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Sherlock 3 prequel provides ‘Many Happy Returns’ for Christmas

December 25, 2013

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus and his name is Steven Moffat. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, the Sherlock co-creator/writer pulls 7:13 of greatness out of his red bag and delivers it to Sherlock fans across the land. The run-up to the BBC One series 3 premiere on 1 January and the PBS series 3 premiere on January 19 is more than anyone could have expected.

The spoiler here isn’t that Sherlock survived the high dive off the rooftop of St. Barts. With the exception of John Watson and a few others, we all know he has survived. But, Sherlock has been gone for two years. Many Happy Returns sets the stage for Sherlock’s return to London. A series of crimes across the globe, from New Dehli to Germany, have been solved by almost impossible means which leads ‘someone’ to believe Sherlock just might not be dead. That’s all that should be said at this point. One week from today, with the return of Sherlock, the UK will become officially a ‘do not call’ zone for 90+ minutes. Sadly, the U.S. will have to wait until January 19 and the PBS broadcast on January 19.

Happy Christmas to all…from Tellyspotting! Thank you for a wonderful year of connecting. Here’s to 2014 and a brilliant year of British telly!

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas – Python style

December 24, 2013

Much like watching It’s a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Story, one of my Christmas traditions is to listen to John Cleese’s adaptation of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.

Published anonymously in 1823 under the title ‘A Visit from St. Nicholas‘, the poem ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas has been called “arguably the best-known verses ever written by an American”. It is said to have largely been responsible for some of the conceptions of Santa Claus from the mid-nineteenth century to today. While there are conflicting camps that believe both Clement Clarke Moore and Henry Livingston, Jr be recognized as the author, there can be no mistaking one of the best modern-day renditions. No, we’re not talking Clark Griswold in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. We’re talking Python.

It was six short years ago in 2007 when one, John Cleese, set his Pythonesque sights on the traditional reading of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. In John’s own words from his podcast of thoughts, observations and musings, this is his attempt to alleviate the planet from holiday stress “…that finds everyone assembled around a blazing fire, where families eat themselves sick, drink themselves silly, and fight for their entertainment options with unaccustomed ferocity.”

While I’m not all that positive that this will go a long way towards ‘alleviating the planet from holiday stress’, it is great fun. Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night…from Tellyspotting!

Christmas Acting Masterclass 101 with Miranda Hart and David Walliams

December 23, 2013

With Christmas just days away, there is bound to be a returnable gift in your future. The key, according to Miranda Hart (Miranda, Call the Midwife) and David Walliams (Little Britain, Big School, Mr. Stink, Gangsta Granny), is not to let on that you’ll be making a trip to the mall on Boxing Day.

Generic excitement

David Walliams and Miranda Hart share with us that most critical of Christmas skills: how to act when receiving a disappointing gift.


Gift-specific excitement

From socks, to novelty items, to more socks, Miranda shares a series of acting exercises on how to act when receiving a disappointing Christmas gift.

From car vacs to bath bombs, David Walliams shares a series of acting exercises on how to act when receiving a disappointing Christmas gift.

Don’t know about you, but I’m totally ready for Christmas Day now. You?

Celebrity guests lining up for ‘Kumars at No 42′ return in January

December 22, 2013

As the Duck Dynasty-clan will, hopefully, soon disappear from both telly AND its place as one of the trending topics on Twitter, it looks like the Kumar-clan will soon return to television after a seven-year break. The International Emmy and Peabody Award-winning comedy/talk show hybrid The Kumars At No. 42 will return beginning 15 January on SKY1 HD in the UK. Returning will be Sanjeev Bhaskar, Vincent Ibrahim and Meera Syal.
Kumars at No 42 returns to Sky1 HD in January

The part scripted, part improvisation series, which ran on the BBC for 7 seasons and 53 episodes, centered on three generations of a British Indian family. Sanjeev Bhaskar played the thirty-something son, Sanjeev, whose parents (Madhuri and Ashwin Kumar) both simultaneously supported and made fun of his dream of being a talk show host by building a TV studio onto the back of their home.

