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A bit of ‘Doctor Who Christmas Special 2014′ casting news for you

September 23, 2014

Nick Frost (Mr. Sloane, Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, World’s End and Cuban Fury) and Natalie Gumede (Coronation Street) will star in this years Doctor Who Christmas Special it was announced by the BBC on Friday. Michael Troughton (Breathless, The New Statesman), who has recently returned to acting, will also appear in the special following in his father Patrick Troughton’s footsteps, who played the second incarnation of the Doctor.
 
doctor_christmas_3044688b

Following the announcement that Frost would be joining the cast, the star of Mr. Sloane sounded a bit like a what I can only imagine the current Doctor, Peter Capaldi, sounded when he learned of his new role as the Traveling Time Lord saying, “I’m so thrilled to have been asked to guest in the Doctor Who Christmas special, I’m such a fan of the show. The read-through was very difficult for me; I wanted to keep stuffing my fingers into my ears and scream ‘No spoilers!’. Every day on set I’ve had to silence my internal fan-boy squeals!” Executive producer Steven Moffat added: “Frost at Christmas – it just makes sense! I worked with Nick on the Tintin movie many years ago and it’s a real pleasure to lure him back to television for a ride on the TARDIS.”

In true Doctor Who fashion, even though filming has begun in Cardiff, story and plot lines are under wraps on a level that rivals Downton Abbey and Sherlock filming. Depending on who you talk to or what you read, “departing” companion Jenna Coleman (Death Comes to Pemberley) also promises some big surprises this holiday season. “We do see Clara beginning to fall for Danny,” Coleman hints. “There’s a big surprise we’ve got coming. It’s much better that nobody knows which way it’s going to go, so that’s where we’re trying to keep it at the moment.

I know you never really need a reason to look forward to Christmas, but this might be reason enough for those that want to put it off as long as possible…Look for the Doctor Who Christmas Special this 25 December.

Groundskeeper Willie speaks out on Scottish independence vote

September 22, 2014

When a program or series across the pond gets the parody treatment, it usually means you’ve arrived. With countless spoofs and parodies behind them, the leader in the clubhouse for the past several years has been Downton Abbey. From Jimmy Fallon to Saturday Night Live to Funny or Die, the British period drama has been the target of some top-notch brilliance in recent years. Prior to last weeks referendum vote on Scottish independence, there were countless celebrities putting in their two cents for both sides trying to swing the vote for either ‘Yes Scotland’ or ‘Better Together’.

One celebrity, however, stood out from the rest in throwing his support for Scottish independence. None other than Groundskeeper Willie from The Simpsons took to the airwaves to not only voice his strong support for independence but to also declare his intention to lead the ‘New Scotland’ onto the world stage. With his slogan of ‘Aye or Die, how can you argue? Here, Groundskeeper Willie lets everyone know his thoughts on the vote.
 

 
Now that the vote has come and gone with approximately 54% of Scotland voting to remain part of the United Kingdom and 46% believing a independent Scotland was the way to go, Groundskeeper Willie seems to have taken the final vote kind of hard with all indications being that he has been drowning his sorrows since last Friday morning.
 
Groundskeeper Willie

What’s the ultimate wedding venue for the ultimate ‘Downton Abbey’ fan?

September 21, 2014

As the UK readies itself for tonight’s return of Downton Abbey, we have one question. Are you a Downton Abbey fan of the highest quality and find yourself in need to a wedding venue in the not-too-distant future? At Tellyspotting, we have the answer…and, it’s not Highclere Castle.
 
A Downton Abbey courtroom wedding in your plans

Couples looking for an entirely different way to tie the knot can now book the infamous Surrey-based courtroom, featured in Downton Abbey and scenes from other iconic British dramas, including Lewis, Endeavour, The Bill, EastEnders, Holby City, Call the Midwife and Midsomer Murders. The Surrey County Council has announced that the former Crown Court now has a license to conduct weddings. While it’s no longer a working courtroom, it still has all the original deep wood paneling and other than the fact you would be on trial, it must have been a pretty atmospheric place to have your fate decided by the courts. Now, if they so desire, happy couples can say their vows on the same stand that Bates was tried for murder while 100 of their relatives sit in the jury box or public gallery.
 
Bates on trial in Downton Abbey

Even though it has ceased to be a ‘working courtroom’, the historic court, located in the council’s Kingston-upon-Thames headquarters, brought in £145,000 of revenue in 2013 as a film location rental. It’s hoped that the wedding market will prove just as lucrative as weddings can be booked for between £3,000-£3,250 which includes a ceremony in the courtroom and a reception in one of the building’s grand chambers.

