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Sir Harry Pearce back on the grid for ‘Spooks: The Greater Good’

April 22, 2014

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.

‘Mapp and Lucia’ to get re-boot in 2015

April 21, 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?

Bits and Bobs from the set of Doctor Who 8!

April 20, 2014

As most of us are painfully aware, we’re still in the neighborhood of four months away from the season 8 premiere of Doctor Who, the first that will star Peter Capaldi as the Twelfth Doctor. With a few pictures having surfaced on the Internets, episode information is just now starting to filter out mainly due to the Sherlockian efforts of Doctor Who Online and the Observation Deck over at io9.

With filming currently underway in Cardiff on episode 3, “Robin of Sherwood”, fans are anxiously awaiting even the most minor of tidbits of information with regards to story lines, photos or news on potential villains. Here’s what has been compiled so far….all unofficial, of course, but it passes the time until August.

8.1: [Title Unknown] – written by Steven Moffat

Status: Already filmed. Set in the 1890′s with the Paternoster gang, and probably the return of the clockwork androids from Girl in the Fireplace. Oh, and the 12th Doctor gets to ride a horse down the street in his nightgown.

8.2: [Title Unknown] – written by Phil Ford

Status: Already filmed. Believed to be a Dalek episode. Appeared to have been almost entirely studio-bound.

8.3: Robots Of Sherwood – written by Mark Gatiss

Status: Currently being filmed. Involves robots, Robin Hood, Sherwood Forest, and possibly a UFO prepared to wipe out England.

8.4: Listen – written by Steven Moffat

Status: Already filmed. Involves creepy forests, “what happens when the voice inside your head, isn’t you,” the new Danny Pink character wearing an orange spacesuit and being prematurely aged, and possibly the strange new horned moster we saw.

8.5: Time Heist – written by Stephen Thompson

Status: Already filmed. Involves weird “future 80′s” fashions, guys in military uniforms with patches on their arms reading ‘Bank of Karabraxer’ and possibly the strange new horned monster we saw.

8.6: [Title Unknown] – written by Gareth Roberts

Status: Current filming block, but probably already filmed. Probably present day and involving some filming back at Coal Hill School, and the Doctor pretending to be the new school caretaker. This may also be the episode that involved the Doctor running around with his sonic and confronting a midget-sized robot with light-up eyes, or that could be a non-historical part of Robots of Sherwood.

8.7: Kill The Moon

Status: Next block to film

8.8: Mummy On The Orient Express

Status: Possibly next block to film

8.9: Flatline

Status: possibly next block to film

8.10: [Title Unknown]

8.11: [Title Unknown]

8.12: [Title Unknown]

8.13: [Title Unknown]

Take a tour of the British Isles in accents

April 19, 2014

From a drama standpoint, have you ever wondered as you were watching the likes of MI-5, Doc Martin, Scott & Bailey, New Tricks, Case Histories, Call the Midwife, Father Brown or Eastenders how where the show is set will dictate the accents used in the show? How about from a comedy standpoint with Last of the Summer Wine, Only Fools and Horses, Open All Hours or even Moone Boy?

In the States, it’s usually pretty simple to distinguish a Texas accent from a Southern one or an upper Midwest accent and be able to immediately know where a show is set. This particularly came to mind watching Fargo this week and watching Martin Freeman as Lester Nygaard talk like he was from Minnesota. For British telly watchers in America, it’s not so easy to immediately determine where a show is set or where a specific character comes from.

This is a really cool video of professional accent and dialect coach Andrew Jack seamlessly switching between the various accents that are scattered across the UK, demonstrating the subtle distinctions between different varieties of English…

The next time you sit down to watch Scott & Bailey or Father Ted, maybe this tour of accents across the British Isles performed in a single, unedited take will help.


Sherlock, Mycroft and ‘the other one’. Could there be another Holmes brother?

April 18, 2014

As Planet Earth anxiously awaits the next series of Sherlock, could it be that there might be another Holmes in the family that we don’t know about? Our first introduction to there being another member of Sherlock’s family came when older brother, Mycroft Holmes (played by series co-creator and writer, Mark Gatiss), kidnaps John and offers to pay him to spy on Sherlock out of brotherly concern. It wasn’t until the first episode of series 3, that we were introduced to Sherlock’s parents (played by Benedict Cumberbatch’s real-life parents).
The Holmes family

While both Gatiss and co-creator, Steven Moffat, have remained pretty faithful to the original work of Arthur Conan Doyle, the decision to introduce Sherlock’s parents was a pretty off-the-wall decision. According to Gatiss, this is a first. “I don’t know if Sherlock Holmes’s parents have ever been shown [in a dramatisation] and it felt like the right thing to do in the third season, to be even cheekier. Why not?” Along those lines, could Moffat and Gatiss be toying with the idea of introducing another Holmes brother?
Shelock, Mycroft and  The Other One

Hinted at by Mycroft in the series 3 finale, “His Last Vow”, when he said: “I’m not given to outbursts of brotherly compassion. You know what happened to the other one.”, this would be a total deviation from the original works as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories make no reference to a third Holmes brother. Of course, the Internets exploded almost immediately with the suggestion that Tom Hiddleston (Thor, War Horse, Midnight in Paris) should be considered on the outside chance that this potential is anywhere near Gatiss or Moffat’s mind palace. Speaking to an audience at a recent Q&A in Brazil, Gatiss did seem to have fun with the thought. “Tom would be wonderful in Sherlock, I’ll ask him if you like. He then added, “Well, it is an internet rumour so it must be true. We might as well just wait and see what happens.

