on this sort of thing?

Anyway, what’s amazing is that a contestant was composed enough to rearrange the letters into the word ‘graspable’ which, I suppose, is fitting for largebaps. Meanwhile Jeff Stelling got a fit of the giggles. I have to say if that was me I would have just pissed myself laughing. Or is that just me?

Via http://www.asylum.co.uk/2010/12/15/countdown-conundrum-of-the-year-largebaps/#ixzz18BQvE1m5, Via @theOliJones

New series: The Event, will it fill the gap after Lost?

After a wave of good homegrown thriller series (Whitechapel, Thorne: Sleepyhead, Sherlock), there’s a new US series in town: The Event.

Judging by the first episode, which airs on Channel 4 this Friday, The Event is very much trying to fill the gap after series like Lost, Heroes and Flash Forward. Whilst there is no black smoke or polar bear (not that we know of at least), there is a plane involved…

The U.S. thriller follows Sean Walker (Jason Ritter) who, while investigating the mysterious disappearance of his fiancée Leila (Sarah Roemer), unwittingly begins to expose the biggest cover-up in U.S. history.

His choices affects the lives of strangers, including the U.S. President, but it soon becomes apparent that ‘their futures are set on a collision course in a global conspiracy that could ultimately change the fate of humankind’.

Do you know what The Event is? I can’t wait to find out!

Airs on Channel 4, Friday 22nd October 2010, 9pm.

How Twitter and chat are saving live TV. And it is more than Ask The Chancellors

For years now the accepted wisdom from broadcasters has been that live TV is becoming less and less important as viewers timeshift everything on devices like the Sky + box to watch later at their own convenience (and obviously skip all those ads). However over the last year or so a new trend has been developing which just might save live TV, and it is all down to Twitter and our innate need to share.

Last night’s Ask The Chancellors debate on Channel Four was a hugely compelling viewing experience with the three parties’ financial gurus talking tough on the economy, taxes and debt restructuring. Yet if you recorded it and watched the programme hours later you missed out on half of the reason why it was so exciting. For during the hour it was broadcast Twitter was ablaze with tweets about how the individuals were faring, what they were wearing, how they answered the questions and what the experts (and opinion polls) were saying. The debate was so popular on Twitter that the hash tag askthechancellors started trending much to the bemusement of the micro blogging tool’s hardcore US following.

And the Chancellors debate is just the beginning. The leader debates are sure to be a really exciting brawl on Twitter as die hard hacks champion their men in a bid to influence floating voters.

It isn’t just politics that is central to the new TV/Twitter alliance – there’s sport too. Wednesday sees perhaps the most eagerly awaited football match of 2010 as Arsenal take on Barcelona in the Champions League quarter final. Once again this is likely to be fascinating on Twitter with many neutrals offering really intelligent and objective insights on the game. TechDigest‘s sister website TV Scoop is also teaming up with football site Whoateallthepies.tv to host a live chat around the game using some very innovative new software from Telegent Systems. There are prizes for the best commenters. The new Telegent service will also enable users to take part in quizzes and polls and even integrate their Facebook page with the TV service via Facebook Connect.

The key question is whether systems like Twitter and Telegent, along with experiments from UK broadcasters including the BBC, start impacting on mainstream TV programming? Live events like X Factor are one thing, however if people start tweeting through Coronation Street, Eastenders or Casualty it could signal a real shift away from recorded TV back to live viewing. And what about all those US imports too? There’s very real evidence that users are tweeting through programmes like Mad Men and Glee.

Ultimately I guess viewers won’t be tweeting or chatting using their laptops. Instead their TVs will have a built in chat stream so they can keep an eye on comments while watching the programmes. And it could be more than text chat too. If you want to see the reaction of you friends to a game then you’ll soon be able to communicate with them via Skype video calls on your set. Some TV makers, like Samsung, have even started offering apps for their TV sets and there are many people working on a killer integration of chat, video and live TV.

So it looks like live TV could well become a key trend for 2010. Advertisers must be rubbing their hands with delight. No more ad skipping and a whole new way to connect with audiences.

By Ashley Norris

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Is Hollyoaks too promiscuous?

I love Hollyoaks. It’s my after work guilty pleasure. But I’ve noticed recently just how many of its storylines revolve around sex. Now, I’m no prude, but come on! Everyone it that village is at it. Is Hollyoaks taking the casual sex story too far?

Kris, Nancy and Ravi are at it whenever possible, every which way they possibly can, and as we thought a little while ago, it’s only a matter of time before they all jump in the same sack and have a jolly old time. Sarah is sleeping with her Dad’s girlfriend (which is too weird for words) and well, she’s actually sleeping with just about everybody who looks at her. Let’s try and forget that her ex slept with her mum.

None of the characters mention safe sex. And the writers are treating Amy like a baby machine! She’s still at school! Apparently she didn’t learn from getting up the duff the first time, and she went and did it again! That’s a great message for the kids, right there.

