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2018-04-26T17:06:09.976Z
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At long-last, Monty Python’s Eric Idle is writing his autobiography. Always Look on the Bright Side of Life: A Sortabiography is scheduled to be released Tuesday 2nd October 2018 by Weidenfeld & Nicolson in the UK and in the US by Penguin Random House. With  2019 marking the 50th anniversary of The Pythons, Idle will celebrate the occasion with, what is sure to be, an absurdly brilliant memoir filled with behind-the-scenes stories from a life featuring everyone from Princess Leia to Queen Elizabeth. Photo Credit: Robyn Von Swank / Penguin Books Named after the brilliant song he wrote for Life of Brian, which has the distinction of being the number one song played at UK funerals, Always Look on the Bright Side of Life: A Sortabiography will go beyond the standard ‘life story’ mold of the traditional autobiography and will feature tales from Idle’s life and career in the entertainment business. Idle feels like it’s now ‘time’ to write his memoirs. “We used to be babe magnets. Now we’re fridge magnets,” Idle said in a statement Wednesday. “I thought it was time to tell my tale before I suffer from Hamnesia, which is what happens to elderly actors.” According to the publisher, the memoir will take us on a journey from childhood to a career in comedy, television, theater, and film. Coming of age as a writer and comedian during the Sixties and...
If you’ve been waiting for that ever-elusive perfect sound effect, whether it be a slow passing lorry, a wooden window frame rattling, the interior of a busy Belgian post office or the sound of the New Zealand Yellow-Eyed Penguin, which just happens to be one of the few penguin species found north of the Antarctic Ocean, the BBC is there for you. They are actually there for you 16,016 times with the recent release of a veritable treasure trove of BBC Sound Effects from their library for your personal, educational or research-based use. While suitable for virtually any situation, mood, or occasion, the effects are available in WAV format to download for use under the terms of the RemArc Licence, the sound effects remain BBC copyright as detailed in the license. The sounds have all been used in the British Broadcasting Corporation’s radio output since as far back as the 1920s. If you’re still unclear as to when, where, why or how you might use any of the available sound effects, Alexei Sayles has the answer with this visit with Eric and Bob from the BBC Sound Effects Department. If you have any queries regarding usage, please contact jake.berger at bbc.co.uk  
Finally some good news out of the UK. After a flurry of sad news of the recent deaths of Willow and Munin, Britain welcomed a new addition to the royal family as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge welcomed a ‘soon-to-be-named’ boy into the world at 11:01AM BST Monday morning at St. Mary’s Hospital in London. Immediately becoming the fifth in line for the throne behind grandfather Prince Charles, father William, brother Prince George and sister Princess Charlotte, the birth knocks Prince Harry down a notch in the succession line. Photo credit: Shaun Jeffers / Shutterstock.com As news of the birth was displayed, according to tradition, on an easel in front of Buckingham Palace, Kensington Palace tweeted out the details, “The baby weighed 8lbs 7oz. The Duke of Cambridge was present for the birth. Her Royal Highness and her child are both doing well.” It was obvious that we all live in a social media dominated world in 2018 as the hashtag #RoyalBaby immediately began trending in Britain. While the attention will soon shift to the forthcoming wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on 19 May, die-hard royal fans have been keeping vigil at St Mary’s for days now sleeping on benches and in tents outside the hospital. Royal baby...
Benedict Cumberbatch will return to the small screen next month as a narcissistic, schizoid, suicidal alcoholic/drug addict with a distinctive overcoat and, no, it’s not a new episode of Sherlock! Cumberbatch will executive produce and take the lead as Patrick Melrose in the upcoming adaptation of Edward St Aubyn’s classic series of semi-autobiographical Melrose novels, which include the Man Booker Prize-winning “Mother’s Milk”. Photo credit: Sky UK Premiering Saturday, May 12 at 9PM ET/PT n Showtime and Sunday, 13 May on Sky Atlantic, each episode of the five-part series will be based on a different book and will take place over a few intense days in Melrose’s life, from the South of France in the 60s via 80s New York to early-2000s Britain. The product of a rather ‘interesting’ childhood, Melrose spent his early life with a father with an odd approach to parenting and a mother who approach to parenting was actually no approach at all as she just checked out entirely. Radio Times’ description of Melrose as being someone who has more baggage than Heathrow Airport is spot on. Adapted by Bafta award nominee David Nicholls, Patrick Melrose will also star Jennifer Jason-Leigh and Hugo Weaving as Melrose’s parents and Anna Madeley as his wife with each episode devoted to one of St Aubyn’s...
