Television

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Farewell, Reg Varney

I have fond memories of Reg Varney as Jack Butler in On The Buses, and for his variety performances that were screened on TV when I was a kid. But I didn't know that Varney - who has died at the age of 92 - was the first person to use an ATM. According to this report, he used a cash machine at Barclays bank in Enfield, North London, in 1967. How come, then, when I first came to the UK 20 years later, ATMs were still as scarce as the proverbial hen's teeth?
PS: The same article reveals that Stephen Lewis, who played the apparently ancient Inspector Cyril "Blakey" Blake, is now just 72 - meaning he was only in his mid-thirties when On The Buses was in its hey-day. Amazing.

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...

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 ...

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.

Bishop's move

"You know it's time to move on when you're being hassled outside your home every night by drunk idiots screaming abuse."

So said actor Ian Smith of his decision to quit Neighbours. This has to be the beginning of the end for the soapie, but it may just be a beginning of big things for the man formerly known as Harold Bishop. Good luck to him - I'm sure he'll outlive the show.

Happy brithday, Bruce

Bruce Paige, the veteran QTQ Channel 9 newsreader, turns 60 on Monday. I wonder whether he might be considering early retirement ...

Who's that girl?

The latest favourite to play Doctor Who when David Tennant's character regenerates? Billie Piper a.k.a. Rose. More here. Exactly how the scriptwriters would pull that one off I do not know - but anything is possible in the world of the Doctor.

Are you the next Hi-5er?

Channel 9 and Southern Star have announced that Kellie Crawford is leaving the pre-fab pre-school pop group otherwise known as Hi-5 and the producers are looking for a replacement. If you think you've got what it takes to entertain the kids (and you qualify for a blue card), email this address.

Boss quits, Ross out for 12 weeks

Things are happening fast in this escalating crisis for the BBC over the broadcast by Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand that cruelly mocked Fawlty Towers star Andrew Sachs. The latest is that the controller of BBC Radio Two, Lesley Douglas, has resigned and Ross, who is the BBC's highest-paid star, has been suspended from work without pay for 12 weeks. Brand has already quit the BBC, and the BBC Trust has said there will be an on-air apology to Sachs. Meanwhile, Sachs's granddaughter Georgina Baillie has been talking to The Sun, saying - among other things - that Brand was a let-down in bed and that he yelled "Que?" (Manuel's catchphrase from Fawlty Towers) when they had sex. The fact that she seems to be cashing in on the situation has been criticised by some, but it seems to me that it doesn't mitigate the initial harm done to her and, especially, her grandfather.
PS: I as thinking today what would have happened if an ABC announcer did this sort of thing. I think they would be out of the door - permanently - so fast their chair would be still be spinning while they were driving away.

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