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The Craig Ferguson/Peter Capaldi 80′s punk band connection

August 8, 2014

Who knew (or remembers) that the current host of The Late Late Show, Craig Ferguson, and the newest Traveling Time Lord (Peter Capaldi) go way back. As the story goes, Ferguson began as a drummer in a rock band called Exposure. He then joined a punk band called The Bastards from Hell, which was later renamed Dreamboys, which was fronted by guitar player and lead vocalist Peter Capaldi. They performed regularly in the early 80′s in Glasgow at such places as The Hellfire Club, where they record a live 3-song 7″ vinyl recording in October of 1980. Also in the band was Temple Clark on bass guitar, who is now a highly successful feature film storyboard artist that has worked on such films as The Avengers, Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows, and two films in the Harry Potter franchise, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
The Dreamboys with Peter Capaldi and Craig Ferguson

Not much is known about the former Bastards of Hell, other than what Capaldi discussed on The Late Late Show a few years ago. The ensuing discussion of their early days exploits in Glasgow are priceless.

In 1980, the Dreamboys recorded their ‘hit’, Bela Lugosi’s Birthday.


Is James Corden the new Craig Ferguson?

August 7, 2014

First it was Pink is the new Black. Then, everyone said that Orange is the New Black and Kale is the new Spinach. Now, it’s quite possible that James Corden is the new Craig Ferguson! With Ferguson leaving The Late Late Show at years end, I think that Benedict Cumberbatch’s name is the only one that has not surfaced as a possible replacement. The latest is British actor and comedian, James Corden, known widely in the UK for his BAFTA winning performance in Gavin & Stacey, which he both co-wrote and starred in, his performance in both the West End and on Broadway in One Man, Two Guvnors where he won the Tony Award and, most recently, for his co-creator/starring role in the comedy, The Wrong Mans.

While he’s not yet a household name in the States, he may soon get there with the recently released feature, Begin Again with Keira Knightley.

While I think Corden could be a great choice, the brilliant shoes of Craig Ferguson will be hard to fill. Personally, I have always thought him to be the funniest and most quick witted of all the current latenight hosts and should have replaced Jay Leno on The Tonight Show but that’s another story for another day. Unfortunately, no one asked me this time around. That said, I think the possibility of someone with the quick wit, enthusiasm and energy of a James Corden has potential…IF, he gets the creative freedom that Ferguson had or that Graham Norton has.

This won’t be the last we’ll see of Ferguson. After all, he was also the voice of Freakazoid‘s mentor AND the British comedy drama Doc Martin was based on a character from Ferguson’s film Saving Grace, with Ferguson getting writing credits for 12 of the episodes. Did I mention he was also in an episode of Red Dwarf back in the late 80′s? Need I say more about why Craig Ferguson is brilliant?

It’s Christmas time as ‘Downton Abbey’ films at Alnwick Castle

August 6, 2014

As we reported recently, Planet Earth’s favorite British period drama headed to Hogwarts this past week to continue filming for their forthcoming series 5 which will transmit in September on ITV1 and in January 2015 on PBS in the States.

What wasn’t completely clear at the time was that the filming taking place at Alnwick Castle, the home of the Duke and Duchess of Northumberland, was for the holiday special scheduled for this Christmas in the UK (traditionally moved to February and aired as the last episode in the season for the PBS broadcast). Fake snow was laid near Alnwick Castle with plenty of wintery white stuff laid on the pavements on Bailiffgate and the outside of one of the Duchess’s High School buildings, which has been transformed into a pub (a.k.a. The Crown and Anchor) for the scene.
Christmas in August at Alnwick Castle with Downton Abbey

If you’re headed to Northumberland for a quick tour of one of Britain’s most iconic castles, they have a message for you on their website.

Please note that various areas of Alnwick Castle will be closed or have limited access on July 28 – August 8 (inclusive), due to the filming of a major ITV period drama. Please check the ‘What’s On’ page for details about which events will be taking place on these days, as some are affected by the filming and may have to be cancelled or rescheduled. Some days may require a visitor capacity limit. The grounds are open as usual unless otherwise stated (certain areas of the grounds may need to be closed off at short notice on the day). Please note that some of the State Rooms may be dressed for filming while open to the public on those days. We apologise for any inconvenience.”

