This just in, the long-awaited return of Doctor Martin Ellingham’s surgery to the fictional village of Portwenn is just around the corner. As many Doc Martin fans already are aware, series 6 begins filming in April for a new set of eight episodes for ITV that should premiere in the UK this Fall and Spring 2014 on public television stations in the States. The Cornwall village of Port Isaac will be transformed into the fictional village of Portwenn with cast and crew making the trek from April through July of this year.
Should you decide to make the journey to ‘Portwenn’, a quick walk around will take you past many of the immediately recognizable filmed locations in Doc Martin as seen on the map below, including the Doc’s surgery, Bert’s Restaurant, the Chemist, The Platt, the Quay, the School, Louisa’s old and new houses and Wenn House.
1 Doc Martins Surgery….7 Louisa’s Old House
2 Berts Restaurant…….8 Louisa’s New House
3 Chemist………………9 Wenn House (The Bay Hotel)
4 The Platt……………..10 Funeral Parlour (series 5)
5 Quay………………….11 Garage (series 5)
Should you decide to make the trip, check out The Bay Hotel, which doubles as Wenn House in the series. If you do, don’t forget to say hi to The Bay Hotel’s resident Great Dane, Gino, Port Isaac’s official RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) mascot. Owned by The Bay Hotel’s proprietor, Gino even has his own RNLI-branded lifejacket equipped with two saddlebags which have been embroidered and donated for him to wear on his daily village patrols.
Lots of questions to be answered in series 6, the main one, obviously, is whether or not the Doc and Louisa finally get married. When asked recently as to what news he might be able to share with Doc Martin fans around the world, series star Martin Clunes said, “…“I’m thrilled to be going back to the beautiful North Cornish coast to shoot series six of Doc Martin. Our challenge this season will be to force Louisa (Caroline Catz) and the doctor to live together with baby James, which as far as I can see has disaster written all over it. And then there’s the dog and Dame Eileen, but not necessarily in that order!”.”
Unfortunately, at this point, not too much is known about what’s in store for the residents of Portwenn in series 6 but what we do know is that Dame Eileen Atkins will return as Martin’s Aunt Ruth along with Ian McNeice as local restaurateur Bert, Joe Absolom as Bert’s son Al and John Marquez as local police officer PC Joe Penhale.
The rumor is that this will be the final series of Doc Martin but we refuse to even think the unthinkable at this point in time….
It seems that twice, now, there was this girl named Clara Oswald, who shared an adventure with The Doctor. And twice that same girl died, several galaxies and centuries apart. It has been a bit since we last saw The Doctor and curious minds everywhere want to know what the Time Lord has been up to since he last saw Clara at the end of the Christmas special, ‘The Snowmen’. Enter show runner, Steven Moffat, who has created this prequel to the long-awaited return of Doctor Who on Saturday, 30 March, on BBC One and BBC America.
Taking a break on Earth and more than a bit despondent that he can’t find Clara, whom he has lost twice now, The Doctor stops off to have a go on the swings in a children’s playground. He meets a new friend and pours his heart out to a young girl about the friend he has ‘lost’. His new found friend gives him some pretty good advice.
Shame he didn’t think to ask her name…
Fear not, in Saturdays ‘Bells of Saint John’ return, The Doctor is reunited with the mysterious Clara Oswald, where they discover what happens when Wi-Fi goes bad…FYI, it isn’t pretty, but it’s brilliant.
Whether you are in London, near London or will be going their in the foreseeable future and are in need of a virtual walk wherever you are this weekend, this is a cool walking tour that will give you a chance to walk in the shoes of Sherlock Holmes and Harry Pearce at the same time. Total distance is about 6 miles and will take a couple of hours (not taking into account the obligatory stop at any number of locals you find along the way).
Trafalgar Square is the quintessential London location. It was the scene of some bomb-based brinkmanship for Erin and Dimitri in the final series of Spooks, and also featured in Sherlock’s ‘The Blind Banker’. FYI, to start your journey, Trafalgar Square’s nearest Tubes are Charing Cross (Northern, Bakerloo) Embankment (Circle, District) and Leicester Square (Piccadilly, Northern).
