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2018-01-23T17:22:44.409Z
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While series 2 of Victoria is already in the rear viewer mirror in the UK, American audiences are just now powering their way through the second week of series 2 of Victoria on PBS Masterpiece. Word is already beginning to leak out as to what audiences on both sides of the pond can expect from series 3. Tentatively set to begin filming later this Spring, one can probably guess that there will be tensions of a sexual nature between the Queen and Albert simply based on her already becoming increasingly resentful of the fact that Albert is constantly making her pregnant. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that having 9 children in the span of 17 years (6 in 8 years) will probably do this to you. Creator/writer Daisy Goodwin said, “She’s in this terrible double bind. She loves Albert and she loves going to bed with Albert. But every time he goes near her she gets pregnant. Obviously that suits him more than it suits her. When she’s pregnant he takes over her work. He’s the best maternity cover you can have – he’s rather too good at it. She feels rather displaced, [wondering] ‘who am I?’ She doesn’t like the discomfort about being pregnant.” Goodwin said: “Series three will start in 1848 which was a hugely dramatic and eventful time for both the royal family and Europe, with revolutions on the continent and uncertainty around the monarchy. Viewers can expect more...
From the Department of Never Say Never, Martin Clunes (Men Behaving Badly, Doc Martin) is returning to the sitcom world to star in the forthcoming BBC1 comedy, Warren. The story centers around Warren Thompson, who has to move from the south to Preston when his partner Anne’s father becomes ill. Taking a page out of the Dr. Martin Ellingham playbook, he soon finds that he’s in an area he dislikes, doing a job he doesn’t enjoy and with two teenage stepsons he never wanted. Clunes will star in the title role of Warren, a pedantic driving instructor who goes through life thinking the world is against him. Much like the Portwenn GP, Warren has a way of knowing best and speaking his mind that inevitably leads to conflict, chaos and disaster for those around him and most especially for himself. While Clunes is primarily known in recent years for his role as Dr Martin Ellingham in the ITV series, Doc Martin, the London born actor got his start in comedy beginning with his first regular television role as one of the sons in the BBC sitcom No Place Like Home. His career defining comedy role came several years later in the Simon Nye sitcom, Men Behaving Badly, starring Harry Enfield, Neil Morrissey, Leslie Ash and Caroline Quentin. Clunes starred as Gary Strong, a beer-guzzling London flatmate of Dermot Povey (Harry Enfield in series 1) and Tony Smart...
As America, once again, becomes transfixed (in a good way) on Sunday nights and the return of Victoria on PBS, we are afforded the opportunity to experience the theme music that easily deserves a co-starring credit as much as the Cornish coastline does for Poldark. It has been called haunting, mesmerizing, even uplifting. Composed by Martin Phipps (War & Peace, Peaky Blinders), Victoria‘s main title theme tune is titled “Alleluia” and was performed by the classical chorale ensemble,  The Medieval Baebes. (C) ITV Photographer: Gareth Gatrell According to series executive producer, Dan McCulloch, Phipps immediately fell in love with the series after being shown an early version of the premiere episode. He even went so far as to change his holiday plans to begin work on the composition. The singing group entered the picture to meet with Phipps in his East London studio thus beginning the creative collaboration. Victoria is by no means the first series where the soundtrack remains in your head long after the closing credits have run (again, in a good way). Who can forget the main title theme to Downton Abbey, where the final episode was recorded in London’s Abbey Road Studios, David Arnold and Michael Price’s epic Sherlock score or composer Barrington Pheloung’s brilliant...