‘Us & Them’, the U.S. version of ‘Gavin & Stacey’ shelved by Fox

August 5, 2014

Network television in the States is a cruel business at times. Us & Them, a remake of popular British situation comedy Gavin & Stacey, has ‘officially’ been axed before it ever saw the light of day. Cruel, yes. Deserving, maybe. The original commission was for 13 episodes which was, subsequently, downsized to a paltry 6 episodes. It did, however, come as a bit of a surprise when Fox, earlier this summer, disclosed that the network wouldn’t even consider airing the completed episodes of the Sony-produced series. While early reviews were good for the series with leads Jason Ritter and Alexis Bledel the ‘goofy supporting cast’, as they were labeled, getting at least a first pass from critics, it just never made it to the Fox lineup this summer.

Official Trailer – US & THEM – FOX BROADCASTING by Flixgr
Critical thumbs up aside and as hard as they try, U.S. producers that try to duplicate British comedy and/or drama are already starting with two strikes against them. Unfortunately, it’s the same way I feel about movie sequels. Gavin & Stacey is another in a long line of quality British telly output that, for good reason, needs to be left alone.

BBC’s Call the Midwife 4 headed to PBS in 2015

August 4, 2014

There was a dark time, back in the day when the Earth was cooling, that fans of countless comedies or dramas wouldn’t know until well after the traditional angst-ridden season finale of their favorite telly pastime as to whether or not the series would be renewed. In some cases that we care not to mention, series were axed only to leave you wondering whether or not say Mrs Farnaby ever crossed the rainbow bridge or The Hour‘s Freddie Lyon, played by Ben Whishaw, survives a horrific beating after being dumped in front of the BBC (oops, sorry, I said I wasn’t going to mention).
Jessica Raine on Call the Midwife

Not so, however, when it comes to Call the Midwife. The popular British drama, which centers around the nuns of Nonnatus House and the people of Poplar that they look after, it was recently announced at the TCA Press Tour that Call the Midwife will return for a fourth series on BBC1 and PBS in the States. While a majority of the memoirs of Jennifer Worth’s memoirs have been exhausted, creator/writer Heidi Thomas has brilliantly created original material to both complement and supplement the memoirs based on new historical research and the testimony of other midwives, nuns and nurses working during this period. According to producers, Vanessa Redgrave will return as series narrator mirroring the actual, life-long friendship which continued between Jennifer Worth and the residents of Nonnatus House. The rest of the house’s well-loved regular characters also return for the new series, as do the recently introduced Patsy and Sister Winifred.

Just in case there are a few folks out the that haven’t seen the series 3 finale, we’ll leave spoilers behind at this point. As has been the case in previous series, a new holiday special will kick off the new season with Vanessa Redgrave appearing as a mature Jennifer Worth on screen for the first time. Series 4 of Call the Midwife is tentatively slated for a January 2015 premiere on BBC1 and will return to PBS on Sunday, March 19, 2015.

BBC’s Poldark turns Ammerdown into 18th Century Cornwall

August 3, 2014

Following filming stints in Bristol, Cornwall, Bath and Corsham, the forthcoming BBC1 production of Poldark with Aidan Turner (Being Human, The Hobbit) as Ross Poldark, heads to Ammerdown in Somerset this week. The production, slated for a 2015 transmission on BBC1 and PBS in the States also stars Eleanor Tomlinson (Death Comes to Pemberley, The White Queen) with a special appearance by Robin Ellis who starred as Ross in the original 1975 television adaptation of Poldark. Ellis will play a vicar in two of the episodes.
Aidan Turner filming Poldark in Ammerdown for BBC

Based on The Poldark Novels by Winston Graham, Poldark tells the story of British officer Ross Poldark, who returns to his native Cornwall after the Revolutionary War following his escape as a prisoner of war. Life doesn’t get any better for Poldark as, upon his return, he finds that because he was believed dead, his home has fallen into ruin and his estate has shifted to his mercenary uncle following the death of his father.

The newest adaptation of Poldark will have big shoes to fill as the original 1975 version with Robin Ellis remains one of the most popular series in both BBC and PBS drama history. Are you looking forward to the 2015 adaptation on BBC1 and PBS?

Downton’s Lily James to star in ‘War and Peace’?

