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Queen’s cousin joins cast of ‘Downton Abbey 4′

July 28, 2013

Flora Oglivy, 45th in line to the throne joins cast of Downton Abbey 4As production continues on Downton Abbey 4, given recent cast additions, there will probably be a telly or two in Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, Kensington Palace, Clarence House and Balmoral Castle tuned in when the series returns in September on ITV1 in the UK (January 5, 2014 in the States). According to Royal Central, the leading independent source for the latest news on the British Royal Family, Flora Ogilvy, who is the first cousin twice removed of Her Majesty The Queen will be given a role in the new series of Downton Abbey.

The 18-year-old granddaughter of Princess Alexandra, 45th in line to the throne, is to take the role of an extra in the cast as opposed to a main character on set. She recently joined cast and crew filming for the show while on her gap-year after finishing at Rugby School, one of the oldest independent boarding schools in Britain. Flora is due to start at St Andrews University in September when Downton will return for its fourth series.

Ogilvy is the daughter of James Ogilvy, who is the son of HRH Princess Alexandra. Princess Alexandra is, in turn, a first cousin of Her Majesty The Queen through George V.

Rest assured, Miss Ogilvy will not miss any royal engagement responsibilities…she doesn’t perform any, living as a private citizen. She does attend the annual Trooping the Colour and the balcony appearance at Buckingham Palace thereafter.

What? Blackadder at German prisoner-of-war camp, Colditz Castle?

July 27, 2013

Unfortunately, we’ve all heard the endless rumors before. The last one was the idea of setting Blackadder in the swingin’ 60′s as a Dave Clark Five-type band with a drummer by the name of Bald Rick. The newest addition to the rumor mill making its way around the Internets has Blackadder in the German prisoner-of-war camp, Colditz Castle. This, however, may be a bit more of an idea than a rumor after an appearance by producer John Lloyd as he revealed on BBC Breakfast that he and star Rowan Atkinson had the idea of making either a new series of the show, or a feature film, based around the World War II setting.

Rowan and I had this great idea, because we’re all getting a bit old now, of doing a ‘Dad’s Army’, that they are a platoon in Walmington-on-Sea, and they get kidnapped by a German submarine and taken to Colditz and they all have to escape.” While he did admit that all those involved in the program have their own projects to concentrate on so it may never advance beyond the idea stage but, he added that “Tony Robinson is probably very nearly 70 now and it would be just about the right age, and I think quite funny, don’t you?

Ok, while it would be a bit difficult to ‘get the band back together’ from a scheduling standpoint, one of the primary hurdles of getting Hugh Laurie to carve out time has gotten a boost now that Dr. Gregory House has hung up his stethoscope. Even though his time and efforts have shifted to focus on his first love of blues music, I’m just sayin’ there could be a chance…

Now empty, BBC Television Centre bits up for auction

July 26, 2013

As we reported in a recent Tellyspotting report, the classic BBC Television Centre is like the parrot in a Monty Python sketch. It has ceased to be. It’s an ex-Television Centre. Bereft of life, the Centre has gone to meet the choir invisible. Like Elvis, production staff and crew have left the building.

Now that staff has gone, the auctioneers have moved in, selling off everything that’s not nailed down (and some things that were) and left behind in the old office space (unfortunately, no red staplers that I could find). Phase 1 of the auction, which focused on the BBC Canteen, closed on 27 June. The remainder of Phase 2, which features office and memorabilia, closes within the next 24 hours so make your first bid your best bid.

Just in case you think there’s nothing you can’t live without, there are over 1200 lots of items that are up for sale. While some have closed, there are still an endless number of items that no home should be without. Unfortunately, one of the must-have items from my standpoint just closed last night…a replica Kryten head from Red Dwarf. Would have looked great on anyone’s mantle, don’t you think?
Replica Kryten head 1

Another item that might be of particular interest to British comedy fans, beyond the Orville Redenbacher popcorn machine that was in the Television Centre’s breakroom, obviously, that also sadly closed just last night was a quite fashionable Exorcist head from French and Saunders. That said, even though a lot of the cool memorabilia is gone, there’s lots of cool retro furniture from Television Centre and an endless quantity of ‘various BBC sound effects on Vinyl’ available. Remember, you can’t win if you don’t bid.

‘Spaced’: The beginning of ‘The World’s End’?

July 25, 2013

Having been one of the ‘chosen ones’ to have been able to see a pre-screening of the Edgar Wright/Simon Pegg film, The World’s End, my mind immediately began to wander (no comments, please) as I left the cinema to just how much I love the earlier Channel 4 comedy series, Spaced. Brilliantly conceived and written by Jessica Hynes (Twenty Twelve) and Simon Pegg, co-starring the greatness of Nick Frost and directed by Edgar Wright to perfection, it’s hard to believe that it’s been almost 15 years since Spaced premiered.

