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UK’s biggest pub, The Great British Beer Festival, is just around the corner

August 10, 2013

One of the greatest inventions on the planet, the pub. The neighborhood ‘local’ is the center of community life in the UK. For me, The Nags Head in Belgravia is the perfect example of what a good pub should be (say hi to Kevin for me). The Nags Head just might be one of the smallest pubs in the UK, but your chance to visit the polar opposite is only a couple of days away.
Back Camera

The Great British Beer Festival, otherwise known as ‘the UK’s biggest pub’, runs 13-17 August. Expected to attract more than 55,000 people this year, there is still time to hop on a flight from the States on Sunday, take Monday as your jet lag day and be ready to hit the ground running on Tuesday. With over 800 ales, ciders and foreign brews on display for the annual CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) gathering at Olympia London, if you’re a beer lover, this is the place to be.


Formed in March 1971, CAMRA is an independent, voluntary organization campaigning for real ale, community pubs and consumer rights. With 149,424 members around the world, the organization has been described as the most successful consumer campaign in Europe whose purpose is to support the pub as the one place in which to consume real ale, also known as cask-conditioned beer, or cask ale.

Expert beer taster, Neil Walker, put together his five top pints not to miss at the show for the Radio Times just to give you something to do between the music, shopping, food pairings and pub quizzes.

So, nothing to do next week? Support the pub, biggest one (The Great British Beer Festival), the smallest one (The Nags Head) or ant favorite local in-between. For admission and tasting tickets, click here.

Call the Midwife 3 Q&A with Camilla Cholmeley-Browne, a.k.a. Chummy

August 9, 2013

Who better to follow the ‘Ladies of Downton’ at the Television Critic’s Association summer meet-up in LA but Camilla Cholmeley-Browne, a.k.a. Chummy, a.k.a. Miranda Hart. Since the series is now in production on series 3, saying that it’s just like riding a bike takes on a different meaning to Hart, who plays the clumsy and lovable character, Chummy, on the hit BBC/PBS period drama. According to Hart, getting back into character has been a bit easier than Chummy’s mastery of the preferred two-wheeled mode of transportation in post-World War East London, “In the everyday sense, picking up on the show has been without wobbles and crashes — thankfully.
Chummy learns to ride a bike in Call the Midwife

Call the Midwife, based on the memoirs of Jennifer Worth, revolves around a group of midwives and nuns at the nursing convent Nonnatus House. Season 3 of “Call the Midwife” is set to roll out in the UK on BBC One in early 2014 before making its U.S premiere on PBS soon thereafter. Word is that the Christmas Special, which is currently being shot in London, will be set 4 months after the end of series 2 and the start of series 3 will be six months after the end of series 2.

Hart sat down with the Los Angeles Times to talk Call the Midwife, Doctor Who and Chummy, of course…

You’ve started production on Season 3–

Yeah, we just started. We’re actually filming the Christmas episode first — naturally, when we’re having a hot week in London. We have to have summer now when I’m in wool and tweed, scarves, coats and gloves. Lovely.

Is it weird to go into this season, in that it’s reached the point where the show has run out of stories from Jennifer’s memoir?

I was a little worried, initially, but it was a seamless transition. We don’t get the scripts in advance, so we’re kind of seeing how things are turning out as we go along. There doesn’t seem to be a jolt of difference. And I think she always had to make up some things — not necessarily big stories, but to create the television world of it. But, no, the main creator and writer Heidi Thomas has continued the great stories and has made them feel part of the word. There are still a few Jennifer stories going on in Season 3, a few.

And we’re in 1959 now!

Yes, 1959! We’re about to hit the ‘60s. I’m scared for Chummy. I don’t know how Chummy will cope with that. She’d be like [clutches her collar], “Oh, gosh. I’m not sure about this.”

A lot is happening. Contraception is being mentioned — it hasn’t in the scripts I read, but they’re probably hearing more of that at work. One of the mothers who’s about to give birth wanted to give birth in a hospital — and even that was quite shocking. It was like, “What do you mean you want to go to a hospital? We’re fine at home with just us. What do you mean you want a doctor?” Things are shifting health-wise, medically …. But in terms of gearing up for swinging ‘60s — no way. We’re very pure. We might go to a jazz club, and that’s already pushing it.