I’m up for it, how about you?

‘Shaun the Sheep’ Movie – Join the Flock in 2015!

April 17, 2014

Reason #(pick a number) as to why I continue to tout the brilliant output from the UK whether it be the large or small screen. Today’s reason has to do with the large screen and the forthcoming project from Aardman Animations, creators of the Wallace and Gromit franchise. Next up from Aardman is Shaun the Sheep Movie, coming to theatres in 2015.

When Shaun decides to take the day off and have some fun, he gets a little more action than he has bargained for. Unfortunately, Shaun’s mischief accidentally causes the Farmer to be taken away from the farm, so it’s up to Shaun and the flock to travel to the Big City to rescue him. The only thing between Shaun and returning the Farmer safely to the green grass of home is a very steep hill leading them all to the Big City.

Will Shaun find the Farmer in the strange and unfamiliar world of the City before he’s lost forever? Sadly, we’re going to have to wait until 2015 to find out!

Bill Nighy returning in the Worricker trilogy on PBS this Fall

April 16, 2014

While there will be the inevitable comparison to the Cornetto Trilogy, the Worricker Trilogy may just have a minor leg up given the greatness of Bill Nighy and Christopher Walken. As we reported earlier this month, The Worricker Trilogy, which began with Page Eight, is set to continue with Bill Nighy reprising his 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 trilogy.

The initial installment, Page Eight, aired on BBC Two and on PBS in 2011 and starred Nighy, Rachel Weisz, Ralph Fiennes, Judy Davis and Michael Gambon. The forthcoming installments will premiere on PBS’ Masterpiece series early this Autumn. This behind-the-scenes clip shows not only the greatness of Bill Nighy but the equally as brilliant, Christopher Walken.

Produced by Carnival Films (Downton Abbey, The Hollow Crown, Any Human Heart) and filmed in London and on the Caribbean island of Turks & Caicos, this 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’.
Bill Nighy and Winona Ryder in Turks & Caicos

Up next is Salting The Battlefield which again stars Bill Nighy, Helena Bonham Carter, Ralph Fiennes and Rupert Graves alongside 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.

Hands down, the real winner will be the PBS Masterpiece viewer this Autumn…

Oh, Geez! It’s ‘Fargo’ time

April 15, 2014

Oh Geez! Just when you thought it was safe to go back to Fargo…

On the surface, even a remote passing thought of trying to translate Coen brothers big screen perfection to the small screen seems crazy. On paper, however, tonight’s premiere of Fargo on FX has all the makings of ‘Must-See-TV’. Written by Noah Hawley (Bones) and starring Martin Freeman (Sherlock, The Hobbit), Billy Bob Thornton, Bob Odenkirk (Breaking Bad), Colin Hanks (Dexter, Good Guys), Key & Peele, and Oliver Platt (The Big C), Fargo, the biggest ‘Ah Ha’ moment, to quote Alan Partridge, is that the FX series has the blessing of the Coen brothers, who serve as executive producers. For Hawley, how can you possibly say no to someone asking if you want to adapt a Coen brothers feature for the small screen?

The important (and smart) thing about the series is that while it keeps the Coen’s quirky dark characteristics of the film, giving brief nods throughout to its brilliance, it tries to distance itself enough to be judged on its own merits. Reading various reports, it sounds like it was Hawley’s desire to pay tribute to the original just enough, but not too much, to try and avoid the ultimate comparisons that will come anyway.

Responding to the one question on the minds of everyone that is a fan of the big screen version of Fargo needs to be asked as to whether or not the new Fargo has its own woodchipper moment, Hawley replies: “All I’ll say is that the Coens kill people in some very creative and memorable ways and it was my obligation to come up with ways of my own. I hope I rose to the standard.”

Let’s hope so…Fargo premieres tonight on FX in the States and on Sunday, 20 April at 9pm on Channel 4 in the UK.

‘The Escape Artist’ heads to PBS this June

April 14, 2014

David Tennant (Doctor Who, Broadchurch) is a talented junior barrister, Will Burton, specializing in the ability to get people out of tight legal corners, hence his nickname of the Escape Artist. He’s known for never losing a case which leads him to apply for the title of QC. Unfortunately, he meets Liam Foyle along the way, the prime suspect in a brutal and high-profile murder trial. Thinking this case will solidify his QC appointment, he lives up to his nickname in the ensuing trial but the consequences are more than chilling to say the least.

Created, produced and written by David Wolstencroft, best known for creating the brilliant Spooks or MI-5, The Escape Artist will premiere in June as part of PBS’ Masterpiece series.