Felix Baumgartner breaks sound barrier and most YouTube live streams ever

Regardless of what you think about the ridiculously named Felix Baumgartner (translates as tree gardener apparently) crazy stunt, there’s no denying the guy has got some balls doing what he did.

Jumping out a balloon-powered space capsule from 128,000 feet, spinning apparently out of control for part of the plunge – yet still not passing out or screaming for your Mum – is a truly incredible feat. Personally I get a bit giddy on top of a kids’ rollercoaster so I can’t imagine what free falling at Mach 1.24 (833 miles per hour) at temperatures of -68 degrees centigrade must feel like. All on the 65th anniversary of Chuck Yeagar breaking the sound barrier for the first time – though of course he did in a plane, the wimp.

Apparently Baumgartner, his sponsor Red Bull and YouTube have set another record too. During last night’s stunt there were more than two million concurrent livestreams of the event going out around the world. The previous record for a single web video service was around 500,000 concurrent streams, which Google served up during the Olympics this summer.

You can see the whole thing here:

And you can see highlights here:

(By the way rumours of RyanAir’s Michael O’Leary introducing parachute drop offs from aircraft as a way of saving on landing fees are completely unfounded)

For more information on the world record breaking jump go here.

X-Factor for geeks? Simon Cowell and Will.i.am discuss TV hunt for tech entrepreneurs

News has been spreading like wildfire across the internet this morning that super knowledgeable tech experts (and fame whores) Simon Cowell and Will.i.am are soon to be launching the hunt for the next big name in the industry to rival the likes of Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg. Yep, we have no words either.

According to The Telegraph today, at a recent event in London Will.i.am of Black Eyed Peas and stupid hat and glasses fame, revealed that he would be teaming up with Cowell to start a new tech-based endeavour:

“We’re working on a project called X Factor for tech — and it’s going to be out of this world.

“Singing and performance create a couple of jobs. But this will create lots.

“It’s about getting in touch with youth and giving them a platform to express themselves — whether that’s in science or mathematics.”

OK so it sounds fairly positive in theory if Will.i.am’s jumbled and vague explanation is anything to go by and it’ll be a great move if it gets “in touch with youth” about tech. Whatever that actually means.

We also imagine it’d be super entertaining, like some kind of X Factor, Dragon’s Den, Apprentice and hopefully even Battle Royale hybrid.

But on the other hand it all just seems far too contrived. But what else were you expecting from a member of The Black Eyed Peas and the big S-Co?

Via Shiny Shiny

YouView ‘official’ launch with national treasure Joanna Lumley

Not sure how many launches digital terrestrial TV service YouView has had now, but at the latest ‘official’ launch we were treated to national treasure Joanna Lumley appearing to beat the hell out of the original Austin 1300 car used in the famous Fawlty Towers sketch (actually she wasn’t hitting it that hard because the owner of the beautifully restored car was standing right in front of her).

Ostensibly the launch was to showcase the latest partnership with Talk Talk which will see the company’s telephone/broadband customers receive a YouView set top box for a one off charge of £50 covering the cost of an engineer’s installation visit, providing they sign up to TalkTalk’s service for £14.50 a month.

And while sister site Tech Digest reviewed the Humax box and were less than impressed by its facilities (particularly lack of wi-fi), if YouView can get the hardware right then it promises to be a useful service for those who want to watch catch-up services like the BBC iPlayer, ITV Player and 4OD via their TV rather than web tablet or games console.

To promote the official launch at the Vinyl Factory in London’s Soho, Talk Talk went back in time to recreate some of the best 10 TV moments in history, including the wrong chandelier moment from Only Fools and Horses which saw the usually glamorous Lumley exchanging high heels for a Talk Talk overall and holding a large white blanket. Very strange indeed.

Then there was an entire room from the 1970s showing Mr Ben on a lovely old boxy wooden TV set. Not sure which TV moment that was supposed to represent but it looked great – aah the good old days. See gallery from the launch event below.

Comedian Eric Sykes RIP. 1923-2012

Eric Sykes, who had died today (4/7/2012), collecting his CBE from the Queen in 2005

Eric Sykes died today aged 89 after a short illness, his manager Norma Farnes said.

One of the most endearing and popular comic actors of his generation, Sykes was still appearing on the West End stage into his 80s, even though he became almost totally deaf and nearly blind.

