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Dad’s Army to get big screen treatment

May 4, 2014

Captain Mainwaring, Sergeant Wilson and Private Pike are going back on patrol some 37 years after they were last on duty protecting the quiet seaside town of Walmington-on-Sea from a Nazi invasion. Dad’s Army, which starred Arthur Lowe, followed the escapades of the Home Guard platoon during World War II and their efforts as the front line in the event of an invasion across the English Channel. Consisting primarily of local volunteers otherwise ineligible for military service, the Home Guard in Dad’s Army were ‘ineligible’ largely due to age.
Dad's Army headed to the big screen starring Bill Nighy and Toby Jones

Written by Jimmy Perry and David Croft (Are You Being Served, ‘Allo ‘Allo), it was only a matter of time before the iconic late 60′s BBC2 sitcom was turned into a feature film. The 90-year-old Perry is set to co-produce the new film with BAFTA award winning British producer Damian Jones (History Boys, The Iron Lady) which will star the greatness that is Bill Nighy (Page Eight, Love Actually, Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, The World’s End) as upper-class bank employee Sergeant Wilson, who always questioned Captain Mainwaring’s judgment, alongside Toby Jones (Tinker Tailor, The Hunger Games, Captain America: The Winter Soldier), who will headline as local bank manager, the exceedingly patriotic Captain Mainwaring.

Dad’s Army, which ran for nine series between 1968 and 1977 on BBC2, finished fourth in the 2004 Britain’s Best Sitcom poll. It will be interesting to see how this translates to the big screen. At first glance, even though it still has legs on the small screen anytime it transmits, I’m not sure this will work, but with Bill Nighy, how can it not. Thoughts?

‘Last Tango in Halifax’ returns June 29 on PBS

May 3, 2014

After seeing series 1 of Sally Wainwright’s Last Tango in Halifax, I’m convinced that if you looked up the words ‘family baggage’ in the dictionary, you’d see a cast photo. A stellar cast, btw. Headed up by Derek Jacobi and Anne Reid, Last Tango in Halifax also stars Sarah Lancashire and Nicola Walker star as Caroline and Gillian, the respective daughters of Celia and Alan.

With series 2 getting ready to premiere on PBS beginning June 29, you won’t be able to tell the players without a scorecard so how about a quick series 1 recap. Celia (Anne Reid) and Alan (Derek Jacobi) are both widowed and in their seventies. While they were attracted to each other as teenagers, they really never expressed their feelings for one another. Through the magic that is Facebook, Alan and Celia are reunited and pick up right where they left off some 50+ years ago. Wainwright, who also created and wrote the brilliant Scott and Bailey, has said, on numerous occasions, that she based much of the series on her own personal experiences with her mother, Dorothy, actually reconnecting on Friends United with a childhood friend Alec, ultimately marrying. Thankfully, that’s about where the real-life similarities end and the writer’s embellishment family baggage storylines kick in.
Last Tango in Halifax S2

In Season 2, the six-part series returns as Alan and Celia continue to navigate through the inevitable family baggage to plan a life together. Having come so close to losing each other forever thanks to Alan’s near fatal heart attack, he and Celia decide to have a romantic secret wedding as soon as possible.

The uptight Caroline and rebellious Gillian are discovering they actually quite like each other, however Gillian’s need to own up to her night with Caroline’s ex-husband John could jeopardize the soon-to-be stepsisters’ fledgling friendship. As secrets from the past come tumbling out and family members adjust to changing relationships, can Alan and Celia find the long-awaited happiness they deserve?

It’s going to be a great night of telly on PBS on June 29. Following the series 2 premiere of Last Tango in Halifax, it’s the return of Endeavour for a second series and then you can see a whole different side of Derek Jacobi and the premiere of Vicious. More on both of these soon….