Leave the square via Whitehall towards Big Ben. Pass Parliament on your left and walk through Victoria Tower Gardens to the steps up to Lambeth Bridge. From the top of the steps, Thames House — the real MI5’s headquarters — used for some night shots in series eight of Spooks, is on your right, over the other side of the roundabout, and from the bridge you can look upstream to the genuine Secret Intelligence Service HQ, aka MI6, which has also featured a few times. After crossing the Thames, turn left downstream along the Thames Path. Shortly before Westminster Bridge are some benches facing the Houses of Parliament — where Harry met the CIA’s Jim Coaver.
THE SOUTH BANK
The South Bank is a favored haunt for Spooks, especially for its characters’ low-tide rendezvous, but Sherlock locations also abound. The shore in front of the Oxo Tower was where a gallery security guard was found in ‘The Great Game’, and Hungerford Bridge and the skate park under the Queen Elizabeth Hall were both used in ‘The Blind Banker’.
Pass under Blackfriars road and rail bridges and cross the Millennium Bridge — another popular Spooks location — to St Paul’s. Turn left and walk down Ludgate Hill to its junction with the Old Bailey. Walk up past the court to the traffic lights, cross over into Giltspur Street, past some offices and the building on your right is St Bartholomew’s Hospital — the meeting place of Holmes and Watson and where Sherlock met his end (or did he?) in the story ‘The Reichenbach Fall’. Follow the hospital buildings as the road sweeps round to the right and in front of you will be a half- timbered building on top of an arch. Through the arch is the church of St Bartholomew the Great, where Tom killed Herman Joyce in series three of Spooks.
Retrace your steps down Giltspur Street, then turn right onto Holborn Viaduct. Proceed ahead up Holborn and High Holborn to Holborn Tube. You have just walked over a complex of cold-war telecommunications switches hidden in tunnels with room for 8,000 people 100 feet underground.
Turn left down Kingsway, then second right onto Great Queen St to the Freemasons’ Hall, which, in Spooks, doubles as the exterior of MI5’s HQ, Thames House. Head west down Long Acre, past the Freemasons’ Arms on your right — where Sir Harry, Malcolm and Connie met Davie King — to shake off your tail in the crowds of Covent Garden, or make your way, via Long Acre and St Martin’s Lane, back to Trafalgar Square.
Echoing the sentiments of the individual that commented on the original Radio Times piece — ‘No tour is complete without a trip to Speedy’s Sandwich Bar & Cafe, 187 North Gower Street’. Couldn’t agree more. Was there recently and I strongly recommend, besides getting the Sherlock wrap, that you try the Leek and Potato Soup. Unbelievable.
Ever since Hugh Laurie gave up his designation as the most popular Brit on American telly when House ended its eight-year run on Fox this past year, a number of British actors have tried with limited success to crack the American television world. While it has been quite painful over the years to watch repeated efforts to re-create brilliant British comedy and drama on American soil, British actors have fared a great deal better over the years, although none with the popularity of Laurie’s character, Dr. Gregory House. The announcement just this week that two more series are in the works just may change that.
From David Shore, the creator of House…
Steve Coogan, of Alan Partridge fame, is reportedly signed up to star in the upcoming pilot, Doubt, from House creator, David Shore. Coogan will play Vincent in the drama, a former policeman-turned-lawyer who uses his street smarts to work the system for his clients, while at the same time wrestling with his own demons and trying to win back his ex-wife. Coogan’s character, which is described as “handsome, charming, charismatic, quick-witted and extremely smart – and cocky,” is said to be so concerned for his clients that he’ll do anything to save them, even at the expense of his own professional reputation. Sounds a bit of a far cry from the socially awkward Norwich-based DJ Alan Partridge that Coogan is famous for.