Sykes found fame in a series of TV sitcoms from the 1950s, including Sykes And A… alongside Carry On star Hattie Jacques.

Sir Bruce Forsyth paid tribute to the star, calling him “one of the greats of comedy in this country”.

“He was universally loved here,” the entertainer continued. “He was just one of the funniest men ever.”

Comedian Stephen Fry wrote on Twitter: “Oh no! Eric Sykes gone? An adorable, brilliant, modest, hilarious, innovative and irreplaceable comic master. Farewell, dear, dear man.”

Actor Bernard Cribbins, who starred in two of Sykes’ comedy shorts, The Plank (1979) and It’s Your Move (1969), also paid tribute: “I just wish him a lot of rest up there with all the other comics, Spike Milligan and Harry Secombe. They will all be up there, having a laugh together.”

Sykes’ film credits include Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire (2005) and Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines (1965). He was also a novelist, director and producer.

Here he is being interviewed by Des O’Connor:

Image: Andrew Parsons/PA Wire

Britain’s Got Talent 2012 Final: Pudsey voted top dog

Always thought something a little bit different was going to win BGT this year and am not at all surprised it was the dog. I think people are a bit bored of karaoke acts and genuinely want to see original and interesting talent.

And while I would have loved the synchronised swimmers Aquabatique to have scooped first prize (original and truly difficult to perform) I’m not at all surprised it was Pudsey who proved to be the competition’s top dog. With a whopping half a million quid prize money that’s an awful lot of Pedigree Chum!

Obviously there is no getting away from the fact that dogs are cute and this one especially, but there was something about his owner Ashleigh and her genuine warmth and love for Pudsey that shone through. Tonight’s Mission Impossible, or should that be im-pawsible, routine, was inspired though Jonathan and Charlotte – the opera singers – proved to be worthy runners’ up. What a transformation from those two both in terms of looks and performance since the audition when she seemed to be little more than a prop for his talent.

As for the rest, I really liked The Lovable Rogues who also performed their own stuff, sounding a bit like Rizzle Kicks meets Plan B with a bit of Madness thrown in (though not quite as much as the judges kept going on about). Ryan O’Shaughnessy showed he had original talent with his own songs too – though his James Taylor inspired style wasn’t really to my liking.

All in all I thought this year’s BGT was pretty good viewing. David Walliams, in particular, gave the show a camp humour which made it seem less up its own arse than previous overblown Americanised Simon Cowell productions. Walliams’ performance with The Show Bears was typical and the way he pretended to fawn over ‘My Simon’ was reminiscent of the Little Britain Prime Minister sketches with Anthony Head.

Even Cowell seemed to get into the show this year (especially Ashleigh and Pudsey), though his comments at the end seemed to suggest that BGT had run its course. Surely not? Or maybe it has on ITV and he is planning to move it to the Beeb as reported.

My only criticism is that the early stages seemed pretty rushed with you only getting very quick bursts of the acts. Still there are only so many acts like the man doing Dalek impressions with a saucepan on his head you can put up with at any one time. And it was much better than last year which was won by the instantly forgettable Jai McDowall. Who?

Will and Kate beat Jonny’s drop goal to win TV’s most uplifting moment

Will and Kate’s balcony kiss from the 2011 Royal Wedding has topped a poll of the most uplifting British TV moments from the last ten years.

In research released today to celebrate ten years of Freeview, the landmark moment topped the poll, narrowly ahead of Jonny Wilkinson’s World Cup winning drop-goal in 2003.

Other notable moments in the Top 20 list included Susan Boyle’s first appearance in Britain’s Got Talent in 2009 (7th), Tim and Dawn’s “kiss” in the final episode of the office in 2003 (9th), and Freddie Flintoff’s moment of true sportsmanship, when he consoled Brett Lee at the end of the Edgbaston test match during the epic Ashes series of 2005 (10th).

Britain’s Got Talent, which is currently doing battle in the ratings with The Voice, received a boost as it was voted the UK’s favourite TV programme of the last ten years ahead of Doctor Who, while – strangely – Emmerdale topped the list of soaps, finishing ahead of Coronation Street and EastEnders.

The research also gauged peoples’ views of British television; a fifth of Brits believe that British TV has never been better.  And nearly four out of ten of those over the age of 45 believe that British TV is currently the best in the world (39%), compared to a third of adults overall.

