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Crime Connections – Endeavour

May 22, 2014

From Prime Suspect to Inspector Morse, Cracker to Lewis to the more recent Scott & Bailey and DCI Banks, British police procedurals are flat out brilliant telly. Never has this been more evident than when you look back at the ‘Inspector Morse’ progression from the original series starring John Thaw to Lewis to the most recent incarnation, Endeavour, starring Shaun Evans.

Another element that British producers excel at are the behind-the-scenes bits and bobs that American television viewers usually know as the ‘DVD extras’. Getting to go behind the scenes and hear the back story as to how a series was put together from not only the actors perspective but to also hear the producer, director or costume designer speak to the level of detail to which they go to to put the best product on the small screen is great telly that shouldn’t be relegated to an obscure menu item on a DVD boxed set.

In the case of Endeavour which returns to PBS beginning Sunday, June 29 for 4 new episodes, the ITV series Crime Connections took a look at the monumental task before those involved in the creation the ‘prequel’ which was to initially get past the obvious comparisons to John Thaw in the original Inspector Morse series.

Get ready for series 2 of Endeavour coming to PBS beginning Sunday, June 29 at 9pET/8pCT, bookended by the premiere of series 2 of Last Tango in Halifax at 8pET/7pCT and the series premiere of Vicious with Derek Jacobi and Ian McKellen following at 10:30pET/9:30pCT. Going to be a great summer of telly!

‘Call the Midwife’ cast additions for series 4 and…a Christmas surprise for those who can wait

May 21, 2014

PBS viewers in America barely were able to see the fade to black following Sunday’s series 3 Call the Midwife finale before the news filtered out about cast additions for series 4, which is targeted for an early 2015 transmission in the UK and an early Spring 2015 return on PBS in America. Series 4 has the inhabitants of Nonnatus House tentatively entering into a new decade. No word yet as to who will be returning but I’m guessing we’ll see most of the nuns and midwives try to hold on to at least some of their traditional values while experiencing the beginning of the swinging ’60s in London’s East End.

Joining the cast for the forthcoming series 4 will be Charlotte Ritchie (Fresh Meat) as Nurse Barbara Gilbert and Linda Bassett (Grandma’s House, Calendar Girls as Nurse Phyllis Crane. Bassett, you may also remember, played Queenie in the BBC series, Lark Rise to Candleford.

If you haven’t seen Sunday’s finale…DO NOT READ ANY FURTHER.

If you have, then you are well aware that we all said a tearful goodbye to Poplar’s original midwife, Jenny Lee, played brilliantly by Jessica Raine. Where’s the Christmas surprise, you’re asking at this point? Well, while we may have seen the last of a young Jenny Lee, Vanessa Redgrave, who narrates the opening and closing moments of each episode, will be making her first on-screen appearance as the mature Jenny Lee in this year’s Christmas special airing this holiday season on BBC One and PBS.

Pippa Harris, executive producer for Neal Street Productions said: “We’re all delighted to be welcoming Vanessa Redgrave on screen, having hugely enjoyed her narration of the series to date. It’s also terrific that Heidi Thomas has created two wonderful new characters for the series, and that we’re fortunate enough to have Linda Bassett and Charlotte Ritchie joining our regular and much loved team at Nonnatus House“.

Mark your calendars for early 2015 on BBC One and Sunday, March 29, 2015 on PBS…

Sherlock 4 ‘news’ for you

May 20, 2014

Co-creator/writer, Mark Gatiss, likened IT to ‘organizing a massive UN conference’. The “IT” Gatiss was referring to was nailing down filming dates for the next installment of Sherlock. Maybe herding cats is a better analogy that we can all relate to.

Speaking in this exclusive video to RadioTimes.com on the red carpet at Sunday’s BAFTA TV Awards, Gatiss, who plays Sherlock’s older brother Mycroft, did reveal that they had made ‘significant progress’ in locking in dates for the fourth series. As everyone is keenly aware, the insane schedules of co-stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman coupled with the equally as busy schedules of both Gatiss and Steven Moffat has long been a logistical problem. Let’s not even get in to the increasingly busy calendars of Amanda Abbington, Una Stubbs, Louise Brealey, Rupert Graves and, of course, Andrew Scott (Miss Me?).

