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PBS’ Downton Abbey the clear winner against Super Bowl

February 4, 2014

The Seahawks may have drubbed the Broncos on Sunday and won Super Bowl XLVIII but the clear winner in Sunday’s line-up was Downton Abbey on PBS. For the third straight year, the #DramaBowlPBS entry was the second-highest-rated program on all of television after the Super Bowl. Ok, maybe it did finish second by a margin of over 100 million, but it was still second with an overall audience of 6.8 million viewers across the U.S., an 11% jump over last year’s title game. In the key 18-49 advertiser driven market, Downton scored a 4.9 overnight rating.
 
Downton Abbey and Sherlock or The Big Game

With numbers like this, coupled with the recent report that showed the January 5 premiere had a live viewing audience of 10.2 million with an additional 5.3 million watching via DVR viewing plus an additional 1+ million viewing via video streaming, one could guess that we can now pretty much go ahead and mark our calendars for January 4, 2015 for the premiere of Downton Abbey 5. At this point, nothing is set in stone, but there’s no reason not to…

Finally, just one more Downton Abbey item from the ‘Department of You Know You’ve Arrived If…‘, we present the Sunday comics edition of Foxtrot by Bill Amend which, given the ratings from yesterday, probably played out pretty true to form in many households across the U.S. on Sunday. In this case, life really does imitate art…or vice versa.
 
Foxtrot comic Sunday, February 2, 2014 with Downton Abbey reference

The ultimate ‘Downton Abbey’ parody song

February 3, 2014

As we head into the homestretch for the American broadcast of Downton Abbey (you know, that little show that runs before Sherlock) on PBS, here’s something to ease the pain a bit during the moment you stop to realize there are only 4 more episodes in the 4th series. This bit of greatness from Nick L’Mao who has a cabaret act in the UK. For those that haven’t begun to watch series 4 as of yet, this will also serve as the ultimate catch up guide for the first three series set to the tune of Petula Clarke’s “Downtown”.
 

 
Jessica Fellowes in Dallas

The niece of Downton Abbey creator/writer Lord Julian Fellowes, Jessica Fellowes, was in Dallas Friday evening as part of the Dallas Museum of Art’s ongoing Arts & Letters Live series. As the author of The World of Downton Abbey and the follow-up, The Chronicles of Downton Abbey, Jessica talked in front of a packed house about a lot of the behind the scenes happenings during filming of Downton in addition to sharing some amazing insights as to how the some of the characters were created with inspiration from the Fellowes family.

She also talked about the difficult logistics involved in the filming process in that all the upstairs scenes were shot at Highclere Castle while the downstairs kitchen scenes were shot miles away on a set at Ealing Studios. The thought of Mr. Carson ascending the stairs from the kitchen only to emerge upstairs some three weeks later into the dining room was almost too much for the audience to fathom. At Tellyspotting, however, we were immediately reminded of a brilliant parody from the genius minds of Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley done for Red Nose Day in 2011 that plays out exactly as Jessica described.

Uptown Downstairs Abbey, part 2
 

 
If you want to check out part 1 of Uptown Downstairs Abbey, click here.

Chat live with Downton Abbey’s Gary Carr Monday at 11a CT/12n ET

February 2, 2014

Downton Abbey introduced its first black character in series 4 with the addition of American jazz singer Jack Ross, played by Gary Carr. The character of Jack Ross is based on real-life cabaret star Leslie Hutchinson, whose scandalous affairs with white British socialites also form the basis for Jack’s liaison with Downton’s rebellious flapper Lady Rose, played by Lily James.
 
Gary Carr as Jack Ross in Downton Abbey

Ross enters the picture during his performance at the Lotus Jazz Club in London. With Rose left high and dry on the dance floor after her ‘date’ comes to the realization that he can’t hold his liqueur, Jack bolts from the stage and starts dancing with her, saving her from humiliation. Sadly, Rose isn’t the one in the room that is suffering from humiliation as Tom is sent over to ‘rescue’ her. Best known for his role as Fidel Best in Death in Paradise along with roles in Bluestone 42 and Foyle’s War, Carr will participate in a live chat on Monday, February 3 at 11a CT / 12n ET. Get your questions ready and find out what it has been like for Carr to join the cast of Downton Abbey.

 

More Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon brilliance in ‘A Trip to Italy’

February 1, 2014

In their 2010 film, The Trip, comedians Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon (or semifictionalized versions of themselves) embarked on a restaurant tour around northern England which quickly morphed into an opportunity to brilliantly showcase their dueling Michael Caine and Woody Allen impressions during their gastronomic exploits. Now that they have effectively conquered England, Brydon and Coogan (armed with his 4 Oscar nominations for Philomena) head to the idyllic Italian landscape for The Trip to Italy.
 
Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon in Camogli, Italy

Director Michael Winterbottom reunites the pair for a new culinary road trip, retracing the steps of the Romantic poets’ grand tour of Italy in the 19th century and renewing their witty banter and impersonation-offs. If nothing else, Coogan and Brydon enjoy mouthwatering meals in gorgeous settings from Liguria to Capri while riffing on subjects as varied as Batman’s vocal register, questioning just how many Batman’s Alfred has buried and, of course, the virtue of sequels.
 

 
If nothing else, the opportunity to revisit who does the best Michael Caine is worth the price of admission. The Trip to Italy premiered at Sundance last week with Steve Coogan, Rob Brydon & Michael Winterbottom sitting down with New York Times culture reporter Melena Ryzik at the Cinema Cafe for a bit of Q&A and to discuss how they improvised comic scenes and how they essentially prepared for the sequel but just getting older.
 