Benedict Cumberbatch, the star of Sherlock and pretty much most everything that has come out of Hollywood these days, will bring an adaptation of Ian McEwan’s award-winning 1987 novel The Child in Time to the small screen for PBS on Sunday, April 1, 2018. In addition to executive producing the one-off, Cumberbatch will also take on the role of Stephen Lewis, a children’s book author whose is confronted with the unthinkable..the loss of a child. Co-produced by Pinewood TV, PBS Masterpiece and Cumberbatch’s production company, SunnyMarch, the film will explore the dark territory of a marriage devastated by the loss of a child. Her absence sets Stephen and his wife on diverging paths as both struggle with an all-consuming grief. With the passage of time, a balance of sorts returns, until hope surfaces and triumphs unexpectedly. Dealing with the subject of childhood on three levels, A Child in Time deals with the trauma of two adults losing their child, a man (Charles) who feels he was robbed of his own childhood and is searching for it once more, and the government’s intervention in child development. This won’t be the first Cumberbatch/McEwan rodeo as one of the actors first notable feature roles was in the adaptation of McEwan’s Atonement. “I read the novel years ago and it stayed with me – profound, beautiful and very moving“, said Cumberbatch. “Only Ian McEwan could write about loss with such telling honesty… I’m so proud ‘The Child in...
It’s a brave new world when it comes to distribution of television content these days. Since the beginning of time, fans of specific series were at the mercy of a few network heads that held total control when it came to giving a thumbs up/thumbs down to a new season of a series. It’s only in recent years that, as a PBS station programmer attending the BBC Showcase in Liverpool, we encountered several new kids on the block such as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. Streaming services have, in many instances, replaced The Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, Travel Channel as primary competitors for acquiring content for PBS stations. While Netflix (House of Cards), Hulu (A Handmaid’s Tale) and Amazon Prime (Man in the High Castle) have paid big dividends to their respective bottom lines, only now are we seeing streaming services such as Acorn and Britbox enter the world of commissioning with the recent announcement that a second series of Agatha Raisin and a spin-off of the critically acclaimed ITV/PBS series of The Bletchley Circle have been resurrected and commissioned by Acorn TV/Acorn Media Enterprises and Britbox, respectively. Agatha Raisin Both series have enjoyed audience success on PBS stations in the U.S. Raisin is a high-flying London PR executive (is there any other kind?) that fulfills a life-long dream of retiring to a small village in the Cotswolds. Unfortunately, the Cotswolds newest resident is hoping to make a really good second impression as it...
As series 2 of Victoria returns this Sunday as part of PBS Masterpiece, series creator/writer Daisy Goodwin sat down with Tellyspotting for a brief Q&A about the series, the relationship between Queen Victoria and her husband, Albert, and looking ahead to Sunday’s premiere of series 2, how Victoria manages to juggle motherhood with being Queen of England. It was 1981 when a young Cambridge University student, Daisy Goodwin, initially crossed paths with the 62-million words that made up the red leather-bound diaries of Queen Victoria. Approximately 35 years later, Goodwin put her ‘media and the monarchy in the 19th century’ studies to work and discovered a strong, spirited, passionate, engaging, funny and frank young woman who became Queen of England at the age of 18. Tellyspotting: In writing Victoria, did you initially approach the story as an historian or a dramatist? Daisy Goodwin: As a dramatist who knows the history intimately. What I am always trying to achieve is emotional truth, so there will be conversations that I have to invent, relationships I have to embroider but I do so in order to get closer to what I think really happened.  TS: Did you find that there are differences and/or challenges in writing based on historical fact as opposed to a...
When it rains drama, it pours these days as PBS and BBC have announced an epic new adaptation of the 19th Century Victor Hugo classic, Les Miserables with an all-star cast headed by Dominic West (The Affair, The Hour) and David Oyelowo (Spooks, Selma, A United Kingdom) in the iconic roles of Jean Valjean and Javert, the police inspector who dedicated his life to imprisoning Valjean following his release from Toulon prison after 19 years. They will be joined by Lily Collins (Rules Don’t Apply, Love, Rosie, Tolkien) in the role of Fantine. (C) BBC/Lookout Point – Photographer: David Oyelowo Award-winning screenwriter Andrew Davies (House of Cards, War & Peace, Bleak House, Mr. Selfridge, Little Dorrit) will go back to the original novel and delve deep into the many layers of Hugo’s story, digging deep into Jean Valjean and Javert’s cat-and-mouse relationship, set against the epic backdrop of France at a time of great civil unrest. Long considered to be one of the greatest novels of all-time, Les Mis has seen numerous adaptations on stage, television, film, a musical and film adaptation of that musical. Even with so many versions over the years, the cast was understandably excited about the prospect of an Andrew Davies adaptation. “Jean Valjean is one of the great characters in world literature. His epic journey of redemption is one of the extraordinary roles an actor...
