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‘Mr. Selfridge’ commissioned for 3rd series

March 7, 2014

With respect to telly drama, 2014 is becoming quite the poster child for the phrase, ‘when it rains, it pours’. Just this past week drama lovers learned that, following this weeks season ending episode of Call the Midwife, there would be a fourth series of the hit BBC period drama featuring the nuns of Nonnatus House in Poplar. If that wasn’t enough, there will also be a the final five episodes of Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot series, a new adaptation of Poldark and two new Agatha Christie adaptations in 2015.

Now comes the welcome news that ITV has commissioned a third series of Mr. Selfridge, the drama that is inspired by the life of charismatic American entrepreneur, Harry Gordon Selfridge, and stars Jeremy Piven. Filming for the new series will begin in April with an early 2015 transmission date penciled in both on ITV and PBS. As with the previous two series, filming will take place on location in Greater London with a lavish replica of the 1909 Selfridge’s shop floor being recreated in a former carpet warehouse. The exterior of the store will, again, be filmed in the historic Dockyard Chatham in Kent.

Kate Lewis, executive producer for ITV Studios gave a hint as to what will be in store for viewers next season saying: “We have some surprises in store for an audience in this third series. You only have to walk down Oxford St today to know that Selfridges Department Store continued to be successful, but for its founder, Harry Selfridge, things were very different. His story was a roller coaster ride that ended rather tragically. We pick up Series 3 in 1919, the point at which his life really begins to unravel.

Mr. Selfridge series 2 premiere – Sunday, March 30 on PBS

The premiere of series two of Mr. Selfridge as part of PBS’ Masterpiece series is just around the corner with a Sunday, March 30 at 9pET/8pCT date etched on everyone’s calendar. Check out this special recap of series 1 and sneak peak at series 2.

The Bachelor meets the Ladies of Downton Abbey

March 6, 2014

Aside from the greatness of Jimmy Fallon, Funny or Die and SNL, there have been few other Downton Abbey parodies that were absolutely spot on. Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water, along comes Brilliance.com and their mashup of Downton Abbey and The Bachelor. See for yourself what happens when post-Edwardian-era ladies find themselves in the hit reality TV series dealing with a man looking for love. As we begin, Brilliance.com sets the program stage detailing how ABC is shaking things up and enters into a partnership with PBS as the program has begun suffering in the ratings and, basically, worn out its novelty. Who will get smashed on tea? Who will be crowned queen of the jacuzzi and who will steal Juan Pablo’s heart?

It’s time for The Bachelor Meets the Ladies of Downton Abbey!
The Bachelor Meets the Ladies of Downton Abbey - A Parody Wiki-graphic & Contest

As the 18th season of The Bachelor gets underway, we meet our bachelor, a 32 year-old former professional soccer player from Venezuela, Juan Pablo Galavis. Juan Pablo is a single dad who’s not only looking for a potential wife but also a mother to his daughter. Who will it be? One of the upstairs ladies or someone from ‘downstairs’?

The Bachelor Meets the Ladies of Downton Abbey - A Parody Wiki-graphic & Contest-4

The Bachelor Meets the Ladies of Downton Abbey - A Parody Wiki-graphic & Contest-2

The Bachelor Meets the Ladies of Downton Abbey - A Parody Wiki-graphic & Contest-3

Juan Pablo barely survives the First Rose Ceremony before beginning to narrow his choices through the Group Dates and One-on-one dates. Next up is the Homecoming/Meet the Family where Juan Pablo makes his final decision and heads to The Proposal with rose in hand.

To find out who Juan Pablo picked and hear the lucky lady of Downton Abbey‘s answer, click here for the complete Brilliance.com info graphic. My money would have been on Rose or Edna but neither of them made the cut, I guess.

So, you want to be the next Hercule Poirot?

March 5, 2014

After watching the brilliant Sir David Suchet for the last 25+ years lend his excellence to the creation of Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot, it would be hard to imagine anyone even attempting to re-create perfection should another Poirot series materialize somewhere, someday. Of course, I said the same thing in the 1980′s when finding it impossible to believe there could be another Sherlock Holmes other than Jeremy Brett. We all know how that played out in 2010…


David Suchet brought Hercule Poirot to life back in January of 1989 with “The Adventure of the Clapham Cook”. 25 years, 13 series and 70 episodes later, he completed the entire Agatha Christie catalog with the June 2013 broadcast of “Curtain: Poirot’s Last Case”. This past Fall, Suchet spoke with interviewer and biographer Geoffrey Wansell at the BFI about getting the role of Poirot.

