Avril Lavigne wants to appear in perfume ads

Cue make-over scenes from Clueless: Avril Lavigne wants to be a supermodel. The former Christian folk singer turned manufactured biker-rock star, who said that mothers liked her because she didn’t dress like Britney, now wants to sell out and become a model. Quelle surprise. If you change your image once in order to achieve popularity and your popularity starts to wane, isn’t it the most natural thing in the world to change your image again, even if it runs contrary to everything you used to espouse? Still, maybe if her last album hadn’t sucked, things would be different.

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Noel Edmonds returns to Saturday nights

Noel Edmonds in "Deal or No Deal"

We’re re-entering the 70s. First Doctor Who becomes a Saturday night regular again. Now Noel “Late, Late Breakfast Show” Edmonds is returning to prime-time weekend viewing with Deal or No Deal. Based on the Australian game show of the same name, It’s been doing well in the afternoons apparently.

Howie Mandel

I’m surprised it took this long to become a hit though. It’s already being hailed in the US as the next Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, despite being hosted by Howie “St Elsewhere” Mandel who appears a bit more like Master Po from Kung Fu than he used to.

But Noel on a Saturday night. Can we take it?

UPDATE: Charlie Brooker sums up the show, in case you’ve never seen it.

BBC4 controller wants longer hours

Good news, fans of Nigerian crochet and Swedish Renaissance painting: BBC4 wants to broadcast for longer each day!

I jest. BBC4 has been getting much better of late. But although the ratio between the absolute crackers and the mind-numbers may be at an all-time high, it’s still got some way to go before it achieves the same quality ratio as More4, which is still the holder of the crown for “ best channel for thinking people who don’t have a degree in Pretension, minoring in tribal art”.

More4 does have a slight advantage though. It just imports all its good stuff, while BBC4 rolls its own. More4’s home-produced output, such as The Last Word, would very much rate as “cruel and unusual punishments” if shown to US prison inmates, so it shouldn’t sit on its laurels.

So let’s give a possible BBC4 expansion into longer hours a cautious welcome and hope we don’t have to face too many programmes hosted by Tyler Brûlé or (and I kid you not) documentaries about Django Reinhardt, the Belgian-born, two-fingered Gypsy jazz guitar legend.

Jazz. Ugh.

US TV

24 – Season Five: The Jack Bauer power hour is back full force

Kiefer Sutherland as Jack Bauer in 24

The fifth season of 24 (aka ‘Day 5’) has been airing in the US for a couple of weeks now, so it’s time for a review. Don’t worry, there won’t be any spoilers.

After a stupendous four-hour premiere spread over two days, we’re into the standard weekly drip-drip-drip of hours and the initial ratings grabbing gimmicks have been dispensed with for now. We’re into serious plotting and this year’s season can reveal its true colours.

So far, I’m pleasantly impressed. Compared with season four, season five is a model of restraint. Fox News plugs have been kept to a minimum. The first fifteen minutes of the show was packed full of surprises that would have shocked many long-term fans of the show in a “I can’t believe they just did that” kind of way – and not just because Chloe gets a boyfriend. And in the whole of the first four hours, there was no torture, no decapitation, no anything that could remotely be construed as excessive in a show like this. Indeed, Jack “softy” Bauer, as he should now be called, even promises to get a suspect medical aid rather than shoot him in the leg until he confesses everything. It’s a world gone mad, I tell you.

24 alternates its terrorists between years. Odd years we get European terrorists, even years we get Muslims, so we’re faced with Russians at the moment. Or are they Chechnyens? Or are they Canadians, given that Geraint Wyn Davies of Airwolf (Canadian fourth season only) and Forever Knight ‘fame’ is chief baddie?

Whoever they are, they’re not as threatening as Muslims. Last year’s über-terrorists had the best planning ever, with a back-up scheme even more impressive than the previous scheme ready to go at a moment’s notice: kidnap the Secretary of Defense. Damn. He’s rescued. Okay, we’ll blow up all the nuclear power stations in the US. Oh they’ve stopped us. Okay, let’s steal a stealth fighter and shoot down Airforce One. Ooh not quite. How about we steal a nuclear missile and blow up Los Angeles? Curses. Und so weiter… I’m sure Osama would be happy with just one of those, so to pull them all off in 24 hours is pretty impressive.

This year, we’re on a slow burn. These terrorists really don’t have the drive of your fundamentalist, apparently, and they like to pace themselves. That’s the trouble with us Europeans: no sense of work ethic. But it’s all going reasonably well and they’re being modestly quiet about it all. My hat’s off to them. Let’s hear your demands, Mr Wyn Davies, and we’ll consider them over a leisurely cappuccino.

Despite this slowish start by the terrorists, which is still packed with 10 pounds worth of C4 surprises (you can tell I’ve just finished watching an episode, can’t you?), we’re in recognisable 24 territory: lots of cyber-talk for the techies, a demonic mole in CTU for Patriot-Act supporters, lots of kung fu-ing and weaponry for the martially-minded, and a little bit of soap (and a fruit-flavoured beverage) for the ladies as various men and women pine for each other while routing IP phones and discussing protocol filters. For Hobbit-lovers, there’s also Sean Astin.

If you can put aside your brain for an hour, 24 still gets your adrenal glands pumping like nobody’s business. Season five has kept to the traditional 24 formula, refined it and made it better. I’m still waiting for the real kicker of a plot thread that every season has, but I can be patient. The bad guys might not be so evil yet, but the show’s the better for it since it becomes ever so slightly more believable.

I’ll leave you with one last thought: if you don’t have a Keifer Sutherland poster above your bed by the end of the series, no matter what your age, gender or sexual orientation, I’ll be very, very surprised. That man is just the coolest.

Dog and Duck music

Dog and Duck

We love the ads for Sky that feature Dog and Duck. It’s mainly because Sarah’s a bit like Duck (she even has charts marked “Pickles” and “Trumpets”) and I’m a bit like Dog (I put on puppet shows occasionally…); but I think the whole world be nicer if all adverts contained dogs and ducks, anyway.

The music to the ads brings back memories of children’s programmes that weren’t designed purely to make money. An innocent age, I know. In case you’re too young to remember that time, you’re probably too young to remember The Herbs, which is where the music for the ads come from.

You can download the music as a WAV file from Dave the Wave’s Herbs page.