CBS orders up pilot starring Stephen Fry and Rupert Grint
Super Clyde, which is being created by Gregory Thomas of My Name is Earl fame, will see Stephen Fry in what will be his first American series co-starring role paired with Harry Potter star, Rubert Grint. Known more for his movie roles in the Robert Downey Jr. Sherlock Holmes and his on-going guest role on Fox’s drama Bones, this will be Fry’s first American series with a co-starring role. In Super Clyde, Fry has signed to play Randolph the butler, Super Clyde’s sidekick, according to Deadline Hollywood.
The comedy centers on Clyde (Rupert Grint), a meek, unassuming fast food worker who decides to become a super hero after inheriting $100,000 a month from his late eccentric uncle.
Star Trek Into Darkness – Have I got your attention now?
Saving the best for last, a name very well known around the telly and big screen globe, Benedict Cumberbatch, will soon be seen in the upcoming film, Star Trek Into Darkness. The first trailer has just been released and it’s a whole new side of Benedict that Sherlock fans haven’t seen before.
Anyone else get chills hearing Benedict say…Have I got your attention now?
Red Nose Day 2013 has come and gone. On the positive side, the broadcast on 15 March raised more money that ever before in its’ 25 year history. On the downside, the BBC received more complaints that ever before, mostly due to a very funny sketch with Rowan Atkinson as The Archbishop of Canterbury. Unfortunately, most of the full-length videos of this sketch have been taken down due to ‘copyright reasons’ so the clip below is somewhat poor quality shot off the telly as it aired last Friday.
Following the Archbishop clip are some amazingly brilliant sketches which highlighted the 2013 Red Nose Day broadcast including the cast of Call the Midwife, which also attracted a fair share of complaints, the return of the Dibley Town Council in The Vicar of Dibley, the always uncomfortable David Brent back in The Office some 10 years removed from Wernham Hogg Paper Company and, finally, the boys from One Direction and a cover of Blondie’s ‘One Way or Another’.
Rowan Atkinson as The Archbishop of Canterbury
Call the Midwife meets Doctor Who with a touch of Downton Abbey
Vicar of Dibley gets the band back together for Red Nose Day 2013
Brent is back!
One Direction sings ‘One Way or Another’ and introduced by Miss Piggy
With all eyes focused on Saturday, 30 March, and the series 7.2 premiere of Doctor Who in “The Bells of Saint John”, the Eleventh Doctor, Matt Smith, has promised fans they “…absolutely will not be disappointed” by the new series storyline. Showrunner Stephen Moffat described the 2013 run up to the 50th as a “proper London thriller“. The ‘storyline’ has the Doctor and his mysterious new companion Clara (Jenna-Louise Coleman) battling an evil entity in the world’s wifi networks. Why mysterious? Well, for starters, the Doctor has previously met her as two different people in two different time periods.
Other highlights to look forward to in the new series which, again, begins 30 March on BBC One and BBC America: another episode written by sci-fi and fantasy bit of brilliance, Neil Gaiman; a guest appearance by Diana Rigg; the return of the Cybermen and the first 21st Century appearance of classic ‘Who’ villians, the Ice Warriors.
Matt Smith on upcoming Doctor Who 50th: It’s vast, it’s epic and it’s in 3D..
…and, he clapped at the end after reading the script. Smith recently told BBC News about the 50th, “I read it and I clapped at the end. I think it’s hilarious, it’s epic and it’s vast.”
Regarding the 50th, I’m not sure I would, personally, put any stock in the fact that it’s being touted as being in 3D. Seems nothing more than just a gimmick given the fact there are probably three tellys out there capable of seeing a program in 3D but it’s also probably all they can talk about at this point with regards to the 50th without getting into deep you-know-what.
Sadly, this is getting all-too frequent these days. Most recently was the passing of Richard Briers and, now, the passing of the great Frank Thornton at age 92.
