Normally, when the guys from Top Gear get issued a challenge, something gets destroyed. Series 21 of the long-running motoring show is no exception. In episode one, early last month, series hosts Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May drive their 1980′s hatchbacks around a specially designed course in the aisles of a supermarket, to see who can get round the quickest in Supermarket Sweep in Hatchbacks.
The setting for Top Gear‘s decadent challenge was Valco, the specially-built supermarket set for the Sky television series, Trollied. Sadly, the fake supermarket located at The Bottle Yard Studios in Bristol came out the worse for wear in the high-profile challenge segment.
Fortunately, it didn’t look like the damage was too severe and ‘Valco’ should be ready for the forthcoming filming of series 4 of Trollied, starring Jason Watkins, Jane Horrocks and Mark Addy, which was just commissioned by Sky Head of Comedy, Lucy Lumsden.
Voted Britain’s favorite sitcom in the 2004 Britain’s Best Sitcom poll, Only Fools and Horses returns Friday for a one-time-only special on BBC One as part of Sport Relief.
While original creator and sole writer on the series, John Sullivan, passed away in 2011, the new Sport Relief sketch has been written by his sons, Jim and Dan Sullivan, based on notes their father left behind. While the task of re-creating brilliance was a daunting one, they were helped along from interest by retired ex-England footballer David Beckham to be a part of the Sport Relief sketch. Beckham will be seen joining Del Boy and Rodney in a greasy spoon café in Peckham. Filmed earlier this month, the sketch will also see market trader Del Boy marking his 65th birthday.
Even though the series has been a part of endless conversations and rumors of a return, its been over a decade since anyone has revisited south London market trader Del Boy and his brother Rodney’s hourly attempts to strike it rich. The most recent effort, the 2003 Christmas Day finale, “Sleepless in Peckham”, was seen by over 16 millions viewers.
Beckham revealed recently that nerves got the best of him on the eve of filming. “The day of filming started off with a slightly sleepless night, going over my script. The thought of being on set with Nicholas (Lyndhurst) and David (Jason) was obviously very nerve-wracking. I woke up that morning with my script on my chest. I’m a huge fan of the show. I have been for many years, as far back as I can remember,” Beckham told Radio Times. “Being from the East End of London, it’s what I was brought up on.”.”
The Sullivan brothers were admittedly (and rightfully) hesitant to recreate brilliance by bringing back OFAH. “We were surprised and flattered by this, but a little hesitant to commit at first. Since dad passed away the question of whether we’d be interested in writing any new material for Only Fools has been raised a few times, and we have always said no, our intention being to protect the work, not to attempt adding to it.”
Tonight on BBC Two, it’s W1A…
In 2012, Ian Fletcher’s job was simple. As Head of Deliverance for the Olympic Deliverance Commission (ODC), he was tasked to organize the 2012 London Summer Olympics. In 2014, Ian Fletcher (Hugh Bonneville) has a really big task facing ahead of him. His job is to clarify, define, or re-define, the core purpose of the BBC across all its functions and to position it confidently for the future, in particular for License Fee Renegotiation and Charter Renewal in 2016 and 2017 respectively. Piece of cake, right?
The post of Head of Values is sold to Ian as a chance to influence and shape one of the great British institutions. His job is to think Big Thoughts, but it doesn’t him take long to realize that not only does he not have time to think big thoughts, he never has time to think any thoughts at all.
Following Fletcher to the BBC will be several of his former Twenty Twelve co-workers. Siobhan Sharpe (Jessica Hynes) as Brand Consultant and Simon Harwood (Jason Watkins) as Director of Strategic Governance. Airing tonight on BBC Two, there are those on this side of the Atlantic waiting to hear how it plays out. UK readers…don’t be shy.
FYI, Twenty Twelve will be airing on a number of public television stations beginning in April. Let’s hope for the same for W1A in the not-too-distant future.
Less than a month removed from the final episode of series 4 of Downton Abbey, separation anxiety has set for most of the U.S. With filming for series 5 of the all-time British period drama favorite in full swing and everyone trying to figure out just what is in Julian Fellowes’ mind palace, it’s kinda cool to see the cast actually trying to figure out what might be in store for them this season. What could possibly be ahead for your favorite Downton Abbey characters in series 5?