Thinking back on their prior efforts before they made the leap to the big screen with Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and now, The World’s End, there is obvious cinema-love going on here. With Spaced it was brilliant. Thankfully, one of the beauties of the Internet is that, most likely, when you think of something, someone has already compiled everything together in brilliant fashion. In this case, the Digital Spy folks have done just that with Spaced. A huge tip of the hat to them for putting my post-screening thoughts into words and video.

Spaced “Robot Fight Club”

The first rule of Robot Club is, you do not talk about Robot Club!” With a ‘what if’ nod to what would happen if the worlds of Philippa Forrester, host of Robot Wars and Brad Pitt, star of Fight Club crossed paths, this episode featured Tim (Pegg) and Mike (Frost) attempt to reclaim their masculinity by constructing their own Robot Wars-style machine and do battle in an underground fight club. What happens? In a word, carnage.

Spaced “Star Wars: Team Briefing”

Here, Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back nods all around as the Colin rescue briefing scene below, complete with role assignment and a a bit of a tricked up John Williams remix.

Spaced “The Matrix: Say Hello to my Little Friend”

This clip is actually better than any The Matrix sequel to be honest. In the premiere of series 2, Daisy returns to find herself targeted by a pair of sharp-suited ‘agents’ played by Mark Gatiss and Kevin Eldon. The standout moment happens in a pub (maybe a precursor to The World’s End perhaps?) and a fast-paced fight scene.

Spaced “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest: Kitchen Nightmare”

Daisy (Hynes) takes a job in a restaurant kitchen only to have her soul crushed by boss Tina, (Cuckoo’s Nest’s Nurse Ratched) played by Joanna Scanlan. The usual Edgar Wright attention to detail plays out with the near-perfect aligning of other characters in the scene to their movie counterparts to pay tribute to this Jack Nicholson classic.

Spaced “Pulp Fiction: Pop Fiction”

Jessica Hynes is Bruce Willis and Nick Frost is John Travolta in this great bit saluting Quentin Tarantino’s 1994 masterpiece. While Pulp Fiction has been parodied endlessly over the past two decades, nobody has really tackled this moment before or since Spaced.

Thanks again to Digital Spy for their compilation, thanks to those that made the original movies and special thanks to Simon Pegg, Jessica Hynes, Edgar Wright and Nick Frost for their deep appreciation of cinema. The World’s End premieres Friday, August 23 in theaters across the U.S.

Sherlock 4 confirmed as we get title confirmations for Sherlock 3!

July 24, 2013

The great thing about every day that passes is that it means we are one day closer to when Sherlock 3 transmits no matter where you hang your hat on Planet Earth. On the heels of the minimal teases and spoilers that came out of last weeks San Diego Comic-Con regarding any hint as to how Holmes survives the fall off the rooftop of St Barts, we now have titles for the three feature films (still can’t bring myself to call them ‘episodes’ as they are ‘feature film’ good) that will comprise the upcoming series 3. Drum roll please…

The Empty Hearse, The Sign of Three & His Last Vow

Written by Steven Moffat, filming is set to begin on Monday, 29 July, with the title being a bit of a play upon the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle short story entitled, ‘His Last Bow’, which is the final chronological story written to feature Sherlock Holmes and Doctor John Watson.
just how does sherlock survive fall from st barts rooftop

AND, the big Sherlock news coming out of San Diego….

No, not how he survives the rooftop fall. Even better. While Benedict Cumberbatch did let it slip earlier this year that he had signed up for another bit of telly greatness, producer Sue Vertue confirmed the news by saying that both Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman had been ‘optioned’ for a fourth series! “There is definitely going to be a fourth series,” she said. “We just haven’t decided when we’re going to do it…I think as long as everyone wants to keep doing it, we’ll keep doing it.

Don’t know about you, but that’s enough for me to take it to the bank and start looking for clues in series 3 as to what series 4 will be about.

First glimpse of Benedict Cumberbatch as Julian Assange in The Fifth Estate

July 23, 2013

In 2006, an Iceland-based outfit called The Sunshine Press launched the website WikiLeaks.org. The site’s mandate involved regularly publishing top-secret documents and covert information, often regarding governments and their respective military operations. By creating a platform that allowed whistleblowers to anonymously leak covert data, a huge debate ensued between those who admired the organization’s courage and resourcefulness, and those who argued that the dissemination of data regarding such events as the U.S. war in Afghanistan could put untold numbers of lives at risk.

Starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Australian Internet activist, Julian Assange, The Fifth Estate is based on real events and adapted from the book by and told from the point of view of Assange’s friend Daniel Domscheit-Berg (Daniel Brühl). It follows the journey of Assange and his colleagues as the controversial website and its founder become their own media story and WikiLeaks’ popularity sparks a conflict between the two Internet sleuths.

