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]

San Marino’s ‘ironic’ Facebook inspired Eurovision Song Contest entry

Not sure about this track from Valentina Monetta, Facebook uh oh oh. Is it even genuine? Supposedly it’s San Marino’s Eurovision Song Contest entry to rival our very own entry from Englebert Humperdinck.

And while it’s sure to get 12 points from neighbours Italy, will anybody else get the joke about Facebook, social networking etc. Anyway it’s already doing well on YouTube with over 300,000 hits so who needs Eurovision?

To me it sounds like one of those joke songs that comedians put in the middle of their programmes to break up the sketches, but it is kind of catchy I suppose.

Via Stuart Dredge

Rosie-Tinted spectacles: Coronation Street’s Helen Flanagan goes to Specsavers

By Dave Lee Ex-Corrie actress Helen Flanagan (who played street ‘sex bomb’ Rosie Webster until February this year) has landed her first post-Weatherfield gig – for Specsavers.

The glasses company has released a set of pictures showing Helen modelling their specs in a variety of poses to help launch their Spectacle Wearer of the Year competition.

Specsavers apparently want to find ‘ordinary people who look extraordinary in their glasses’. Helen, who has worn glasses since she was 9, said: “I first realised I needed to wear glasses when I couldn’t see the whiteboard at school. I was delighted as I was always nagging my mum to get me a pair. I love trying out new looks with my glasses, they bring out a different side to me.”

Ex Corrie star Helen Flanagan in Christine Keeler pose

She added: “I love doing photoshoots, it’s probably the only thing I had in common with Rosie, we are both really girly and like modelling. I really enjoyed the 1960s-themed shoot for this campaign. I wore lots of different wigs which made me wish I had long hair again! But the best thing about this campaign is that it supports anti-bullying charity, Kidscape. Anything that helps stamp out bullying of any kind, especially if it’s for wearing glasses, is a great thing.”

The founder of Specsavers, Dame Mary Perkins, had this to say: “Helen is the perfect ambassador for us, she’s young, fun and uses her glasses to completely transform her look. She is the ideal role model for all young specs wearers out there.”

The competition is open to anyone over the age of 16 and there are a variety of prizes on offer including a one year modelling contract.

For more information on the competition go to






It’s reality TV war as Britain’s Got Talent takes on The Voice in ITV/BBC battle

Singer Jessie J: one of the judges on the BBC’s The Voice

So the gloves are off this weekend as a new series of Britain’s Got Talent goes head to head with the Beeb’s latest reality TV show, The Voice – in which the deal is you get to hear the singers without actually seeing what they look like.

Yesterday saw the official launch of a new series of Britain’s Got Talent which marks the return of music supremo Simon Cowell to the UK as well as a new judging panel, including comedian and swimmer David Walliams and singer Alesha Dixon – poached of course from the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing.

Word on the street is that Britain’s Got Talent is a little slicker than before and the acts – at least from the first episode – are a little less ‘out there’ (which sounds a bit of a shame as I liked the more bizarre ones).

Speaking at yesterday’s BGT launch,  Cowell claimed that he is ready for a battle with the BBC and denied accusations that he wanted Tom Jones – one of The Voice’s judging panel – to work for him.

“I think [The Voice] have got themselves in a mess,” said Cowell. “They need to get their sense of humour back.

“I read one thing today and I want to clear the record up. It was intimated that Tom Jones had been offered a role on one of my shows.

“I met the guy once in Vegas and I think the show he must have been talking about was Opportunity Knocks. It wasn’t one of my shows. He might have got the names confused.”

He added: “They are winding this up to be a big battle, but it’s not. The shows go out at the same time and the better one wins.

The Voice airs on BBC1, 7pm and Britain’s Got Talent starts ITV1, 8pm

Frank Skinner faces his fears and learns to swim a length for Sport Relief

As challenges go it’s not exactly up there with swimming The Channel/ The Thames or running 43 marathons in 51 days but for Frank Skinner swimming a length of a pool for Sport Relief is a very big deal indeed. “I had swimming lessons when I was at school,” the comedian told The Radio Times.

“Well, I say “lessons”. What actually happened was I stood with five other kids in the shallow end and we messed about with battered polystyrene floats. Meanwhile, the rest of the class swam confidently up and down, smiling and having fun.”