Weekly celebrity guests were usually greeted with fanfare at the family’s front door, sometimes making a pit-stop on the living room couch for a quick taste of Madhuri cooking, Ashwin’s questioning and a bit of drooling over by Sanjeev’s grandmother, Ummi. The bulk of the show then moved to the back garden/television studio for a chat with Sanjeev while his parents and grandmother fired off a steady diet of inappropriate questions from the couch.

As with the original, the new six-part series will host a who’s who list of guests, including Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter), Chevy Chase and Broadchurch‘s Olivia Colman. Guests lined up for the rest of the series include Ray Winstone (Great Expectations), Rupert Everett (Parade’s End), Diana Rigg, Richard E Grant, Elizabeth McGovern (Downton Abbey), James Corden (Gavin & Stacey, The Wrong Mans) and former original Monty Python member, Terry Gilliam. In the new series, the family now lives in a flat behind a homewares and gift shop that the father runs.

A bit of Kumars trivia for your use in any upcoming holiday parties. The reference to house number 42 in the title of the series was deliberate, paying homage to the ultimate answer to Life, the Universe and Everything in Douglas Adams’ Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy trilogy.

Telly is why you should be in the UK this Christmas!

December 21, 2013

Contrary to their North American neighbors to the west, both Christmas Day and Boxing Day might just possibly be the most important days in the UK for telly watching. Each and every year, both the BBC and ITV1 do not disappoint.

Obviously, there are way too many reasons to want to be in London this Christmas. Besides the obvious fact that it is London, Christmas telly is way up on the list for me. As we wrote last year…and the year before…and the year before that, Christmas and Boxing Day telly in the UK can be a brilliant sight to behold. As always, arrive early, get a good seat in front of the telly on Christmas Day and enjoy. Here’s a quick look at what’s in store for Christmas telly on ITV and BBC. Be sure to check out the short teaser for Still Open All Hours. Color the U.S. jealous, yet again, this year.

What ITV has on their plate this Christmas

What the BBC is serving up this Christmas

A BBC Boxing Day treat – Still Open All Hours

If you want to check out all the shows coming your way this Christmas on BBC, check out their festive Christmas website for more information.


Downton Abbey/Sherlock “How” – trailer gold from PBS

December 20, 2013

Just when the holidays come ever so close to getting the best of you, Santa drops a bit of brilliance into your lap to make the day pass all the better and everything seem….ok.

In this just released new teaser trailer for the upcoming returns of Downton Abbey and Sherlock,  questions to be answered are endless. How will Mary manage? How did Sherlock survive the fall? Save for those few that have been able to grab DA4 off the internet and will grab Sherlock 3 mere minutes after the first episode concludes in the UK on 1 January, PBS viewers and find out in a matter of weeks when Downton Abbey Season 4 premieres on Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014 and Sherlock Season 3 premieres Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014, after Downton Abbey.

With both Downton and Sherlock airing back to back on Sundays, you might as well take Monday as a holiday for those three weeks beginning January 19 as you’re going to need that time to catch up on sleep. On second thought, you’re going to need people around to talk to and discuss so you’re probably better off just going to work tired on Monday. Enjoy.

A Festive Tube Map just in time for the holidays!

December 19, 2013

Still looking for that last minute way to pass the time until the premiere of Downton Abbey and Sherlock? How about a way to not think about all the great telly things coming your way on Christmas Day and Boxing Day if you’re in the UK such as new Christmas specials from Doctor Who, Call the Midwife, Downton Abbey, Eastenders, Coronation Street and The Great British Bake-Off. And, I haven’t even touched on the special Sherlock mini-episode! yet.

Seven of London’s most influential bloggers have come together to create a special Festive Tube Guide, with each tube line representing their perfect Christmas in London. The cool thing is that you can click on the twinkling lights on the map in the link to discover more about each attraction or on the names of the festive tube lines to read the recommendations for the reasons to be in London at Christmas!

Festive London Tube map

Me? I’m going to check out the Nativity Line and try to hit the ice rink at the London Eye. You?

#SherLEGO Lives!