Is there no end to the sadness coming out of the UK? First it was the news of the death of Willow, Her Majesty The Queen’s last royal corgi, earlier last week at the age of 14. Now comes sad news that Munin, the eldest of the resident ravens that watch over the Tower of London, has died at the age of 22. It was reported late last month in a short statement released by Historic Royal Palaces that Munin had passed away following a brief ‘age-related’ illness. The tower’s ravenmaster Christ Skaife confirmed the sad news saying, “It is with great sadness that I can inform you that Munin, one of our Tower ravens, has passed away after a brief age related illness. At the age of 22 Munin was the oldest and longest serving of our ravens currently here at the Tower and she will be sorely missed.” Photo credit: Alexandar Rosslin, Shutterstock.com Born in 1955, Munin’s remains will live on in the raven graveyard, a small patch of earth in the south moat of the Tower of London which is reserved for the bones of its famous sentinels. Ravens have lived at the tower for hundreds of years and, as legend has it, the fate of the Crown and the British Empire rests on their feathered heads. According to the...
Several significant reasons to celebrate today. First, today (Saturday, April 21) is Record Store Day. This is the 11th year that this is cause for celebration which may sound like ancient history to some but having grown up with the concept of ‘the record store’ was an experience that, hopefully, will never go away. Officially, Record Store Day was created in 2007 to insure that this experience will live on for generations to come and ‘celebrate the culture of the independently owned record store’. One has to look no further than the 2000 movie High Fidelity based on the Nick Hornby novel to understand the greatness of the independent record store. John Cusack and Jack Black were brilliant as two self-professed music loving record store geek owner and employee of Championship Vinyl in Chicago. While a number of records pressed specifically for Record Store Day are only distributed to shops participating in the event, it’s also an opportunity to replace any worn our vinyl you may have in your collection. You’re not replacing the memories that are attached to the scratches on the album you originally purchased years ago, consider it as you are merely preserving them while adding to your vinyl library and, at the same time, keeping the concept of independent record stores alive in a more impersonal, internet-based, consumer society. Me? I’ll be celebrating this and the upcoming 51st anniversary of the Beatles’ Sgt...
Willow, the last in a long line of royal corgis died earlier this week after a lengthy battle with a cancer-related illness. Willow’s passing signals the end of the monarch’s long-standing tradition and marks the first time Her Majesty has not had a corgi in her household since World War II. At 91, The Queen is well known for her love of corgis and has bred them for nearly eight decades. While her love of corgis have been featured prominently on the Netflix series, The Crown, Willow was known worldwide as she starred in the opening James Bond sketch of the 2012 London Olympic Games Ceremony with Daniel Craig and two other royal corgis, Holly and Monty, and for being part of The Queen’s official 90th birthday portrait in 2016. PHOTO CREDIT: OLYMPIC/BBC SCREENGRAB Willow was a direct descendant of Her Majesty’s first pet corgi, Susan, which was gifted to her by her parents when she turned 18. That began what was to become a decades long relationship where The Queen owned more than 30 corgis in her lifetime. To this day, she would still routinely take them on walks and feed them. Monty Roberts, adviser to the Queen and a frequent guest at the royal residence, spoke with Vanity Fair of the essential role that the corgi has played in the reign of Queen Elizabeth and how the British monarch had bred her...
As American audiences work their way towards the end of series 7 of Call the Midwife, official word out of the UK is that series 8 has begun filming! If a picture is worth a thousand words then Mondays post from the official Call the Midwife Twitter page coupled with the simple phrase, “It’s happening”, must be considered priceless. Jenny Agutter, who plays Sister Julienne, is all smiles holding a clapperboard for the first take of the next series which will air, most likely, in early 2019 on BBC1 followed by an early Spring 2019 broadcast on PBS. Having seen the final episode which is set to air on Sunday, May 6 at 8pET/7pCT on PBS, you’d best head to the store immediately and pick up the economy size box of tissues as you’re going to need it over the next few weeks with only 3 episodes remaining in series 7. Without divulging any spoilers, series 8 will take us forward in time to 1964 picking up a few years after the drama that was the series seven finale. If you find yourself suffering from Call the Midwife Separation Anxiety over the next few months, there’s still time to check out the Call the Midwife Location Tours at The Historic Dockyard Chatham. For more information, click here. Call the Midwife S7 continues Sundays at 8pET/7pCT on PBS.