Should anyone consider following in the footsteps of Benedict Cumberbatch when he took on the role of the world’s greatest consulting detective and attempt to re-boot of the world famous Belgian detective, Sir David has given a bit of insight as to his preparation. Thanks to Charlotte Runcie at The Telegraph for a brilliant look at a brilliant actor.

  • Be prepared – Before playing Poirot for the first time, Suchet compiled a dossier of more than 90 facts about the detective that he gleaned from Christie’s novels and short stories. He then consulted this list every time he filmed an episode. Suchet would also watch every single previous episode of Poirot in which he’d starred before filming a new one, in order to reimmerse himself in the role. This means Suchet has watched himself play Poirot at least 2,450 times.
  • The walk – Christie’s original description of Poirot’s walk is as a “rapid, mincing gait, with his feet tightly and painfully enclosed within his patent leather boots”. To replicate Poirot’s walk, Suchet took inspiration from Laurence Olivier’s portrayal of a Restoration fop: “Famously he [Olivier] put a penny in the crack of his bottom and walked and wouldn’t let it drop. If you do that, you can’t walk fast, so I did the same thing… What I made myself do when I wanted to walk like Poirot was to squeeze my bottom. That makes you walk with short strides.
  • The moustache – As soon as the moustache goes on, I speak as him,” Suchet says. “It changes the flexibility of my top lip and it’s like a catalyst that, immediately, gets me into the little man… and once the voice is there, every single thing about him slots into place.
  • ‘Zee accent’ – Suchet listened to French and Belgian radio to find an accent somewhere between the two for Poirot. The result is mostly French, with occasional hints of guttural Flemish. Suchet maintains the accent throughout filming, even when the cameras are not rolling. He has taken staying in character to eccentric extremes. When a visitor to the set of a Poirot episode being filmed in Paris became upset on realising that her handbag had been stolen earlier in the day, Suchet came to her aid. Except he did so as Hercule Poirot, launching into a lengthy, extemporised analysis of the crime, the rise of pickpocketing in Paris and a potential list of suspects. Poirot soothed her frazzled nerves but sadly the bag was never retrieved.

For a complete look at the definitive guide to Sir David Suchet’s quarter of a century iconic portrayal of Hercule Poirot, check out The Telegraph article here to see if you still want to channel your inner-Benedict Cumberbatrch and become the next Hercule Poirot.

It’s more ‘Death in Paradise’ for the island of Saint-Marie

March 4, 2014

Pretty soon, they are going to stop calling the quiet little fictional island of Saint-Marie in the Caribbean anything close to paradise. You certainly don’t want to be up for the job of the police department’s lead inspector next time it comes open as they don’t seem to leave the island….well, breathing. You’ll remember that as the series began, DI Richard Poole (Ben Miller) has left his cozy London surroundings and the land of the perfect cup of tea for the picturesque island of Saint Marie to solve the case of the death of a fellow British policeman. After solving the murder of his predecessor, he ends up becoming the local police force’s new senior detective.


After two series, Miller decided to vote himself off the island. Series 3 starts out a bit like Groundhog Day. In true Death in Paradise fashion, DI Poole is found murdered with Humphrey Goodman (Kris Marshall) called in from London to investigate the murder. DI Goodman then takes over as the local police force’s new senior detective after solving (with DI Poole’s help) the case. Fortunately, Goodman is quick to understand the quirky bond that had developed between Poole and Camille, Dwayne and Fidel, and has no interest in ‘taking Poole’s place’ but embrace the island culture and merely fit in.

DEATH IN PARADISE S4 commissioned by BBC

With the series 3 finale set for tonight at 9:00p on BBC One, the audience numbers in the UK have been quite good with weekly figures averaging around 7 million viewers and a 25-30% share. Armed with that information, Ben Stephenson, Controller of BBC Drama Commissioning, has announced the commissioning of series 4 of Death in Paradise, starring Marshall and all of the island regulars, to begin filming later this year.
Death in Paradise commissioned for a fourth series

While series 3 comes to an end tonight in the UK, Death in Paradise fans in the States need look no further than your local public television station as series 3 will premiere towards the end of March, first of April.