Known to us all as simply Captain Peacock and, more recently, Truly Truelove in Last of the Summer Wine, Frank Thornton rivaled Richard Briers for who had the lengthiest resume. Ranging from roles in two of the best examples of British comedy that made a successful jump across the pond, ‘Till Death Do Us Part and Steptoe and Son to the more recent Are You Being Served and Last of the Summer Wine, we found a couple of gems in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum where he was a Roman sentry opposite Zero Mostel, a police inspector in The Magic Christian and this classic clip with Frank as The Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz at the 1991 Children’s Royal Variety Performance, with none other than John Inman as the cowardly lion.
As with many of the British comedy icons that we have be so fortunate to spend time with over the last X number of years for our various PBS productions which started back in 2000 with our celebration of the life and career of Mollie Sugden as she turned 80, our time with Frank Thornton was something to remember for a lifetime. Our time with Frank continued through The Funny Ladies of British Comedy, The Funny Blokes of British Comedy and Fawlty Towers Revisited ending with our most recent efforts in Best of the Britcom: From Script to Screen in 2010.
Sitting on top of that hill in the picturesque town of Holmfirth in West Yorkshire where Last of the Summer Wine was filmed and freezing while interviewing Frank during a typical Yorkshire “summer” was a time that all of us will never forget.
Always the consummate professional, Frank never mentioned the cold we experienced during the Yorkshire ‘summer’, he endured the renegade motorcycle on top of the opposing hill that seemed to enjoy wreaking havoc on our audio engineer during the interview and then took us on a tour of the town and most of the filming locations for Last of the Summer Wine.
In a clip from the 2004 production of The Funny Blokes of British Comedy for PBS, Frank talks about his most famous character, Captain Peacock.
R.I.P., Frank. Thanks for all the laughter over the years and the years to come.
With the best news this side of Benedict Cumberbatch’s recent leak that both he and co-star, Martin Freeman, have signed up for Sherlock 4 – filming on Sherlock 3 starts TODAY. With all eyes on the most famous address save for maybe 10 Downing Street, the door to 221B Baker Street is open for business.
Sherlock production designer Arwel Wyn Jones has kindly shared a new panoramic view of the interior of 221B Baker Street, which shows John and Sherlock’s rooms starting to look like their old selves again.
Click on the Radio Times link to see Jones’ panoramic view and, using your cursor, you can immediately see that ‘starting to look like their old selves again’ means a desk covered in clutter and plenty more intriguing props, familiar and not-so-familiar. Now if Jones would just give us a hint as to how Sherlock survives his rooftop plunge from St Barts, we’d be in business.
In other Sherlock 3 news, Deadline.com confirmed recently that Jeremy Lovering will direct the first episode of the new Sherlock season. Paul McGuigan, who brilliantly directed four of the first six 90-minute episodes will not return for the new season. McGuigan commented via Twitter recently: #sherlock has been one of the most fulfilling experiences of my working life as a director but now I have a movie to make…so stay tuned x“. The ‘movie to make’ is Frankenstein, 20th Century Fox’s revamp of the Mary Shelley classic novel that has Daniel Radcliffe in talks, and is also working with Sherlock star, Benedict Cumberbatch, on The Man Who, which is about the life of Beatles manager Brian Epstein.
While Dave Allen was, at the height of his career, one of Britain’s most controversial comedians, he also still remains one of the funniest in my book. The Dublin born comedian regularly provoked the conservative wrath for his frequent pointing out of political hypocrisy and his disregard for religious authority. For the majority of his show, Allen would sit on a high bar stool facing the audience, smoking and occasionally sipping from a glass of what he always allowed people to assume was whiskey, but in fact was simply ginger ale with ice. This would remind me of Dean Martin but, I’m guessing his was, in fact, straight whiskey.
Religion was a focal point for his humor, especially the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of England, where he generally mocked church customs and rituals rather than beliefs. According to Allen, he was a ‘practicing aethiest’ (he often joked “I’m an atheist, thank God“) and would always end each show by raising his glass and quietly toast his audience with the words “Thank you, goodnight and may your God go with you“.