Downton Abbey writer/creator, Sir Julian Fellowes, has yet another period drama in his prolific mind palace. According to Deadline, Fellowes has set his sights and pen on the richest family in history to dramatize one of the world’s most famous rags-to-riches stories in a series called Five Arrows for Sky Atlantic. Photo Credit: s_bukley / Shutterstock.com Set against the backdrop of war and revolution, the tale of the Rothschilds is one of the ultimate rags-to-riches tales. The family gained pre-eminence in the bullion trade during the Napoleonic Wars between 1803 and 1815 and Nathan Mayer Rothschild almost single-handedly financed the British war effort. Deadline also reports that Five Arrows will also tell the story of European Jewry and the triumph over antisemitism as well as portray a story about human relationships, fraternal struggles for dominance, of brilliant but disenfranchised women, of generational conflict, of incestuous alliances and of forbidden love with outsiders. In his spare time, Fellowes is working on NBC’s long-awaited period drama The Gilded Age, which will launch in 2019. Set roughly 30 years prior to the beginning of the first series of Downton Abbey and against the rise of ‘new money’ in 1880s New York City, The Gilded Age could serve as a prequel to ‘Downton’ by including a younger version of Dame Maggie Smith’s Dowager Countess.
Ever since Mr. Carson closed the doors of Downton Abbey for the last time in 2016, the inhabitants above and below the stairs have gone their separate ways finding work on both the big and small screen. The latest effort, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, brings together several Downton Abbey alums for the first time as Lily James, Penelope Wilton, Jessica Brown Findlay and Matthew Goode join The IT Crowd‘s Katherine Parkinson in the Mike Newell (Four Weddings and a Funeral, Great Expectations) film based on the international best-selling 2008 novel, written by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. Parkinson, who also has starred in Doc Martin, Old Guys, Whites and Humans, seems to relish her penchant for less than conventional roles. “I find it easy to tune into weirdos,” says Parkinson. “Playing someone who is ‘normal’ – now, that is hard for me.” Her record remains intact in the forthcoming The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society with Parkinson starring as the eccentric Guernsey native Isola Pribby, a gin-making, donkey-owning bohemian who becomes part of a book club that forms when a group of islanders are caught out after curfew by the Nazis and have to come up with an ‘innocent’ explanation on the spot. James, who played Lady Rose in Downton and was last seen in The Darkest Hour, stars as Juliet Ashton, a journalist who hopes to tell the story of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society — a book club whose love of fiction kept them going...
What a difference 24 hours can make when it comes to news about the future of your favorite whiskey-swilling, jazz-loving, mystery-solving vicar. Earlier this week, the future of Grantchester was still in limbo with 11 months of no word if there would be a series 4. And, not only whether or not the series was coming back but, if it did, would it be without James Norton and Robson Green. Well, word now from ITV, PBS and Masterpiece confirms that series 4 has been both commissioned and confirmation that both James Norton and Robson Green will be returning. Credit: Courtesy of Colin Hutton and Kudos/ITV for MASTERPIECE Unfortunately, the bad news is that series 4 will be the last to feature James Norton as crime-fighting vicar Sidney Chambers. Robson Green will also be back for series 4 as Detective Geordie Keating, alongside returning cast including Al Weaver (Leonard Finch), Tessa Peake-Jones (Mrs. MaGuire) and Kacey Ainsworth (Cathy Keating). While Grantchester-Nation will be sad to see Chambers go, executive producer Rebecca Eaton said the series would continue on in the future with a new vicar. “It’s a bittersweet time for Grantchester fans, who will be cheering the return of the series but crushed to say goodbye to James,” she said. “We want to assure them that the series they love will continue with brilliant new episodes and a captivating new vicar.” The new series will begin production in June 2018 in London, Cambridge and,...
Recently, four ‘forces of nature’ converged in Sussex to film a documentary about their decades of acting on both stage and screen. Nothing Like a Dame, which features the likes of Dame Maggie Smith, Dame Judi Dench, Dame Eileen Aitkins and Dame Joan Plowright, is the first time the actresses/friends have ever appeared together on screen. The closest being when Dames Dench and Smith appeared in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and its sequel. With a friendship that goes back over a half century in time, the four dames discuss their careers while reminiscing about their humble beginnings in the theatre. The Dames gathered at the country retreat of Dame Joan Plowright that she shared with her husband, Sir Laurence Olivier, until his death in 1989. Dame Joan, who is now blind, brought the friends together for a weekend of candid, irreverent and poignant conversation. No topic was left on the table with serious discussions of love and loss alongside lighter moments of discussing Dame Judi’s habit of nabbing all the plum roles and Dame Maggie’s less than enthusiastic reaction to becoming internationally famous thanks to her role as the Dowager Countess in Downton Abbey. Nothing Like a Dame will be release in UK cinema on 2 May and later this Summer on BBC2. We can only hope a public television broadcast is not too far behind.