While this is, technically, not new information, it does seem like the ball is rolling in the right direction. Don’t put a red X on a date in 2015 just yet but it sure is tempting.

10 British things about….(insert U.S. city here)

May 19, 2014

Besides an insatiable appetite for British telly, American cities are increasingly becoming like their British counterparts from a cuisine and/or pop culture standpoint. Whether you’re in Seattle, Portland (Maine), Fargo, San Antonio or any point in-between, there’s a good chance your city is more ‘British’ than you think. Thanks to some around-the-clock stellar work from the folks over at Anglophenia, whether you are a resident of any of these U.S. cities, looking for a day trip or even if you live in the UK and are heading this way for a bit of a summer holiday and need a Bangers and Mash fix, the sun might never set on something to do British in the States.

Just in case you’re in the North Texas area and are wondering what could possibly be British about Dallas, we need to get you out more. Besides the 10 things listed, I came up with about 15 more without thinking too much about it. Or, head to Austin. How many knew there was such a thing as the Central Texas Cricket League? Wherever you go, we want pictures. Me? I may just head over to Phoenix for the London Bus Pub Crawl.

Get out the tissues, it’s series 3 finale time for ‘Call the Midwife’ on PBS

May 18, 2014

This season’s Call the Midwife has been the best yet. Let’s just say tonight’s emotional series 3 finale will not disappoint. However, it might just be a two box of tissues evening. To prepare you for what UK viewers have known for a couple of months, here’s a quick episode by episode series 3 recap to quickly bring you up to speed. As you can imagine, many, many SPOILER ALERTS ahead if you haven’t seen series 3….

  • Episode 1: It’s 1959 and the nuns and midwives move into a new Nonnatus House. Chummy (Miranda Hart) struggles to adjust to life as a housewife. After delivering a baby in an emergency, however, Chummy is asked to return to Nonnatus House as a part-time midwife.
  • Episode 2: Jenny (Jessica Raine) is promoted to the position of nursing sister over a more experienced Trixie (Helen George), which causes resentment between the two. Cynthia attempts to introduce more modern approaches to relaxation and pain relief during childbirth despite a bit of resistance from Sister Evangelina.
  • Episode 3: Sister Julienne (Jenny Agutter) and Trixie are called upon when the regular midwifery team at HM Prison Holloway is stricken with influenza and find some very trying conditions. Shelagh and Dr. Turner long to start a family and are devastated when it is found that, as a result of her earlier tuberculosis, she is unable to have children.
  • Episode 4: Jenny’s boyfriend Alec invites her to spend the weekend with him in Brighton. However, he is involved in an accident at work and, although he initially seems to be recovering, he takes a turn for the worse and dies, leaving Jenny devastated. Following her news of not being able to have a family, Shelagh attempts to find a new purpose in life by reviving the Poplar Choral Society and Jenny is persuaded to take compassionate leave and go to stay at the nuns’ mother house for a time.
  • Episode 5: With Jenny away and Sister Julienne taken ill, Shelagh takes over the administration of Nonnatus House and engages the services of new midwife Patsy Mount (Emerald Fennell). Sally, a woman with Down’s syndrome, living in a residential home, has become pregnant. Her family are angry and believe that one of the staff must have abused her, but it turns out she has formed a relationship with Jacob, another resident at the home. The staff refuse to accept that the couple’s relationship is genuine and, after the baby is stillborn, Jacob is removed to another home in Scotland.
  • Episode 6: Trixie is beside herself when handsome curate Tom Hereward invites her to a cricket match, but is less impressed to find that they are taking a group of Cub Scouts to Clacton-on-Sea in a run-down old bus which breaks down en route. Shelagh and Dr. Turner resolve to look into adopting a child.
  • Episode 7: Jenny returns to work, but is seconded to the London Hospital, where she finds her approach to patient care hampered by strict regulations. Chummy is surprised to find that her parents have separated, and invites her mother to stay, despite the haughty Lady Browne’s disdain for her daughter’s lifestyle. Later, Chummy is devastated to learn that her mother is suffering from terminal cancer. Shelagh and Dr. Turner’s plan to adopt a child is threatened when background checks reveal that he spent time in a military mental institution after serving in the Second World War.
  • Episode 8: (get out the Kleenex)