When recently promoted DS Endeavour Morse (Shaun Evans), DCI Fred Thursday (Roger Allam) and Chief Superintendent Reginald Bright (Anton Lesser) return to the streets of Oxford next month when series 5 transmits on ITV, there will be a number of guest stars lined up along for the ride. MAMMOTH SCREEN FOR ITV In addition to those initially confirmed as appearing in series 5 including Phil Daniels (New Tricks, Eastenders), Donald Sumpter (Game of Thrones, Jekyll & Hyde) and Emma Rigby (Prisoner’s Wives, Once Upon a Time in Wonderland), those set to guest star in the set of six feature-length films include Robin Weaver (Call The Midwife), Charlotte Hope (Game Of Thrones), Caroline Goodall (Mrs. Biggs), Ellie Haddington (Ripper Street), Richard Durden (A Child In Time), Dominic Carter (Game Of Thrones), Steve Elder (Apple Tree Yard), Lily Lesser (Wolf Hall) and Rebecca Saire (Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell). Set in 1968, the newest series of Endeavour begins with Morse having finally passed his Sergeant’s exams, as Oxford City Police merges into Thames Valley Constabulary. Joan Thursday (Sara Vickers) has returned to Oxford, but much is unresolved following her disappearance the previous year and Endeavour’s unexpected proposal. Also reprising their roles in the upcoming series are Sean Rigby (Gunpowder), Dakota Blue Richards (Skins), Abigail Thaw (I Want My Wife Back), James Bradshaw (Primeval) and Caroline O’Neill (Last Tango In...
With Call the Midwife returning to BBC1 later this month, American fans of the series broadcast on PBS will have to wait a bit before returning to the friendly confines of Nonnatus House and the bicycle riding midwives. Thinking back on the series 6 finale, which was filled with enough happiness and sadness to make me wish I had invested in Kleenex stock years ago, series 7 brings the unhappy news that Bryony Hannah (Sister Mary Cynthia), Emerald Fennell (Patsy Mount) and Kate Lamb (Delia Busby) will not be residing at Nonnatus House when there series returns. The departure of all three actresses are bittersweet as Hannah has been with the series since day one back in 2012 and Fennell and Lamb depart just when their on-screen characters, Patsy and Delia, had just reunited after an extended separation. In addition, Ben Caplan, the actor who plays Sgt. Peter Noakes, will be taking a break following the end of series 6 and will not be returning at this time. While sad departures are nothing new for the midwives, Nonnatus House welcomes a new resident when Black Mirror actress Leonie Elliott is added to the cast as Nurse Lucille Anderson for Dr. Turner’s family and becomes the first West Indian midwife to feature as a regular character in the BBC drama. As with every preceding series of the popular drama, there are new faces, new real world events to confront head on and new challenges for Barbara (Charlotte Ritchie) as she...
Rowan Atkinson, English actor, comedian, and screenwriter turned 63 on Saturday. While best known to audiences for his work on the sitcoms Blackadder and Mr. Bean, I first stumbled upon Atkinson’s brilliant talent in the BBC2 sketch comedy series, Not the Nine O’Clock News. Airing from 1979-1982, the series featured satirical sketches on current news stories and popular culture and, alongside Atkinson, featured Pamela Stephenson, Mel Smith and Griff Rhys-Jones. Created by BAFTA award-winning producer, John Lloyd (Spitting Image, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Blackadder), the show’s name was derived from its schedule, as it originally aired on BBC2 at the same time serving as the comedic alternative to the Nine O’Clock News on BBC1. The show was originally scheduled to air in Fawlty Towers’ timeslot, perhaps the most difficult series to have to take its’ place. John Cleese was to have introduced the first episode in a sketch referring to a technicians’ strike then in progress that hindered the production of the show, explaining (in character as Basil Fawlty) that there was no show that week so a “tatty revue” would be broadcast instead. However the 1979 general election intervened, and the show was pulled as too political, being replaced with repeats of American sitcom Rhoda. Not the Nine O’Clock News featured a number of other future notables behind the camera including writer Richard Curtis (Blackadder, Mr. Bean, Vicar of Dibley) and musical director/composer Howard Goodall, who also...