In this exclusive interview for PBS’ Masterpiece series, series stars Robert James-Collier (Thomas), Laura Carmichael (Edith), Allen Leech (Branson) and Lesley Nicol (Mrs. Patmore) were asked to tell candidly what they most wish for their characters.
Have to say, can’t argue with any of their wishes. I could go for Branson with a spine and a knock-down drag-out between Mrs. Patmore and the Dowager, herself. How about you?
What better way to dive head first into St. Patrick’s Day than to take a quick look at some brilliant Irish sitcoms. Following in the footsteps of Graham Linehan’s Father Ted in the mid-90′s and the more recent Mrs. Brown’s Boys from Brendan O’Carroll, comes the drop-dead funny, Moone Boy from Chris O’Dowd and Nick Vincent Murphy. For those unfamiliar with the series, Moone Boy is a semi-autobiographical depiction of O’Dowd and focuses on a young boy’s life growing up in Boyle, County Roscommon in Ireland in the late 1980s and the early 1990s.
Meet the Moones
Winner of the International Emmy Award for Best Comedy, Moone Boy revolves around the story of Seán (O’Dowd), the imaginary friend of 12-year-old Martin Moone, the youngest child of a family living in a small town in the rural Ireland. Martin, aided by his imaginary friend, has a unique perspective on life. His imagination comes into play both in his childish drawings, which come alive through animation, and in the ridiculous schemes he comes up with, against Seán’s better judgement. With Seán’s help, Martin negotiates life as the youngest in a somewhat chaotic, scatter-brained family.
Filmed in Series 3 filming began in the Fall of 2013 in Chris O’Dowd’s hometown of Boyle, County Roscommon, Ireland, The first two series of Moone Boy have had a limited U.S. run on Hulu+ but will begin airing on a number of public television stations beginning in April 2014.
I have to believe that if you watched Jeopardy, and the contestant took “Actors and Actresses for $200″, Alex Trebek would then read out the word No and the only possible correct “question” to the answer would be “Is there anything that Benedict Cumberbatch cannot do“? From his small screen brilliance in Sherlock and Parade’s End to big screen greatness of Tinker Tailor, War Horse, Star Trek, The Hobbit, 12 Years a Slave and August: Osage County to live theatre performances in Frankenstein at the National Theatre, Benedict Cumberbatch can do it all.
On Thursday and Friday, March 20 and 21 at 2:15pm, Cumberbatch will again share his immense talents with the Radio 4 audience as he plays the younger version of John Mortimer’s much-loved barrister, Horace Rumpole, a character he has portrayed since 2009. Rumpole and the Old Boy Net will air on Radio 4 on Thursday 20 March as Cumberbatch’s Rumpole fights a case of blackmail with the help of his new pupil Phillida Trant, played by Cathy Sara. The younger Rumpole is also being badgered by his wife to become a QC in order to have enough money to pay for a decent private education for their young son Nicholas.
The following day, on Friday March 21, Radio 4 will broadcast the next new Rumpole drama, Rumpole and the Sleeping Partners where Rumpole temporarily leaves his wife Hilda after a row and discovers Phillida appearing to get close to his rival Claude Erskine-Brown (Nigel Anthony) before she falls for Rumpole himself. In addition, our hero examines the case of Hugo Lutterworth, who’s accused of trying to kill the husband of his lover.
Previous Radio 4 adaptations have featured Timothy West as an older Rumpole remembering his earlier career in Rumpole and the Expert Witness, Rumpole and the Man of God and Rumpole and the Penge Bungalow Murders. While West will not appear in the two new episodes, producer Marilyn Imrie hopes that he will return for future Rumpole dramas telling RadioTimes.com: “We are very much hoping to have an episode in which they meet and talk to each other in some form of ether. That would be a great story.”
One thing that is incredibly lacking in the States is the presence of radio drama. All I can say is thank goodness for the iTunes App Store.