Never a series to shy away from difficult subjects, the current season of Call the Midwife has dealt with cystic fibrosis, influenza, Down’s syndrome, puerperal psychosis and death. After all that, tonight’s episode is as much of an emotional roller coaster as you can imagine. On the upside, you can safely watch knowing that Call the Midwife has been commissioned for a fourth series set for early 2015 transmission with a holiday special on the way soon. It doesn’t get any better than this…

Monty Python Live (Mostly): Let the mind games begin

May 17, 2014

Even though original Python member, Terry Gilliam, calls the troupe’s forthcoming get-together “depressing”, most of the planet is looking forward to their reunion gigs beginning 1 July at London’s O2 arena. Monty Python Live (Mostly) launches on the 1st July, with 10 dates scheduled. The comedians have ruled out getting the band back together for an extended tour again so their final performance will be on Sunday 20th July.

Even though the initial night (1 July) sold out in 43.5 seconds, Gilliam’s comments in a recent interview with the Evening Standard promoting the English National Opera he has directed, might leave you wondering whether or not you might be wanting those 43.5 seconds of your life back if you’ll be at the O2 arena in July or if youll be at one of the 1500+ cinemas streaming the show live around the globe. Either way, to get you ready, Annie French from Steel Monkey Engineering takes us on a tour as preliminary set construction begins.

My guess is that whether or not the cynical side of you thinks this is one last money grab by the brilliant comedy group or that this will be an unforgettable night of timeless comedy to remember, you will not be disappointed. While original Python member, Eric Idle, said that fans could “expect a little comedy, a lot of pathos, some music and a tiny bit of ancient sex” and the Pythons, in a press release, said they would take in some of their most famous routines, including the “Dead Parrot” sketch, in the show, John Cleese issued a warning to fans. Cleese ruled out a re–run of one of his best–loved moments, the Ministry of Silly Walks, saying: “I have an artificial knee and an artificial hip so there’s no chance of that.” Understandable. After all, collectively, there will be combined 357 years on stage.

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Monty Python infiltrates ‘Game of Thrones’

May 16, 2014

It’s been widely known over the years that film editors would periodically insert several frames of content like a personal photograph or some other subliminal reference into big screen efforts. Invisible to the naked eye, these mostly were considered inside jokes within the industry, or Easter eggs, left for fans with lots and lots of time on their hands to figure out.

The greatness of the Game of Thrones has ramped it up a notch with the ultimate fan tribute. In an episode of Game of Thrones that was broadcast last month, only the most astute viewers would have been able to spot a Monty Python’s Flying Circus quote translated into a fantastical invented language.

Game Of Thrones - 2013

In “Breaker of Chains”, which was broadcast in April, the show’s linguist David Peterson created the ultimate in-joke with series creator Dan Weiss, by translating Monty Python quotes into Low Valyrian, a language used by a clan on the show. More specifically, he took the insults hurled by a French soldier in the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail, such as “Your mother was a hamster, and your father smelled of elderberries.”

Monty Python and the Holy Grail French taunter

Peterson, in an interview on the behind-the-scenes production blog for the series, revealed the ultimate Easter Egg within the episode: “There’s a scene where the Meereenese rider is challenging Daenerys’ champion. He’s shouting and Nathalie Emmanuel [Missandei] is translating, but she’s not translating what he’s saying. He’s actually saying a Low Valyrian translation of the French guy’s insults in ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail.’ It was series creator Dan Weiss’s idea and it was so hilarious that I had to do it.” As series linguist, it fell to Peterson to create over 5000 words for the three languages on the show, Low Valyrian, High Valyrian and Dothraki.

