In keeping with our new Friday tradition of getting you ready for the weekend…it’s time for the Tellyspotting Friday Funnies. This week, Ripping Yarns. Happy weekend!
After Monty Python’s Flying Circus ended in 1974, it seemed like a no-brainer that the BBC was eager to find new projects for the now ex-Pythons. Turning first to the brilliance of Terry Jones and Michael Palin, ‘Tomkinson’s Schooldays’, a spoof of Tom Brown’s Schooldays, where young Tomkinson’s attempts to escape a school where pupils are shot for disobedience and regularly nailed to the walls for fun, was a huge success when it premiered in 1976.
Within a week of it being aired Palin and Jones were at the BBC being quizzed about prospects for more shows along the same lines. At that point, Ripping Yarns was ‘officially’ born. Heavy on the satire and overall outright silliness, the series lasted for two short seasons, ending in 1979.
In “Escape from Stalag Luft 112B”, Major Errol Phipps, played by Michael Palin, is a legend among prisoners of war, having attempted over five hundred escapes, two hundred of them before he left England. One day, he is transferred to the most infamous prison camp: Stalag Luft 112B. He tries eleven escapes en route and one just after arriving, but is stopped by fellow British officers. They are comfortable where they are, bossing the Germans around. One of the officers is called “Attenborough”, alluding to Richard Attenborough’s role in the film The Great Escape, which the episode parodies very successfully given that escape attempts have to be organized by a special committee which only meets very irregularly…
EYEWTK. as in Everything You Ever Wanted To Know. Time for yet another infographic that will give you endless witty banter at your next get together when Benedict Cumberbatch, any of his countless movies that are set to premiere or the obligatory, ‘when is Sherlock set to premiere’ question arises.
The fact that he taught English in a Tibetan Monestary during his gap year will probably win you something if you phrase it right. Couple that bit of trivia with the knowledge that his first acting role, at the age of 13, was that of Titania: Queen of the Fairies in A Midsummer Night’s Dream has to be worth a free pint or two, don’t you think?
Given that since 2011, Benedict Cumberbatch has been a part of War Horse, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Parade’s End, Star Trek Into Darkness, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, 12 Years a Slave, The Fifth Estate, August: Osage County, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, The Hobbit: There and Back Again, it’s no wonder there have been 825,624 (and counting) Twitter mentions of Benedict in the last 12 months. One can only imagine what will happen when Sherlock hits the telly in 2014.
ITV’s Whitechapel, stars Rupert Penry-Jones and Phil Davis, detectives in London’s Whitechapel district who deal with murders which replicate historical crimes. Joined by Steve Pemberton, the popular drama returns to ITV this Wednesday at 9pm with six new episodes, told in three two-part stories. Personally, I have to admit that it really took me bit to get into Whitechapel. Once I got past series one with the yet another Jack the Ripper copycat murder investigation storyline, I found the series to be brilliant and really come in two its own with excellent writing and superb performances by Penry Jones, Davis and The League of Gentlemen member and Psychoville co-creator (with Reece Shearsmith), Steve Pemberton.
Produced by Carnival Films, who also produce that little series we call Downton Abbey, Whitechapel debuted in 2009 dramatizing the search for a modern copycat killer replicating the murders of Jack the Ripper. The second series, dealt with copycat Kray Brothers who were English gangsters and the foremost perpetrators of organized crime in the East End of London during the 1950s and 1960s. Deviating a bit from its original format, series 3 still dealt with copycat crimes from some 200+ years prior but featured three separate stories.
As in all previous series, series 4 will have DI Chandler (Penry-Jones) and DS Miles (Davis) continue to retain the services of Ed Buchan (Steve Pemberton) as the team’s historical adviser. The new series, which premieres Wednesday on ITV1, will touch on historical crime precedents such as witchcraft, cold war espionage, ghoulish Victorian surgeons, cryptozoology and hidden horrors in the East End’s underground tunnels. Look for a U.S. broadcast sometime in 2014 on BBC America.
One of the bits of brilliance about the Internets is that it gives really creative people blessed with time on their hands the ability to create really great things that have relatively little use beyond the fact that it’s just bloody cool.