I’m not saying that every school kid who watches Hollyoaks is going to go out and get pregnant, or, sleep around and possibly catch HIV like Mercedes and Malachy (what kind of silly names are they?) But surely, instead of watching girls get tarted up, and throw themselves at the boys in the show, they could find another storyline to push? It’s getting a little bit tired. Not only am I sick of everyone shagging their brothers best mates cousins uncle, and everyone in-between, I do think they’re verging on being irresponsible. Not least with the late shows that they have – it’s just another excuse to show more tits and ass.

Am I taking this show too seriously? Should soap operas worry about the message they put out there? Let me know what you think.

TV Review: Derren Brown: Mind Reader, Evening of Wonders, Channel 4, Tuesday 13 January, 10pm

I had a couple of reasons for watching Derren Brown last night. My friend Rob was on the show and I wanted to see what silly things he’d get up to. I’m also looking to find reasons why Derren Brown is not a wizard. He’s so unbelievably spooky and the “how does he do it?” drama of his shows never fails to entertain. Find out what he got my friend to do and what the rest of the show was like after the jump.

Related: TV Review – Derren Brown: Something Wicked This Way Comes | TV Review – Derren Brown: Trick or Treat

Looking quite nervous on stage, Rob called his Dad with the ruse that he’d just left Derren Brown and the show “Evening of Wonders” was rubbish. Then he made his Dad say some three digit numbers to show him a trick. Rob’s Dad said what appeared to be all of the wrong ones – Derren was looking for a three digit number that he wrote on a great big blackboard on stage. Rob’s Dad tried twice and still didn’t get it right.

So Rob was looking quite silly, and the trick didn’t work and everyone had a bit of a giggle. Rob did get to keep Derren’s tenner though. BUT! But! That Derren Brown is a sneaky chappy and the trick wasn’t over! Rob looked at the tenner to see the words “I will make him say this number” with an arrow pointing to the six digit serial number. The exact same six digits that Rob’s Dad said. Genius.

This was the highlight of the show for me (and would have been even if my mate hadn’t been on it). But he also managed to guess questions that people wanted answers to, despite claiming to think he has no psychic ability. None. How else could he have guessed that someone was deciding whether or not to shave his scrotum? Although why you’d admit that on TV is beyond me.

There was a not very spooky table moving part that annoyed me. (In fact, I went to make tea it was that dull.) I just don’t buy into spooks moving things about. Even if Derren Brown is behind it, it just doesn’t work for me.

But the rest of the show was full of trickery and humour. (Why is it when Derren Brown makes wanking jokes are they funny?) I love Derren Brown and was pretty impressed that the stage show translated so well onto the telly. Everything was a complete surprise, and he actually predicted the whole outcome of the show. Everything in the show he’d already predicted and scribbled it down on what became the spookiest piece of paper ever.

See? How is this man not a wizard in a well-cut suit? This stuff is solid TV gold.

TV Scoop poll: Do we want to see Sir Cliff on Big Brother?

Cliff for Big Brother? Oh, who knows. I mean, honestly. Presumably he doesn’t need the money, but then again neither does Whitney Houston, and she’s been tipped too. The rumours have begun and it would be remiss of us not to report them, however improbable. (Fans may be interested to know that Summer Holiday was partly filmed in Elstree, where the Big Brother house is, so it’d be very much a homecoming for him) …Would you like to see Cliff taking his Summer (January) Holiday on the upcoming series of Celebrity Big Brother?

Lembit Opik won’t be on Celebrity Big Brother

Despite reports here, and here that the Lib Dem MP has signed up for next year’s BB, the latest is, I’m afraid, a denial.

I’m quite disappointed about this news, it’d have been good to see how he held up. Surely he didn’t have much to lose – his dignity disappeared some time ago. He should take a leaf out of Michael Barrymore and Les Dennis’s book and give us, the potentially voting public, something entertaining to watch. To learn to love. Because, for all his tabloid ubiquity, former “Mr Cheeky” Lembit remains a bit of a spud-faced mystery.

According to the BBC report, Lembit’s dismissed the claim as “absolute nonsense”. He told the Beeb there’s “no truth in it whatsoever” and The Sun are just up to no good again.

The 43-year-old has had a colourful private life. As we know, he dated ITV weather girl Sian Lloyd for four years before they split up after a brief engagement. Then he dated Gabriela Irima for a while, their relationship dogged with weird cheesy photos and enticing tales of how he wooed her at a military history museum or something.

Gabriela has since been seen on the arms of another man, while in definitely unrelated news, Lembit quit the front bench last month to put more time into his campaign against rivals Baroness Scott and Chandila Fernando. According to his spokesman, Mr Opik had never even been approached for the next series of CBB. Poor Lembit, he wasn’t even asked.