I wonder how you say, “What… is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow? in High Valyrian?

Is this Heaven? No, it’s Humphry Slocombe!

May 15, 2014

While they didn’t say ‘are you being served?’ when I finally hit the front of the line yesterday at Humphry Slocombe in San Francisco’s Ferry Building, the evidence as to the influence on owner’s Jake Godby and Sean Vahey’s craft is clear. The vintage British sitcom Are You Being Served?, a shared favorite of both during their formative college years, Humphry Slocombe gets its namesake inspiration from two characters in the show, Wilberforce Claybourne Humphries and Mary Elizabeth Jennifer Rachel Abergavenny Slocombe. “The way I explain it is that Chez Panisse, Berkeley’s ode to simple food, is named after a highbrow French film, wouldn’t it be perfect to name a punk ice cream shop after a lowbrow, baudy British farce,” said Godby.
Humphry Slocombe storefront

Why heaven?

Well, aside from the fact that the folks at Humphry Solocombe make ALL of their own ice cream, sorbets and toppings, they just plain give good ice cream. Only 12 flavors are available every day, all carefully selected from the roster of 80 versions. “There’s a whole world beyond chocolate, strawberry, vanilla. Why can’t you make peanut butter–curry ice cream?“, Godby said, adding that “…the last flavor I would ever make is cookies and cream.” While I did panic and go the safe route, combining Tahitian Vanilla and Ancho Chocolate, I suggest trying the Peanut Butter–Curry, Fluffernutter or the Here’s Your Damn Strawberry ice cream next time you want to experience a bit of heaven.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle next up for Martin Clunes

May 14, 2014

How does Martin Clunes pass the time between the end of one Doc Martin series and the beginning of another? Elementary, my dear Watson. He signs on to play Sherlock Holmes creator, Arthur Conan Doyle. The three-part adaptation of Julian Barnes’ novel Arthur & George, the ITV drama will tell the story of Conan Doyle’s real-life attempts to clear George Edalji, a half-Indian solicitor who was imprisoned for a series of attacks on livestock in the Staffordshire community of Great Wyrley.

Interestingly, it was the Sherlock creator’s expert evaluation of the evidence in the case that not only cleared Edalji of any wrongdoing, but it helped establish the Court of Criminal Appeal in 1907. At that time, there was no concept as of yet for the procedure of a retrial. It was Conan Doyle’s analysis of the facts in a series of articles published in the Daily Telegraph that caught both the public’s attention and that of the British government also. The committee decided that Edalji was innocent of the livestock mutilations and The Law Society readmitted him allowing him to return to practice as a solicitor.

Filming is set to begin this Autumn with a targeted transmission of 2015 on ITV.

David Tennant returns for Broadchurch 2 as Gracepoint premieres this Fall on Fox

May 13, 2014

It will be all David Tennant on both sides of the pond beginning this Fall when Gracepoint, Fox’s American remake of Broadchurch, premieres Thursdays at 9/8c. On the west side of the Atlantic, Tennant, sans Olivia Colman, will play Detective Emmett Carver opposite Breaking Bad‘s Anna Gunn as Detective Ellie Miller. Written by Broadchurch creator Chris Chibnall, the American series also stars Michael Peña, Nick Nolte and Jackie Weaver.

Broadchurch fans on the east side of the Atlantic woke up this week to the brilliant news that Tennant will return to the original British crime drama joining partner Olivia Colman for series 2. Filming begins soon in Dorset with Jodie Whittaker, Andrew Buchan and Arthur Darvill (Doctor Who also returning. ITV’s director of drama, Steve November, remains understandably secretive about any storyline for series 2 but did offer up something for fans of the series left hanging following last seasons finale and the words Broadchurch will return. “Suffice to say Chris Chibnall has delivered as always and the scripts are just as exciting as the first series, said November. This exclusive online clip followed the broadcast series finale, which aired on ITV last April.