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TARDIS’ discovered on the streets of Glasgow

April 8, 2014

In 1963, when Doctor Who began, hundreds of blue police phone boxes were scattered all over the UK. They served a very important purpose in the days before the Internet and smartphones (I know, just after the Ice Age). Inside these iconic blue boxes were actual telephones in which passers-by could alert the police if they saw something on the fair streets of Britain that didn’t look quite right.

Doctor Who fans around the world have built refrigerators based on them, added a faux-fronts to their homes that resembled them and even made their kids’ room so TARDIS life-like, The Doctor would be proud. While these are great tributes, the have nothing on the city of Glasgow in Scotland where fans worldwide can see the real thing. Thanks to Radio Times Travel, a number of these ‘official’ blue police boxes that survived destruction at the hands of local authorities who had nary a clue that the Doctor Who phenomenon would outlive the rapidly deteriorating boxes.

Thanks to Ward Westwater, Glasgow has preserved a handful of these original, Tardis-style, police call boxes. Westwater bought some of the remaining boxes and restored them for Doctor Who fans to enjoy on the streets of Glasgow, Scotland without having to pay museum prices. Interestingly, two of them used to be coffee huts, selling homemade beverages. I wonder if it was take-away only or if, in true Tardis form, it had endless seating inside away from the cold Glasgow winters.

Buchanan Street, Glasgow G1
Buchanan Street, Glasgow G1 Tardis

Cathedral Square, Glasgow G4
Catheral Square, Glasgow G4 Tardis

For more original Tardis-style police boxes in and around Glasgow and the UK, check our more at Radio Times.

Mr. Molesley finally gets to give orders in ‘The Crimson Field”

April 7, 2014

The Crimson Field premiered last night on BBC One. For Kevin Doyle, his portrayal of Colonel Roland Brett in the World War I drama is a far cry from his recent demotion to footman at Downton Abbey and his interminable suffering at the hands of Carson. “It’s nice to be giving orders rather than receiving them,” he told RadioTimes.com. “It took me a while to get used to being a figure of authority – to have someone with quiet authority who is rather placid.”

Kevin Doyle, Mr. Molesley in Downton Abbey, stars in The Crimson Field on BBC One

Set in a field hospital on the Western Front, The Crimson Field is not so much the usual war story of soldiers in the trenches but more of the tented field hospitals where the injured found themselves in the care of military doctors and nurses.

The Crimson Field begins in 1915 with the Voluntary Aid Detachments, or VAD’s, and their arrival as the first volunteer nurses at the field hospitals on the coast of France. Starring Hermione Norris (Ros Meyers in Spooks), Oona Chaplin (The Hour, Sherlock, Game of Thrones) and Suranne Jones (Scott and Bailey, A Touch of Cloth), The Crimson Field tells a WWI story that is not that widely known, especially not one taught in school.

The VAD’s were young women primarily from the middle and upper classes and were unaccustomed to hardship and discipline. Dealing daily with the injuries, casualties and, ultimately, death, took its toll. Every dying man at a field hospital would have had a nurse with him to the end, and it was her responsibility to write to the family, always stating, whether it was true or not, that the loved one died peacefully and without pain.

The six-part series continues each Sunday on BBC One and will make it’s way to public television stations via PBS in the not-too-distant future.

R.I.P. – Bob Larbey

April 6, 2014

These are getting harder and harder to write with each passing but they seem to come more frequently these days than any of us would like. The British comedy world, actually, the comedy world, lost a good friend this past week when Bob Larbey passed away.

While you may not be familiar with the name, you unknowingly have spent countless hours smiling at his work over the years. Bob co-created and co-wrote with writing partner John Esmonde, The Good Life (known as The Good Neighbors in the States) and wrote As Time Goes By. Even Bob knew and seemed to relish not being recognized in public for his work. But As Time Goes By co-stars Dame Judi Dench and Geoffrey Palmer certainly recognized his brilliant work in this brief clip from PBS’ Behind the Britcom: From Script to Screen.

In 2010, we had the great good fortune to spend time interviewing Bob for our PBS production, Behind the Britcom: From Script to Screen. In this clip, Bob talked about the casting of Judi Dench in the role of Jean Pargetter (Hardcastle).

As hosts and As Time Goes By co-stars Philip Bretherton and Moira Brooker point out, it’s rare when a writer gets the opportunity to end a series as they had planned it out in their minds. Sometimes, series can end abruptly because of an ‘Are You Being Served?-style boardroom decision’. Such was the case for Larbey with Mulberry. But with The Good Life, Larbey and co-writer, John Esmonde, had the opportunity to bring the series to a close on their own terms.

Thank you, Bob, for the past smiles and for the years of smiles ahead. We will forever miss you.