New Agatha Christie mysteries headed to BBC One

March 3, 2014

Following up Fridays announcement from Ben Stephenson, Controller of BBC Drama Commissioning, that Call the Midwife had been commissioned for a 4th series, comes some equally as brilliant news regarding new Agatha Christie adaptations. Historically, Christie’s two greatest creations, Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot, have transmitted on ITV in the UK. In announcing the details for the two new productions, Stephenson revealed that BBC One has entered into a deal with Agatha Christie Limited to become the exclusive UK home for new Christie projects. Headlining the 2014-2015 drama slate will be two new Agatha Christie projects, An Then There Were None and Partners in Crime. Transmission of both productions will coincide with the upcoming 125th anniversary of Agatha Christie’s birth in 2015.

And Then There Were None
Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None

Based on Agatha Christie’s most-read novel, selling more than 100 million copies, And Then There Were None is described as “timeless, dark and gripping”. The story follows 10 strangers marooned on an island who, one by one, start to die. The drama is being adapted by Sarah Phelps, whose recent TV adaptations of the Charles Dickens novels, Oliver Twist and Great Expectations, aired on both the BBC and PBS. Mammoth Screen are producing in partnership with Acorn Productions Ltd.

Partners In Crime
David Walliams headlines upcoming Agatha Christie adaptation of Partners in Crime

Based on the Tommy and Tuppence characters created by Agatha Christie, Partners In Crime follows the husband and wife sleuths in 1950s England as they stumble into a world of undercover agents, mysterious evil masterminds and diabolical political conspiracy. The project has received a six episode order, with the first three episodes being adapted from the Christie novel ‘The Secret Adversary’ and the remaining three episodes being adapted from ‘N Or M?’. David Walliams (Little Britain, Big School, Mr. Stink) has been cast as Tommy in this new series, which is being produced by Endor Productions in partnership with Acorn Productions Ltd.

Don’t know about you, but I’m starting to love these drama wars between BBC and ITV. With PBS and public television stations in the States listed as beneficiary on all the necessary forms, 2014-2015 is already shaping up to be the best yet.

BBC commissions new series of ‘Call the Midwife’ as PBS set to begin series 3 on March 30

March 2, 2014

The BBC confirmed Friday that the nuns of Nonnatus House will return for another series in 2015. This is brilliant news as the sun sets on Poplar with the final episode of series 3 airing Sunday, 9 March on BBC One. The hit period drama series which is set in London’s East End will dive head first into the ‘swinging 60′s’ for series which will go into production later this year for a 2015 premiere. The popular period drama, which was created by Heidi Thomas, stars Jessica Raine, Miranda Hart, Pam Ferris, Jenny Agutter and Helen George. No word yet as to who will return for series 4.
Jenny Lee, played by Jessica Raine, looks ahead to series 4 of Call the Midwife

In America, however, it’s time to play catch up with the premiere of series 3 beginning Sunday, March 30 on PBS’ Masterpiece series. For U.S. fans readying themselves for the new set of programs following the Christmas special this past December, you’ll remember that the nuns have now left Nonnatus House, which had been tragically reduced to a pile of rubble given its unfortunate proximity to an unexploded WWII bomb.

No matter which side of series 3 you find yourself on, the commissioning of series 4 is another indication that the Beeb is coming out swinging in the UK drama war.

BBC1 to adapt ‘Poldark’ for 2015

March 1, 2014

Longtime BBC and PBS viewers will no doubt remember Robin Ellis in the title role as British officer Captain Ross Poldark, who returns to his native Cornwall after the American Revolutionary War in the late 18th century. Based on the novels written by Winston Graham, Poldark aired on BBC1 and PBS in the mid-70′s. Considered to be one of the most successful British television adaptations of all time in addition to being voted on in a 2007 poll as one of the ten best British series ever broadcast on PBS’ Masterpiece Theatre series, Poldark ran for 29 episodes and 2 series from 1975-1977.

The BBC announced Friday that there will be a new Poldark in 2015 with Being Human and THe Hobbit star, Aidan Turner, taking on the title role. According to reports, the six-hour initial series will remain true to the original romantic saga, focusing on Poldark’s return to a much changed home life with his father now dead and his wife engaged to his cousin.

In addition to Poldark, I will always remember a leather-jacketed Robin Ellis guest starring on Fawlty Towers as policeman, Danny Brown, driving Basil crazy, charming Sybil, communicating in Spanish with Manuel and chasing down and, ultimately, arresting confidence trickster, Lord Melbury.

