If Ricky Gervais’s new sitcom is so good why won’t Channel 4 commission a series?

The pilot features Gervais as Derek, a care home worker described as ‘a tender, innocent man whose love for his job and the people he cares for shines through. He’s 49 years old and loves animals, Rolf Harris, Jesus, Deal or No Deal, Million Pound Drop and Britain’s Got Talent – but his main hobby is autograph hunting’. The show also features Karl Pilkington, in his first acting role, and (reportedly) Sean Connery.

So, with Gervais’s sitcom history and a big name cast, this would seem to be a significant opportunity for Channel 4 to score a sure-fire hit – why are they dragging their feet in only making a pilot? In a statement the channel say: ‘Channel 4 is very excited to be working with Ricky Gervais on this new project and it’s wrong to say we have rejected a series. The pilot will be on TV in April and then there’ll be further discussions about the potential for a full series.’

However, after the critical disaster of Gervais’s last sitcom ‘Life’s Too Short’ and (relatively) poor audience figures it would appear either that Channel 4 have slightly cold feet about what would be a major series for them or that Gervais himself wants feedback before he commits to another less-than-popular project.

You get chance to decide for yourselves as the pilot airs on Channel 4 in next month.


Video: Englebert Humperdinck’s Eurovision ballad

A ballad called Love Will Set You Free is the UK’s entry at the Eurovision Song Contest.

Sung by veteran crooner Engelbert Humperdinck, it premiered on the the BBC’s Eurovision website on Monday.

The 75-year-old singer, best known for 1967 hit Release Me, is hoping to reverse the UK’s fortunes at the show, which is being held in Azerbaijan.

Last year, reformed boy band Blue came 11th, while Josh Dubovie took last place in 2010.

This year’s song has been written by Grammy award-winning producer Martin Terefe and Ivor Novello winner Sacha Skarbek, who co-wrote James Blunt’s You’re Beautiful and Lana Del Rey’s Born To Die.

Love Will Set You Free is a tale of heartbreak with a simple, sparse arrangement of plucked Spanish guitar and melancholy strings.

“The more you listen to it, the stronger it gets,” said Humperdinck. “It’s not a one-time listen.”

“It’s a really good song,” added Lee Sheriden, who won the Eurovision in 1976 with the group Brotherhood of Man.

Via the BBC

Homeland: Is it dynamite or dull?

Homeland – for those of you who have series-linked the first few episodes and are still prevaricating about watching it – is the story of an American soldier (Damian Lewis as Nicholas Brody) who has returned to the US from imprisonment in Iraq and the counter-terrorism CIA officer Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison) charged with his post-kidnap care. The big question is whether or not Brody has been brain-washed by his Al-Qaeda captors and is actually a double agent intent on destroying America from the inside. The show has won many awards in the US, where it also received a very positive critical response. It was bought by Channel 4 in the UK after bosses saw the first few episodes and were convinced of the show’s quality.

Many viewers, though, are less sure of the series with many on social networks saying that episodes 2 and 3 were a little lacklustre and others threatening to quit the show if the plot doesn’t coalesce soon. Some have compared it to desert island show Lost which won a massive initial audience but kept viewers tagged along for so many series that it ‘lost’ all credibility – frustrating more than it entertained. UK audience figures for Homeland have been steady, at around 2 million per episode, so it would seem that (for the time being at least) most are gripped enough to stay with it.

Advance word from the US is that episode 7 is a ‘watershed’ and it was then that reception of the show became 100% positive – so, will you be sticking with it?

Coronation Street’s Norris Cole collapses on set

Popular Corrie star Malcolm Hebden – who plays busy body newsagent Norris Cole – was taken to hospital last week after collapsing on the set.

Malcolm (72) was taken ill in his dressing room and taken to hospital for tests but was later given the all clear and allowed home. He was back at work a few hours later.

The Mirror reports yer man ‘Corrie Source’ as saying: ‘It was nothing serious but our medical staff thought it was for the best to give him a thorough check over.’

Seeing as Norris is one of our favourite characters here at TV Scoop, we’re delighted that Malcolm is feeling better and we wish him continued good health.

Paddington Bear voted Britain’s best animated character of all time at British Animation Awards

Paddington Bear and his creator Michael Bond. The bear has been named the nation’s favourite animated character. Image: PA

Paddington Bear has been voted Britain’s best animated character of all time. The cuddly bear from darkest Peru beat a shortlist of other distinguished characters including Super Ted, Aleksandr Meerkat and Wallace and Gromit to the title.