The greatness of Keeley Hawes (Spooks, Ashes to Ashes, Upstairs Downstairs, Line of Duty) will play Ms Delphox, a powerful out-of-this-world character with a dark secret. Travelling across space and time the Twelfth Doctor (Peter Capaldi) and his companion, Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman), will come face to face with the mysterious Ms Delphox when they arrive on a strange and puzzling planet. The episode will be written by Steve Thompson (Sherlock) and directed by Douglas Mackinnon (Line Of Duty, Doctor Who).
Doctor Who showrunner, Steven Moffat, added: “Anyone watching Jed Mercurio’s amazing Line Of Duty will know that Keeley Hawes is having one hell of year. And now it’s about to get even better as she achieves the greatest villainy yet attempted on Doctor Who: she plays a banker.”
Thanks to some Sherlockian-style digging by Radio Times, this isn’t the first time that Hawes and current Doctor, Peter Capaldi, have shared the small screen. Back in 2001, they starred opposite each other in Channel 5′s 2001 comedy spoof Hotel! with Hawes playing receptionist Trisha opposite Capaldi’s hotel manager, Hilton Gilfoyle. After watching the clip, both Capaldi and Hawes probably wish this one would stay good and buried. It may be excruciatingly bad, but at least you get two Doctor’s for the price of one with Eighth Doctor, Paul McGann, also a part of the cast. The trio battle to wrestle control of the Nearby Hotel back from the hands of terrorists targeting the President of the United States, who just happens to be staying on the premises. Wow, it even reads as bad as it looks.
Bill Nighy will reprise his Page Eight role as MI5 spy Johnny Worricker in Turks & Caicos and Salting The Battlefield, the second and third installments of David Hare’s Emmy-winning spy thriller. Page Eight, which aired on BBC Two and as part of PBS’ Masterpiece series in 2011, starred Rachel Weisz, Ralph Fiennes, Judy Davis and Michael Gambon.
Produced by Carnival Films (Downton Abbey, The Hollow Crown, Any Human Heart) and filmed in London and on the Caribbean island of Turks & Caicos, the first follow-up to the award winning Page Eight, Turks & Caicos, will star Bill Nighy, Christopher Walken, Winona Ryder, Helena Bonham Carter, Ralph Fiennes, Rupert Graves, Ewen Bremner, James Naughton, Dylan Baker and Zach Grenier. Johnny Worricker (Nighy) has walked out of his job at MI5, going to the airport apparently to choose his destination at random. But his presence on the obscure islands of Turks & Caicos brings him a new problem: he is being forced by the CIA to deal with a group of ambiguous Americans who are on the islands for a high-level conference on the world financial crisis. At the same time, an old girlfriend, Margot Tyrell, is being asked to betray her boss in London in order to establish an illicit connection between the prime minister and dark goings-on in the ‘war on terror’.
Up next is Salting The Battlefield which stars Bill Nighy, Helena Bonham Carter, Ralph Fiennes, Rupert Graves, Felicity Jones, Olivia Williams, Saskia Reeves, Judy Davis, Kate Burdette, Ewen Bremner and Malcolm Sinclair. Filmed in London and Germany, Salting The Battlefield follows Johnny Worricker and Margot Tyrell on the run across Europe, with MI5 hard on their heels. But life in exile is proving much harder than either of them expected. Worricker knows that his only chance of resolving the issues in both his personal and his professional lives is if he returns home to confront the powerful Prime Minister, Alec Beasley. In a duel of wits between the two men, there will be only one winner.
As I have always said, Bill Nighy could read the phone book on TV and I’d be a happy camper…welcome back to the grid.
What lurks in creator/writer Julian Fellowes’ mind palace with regards to the inhabitants of Downton Abbey one never knows. Over the course of four series, members of the Crawley family have come and gone, sometimes it seems like they just can’t keep a good ladies maid for more that a few days and let’s not forget the fleeting moments of Nanny West’s existence at Downton. Then, in the case of poor Mr. Gregson, you have a character that seemed to be on the brink of acceptance within the four walls of Downton, only to turn up MIA in Germany.