Putting aside his career-long association with the Royal Shakespeare Company, his multiple Olivier, Golden Globe, Emmy, Screen Actors Guild award nominations, his stint as Captain Jean-Luc Picard on Star Trek: The Next Generation, his role as Professor Charles Xavier in the X-Men film series and even nine guest appearances as himself on Family Guy, Sir Patrick Stewart recently embarked on his most challenging role to date — Cowboy Pat! Complete with flannel shirt, spurs, chaps, bandanna and black hat, the greatness of Sir Patrick doesn’t disappoint as he belts out country classics such as ‘Rawhide’, ‘El Paso’, ‘Don’t Fence Me In’, ‘Ringo’, ‘Buttons and Bows’ and ‘I’m an Old Cowhand’, while decked out in his best country garb for charity. And, there’s even a Christmas track (‘Here Comes Santa Claus’) mixed in there! Tragically, last I checked, all copies of Patrick Stewart’s Cowboy Classics, are “sold out” on his website, but there is a five-song sampler available for download for $10. All proceeds benefit the International Rescue Committee, an organization that helps those affected by war and disasters around the world.
This past Tuesday, we reported the brilliant news that Hugh Laurie had been awarded a CBE during the 2018 New Year Honours for his services to drama. An event that went a bit unnoticed that day was the fact that Ringo Starr was awarded knighthood as recognition for his services to music and charity. The Beatles drummer became the second member of the group to receive top honors joining Sir Paul McCartney who was knighted 21 years earlier. John, Paul, George and Ringo were all recognized as Members of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) back in 1965. “It’s great!” the drummer, whose real name is Richard Starkey, said in a statement of becoming a Sir. “It’s an honor and a pleasure to be considered and acknowledged for my music and my charity work, both of which I love. Peace and love. Ringo.” A knighthood or damehood is the highest honor awarded in the five categories approved by the Queen. More than 1,100 people were honored this year, including 551 women. The list, which is drawn up by the government and approved by the Queen, recognizes the achievements and service of extraordinary people and includes politicians, academics, journalists, authors and athletes.
While it may be difficult for some to come to grips with the fact that Doctor Who  premiered some 55 years ago in 1963, it’s a bit more difficult for me to grasp that Blake’s 7, the creation of Terry Nation (who had already wreaked havoc on The Doctor with his creation of the Daleks), has just turned 40! The BBC primetime science fiction series premiered on Monday, January 2, 1978 and ran for four seasons totaling 52 episodes. Saddled with a production that, like the Grinch’s heart, was two sizes too small, Blake’s 7 quickly gained a more than respectable audience following in excess of 10 million viewers weekly during its run on BBC1. Wrongly cited (IMHO) by one critic as being ‘classically awful’, the series did seem to always be clawing their way uphill against the grain not only due to the small budgets but also some major cast changes as Gareth Thomas (Roj Blake) and Sally Knyvette (Jenna Stannis) left after series two. That said, there’s a lot to really love about Blake’s 7 which benefited greatly from both having a number of BBC talent that got their starts working on Doctor Who but also good writing and characterization. Being given the time to develop was also a big key to its success. While it might have been viewed as a bit of a misfortune to premiere within a week of the UK release of that other...
