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Nearly 100-year-old Sherlock Holmes film discovered in Paris

October 5, 2014

While it won’t erase the daily reminder that we still have 14 months (plus or minus a few days) until Benedict Cumberbatch returns to the small screen in Sherlock, the recent discovery of a long thought to be lost Sherlock Holmes film will delight even the most casual fan of the world’s most famous consulting detective. The 1916 silent movie about Sherlock Holmes has been discovered by the Cinematheque Francaise, which has joined with the San Francisco Film Festival to create a digital restoration. Cinematheque Francaise is a Paris-based archive that houses one of the largest film collections, movie documents and film-related objects in the world.

Titled Sherlock Holmes, the film stars American actor and playwright, William Gillette, who was one of the earliest actors to bring Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s creation to life on stage, and is credited with helping to popularize both the deerstalker-and-cape image of the detective along with one of Holmes’ signature lines by saying to Holmes’ sidekick Dr. Watson, “Oh, this is elementary, my dear fellow.” Produced by Essanay Studios in Chicago, which is best known for a number of Charlie Chaplin short films produced in 1915, the film is the only surviving example of Gillette’s performance as Holmes and is also the only film Gillette ever made. Gillette’s play, and presumably the film, is a compendium of Holmes’s “best bits”, weaving scenes from a number of Arthur Conan Doyle stories into a single narrative ranging from “A Scandal in Bohemia” to “The Final Problem”.

At last we get to see for ourselves the actor who kept the first generation of Sherlockians spellbound. We can also see where the future Holmeses— (Basil) Rathbone, (Jeremy) Brett, (Benedict) Cumberbatch and the rest—come from. As far as Holmes is concerned, there’s not an actor dead or alive who hasn’t consciously or intuitively played off Gillette,” Russell Merritt, the supervising editor of the restoration project and a member of the Baker Street Irregulars, said.

The restored film will be unveiled in Europe at the Cinematheque Francais’ festival of film restoration in Paris in January as part of the Toute la Mémoire du Monde festival, and will have its American premiere at the San Francisco Silent Film festival in May 2015.

The Imitation Game – a first look

October 4, 2014

Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing in The Imitation Game

The long-awaited first lengthy video look at The Imitation Game is here. Based on the real life story of Alan Turing, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, who is credited with cracking the German Enigma code. THE IMITATION GAME portrays the ultimate real-life reality show race against time by Turing and his brilliant team at Britain’s top-secret code-breaking center, Bletchley Park, during the darkest days of World War II. This ‘team of misfits’ was made up of scholars, mathematicians, linguists, chess champions and intelligence officers with one powerful ally in their back pocket…Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Turing, whose contributions and genius significantly shortened the war, saving thousands of lives, was the eventual victim of an unenlightened British Establishment, but his work and legacy live on.

Opening in UK cinemas on 14 November with the U.S. premiere one week later on November 21, THE IMITATION GAME stars Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock, Star Trek Into Darkness, 12 Years a Slave, Tinker Tailor) as Turing and Keira Knightley (Atonement) as close friend and fellow code breaker Joan Clarke, alongside a brilliant cast that includes Matthew Goode (A Single Man), Mark Strong (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), Rory Kinnear (Skyfall), Charles Dance (Gosford Park, Game of Thrones) and Allen Leech (Downton Abbey).

The real story behind Benedict Cumberbatch’s photobomb of U2

October 3, 2014


As if anyone needed yet another reason to put Benedict Cumberbatch on a pedestal…now comes the real story behind the now famous photobomb by the Sherlock star of U2 on the red carpet at the 2014 Oscar ceremony. Now that a safe distance has passed since that fateful night in March 2014, Cumberbatch has come clean about what induced him to photobomb the unsuspecting Bono & band. “Yes, I photobombed U2!” he told Time Out magazine while throwing an unnamed Oscar host under the bus.

Cumberbatch went on to explain, “…that was all Ellen DeGeneres’ fault because she plied everyone with vodka on the red carpet. Her team was handing out these miniatures. A friend really wanted me to get a photo with U2. So I just saw the opportunity and I’ve never felt an impulse like it. I spotted them all standing around and I thought, ‘Perfect!’ It wasn’t preordained or anything. I just did it.”

Special thanks to ShortsHD for their stellar work in capturing this little bit of video gold on tape in the midst of the film industry’s biggest night of the year.

