Set your DVR now for Friday, February 14 on PBS at 8pm CT / 9pm ET on PBS. Great Performances “National Theatre: 50 Years on Stage” is coming to your local public television station (8:00pm on KERA Channel 13 in North Texas).
Founded in 1963, the Royal National Theatre has provided London residents and visitors with some the most thrilling productions in contemporary theater. It has also served as an influential wellspring of talent and creativity, breathing new life into theater classics as well as launching new plays, playwrights, directors and stars on an international stage. On November 2, 2013, the National Theatre celebrated its 50th anniversary with a special gala performance, welcoming home an all-star cast of its alumni to perform excerpts from landmark productions, complemented by archival excerpts from its many groundbreaking productions. The laundry list of alumni performers is stunning to say the least. Guests include Benedict Cumberbatch, Dame Judi Dench, Ralph Fiennes, Dame Maggie Smith, and Sir Derek Jacobi. National Theatre Artistic Director Nicholas Hytner directs.
On Friday, February 14, 2014, this once-in-a-lifetime performance will air as part of PBS’ Great Performances series.
Having had the extreme good fortune of being at the National Theatre for the Danny Boyle production of Frankenstein that starred Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller and also getting to see several of their live productions that were simulcast broadcast in theaters around the world, this is a do not miss event on February 14. Set. DVR. Now. PBS.
That’s “Sir Baldrick” to you…
Tony Robinson, the star of the hit BBC comedy, Blackadder, was knighted for public and political service by the Duke of Cambridge at an investiture ceremony held at Buckingham Palace this past week. As William stepped in to represent the Queen who is suffering from ankle discomfort following a busy weekend of engagements, Robinson seized the moment in true Baldrick fashion to do a bit of long-range casting should the British comedy series return.
Enter the ‘cunning plan’…
Sir Tony said William told him he was a big fan of Blackadder and the comic actor immediately offered him a future role should a fifth series ever be produced. Robinson recounted his encounter with Prince William: “William said that he was a big fan of Blackadder and was there going to be another series? I said we have always talked about it. I said to him ‘Would you be prepared to be in it?’. He said ‘Yes’ like a shot.”
Robinson explains the investiture ceremony and his encounter with the Prince to the Mail Online:
When asked later by journalists if there would be a new Blackadder series, Sir Tony joked: “I don’t know if we can afford Hugh Laurie.“
Not that you are already trying to figure out what your going to do with your time beyond February 2014 for good telly drama but…just in case. As I’m sure you are keenly aware, both Downton Abbey 4 and Sherlock 3 will be returning to PBS in January. Chances are, however, you are already lamenting the time when both series come to an end, leaving us with more months than we care to admit before they return. Fear not, because PBS, the BBC and ITV are definitely looking out for you. In March 2014 alone, on PBS, you have the return of both Mr. Selfridge and Call the Midwife with new seasons both beginning Sunday, March 30, 2014.
The ten new episodes in series 2 of Mr. Selfridge picks up the story in 1914 as the store celebrates its 5th anniversary of trading. Seeing the trailer for series 2 for the first time, Jeremy Piven is cast perfectly as Harry Gordon Selfridge and seems to be increasingly at home playing the flamboyant American entrepreneur.
While Harry is understandably proud of the success of Selfridges, there is no time to rest on his laurels. No surprise here as I’m not sure the real Harry Gordon Selfridge ever ‘rested on his laurels’. Ever. With the talk of war in Europe imminent, Harry prepares his staff for challenging times ahead. The store must play its own part in the war effort and help keep morale high on the home front. As with an earlier series of Downton Abbey, the war plays an integral part in the storyline of Mr. Selfridge 2 as it will have a big effect on the lives of everyone in the store.
From what we’ve been able to determine, lots of characters are returning to Mr. Selfridge with several new characters to be added to the mix for series 2. Stirring the pot will be the flamboyant new Head of Fashion, Mr Thackeray, played by Cal Macaninch (Downton Abbey, Wild at Heart) and Polly Walker (John Carter, Patriot Games, Clash of the Titans), who plays Delphine Day.
Following the departure of his wife Rose (Frances O’Connor) for America at the end of series one, Harry has become accustomed to the life of a single man in London as the couple become increasingly estranged. But when she returns to British shores to celebrate Selfridges’ fifth anniversary of trading, Harry is determined to win back her affection. Getting in the way of Harry’s plan is Rose’s new friendship with bohemian novelist and owner of the infamous Delphine’s Club in Soho, Delphine Day, played by Polly Walker (Rome, Waking the Dead, State of Play), whom she meets on the boat back from New York.
Adding to Harry’s woes is his increasingly troubled relationship with business partner, Lady Mae Loxley (Katherine Kelly) as Aidan McArdle (Garrow’s Law) joins the cast as Lord Loxley, returning from ‘the countryside’ which creates tension and animosity throughout Selfridges with his unsettling presence, threatening to drive a wedge between Harry and Lady Mae.
According to ITV, series 2 will transmit in early 2014 marking the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War. U.S. broadcast as part of PBS’ Masterpiece series is set to begin not long after on Sunday, March 30, 2014.
The world is down to mere days before the calendar strikes 23.11.13 and the 50th anniversary broadcast of The Day of the Doctor. With anticipation reaching epic proportions for the worldwide broadcast, several new trailers were released last week to up the ante even further. Now, in true Steven Moffat fashion, comes a mini-episode (minisode, if you prefer) called The Night of the Doctor to just send the Earth reeling off its axis.