Despite technical innovation in TV over the last ten years, the pull of the major TV event still appeals to viewers. Nearly three out of ten people like to watch programmes live, at the time of broadcast.

The research coincides with the launch of  Freeview’s new online game show, The Generosity Game, featuring Jon Culshaw. Viewers can play the game at www.freeview.co.uk.

OnePoll conducted the research in April 2012, polling 2,000 adults across the UK.

Top 20 Uplifting TV Moments:

1.       Royal Wedding: Will and Kate’s balcony kiss (2011)

2.       Rugby World Cup:  Jonny Wilkinson’s winning drop-goal (2003)

3.       Only Fools and Horses: Delboy and Rodney bring an illegal immigrant home (2002)

4.       I’m a Celebrity: Jordan and Pete get together (2004)

5.       EastEnders:  Alfie comes back for Kat (2005)

6.       Champions League Final: Liverpool’s comeback (2005)

7.       Britain’s Got Talent: Susan Boyle’s audition (2009)

8.       Planet Earth: Emperor Penguins end of winter scene (2006)

9.       The Office: Tim and Dawn’s kiss in the final episode(2003)

10.   The Ashes:  Freddie Flintoff consoles Brett Lee (2005)

11.   Doctor Who: Rose defeats the daleks (2005)

12.   Vicar of Dibley:  Puddle scene (2006)

13.   Gavin and Stacey: Smithy crashes Nessa’s wedding (2010)

14.   Sport Relief: David Walliams swims the River Thames (2012)

15.   Top Gear: James and Richard convert a Reliant Robin into a space shuttle (2007)

16.   Olympics: Kelly Holmes wins gold in the 800m (2008)

17.   The Apprentice: Good guy Tom wins after being in the losing team (2011)

18.   Downton Abbey: When Lady Mary and Matthew get together (2011)

19.   Formula 1: Lewis Hamilton winning the World Championship (2008)

20.   Comic Relief:  Robert Webb on Let’s Dance (2009)

British Soap Awards 2012: Michelle Keegan and Brooke Vincent pictures

ALL IMAGES: PRESS ASSOCIATION

The Corrie and Hollyoaks leading ladies stole the style show at this years British Soap Awards.

Doing it for the cobbles were Michelle Keegan, who went for a stunning midnight blue long backless frock, while Brooke Vincent also followed the backless trend in a purple plunge neck number.

Samia Smith kept it safe, yet stylish, in a simple black frock.

Over in the ‘Oaks camp Jennifer Metcalfe showed off her curves in a turquoise long bodycon frock, while Claire Cooper went for a slinky silver number. Anna Shaffer also stood out in a red vintage lace short frock.

Flying the fashion flag for Eastenders was Preeya Kalidas who went for a racey red strapless frock with empire line styling and Shona McGarty kept it simple in a black frock.

Making a special appearance was Emma Bunton who also kept it simple in a black batwing dress.

See the winners of the British Soap Awards below (via Digital Spy) SEXIEST FEMALE (Last year’s winner was Michelle Keegan, Coronation Street) Coronation Street: Michelle Keegan (Tina McIntyre) – WINNER EastEnders: Jacqueline Jossa (Lauren Branning) EastEnders: Preeya Kalidas (Amira Masood) Hollyoaks: Jorgie Porter (Theresa McQueen)

SEXIEST MALE (Last year’s winner was Scott Maslen, EastEnders) Coronation Street: Chris Fountain (Tommy Duckworth) EastEnders: Scott Maslen (Jack Branning) – WINNER Emmerdale: Matthew Wolfenden (David Metcalfe) Hollyoaks: Danny Mac (Dodger Savage) VILLAIN OF THE YEAR (Last year’s winner was Emmett Scanlan, Hollyoaks) Coronation Street: Andrew Lancel (Frank Foster) – WINNER EastEnders: Ace Bhatti (Yusef Khan) EastEnders: Joshua Pascoe (Ben Mitchell) Hollyoaks: Jeff Rawle (Silas Blissett)

BEST ACTOR (Last year’s winner was Danny Miller, Emmerdale) Coronation Street: Chris Gascoyne (Peter Barlow) EastEnders: Shane Richie (Alfie Moon) Emmerdale: Danny Miller (Aaron Livesy) – WINNER Hollyoaks: Emmett Scanlan (Brendan Brady)