Miranda Hart targeted for new BBC Comedy series

January 31, 2014

With her throw back to old-time BBC comedy series, Miranda, Miranda Hart has built a career around exploiting the universal truth that awkwardness lies at the heart of the human condition . After her first appearance at the Edinburgh Fringe, it was a mere 11 years later that she became an overnight success, leaving the bright-lights of being a PA and the photocopying of scripts behind.
 
mirandahart

Fresh off of her brilliant appearance on Desert Island Discs for BBC Radio 4, BroadcastNow reports that Hart is been reportedly being penciled in to play Lucy, the lead character in a proposed series based on novelist Kathy Lette book, To Love, Honour And Betray (Till Divorce Us Do Part). The novel, first published in 2008, is based around a woman whose husband leaves her after 18 years.
 

 
When you read the promotional material for the book, you can’t help but think the part of Lucy was written with Miranda Hart in mind. “When Lucy’s husband of eighteen years runs out on her, she’ll do anything to win him back. Including climbing out of her bedroom window at one in the morning wearing her daughter’s mini skirt. Jasper has left Lucy for her best friend, the chic and thin interior decorator Renee. To make matters worse, her teenage daughter Tally, blames her Mum. While Tally is busy trying to find a loophole in her birth certificate so she can put herself up for adoption, Lucy tries to accept that a child is for life and not just for Christmas.

Personally, while this news has an enormous up side as this puts Miranda Hart back on the small screen in something that is a tremendous read, the unwritten downside is that, on the surface, it sounds like it pretty much seals the fate of her award-winning BBC comedy series, Miranda. While the new series has not ‘officially’ been commissioned by the BBC as of yet, given that Hart is also committed to Call the Midwife, will embark on a one-woman show comedy tour of the UK next year with the arena-sized My, What I Call, Live Show and her exhaustive on-going efforts in both Comic Relief and Sport Relief, chances are we’ve seen the end of Miranda. Let’s hope I’m wrong.

Blue’s Clues meets Sherlock

January 30, 2014

Now that we have determined that Sherlock shouldn’t be at the top of anyone’s list to watch telly with, thanks to the genius minds over a College Humor, we can also remove the need to see what would happen if Sherlock was called to the set of Blue’s Clues to solve a case. It isn’t pretty.
 
BluesCluesSherlock

When Blue looks sad, no one seems to know what to do. It’s up to Sherlock to determine how Blue’s bouncy ball mysteriously became deflated and, ultimately, make the animated blue-spotted dog (Blue) happy. Unfortunately, singing just isn’t going to cut it this time around. Looking conspicuously like Professor Snape, Sherlock quickly deduces that the ball was popped deliberately but someone wanted it to look like an accident. But, who?
 

 
Unfortunately, as we could all have predicted, lengthy exposure to Sherlock for Blue’s Clues‘ Steve has him slumped lifelessly in his Thinking Chair questioning his existence and finally having the childlike wonder burned out of him. With apologies to those that may have grown up on Blue’s Clues, this is really funny.

International Silly Walks Day – A January 7 post mortem

January 29, 2014

Blame the Monty Python troupe if you will, but we could all do with a bit more preposterous prancing in our daily routine. How could we have let this pass by without even so much as a mention leading up to such silliness. I guess we should get some what of a pass given that just two days prior, Downton Abbey premiered on PBS’ Masterpiece series and just two short weeks later, on January 19, the brilliance of Sherlock returned to small screens across America. Nevertheless, International Silly Walk Day was January 7th and went off without a hitch around the globe.
 

 
Organizers of the day remind us in true Python fashion that “Last year the government spent less on the ministry of silly walks than it did on national defence!” so why not celebrate. We may have forgotten but, thankfully, the great folks of the city of Brno in the Czech Republic did not. Over 140 ‘walkers’ participated in the third annual celebration of silly walks during their day long giddy gaited holiday.
 

 
Rest assured, next year, not only will remind everyone of International Silly Walks Day but Towel Day, as well, on 25 May, because, after all, a towel is the most important item any interstellar hitchhiker can carry.

Peter Capaldi ditches nightshirt as first pics released of new Doctor Who outfit

January 28, 2014

Anyone concerned with the choice of Peter Capaldi as the newest Doctor can lay those fears to rest with the release of the first photos of the actor in his Doctor Who outfit. Capaldi has self-described his new look as “100 per cent Rebel Time Lord“. As filming begins in Cardiff, the newest regeneration from Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor to Peter Capaldi’s Twelfth will see The Doctor sporting a dark blue Crombie coat with red lining, dark blue trousers, a white shirt and black Dr Martens boots. Personally? It looks insanely cool.
 
Peter Capaldi as the Twelfth Doctor

Capaldi loves the new look, which was designed by Doctor Who costume designer, Howard Burden. “He’s woven the future from the cloth of the past. Simple, stark, and back to basics. No frills, no scarf, no messing, just 100 per cent Rebel Time Lord,” said Capaldi. Current DW showrunner, Steven Moffat, couldn’t agree more. “New Doctor, new era, and of course new clothes. Monsters of the universe, the vacation is over – Capaldi is suited and booted and coming to get you!

It’s been a long time since a 15 year-old Peter Capaldi wrote to Radio Times heaping fan praise on the publication for its special 15th anniversary edition and their Dalek construction plans. 40 years, to be exact. It’s about time you got here, Peter. Welcome.

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