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Downton Abbey cast talk series 4 in NYC Q&A

December 15, 2013

Normally, at this time of year, the phrase “…it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas” is on everyone’s mind. For the past several years, however, it’s sounding more and more like “…it’s beginning to look a lot like Downton” as people begin to ready themselves for the January premiere each year.

In advance of the 2014 U.S. premiere of Downton Abbey 4, the band got back together in New York this past week for a live Q&A and discussion event in anticipation of the season 4 premiere on MASTERPIECE on PBS on Sunday, January 5, 2014.
 
downton-abbey

The livestreamed panel was moderated by Bill Carter of the New York Times and featured series stars Hugh Bonneville (Lord Grantham), Laura Carmichael (Lady Edith), Rob James-Collier (Thomas Barrow), Allen Leech (Tom Branson), Phyllis Logan (Mrs. Hughes) and Lesley Nicol (Mrs. Patmore) along with creator/writer/executive producer, Julian Fellowes and executive producer, Gareth Neame.

Much of the early part of the discussion centered on the past and the deaths of Matthew and Lady Sybil. Creator/writer Julian Fellows discussed the differences in having to ‘create’ the sudden nature of Matthew’s death and how, earlier in series 2, he was able to create a story arc that could dwell on Lady Sybil’s death.
 

 
The discussion quickly turned to the upcoming fourth series, which understandably centers around Lady Mary and her relationship with her family and her son, George, and even an attempt at finding another suitor. A couple bits of cocktail party trivia surfaced when Fellowes said the Grantham character was inspired by his father and then also revealed the inspiration behind the Grantham name as it was the name of the train stop where he was caught by police after skipping school with a friend.

While Downton Abbey 4 is just beginning in the U.S., UK audiences are readying themselves for the forthcoming Christmas Day episode which will serve as the finale of series 4 on both sides of the pond. Take heart, however. Filming for series 5 will begin in February of 2014.

PBS to ‘Unlock Sherlock’ on 1.12.14

December 14, 2013

One week to the day before the long-awaited/highly-anticipated premiere of the new third series of Sherlock on Masterpiece Mystery!, PBS will go behind-the-scenes to uncover the genius underlying the modern incarnation of the world’s most famous consulting detective and most-portrayed literary character in the history of the big and small screen, Sherlock Holmes. On Sunday, January 12 at 10pm ET/9pm CT, Unlocking Sherlock comes to PBS, immediately following the second episode of the other long-awaited/highly-anticipated series return, Downton Abbey.
 
Sherlock 3

In Unlocking Sherlock, find out how writers Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss created the television worldwide phenomenon that is Sherlock, taking Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original adventures of the Victorian super sleuth and transforming them into a worldwide sensation.

Ultimate fanboys, Steven and Mark will take viewers through the various versions of Holmes that have inspired them – the original stories, the factual inspirations, the thousands of film versions – to arrive at the thoroughly modern Sherlock. The program will also go behind the scenes on set with the stars of Sherlock, featuring interviews with lead actors Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock) and Martin Freeman (John Watson), and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Given the picture below, going BTS on the set of Sherlock will be well worth the price of admission.
 
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman clowning on set of Sherlock

If you’d like to get in a little light reading and pass the time until January, check out John Watson’s personal blog and Sherlock Holmes’ homepage, The Science of Deduction. And, finally, if you happened to have missed the first full-length trailer for the return of Sherlock…Cheers.
 

 

Check out this interactive SHERLOCK 3 promo trailer!

December 13, 2013

Ok, this is just about the coolest thing on Planet Earth. The BBC just released an interactive version of the Sherlock 3 teaser/trailer that while it’s mainly the same footage as the BBC One trailer, there is some embedded greatness. If you click at the right time on the words, “I want to know why”, “person that mattered most”, he’s got on with his life”, “an attack is coming” and “get to know London again” several exclusive show clips from series 3 are revealed.
 
Sherlock Series 3

As we are all acutely aware, the Sherlock 3 story picks up two years after the events of last season’s finale and reveals that Sherlock faked his own death to save the lives of Watson, landlady Mrs Hudson and Detective Inspector Lestrade. Had Sherlock been seen to survive, Moriarty would have had them all killed by assassins but as the villain is no more, his ‘resurrection’ is safe.

A exclusive embedded feature in the interactive trailer maps out a possible method for Sherlock’s dazzling illusion while another emphasizes the hero’s egoism as he utters the line “What life? I’ve been away”, after learning that Watson has left Baker Street and moved on with a new love interest.

Interactive viewers can then follow Sherlock into a restaurant to surprise Watson, hear him learn from his brother Mycroft that ‘an attack is coming’ and be introduced to possible new villain Charles Augustus Magnussen as he opens a case, enters a code into a keypad, turns a key and presses a button that can’t possibly activate anything that is good for us.

This is more brilliance than the law should allow, no questions asked. Click on the interactive trailer link and give it a go. And, remember, January is so close…

 

‘The Time of the Doctor’ video trailer – thank you Santa!

