Well - as nobody seemed to have any suggestions I went down the homebrew route!
Definitely a work in progress, but since I last posted I've researched components and built a working prototype!
Winstar make some nice OLED character displays that are very close to HD44780 LCD compatible and look a LOT better than LCD displays - I've got a 16x2 Amber model running at the moment.
I've interfaced this to an Arduino Uno (will use a Nano when installed internally) which connects to the PC via USB (appearing as a COM port) and the Arduino is running some code emulating a Matrix Orbital display. Using LCDWriter with a Matrix Orbital LCD Smartie DLL I've got Media Center status working - so I get the title of my recorded or live shows - and for DVDs and Recorded programmes I get duration and current playing time displayed (There's a bug in the way Media Center reports timing on Live TV which was introduced with Windows 7 which apparently means you don't get position and duration in Live TV properly. MS are apparently deprecating the MSAS system that allows other apps to know what Media Center is doing, and are thus not bug fixing it...)
It's not finished by any means - and I've now found a 20x2 Amber OLED is likely to be sold in the UK (I had to import the 2x16 display from the US) - but it looks a lot nicer than the Soundgraph iMon LCD did (and I think it is nicer than their VFDs as well).
I've also found a fully Media Center eHome compatible USB IR receiver which is not much bigger than a USB plug - which will also fit inside my case - so with the right internal USB motherboard header to USB A Socket and Mini-B Plug cable, I'll have a neat internal OLED display and IR receiver solution.
Wish someone made this - but I've learned a bit about LCD and OLED displays and Arduinos, and I might even get into C# or C++ to develop my own drivers if I get time...
Here's a quick pic of the current work-in-progress. (NB protective plastic film still on display!)
The garbage character bottom left should be a Play/Pause/FF/REW/Rec/Stop icon but I haven't got the custom character stuff debugged yet. I'm also struggling to get European accented characters like ÅÖÄÆØåöäæø to display correctly (important to me as I watch Nordic TV in Media Center) - but this appears to be nothing to do with the Arduino code and either LCDWriter or the LCDSmartie DLL is replacing non-standard ASCII characters with ?s (confirmed by PortMon-ing the output sent to the Arduino)