I sort of love that simple, calm way of life. I kind of wish I was there. It was more peaceful and less frantic. People didn’t live on their iPhones. They weren’t trying to communicate all the time or work all the time. They were incredibly hard-working and had amazing jobs, but their home life and community life was very simple.

How about Chummy’s style — are we going to see that change as new fashions are introduced?

You might see some new Chummy outfits in Series 3 because she’s a mom. She has her confidence as a woman. There’s tweed suits. The costume designer was like, “Let’s see her grow as a woman.” Before she was so gangly and awkward. She’s got these dreadful slacks that made me feel like Charlie Chaplin. 1950 slacks, can I just say, are not a good look. The sexy girls on the show are fine — they’ve got these sleek styles — a bit like we wear now. Chummy has got these massive, flannel Charlie Chaplin-like pants. It’s like, thanks costume guys, thank you so much.

Well, in the Season 2 finale, we see Chummy give birth. Was it weird to be the woman giving birth, rather than the woman helping to deliver a baby?

Luckily, I didn’t have a full-on birth — it’s weird that I’m happy she got sick, isn’t it? But, yeah, she ended up at the hospital. It wasn’t a yay moment for the story line, but it was a yay moment for me as an actress. The girls found it hilarious, though, that I now had to be the one doing contraction noises. I didn’t want to even do them until we were on set. I remembered when I did, they all laughed at me.

Chummy went from barely being able to ride a bike to having a kid. That’s quite a journey.

I know! I’m so pleased with the curve of the story lines. I think people have really warmed to her character, and they want her to win and see her do well. She has had quite the journey, and now she has a baby. She loves being a mom. What’s great about the character’s being based on real-life stories is you know their background a bit. The fact that Chummy had this quite tough upper-class upbringing with not much emotion going on makes me think she is so in love with this baby because she’s pouring all the love she needed and never had into him.

It’s quite difficult to act, though, with somebody else’s baby. Because you don’t know them and they’re wriggling around. You’re actually going “Stop it!” I wore a necklace — Chummy wears a cross — and the baby kept grabbing it. I was like, “How do I make him stop?” And then the poor mother is off to the side going, “My son!” But I have yet to drop a baby. In fact, no one has ever dropped a baby on set — at least not that I know of.

But it was very emotional for me to watch her reach this point. To be a mother — it’s a huge turning point for her. And it’s interesting to get in that skin, to see how she navigates this new world.

Look for the Christmas episode to premiere on either Christmas or Boxing Day on BBC One an not too many days after on PBS in the States with series 3 set for early 2014 on both sides of the pond.

The ‘Ladies of Downton’ meet up at the TCA for some series 4 talk

August 8, 2013

Appearing at the Television Critics Association summer press tour in Los Angeles on Tuesday evening, along with executive producer Gareth Neame, the womwn of Downton Abbey seemed right at home in the 21st century. The Dowager Countess may have cringed by the amount of electricity in the room, but it was like old home week for the cast of the British period drama as they answered questions during the PBS portion of this years presentation.

The Ladies of Downton Abbey

Aside from the ‘I’m really jealous’ fact that clips of series 4 were shown in the room, lots of great Downton tibdits came from the packed session.

  • Asked why she isn’t on Twitter, Michelle Dockery (Lady Mary) said, “It turns out that Lady Mary’s Eyebrows beat me to it.
  • Laura Carmichael (Lady Edith) when asked where Edith’s storyline is going this season, now that she’s a professional woman writing a newspaper column: “I like to think of Edith as the Carrie Bradshaw of the 1920s”, referencing the Sex and the City character.
  • Phyllis Logan (Mrs Hughes) when asked whether Downton Abbey will continue to chart the history of Britain all the way into the 1940s and show World War II, said she hopes that the show doesn’t go that far into the future or Mrs. Hughes won’t be around: “I’d certainly be dead by then, so I hope not!
  • Not letting Michelle Dockery off the hook with only a softball question about Twitter, one critic asked about what fans should be reading into a recently released photo of Lady Mary and Tom Branson (Allen Leech), Dockery said, “We are aware that there are suspicions about Tom and Mary’s relationship, but they are very much just friends”,  adding that it would be gross “…if Mary went after her dead sister’s husband.”