Unfortunately, very little is available of these original Dave Allen at Large episodes except for The Best of Dave Allen DVD consisting of a compilation of Allen’s favorite gags, routines and observations, selected by Allen himself, from his 30+ years in show business.
That said, BBC Two will honor the Irish comedian with a night of programming in April which will include an hour-long documentary that will feature footage never before broadcast along with interviews with Allen’s eldest son, daughter and widow. The late Sir Bill Cotton, legendary light entertainment executive, BBC One controller and TV producer, will also speak with Dame Maggie Smith, everyone’s favorite Dowager Countess. Look for this really special night in April on BBC Two. Hopefully, it will make it’s way to the States in the not-too-distant future.
Allen died on 10 March 2005 at the age of 68.
With Richard Briers’ untimely passing last month, I’ve been thinking more and more about the brilliance of The Good Life or The Good Neighbors as it was broadcast in the U.S. The 1970′s (gulp!) British situation comedy, which was written by Bob Larbey and John Esmonde, centered around Tom Good (Briers) and his wife/partner-in-crime Barbara (Felicity Kendal) and their desire to become self-sufficient. The series starts on Tom’s 40th birthday, when he decided to turn his back on office life and have the Good’s live off the land. Over the next two years, Jerry and Margot Leadbetter, their suburban friends and neighbors, watched on with a mixture of horror and grudging respect.
Over the years during our various productions for PBS about British comedy, in talking with Richard Briers and Penelope Keith, who played Margot Leadbetter, both felt that the series was even more applicable to the 21st century than it was some 30+ years ago. I’m not even sure the word ‘sustainability’ even existed when the series premiered.
Following Briers’ death, the Daily Telegraph came up with a brilliant Good Life Quiz to give readers the opportunity to determine for themselves (behind closed doors, if necessary) if they were more like Tom and Barbara or Jerry and Margot. It’s extremely lengthy so here are a few to get you started. For the entire quiz and also how you determine if you are a Good or a Ledbetter, here’s the full Good Life Quiz from the Daily Telegraph.
Take The Good Life Quiz…
What are you driving?
a) A company car
b) Mainly a rotary cultivator, especially since our methane-powered car stopped working
a) … make good neighbors
b) … make good fuel when the pig-powered generator breaks down
How would you define “dressing for dinner”?
a) I put on one of my 73 maxi-dresses, teamed with a corsage and a turban. My husband swaps his suit jacket for a sports jacket
b) I take off my wellington boots
Make do and…
a) … spend
b) … mend
Growing your own food is…
a) … self-indulgent
b) … self-sufficient
What’s in your spare bedroom?
a) An exercise bike
b) Home-grown onions under the bed, crab apples on top of it, leeks all over the floor and a couple of King Edwards in the wardrobe
Television is …
a) … frightfully common and not nearly as good as it used to be
b) … pointless when you can easily turn an old set into a useful pottery workbench
The telephone is…
a) … useful for barking instructions at recalcitrant tradesmen
b) … something I try to avoid at all costs, in case it’s the bank manager
How do you pay your council tax?
a) Direct debit
b) In person, in coppers
How much is in your bank account?
a) Which account?
You read something in the newspapers with which you disagree. What do you do?
a) Write a strongly worded letter to the editor
b) We don’t read the papers
a) … a necessary evil
b) … something I dabbled in for a bit
What does your boss call you?
a) The next big thing
What are you most likely to argue about with your spouse?
a) Money, work, family, neighbors, Christmas – in fact, arguing is pretty much a means of communication
b) Whose turn it is to feed the pigs
How would you describe your retirement plans?
a) We’re going to draw on our four pensions and play bowls
b) We’re going to start buying lottery scratchcards
The glass is…
a) … half-empty
b) … half-full, and I’d like a top-up since you’re asking
What are you drinking?
b) Home-made pea-pod burgundy
To find out if you are a Good or a Ledbetter….