December 18, 2013

Aside from the precious few that were in attendance at the recent BFI screening of the premiere episode of Sherlock 3, the rest of the planet are in the unenviable position of taking anything ‘Sherlock’ we can get in the way of pics, trailers or rumors. On the heels of the announcement that “The Empty Hearse” would transmit on 1 January on BBC One and January 19 on PBS, last Sunday’s release of the first official trailer for the premiere episode was met with more excitement than the law should allow. We get our first glimpse of not only Sherlock, who has been removed from London for two years, but are faced (as is Sherlock) with a visual of an empty 221b Baker Street as everyone has moved on. Sadly, all it did was amplify how much I’m waiting for January 19.

With the never-ending need to feed the #SherlockLives beast, wireWAX came up with an interactive version of the BBC trailer which embedded additional video content from the actual series. Brilliant, yet all it did, again, was make me wish tomorrow was January 19.


Now, it’s LEGO’s turn to tease us until the premiere. There is a brilliant LEGO version of the BBC One trailer, complete with Watson sporting his post-Sherlock-life moustache. Check out the picture-in-picture in the trailer and compare the original teaser and the LEGO trailer. Photos, hearse driving around London, series trailer, interactive trailer, LEGO trailer. What could possibly be next from the Sherlock group that not only has created brilliant television but also knows how to market it. Can’t wait to find out.

Downton Abbey – The Historical Oracle

December 17, 2013

As we press ahead towards the day that all America has had circled their calendars since February 2012 when that still shocking conclusion to series 3 of Downton Abbey broadcast on PBS, it’s time to meet some of the folks that are behind the camera who are responsible for what has become the highest-rated drama in the history of PBS. Up first is Downton Abbey‘s historical advisor Alastair Bruce. Discover why the cast calls him The Oracle. Bruce seems genuinely touched with his cast given moniker. After all, he says, they could have called him The Nightmare or The Mosquito as he is a constant in everyone’s ear during filming.

As the historical advisor for Downton Abbey, one can only imagine the one-liner on his CV that would have landed him this position. Something like I know everything about everything comes to mind. According to Bruce, his is a simple job. It’s “…to make sure that every detail is as close as we can make it, in style, character and performance to the period“.

So, thanks to Alastair Bruce and all his efforts behind then lens. Think about Bruce on January 5, 2014 when Downton returns to the airwaves on January 5, 2014 on PBS.

How Sherlock Changed the World – A first look

December 16, 2013

As we march towards the series 3 premiere of Sherlock, we all are keenly aware how the world’s most famous consulting detective has changed OUR personal mind palaces. But now, thanks to PBS, we can definitely see how Sherlock Holmes changed the world’s mind palace in How Sherlock Changed the World. On Tuesday, December 17 at 8:00p CT / 9:00p ET on PBS, forensic scientist Dr. Henry Lee, who has also been called ‘The Sherlock Holmes of Taiwan’, reveals how Sherlock Holmes’ method of deductive reasoning affects the way crime scenes are investigated and criminals are questioned.

Narrated by The Walking Dead’s, Andrew Lincoln, the 2-hour program is quick to identify Holmes as “the first CSI” because of his meticulous examination of crime scenes and deductive reasoning. Unfortunately, he just happened to be about 120 years ahead of his time. Two of the coolest things about the program begin with one, actual video of Holmes creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who died in 1930, and two, some interesting insights regarding Joseph Bell, the doctor who provided Doyle with real-life inspiration for the character.

To support the ‘first CSI’ claim, it’s pointed out that Doyle wrote “A Study in Scarlet”, the first Sherlock Holmes story in 1887, which happens to be a year before the Jack the Ripper murders rocked the Whitechapel area of London. Holmes’ painstaking approach to clues was light years ahead of the way London police would handle the Ripper murders where crime scenes were never ‘off limits’.

The only unfortunate part of program was the abundantly clear lack of footage from the BBC/PBS Sherlock series opting instead for re-enactment (which I personally am not a fan of in general) to prove its point. That said, all in all, to see present day forensic scientists get so excited when talking about Holmes’ influence on present day techniques is way cool.

How Sherlock Changed the World premieres tomorrow at 8:00p CT / 9:00p ET on PBS stations nationwide.