A little shift in focus just for today. Fear not, however, still British…kind of. We’re just asking you to forget March Madness for the time being. The NHL Playoffs or over. The NBA playoffs might as well be. Each MLB team still has over 100 baseball games left in the season before we even get to the playoffs. No reason to pay attention to the NFL until Labor Day.
Not to worry! It’s World Cup 2010!
As the world gets ready for the 2010 World Cup, senior British World Cup analyst, John Oliver from The Daily Show, reports from the US Soccer team’s training facility as they prepare for the 2010 World Cup and their game with England today, Saturday, June 12, at 1:30pCT/2:30pET. ***FYI, it’s The Daily Show so beware of the typical content designed for a mature audience.*** Enjoy the World Cup no matter who you’re rooting for. It’s an amazing experience.
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c|
|World Cup 2010: Into Africa – Two Teams, One Cup|
Yesterday’s post re: the lost garage tapes of Morecambe and Wise got me thinking about another group that played a big role in the early days of British comedy more than setting the stage for today’s stars. The comedy duo of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, along with the likes of Alan Bennett and Jonathan Miller, formed the cast of Beyond the Fringe, an early 60′s stage revue which saw the light of day not only in London’s famed West End, but also Broadway in New York.
As we suggested with Morecambe and Wise, familiarize yourself with the work of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore. If not already familiar with them, there’s some great archival stuff here. Looking back over the series of sketches, you’ll immediately recognize a satirical, no-holds-barred, nature that is present in some of the later British comedies such as At Last the 1948 Show and Monty Python’s Flying Circus. A mixture of the The Cambridge Footlights and The Oxford Revue, Beyond the Fringe never shied away from controversy with British government a frequent target.
Two classic sketches to get you started….
“One Leg Too Few” with Peter Cook and Dudley Moore
“Piano and Trumpet: The Lost Tapes” with Peter Cook and Dudley Moore
Eric Morecambe. Ernie Wise. You may or may not know the names, but there’s no question you indirectly know their work as there isn’t a British comedy star today that doesn’t reference Morecambe & Wise when talking about their influences growing up. From variety to radio to film to television, the comedy partnership of Morecambe and Wise began in 1941 and lasted until Eric Morecambe’s death in 1984. In many cases, their wildly successful sketch comedy program provided a number of current and former British comedy stars their start with guest shots on their show.
Fortunately, for British comedy fans across the globe, Ernie Wise never threw anything away. Seems as though Ernie’s widow, Doreen, was doing a bit of spring-cleaning in the garage. In the boxes designated for therapeutic destruction were dozens of reel-to-reel tapes and over 45 hours of original show recordings thought destroyed years earlier, many unheard for almost 50 years.
Several historians liken the find as being the comedy equivalent of finding long lost Beatles recordings from a rehearsal before a performance at The Cavern. The tapes aired recently on BBC Radio 4 as Morecambe and Wise: The Garage Tapes.
So you may or may not know their names and you might still be unfamiliar with their comedy genius. If so, find some DVD’s and catch up. It’s classic British comedy. One of the comedy duo’s most famous sketches was this exact recreation of Gene Kelly in Singing in the Rain. Only thing they forgot was….the rain. Enjoy.
Now that reality has set in from last week’s announcement of the longest running sitcom in history, Last of the SummerWine, calling it quits, the Den of Geek offers up some of their best pitches to Last of the Summer Wine writer, Roy Clarke. In a scene reminiscent of Robert Altman’s The Player where the pitch for Habeas Corpus, Richard E. Grant’s film with no major stars and a depressing ending, became a Hollywood blockbuster after Grant sells-out, D.O.G.’s series ending pitches are brilliant and rooted in science fiction, including Lost, Life on Mars, Ashes to Ashes, Blake’s 7 and Planet of the Apes. For some reason, love the Planet of the Apes one.
Thankfully, no one thought of Dallas or Newhart when coming up with these ideas, although those would be more science fiction than the ones listed above.
We’re now looking for you to create a possible ending to Last of the Summer Wine that you’d like to share with everyone, not just Roy. As a reminder, the final season will transmit in August in the UK which means probably Fall in the U.S. on numerous public television stations nationwide, including KERA in Dallas.
Great news out of the UK yesterday. Torchwood, starring John Barrowman and Eve Myles, will return for a fourth season. As with many big ticket productions in recent years it takes several co-production partners to secure the funding necessary to feed the beast of high budget productions. The follow-up to the highly successful third season, “Children of the Earth”, will be a co-production between BBC Wales, U.S. cable network, Starz Entertainment and the BBC’s commercial arm, BBC Worldwide. Starz is no newcomer to projects of epic proportions given its most recent project, Spartacus: Blood and Sand, which is currently airing in the UK and, the BBC is, well, the BBC.
Torchwood’s creator, Russell T. Davies, will head a team of writers that will pair Captain Jack Harkness and Gwen Cooper (Barrowman and Myles) with an all-new cast in the 10 episodes that were commissioned by BBC1. The really cool thing about this series is that the Earth is really Captain Jack’s stage now as opposed to in and around Wales. While previous series mainly centered around the Cardiff branch of the Torchwood Institute investigating extraterrestrial activities, the fourth series will feature location filming in the United States and around the world.
I so cannot wait.
Dad’s Army, one of the most popular British comedy series in the history of British comedies according to the Britain’s Best Sitcom poll several years ago, has transformed from the small screen to the live stage. Based on real-life Home Guard experiences of co-writer Jimmy Perry, Dad’s Army has joined a growing group of British comedies that have spawned stage plays. Recently, both Keeping Up Appearances and Yes Minister have taken the leap to the stage.