Finally, the single biggest bit of news to come out of the Television Critics Association meeting isn’t something you can really take to the bank just yet, Michelle Dockery all but confirmed a fifth series by saying: “As far as we know, we’re all doing Season 5 next year.” Quick to follow up was Downton Abbey show producer,  Gareth Neame, who added: “Our minds are on the fifth season and what those potential stories will be… I think the show has a while to go. If people love the show, we want to keep making it.

Want your house to ‘look a bit more Downton’ on the inside?

August 7, 2013

In recent months, fans of the most popular British period drama of all time, Downton Abbey, have been able to drink wine like the Crawley family, thanks to Wines That Rock who have set about recreating the rich Bordeaux wines that Lord Grantham, himself, would have been proud to serve in Downton’s dining room. This Fall, thanks to Marks and Spencer, anyone will be able to have lips as red and hands as soft as Lady Mary with the soon-to-be-released line of Downton cosmetics. And, thanks to Ralph Lauren, you can now even dress the part with his Downton-themed fall collection.

While all this is a great way to pay tribute to your favorite series, you can now be the talk of the neighborhood and take that upcoming Downton Abbey-themed party to the next level thanks to Mylands, which launched in 1884 when John Myland opened his first shop in Stockwell, south London. No stranger to telly, the company has supplied paint to both Pinewood and Elstree studios since the 1920′s which is why it can boast that it has colored the walls of every Bond film, Harry Potter and Mr Selfridge as well as Downton Abbey.

Could Grey be the new Black?

Two shades of grey paint, Empire Grey and Amber Grey, which were specifically developed for Downton Abbey (only the downstairs, however, it is grey after all), are now on sale to the public. For future reference, Empire Grey is the color of Mr Carson’s pantry while Amber Grey is the color of Mrs Patmore’s kitchen.

Grey used to be for the dull. Certainly nothing you would ever want on your walls. Now, thanks to the walls of Downton, grey is starting to look kinda cool, don’t you think? Hey, if it’s good enough for Mrs Patmore or Mr Carson, it’s good enough for me.

Charlie Brooker’s ‘A Touch of Cloth’ returns to Sky 1…be there!

August 6, 2013

A Touch of Cloth, Charlie Brooker’s spoof of “every British crime drama made in the last decade”, was an instant classic when it stormed the Sky 1 comedy landscape in 2012. Watching the first series immediately brought back memories of the early 80′s and the Zucker brothers’ brilliant Police Squad TV series which starred Leslie Nielsen and spoofed every police procedural series known to man. Ultimately, the series spawned the ridiculously successful Naked Gun film series.
Police Squad starring Leslie Nielsen

Sky 1′s A Touch of Cloth stars John Hannah as DCI Jack Cloth, a heavy drinking loner who has thrown himself into his work following the mysterious death of his wife. The severely damaged Cloth is teamed with no-nonsense sidekick DC Anne Oldman (get it?), played by Suranne Jones (Scott & Bailey). Together, the pair investigate a series of increasingly grisly murders and find themselves on the trail of a devious killer, which is what you do, if you’re a detective.

Written by Charlie Brooker and Dan Maier, A Touch of Cloth: Undercover Cloth has DCI Cloth continuing his struggles to hold himself together while solving grisly murders and suffering from the death of his wife when the series returns, Sunday 25th August at 9pm on Sky1.

A Touch of Cloth 2 trailer

While there are no immediate broadcast plans in the U.S. as of yet, I think it won’t be long before a public television possibility is on the table. Interested?

15 yr old fan, Peter Capaldi, named the Twelfth Doctor 40 years later!

August 5, 2013

When asked if he’d had a short list of Matt Smith replacements, Doctor Who showrunner, Steven Moffat, said: “Yes. The list went ‘Peter Capaldi’. It was a very short list“. Following Sundays live BBC telecast of the announcement heard ’round the world, Moffat added that he had been considering Capaldi for some time and that the star’s love of Doctor Who had been a significant factor in his casting.