While the 50th anniversary program features Matt Smith, David Tennant and a mysterious incarnation played by John Hurt, only one appears in the just release mini-episode. You’re going to have to watch for yourself as this is a no-spoiler post…all we can say is that the setting is the eve of the most terrible battle imaginable. The Doctor is faced with a choice that will change the course of his life as the darkest of days are about to begin.
Another day, another bit of Doctor Who 50th Anniversary gold. This time, it’s in the form of the first video trailer for the upcoming Mark Gatiss biopic, An Adventure in Space and Time. The clip features David Bradley as the First Doctor actor William Hartnell along with Brian Cox and Jessica Raine as the BBC staff who helped create the series. Raine, who stars as Jenny Lee in the BBC drama, Call the Midwife, is brilliant as the original Doctor Who producer Verity Lambert. Her description of the Traveling Time Lord as ‘…HG Wells meets Father Christmas‘ is spot on.
What is evident even from the short trailer is Gatiss’ absolute love for all things Doctor Who. As with his affection for Sherlock, you can’t make this up and, in both cases, is the reason for the sheer brilliance of each. An Adventure in Space and Time will transmit on Thursday, November 21 at 9pm on BBC Two with a BBC America broadcast to follow.
Given all the endless questions circling the Internets concerning Sherlock Holmes’ series 2 ender leap off the rooftop of St Barts Hospital, how can you possibly up the ‘epic ante’ when it comes to the forthcoming BBC/PBS series 3 of Sherlock? Anticipation for the early 2014 return (January 19 on PBS/early January on BBC One) is already at epic proportions but composer Michael Price promises more strings, more tears and, well, more epicness.
As Anglophenia so eloquently reminds us, we should all offer our sincere thanks to Michael Price and David Arnold, film composers, for upping the anticipated epicness. Price tweeted a brilliantly simple but artfully arranged crossed pair of batons while explaining that as far as he is concerned, series 3 of Sherlock is all about three things: violins, emotion and enormity.
As we have always contended, good telly starts and ends with good writing. Actors will forever agree that it all begins with a good script. And while good acting, especially in the case of Sherlock with the likes of Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Una Stubbs, Louise Brealey, Rupert Graves and Mark Gatiss, is essential, the package wouldn’t be complete without a brilliant editor and a genius composer. The composer is at the heart of the story having to represent everything that is happening emotionally, carefully to not give away the plot or ruin any surprises.
Lest you forget the importance of the music soundtrack for Sherlock, have a listen…
While it’s true that Dan Stevens can’t receive mail any longer at his Downton Abbey home after his unfortunate Christmas 2012 departure, he may just have a new UK address before too long. Stevens has just signed on for Night at the Museum 3 which is scheduled to begin production in London in February 2014 with a December 25, 2014 release in theaters. Could his new UK address possibly be London’s Museum of Natural History?
After a bit of a slow start, Stevens has been increasingly busy since his departure from Downton Abbey, having appeared in a number of high profile film roles, including The Fifth Estate, Summer In February and the upcoming thriller, A Walk Among the Tombstones. His newest role as Lancelot, the villain in Night at the Museum 3, will find him opposite Hollywood heavyweights Ben Stiller and Robin Williams, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Stiller will reprise his role as security guard, Larry Daley with Williams returning to play Teddy Roosevelt. While no ‘official’ storyline has been announced, the action will move to London and is sure to continue the exploits of Larry the museum night watchman as he once again discovers that its myriad exhibits come to life after dark. The London setting makes the Museum of Natural History the logical choice don’t you think?
Just like Christmas, it’s never too early to make holiday plans. Craggy Island, anyone?
Born in a storm of drink, fancy dress and sporting events, Ted Fest 8 lives! On the books for early 2014, Feb 27 – March 2 2014 to be exact, the fest gives Father Ted aficionados a chance to meet every year at the end of February on a small island in the Atlantic. While Craggy Island is, technically, the fictional home of Father Ted, the popular comedy created by Graham Linehan and Arthur Mathews, a group called The Friends of Father Ted decided years ago that Craggy Island should not only exist but it should be the gathering place for fanatical fans of the series from around the world.
How do you get to ‘Craggy Island’ you might be asking? Just head out of Galway and go slightly north until you see the English boats with the nuclear symbol on the side. Craggy Island is sometimes also known as Inis Mor. For people without their own boat these people will help you get there by sea.
If God wanted us to fly he would have put the airports nearer the cities. Nevertheless Craggy Island International Airport has regular transit links to downtown Kilronan where the festival begins and ending in Inishmore, the largest of the Aran islands. Interestingly, in 2007, the first year of the fest, Inisheer objected to Inishmore’s giving itself airs as ‘the real Craggy Island’, and they actually held a football match to decide who had the right to the title. Inishmore won.
Having never been, one can only hope it’s as much fun as Craggy Island’s Funland… How can it help but not be. Tedfest is the brainchild of TV producer and events organizer, Peter Philips, who also runs an Elvis festival, a Priscilla, Queen of the Desert drag-queen festival and will soon preside over Ireland’s first rockabilly festival.
Before ITV1 could even faded to black last night at the conclusion of series 4 of Downton Abbey, news broke that the series has been commissioned for a fifth series. While it has yet to even see the light of day in the States (except for those midnight downloads that we’re not supposed to discuss), when the show premieres as part of PBS’ Masterpiece series, word is that Downton will still stand for another year with production set to begin in early to mid-2014. Given the broadcast history of the previous 4 series, that would put the UK broadcast in Fall 2014 and the PBS broadcast in January 2015. But, while history seems to have repeated itself like clockwork the past four years, you never know….
Masterpiece executive producer Rebecca Eaton says Downton fans who tune in on January 5, 2014 can “…rest easy knowing that a fifth season is on the way.” Brilliant news for has become the most-watched drama in PBS history.