The announcement was made at the ninth British Animation Awards which took place in London. Other winners included The Gruffalo, Aardman Animations and Harry Potter. The Tale of the Three Brothers, part of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, picked up the award for best animated sequence in a film.

Gorillaz, the animated band fronted by Blur frontman Damon Albarn, took home one of the public choice awards for best video for their track Stylo. Bertie Crisp by Francesca Adams – voiced by Kathy Burke, Tamsin Greig and Mark Benton – won in the best short film category.

Votes for the public awards were cast at more than 20 screenings across the UK.

Paddington Bear was created by former BBC cameraman Michael Bond, and his first book was published in 1958. The popular stories were first made into an animated TV series in 1975 and have been reimagined a number of times.

The Paddington books have sold more than 35 million copies around the world and have been translated into more than 40 languages.

Below you can see the first Paddington Bear episode on TV from 1975:

Out of Luck: Hoffman hit cancelled due to horse deaths

HBO released a statement saying that they believe the safety of the horses was not compromised by filming but they will nevertheless not be continuing with production. A statement says: ‘It is with heartbreak that executive producers David Milch and Michael Mann together with HBO have decided to cease all future production on the series Luck. Safety is always of paramount concern. We maintained the highest safety standards throughout production, higher in fact than any protocols existing in horse racing anywhere with many fewer incidents than occur in racing or than befall horses normally in barns at night or pastures. While we maintained the highest safety standards possible, accidents unfortunately happen and it is impossible to guarantee they won’t in the future. Accordingly, we have reached this difficult decision.’

The show has been a hit in several countries despite complaints from viewers and critics that it is difficult to follow. We reported last week that the NY Times critic had described the show as ‘unnecessarily opaque’, but viewers on social networks have indicated that it becomes clearer as the first series unfolds. It seems that they will now not get the chance to enjoy a second series of the show.


Coronation Street’s Bill Roache has slept with up to 1,000 women – including Pat Phoenix

It may sound unbelievable, but Coronation Street star Bill Roache – who plays the frankly dull Ken Barlow – says he has slept with up to one thousand women.

While his Corrie character Ken Barlow has managed to have 28 girlfriends in his 50 years on the show, in real-life Roache has achieved a string of conquests including a one-night stand with Weatherfield legend Pat Phoenix (pictured below).

Speaking on Piers Morgan’s Life Stories, Bill at first admitted that he had slept with “more than 100″ women but when pushed about whether it was nearer 1,000, he said: “Well, I’m not denying it.”

He added: “Looking back, I didn’t know any better. But what I did find out is it does not bring you happiness and it is not the way to be.

“I had the opportunity, I indulged it and I can tell you this: it’s not worth it. The pain that it caused, and there’s all sorts of dangers.

“To love somebody, and to make love to somebody that you love is the most beautiful thing in the world.”

Chatting about his brief fling with co-star Phoenix, he added: “It was just a one-off.”

Pat Phoenix and Bill Roache had a one night stand

He recalled: “It was just something that happened one night when we were together. We weren’t right for each other.

“She invited me round to her flat and we had a few drinks, then one thing led to another.

“At that time, she had a reputation and I had a reputation, and she felt we should meet, as it were. It just happened.”

A 60 a day smoker, Phoenix – who played Corrie legend Elsie Tanner – died of lung cancer in 1986 aged 62.


Deal Or No Deal ‘Involves no skill’ – Did anyone believe it does?

But did anyone really ever believe that being on the show demanded any skill? Only the competitors (who have to live together cult-style for a week and so have cabin fever) and the studio audience (who are locked in a room with Noel Edmonds for hours on end and therefore inevitably traumatised) seem to think that randomly picking numbers and choosing to stick or twist is the work of a strategic genius. Surely the viewing public are sensible enough to spot an elaborate guessing game when they see one?

If the Gambling Commission do decide (after 7 years on air) that the whole shebang is against the law it could have consequences for other shows like Red or Black, which is also just a guessing game.

Peter Bazalgette, the owner of show creator Endemol, defended the programme by saying: ‘It would be very strange if the UK suddenly decided you couldn’t have Deal or No Deal on air.’ Not as strange, Pete, as the resurgence in Edmonds’ career that Deal Or No Deal provided. Proof, if it were needed, that we live in a strange world indeed.