December 12, 2013

It’s hard to believe that the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who has only been in our rear-view mirror for less than three weeks. It was a great time to be a fan of The Doctor as there seemed to be something new and/or classic on the tube virtually every day. There has been a bit of separation anxiety ever since but, fear not, there’s always Christmas and the annual Doctor Who Christmas episode.
 
Doctor Who Christmas 2013

This year takes on a bit more importance as fans will ‘officially’ say goodbye to Matt Smith, who ends his tenure as the Eleventh Doctor, and hello to Peter Capaldi, the incoming Twelfth Doctor who will make his official debut in the Christmas and then return in late 2014 for his first full season as The Doctor. In this years Christmas episode, The Doctor must sacrifice everything to save a town called Christmas from the Time Lord’s greatest enemies. A change is going to come, and Silence will fall. This promises to be one not to be missed. Think about it. Besides a regeneration, it has Daleks, Cybermen, the Weeping Angels AND the Silence. This is going to be Doctor Who greatness.
 

 
‘The Time of the Doctor’ will air on Christmas Day at 7.30pm on BBC One, and then air in the US at 9/8c on BBC America. Tip: If you’re in the States, stay off Twitter and Facebook from around 2:30p-8:00p Christmas Day. Just trust me on this one.

What’s that in the air on PBS Dec 22? – It’s Mr. Stink, of course

December 11, 2013

I first crossed paths with Mr. Stink at the BBC Showcase meeting last February. At that time, we saw a simple one-time-only special with a big name cast grab the hearts of some of the most cynical television program executives attending the Liverpool screenings. Although it had already aired on BBC One on Christmas Day 2012, the hope amongst all attendees was that this would become the perennial holiday classic along the lines of It’s A Wonderful Life, Charlie Brown’s Christmas and How the Grinch Stole Christmas in the U.S.
 
Mr.-Stink

David Walliams’ best-selling children’s novel Mr Stink tells the touching, twisted and hilarious tales of Mr Stink, who is befriended by a local girl Chloe. Chloe sees Mr Stink every day, but she’s never spoken to him, which isn’t surprising, because he’s a tramp, and he stinks. (Good thing “Smell-O-Vision” or “AromaRama” never took off as a concept back in the 60′s, right?).

When it looks like Mr Stink might be driven out of town, Chloe hides her unusual friend in her garden shed. As she struggles to make sure no one sniffs out Mr Stink, her dad tries to hide a secret of his own, and the stage is set for an epic family confrontation. There is also one other person with an extraordinary secret: it turns out that there is more to Mr Stink than meets the eye… or nose.

Adapted by Walliams himself with Simon Nye of Men Behaving Badly fame and starring Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey, Twenty Twelve), Sheridan Smith (Jonathan Creek), David Walliams (Blandings, Big School, Little Britain) and introducing Nell Tiger Free as Chloe, this charming hour of family television comes to PBS on Sunday, December 22 at 7:00pmCT/8:00pm ET. Hopefully, it is destined to be a holiday classic.

What transpires over the course of the 60-minutes is as magical as the Jimmy Stewart film, It’s A Wonderful Life. All you have to do is believe….
 

Sherlock Returns! 1.19.14

December 10, 2013

Time has passed. Two years to be exact. “The terror alert has been raised to critical and an attack is coming“, says Mycroft. With the new teaser trailer that has been released for the forthcoming series of Sherlock, it’s abundantly clear that it’s just not right that television can be this good. Let’s just get right to it and stop talking…
 

 
UK readers remember to mark your calendars for Christmas Day. As if you don’t already have a mountain of great telly to watch that day, now you have one more to add to the mix with the Sherlock mini-episode that is set to transmit on 25 Dec and then the longer-than-the-law-should-allow wait is over on 1 January with the premiere of Sherlock “The Empty Hearse”.

U.S. fans, don’t get too cranky. The premiere of Sherlock “The Empty Hearse” on PBS’ Masterpiece is just around the corner on Sunday, January 19, 2014. Be there.

⬇ – 16 days until Christmas; ⬆ – 16 days until the ‘Downton Abbey Christmas Special’

December 9, 2013

In just a few short weeks, the Downton Abbey Christmas Special lands on ITV1. Never mind that most are in a panic at the moment when they hear there are only 16 days until Christmas. The glass is half full of water folks are also accessing their collective mind palace and calculating that there are only 16 days until a new Downton special.
 

 
With full knowledge that U.S. Downton fans have not had the good fortune to see season 4 as of yet (except those that magically found it on the Internets moments after its UK broadcast this Fall), we’ll limit the amount of information for the moment. What we can say is that it is, again, the summer season at Downton. Unlike last years Christmas special which saw the Crawley clan head north to Scotland, this year it is Rose’s ‘coming out’ so she is to be presented at Buckingham Palace. Only at Downton. The family and servants are at Grantham House, their London residence, preparing for the busy social program.

What will be worth waiting for for those unfortunate Downton fans Stateside who have to wait until Sunday, February 23, 2014 (as it will air as the final episode of series 4) on PBS, is the return of Martha Levinson (Shirley MacLaine) as she makes the journey from New York with her playboy son (and Cora’s brother) Harold (Paul Giamatti), fresh from his recent brush with the law. According to reports, this is just the tip of the iceberg of what is getting ready to unfold for the Crawleys.