August 2, 2014

Paul Dano and Downton Abbey's Lily James rumored for BBC One's War and PeaceLooks like Downton Abbey‘s Lily James is getting dangerously close to Benedict Cumberbatch waters these days when it comes to her name being rumored for parts in virtually everything that is slated for production. Having just finished her lead role in Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella, the actress who plays Lady Rose in Downton Abbey is, according to Deadline, now said to be up for the lead role of Natasha Rostova in the BBC’s forthcoming adaptation of War And Peace. Scripted for the small screen by Andrew Davies (Pride and Prejudice, Bleak House, House of Cards), the series will be a co-production of BBC Worldwide, The Weinstein Company and Look Out Point (Ripper Street).

Rostova, one of the central characters in the 1869 Leo Tolstoy novel, ultimately falls in love with Pierre Bezukhov (rumored to be played by Prisoners’ Paul Dano), the awkward illegitimate son who rises in society but leads a tumultuous life as he seeks to overcome his emotions. In King Vidor’s 1956 feature film adaptation, the roles were played by Audrey Hepburn and Henry Fonda. An early 70′s BBC adaptation starred Anthony Hopkins as Pierre.

Set in 1805 Russia and revolving around five aristocratic families, War and Peace is set against the backdrop of the reign of Alexander I, the lingering effects of his grandmother Catherine The Great’s rule and the events surrounding Napoleon’s invasion of Russia in 1812. The new, 6-part, adaptation for BBC One and PBS’ Masterpiece series will air in 2015, a year which already can boast a drama line-up of the likes of Downton Abbey, Mr. Selfridge, Call the Midwife, Poldark and, cross your fingers, Sherlock. Hey, a boy can dream, can’t he?


Ever wonder what David Tennant does on holiday?

August 1, 2014

Unfortunately, this might be as close as you get to an answer. In What We Did On Our Holiday, Doug (David Tennant) and Abi (Rosamund Pike) and their three children travel to the Scottish Highlands for Doug’s father Gordie’s (Billy Connolly) birthday party. It’s soon clear that when it comes to keeping a secret under wraps from the rest of the family, their children are their biggest liability. Creators Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkin, who had originally collaborated on Drop the Dead Donkey and were also responsible for the groundbreaking British comedy series, Outnumbered, have again found a new generation of youngsters that are talented, hilarious and exasperating all at the same time. I say ‘groundbreaking’ because Hamilton and Jenkin used improvisation in order to achieve convincing performances from the child actors in Outnumbered as opposed to a rigid scripted approach.

With the kids’ world soon to facing an upside down life with the impending divorce of their parents, the entire family takes one last trip together to the Scottish highlands to celebrate the birthday of their terminally-ill granddad Gordie, played by Billy Connolly). But can the children keep their parents’ split a secret? Thinking back to Karen, Ben and Jake from Outnumbered, I’m guessing not. Wonder what the over/under is in Vegas on how deep into the movie we’ll get before the secret’s out?

As if having David Tennant, Billie Connolly and Rosamund Pike wasn’t enough, add Celia Imrie and Ben Miller to the cast mix, I think I’ll go ahead an contact Fandango for tickets. What We Did On Our Holiday is scheduled to be released in UK cinemas on 26 September 2014 with no confirmed U.S. date as of yet.

‘Downton Abbey’ heads to Hogwarts for S5

July 31, 2014

Platform 9 & 3/4, magically concealed behind the barrier between Muggle Platform Nine and Platform Ten, at King’s Cross Station in London will be a bit crowded this week as cast and crew of Downton Abbey headed to Alnwick Castle in Northumberland. Filming at Alnwick Castle, which doubled as Hogwarts School of Witchery and Wizardry and the background of the dramatic Quidditch games in the first two Harry Potter movies, will continue through August 8.
Downton Abbey heads to Hogwarts

Alnwick Castle is no rookie when it comes to on-screen credits. The 14th century home to the Duke and Duchess of Northumberland was also used in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, with Kevin Costner and Morgan Freeman, Becket, which starred Richard Burton and Peter O’Toole, and Elizabeth, with Cate Blanchett and Geoffrey Rush.

For those that are desperately in need of something to minimize their ever-growing separation anxiety until series 5 begins, here’s a recent production still taking from filming at Highclere during series 5 production.
Downton Abbey S5 on PBS Masterpiece