Denise Le Gal, Surrey County Council’s cabinet member for business services, said: “I wouldn’t be surprised if the more avid Downton fans decide to exchange vows in the same courtroom that witnessed Mr Bates’ trial.” Even though it’s hard to put a $$ amount on a lifetime of happiness, it might seem a little steep for you pocketbook but, if it helps, it’s VAT free!

Last original ‘old dog’ to leave ‘New Tricks’ in 2015

September 20, 2014

Dennis Waterman, a.k.a. Gerry Standing, will leave the British comedy/drama New Tricks part way through the long-running series’ 12th season, which will begin filming in November. As the last original member of the fictional Unsolved Crime and Open Case Squad (UCOS) of the Metropolitan Police Service, Waterman has appeared in every episode of the series’ first 11 seasons and will bow out after appearing in two episodes of the upcoming series which will transmit in 2015. The original line-up of Amanda Redman as DS Sandra Pullman, James Bolam and Alun Armstrong left the series over the course of the 9th and 10th series leaving Waterman as the only original member while Denis Lawson, Nicholas Lyndhurst and, now, Tamzin Outhwaite were added to the cast as the “new” old dogs.
 
Dennis Waterman exits as the last old dog on New Tricks

Looking back on the time frame when Amanda Redman and others left the series, one had to begin to wonder just how long Waterman would want to hang out with the new kids on the UCOS block. The original cast had been together since the BBC series premiered in 2003 having developed an amazing chemistry over the years which accounts for the fact that the series has been a favorite with viewers not only on BBC1 in the UK and public television in America but in over 25 countries around the world. The newest cast incarnation of New Tricks has continued to keep the series fresh and has held on to the series’ strong audience numbers resulting in it being commissioned for a 12th series. Let’s hope producers will continue to allow Waterman’s singing of the opening theme as it’s a classic.
 

 

‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies’ with Downton’s Lily James up next for a post-Doctor Who, Matt Smith

September 19, 2014

What’s next after you just spent three seasons as the Eleventh Traveling Time Lord? A bit of Jane Austen and Zombies, obviously. The adaptation of the Seth Grahame-Smith novel of the same name has been in the works since 2009, long before Matt Smith became a household face and name as The Doctor, and was originally rumored to be a 6-part television series. Smith has joined the cast as a ‘Mr. Collins’, alongside girlfriend Lily James (Downton Abbey) who is playing the lead.
 
P&P&Z with Matt Smith and Downton's Lily James

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, affectionately known as P&P&J, is a horror-comedy twist on Jane Austen’s classic novel Pride and Prejudice and follows Liz Bennet (James) as she is pressured by her mother into marrying into the wealthy upper classes. But, thanks to martial arts training from her father, Liz and her sisters are far better suited to defending the English countryside from the grips of a horrifying zombie plague. Sounds more like Downton Abbey meets Buffy, the Vampire Slayer if you ask me.

In addition to Smith and James, Sam Riley (On the Road) will star as Fitzwilliam Darcy, the obligatory pompous, but well-intentioned monster hunter, with Douglas Booth (em>Romeo and Juliet) playing the eligible Mr Bingley and Jack Huston (em>American Hustle, Boardwalk Empire) as the devious Wickham. Booth will be most recognizable to BBC and PBS viewers for his role as Pip in the 2011 BBC remake of Great Expectations.

James is putting together quite the career since she took the residents of Downton Abbey by storm at the end of series 3. She has quietly filled her CV during her off-months filming Downton by taking on the lead role in Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella and is rumored to be considering the lead in the upcoming BBC epic production of War and Peace. Smith has been busy, himself, having just finished filming a major role in Terminator: Genisys opposite Emilia Clarke and Arnold Schwarzenegger followed next year by a part in Ryan Gosling’s film directorial debut, Lost River. Filming for Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is set to begin on September 24

Scotland – Should I stay or should I go now?

September 18, 2014

In the beginning, England and Scotland were not only separate, they were frequently at war. Ever since that fateful day in 1707 when the two countries got together and formed a single country, Scotland has been part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain.  Today’s referendum vote, which has been in the works for almost two and one-half years, offers Scotland the chance to break free from Great Britain and gain its independence. Who better to explain the points to consider on both sides of the issue than the great John Oliver. After all, he all but nailed the debate on the issue of Net Neutrality. It only makes sense that the possible secession of Scotland is up next.

Here, the host of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, takes an in-depth look at both campaigns by not only examining their rather polite but ‘very British’ slogans, looks into each campaign’s financing and analyzing both platforms. Warning…there is just a wee bit of strong language ahead…it is HBO after all.
 