As you can see from the first trailer that has just been released, the story begins as WikiLeaks founder Assange and Domscheit-Berg team up to become underground watchdogs of the privileged and powerful. However, when Assange and Berg gain access to the biggest trove of confidential intelligence documents in U.S. history, they battle each other and what has become the defining question of our time: what are the costs of keeping secrets in a free society—and what are the costs of exposing them?

With a targeted release date of October 11 in the States, look for Downton Abbey-ex, Dan Stevens, playing the role of Ian Katz, former deputy editor of The Guardian and one of the newspapers original contacts with WikiLeaks. Katz left the Guardian this month and has joined the BBC as editor of BBC 2′s Newsnight beginning in September. Also, Peter Capaldi (The Thick of It, The Hour) stars as Guardian editor, Alan Rusbridger.

Doctor Who at Comic-Con; BBC reveals plans for 50th

July 22, 2013

The Tardis lands in San Diego at Comic-Con

comic-conNot to be outdone by Sherlock, it was all Doctor Who as San Diego Comic-Con 2013 came to a close on Sunday. As with the earlier Sherlock panel, there were more than enough spoiler hints and teases to keep those that had been camping out for almost 24 hours to get in on the edge of their seats for the next four months and the broadcast of the 50th anniversary special.

Hosted by the greatness that is Craig Ferguson, the Doctor Who panel was led by showrunner Steven Moffat, “…the man who killed Amy and Rory, as introduced by Ferguson. According to Digital Spy, the biggest highlights, without question, from the panel were the clips from both Mark Gatiss’ Adventure in Space and Time, starring David Bradley as William Hartnell, AND the upcoming 50th anniversary special.

Respectfully adhering to stern requests to refrain from uploading the trailer online and sadly for those of us not in attendance, there is nothing to show. (Insert sad face here). But, I think I’ll make it to November given Steven Moffat’s post-trailer comment, “You have seen nothing, trust me“.

BBC announces 50th plans for Doctor Who

Regarding the 50th, the BBC confirmed later in the day that the Daleks will play a major role in the upcoming anniversary special. Matt Smith, along with former Doctor, David Tennant, and mysterious new Doctor, John Hurt, will battle the scariest villains of all-time in his final arc as the Doctor. With the announcement, the Beeb also tweeted out three stills from the special that is set to air 23 November on BBC One (and, most likely, the same day on BBC America in the States).
Daleks to battle the Doctor during 50th anniversary 1

Moffat said of the Daleks’ return: “The Doctor once said that you can judge a man by the quality of his enemies, so it’s fitting that for this very special episode, he should be facing the greatest enemies of all.

Just four months from tomorrow, but who’s counting…

R.I.P. Mel Smith

July 21, 2013

Not the Nine O'Clock News with Mel Smith

Mel Smith, English comedian, writer, film director, producer and actor, best known for his pioneering work on the sketch comedy shows Not the Nine O’Clock News and Alas Smith and Jones has died of a heart attack at the age of 60. Smith and comedy partner, Griff Rhys Jones, founded Talkback in 1981, which grew to be one of the UK’s largest producers of TV comedy and light entertainment programming.

To this day, one of my favorites was the late 70′s/early 80′s series, Not the Nine O’Clock News, in which Smith starred alongside Rowan Atkinson and Griff Rhys Jones. The series, which featured satirical sketches on current news stories and popular culture, premiered on BBC2 as the comedy alternative to the Nine O’Clock News, the flagship BBC news program which was a staple of BBC 1 programming for just over 30 years.

Not the Nine O’Clock News: I’d like to buy a Grammaphone

Not the Nine O’Clock News: Gerald, the Gorilla

Not the Nine O’Clock News: Life of Brian controversy

Following Not the Nine O’Clock News, Smith and Jones, along with for Not the Nine O’Clock News alumni, Chris Langham (The Thick of It, People Like Us), teamed up for Alas Smith and Jones, the brilliant sketch comedy series that ran on the BBC from 1984 to 1998.

Alas Smith and Jones: Police Complaint

Commenting on Twitter, Graham Linehan (Count Arthur Strong, The IT Crowd, Father Ted, Black Books) fondly remembered Smith for providing the outlet for one of his and writing partner Arthur Mathews’ first sketches on Alas Smith and Jones.
Graham Linehan (Glinner) on Twitter

Rowan Atkinson commented on the sad news of Smith’s passing: “Mel Smith – a lovely man of whom I saw too little in his later years. I loved the sketches that we did together on Not the Nine O’Clock News. He was the cast member with whom I felt the most natural performing empathy. He had a wonderfully generous and sympathetic presence both on and off screen. He was also an excellent theatre and movie director, doing a wonderful job on the first Mr Bean movie. I feel truly sad at his parting.