Oh to hear what the Dowager Countess must be thinking at this very moment…

Call the Midwife Christmas Special headed to PBS on Dec 29 following Christmas Day premiere on BBC One

December 8, 2013

We must have all been good this year given the fact that we are in for some good telly in the coming weeks. If the news of the Downton Abbey Christmas Special, the Christmas Day Sherlock mini-episode broadcast or the New Years Day premiere of Sherlock 3 on BBC One wasn’t enough, we now get confirmation that Jenny, Trixie, Chummy and the ladies of Nonnatus House will return to BBC One on Christmas Day in the UK and on Sunday, December 29 on PBS in the States. The festive episode will air at 6:15pm on Christmas Day on BBC One and at 8:00pm CT/9:00pm ET on PBS.
 
Call_the_Midwife_Christmas_special_air_date_and_time_confirmed

While both sides of the pond ready themselves for the coming season of Call the Midwife as they leave the 50′s in their bike’s rear view mirror and get ready for the swinging 60′s, the Christmas special promises to be festive on one end, poignant on the other and all things in-between. Without giving away too much, we can divulge that the drama this year revolves around an unexploded WW2 bomb. Nothing screams Christmas like the presence of a UXB in London’s East End.
 

 
Call the Midwife – The Christmas Album

If you’re looking to bring a bit of Call the Midwife into your home for the holidays before Christmas Day, check out the just released CTM Christmas album.
 

Downton Abbey’s Carson as Father Christmas?

December 7, 2013

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Or is it?

To further showcase the incredible versatility of British actors, I bring you this. Jim Carter. a.k.a. Carson from Downton Abbey, appears in this special Greenpeace advert as a dishevelled Father Christmas threatening to cancel Xmas due to global warming and to raise awareness of the melting Arctic. The stark warning is part of Greenpeace’s Save The Arctic campaign, which is supported by Jude Law, Sir Paul McCartney and Madonna.
 

 
A Very Carson Christmas

For those of you who remember Ghosts of Christmas’ past, you’ll recall that Christmas is nothing new to Carson. He took to the airwaves last year on the Jonathan Ross show to bring everyone A Very Carson Christmas. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen the latenight commercials for the Ronco Inside the Shell Electric Egg Scrambler, Ron Popeil’s Pocket Fisherman or the Ginsu knives that could cut a metal can in half and still be sharp enough to slice a tomato to perfection. We’ve all seen the music compilation CD’s or DVD’s by that classic group, The Original Artists.

Finally, after endless years of infomercials, all advertising things you don’t really need, here’s something for the ultimate Downton Abbey fan, as compiled by Mr. Carson, the butler. We all know Carson. He is in charge of the pantry, wine cellar and dining room, and the male staff report to him. He has worked at Downton Abbey since he was a boy. He is also endlessly nostalgic for the way things were. so, what better qualifies him to bring you A Very Carson Christmas.
 

 
Don’t forget to call before 12midnight tonight to be the first on your block to get your very own copy to pop into the CD player and pass the time until the Sunday, January 5, 2014 premiere of the new series of Downton Abbey on PBS.

‘W1A’ to feature a post-2012 Olympics Hugh Bonneville heading to the BBC

December 6, 2013

As head of the 2012 Olympic Deliverance Commission, it’s pretty much a given that you will find yourself sacked after the London Olympics came to a close when Rowan Atkinson participated in the Closing Ceremonies. Fortunately, the now former head of the Commission has landed a new position as the BBC’s new Head of Values. Ian Fletcher, played brilliantly by Lord Grantham himself, Hugh Bonneville, is set to return in W1A, the postcode of Broadcasting House, the BBC’s central London headquarters.

As Head of Values, Bonneville’s Ian Fletcher character is now charged with the task of defining the core purpose of the BBC as it gears up for its’ charter renewal and a new license fee settlement in 2016. Besides Bonneville, also returning will be Jessica Hynes as PR guru Siobhan Sharpe.
 
Twenty Twelve: Jessica Hynes as Siobhan Sharpe and Hugh Bonneville as Ian Fletcher

Twenty Twelve writer John Morton, trying to curb fears that the new series will be one giant in-joke, fully grasps the concept and dangers of creating a BBC comedy about the BBC saying that W1A “…will highlight the absurdities of modern corporate life itself. The key principle is to operate at a level of reality just to the left or the right of fact, to create stories that haven’t actually happened but that could happen or might have happened.”

Mark Freeland, head of BBC in-house comedy, said: “This is a kind of love letter to the BBC. But a letter that gets mislaid, because the remote computer system is not working and head of recovery, BBC, is stuck in a blue sky brainstorming session in a meeting room that’s been double booked and anyway, the bean bags have gone missing.

For those coming a bit late to the Twenty Twelve party, check out a bit of its brilliance, which is set to premiere on a number of public television stations across the U.S. beginning in February 2014 (including KERA in North Texas).
 

 
As for the forthcoming four-part W1A, I already have space reserved on my DVR. How about you?

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