Nick Frost is Mr. Sloane….that’s Sloane with an ‘e’, like the Square

May 2, 2014

Unfortunately, the ’60s didn’t swing for everyone…

Television set in the 60′s these days dials up a pretty high coolness quotient given that, for the most part, our frame of reference is Mad Men or BBC’s The Hour. Mr. Sloane, set in Watford in 1969, however, is at the opposite end of the Earth from Sterling Cooper’s Madison Avenue address in New York City. Jeremy Sloane (with an ‘E’, like the square) is no Don Draper. He wears a clip-on tie, for starters. Written and directed by Robert B. Weide, of Curb Your Enthusiasm fame, Mr. Sloane pushes all the right romantic comedy buttons with Jeremy Sloane being someone you really want to pull for…
Nick Frost and Olivia Colman star in Mr. Sloane on Sky Atlantic HD

Jeremy is a really nice guy. Unfortunately, a really nice guy not quite ready for the swinging 60′s going through a fairly sizable rough patch in life. He’s a buttoned-down 1960′s man in crisis trying to balance his failed attempts at marriage, career success and even suicide. It’s fair to say that 1969 isn’t shaping up to be the Watford-dweller’s year. Things are looking up, however, with a potential job opportunity on the horizon and the phone number of a prospective new love interest following a chance encounter in his local hardware store.

Having had the opportunity to screen the entire series at the BBC Showcase in Liverpool earlier this year, this is good telly. Make it a point to see this when it transmits. Well worth the effort. Mr. Sloane, which also stars Olivia Colman, Ophelia Lovibond and Peter Serafinowicz, is coming soon to Sky Atlantic HD. Hopefully, this will cross the Atlantic not long after and make its way to public television stations.

Sir Patrick Stewart to tackle American cable news in ‘Blunt Talk’

May 1, 2014

Fresh off of a recent stellar performance on Buzzfeed’s edition of The Newlywed Game with Sir Ian McKellen, Sir Patrick Stewart has been cast to star in an upcoming Seth MacFarlane sitcom project for premium channel, Starz. In Blunt Talk, Stewart will star as British journalist Walter Blunt who is on a mission to conquer American cable news by inflicting his unwanted wisdom on his ‘dysfunctional’ staff. As a late night TV talk show host, Blunt is described as possessing equal parts ‘borderline alcoholic’ and ‘mad-genius Brit’. Through his nightly interview show, he attempts to impart his wisdom and guidance to Americans with his only supporter being his British alcoholic butler.

It won’t be the first crossing of brilliance between Stewart and MacFarlane, creator of Family Guy and American Dad. As the voice of CIA Deputy Director Avery Bullock on American Dad, Stewart knows full well what he’s getting in to. “My career took an abrupt and radical left turn when Seth McFarlane created CIA Deputy Director Avery Bullock on American Dad. This new character, Walter Blunt, is not at all like Avery, thank God, because this is live action and I am a Knight of the Realm. Blunt is, however, much smarter than Avery and has his own TV show, which has to be better than being Deputy Director of the CIA“, said Stewart.

Bored to Death creator, Jonathan Ames, created the idea of will serve as the series showrunner with MacFarlane writing and exec producing. The series is set for a 2015 premiere on Starz. Stewart’s other half on The Newlywed Game, Sir Ian McKellen, is prepping for a second series of Vicious with co-star Sir Derek Jacobi which will transmit this Fall on ITV.

‘Indian Summers’ headed to PBS’ Masterpiece in 2015

April 30, 2014

Coming to a telly near you in 2015, the next PBS Masterpiece will have it all. Created and written by Paul Rutman (Vera), Indian Summers is filled with the stories of promises, secrets, politics, power, sex and love as the British Raj begins to falter, opening its eyes to the possibilities of freedom. Add in a stellar cast and you might just forget that it’s 10 months between series of Downton Abbey and that Sherlock could leave you wanting for up to two years.

Julie Walters (Harry Potter, The Hollow Crown), Henry Lloyd-Hughes (The Inbetweeners, Harry Potter, Madame Bovary), Jemima West (The Borgias, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones), Nikesh Patel (Bedlam, Honour), Roshan Seth (A Passage to India, Ghandi) and Lillete Dubey (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Monsoon Wedding) will star in Masterpiece‘s ten-part epic drama “Indian Summers” targeted for a 2015 premiere.

Set against the sweeping grandeur of the Himalayas and tea plantations of Northern India, the drama tells the rich and explosive story of the decline of the British Empire and the birth of modern India, from both sides of the experience. But at the heart of the story lie the implications and ramifications of the tangled web of passions, rivalries and clashes that define the lives of those brought together in this summer which will change everything.

It’s the summer of 1932. India dreams of Independence, but the British are clinging to power. In the foothills of the Himalayas stands Simla, a little England where every summer the British power-brokers of this nation are posted to govern during the summer months.