 
So…will it be Yes Scotland or Better Together who comes out on top after today’s vote? My question is what will it mean for Doctor Who? After all, two of the best Traveling Time Lords in recent memory, David Tennant and Peter Capaldi, are Scots! Not trying to sway you in any way, just stating fact. Now, here’s your chance to have your voice heard on this side of the Atlantic!

Should Scotland secede from the U.K.?

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Your ‘Downton Abbey’ S4 re-cap just in time for Sunday!

September 17, 2014

As the UK braces itself for Hurricane Downton that should hit landfall this Sunday, say around 9:00pm, we thought it best that since it has been approximately nine months since most everyone last visited the Crawleys we should do a bit of a recap of where we stand both upstairs and downstairs at Downton Abbey. Yes, Mary is STILL deciding on a suitable suitor, Lady Edith is understandably STILL depressed, Mrs. Hughes and Mr. Carson have FINALLY hooked up, the walls are beginning to close in on Bates and Lady Rose didn’t disappoint by getting tangled up in a scandal surrounding the Prince of Wales. And, who can forget Lady Edith’s sudden change of heart after returning from Europe or Lady Mary destroying evidence? Now, wouldn’t you say you need a bit of a refresher before Sunday? For a full written re-cap, happy reading.
 

 
Unless you are thinking of binge viewing series 4 this weekend in preparation for Sunday’s premiere, I think you’re all caught up. Now you can sit back and watch as the suitors line up for Lady Mary, I mean the Dowager Countess. Hopefully, it’s someone who knows what a weekend is…

‘W1A’ to return to the halls of BBC’s New Broadcasting House in 2015

September 16, 2014

While the world carefully watches the historic “Yes Scotland” vs. “Better Together” vote this coming Thursday that will determine if Scotland is to remain part of the United Kingdom or become an independent country, there is another extraordinarily critical issue on the table that is just around the corner and, most likely, going virtually unnoticed. The 2016 BBC Charter Renewal is inching ever so close with the ultimate outcome quite possibly in the hands of Ian Fletcher (Hugh Bonneville), the BBC’s Head of Values. Fletcher will, once again, solicit the help of Siobhan Sharpe’s PR agency Perfect Curve and their “high standards of clarity and presentational skills when it comes to the key issues facing the Corporation.” As the former Head of the Olympic Deliverance Commission, Fletcher brings immeasurable skill and talents to his position as Chair of the The Way Ahead Task Force BBC’s Head of Values when W1A returns for a second series.
 

 
A very ecstatic Fletcher commented on his return, “I am very happy to have the cameras back. Being Head of Values is all about re-setting the dial for the BBC and perhaps about shining a new light on that dial, or at least shining the old light but with a new bulb, so none of us can be in any doubt where the dial is or can have any excuse for not being able to read what it says.

While series 1 will finally find its way to public television beginning in January 2015, Series 2 will begin filming around that same time and will again be made up of four episodes, comprised of one hour long program and three, thirty-minute programs as was series 1. For those trying to do the math in your heads, not to worry as should there be a series 6 of Downton Abbey, filming will end in plenty of time for Bonneville to shift gears and head back to the mid-1920′s in his role as Lord Grantham.

Already lined up for the series 2 return will be Bonneville, Hynes, Sarah Parish (Breathless) and Jason Watkins (Being Human, Trollied). Everyones favorite Traveling Time Lord, David Tennant, will return to narrate. Look for W1A on both BBC2 and public television in the States in 2015.

Miss Marple: Two Mysteries, One Night, One Place – PBS

September 15, 2014

By the end of this week, I’m guessing that most of America will be Roosevelt-ed out having just been riveted to the small screen for 14 hours of brilliant telly from the mind palace of filmmaker, Ken Burns. Not to worry, PBS stations around the U.S. will have three new Miss Marple mysteries headed their way beginning Sunday, September 21. Yes, I’m fully aware that this is Downton Day in the UK but there is plenty of quality drama headed your way to fill the time until January 4, 2015 starting with a bit of Agatha Christie and consulting detective, Miss Jane Marple.
 
Two Mysteries, One Night, One Place - PBS

Julia McKenzie returns in her iconic role as spinster sleuth Miss Marple for three new mysteries. Beginning next Sunday, PBS fans of Masterpiece will get a double dose of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple beginning at 8:00p ET/7:00p CT with “A Caribbean Mystery”. Then, at 9:30p ET/8:30p CT, PBS’ Masterpiece series presents “Greenshaw’s Folly”. On Sunday, September 28, McKenzie continues her mystery solving ways in “Endless Night” at 9:00p ET/8:00p CT.

