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Mr. Bean trades in Mini for Aston Martin Vantage GT4

May 18, 2010

AstonMartinVantageGT4Not sure what the blue book value is on a 1977 British Leyland Mini, but looks like Rowan Atkinson (Blackadder, Mr. Bean) got a good deal. Atkinson will partner with Aston Martin chairman, David Richards for the Aston Martin British GT4 Challenge to be held at Silverstone on 22 May by driving the second leg in an Aston Martin Vantage GT4.

As Tellyspotting reported earlier this year, Atkinson is no stranger to racing and vintage cars. He has raced Astons in the past and, recently, had the enviable task of test driving the 2009 Bugatti Veyron 16.4 and comparing it to a 1997 McLaren F1. At about $1 million dollars each, Rowan’s answer? Get both as the Bugatti was a better car, but the McLaren was “special”. If you didn’t see his article and rationale in Octane Magazine, it’s a great read.

Works for me.

Have I mentioned MI-5 is better than 24 recently?

May 17, 2010

Spoiler alert – if you haven’t seen any of season 7 of MI5 (Spooks) don’t read on.

For those of you that have seen or are in the middle of an unbelievably gripping season 7 on public television stations nationwide, you no doubt are aware of Lucas LucasNorthtortureNorth’s return to the safe confines of MI5 from the hands of the Russians at the beginning of the season. During episode three, which will be broadcast on Thursday, May 20 on KERA/Dallas, North’s 8-year stint in a Russian prison catches up to him in flashbacks of some of what he endured during that time. But, that’s not nearly the story here. Seems as though Armitage was willing to go to great lengths to ensure maximum authenticity for the viewer at home.

MI5 = A for authenticity

As reported in 2008 by numerous media publications in the UK (see below), Richard Armitage, the actor who portrayed North, agreed to undergo controversial real-life waterboarding during the taping of the scenes for authenticity. At the time it was to air in the UK, the BBC screened the controversial interrogation footage to determine if it should air.

According to Armitage, consultants from both the CIA and the FSB, the Russian intelligence service, assured him that waterboarding was much more of a psychological device of extracting information. According to Kudos Film & TV, producers of MI5 (Spooks), there was a health & safety advisor on the set and the actor was totally in charge during the filming to the extent that there was an agreed upon signal that Armitage could end the procedure should it become too much to handle. Evidently, the signal was given by Armitage somewhere between 3 and 5 seconds. Click the links below for articles revealing the details of the production.


Daily Mail


So, either watch this week, go back and watch again or read the articles above and ask yourself….would Jack Bauer ever agree to do this for authenticity sake? I think not. Am curious to know what you thought after seeing or reading the articles.

The Doctor. Which is it? Love it or Good ole' days syndrome?

May 16, 2010

Doctor-Who-the-eleventh-h-006We’re now at the halfway mark of the first season of the Steven Moffat era for Doctor Who, which stars Matt Smith and Karen Gillan. Seemed like a no-win situation for Moffat as either expectations were really high given the level of talent lined up to pen the first season or there was a significant amount of skepticism given the series had to deal with the departure of Russell T. Davis, not to mention having to replace probably the most popular Doctor and companion of all time in the name of David Tennant and Billie Piper.

The Guardian analyzes the first half of the series by breaking down each episode in their series blog. How about you? Loving Steven Moffat or, as they say, pining for RTD? Wouldn’t be right to ask you and then not weigh in myself. Personally, I really like the direction Moffat has taken the series. Given his previous credits of Coupling and the upcoming, Sherlock, I had high expectations and they have been met so far.

Arkwright 1, Apu 0

May 15, 2010

ArkwrightApuSimpsonsCombining their unique ability to create “best-of” lists for just about anything with their definite love for the small screen, the British have done it again. This time, it’s Britain’s favorite television shopkeeper. According to a recent poll conducted by consumer watchdog, Which, and reported on in WalesOnline, Ronnie Barker’s portrayal of Arkwright in Open All Hours topped the list with respondents citing his “old-fashioned values” and customer knowledge as the reasoning behind their vote.