Also joining the cast are Alexander Cobb (Mr. Selfridge, Call the Midwife), Craig Parkinson (Line of Duty, Misfits), Fiona Glascott (Episodes), Amber Rose Revah (What Remains), Aysha Kala (Shameless), Olivia Grant (Endeavour) and Edward Hogg (The Borgias).

Visually, this series will be stunning. With Julie Walters heading the cast, 2015 can’t get here soon enough.

Familiar faces to head upcoming comedy projects beginning tonight!

April 29, 2014

With so much attention being paid to recent drama greatness such as the Sunday night return of Vera and last nights premiere of Prey starring John Simm, we have been neglecting the strong comedy offerings that are on the horizon starting tonight on BBC One.

Over to Bill – tonight on BBC One’s Comedy Playhouse
Programme Name: Comedy Playhouse: Over to Bill - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: (L-R) Jez (NEIL MORRISSEY), Bill (HUGH DENNIS) - (C) Baby Cow & Three Feet Productions - Photographer: Des Willie

Comedy Playhouse, the comedy incubator series that launched the likes of Steptoe and Son, Till Death Do Us Part, Are You Being Served and Last of the Summer Wine, returns tonight with Over to Bill, a pilot project from Red Dwarf co-creator, Doug Naylor, starring Hugh Dennis as a weatherman who gets fired and then finds getting back on TV is much harder than he expected. From Baby Cow and Three Feet Productions, Over to Bill also stars Neil Morrissey (Me and Mrs. Jones, Line of Duty, Men Behaving Badly) as BFF, Jez.

Darren Boyd goes from Spy to Delivery Man
Darren Boyd in Spy

Darren Boyd (Whites, Dirk Gently, Spy, The Guilty) is trading in his MI5 badge and gun to become a midwife in Delivery Man. Produced by Moniker Pictures of Green Wing fame, Delivery Man also stars Fay Ripley (Reggie Perrin), Alex Macqueen (The Thick Of It), Dominic Coleman (Trollied), Aisling Bea (Dead Boss) and Holli Dempsey (Derek). The pilot episode has already been filmed, but no transmission date set as of yet on ITV1. If commissioned for a full season, most likely the pilot will become the first episode of the series.

Katherine Parkinson is Semi-Detached
Katherine Parkinson is Semi Detached

Another upcoming ITV comedy pilot features Katherine Parkinson (IT Crowd, Old Guys, Doc Martin, Sherlock) in Semi Detached and will follow a group of mature adult housemates who were hoping to have achieved more in life at their age. The group are either single, divorced or separated, and are forced to live in a half-way house together, despite not sharing anything in common. Semi-Detched will also star Ralf Little (The Royle Family) and Stephen Tompkinson (Ballykissangel, DCI Banks) as Parkinson’s half-way house flat mates. Filming will get underway in May with no transmission date set.

The huge ‘duh factor’ in all of this drama/comedy war between ITV and the BBC is that viewers on both sides of the Atlantic are the beneficiary to receive good telly. Stay tuned.

John Simm goes from detective to murder suspect in ‘Prey’

April 28, 2014

More drama greatness tonight on ITV….

Prey, a brand new drama starring John Simm is coming to ITV tonight. Prey tells the story of a DS Marcus Farrow (Simm), a well-liked policeman on the run, wrongly accused of the murder of his estranged wife and son, desperate to clear his name for the sake of his family. Also starring Craig Parkinson (Line of Duty), Anastasia Hille (The Tunnel) and Adrian Edmondson (The Young Ones), the three-part Prey was filmed earlier this year in and around Manchester.

Narrowly escaping police custody following an accident involving the police vehicle, Farrow becomes an outlaw and begins a high-stakes game of cat and mouse across the city with Acting Detective Chief Inspector Susan Reinhardt (Rosie Cavaliero). As a wanted killer, Farrow has few allies, however one thing is certain, for the sake of his family, Farrow is prepared to do things he never thought possible. And he won’t rest until he knows the truth. What makes it a great mind game is that he knows the methods they’ll use to find him and he knows Manchester.

I’ve been a huge Jon Simm fan since the days of Life on Mars and, even though it was totally a guilty pleasure, Mad Dogs. In Prey, Simm adds action sequences to his CV. “There was lots of running, hanging off bridges and climbing fences,” said Simm. Long-time telly fans in America will immediately think thoughts of Richard Kimble the physician falsely accused of murdering his wife in The Fugitive. While this may be a bit of a stretch as Kimble actually escaped in a train derailment on the way to death row and in Prey, Farrow has no knowledge of a one-armed man equivalent, but it will be every bit as good and a taut, psychological thriller worth a look.

