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.
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.
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 (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.
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.
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.
- 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…
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.
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
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.
Sometimes, the Internets is a reminder that too many people have way too much time on their hands. Every once in awhile, however, it is the home to video greatness. Such is the case for a couple of video pieces that come from the mind palace of John Smith. You might remember a pretty amazing mashup of Doctor Who and Sherlock called WhoLock where Sherlock (Benedict Cumberbatch) meets The Doctor (Matt Smith). While they never actually ‘met’, it has fueled all kinds of speculation and desire to see this become a reality in Steven Moffat’s mind some day.
For those that simply cannot fathom how Smith pulled this imagined intergalactic meeting off, check out the Visual Effects Exchange which breaks down the video shot by shot.
John’s recent bit of brilliance takes on a more sinister note with STONE, a film about a first person encounter with a Weeping Angel.
Equally as impressive as WhoLock, Stone is Smith’s first attempt at a full CG film, taking about 3 months to complete. While it may be a bit short, it is a reminder that whatever you do…don’t blink.
Seems like there isn’t a day that goes by that Sherlock star, Benedict Cumberbatch, isn’t linked to some upcoming role on the big screen. Most play out over time such as Star Trek Into Darkness, The Hobbit, Tinker Tailor, etc. Others seem to endlessly remain a rumor (insert upcoming new JJ Abrams’ Star Wars mega-blockbuster here).
Most recently, Cumberbatch has been rumored to be in line to play James Bond creator, Ian Fleming. According to Hollywood’s The Tracking Board, the as-yet-to-be-named film will detail the origin stories of James Bond. Based on Andrew Lycett’s 2009 novel Ian Fleming: The Man Behind James Bond, the film would focus on Fleming’s experiences in naval intelligence during WWII where he masterminded many top-secret operations which, supposedly, gave Fleming the inspiration for the creation of James Bond. Cumberbatch isn’t the first and, probably, won’t be the last to be rumored for the title role. Just a few short months ago, James McAvoy, of Wanted fame, was attached to the lead role. This is so Hollywood. Remember, it was McAvoy who was rumored back in 2013 to be on the direct path to star as Bilbo Baggins in Peter Jackson’s epic trilogy, The Hobbit. I think we all know how that worked out….
While I’d love to see something like this finally come together, it will be hard to root for Benedict to secure the role, even though he very much looks the James Bond part in tuxedo. With producers hoping to begin filming in late 2014, this would do nothing but set back an already desperately needed series 4 of Sherlock.
I’m being selfish, aren’t I…
For those that have been off the grid since Spooks (MI5 in America) came to an end there is light at the end of the tunnel. Filming has begun on Spooks: The Greater Good, the feature film which picks up where the TV series left off. You might remember that Sir Harry had decided to leave Thames House for the quiet life with Ruth until a knife came between her and Harry. Well, Sir Harry returns to the Grid no longer interested in the thought of a ‘normal life’ without Ruth.
The good news for fans of the brilliant bit of television that was Spooks is that, just like the original 10 seasons, no character is safe. As Adam Carter, Ros Myers, Lucas North, Fiona Carter, Danny Hunter, Jo Portman, Ruth Evershed and Tariq Masood to name a few will attest, this is not so good news for anyone based at Thames House. Who can forget the rooftop stand-off between Lucas and Harry, which ended series 9.
Game of Thrones star, Kit Harington has been cast alongside Jennifer Ehle (Zero Dark Thirty), Tuppence Middleton (The Love Punch) and Peter Firth, who played Sir Harry Pearce, the head of the MI5 counter terrorism unit and the only person to appear in every episode for the television series’ 10-year run. Spooks: The Greater Good follows a runaway terrorist named Adam Qasim. After he escapes from MI5 custody (why does that always happen), the disgraced spies have to try and recapture Qasim before he causes more terror.
Spooks: The Greater Good has a target release date later in 2014.
2014-2015 looks to be quite an ambitious drama slate for BBC One. Death in Paradise and Call the Midwife will each return for their fourth series in 2015. New commissions will feature two new Agatha Christie adaptations, And Then There Were None and Partners in Crime. Aidan Turner (Being Human, The Hobbit), Eleanor Tomlinson (Death Comes to Pemberley, The White Queen) and Ruby Bentall (The Paradise) will co-star in the re-boot of Poldark. Based on the novels of Winston Graham, Poldark will be the lavish centerpiece of the BBC One drama schedule in 2015.
Another interesting adaptation also on the horizon in 2014-2015 is a re-make of an immensely popular series of the same name that starred Prunella Scales, Geraldine McEwan and Nigel Hawthorne which aired in the mid-80′s on Channel 4 in the UK.
Mapp And Lucia
Written by Steve Pemberton, of Pyschoville, League of Gentleman and Inside No. 9 fame, Mapp and Lucia is based on the EF Benson novels and is set in the small English town of Tilling across the Summer of 1930. Described as “celebrating the snobberies and pretensions of small town life”, the drama follows Mrs Emmeline
Lucas, known to her friends as Lucia, who decides to take a holiday in the charming Queen Anne town of Tilling. The new adaptation will star Pemberton, Anna Chancellor and Miranda Richardson.
Not only have we not talked Sherlock at this point, but we haven’t mentioned ITV as of yet and the return of Downton Abbey, Scott and Bailey, Poirot, Endeavour or the return of Lewis. Once again, it’s going to be a banner year for drama on both sides of the Atlantic.
Time to binge watch the original Poldark and Mapp and Lucia before 2015. Who’s with me?