And finally, Stephen Fry paid tribute to the iconic comedian.
Stephen Fry (stephenfry) on Twitter

R.I.P. Mel Smith. You will be missed.

Sherlock takes over Comic-Con 2013!

July 20, 2013

As if any of us need another reason to want to be in San Diego. Somehow, however, Comic-Con 2013 trumps the traditional San Diego weather forecast of a low of 71/high of 72 as being THE reason to be there this week. If any of us needed more of a reason to be jealous of those in attendance this year, attendees of Thursday’s Sherlock panel were treated to exclusive footage from series three of, without question, the reason why television was invented.
Sherlock panel SDCC2013

***Warning: Upcoming Sherlock 3 SPOILER ALERT***

Coming up after a genius bit of video from Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch played at SDCC2013, series co-creators, Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, along with producer Sue Vertue, gave the packed house a bit of a hint as to what’s in store for Sherlock fans worldwide in series 3. Stay away from the light if you don’t want to know. But, watch the video as Benedict explains brilliantly how Sherlock survives the rooftop fall from St Barts…using a stuffed monkey, obviously.

***Cue Sherlock 3 SPOILER ALERT bits***

Hot off the presses from a hundred years ago: John does get married and so the clip centers around a touching, funny scene in which Watson is asking Sherlock to be his best man. After some trademark tangents from Sherlock on what, exactly, makes a ‘best man’, he says ‘I’m your best man?’ ‘You are my best friend,’ Watson replies,” said Moffat. With that, the hall collapsed into a chorus of a collective “awww.”

Citing things would be “…slightly more human, and slightly more real”, Moffat then went on to explain the devastating impact the rooftop fall had on Watson. “Sherlock and John reuniting is the show-stopper of the episode”, Moffat says, calling their reunion an ‘electrifying‘ and ‘lengthy sequence‘ and might just be his favorite ever Sherlock moment.

Other bits of Sherlock 3 spoiler gold from Comic-Con….

  • During the discussion of the possibility of  Holmes’ much speculated love life, Moffat laughed and said ““A girlfriend? He’d poison a girlfriend just to see if it worked.
  • Also confirmed was that Andrew Scott would be returning, but that Moriarity, whom he played, was definitely dead. Moffat further explained the complexities behind the character’s demise. “He shoots himself in the brains. You don’t come back from that.
  • Moffat, once again, confirmed that the mystery of Holmes’ death is easily solvable from clues provided so far. “There’s only so many ways you can fall off a roof and survive. It’s not black magic.
  • Finally, co-creator/writer Mark Gatiss discussed Sherlock’s assistant Molly. “Molly was not meant to be a big part, initially,” Gatiss said, then elaborating that the pair’s relationship had become “touching” and that Molly was one of the only people Sherlock trusted.

I’m in for Sherlock 3, how about you?

Simon Pegg, Edgar Wright and Nick Frost lead us to ‘The World’s End’

July 19, 2013

As we speak, UK moviegoers are experiencing The World’s End courtesy of Simon Pegg, Edgar Wright and Nick Frost. The ‘unofficial’ end to the ‘unofficial’ Cornetto trilogy, as deemed by fans of their predecessors, Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, premieres today in theatres across the UK with an August 23 premiere date slated for the U.S.

Centered around one man’s quest to conquer ‘The Golden Mile’ in Newton Haven, Gary King (Pegg) gets the band back together after 20 years for a relatively simple task — 5 guys, 12 pints. Seemed simple at the beginning, anyway, when the boys entered The First Post, their first stop on the golden mile. Let’s just leave it that Newton Haven has changed a bit since the boys left town back in the 90′s.

The idea for The World’s End, according to Wright, was the simple result of a real-life pub crawl he set out on early in life. “I had tried to do it in my home town in Somerset, which is actually the place where we shot Hot Fuzz, and had failed miserably, by the way, at the age of 19, said Wright. It was a particularly memorable night even though I’d only got through six of the 15 pubs.”

To further solidify why I love all that seems to circle around inside Edgar Wright’s mind palace, Wright decided to ask all of his friends from the original pub crawl to the premiere of The World’s End. “I’ve invited all of the people who came on the pub crawl with me to the premiere. Two of them I haven’t seen in over 10 years. It’s going to be amazing.“.

Wright added that he had taken both Simon Pegg and Nick Frost on a follow-up pub crawl in Somerset before they shot Shaun of the Dead in 2004. “What was interesting was that second time around I was aware how pathetic it was trying to recapture this night from when I was a teenager.

Thankfully, I haven’t tried to revisit my early 80′s ‘alphabet pub crawl’ in London. I did, however, make it to the letter ‘G’, I think, getting to The George. Never made it to the Lamb & Flag, unfortunately, which would have been almost the halfway point milestone marker leaving The Nags Head for another day but, that’s another story for another day.

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