‘Vera’ returns tonight to ITV; soon to public television

April 27, 2014

- For those that emailed asking where Vera was filmed, the 4th series, which premiered Sunday on ITV, was filmed in Alnmouth in Northumberland. While previous episodes have also been filmed in Northumberland, such as Druridge Bay, Low Hauxley and Embleton, series 4 was shot entirely in Alnmouth.

Vera is back!

Vera is Detective Chief Inspector Vera Stanhope. International acclaimed award-winning actress Brenda Blethyn reprises her leading role as the unconventional, yet brilliantly perceptive (and, ok, a bit obsessive) DCI when the series returns tonight for the 4th season of the popular crime drama at 8pm on ITV. Based on the works of crime author Ann Cleeves, Vera is a bit short-tempered. She’s direct but does possess a sensitive side when it comes to her trusted sidekick, Detective Sergeant Joe Ashworth, played by David Leon.

The four episodes that comprise the forthcoming series are “Harbour Street”, “Protection”, “The Deer Hunters” and “Death Of a Family Man”. In tonight’s premiere episode, crime gets a bit personal as Vera investigates the mysterious death of Margaret Kraszewski, a pensioner with a scandalous past who is found stabbed on a busy Newcastle train at the height of rush hour with DS Ashworth’s daughter Jessie a key witness in the murder.

If you’re in the States, before you become all pouty face because you aren’t in the UK for tonight’s premiere, the new season of Vera will become available for broadcast on public television stations beginning May 1. In a world filled with the likes of DCI Banks and Luther, if you haven’t seen Vera yet, it’s worth checking out. You have about 72 hours to binge watch the first three series on DVD before it hits public television station schedules. Go…

‘Last Night of the Pythons’ to hit the cinema LIVE on July 20

April 26, 2014

Given that it took about 90 seconds to officially become a sellout at London’s O2 arena, I’m guessing that you were unable to secure tickets to the July 20 performance of The Last Night of Monty Pythons some months back. If so, fear not. Sadly, on July 21, the greatest and most influential comedy troupe of all time will be “no more”, calling this their final appearance together. They will cease to be. They will be on their way to meet the choir invisible. Bereft of life, the comedy troupe will rest in peace. They will be an ex-comedy troupe. In true Python fashion, the masters of the art of reversioning iconic material to all media known to mankind, have set aside July 20 to beam their final show around the world.
Last Night of the Pythons

According to the Pythons, who will once again take advantage of the invention of ‘moving pictures’, more than 450 cinemas across the U.K. will take the live broadcast as will some 1,500 screens around the world. “Join the crowd live from London’s O2 in a final weepy, hilarious, uproarious, outrageous, farewell to the five remaining Pythons as they head for The Old Jokes Home … on the big screen, in HD”, said the Pythons in a statement released earlier this week. According to the statement, they will perform some of their best-known hits, with modern, topical, Pythonesque twists.

Once we can determine a list of participating theaters as to where you can find the Holy Grail, we’ll let you know. Whatever they do, these two classic sketches are a MUST. Any others that should be included?

Monty Python Live: The Last Supper

Monty Python Live: The Dead Parrot


A little early (pre-Sherlock) Benedict in ‘Spooks’ and ‘Fortysomething’

April 25, 2014

For those individuals that thought Sherlock was Benedict Cumberbatch’s first rodeo, we thought it would be fun to revisit some of his pre-Sherlock efforts and see how, when you think about it, he had been preparing for the role of a lifetime all along.

Look closely and you’ll see a bit of Sherlock in Benedict Cumberbatch’s Spooks performance as Jim North and also his Fortysomething stint as Hugh Laurie’s son, Rory.


In Spooks, Benedict’s character, Jim North, finds himself on the wrong side of a Sherlock-style interrogation with Tom, Danny and Zoe from MI5.


In Fortysomething, Benedict plays Hugh Laurie’s son, Rory, where he begins his Sherlock trait of deducing where his Mom is for Dad. If you haven’t seen this short pre-House series from 2003, it’s amazing for the cast alone. Imagine, in one show, you have Hugh Laurie, Anna Chancellor, Benedict Cumberbatch AND Peter Capaldi.