Whovians unite! It’s time for a bit of ‘Doctor Who’…in Lego

February 28, 2014

First it was the Winchester Pub, then it was Downton Abbey (created by New Yorker, Eric Stevens) and, finally. , it was the greatness of 221b Baker Street with a Sherlock Lego set.

While that might have just been a pig that flew by my window, it’s time to grab your bricks and build a TARDIS. Lego Cuusoo, which previously banned fans from submitting ideas based on licensed properties, recently posted in the License Conflicts and Resolutions section of its website that there’s no longer a conflict with the Doctor Who license. Simply stated, “We now welcome projects based on the following licenses that used to have conflicts: Doctor Who – February 2014.”

Commenting on why the sudden coming to their senses decision, Lego Cuusoo said, “Sometimes we have to turn down project submissions that refer to specific brands or licensed properties. We do this to avoid getting your hopes up for something we know we aren’t able to make. In these cases, we already know the Lego Group can’t secure licensing rights to produce construction toys based on a particular brand or property, due to a conflicting interest with a third party. If such a conflict goes away, we’ll then be able to accept projects based on a particular brand or license.

Looks like the conflict has gone away so what are you waiting for? Create a set, submit it, then vote!

Minnie Driver auditions for ‘Downton Abbey’ on ‘Ellen’

February 27, 2014

Before we take a final look at the 2014 BBC Showcase, we pause for a bit of Downton Abbey fun…

With the help of Ellen Degeneres, Minnie Driver is one step closer to fulfilling a lifelong dream (ok, at least a dream that she’s had for the last four years since Downton Abbey began in 2011.

With the help of the writers of Ellen, Driver was able to put together a top-notch audition tape recently with DeGeneres as Lady Gwendymere of West Bedford Applebees and Driver as Countess Penelope of I Can’t Believe It’s Not Buttersworth.

One final BBC Showcase update tomorrow before it’s time to head home. Lots more drama, comedy, factual, natural history and documentaries to talk about and, hopefully, bring to public television. Stay tuned!

Drama takes center stage at BBC Showcase 2014

February 26, 2014

After a healthy dose of comedy the last couple of days with Rev, Wrong Mans, Uncle, Inside No. 9 and Mr. Sloane, the focus was on drama as we are at the halfway point of the BBC Showcase screenings in Liverpool.

Already armed with the knowledge that there will be new seasons of Death in Paradise, DCI Banks, Scott and Bailey, Inspector George Gently, Foyle’s War, New Tricks, Call the Midwife, Mr. Selfridge and Father Brown coming public television’s way in 2014 alone, today was more drama heaven from an offer standpoint.

By Any Means, stars Warren Brown (Luther), Shelley Conn (Terra Nova), Andrew Lee Potts (Primeval) and Gina McKee (Secret State) as a clandestine group of individuals who play the criminal elite at their own game. Their job? To bring these criminals that are too clever to get caught to justice. Sound like Hustle or Leverage? It should, for good reason, but that’s not a bad thing given how brilliant both of those series were.

What Remains comes from the writer of Inside Men and stars Russell Tovey (Being Human, Sherlock, Him & Her) and Stephen Mackintosh (Inside Men). Detective Inspector Len Harper, less than a week away from retirement, is called to the scene of the discovery of the body of Melissa Young, a 30-year old single woman, who is found in the loft above her flat two years after her death. Oddly, in two years, no one missed her and noticed she was gone. DI Harper begins to uncover some interesting secrets amongst the other neighbors in the building refusing to let the victim disappear without a trace.

Silk is entering it’s third season on BBC One. Starring Maxine Peake and Rupert Penry-Jones (MI5) return in this gripping legal drama from writer, Peter Moffat. The first two series aired in the States as part of PBS’ Masterpiece series. With both Martha Costello (Peake) and Clive Reader (Penry-Jones) both elevated to QC, they often find themselves opposite each other in court. In series 3, there’s an opening for a new head of chambers that both are in the running for. Let the games begin…

As if this wasn’t enough, in addition to the above, other offerings include Prey with John Simm (Mad Dogs, Life on Mars, Doctor Who), Quirke with Gabriel Byrne and Michael Gambon, The Guilty with Tamsin Greig and Darren Boyd and Castles in the Sky starring Eddie Izzard.

Now do you believe me about drama heaven?