‘Endeavour’ back for third series in 2015

October 2, 2014

As we dive head first into our 6th year of Tellyspotting, why not start things off with more great news from the world of British telly — it was announced late last week that the brilliant Inspector Morse prequel, Endeavour, will return for a third series on ITV. The series will, most likely, find its way to the shores of the United States in Summer of 2015 on PBS as part of the Sunday night Masterpiece Mystery! series.

Given how series two ended, it would have been pretty much unthinkable that commissioners would not have handed the keys to Lewis creator and Inspector Morse writer Russell Lewis for a third trip around the racetrack. The new series of Endeavour will be set in 1967, picking up from the dramatic second series finale that saw Endeavour Morse (Shaun Evans) placed in police custody, framed for a murder he didn’t commit, and DI Fred Thursday’s (Roger Allam) life hanging in the balance after being shot in the chest. Creator Lewis added: “Endeavour ’67… Pepper – Piper – Purple Haze…as ‘Oxford’s finest’ encounter friends and foes both old and new, our next quartet of mysteries will take the audience on a psychedelic Summer of Love fairground ride, filled with twists and turns, shrieks and scares. For something wicked this way comes…

Actually, you had me at Endeavour ’67. How about you?

Tellyspotting is 5! Can you believe it?

October 1, 2014

I know there are those of you out there that will immediately say “Gee, you don’t look a day over four!“. Hard to believe it has been five years already. Seems just like yesterday that the first post of our brief existence announced on October 1, 2009 that it was Time for Tellyspotting!. And now, over 2000 posts later (2,003 to be exact), here we are better than ever because of one thing — YOU! Your love of all-things British, our shared recognition that British comedy and drama is the best telly on telly and your comments/feedback over the last five years make it really easy to look forward to the next five. And, thanks so much to the folks over at the London Underground for this really special greeting!
Tellyspotting London Tube sign

A lot has changed since that fateful day of 10.01.09 when you think about it. Here’s where I could launch into how much a gallon of milk or a loaf of bread cost back then but there are a just a few more important things to understand how our lives have changed. Just imagine a 2009 world where it was BD (Before Downton Abbey), BS (Before Sherlock) BRDX (Before Red Dwarf X) and we were coming to the end of the David Tennant era on Doctor Who. There was no Scott and Bailey, no Endeavour, no Call the Midwife or even Miranda for that matter. At the time, we only knew of Miranda Hart from a brief guest shot in Lead Balloon and a leading role in Hyperdrive with Nick Frost. And, one of the best series ever to grace the small screen, Spooks or MI-5 if you’re in the States, still had three seasons to go!

In the last five years, we have had the great good fortune to sit down and interview a number of amazing individuals for Tellyspotting. Essie Davis (Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries) immediately comes to mind as does Michael Palin (Monty Python, Brazil with Michael Palin), Martin Shaw and Lee Ingleby (George Gently), Simon Pegg and Nick Frost (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, The World’s End) and Jonathan Lynn (Yes Minister, Yes Prime Minister). And, there’s more to come in the not-too-distant future (hint: think New Tricks!) so stick around and join us for the next five and beyond. It’s going to be a great ride but it won’t be the same without you!

A special thanks to everyone that has written to us, commented on or even read just one post in the last five years. Thanks, also, to BBC Worldwide for their overwhelming support from Day One, to John Manthorpe over at ITV for all the advance press material, to Acorn Media for constantly thinking of us when actors are made available for interviews and to Mark over at the British Comedy Guide for warning me in the beginning stages back in 2009 as to what I was getting ready to get myself into.

Thinking back, I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into but I wouldn’t trade anything in the last five years for anything. So, here’s to the next 2,003 posts. Are you with me?

Inspector Lewis returns to PBS with Hathaway in-tow

September 30, 2014

There was no joy in Mudville back in the Fall of 2013 when news came out of the UK that Inspector Robert ‘Robbie’ Lewis and Detective Sergeant James Hathaway were pulling a Brett Favre and were going to ‘retire’ after seven series. As you can imagine, when ITV announced that both Kevin Whately and Laurence Fox were ‘un-retiring’ and were set to reprise their roles as the ‘perfect’ detective team solving murders against the backdrop of the beautiful university spires of Oxford, it was more than welcome news. Things have changed just a bit, however, since we last left the duo.

After an extended break from the Police, Hathaway has been promoted to Inspector. When the chemistry that was so much a part of his relationship with Lewis eludes Hathaway, a retired Lewis is drafted back to renew their partnership. It will be interesting to see how both Lewis and Hathaway will come to grips with their new found dynamic in order to achieve results. Clare Holman, who was introduced to viewers as forensic pathologist Laura Hobson in the 1995 Morse film, “The Way through the Woods”, and has continued to appear in Lewis in recent years. Rebecca Front will also return to the series as Chief Superintendent Jean Innocent who is frequently at odds with Lewis over his investigative style.