Meet this year’s would-be Apprentices

The show returns on March 21 at 9PM on BBC1. As usual there will be Lord ‘don’t call me Suralan’ Sugar, Nick ‘Countdown’ Hewer’, Karren ‘not as good as Margaret’ Brady and 16 utterly deluded, highly-punchable business-types. Here is a quick rundown of the soon-to-be-fired candidates:

Michael Copp: Born on the Shetland Islands, Micheal has lived in a house boat on the River Nidd for the past decade. He sells bags of bread to tourists wanting to feed the ducks and has never had a proper job. Has webbed toes.

Azhar Siddique: Known in his hometown of Chichester as ‘that bloke who sells phones’ as he sells phones from the back of a van. Rumoured to be the most flatulent candidate.

Nick Hozherr: A distant cousin of Britney Spears, Nick made a living for a while as a Britney impersonator. He built up a fairly large following on the drag circuit until he accidentally killed a prop snake and was banned from performing by the RSPCA.

Tom Gearing: Tom used to hold the world record for non-stop hopping. He hopped between the ages or 9 and 17, only stopping when he developed shin splints.

Duane Bryan: Duane has an incredibly bland speaking voice. He once worked for a sleep research facility sending insomniacs to sleep by reading the phone book.

Adam Corbally: Adam claims to have invented cricket. He is also a rubbish liar.

Ricky Martin: Yes, THAT Ricky Martin. Honest.

Stephen Brady: Karren Brady’s husband, nepotism will guarantee Stephen a place in the final.

Laura Hogg: The only ex-mermaid to have ever entered The Apprentice, Laura still has to fully immerse herself in water every 3 hours, which may prove a disadvantage on some tasks.

Maria O’Connor: The second ex-mermaid to ever enter The Apprentice, expected to clash with Laura, especially when it comes to bath time.

Jenna Whittingham: Jenna has no qualifications, cannot drive and refuses to eat anything that isn’t pink. Used to work at a call centre but was sacked when everyone had had enough of her whinging.

Jane McEvoy: Jane pretends to be an Eskimo by dressing in oil skins and rubbing noses instead of shaking hands. Should be a favourite when it comes to the ‘igloo building’ challenge week.

Bilyana Apostolova: Born Susan Bland, Bilyana changed her name to something more interesting after watching every single James Bond film back to back. She also spends her spare time trying to throw a hat at a coat stand to impress Moneypenny.

Gabrielle Omar: 27, from Kendal, boring.

Katie Wright: Katie made and lost a fortune in the dotcom boom when she started a website selling M&S clothing. When M&S found out they sued.

Jade Nash: Jade was chosen for The Apprentice after attending the audition process in the nude. Nick Hewer was apparently particularly adamant that she should be selected.

Can Scott & Bailey make it into the Top 5 Female TV Detectives?

Will Scott & Bailey, though, have a lasting appeal? Can they elbow their way into the ranks of the most popular and successful female TV detectives? Let’s have a quick rundown of the competition:

Cagney & Lacy

Another all girl cop double act, this New York-set show ran for seven series between 1981 and 1988 and is still on TV somewhere in the world three decades later. The show’s stars Tyne Daly and Sharon Gless jointly won the Best Actress Emmy for 6 years in a row and these days enjoy stage success all over the world, with Daly currently playing Maria Callas in the West End.

DCI Jane Tennison

Prime Suspect’s prime star only actually appeared in 15 episodes of this ITV show but so powerful was Helen Mirren’s performance that it is considered one of the best cop shows ever, even being included in Time magazine’s 100 Best TV Shows Of All-Time.

Miss Marple

Played over the years by several actresses, it’s perhaps Joan Hickson who’s most associated with Agatha Christie’s spinster detective. She played Marple in 12 TV adaptations in the 80’s and 90’s but, amazingly, was talent spotted in the 1940’s by Agatha Christie herself, who wrote her a note saying: ‘I hope one day you will play my dear Miss Marple’.

Sarah Lund

When the first series of The Killing aired across Europe a few years ago, central detective Lund became almost as famous as her jumper. The show is now filming its third series, with actress Sofie Gråbøl still playing the Danish dick.

Precious Ramotswe

After a pilot adaptation of Alexander McCall Smith’s hit novel the No.1 Ladies Detective Agency became a ratings hit the BBC and HBO made a full series. It centres around Precious Ramotswe’s Botswanan private eye business and so popular did the lead character (Jill Scott) prove that even after the series was cancelled it is returning for 2 feature length episodes.