Top-10 television shopkeepers

The list of the nation’s favorite television shopkeepers are:

  • Arkwright – Open All Hours
  • Hardware shopkeeper – Ronnie Corbett, The Two Ronnies
  • Apu Nahasapeemapetilon – The Simpsons
  • Norris Cole – Coronation Street
  • Mrs. Slocombe & Mr. Humphries – Are You Being Served?
  • Bernard Black – Black Books
  • Roy – Little Britain
  • Tubbs and Edward Tattysyrup – League of Gentleman
  • Pet store shopkeeper – Michael Palin, Monty Python (Dead Parrot sketch)
  • Pete Beale – EastEnders

Personally, while I like most of these (not familiar with some), I would have to add the following:

  • Renee Artois – ‘Allo, ‘Allo (I know, it’s not a shop, it’s a pub, but it’s my blog :) )
  • Reginald Perrin – Fall & Rise of Reginald Perrin (how can you leave off the owner of Grot, the shop that sells useless goods at outrageous prices?)
  • Yev Kasem (The Soup Nazi) – Seinfeld (hey, they picked an American sitcom character from The Simpsons in their poll)

Anyone else?

Robin Hood vs. Robin Hood

May 14, 2010

RobinHood version with Russell CroweRobinHoodBBC version with Richard ArmitageOk, yes, one was directed by Ridley Scott, stars Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett and William Hurt and probably had a budget well beyond 10 times the other one. The other, the BBC series from Tiger Aspect, stars Richard Armitage (MI5, Vicar of Dibley) as Sir Guy of Gisborne and Irish-born Jonas Armstrong as Robin of Locksley, is just plain great television.

The Ridley Scott/Russell Crowe film opens nationwide today with some die-hard fans, by this time, having already seen at Thursday night 12midnight showings around the country. The Robin Hood series with Richard Armitage can be seen on many public television stations nationwide beginning this summer.  FYI, the series will begin on KERA/Dallas in September.

There’s no doubt, the film will be great, but give ‘the little series that could’ a chance. Here are trailers for both. Judge for yourself and let me know what you think.

BBC Robin Hood trailer


Ridley Scott/Russell Crowe Robin Hood trailer


England pulls out all stops in host bid for 2018 World Cup

May 13, 2010

WallaceandGromitOk, it’s only :40 but, still, it’s new Wallace & Gromit, which is always a good thing. Seems as though England is pulling out all the stops in trying to secure the country as host for the 2018 World Cup. It’s classic already for the simple reason it comes from the folks at Aardman Animations, creators of Wallace & Gromit.

I’m sure it would have had extra meaning if I knew the history and importance of the “infamous Diego Maradona handball” incident that knocked England out of the 1986 finals that this seems to be a parody of in the spot. Thanks to the Guardian.co.uk for posting both the W&G ad and the “incident” so that it all makes sense. Click here for some viewing greatness.

Wag Pie anyone?

100+ Years of "The High Street"

May 12, 2010

Not busy for the next, say, six months or so? Ever wonder how they select all those folks for a reality show? Not a problem. The High Street is now casting for BBC One. This upcoming reality show will take participants back over 100 years to the “High Street” of the 1870′s. The days of the butcher, the baker and the candle stick maker. Producers are seeking families and people who are interested in the history of their trades and would like to take a new age trip back to the glory days of old world trades. People who would love to run a Victorian shop as authentically as possible and really explore that world and the techniques used in the trades.

Produced for the BBC by Wall to Wall Productions, producers of 1900 House, Colonial House, Frontier House and Texas Ranch House, along with a number of other series that have found their way to PBS and KERA, The High Street will be looking for lively families (accent on lively) to travel back to the 1870s to experience the birth of the British High Street.

The BBC call and what they are looking for:

  • Are you a butcher, baker or grocer who is fascinated by the history of your trade?
  • Can you imagine taking your work and your family back to the glory days of the High Street?
  • Could you show modern customers what good old-fashioned service really means?
  • Would you like to explore the techniques, technology and opening hours of the past?

If selected, you’ll be setting up in an existing parade of shops, completely fitted out as they would have been in Victorian Britain with each family running their shop as authentically as possible. Shopkeepers will then be fast forwarded through a century of change with families running their shops as if living in six different eras of history between 1870 and 1970.

How to apply for “The High Street

UK casting call for UK residents

Phone: 020 7241 9349

Standard geographic charges apply and calls may be included in your telecoms provider’s call package.

Calls from mobiles may be higher. If you are under the age of 16, please ensure you have the bill payer’s permission.

Email: Michael.Fraser@walltowall.co.uk

or you can Write:
The High Street
Wall to Wall
8-9 Spring Place

Closing date: 31 May 2010

Rock & Chips rocks on

May 11, 2010

Following up on a recent Tellyspotting report and review of the one-off “prequel” of
Only Fools and Horses called Rock & Chips, you may recall that the program was set in rock_and_chips_nicholas_lyndhurst1960 on Orchard Street and starred Nicholas Lyndhurst as Freddie Robdal, the man long thought to be Rodney’s Dad. James Buckley will again star as a young Del Boy.