Attention, Anglophiles! The ‘wedding of the year’ is nearly upon us! Before you blindly mark your calendars for just Saturday, 19 May, the BBC and PBS are primed and ready to get you geared up for this global event with Royal Wedding Watch, a 5-part nightly series beginning May 14 at 10pET/9pCT. Coverage will then culminate in the live broadcast of the wedding of Prince Harry and American actress, Rachel Meghan Markle, on Saturday, 19 May, beginning at approximately 4:30aET/3:30aCT on PBS. Photographer/Credit: Anwar Hussein/Getty Images News During the week leading up to the actual ceremony, which will occur in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor, hosts Meredith Viera and British television presenter Matt Baker will be joined in-studio by experts, commentators and special guests. BBC presenter and host Anita Rani will report live from Windsor each night, and English historian Lucy Worsley, Joint Chief Curator at Historic Royal Palaces, will delve into the pageantry, pomp and protocol surrounding Harry and Meghan’s nuptials. The five episodes of Royal Wedding Watch will be the perfect build-up as the world gets ready for the big day. “A Wedding is Announced” – Monday, May 14, 10pET/9pCT “What to Wear” – Tuesday, May 15, 10pET/9pCT “The Ceremony” – Wednesday, May 16, 10pET/9pCT “How to Celebrate” – Thursday, May 17, 10pET/9pCT “Happily Ever After” – Friday, May 18, 10:30pET/9:30pCT Produced by BBC Studios’ Topical and Live Unit, Royal Wedding Watch will also showcase Britain’s rich royal heritage and illuminate how...
While it’s only been a mere eight months since series 3 of Grantchester ended last August on PBS, it has been a few weeks short of what has been a very long year since UK audiences witnessed Reverend Sidney Chambers’ tearful breakup with Amanda following her ultimatum that Sidney choose his faith or his love for her. As Sidney comes to the realization that the community needs him more than ever, he stays in Grantchester as Amanda heads off to London. Credit: Courtesy of Colin Hutton and Kudos/ITV for MASTERPIECE Much like its Oxford cousin Endeavour, Grantchester viewers have had their collective mind palaces soothed the last several years with the knowledge that the next series of their favorite vicar had been commissioned prior to the previous series finale. By the time the credits would begin to roll on the series finale, cast and crew would be gearing up to film the Christmas special followed by the next series that would traditionally follow in the Spring in the UK and the Summer in America. Not so this year. In what seems to be more the norm these days (did someone mention Sherlock?), the hold-up seems to be more the inability to match up with James Norton’s schedule rather than whether or not ITV and PBS are wavering on its continuation. Needless to say, it’s been challenging to compete with the time constraints of filming Happy Valley, War and Peace and McMafia. While other series...
While Worzel Gummidge isn’t a name that freely rolls off one’s tongue, the walking, talking scarecrow character with the interchangeable heads, each one giving him a unique special skill, has definitely been a fixture in British children’s fiction since the mid-1930s. The series of books by the English novelist Barbara Euphan Todd was later adapted numerous times for both radio and television, most successfully with former Doctor Who actor Jon Pertwee taking the lead role from 1979 to 1981. Ranked among the top 50 greatest British children’s programs, Worzel Gummidge will soon be getting a contemporary 21st century adaptation with MacKenzie Crook of The Office and Detectorists fame currently working on the script while stepping into the lead role. The series saw the scarecrow come to life on Scatterbrook Farm and cause mischief with children John and Susan who visited the farm on their holidays and featured a number of well-known names in guest roles including Billy Connolly, Billy Maynard, Lorraine Chase and Bernard Cribbins. Worzel Gummidge should find its way to the small screen in early 2019.
If you’ve every thought, as I’m sure we all have at one time or another, 1) this would make a great sitcom or, 2) I’m living in the middle of a sitcom, the BBC has all the answers in the BBC Writersroom. There are those that will argue that the ‘Sit’, or situation, needs to come first while others will argue that the ‘Com’, or comedy, is the most important aspect of a successful idea. Once you decide whether or not your particular story fits into either #1 or #2 above, here are some great tips to get you started from many on the front lines of many comedies that either are or will become your favorites in the not-too-distant future. No matter what side successful writers side, the basic starting point?  The story. It is useful to think of organizing a story in three acts. The first act (from three to five pages of a 30-minute script) sets up the major story of the episode, and introduces the major sub-plot. The final act (again, three to five pages) resolves both main plot and sub-plot. The middle act develops the narrative but, around halfway through the script, pushes things off into an unexpected direction. The audience should always want to know what is going to happen next, and be intrigued. The BBC Writersroom...