Widely known for his comedic partnership with Stephen Fry, his roles in Jeeves and Wooster, Blackadder and The Night Manager, not to mention his 8-year run as the unconventional medical genius, Dr. Gregory House, on the American television series, House, Hugh Laurie is being awarded the upgraded honor of a CBE in the New Year Honours for his services to drama. The celebrated actor, musician, comedian and writer was originally awarded an OBE (Order of the British Empire) in 2007. It was his time at Cambridge University where, as President of the Cambridge Footlights amateur drama club, Laurie and Stephen Fry, his future professional comedy partner, met. Following their success on stage early in their career, it was their first TV sketch show, Alfresco, with Emma Thompson, Ben Elton and Robbie Coltrane, that led to A Bit of Fry & Laurie and the classic comedy series, Jeeves and Wooster. Laurie went on to appear in the Richard Curtis/Rowan Atkinson series, Blackadder, as HRH Prince Regent George in series 3 and Lieutenant George in series 4 before becoming Dr. Gregory House, the king of anti-social in the medical world on the Fox series, House. Four years removed from House, Laurie returned to the small screen as Richard Roper in the BBC series, The Night Manager, in 2016. If that’s not enough to warrant a CBE, Laurie’s hit debut novel “The...
While I’m not really sure who “they” are, they say that comedy makes for strange bedfellows. Never has this been more evident than with the long-standing habit/tradition in Germany on New Year’s Eve involving an 11-minute British comedy sketch, Dinner for One, which is also known in Germany as Der 90 Geburtstag (The 90th birthday). It seems that watching television on New Year’s Eve in Germany is right up there with the tradition of watching telly in the U.K. on both Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Photo: DPA Dinner for One was originally written by British author Lauri Wylie for the theatre. German television station Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR) recorded a performance of the piece in 1963, in its original English language, with a short introduction in German. This comedy sketch, which first appeared on German television in 1963, went on to become the most frequently repeated TV program ever according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Here’s a brilliant short summary courtesy of Charley-Kai John with German newspaper, The Local, which provides German news online in English, to get the rest of the world up to speed. Miss Sophie, played by May Warden, is celebrating her 90th birthday by throwing a dinner for her friends Sir Toby, Admiral von Schneider,...
When  the BBC drama series Death in Paradise suspended filming in Guadeloupe in the Caribbean because of a red alert issued over the dangers posed by Hurricane Irma, the hit comedy/drama/mystery series’ scheduled return in January 2018 was, understandably, up in the air. Thankfully, it’s going to take more than the most powerful hurricane ever recorded over the Atlantic Ocean to delay the series 7 premiere on Thursday, 4 January 2018 on BBC 1. (C) Red Planet Pictures – Photographer: Denis Guyenon Brexit, which could end up being more powerful than any hurricane to the television production industry, could spell the end of Death in Paradise if the United Kingdom leaves the European Union without negotiating a deal. “Guadeloupe is an overseas territory of France, so it’s part of the EU, which makes it really easy to film there,” said series writer and creator Robert Thorogood. Series seven of Death in Paradise will be Father Ted star Ardal O’Hanlon’s first full series as DI Jack Mooney, chief investigator on the fictional Caribbean island of Saint Marie. O’Hanlon took over as lead from Kris Marshall at the end of series six. Experiencing a much better fate than his predecessor on the island, DI Richard Poole (played by Ben Miller), Marshall’s DI Humphrey Goodman resigned in series 6 so he could stay in London with his new girlfriend Martha Lloyd.