Continuing the British love affair with what has long been recognized as the most popular British comedy of all-time, as voted upon in Britain’s Best Sitcom, comes word that writer, John Sullivan, is currently writing a full-series of six, one-hour episodes for broadcast later this year or early 2011. Click here for more information on the upcoming series, courtesy of our friends at the British Comedy Guide.

Having seen the original 90-minute prequel, it’s a definite candidate for additional episodes. While not laugh-out-loud funny, it does have a definite warmth and charm that warrants a series, plus you get the great Nicholas Lyndhurst along with a great soundtrack from the 60′s. Here’s a bit of cool behind-the-scenes stuff from the prequel….enjoy.

The 70's + Music + BBC = Heaven

May 10, 2010

OldGreyWhistleTest logoWhether it was Top of the Pops, The Old Grey Whistle Test, Later with Jools Holland, From the Basement or something called Guitar Heroes at the BBC, the channel was home to some unbelievable musical performances in the 70′s. The Whistle Test ran from 1971 to 1987 and was, quite simply, about nothing else but the music.

Do yourself a favor and buy, rent or just watch any of these that are available on DVD. They continue to be unmatched today even in this day and age of countless outlets available for musical performances on television. It’s not British comedy, but still in keeping with our British focus, here are just a few of the British born greats that have graced the stage at the BBC:

The Rolling Stones

Recorded in 1971 as part of a BBC presentation of Guitar Heroes at the BBC.


John Lennon

From a 1975 performance that was actually taped in New York City specifically for The Old Grey Whistle Test.


David Byrne and Talking Heads

This 1978 performance features Scottish born David Byrne and the Talking Heads.


Dire Straits

Formed in 1977 by Mark Knopfler and brother, David, this 1978 performance came on the heels of being the opening act for the Talking Heads and launched their worldwide popularity.


A British comedy Mother's Day salute

May 9, 2010

One constant throughout the years in British comedy is the strong connection between a son and/or daughter and their mother. Unfortunately, the connection may have not always been a good thing, but it’s still a connection nevertheless. Here’s a quick look at a few that would make my top-5 mothers of all-time. Anyone else have additions to the greatest mothers of British comedy?

Keeping Up Appearances – Hyacinth and Sheridan

Hyacinth talking to SheridanHow can you not have a list that includes the ultimate mother, Hyacinth Bucket. Or is Sheridan the ultimate son. Always calling his “Mummy”, Sheridan was never seen in the series, but did call home frequently. Sheridan is perpetually away at a “polytechnic of university standard”. How can you not recognize the love between mother and son as she agrees to send money allowing Sheridan and friend, Tarquin, to rebuild Romania along with his endless need for silk pajamas.

Are You Being Served – Mrs. Annie Humphries and Wilberforce

Wilberforce Claybourne HumphriesAnother case of is this the ultimate son or ultimate mother. In the series, Wilberforce Clayborne Humphries still lives with his mother, Annie. While only seen in two episodes, “Founder’s Day” and “Heir Apparent”, Mrs. Annie Humphries was definitely part of the cast with Mr. Humphries referring to her regularly. “Heir Apparent” was classic Are You Being Served? with Mrs. Humphries having to come to Grace Brothers to answer the question surrounding Old Mr. Grace’s assertion that Wilberforce could be his long lost son.

Waiting for God – Diana Trent and niece, Sarah

Diana Trent Watiting for GodOk, technically, Diana Trent was never a mother. She does have a niece, Sarah, with whom she is very distant with, going as far as to suggest that she runs a prostitution ring is constantly attempting to kill her with poison. When Sarah has a child, Diana, we finally learn of Great-Aunt Diana’s inability to have children. We now begin to understand the reason for her overall hostility to the world as a whole. She would have made a great mother.

Sorry – Phyllis Lumsden and Timothy

Ronnie Corbett SorryPhyllis probably won’t win any contests for Mother of the Year. Son, Timothy, is a 41-year old that still lives with his domineering mother. Timothy would love to settle down, but somehow, Phyllis manages to sabotage every potential relationship. Interesting side note, William Morris, who played hen-pecked father, Sydney, was married to Mollie Sugden (Mrs. Slocombe, Are You Being Served?).

Absolutely Fabulous – Edina, Saffy and Mother Monsoon

Saffy and Edina AbFabThe ultimate addition to the list as you not only get Edina (Jennifer Saunders) on the ‘mothers’ list, but you get a bonus with June Whitfield’s portrayal of Mother Monsoon. She may be despised by her daughter, but she’s adored by her granddaughter, Saffy. The back and forth between Saffy and Edina and Edina and Mrs. M is priceless and makes them deserving of the list of all-time mothers.