Since then he hasn’t been able to face getting back in the water and learning to swim. Even in his 40s when he decided to give it another go with one-to-one lessons, he ended up taking the cowards way out and quitting. But towards the end of last year after speaking to a friend who works for Sport Relief, he decided he finally had to face his demons. “They (Walliams and Izzard) are truly amazing, but no one’s likely to emulate them,” reckons Skinner.

“You should get someone to take on their own personal little mountain, the sort of mountain that lots of people might climb if they could be inspired to do so.” Tonight Frank Skinner faces his mountain – in the form of a swimming pool deep end – when he attempts to swim an entire length for Sport Relief.  Make donations to Sport Relief with a credit or debit card by phone via 03457 910910 or online at

Tonight’s (23/3/12) Sport Relief line up in full


3:05pm The Big Sport Relief Warm-Up CBBC offers bite-size reminders of challenges past, including David Walliams’s Big Swim (3:10pm), Helen’s Polar Challenge for Sport Relief (3:45pm) and Million Pound Bike Ride (4:20pm).

5:15 Sport Relief Does Glee Club The three remaining acts vie for the viewers’ vote in the grand final of the competition.

7:00 Sport Relief 2012 Celebrities including John Bishop, James Corden, Gary Lineker and Claudia Winkleman take it in turns to host the evening, which kicks off with Chelsea footballer Frank Lampard and fiancée Christine Bleakley guest-starring in a special episode of Outnumbered. Strictly Come Dancing finalists Harry Judd and Chelsee Healey leave the dancefloor behind for an incredible underwater challenge.

7:30 Boxer Amir Khan and footballer Jermain Defoe boost their knowledge with a little help from Stephen Fry and the Horrible Histories cast, and the Strictly Come Dancing challenge continues.

8:00 Comic Frank Skinner faces his fear and attempts to swim a length of the pool at Langley Swimming Centre, while Miranda Hart ropes in some sports stars for a sketch at the Royal Albert Hall. Plus David Walliams, who undertook an epic swim down the Thames, is in the studio.

9:00 What horrors await Simon Cowell, Alesha Dixon and Ant and Dec as Benidorm meets Britain’s Got Talent? Snow Patrol perform in the studio.

9:30 Members of the England football team don aprons and join chef James Martin in the kitchen. JLS perform the Sport Relief single, Proud.


10pm The cast of Twenty Twelve welcome some VIPs in the shape of Zara Phillips and Sir Steve Redgrave. There’s a special instalment of QI and Jake Humphrey hosts Never Mind the Buzzcocks. Plus Helen Skelton, who made a record-breaking expedition to the Antarctic, is in the studio.


10:35pm Fashionistas Kate Moss and Stella McCartney, along with sportsmen Colin Jackson and Linford Christie, join Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley for what promises to be a fun-packed Ab Fab sketch. Plus a chance to see A Question of Sport host Sue Barker as you’ve never seen her before!

11:00 Freddie Flintoff continues his attempt to break multiple world records live in the studio, Emeli Sande performs live, and there are special editions of Celebrity Juice and Eight out of Ten Cats.

12 midnight JLS invite a chorus of rugby internationals to join them for a singsong. Misery Bear and Mo Farah race against each other and there’s a special Mock the Week.

All timings from 7:30pm are approximate

Frank Skinner’s faces his fear for Sport Relief..

And Strictly goes underwater for Sport Relief…

Sunday Brunch: Lovejoy and Rimmer jump channels, does anyone care?


Sadly Channel 4 have bought the programme (most of it, anyway) and a renamed version launches this Sunday at 10AM. Sunday Brunch – as it’s artlessly dubbed – still features Lovejoy and Rimmer but Redkapp has mercifully been jettisoned and it remains to be seen how many (if any) of the other regular contributors survive the jump.


Apparently the programme will still feature cooking, interviews and clips but presumably it will now also require ad breaks, which means it goes from being dull to being dull with added dull bits. Maybe the channel hop will rejuvenate the show and bring a bit more zip and zing to proceedings but, more likely, the law of diminishing returns will exact itself and the show will peter out again fairly soon.



Who should be Doctor Who’s new assistant?

Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill, who play Amy and Rory, are both known to be leaving the series so who do we think could be whizzing off in the Tardis next and what are the odds it will happen?


Cheryl Fergisun

Who? Until very recently she played Heather in Eastenders but with her character’s killing she is now available and would not only provide the Doctor with his first (ahem) ‘larger’ companion but her casting would mean that Harry Hill would be able to continue to take the mick out of her on TV Burp.

