Who's on eleventh?

The BBC's annual Children In Need telethon last night took me back to my childhood, evoking memories of the old Channel 7 Brisbane telethon. As usual with these things, the live content was mostly appalling. However, the pre-recorded bits - including an EastEnders tribute to the great West End musicals, a visit to Coronation Street by How To Look Good Naked's Gok Wan, the cast of The Bill doing the Blues Brothers, and many well-packaged films about the good work the charity does - were mostly excellent. Best of all, there was a sneak preview of the Doctor Who Christmas special, where David Tennant's character comes face-to-face with another man claiming to be the Doctor! Is this really the Next Doctor, or a red herring? Clips - featuring the first two minutes of the Doctor Who special and other CIN highlights - are here. (You can donate while you're there, too.)

PS: In the spirit of charity, it was great to see the cast of ITV shows on the Beeb. I wonder if the same spirit of cooperation - which obviously happened at a very high level - would occur in Australia...

Box office blunders

"We've been making, in the main, dark, depressing, bleak pieces. Nobody goes to see them."

So says the Screen Producers Association of Australia's new president Antony I Ginnane. Now, what's going to be done about it?

Obama's Huxtable effect

There's an interesting article new about the credible theory that The Cosby Show, which portrayed a loving middle-class black American family, helped pave the way for Barack Obama's victory in the US presidential election.

Now Nathan leaves Hi-5

It's all change at kids' group/ TV show Hi-5 with the announcement, via a Nine Network press release, that Nathan Foley is leaving. He's the last original cast member, and will be following Kellie Crawford out the door (was that a coincidence, I wonder). Time for a new name for the band? Certainly not. Unlike a "real" band - can you imagine the Rolling Stones, for example, continuing without Mick, Ronnie, Charlie and Keith? - Hi-5 is a prefabricated entity designed solely to make money for a big corporation. Oh, and to educate and entertain children, of course ...

Beam him up

George "Mr Sulu" Takei is to join the latest series of I'm A Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here, the British "reality" series that's filmed in the Australian bush (but not too far from comfy resorts for the convenience of the hosts and selected crew). According to The Sun, the other contestants are former Metropolitan Police deputy chief Brian Paddick, tennis legend Martina Navratilova, footballer's girlfriend Carly Zucker, onetime EastEnders star Joe Swash, former Blue singer Simon Webbe, TV host Dani Behr, 1980s British television stalwart Esther Rantzen and "glamour girl" Nicola McLean. The show begins screening here in the UK on Sunday.

Bond on Bond

Roger Moore, the underrated star of seven James Bond films, says he is sad that the franchise has become so violent. I haven't seen Quantum of Solace yet but, in general, I'm with him. Bring back the humour - and the amazing gadgets - and leave the ultraviolence to Hollywood.

Bert's Wizard role

Bert Newton has been confirmed as the new Wizard in the Australian version of the hit musical Wicked, now playing in Melbourne. Newton, of course, played the same character in the touring version of The Wizard of Oz a few years back. The role in Wicked became vacant after the untimely death of Rob Guest. Newton says:

"The Wizard is a complex challenging role. He’s a charismatic, seductive man who says he just wants to make people happy. He may even believe it, but the truth is much darker. I feel privileged to take this role, one Rob Guest memorably created for the Australian production of Wicked. Rob was a close mate, we played opposite each other in The Sound of Music, and we had a lot of fun together. I’m looking forward to joining a terrific cast in the musical of the decade."

Good luck to him. In my experience, he's one of the nicest blokes in the biz.
PS: It's also been announced that Buddy: The Buddy Holly story will play the Queensland Performing Arts Centre in Brisbane from May 2. Details here.

Panto pandemonium

Its rituals may be something of a mystery to Australian audiences, but the pantomime is alive and well in Britain. Every regional city has at least one panto happening this Christmas, and they all have one thing in common - B and C-list celebs, plus the occasional faded -lister, in starring roles. In Liverpool, it's Cilla Black as the Fairy Godmother in Cinderella; in Bath it's former Doctor Who Colin Baker as Fleshcreep, the Giant's henchman, in Jack and the Beanstalk; in Bristol it's Mickey Rooney (yes, the Mickey Rooney) as Baron Hardup in another Cinderella; Christopher Ellison (Frank Burnside from The Bill) is in Alladin at Tunbridge Wells; and in Bromley, Kent, it's Police Academy star Steve Guttenberg in yet another Cinderella. In London, Britt Ekland is at the Shaw Theatre in (you guessed it) Cinderella. If you're a Neighbours fan, past or present, it's your annual chance to catch your favourite Aussie heartthrob on stage, with Alan Fletcher (Dr Karl) in Peter Pan at Aberdeen; Mark Little in Snow White at Worthing; Craig McLachlan in, yet again, Cinderella at Southampton; and Caitlin Stasey in Snow White at Norwich. There's more here.

Idol: Does your vote count?

I'm not a follower of Australian Idol, for geographic reasons and reasons of taste, but a source tells me that Queenslanders and West Australians could be wasting their votes due to the time difference between those states and NSW/Victoria. Moreover, the source says bookies may have cleaned up on the eviction of Queensland contestants, because with the new voting "bottom three" system many of the votes they would have received from their home states would not be counted. If this isn't the case, perhaps somebody can explain how the voting system works and whether it does or does not penalise players from Queensland and WA.

Festival fever

Brisbane is to get a super festival when the Brisbane Festival and the River Festival merge. About time, too. I don't think anybody actually knew what the River Festival was all about ...

Syndicate content