The first installment, ‘Entry Wounds’, which will premiere on PBS’ Masterpiece series this Sunday, October 5 at 9:00p ET/8:00p CT followed by “The Lions of Nenea” on October 12 and then, closing out the new season, “Beyond Good and Evil” on October 19.

Could Leonardo da Vinci ever have imagined ‘Mona Lisa Bean’?

September 29, 2014

Something that most British comedy fans knew from day one has come to life thanks to Southern Louisiana artist, Rodney Pike. Mr. Bean, the classic Richard Curtis comedy series which starred the rubber-faced Rowan Atkinson, is…Art, in the truest sense of the word. Pike, who lived in the UK for several years back in the 90′s, felt his love of classic art and Atkinson’s Bean character was about as good of a match as when bacon collided with chocolate in recent years. “Rowan Atkinson can make any situation funny no matter how absurd,” he explained.

Up first was Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa which probably sent chills throughout the art world as Pike gave the iconic portrait an unlikely makeover by adding in Rowan Atkinson’s face instead.
Mona Bean?

(PICTURED: Mona Lisa Bean by Rodney Pike/Caters) Created by photoshopping Rowan Atkinsons comedic characters on to some of the most iconic artworks through history. Other pieces given the Blackadder and Mr Bean treatment, include Holbein the Youngers portrait of Henry VIII and Rembrandts self-portrait. For more works of greatness by Rodney Pike, click here.

‘The Paradise’ set to re-open tonight on PBS’ Masterpiece

September 28, 2014

At long last, The Paradise is set for a series 2 return tonight on PBS’ Masterpiece Classic series. While the doors have been shuttered since series 1 came to a close almost a year ago in November 2013, fans of the BBC drama series have been wondering whether or not the second series would make its way to the US given it ended in the UK last December. Beginning tonight, Sundays will once again be Must See TV leading viewers up to the next long-awaited series return of Downton Abbey on January 4, 2015.

During series 1, viewers of The Paradise, the BBC’s answer to ITV’s Mr. Selfridge, lived vicariously through the life of a bright-eyed country girl, Denise Lovett, played brilliantly by Joanna Vanderham. You know her, the girl with endless new ideas on how to promote business, who found more than just shop-girl work when she brought those clever ideas and endless ambition to Britain’s glamorous first department store, The Paradise. It wasn’t all that easy as Lovett came to know first hand the power struggles, intrigues and romance of retail catching the attention of the store’s dashing and enigmatic owner, John Moray. The Paradise revolves around the lives of the people who live and work in the store, each bound in their own way by the power of the world they live in, and the pasts that follow them there. It’s a love story, a mystery, a lavish costume drama and a social comedy all in one.

As you can see, series 2 takes place a year after the dramatic events (and all that that entails) which occurred in the series 1 finale. Unfortunately, no spoilers here so you’ll have to wait until tonights premiere to find out what’s in store (sorry) for Lord Glendenning, Katherine, Denise and Moray. It promises to be more of the same…power struggles, intrigues and romance. Can’t wait.

We heard from a number of you asking where The Paradise is filmed. The series was filmed at Lambton Castle in County Durham in England, which was converted into an 1870s bustling upmarket department store, complete with a Victorian street with shops and a tavern. Ah, the magic of telly.

Series 2 will premiere tonight and air each Sunday at 8p ET/7p CT on PBS as part of the Masterpiece Classic series through November 16.

Ranking the best of ‘Sherlock’ as we (patiently) wait for 2016

September 27, 2014

The Sherlock Nation is already painfully aware that it’s a very, very long time until anyone will see new episodes. A long, long time as in 15 months to be exact when a Christmas special rolls around in 2015, followed by three new episodes in 2016 for series 4.

Thankfully, the folks over at DigitalSpy have created just the thing for those suffering from separation anxiety that will keep everyone talking until 2016. It’s hard to believe that as much as <em>Sherlock</em>, Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman have been a part of our collective mind palaces for almost 5 years now, there are only a total of nine episodes that exists. That’s almost as hard to believe as the fact that there are only 12 episodes that exists in the most brilliant of comedies of all-time, <em>Fawlty Towers</em>.  Of course, it makes the wait even more excruciating when you hear co-creator/writer, Steven Moffat, refer to the forthcoming series as devastating and series star, Benedict Cumberbatch, say that from what he’s read so far of the proposed storyline, series 4 will be ‘phenomenal‘.