Chances? Doubtful, but we’d like it – 80/1



Who? N-Dubz leisurewear shouter who it would seem is now unemployed. He would bring street cred and his own distinctive speaking style to the Tardis.

Chances? After apparently being responsible for leaking the ‘Tulisa tapes’ it’s unlikely the band will be getting back together so he’ll desperately need another gig – 40/1


Dennis Waterman

Who? Suddenly-controversial ex-Minder star who may well now be very grateful of the work.

Chances? Long shot 200/1


Engelbert Humperdinck

Who? Septuagenarian Vegas-style crooner who is this year’s surprise choice as Britain’s Eurovision entry.

Chances? The BBC seem to like him – 30/1


Jenna-Louise Coleman

Who? Former Emmerdale lesbian who has today been named as the new assistant by The Sun.

Chances? Depends if you believe The Sun or not, but she seems a likely choice – 12/1 on.


STUDY: Over one third of Brits don’t watch live TV

By Becca Caddy

Ahh, remember when you were a kid, sat at home with your family watching The Generation Game just because that’s all that was on? We just all seemed to accept the fact TV was rubbish and cheesy, didn’t we? Well now we have SO much choice, with thousands of channels, on-demand services, streaming sites and all the box sets we could ever ask for that we don’t really tend to watch that much live TV much anymore. Well, expect Take Me Out of course.

Although most of us already know this to be the case, as we watch boxset after boxset and sell our souls to Netflix, a new study has revealed that a huge third of Brits no longer really watch live TV AT ALL.

The research commissioned by has found that 36% of people in the UK don’t tend to tune into live TV. It seems technological advances are responsible for the sad (yet inevitable) demise of the TV set, as most of those who admitted to not watching live TV instead rely on the likes of BBC’s iPlayer or Channel 4’s 4OD, as well as services offered by media providers like Sky and Virgin that allow users to pause, record and rewind live television.

It seems our attitude to the latest, must-see episodes has changed too, we’re not all tuning in at the same time as soon as our favourite shows air, 36% of Brits said they don’t watch programmes when they’re first on TV and 74% said instead they catch up with everything they want to watch at the weekend.

Interestingly, 2% also admitted to not owning a television. But, given how much you can watch on your computer nowadays, we imagine this will become the case more and more in the future.

1,763 people aged 18 and over from across the UK were polled in the survey by

[Image via Robert Couse Baker]

Interview: Holly Cocker, Director, My Birthday Shook The World

Film maker Holly Cocker interviewed five children all born on September 11th, 2001

In New Jersey, Anish tells the remarkable story of how his unexpected early birth saved his Uncle’s life because, rather than going to work in the Twin Towers in New York, his Uncle decided to visit his new nephew in hospital.

While over in Montana, Johnny has been given the daunting task of writing a poem to read at a memorial in his hometown.

We talk to Holly Cocker, Director of My Birthday Shook The World, which follows five US children who were all born on 9/11. It airs tomorrow (March 21st) on BBC1, 4.30pm.

How did you get the idea for the documentary? I heard about the Arizona shootings (in which Gabrielle Giffords, Member of Congress was shot) and the tragic death of Christina Taylor-Green. She was born on September 11th, 2001 so it got me thinking about what the other kids who were born on that day were up to.

Did the kids have anything in common? They all feel a weight of responsibility being born on that day. Their parents saw it as such as an awful event and their births on such a tragic day are viewed as a blessing.

How do they celebrate their birthdays? None of the children celebrate on their actual birthdays.  It’s not that it’s frowned upon, it’s just that they choose not to. Instead they take part in memorial events – for example one boy reads some poetry and one girl rings a fireman’s bell for every victim of the tragedy.

Do you think the same kind of memorial would take part in the UK? No I think it is entirely different here. I think it’s because Americans are so much more patriotic that the tragic events are marked in this way. It was a bit like delving into another world.

Did you have a big film crew around you when you were filming the children? No, it was just me which was great because it meant I could really bond with the children, playing with them and being their friend. I went out there last May and then back out in September visiting their homes in New Jersey, Kansas, North Carolina and Montana. 

So what’s next? I had a kidney transplant a few years ago and I’m actually sailing around America from San Francisco to New York for a few months to raise awareness for organ donation.


My Birthday Shook The World, BBC1, March 21st, 4.30pm