With the forthcoming Doctor Who 50th anniversary coming up in the not-too-distant future, it’s the perfect storm for this type of thing. Is the case of this Doctor Who infographic from Direct Select TV, the First and Eleventh Doctors are compared. The most disturbing info on the graphic shows there to still be in excess of 100 episodes ‘lost’ with the BBC adhering to the routine practice of recording over tapes and not saving.
Until the Christmas episode airs in 2013 and the world is introduced to Peter Capaldi as the Twelfth Doctor, William Hartnell, the First Doctor in 1963 when the series premiered, was the oldest Doctor at 55 years of age. At 27, Matt Smith became the youngest when he took on the role of the Eleventh Doctor. At 55, Capaldi will tie Troughton so, hey, it’s almost time to update that infographic when you have free time.
In the United States, Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement, dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of their country.
As we settle in for the final day of a 3-day weekend, we pause to pay tribute to some of the hardest working people in U.K. retail…the staff of Grace Brothers Department Store.
Captain Peacock – Floorwalker, Grace Brothers
Mrs. Betty Slocombe – Head of Ladies’ Intimate Apparel
Miss Shirley Brahms – Junior Assistant, Ladies’ Intimate Apparel
Mr. Wilberforce Claybourne Humphries – Senior Assistant, Menswear
Mr. Lucas – Junior Salesman, Menswear
Mr. Cuthbert Rumbold – Floor Manager
Mr. Ernest Grainger – Senior Salesman, Menswear
Having had the great good fortune over the years being part of the PBS productions of Celebrating Mollie Sugden, Funny Ladies of British Comedy and Funny Blokes of British Comedy, it’s hard to believe that, with the exception of Nicholas Smith, virtually the entire cast of Are You Being Served are no longer with us. They will, however, continue to make the world smile for years to come each day they report to work at Grace Brothers.
A picture is worth a thousand words refers to the notion that a complex idea can be conveyed with just a single still image. With that phrase in mind, the announcement the world has been waiting for was made on the official Downton Abbey Twitter account last night proclaiming that as of Saturday, there were a mere 22 days left until “Downton Day” with the premiere of Downton Abbey 4 set for Sunday, 22 September on ITV1. Calm down U.S. readers, we’re talking to UK readers only at this point.
Before all non-UK readers attach themselves to the ceiling and refuse to come down until 2014, here for all the world to see is the first full trailer for Downton Abbey 4! Guess we now know who the Dowager Countess was talking to in last week’s teaser.
No need to say anything more, is there…unless you’d like to know that, coincidentally, on the same date in 1955, in the UK, the television channel ITV went live for the first time. And you thought it was just Downton Day.
While not quite the day that the whole of Planet Earth has been waiting almost a year for, it is just about the next best thing to sliced bread with the highly-anticipated release of the first video from Downton Abbey 4. This past week, if you were to look up the word ‘tease’ in the dictionary, I have to think you would merely see a link to the first video look at the forthcoming series.
As you can see, actually only hear, the Dowager Countess has some words of wisdom for another character. “You have a straightforward choice before you. You must choose either death or life,” says the Dowager Countess. Unfortunately, we don’t actually see who she’s talking to so we can only assume that it’s probably Lady Mary in light of Matthew’s death. But, since we all know what happens when you assume, let’s recognize she could be speaking to virtually anyone at Downton who are all struggling with the loss along with the entire Downton Abbey viewing nation.
A full series 4 trailer is set to be released today (31 August). Rest assured we’ll add as soon as it becomes available. Hopefully, along with the eagerly-awaited trailer will be the official UK transmission dates in September. With PBS dates set for the premiere on January 5, 2014, and the fact that Sunday is the beginning of September, it’s only a matter of time before the UK will be setting their collective DVR’s. Come to think of it, you’re probably already setting it for Monday’s series 6 premiere of Doc Martin so just hang out a bit, it won’t be long now…
Finally! It’s Friday. It’s Friday before a long weekend in the States. What better way to end the work week and get ready for the 3-day weekend than to go behind the scenes of one of the funniest sitcoms that have come along in some time. Moone Boy, co-written and starring Chris O’Dowd (IT Crowd) as imaginary friend, Sean, and David Rawle as Martin Moone comes from Steve Coogan’s Baby Cow Productions who sports a pretty extensive and equally impressive track record of creating funny telly, (e.g. Hunderby, Hebburn, Gavin & Stacey, Mighty Boosh and the entire Alan Partridge empire to name just a few).
