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Move over Nigel Tufnel, David Brent to film upcoming Foregone Conclusion mini-world tour

March 25, 2014

Taking a page out of the brilliant Rob Reiner film, Spinal Tap, and coming on the heels of his wildly successful Learn Guitar with David Brent series on YouTube, Ricky Gervais will soon hit the road to document his upcoming Foregone Conclusion tour The former head honcho of Slough paper firm Wernham Hogg told The Sunday Times that he is embarking on a series of live gigs in May and will film it in a ‘Spinal Tap meets sad Scorsese meets Canadian heavy metal band, Anvil,‘ sort of way. Those lucky enough to get tickets will enjoy songs from Brent’s back catalog of Foregone Conclusion ‘hits’ including Free Love Freeway, Spaceman Came Down, Slough, Life on The Road and Ain’t No Trouble.
David Brent and Foregone Conclusion

In describing the film, Gervais said: “It’s Brent who thinks he’s making a Scorsese-type thing in the tradition of the classic Jack Kerouac Beat novel, On The Road. But, in reality, it’s much sadder and more poignant. It’s more of the breakdown of this man who thought he was going to be something else.” If you haven’t seen his Learn Guitar with David Brent series on YouTube, there are 21 million people ahead of you.

Brent may take a page out of the Spinal Tap playbook, but lets hope he doesn’t take a page from the Nigel Tufnel school of guitar playing and “turn it up to 11″. After watching the video you’ll understand…

Lady Edith to step it up in series 5 of ‘Downton Abbey’

March 24, 2014

Even under the highest of high security, Laura Carmichael, who plays Lady Edith on Downton Abbey, readily admits that much will be going on in the forthcoming 5th series with her character Lady Edith. Edith, who is quickly becoming the most progressive Crawley sister, has already had an affair with a married man, become pregnant, gives up her baby for a secret adoption in Switzerland and then chooses to go back to get her infant daughter in the season finale, according to Carmichael, is set to embrace a rebellious side in the coming season.

In a subtle hint as to an, as yet, unresolved plot thread, Carmichael says that fans may want to keep their eyes fixed on the furthering results of the Gregson/Edith affair, which may have run over a cooling period as Gregson disappeared in Germany, but has not left the developing character without a certain set of consequences to grapple with in the meantime. “She takes some risks with Gregson; she’s out with this married man and that causes a lot of drama to come, therefore she doesn’t quite get away with it all,” Carmichael says.

While most of Planet Earth just wishes for Lady Edith to catch even a small break in the romance department, Carmichael believes that despite there being way more downs that ups in the relationship department, there has been a steady progression throughout the series with Edith having to step outside of herself and get beyond her comfort zone to find out what it is that makes her truly happy.

As to the conclusion of her relationship with Gregson only the director and cast members of the 5th season know, but it is after all possible that we could see Gregson’s return. Taking part in a recent online chat with Downton fans, Carmichael was asked if Gregson will come back. “I hope so!, said Carmichael. “Only Julian Fellowes knows for sure. Gregson is a great character. I loved working with Charlie Edwards.”

Gregson or no Gregson, series 5 of Downton Abbey will most likely premiere in England this Autumn, with a January 2015 U.S. premiere as part of PBS’ Masterpiece series.


Benedict Cumberbatch signs on for Hamlet in 2015

March 23, 2014

Benedict Cumberbatch, everyone’s favorite TV Sherlock, will return to the stage in August 2015 to play Hamlet in the play of the same name at London’s Barbican Theatre in the West End. Many will remember that this isn’t Cumberbatch’s first trip to the stage. He previously appeared in the National Theatre production of Frankenstein, directed by Danny Boyle and co-starring Jonny Lee Miller.
Benedict Cumberbatch to play Hamlet in 2015

As was first reported in The Daily Mail, the Sherlock star will carve out 4-5 months in 2015 (a 12-week run beginning August 2015 with at least 6 weeks leading up to the opening for preparation and rehearsal) to play Shakespeare’s tormented prince in what is considered by many as one of the most powerful and influential tragedies in English literature. The only massive downer looming on the horizon will be if this has an adverse effect on filming of Sherlock 4. Now THAT would be the ultimate tragedy.

After seeing one of the most notable adaptations of Hamlet in recent years, starring David Tennant and Patrick Stewart, I cannot wait for this. This scene from Act II, scene 2, featuring Tennant and “To be or not to be” as Claudius and Polonius spy on Hamlet and then Ophelia and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern arrive tells it all.

BBC revives Comedy Playhouse with ‘Over to Bill’

March 22, 2014

This Spring will see two brilliant returns to the telly. Not so coincidentally, brilliance will collide when Doug Naylor’s Over to Bill launches as one of three pilots scheduled for the revival of the BBC’s Comedy Playhouse strand. Comedy Playhouse began in 1961 and ran until 1975 as an anthology series which served as the starting point for such classic series as Steptoe and Son, Are You Being Served?, Up Pompeii, Last of the Summer Wine and Till Death Do Us Part, among many others. Steptoe and Son went on to become Sanford and Son in the States and Till Death Do Us Part went on to become the long-running All in the Family starring Carroll O’Connor.

Over to Bill will star Hugh Dennis (Outnumbered as recently-fired TV weatherman Bill Onion, alongside Neil Morrissey (Men Behaving Badly, Line of Duty), Helen George (Call the Midwife) and Tracy-Ann Oberman (Eastenders). The pilot and, hopefully, subsequent series will be a a co-production between Baby Cow Productions (Moone Boy, Hebburn, Alan Partridge and millions of others), and Three Feet Productions, headed by Doug and son, Richard Naylor.
Hugh Dennis in Over to Bill

While it’s not news of anything related to Red Dwarf XI, it is great to see Doug picking up the pen again. According to reddwarf.co.uk, Over to Bill is a project of Doug’s that he has been kicking around since 2010. Initially rejected by the BBC with one rejection, according to Naylor, actually using the words, “It’s got men in it, and we’ve already got things with men in“, the project was shelved at that point in favor of the return of Red Dwarf X which moved from the back burner to the front burner in 2011. Freshly commissioned in 2013, the BBC insisted that the Over to Bill pilot feature ‘an all-star cast’. We were specifically told we needed ‘>BBC1 names‘”, says Doug. Enter Hugh Dennis.

Thankfully, both Doug and Richard share our thoughts that this needn’t stand in the way of any glimmer of hope for Red Dwarf XI which may be on the immediate horizon. Look for Over to Bill and the return of Comedy Playhouse tentatively in April on BBC.

What happened when the ‘Trollied’ set met ‘Top Gear’?

March 21, 2014

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.

First video of Beckham in Peckham for Friday’s OFAH Sport Relief special

March 20, 2014

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.”

BBC license renewal in the hands of Ian Fletcher on ‘W1A’

March 19, 2014

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.

‘Downton Abbey’ cast guess what’s in Julian Fellowes’ mind palace

March 18, 2014

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?

Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with the Moones

March 17, 2014

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.

Benedict Cumberbatch returns as a young Rumpole for new Radio 4 drama

March 16, 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.