BEST ACTRESS (Last year’s winner was Jessie Wallace, EastEnders) Coronation Street: Alison King (Carla Connor) – WINNER EastEnders: Jo Joyner (Tanya Jessop) EastEnders: Nina Wadia (Zainab Masood) Hollyoaks: Karen Hassan (Lynsey Nolan)

BEST BRITISH SOAP (Last year’s winner was EastEnders) Coronation Street Doctors EastEnders – WINNER Emmerdale Hollyoaks

Panel-voted categories:

BEST COMEDY PERFORMANCE (Last year’s winner was Patti Clare, Coronation Street) Coronation Street: Stephanie Cole (Sylvia Goodwin) – WINNER Doctors: Jan Pearson (Karen Hollins) EastEnders: Tameka Empson (Kim Fox) Hollyoaks: Joe Tracini (Dennis Savage)

BEST YOUNG PERFORMANCE (Last year’s winner was Alexander Bain, Coronation Street) Coronation Street: Alexander Bain (Simon Barlow) Doctors: Charlie Kenyon (Cameron Waterhouse) EastEnders: Lorna Fitzgerald (Abi Branning) – WINNER Emmerdale: Eden Taylor-Draper (Belle Dingle)

SPECTACULAR SCENE OF THE YEAR (Last year’s winner was The Tram Crash, Coronation Street) Coronation Street: Carla’s car crash EastEnders: Fire at the B&B Emmerdale: John and Moira’s car accident – WINNER Hollyoaks: Rae’s murder

BEST ON-SCREEN PARTNERSHIP (Last year’s winners were Shane Richie and Jessie Wallace, EastEnders) Doctors: Matthew Chambers and Elisabeth Dermot-Walsh (Daniel Granger and Zara Carmichael) EastEnders: Jake Wood and Jo Joyner (Max Branning and Tanya Jessop) – WINNER Emmerdale: Jeff Hordley and Emma Atkins (Cain Dingle and Charity Sharma) Hollyoaks: Ashley Taylor Dawson and Jessica Fox (Darren and Nancy Osborne)

BEST NEWCOMER (Last year’s winner was Emmett Scanlan, Hollyoaks) Coronation Street: Natalie Gumede (Kirsty Soames) – WINNER Doctors: Lu Corfield (Freya Wilson) EastEnders: Jamie Foreman (Derek Branning) Emmerdale: Gemma Oaten (Rachel Breckle)

BEST EXIT (Last year’s winner was Bill Tarmey, Coronation Street) Coronation Street: Katherine Kelly (Becky McDonald) – WINNER EastEnders: Pam St Clement (Pat Evans) Emmerdale: James Thornton (John Barton) Hollyoaks: Kim Tiddy (Heidi Costello)

BEST DRAMATIC PERFORMANCE (Last year’s winner was Jane Danson, Coronation Street) Coronation Street: Alison King (Carla Connor) Doctors: Owen Brenman (Heston Carter) EastEnders: Jo Joyner (Tanya Jessop) – WINNER Emmerdale: Jeff Hordley (Cain Dingle)

BEST STORYLINE (Last year’s winner was End of the line for the Websters and Dobbs, Coronation Street) Coronation Street: Carla’s ordeal Doctors: Lauren’s murder EastEnders: The Brannings deal with Tanya’s cancer diagnosis Emmerdale: Jackson’s choice – WINNER

BEST SINGLE EPISODE (Last year’s winner was Coronation Street Live) Coronation Street: Becky’s Final Farewell – WINNER Doctors: ‘Last Words’ EastEnders: Pat: The End of an Era Emmerdale: The Longest Day

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD (Last year’s winner was Bill Tarmey, Coronation Street) Pam St Clement (EastEnders) – WINNER

SPECIAL ACHIEVEMENT AWARD (Last year’s winner was Gavin Blyth, Emmerdale) Simon Ashdown (EastEnders) – WINNER

You can see the British Soap Awards on ITV1, Wednesday May 2nd.

Arrested Development Season 4 to come Netflix all at once

The long-awaited fourth season of US sitcom Arrested Development will be released in its entirety by Netflix upon release, the streaming giant has confirmed.

Rather than drip feed the ten new episodes week by week, Netflix subscribers will be able to watch the latest misadventures of the Bluth family all at once when the show returns in 2013 after a six-year absence.

Netflix inked an exclusive deal for the show back in November, with their plan to offer all ten episodes at once clearly setting themselves apart from rivals like cable TV and the US streaming service from HBO.