Much like the work of Suranne Jones (Scott & Bailey, Touch of Cloth, Doctor Foster, Secret of Crickley Hall) and Bill Nighy (Love Actually, State of Play, Page Eight, Best Exotic Marigold Hotel), there is very little that I won’t watch that features Nicola Walker. From her stint as GCHQ Senior Intelligence Analyst, Ruth Evershed, in Spooks to her genius efforts in Touching Evil, Scott & Bailey, Heading Out and, most recently, Last Tango in Halifax, anything that features her acting talents will immediately signal to me that its worth watching. You can now add the forthcoming Unforgotten to my DVR list of ‘must-see-TV’ featuring the former Cambridge Footlights member. Airing over a period of six weeks, the two series of Unforgotten will begin this Sunday at 9pET/8pCT on PBS Masterpiece. The 3-part first series focuses on a ‘cold’ murder case from almost four decades earlier, when the bones of a young man are found beneath the footings of a demolished house. An investigation begins that will unravel the lives of four people who have been waiting for this moment for nearly forty years, as they discover that the past can’t, and won’t, stay buried for ever. Photo Courtesy of John Rogers/Mainstreet Pictures 2015 for MASTERPIECE Unforgotten boasts a stellar cast with Walker and Sanjeev Bhaskar (Kumars at No. 42) taking the lead roles as DCI Cassie Stuart...
When Downton Abbey shut the doors in 2016 after six series, the residents of Downton both upstairs and down headed their separate ways to possible fame and fortune in ‘other projects’. No one has made the transition better than Lily James, who starred as Lady Rose in the British mega-period drama classic. Following her days on Downton Abbey, viewers have had a steady diet of James’ work on both the big  and small screen starring in Cinderella, War and Peace, Darkest Hour and let’s not forget, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.  James’ next big screen effort will see her as the ‘young Donna’ in Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again which is set to hit theaters this Summer. The sequel to the original 2008 guilty pleasure blockbuster, Mamma Mia!, which starred Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Julie Walters and Christine Baranski, will flash back to the wild youth of Meryl Streep’s character, Donna, as she lives life to its fullest extent on the Greek island of Kalokairi. Mamma Mia 2 (Picture: Universal) Virtually all of the original cast will be reunited including Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgard, Christine Baranski, Julie Walters with several additions as viewers are bounced back and forth in time watching relationships forged in the past that  still resonate in the present. New additions to the cast include Cher as Donna’s mother, and Andy García...
For Shakespeare & Hathaway: Private Investigators, the Series 1 combination of exceptional audience feedback and widespread critical acclaim can only mean one thing. A second series, obviously. It didn’t hurt either that the series provided the biggest drama launch for the channel’s weekday schedules since Father Brown in 2013 in addition to securing a place in the top 10 of all BBC content on iPlayer during the series’ first week. The newest daytime detective effort from Will Trotter, creator of Father Brown and The Coroner, throws together the unlikely pair of hardboiled private investigator Frank Hathaway (Mark Benton) with ex-hair dresser/people person turned private investigator trainee, Lu Shakespeare (Jo Joyner). The series, which premiered in February 2018 on BBC1, was screened on Day 2 of the 2018 BBC Showcase in Liverpool for possible broadcast on public television stations in the coming year. Photo credit: BBC Studios Unfortunately, for Frank, going through life out of shape and low on cash is no way to run a business. Lu hires Frank to spy on her fiancé whom she thinks is having an affair. Fortunately, for Lu, it turns out her soon-to-be husband is not cheating on her. The bad news, however, is that he’s not who she thinks he is and he ends up murdered about an hour after the “I Do’s”. With Lu needing a new challenge after she...
Sadly, I find myself two days late and a couple of dollars short when it comes to hearing about the latest technological television advancement that has the potential to rival the day that B&W television added color. It seems as though the folks over at BritBox have come up with the answer for all those die-hard British television fans who have found it difficult over the years to fully grasp the likes of Geordie, East End of London, Glaswegian or rural Scotland accents. Depending on the thickness of the dialect, it can be hard to understand the dialogue which is where captions enter the picture. With Interp-Brit, viewers can avoid embarrassment and switch from British to U.S. dialogue at the touch of a button. With the ‘Translate to American’ function, every show has been re-voiced for the American audience to where viewers can discover a world of incredible TV they have never understood… until now. With Interp-Brit, even the most wannabe die-hard Anglophile can listen to Benedict Cumberbatch, John Cleese, Rowan Atkinson, Colin Firth and Dame Judi Dench re-dubbed with American accents in some of their most notable roles. Unfortunately, Interp-Brit from BritBox was available only on Sunday, April 1, 2018.