Post-Fargo, Martin Freeman heads to West End to play Richard III

April 5, 2014

Shakespeare’s Richard III. Seems like a logical next step after Fargo, right? Not sure Martin Freeman will be pulling much from his performance as Lester Nygaard but he will be following in the footsteps of fellow Sherlock co-star, Benedict Cumberbatch, and head to the Trafalgar Studios in London’s West End beginning this summer to tackle Shakespeare’s doomed Richard III as part of the Trafalgar Transformed upcoming season.
Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch in Sherlock

Many people always wonder what sets British actors apart from their American counterparts. Consider the simple fact that, in recent years, you’ve had David Tennant playing Hamlet and Richard II, Jude Law as Henry V, and Tom Hiddleston as Coriolanus. No need to even mention the usual suspects of the greatness of Kenneth Branagh, Sir Patrick Stewart, etc. Combining this with the historically deep, albeit declining, tradition of regional theatre that exists in the UK and I think you have your answer.

Given that Cumberbatch’s Hamlet already scheduled to be staged at the Barbican Theatre from August to October 2015 and Freeman’s Richard III will run from the 1 July to 27 September 2014, I’m thinking an October start to a Sherlock 4 production cycle would be perfect, but what do I know?

‘Sherlock’ tops Captain America’s “to-do” list in the UK

April 4, 2014

This is beyond cool.

After missing nearly 70 years of pop culture due to being frozen in ice, Captain America has a lot of catching up to do. With so much to do and so little time to do it in, the iconic Marvel superhero was going to need a lot of help. We all know how much an ice coma can play havoc on your memory recall. Thankfully, RadioTimes.com stepped in to help out.

As events unfolded back in January, RadioTimes.com gave readers the chance to vote for what British TV show should get the chance to be featured in the UK version of Marvel sequel Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Winning with 38% of the vote, Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock narrowly beat Doctor Who (which got 37%) to be one of the historical events that Steve Rogers has on his list of things to check out in the modern world.
Captain America UK to do list

Just to amp up the coolness factor a bit, audiences around the world will see a bit of a different list in the opening scene depending on where you are located. UK audiences will be Sherlock, The Beatles, World Cup Final (1966) and Sean Connery while U.S. audiences will see I Love Lucy, Berlin Wall, Steve Jobs and (ugh) Disco. Almost enough of a reason to wait and see the British version on DVD.
Captain America US to do list

According to Slashfilm, Captain America: The Winter Soldier movie goers in Australia will see AC/DC, Skippy: The Bush Kangaroo and Steve Irwin (Crocodile Hunter and French fans will see the 1998 World Cup and The Fifth Element.

Already out in the UK, Captain America: The Winter Soldier opens in U.S. theaters Friday, April 4 (that’s today for those who have been in an ice coma!).

BBC 2′s Line of Duty commissioned for third series

April 3, 2014

As if I needed yet another reason to solidify my belief that the UK invented good telly. Put aside Hustle, MI5, Life on Mars, Endeavour and Call the Midwife for a minute and take a look at Line of Duty. The police procedural from BBC2 premiered in 2012 and quickly became the BBC2′s best-performing drama series in 10 years.

Line of Duty begins with DS Steve Arnott leading a counter-terrorism unit that accidentally kills an unarmed man. Refusing to participate in a cover-up, Arnott transfers to an anti-corruption unit after being shunned by fellow officers. Reminiscent of Forrest Whitaker’s chilling portrayal of Internal Affairs Department Lt. Jon Kavanaugh in The Shield, from the brilliant mind of Shawn Ryan, Arnott’s target in Line of Duty is DCI Tony Gates, who has just been awarded Officer of the Year. Sporting the best crime numbers for three years running (sound a bit like Vic Mackey?), Gates heads ‘the big, sexy crime unit’ which sounds a bit like Mackey’s Strike Team.
Line Of Duty

Series 2 premiered earlier this year adding Keeley Hawes (MI-5, Ashes to Ashes, Upstairs Downstairs) and Jessica Raine (Call the Midwife) to the already stellar cast. Hawes stars as DI Lindsay Denton, who is the only survivor of the ambush in the opening episode and a suspect; Adrian Dunbar, as anti-corruption boss Superintendent Ted Hastings and Martin Compston, who returns as DS Steve Arnott.

Based on steadily increasing viewing figures on BBC2, the series has been commissioned for a third series which begins filming later this year. No word on who will return for the third series which may see a move to BBC One based on both critical acclaim and a consistently increasing audience.

Following a brief early run on Hulu back in 2012, this brilliant series will see the light of day soon on a number of public television stations in the States. Make sure you check it out…

Put the kids to bed – It’s Mrs. Brown’s Boys: D’ Movie!