While it’s doubtful that Moffat had knowledge of a seemingly innocent fan letter sent in by a then 15-year old fan of Doctor Who named Peter, it’s probably equally as doubtful that some 40 years later, that the same young fan thought he would be named the Twelfth Doctor. The letter, published in the Radio Times back in 1973, praised the publication for its special 15th anniversary edition and their Dalek construction plans was written by, you guessed it…a 15 year-old Peter Capaldi. Click on the image to read letter marked “Dalek-builders” and make note that the first letter in the graphic is written by the then heavyweight boxing champion of the world, Muhammad Ali.
Peter Capaldi, 15, writes fan letter to Doctor Who

Capaldi, best known for his brilliant work in The Thick of It, The Hour, Torchwood and Fortysomething, will take over from Matt Smith at the end of the year, with the incumbent Doctor set to regenerate during the Christmas episode.

And now, the Doctor is….OMG, Peter Capaldi!

August 4, 2013

It’s been quite a time recently for the UK. The Olympics, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, Andy Murray winning Wimbledon, the Tour de France, a new Royal Baby and now, A NEW DOCTOR! And, the 12th Doctor is…


Now that we have a Twelfth Doctor, lets take a look back at how we got here…

Doctor Who regenerations 1963-2010

And, the Doctor is….

August 4, 2013

As we begin the epic worldwide announcement…remember

It seems just the other day, we were all wondering who could possibly replace David Tennant and become the Eleventh Doctor. It’s also hard to believe that Smith has been in his current role since January 2009. Again, seems like yesterday. Well, here we are again, within seconds of finding out who the Twelfth Doctor will be.

It’s zero hour! For the 12th time, Who is the Doctor?

August 4, 2013

Today, Sunday 4 August, will see the 12th Doctor revealed to the world.
family around tv waiting for 12th Doctor announcement perhaps?

From 1933 to 1944, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt gave a series of radio addresses or ‘fireside chats’ designed to help restore the confidence of the American people during understandably difficult times. We are, again, faced with difficult times in that we have no Doctor. In a moment eerily reminiscent of the countless numbers of families huddled around the radio listening to these fireside chats, Doctor Who fans in the UK will gather around the telly tonight at 7pm on BBC One for Doctor Who Live: The Next Doctor will unveil the 12th Doctor to the world, with host Zoe Ball interviewing the new Time Lord. Fear not, Stateside fans of the Doctor, Doctor Who Live: The Next Doctor will be simulcast live on BBC America, with UK and US residents discovering the 12th Doctor’s identity together.

The decision is made and the time has come to reveal who’s taking over the TARDIS,” said series showrunner, Steven Moffat. “For the last of the Time Lords, the clock is striking twelve.” The half-hour show will include live special guests, Doctors old and new, as well as companions and celebrity fans. Ben Stephenson, Controller of BBC Drama Commissioning, said: “It’s the biggest secret in showbiz, even those working with the new Doctor on other projects at the moment have no idea they are in the presence of the 12th incarnation.

New Doctor? Now, THAT’S a decision and THIS is the way a ‘decision’ should be broadcast live on television. U.S. fans will immediately flashback to the ludicrous 2010 broadcast of Lebron James’ overblown announcement that he had chosen the Miami Heat over the Cleveland Cavaliers in ESPN’s The Decision“.

Check back with Tellyspotting for the decision should you find yourself away from the telly.

First telly trailer for ‘Sherlock 3′!

August 3, 2013

It’s here. The first :26 seconds of promotion gold that Sherlock fans around the world have been waiting for. Put more simply, it’s the reason telly was invented. The first look at the trailer for series 3 of Sherlock.

Hartswood West for BBC Cymru Wales. In co-production with MASTERPIECE.

Over the past several weeks, as we continue to get closer by the day to the series 3 premiere on BBC One and PBS, Sherlock fans have been taunted, teased and had patience tested with spoilers, rumors and cast additions. While both Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss continue to lead viewers to believe that there are clues in the series 2 finale, “The Reichenbach Fall”, as to how Sherlock survives, some fans point to a 1998 Jonathan Creek episode, ‘The Problem at Gallows Gate’. In the episode, a young man leaps from a second-floor balcony in front of stunned guests at a house party in the country. He’s pronounced dead at the scene and his body is taken away in an ambulance, but he’s later seen strangling a woman to death. So, clearly, his own death was faked. Right?

The final episode, “His Last Vow”, began principle filming this week

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