Led by self-appointed Captain Mainwaring, local bank manager, the original series centered around the Home Guard, local volunteers during the Second World War that were charged as being England’s last line of defense should Germany ever invade. Volunteers who were generally deemed ineligible for active military service usually due to age.
Real-life definitely imitated comedy art as live World War II grenades were being used as props during rehearsals for the upcoming stage play. The popular Britcom’s catchphrase, “Don’t Panic” was never more necessary when the actor in the role of Corporal Jones discovered the live grenades and uttered the phrase to others in the cast during rehearsals, then called police who carried out a controlled explosion.
Real-life may have imitated art, but all ended well, just as it did for Captain Mainwaring and Corporal Jones 40+ years ago.
Looks like the Jupiter Mining Corporation could be back in business. Red Dwarf just might live to fly another day if the gospel according to Craig Charles is true. Charles, in an interview here, and reprinted below, alludes to the fact that two new series of Red Dwarf will begin filming in January 2011. Tellyspotting reported here late last year about a cryptic tweet from Robert Llewellyn regarding scripts for a 10th series being commissioned by Dave in the UK.
Llewellyn, who starred as service mechanoid, Kryten, has again been somewhat cryptic on Twitter (@bobbyllew) by earlier tweeting about an upcoming “big announcement”, which actually had to do with his great series, Carpool, and nothing to do with RD. Later, however, he did tweet “…I truly know very little..even though Craig blabbed 1st. On the record, I said nothing“.
Here’s the short and sweet version of the transcript as posted on the Red Dwarf Forum…
“…the Smegheads are a thing from… em…, it’s from the Red Dwarf days, isn’t it? Which I can now announce – we’re going to be doing two more series of it. Starting in January next year.”
[Production guy, muffled since he clearly doesn’t have a mic, asks something like “Is that like a proper exclusive?”]
“That is an exclusive mate! What d’y’think?”
[Production guy: “That’s pretty impressive.”]
“Gone a bit nervous.”
[Pg: “Were you meant… are you allowed to say that?]
“Emmm… no. But I got the call today and it said ‘Craig, can you do it in January?’ I said ‘Yeah, I’ll sort it out.’ So I will be able to do it in January and… emm… I’m a bit nervous though – I don’t know if I’ll be able to fit into leather trousers anymore.”
Let’s hope for the best, especially after the last effort with Red Dwarf: Back to Earth.
Now, more than ever, former Monty Python great, John Cleese, would love to utter the words, “And Now For Something Completely Different” and have it relate to television in the 21st century.
Still recuperating in his Santa Barbara home from recent knee surgery and planning his upcoming Alimony Tour across the UK, John Cleese, has had a lot of time on his hands these days to think about “things”. With respect to the BBC, ITV and British television, in general, he doesn’t like what he sees. Gone are the “glory days” of television where the word quality was mentioned, and mentioned frequently, during program planning meetings, Cleese says.
The star of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, Fawlty Towers and The Frost Report, amongst others, Cleese obviously misses television output from the fifties through the eighties. As I have said repeatedly, there is quality television there, unfortunately, you just have to search a lot harder for it. From Cleese’s perspective, the good ‘ole days consisted of far less bad television with Britain leading the way. He doesn’t see it getting any better as planners grab for the elusive dollar, laying blame at the feet of “hard-headed businessmen” that now control the likes of ITV and the BBC.
The word quality may not appear in planning meetings anymore, but it still exists and it’s up to viewers to demand it no matter what side of the pond you’re on.
As originally reported here not too long ago (as an evil, unconfirmed, rumor), the longest running sitcom in television history, Last of the Summer Wine, is shutting the doors on Sid’s Cafe. That evil, unconfirmed rumor is now confirmed by the BBC. The series will not be renewed for a 32nd season and will end after the 31st season transmits in the UK this summer. There will be six episodes in the 31st and final series that has become the British comedy poster-child for gentle, English humor over the years.
While there have been numerous actors that have come and gone over the years, one can never forget the folded-armed image and look of Kathy Staff, who played Nora Batty from the programs inception in 1973 until her death in 2008. Peter Sallis, who played Clegg, appeared in every episode beginning with that 1973 pilot. At 91, he’s probably ready for some down time to rest before taking on another series.
Unfortunately, the announcement was not met with that same gentility across the UK as both actors and fans voiced their anger over the decision, many accusing the BBC of ageism given its obvious popularity with the over-50 crowd.
When we spoke with Roy Clarke, who wrote every episode of Last of the Summer Wine, back in September, he alluded to the fact that this might be the last season, but wasn’t sure. There definitely was a touch of sadness in his voice as he talked about characters that had been part of his life for 37 years. Interesting story as to how he approached the series from the beginning as the only writer, but you’ll have to wait until the British comedy writers special comes to PBS and KERA in March 2011.
Aside from some of the most wonderful scenery and genius scripts, here are some great trivia bits associated with LOTSW over the years.
I had heard about this over the years, but as with the rumor of there being a 13th, never-before-aired, episode of the great Fawlty Towers, I passed this off as an idea that hatched late one night at The Nags Head (a GREAT pub, by the way) and not really something that had merit. Well, count me in the “I was wrong” category as a pilot episode has recently surfaced for Blackadder lending credence to that latenight discussion.
At this point, you’re probably thinking “…duh” and that I should have known that this is probably a DVD extra somewhere on one of the many versions of the complete Blackadder. Well, if it is, I didn’t know. According to several sources, however, it’s not currently available anywhere on DVD. Hopefully, this is something many of you weren’t aware of and will find this a great way to spend a half hour.
Several noticeable differences between the unaired pilot and the subsequent series are casting with neither Tony Robinson nor Brian Blessed cast in the pilot. While there were several changes from a production personnel standpoint, the most-important one, Richard Curtis as co-writer, was there from the beginning.
For a little background on the pilot and a look at the full episode, click here.