In Moone Boy, Seán is 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, mostly against Seán’s better judgement. At the same time, with Seán’s help, Martin negotiates life as the youngest in a chaotic, scatter-brained family.
Meet the Moones
The good news for comedy fans is that before series one had seen the air, a second series had been commissioned by Sky with a third series now being written. Series two will transmit later this Fall in the UK with series one coming to public television in early 2014. In the interim…Happy Friday!
Behind-the scenes with Moone Boy
It always seems like this time of year, when films begin to emerge for Oscar consideration, there are an endless number of films that come out where the description begins with ‘if you see one movie this year, see this one’. 99.9% of the time, those are promotional words that aren’t worth the time it took to write the sentence. In the case of the forthcoming documentary, Hawking, it falls into the .01% and is definitely true.
Hawking is the new documentary film about the notoriously private and, at the same time, world’s most celebrated physicist, Stephen Hawking, the author of ‘A Brief History of Time’. Hawking’s story, from his early days as a student through his battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, to his status as a bestselling author, is narrated by the man himself, telling his own life story in his own words. Given unprecedented personal access to the physicist, filmmaker Stephen Finnigan delves into memories of Hawking’s student days, recounts his astonishing scientific discoveries, and portrays his struggle against Motor Neurone Disease, with which Hawking, now 71, was first diagnosed at age 21. It’s an intimate and inspiring portrait of a truly remarkable man.
Someone with more than a passing knowledge and interest in Stephen Hawking is Benedict Cumberbatch. Back in 2004, before Sherlock and, actually, pre-most everything in his career with the exception of Fortysomething, Benedict Cumberbatch played Hawking in a relatively obscure but extremely well-done drama series. In the forthcoming documentary, Cumberbatch talks about playing the theoretical physicist in his early struggles with motor neurone disease.
“I felt a huge onus of responsibility to get that part of his life right,” Cumberbatch says. “It’s a terrifying prospect to have a completely functioning mind inside a body that locks you in, that keeps you stationary. One of the things I wanted to get right was to show the progression of his condition and show where the instability and fear came from.”
Cumberbatch was nominated for a BAFTA for his portrayal of Hawking as a PhD at Cambridge University, when he was diagnosed with the debilitating condition.
A Darlow Smithson Production in association with Channel 4 and PBS, Hawking will be released in the UK on 20 September with a tentative January 2014 small screen broadcast in the U.S on PBS. No word yet on a theatrical release in the States or a Channel 4 broadcast in the UK. Whenever it is, ‘if you see one movie this year, see this one’.
Not wanting to be the last one invited to the Doctor Who 50th anniversary party, the Royal Albert Hall decided to host to a very special evening of their own with a guest list to top all guest lists including Daleks, Cybermen, the Tardis and, of course, Matt Smith and Jenna Coleman. Being that it was Royal Albert Hall and it was the Proms, it is fitting that the night belonged to Murray Gold and a celebration of his amazing musical score. Those not in attendance were treated to the televised version this past week on BBC One.
Given the success of the Doctor Who Prom, one can’t help but think that a Sherlock Prom is not to far behind. With the same, if not a more rabid fanbase (yes, it is my iPhone ringtone) and an equally as brilliant score by Sherlock composer David Arnold, it could happen. RadioTimes.com caught up with Arnold at the Edinburgh TV Festival, and immediately put the question to him as to whether or not there could ever be a Sherlock Prom.
“There’s a lot of music in Sherlock,” Arnold told Radio Times. “I do it with Michael Price so it’s a proper two-hander and we did an orchestral suite, an eight-minute thing which we did in Manchester with Birmingham Symphony Orchestra a few weeks ago, and it does take quite well to the concert hall. As fans are acutely aware, the music in Sherlock should be listed in the credits right up there with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. Arnold, who has also composed the score for five Bond films and was the musical director of last year’s Olympic and Paralympic Games, definitely believes there’s enough material already in the first two series of Sherlock. “There’s so much music in the show, there’s an hour and ten minutes in every episode of music. You’ve got 230 minutes of music per season so now we’ve got 460 minutes of music.”
All you have to do is remember the hauntingly brilliant theme to be able to visualize what an amazing night this would be. While I wouldn’t head over to Kensington Gore just yet, my guess is that a Sherlock Prom is not too far off from being a reality in the not too distant future.