One constant, however, beginning in series two is everyone’s favorite yellow labrador retriever, Isis. Making her screen debut when Mrs. Patmore feeds her leftover Crêpe Suzette after telling Ethel that none were left over from the previous night’s dinner, Isis replaced Pharoah, who appeared only in series one. Unfortunately, it was Highclere Castle owner Lady Carnarvon’s pet labrador, Percy, that would not tolerate the presence of Roly at Downton. Roly had quite the CV, appearing in episodes of Midsomer Murders prior to his brief stint on Downton Abbey. Since Pharoah was a male and Isis a female, the internal decision was made to have Pharaoh pass away which put her in the Dan Stevens category of never being able to return to Downton again. Isis was originally played by Ellie in series two but, then, series 3 saw a new lab on the scene as ‘Abbey’ took over, Thankfully, Isis remains at Lord Grantham’s side and has signed on for the fifth series of Downton Abbey which is currently filming in the UK.
The Christmas episode from series 2 was where Isis came into her own and securing a much bigger role than just remaining by Lord Grantham’s side. You might rememeber that it was Thomas who hides her in a shack with a plan to keep her hidden and then find her to gain Lord Grantham’s trust. This new found trust could potentially cause him to be promoted to valet. However, his plan backfires when a village girl finds Isis and brings her to the Earl for a reward.
High points of Isis’ time at Downton continued in series three when Tom Branson holds Isis on her leash as the family leaves for Scotland during the 2012 Christmas special. Robert asks Tom to walk her a lot, saying she can get lazy. Later, Tom does just that as he is seen walking her when he goes to lunch at the Grantham Arms. In series four, Isis is seen during the performance by Jack Ross and, then, solidifying her importance at Downton, when Lord Grantham leaves for America to visit his in-laws, he asks Tom to look after the women in the house and, especially, Isis. No one knows just what is in store for Downton Abbey on series five but, whatever it is, it certainly will involve Isis.
I know there are those of you out there that will immediately say “Gee, you don’t look a day over four!“. Hard to believe it has been five years already. Seems just like yesterday that the first post of our brief existence announced on October 1, 2009 that it was Time for Tellyspotting!. And now, over 2000 posts later (2,003 to be exact), here we are better than ever because of one thing — YOU! Your love of all-things British, our shared recognition that British comedy and drama is the best telly on telly and your comments/feedback over the last five years make it really easy to look forward to the next five. And, thanks so much to the folks over at the London Underground for this really special greeting!
A lot has changed since that fateful day of 10.01.09 when you think about it. Here’s where I could launch into how much a gallon of milk or a loaf of bread cost back then but there are a just a few more important things to understand how our lives have changed. Just imagine a 2009 world where it was BD (Before Downton Abbey), BS (Before Sherlock) BRDX (Before Red Dwarf X) and we were coming to the end of the David Tennant era on Doctor Who. There was no Scott and Bailey, no Endeavour, no Call the Midwife or even Miranda for that matter. At the time, we only knew of Miranda Hart from a brief guest shot in Lead Balloon and a leading role in Hyperdrive with Nick Frost. And, one of the best series ever to grace the small screen, Spooks or MI-5 if you’re in the States, still had three seasons to go!
In the last five years, we have had the great good fortune to sit down and interview a number of amazing individuals for Tellyspotting. Essie Davis (Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries) immediately comes to mind as does Michael Palin (Monty Python, Brazil with Michael Palin), Martin Shaw and Lee Ingleby (George Gently), Simon Pegg and Nick Frost (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, The World’s End) and Jonathan Lynn (Yes Minister, Yes Prime Minister). And, there’s more to come in the not-too-distant future (hint: think New Tricks!) so stick around and join us for the next five and beyond. It’s going to be a great ride but it won’t be the same without you!
A special thanks to everyone that has written to us, commented on or even read just one post in the last five years. Thanks, also, to BBC Worldwide for their overwhelming support from Day One, to John Manthorpe over at ITV for all the advance press material, to Acorn Media for constantly thinking of us when actors are made available for interviews and to Mark over at the British Comedy Guide for warning me in the beginning stages back in 2009 as to what I was getting ready to get myself into.
Thinking back, I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into but I wouldn’t trade anything in the last five years for anything. So, here’s to the next 2,003 posts. Are you with me?