April 2, 2014

Whether or not you are a fan of the BBC One sitcom, Mrs. Brown’s Boys, I’m betting the farm that, at some point in the series, you’ve laughed out loud more than you have for any sitcom on the schedule in some time. The three-year old series is the brainchild of Irish writer and performer, Brendan O’Carroll, who created Agnes Brown both on the radio and in books in the early 90′s. Since its premiere on RTE in Ireland and BBC One in the UK, the series has had its share of detractors. Blasted (and that’s being polite) by critics from the outset, Mrs. Brown’s Boys has become a ratings juggernaut by the end of its third season having won the 2012 BAFTA for Best Situation Comedy and was then awarded the Best Comedy at the National Television Awards in 2013 and 2014.

Like it or not, O’Carroll is brilliant as Agnes Brown. As creator, writer and star of the series, O’Carroll is drop-dead funny throughout the program as he will frequently break the fourth wall. The series’ informal production style lends itself to a number of laugh-out-loud moments where production mistake are not only highlighted but encouraged and edited into the final version of the program. Agnes, the foul-mouthed Irish matriarch who is always looking out for her family after the death of husband Redser, works at a fruit and veg stall at Dublin market. Let’s just say she’s a bit of a nosy neighbor and leave it at that.

Having conquered the small screen, Agnes now heads to the ‘bright lights, big city’ atmosphere with a big screen feature opening 27 June across the UK. In Mrs. Brown’s Boys D’Movie, Agnes finds her livelihood under threat when a ruthless developer tries to shutter her Moore Street market stall. Aided by the Brown family and “a motley troop of blind trainee Ninjas, an alcoholic solicitor, and a barrister with Tourettes Syndrom“, d’mother of all battles is on to save it.

The downside of the popularity of the big screen premiere and the more frequent tour stops for O’Carroll is that the telly series will not return until 2015 with new episodes. Until then, get set for D’Mother of all movies on 27 June.

With Towel Day just around the corner, H2G2 – The Game turns 30

April 1, 2014

While longtime H2G2 fans will immediately remember the original Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy radio and TV series, how many actually remember the H2G2 game? First, you have to set the Wayback Machine to 1984. It was then that Steve Meretzky of Infocom got together with H2G2 creator, Douglas Adams, to create a game based around the radio series of the same name. At the time, however, no one recognized the insanity a game like this given the limitations of the day.

As Richard Harris wrote for DouglasAdams.com: “…it’s hard to believe that, some 30 years ago (1984), there was a time when computer games didn’t have graphics. Or at least they couldn’t have graphics and sound at the same time. They certainly couldn’t have graphics, sound and enough content to keep even a human being amused for more than a few minutes. So they had text. This was radical – a computer game you could control by typing in commands!”

Douglas Adams in 1985 on the creation of the H2G2 game

Fortunately, 30 years have passed and we have been blessed with the arrival of HTML5. Now, the game’s personality has started to shine. From the Department of Be Careful What You Ask For, however, comes this initial warning on the ‘Welcome’ screen…The game will kill you frequently. It’s a bit mean like that.
HHGTTG 30th anniversary edition

Fortunately, the brilliant minds over a BBC Radio 4 have supplied you with a tutorial to help you get started. The How to Play tab will help you immensely in limiting the number of times you are killed. If you are still a bit confused, here are a few hints from Douglas Adams, himself.

You may not have your towel yet, but everyone starts at the same place…even Arthur Dent. Remember, DON’T PANIC. You can always hit ‘save’ and then ‘restore’ before you get killed. And, remember Towel Day is just around the corner on May 25!

First pics from the set of ‘Downton Abbey 5′ begin to trickle in

March 31, 2014

Aside from the fact that new seasons of both Call the Midwife and Mr. Selfridge premiered last night on PBS, most telly drama lovers will readily admit to liking this time of the year as behind-the-scenes bits from the set of Downton Abbey start to trickle in. The great Richard E. Grant (Girls, Gosford Park, Doctor Who) has tweeted a first glimpse of his character on Downton Abbey which is highly reminiscent of his Gosford Park days, don’t you think?
Its Downton Abbey duty for Richard E. Grant

Grant will appear in four episodes of the fifth series and play art historian, Simon Bricker, who pays a visit to the Crawley family. The forthcoming series will also see Anna Chancellor (Four Weddings and A Funeral) appear as Lady Anstruther, the woman footman Jimmy (Ed Speleers) previously worked for. In addition to Chancellor, Rade Sherbedgia (Eyes Wide Shut, 24) has been added and will play a Russian refugee.

The bad news is that we’re being kind when we say ‘trickle in’ as there is this one and only pic from Grant’s twitter feed. The good news is this should signal many more in the days to come with filming currently taking place at both Highclere Castle and Ealing Studios.

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