The move follows the Netflix-only release of their original show Lillyhammer, starring Sopranos actor Steven Van Zandt, which was also released in its entirety in the US back in February. Lillyhammer will hit UK shows after completing a run with the BBC first.

Hopefully when Arrested Development lands, we’ll get it at the exact same time as our pals across the pond. Here’s a compilation clip from one of our favourite episodes to whet your appetite:

Corrie copycat killer gets 16 years for killing Mum. But are violent soaps to blame?

The young teenager who battered his mother to death with a hammer after being inspired by fictional character John Stape has been locked up for at least 16 years. But is TV really to blame?

Obsessed with the soap’s serial killer, teenager Daniel Bartlam – pictured right – bludgeoned his own mother seven times with a claw hammer at their home on Easter Monday last year before pouring petrol all over her bedroom and setting it alight. Her body was so badly burnt that she had to be identified by dental records. Nice boy.

Apparently a montage of violent scenes from various soaps was found in Bartram’s house including scenes from Coronation Street, Hollyoaks and Emmerdale.

Despite being referred to a councellor over an incident in 2010, in which he shouted at a tie and said it was trying to hurt him, a mental health assessment six weeks before the murder concluded Bartlam demonstrated ‘no mental illness’ and was of little or no risk to himself or others. How wrong could they be?

So is TV making teenagers more violent? Well you won’t be surprised to hear there is a debate going on over at the Daily Mail website. Our view? That soaps are getting more violent but they hardly make someone a killer. Unfortunately it seems this teenager was mentally ill and the authorities failed to diagnose it in time to save his poor Mum, Jacqueline Bartlam.

Q&A with Vince Gilligan as Breaking Bad season 3 hits the UK

Despite the fact US audiences have already seen seasons one, two, three AND four of cult TV show Breaking Bad, audiences in the UK haven’t been quite so lucky. Until now. This weekend the first three seasons will be available from the online streaming service and to celebrate we had the chance to interview the show’s creator, Vince Gilligan.

For those not in the know, Breaking Bad is a US TV show that’s received widespread critical acclaim and follows the tense story of Walter White, a high school teacher who after being diagnosed with lung cancer turns to a life of crime.

We sat down with Vince Gilligan to find out more about the show, Walter’s character and how it all might end…

Can audiences still sympathise with Walter?

Although the whole Breaking Bad cast is outstanding, a large part of our conversation with Gilligan was about Walter White, a truly fascinating character played by the very talented Bryan Cranston.

Gilligan explained that from the start Breaking Bad has been “a story about both change and transformation” and how Walt’s moral dilemmas and decisions shape the character he becomes.

One of the main things we wanted to know about Walt is whether Gilligan feels the audience will still be able to identify with him as he gradually becomes darker and darker. Gilligan said, “Oh, he’s definitely a Jekyll and Hyde kind of character.” However, he believes that because the audience has empathised with him so much from the start, they’re now being taken along on his journey and continue to root for him as his choices become even more questionable. He doesn’t think there’s a problem with that though, “as long as he remains interesting and his decision making process remains relatable” he said.

Who’s your favourite character?

Gilligan spoke in great depth about the supporting characters too and admitted that he LOVES Saul Goodman because he finds he’s one of the most genuine characters on the show, “he’s the only one who has made peace with who he is […] I’d love to see a spin-off, the Saul Goodman show!” He also said that Gustavo Fring is “one of the most interesting bad guys” he’s ever come across and there’s some fascinating Fring back story to come…

Have you decided on an ending?

Unfortunately all good things must come to an end, and although we’ll be sad when it does, we’d hate to see Breaking Bad just fizzle out slowly.

When asked about the ending of the show, Gilligan admitted he’s got a lot of ideas floating around and has some “big hopes and dreams for the main characters”.

According to Gilligan, the writers have been toying with ideas about how the show will end for months now. Although they all have a “pretty good idea” about what’ll happen, it’s still not set in stone despite the fact season 5 has begun filming, which is pretty exciting if you ask us.

Which other TV shows do you rate?

Gilligan was keen to talk about his love for TV, particularly the talent over here in the UK, “there’s so much British television I love”, he admitted, “The Office is one of the best pieces of television ever made.”

Season 3 of Breaking Bad will be launching exclusively on Netflix from the 1st of April and the first two seasons will also be available for those who are a bit behind and need to catch up.

[Image via Press Association]