McKenzie is the third British actress to play the Agatha Christie creation following in the footsteps of Joan Hickson, who first played the Agatha Christie creation for PBS’ Masterpiece series from 1984-1992 and then Geraldine McEwan from 2004-2008.
 

 
A Caribbean Mystery, September 21, 8:00p ET/7:00p CT

Adapted by comedian, author and actor Charlie Higson, who has a cameo as the unassuming American ornithologist James Bond, “A Caribbean Mystery” has Miss Marple on holiday at a lavish tropical island hotel. In true Christie fashion, Miss Marple finds herself investigating the
 sudden death of a fellow guest and then unravels a web of deceit, murder and “dark magic” with the help of a curmudgeonly business tycoon played by Sir Antony Sher (God on Trial), leaving her to consider every one of the hotel’s guests as a suspect. Also starring are MyAnna Buring (Downton Abbey), Pippa Bennett Warner (Case Histories), and Charity Wakefield (Any Human Heart).

Greenshaw’s Folly, September 21, 9:30p ET/8:30p CT

Adapted from two of Christie’s short stories, Greenshaw’s Folly and The Thumb Mark of St. Peter, the second mystery reunites Julia McKenzie with two of her Cranford costars, Kimberly Nixon (Louisa) and Julia Sawalha (Mrs. Cresswell). When an old family friend and her young son turn to Miss Marple for assistance, she places them at nearby Greenshaw’s Folly, the family home of an eccentric botanist. But it becomes clear that the labyrinthine Folly isn’t quite the safe house that Miss Marple had hoped, when death casts its dark and sinister shadow on the residents.

Sunday, September 21 – Two Mysteries – One Night – One Place – PBS! Be there. Don’t forget to stay away from Twitter and Facebook to avoid Downton Day spoilers from the UK. You’ll thank me later.

Downton Abbey 5 – Drama, drama and more drama headed our way

September 14, 2014

Lots of questions to be answered one week from tonight in the UK when Planet Earth’s favorite British period drama, Downton Abbey returns to the small screen with the premiere of series 5. Filming has concluded, it’s now Downton Time in the UK. Now that we are inside one week, Chloe Fox from the Telegraph takes us behind the camera as filming winds down at Highclere Castle.
 
On the set of Downton Abbey at Highclere Castle for the filming of series 5

While there is lots of drama on the horizon, it’s not like the first four series have been without their own personal drama. Did Bates (Brendan Coyle) murder his wife? Would Lady Mary Crawley (Michelle Dockery) end up with her cousin Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens)? And, how can we forget the fact that within a matter of weeks Lady Sybil (Jessica Brown Findlay) died in childbirth and Matthew had been killed in a car crash. And that’s just the first three series. Series 4 ramped up the drama quotient quite a bit with the attack on Anna Bates (Joanna Frogatt) and then seemed to endlessly stretch out the question of who would Lady Mary end up with.

Though cast and crew have been threatened to within an inch of their respective period drama lives by series creator/writer, Sir Julian Fellowes, if they even think of divulging any plot lines, there are some things that we do know about for series 5. You do get the feeling that if there were any leaks, you might just get a middle of the night visit from Mr. Bates.

Some things are pretty easy to guess knowing that it is 1924, one year removed from where season four left off. Lady Mary will, no doubt, continue to juggle suitors, Bates and Anna will continue their struggle to come to terms with the aftermath of her rape, and a new character, Kuragin, a dashing Russian refugee played by Rade Sherbegdia, will spice things up for everyone. Richard E Grant arrives at Downton and play art historian Simon Bricker, a friend of the family along with Anna Chancellor, who plays Lady Anstruther.

Series 5 is set against a backdrop of the first-ever Socialist government, so that brings it’s own drama to the inhabitants of Downton. “The 1920s were a strange era of transition,” Fellowes says. “Visually, that change will be reflected in the costumes – hemlines moving up, necklines moving down, and, for all characters, adjustment to the new world will be the order of the day.” One new revelation, according to Fox, is that Violet Crawley, the Dowager Countess of Grantham (Maggie Smith) will be discovered to have ‘a past’. That ought to bring a smile to the face of Isobel Crawley (Penelope Wilton).
 
Is Violet sharing her past with Isobel Crawley

One of the more encouraging things to come out of ANY interview to this point comes from series writer/creator, Julian Fellowes. “I must say, I’m incredibly pleased with this series. Who knows how long we’ve got left in us. My own belief is that we will all reach a natural consensus about when it’s time to say goodbye. In the meantime, we are going to keep telling the story as best we can.” Don’t know about you but it sounds to me like we’ll be right back here again in 12 months talking about series 6, don’t you think? In the meantime, get that proper cup of tea ready for Sunday, 21 September for the return of Downton Abbey on ITV1.

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