Don’t get me wrong, the Internets can be a wonderful place to mindlessly lose yourself tracking down little known or cared about facts that will amaze your friends at parties. They can, however, be a breeding ground for endless rumors when it comes to your favorite television series whether it’s possible storylines, suggested plots, casting issues or when and/or if a series has ended or will return. Just to try and set the record straight from those who should know, here are few year-end rumors that, at this point, should be put to bed. Don’t bet on James Norton as the next 007…yet That, according to the Grantchester/Happy Valley/McMafia actor himself recently when asked about his odds of becoming the next James Bond dramatically increasing with his recent role in McMafia. Norton has shared the billing of being named the next 007 with the likes of Idris Elba (Luther), Aidan Turner (Poldark), Tom Hardy (Dunkirk, Tinker Tailor) when the current tuxedo-clad British Secret Service agent, Daniel Craig, decides to retire from the Bond franchise. Norton responded to the rumors by telling Radio Times, “It’s really humbling and flattering, but to have my name next to the likes of Tom Hardy and Michael Fassbender is just mad. If you’re thinking of putting a bet on me, keep your money in your pocket.” The Thick of It creator says “No!” to a possible Malcolm Tucker return…
With the simple phrase, “Oh, brilliant“, the era of the 13th Doctor has officially begun following the Christmas Day Peter Capaldi to Jodie Whitaker regeneration. As the 12th Doctor’s concludes his dramatic farewell message, he explodes into fiery flames and begins the regeneration to Doctor #13, played by Broadchurch’s Jodie Whitaker. While regeneration from Doctor to Doctor is probably as painful as it looks, it’s not easy to film either. As Doctor Who director Rachel Talaley explains, Peter had ‘numerous notes’ on what he wanted to do, and that they tried a variety of different things, but that she knew all along that she wanted to ‘blow stuff up’. “In the old days, you did a morph and there was some stuff on the face. But I wanted it to be grander,” she said. And, much grander is was from previous regeneration scenes! Mission accomplished, I would say. The 12th Doctor bids farewell as the regeneration begins…. There it is.. The silly old universe. The more I save it, the more it needs saving, it’s a treadmill. [Speaking to the TARDIS] Yes, yes I know. They’ll get it all wrong without me. Well, I suppose, one more lifetime wouldn’t kill anyone. Well. Except me. [Speaking to the next Doctor] You wait a moment, Doctor. Let’s get it right. I’ve got a few things to say to...
Dad’s Army, the Jimmy Perry/David Croft situation comedy about the British Home Guard during the Second World War, graced the BBC1 television airwaves for the first time in July 1968 running for 80 episodes over the course of 9 series. Royal Mail’s 2018 stamp calendar will, once again, showcase the “best of British” releasing special stamps each month during the calendar year. To mark the 50th anniversary of Dad’s Army, Britain’s primary postal service has revealed that the iconic British TV series will be featured on eight stamps to be released in June 2018. In addition to the June release, other months will pay tribute to the RAF Centenary (March), commemorate the conservationists who have reintroduced extinct species back into the UK with a ‘Reintroduced Species’ series featuring the large blue butterfly and the Osprey (April) and stamps in September to mark the centenary end to the First World War with images including the poppy image, war poetry and art, and a commemoration of the sacrifice of the armed services. So, when Corporal Jones says “Don’t Panic”, he means it but just know you’re going to have to wait until June.  
NBC is counting on the old adage that the 3rd time will be the charm rather that older one that says strike three and your out when it partners with Universal Television to create and American version of Graham Linehan’s sitcom, The IT Crowd. Unsuccessfully piloted twice before to American audiences by NBC, the network’s newest effort may hold the key to success that the other two lacked as original creator Graham Linehan will both write the scripts and executive produce the newest effort. The original NBC 2007 effort starred Richard Ayoade reprising his role as Moss from the original British sitcom while the 2014 effort was overseen by Scrubs creator, Bill Lawrence. Both efforts failed to generate any interest beyond the initial pilot stage and were never brought to series. Having Linehan (who also gave us the greatness of Father Ted and Black Books) involved is a huge step in the right direction for this third effort to bring The IT Crowd to America. Talking about how American sitcoms follow a different style of humour, Linehan explained recently in an exclusive Sitcom Geeks podcast: “I thought you cannot do the same type of show, if you look at US sitcoms, they do realistic grounded sitcoms with characters you love, brilliantly. Cheers, Frasier, Seinfeld; sometimes they have more surreal elements, but generally they’re much more grounded than my stuff.” Interestingly, the first effort was done...