So, what better way to pass the time than to binge watch the 9 episodes over and over while ranking them from 1-9. It’s impossible to rank them from best to worst because even the use of the word ‘worst’ should never be uttered in the same sentence as <em>Sherlock</em>. How about just rank order them 1-9 as far as which ones are your most favorite. According to Digital Spy, their 1-9 rankings are as follows with a bit of their explanations as to why. How about you?

  • 9. ‘The Blind Banker’ (Series 1, Episode 2) – citing the fact that the episode “centers as it does on a hokey and politically dubious yarn about a band of Chinese smugglers on a murderous treasure hunt”, makes this their obvious choice for #9.
  • 8. ‘The Hounds of Baskerville’ (Series 2, Episode 2) – it may be the best known and best loved of Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories, according to Digital Spy, “The Hound of the Baskervilles remains a bitch to adapt”.
  • 7. ‘The Empty Hearse’ (Series 3, Episode 1) – as they say, following “The Reichenbach Fall” is unfair to any episode that follows. “…the hypothetical ‘How Sherlock did it’ sequences and nods towards the show’s ballooning fandom are breathlessly entertaining flourishes but don’t have much re-watch value”.
  • 6. ‘His Last Vow’ (Series 3, Episode 3) – the episode was “…convoluted, an ambitious emotional powerhouse and disturbing” all in one. It’s easy to see why it took home a couple of Emmys this year. Let’s see…Sherlock has killed a man and is going into exile, John is about to become a father, and Moriarty is back from the dead (maybe). It neatly gave us a series ender that will something to think about for the next 15 months.
  • 5. ‘The Great Game’ (Series 1, Episode 3) – this dark and strangely compelling series one finale has everything. A climactic poolside confrontation, the beginning of a very deranged portrayal of Moriarty by Andrew Scott thus establishing the key idea that Moriarty is a dark mirror image of Sherlock and provides the first real test of Sherlock’s and John’s relationship that in its’ early stages.
  • 4. ‘The Sign of Three’ (Series 3, Episode 2) – Considered the show’s most character-centric and comedic to date, which means as a fan you either hated it or loved it. There was no in-between. The highlight of the episode is Sherlock delivering a perfect, characteristically tone-deaf yet ultimately moving best man’s speech at John’s wedding, which weaves together flashbacks, character comedy, emotional revelation and a present-day mystery.
  • 3. ‘A Scandal in Belgravia’ (Series 2, Episode 1) – Laura Pulver stars as Irene Adler, he first person we’ve ever seen Sherlock unable to “read”.
  • 2. ‘A Study in Pink’ (Series 1, Episode 1) – Quite simply, a masterclass in economical character introduction.
  • 1. ‘The Reichenbach Fall’ (Series 2, Episode 3) – No explanation needed here.

The Reichenbach Fall

For my money, there is no arguing about the #1 spot. “The Reichenbach Fall” is a good as television gets. I might have to bump up “A Scandal in Belgravia” to the #2 slot. It does feature the great Laura Pulver as Irene Adler after all. It’s a tough call, however, as “A Study in Pink” does have the greatness of Phil Davis as a serial killer who forces his victims to commit suicide.

That’s the great thing about a series like Sherlock. I’m betting you could binge watch them over and over and every time you finish, you would come out with a different 1-9 order. What do you think?

2015 set to be a busy year for Ben Whishaw

September 26, 2014

Already signed to play Freddie Mercury in the forthcoming film chronicling the life of Queen frontman, Ben Whishaw will also be returning to the small screen for a BBC2 espionage thriller, London Spy. Whishaw will also reprise his role as Q in the next Bond film, Bond 24 in 2015.
Ben Whishaw as Q in Skyfall

The as-yet-to-be-titled Freddie Mercury film, to be penned by Frost/Nixon writer Peter Morgan, will tell the coming of age story of the band, culminating in Queen’s headline performance at Live Aid in 1985. In London Spy, Whishaw will play Danny in Tom Rob Smith’s first television drama series, where he will immediately get sucked into the world of British espionage. The five-part drama is set to begin filming next month.

If his 2015 calendar isn’t quite maxed out yet, the former star of the BBC drama, The Hour will also star as Herman Melville in The Heart of the Sea, a Warner Bros film about the whale attack that spawned Moby Dick.

For those that have been in the witness protection program for the past couple of years and who may not be aware of the world of Ben Whishaw, check out The Hour which, without explanation, went to BBC series heaven last year after only two brilliant series.