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10 October – The day the UK will be ‘Breathless’

October 2, 2013

Call the Midwife meets Downton Abbey?

Ok, so Breathless, admittedly, is a period drama set in a hospital but that’s like describing Red Green as Monty Python meets This Old House. I guess it partly makes sense given there are a couple of Kevin Bacon connections between the newest addition to the ITV drama line-up and Downton Abbey. Breathless will have two former Downton Abbey alumni walking the hospital halls in Zoe Boyle, who played Lavinia, Matthew Crawley’s sickly fiance, in the second series of Downton Abbey and Iain Glen (Game of Thrones), who played Mary’s one-time fiance, newspaper mogul Sir Richard Carlisle.

Breathless, which stars Jack Davenport (Coupling, Pirates of the Caribbean), follows the lives of a group of doctors and nurses working in a London hospital, a world in which everything and everyone has their place. Like all good telly dramas, Breathless is full of lies, deception and guilty secrets, all conveniently driven by love, ambition and sex.

The series opens in 1961, a time when Britain was on the brink of the Sixties revolution. Abortion is illegal and the pill is only just becoming available to married women. Set in and around a busy gynaecology unit, medicine becomes the perfect backdrop to play out the shifting and complex moral codes of early 1960s society.
 

 
A co-production between ITV Studios and PBS’ Masterpiece in the U.S., Breathless premieres Thursday, 10 October on ITV and tentatively set for a Fall 2014 premiere in the States on PBS.

There is life after ‘Downton Abbey’ for Lady Sybil

October 1, 2013

The good news for Jessica Brown Findlay, who played Lady Sybil in Downton Abbey, is that there is life after leaving the most popular period drama on Planet Earth. With the second episode of the new season topping out a 9.5 million viewers in the UK on Sunday night, the thought of leaving had to be a very difficult decision for both Findlay and her series co-star, Dan Stevens (Matthew Crawley), who abruptly left at the conclusion of series three.
 
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While it’s still way too early in the game to tell for both Brown Findlay or Stevens, it’s not looking like a regrettable decision for either as the actress will star as Mary Yellan in a new adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s Jamaica Inn appearing alongside The Paradise‘s Matthew McNulty. Set in the late 19th century, Jamaica Inn tells the story of Mary who is forced to move in with her Aunt Patience after the death of her mother. But the woman who greets her is far removed from the carefree soul she remembers, with her life at Jamaica Inn largely governed by her domineering husband, Joss, whom she quickly discovers is the head of a smuggling ring.
 
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After leaving Downton Abbey during season two when her character, Lady Sybil, died in childbirth, Brown Findlay admitted she had been afraid of becoming “…too comfortable in the role” saying she she had not wanted to play Lady Sybil for years and then “…discover it was the only thing I could do.”

Both Findlay and Stevens, as have a number of actors who have portrayed the Traveling Time Lord over the years, have expressed fears of becoming ‘too comfortable’ or ‘typecast’ in their current roles and then faced the reality of leaving a series that is both a huge audience hit and critically acclaimed beyond belief. A decision you can either look back on as the right decision or regret the rest of your career. After a brief stint on American Broadway in “The Heiress”, Stevens can be seen in the upcoming Wikileaks feature, “The Fifth Estate”, starring Sherlock‘s Benedict Cumberbatch, and then join Liam Neeson in “A Walk Among The Tombstones”.

Jamaica Inn, the three-part drama, which has been dramatized by The White Queen screenwriter Emma Frost begins filming this week on location in Cornwall, Yorkshire and Cumbria.

The Fifth Estate with Benedict Cumberbatch

September 30, 2013

Get ready for The Fifth Estate.

With the UK release scheduled for 11 October followed by the October 18 premiere in the United States, The Fifth Estate starring Benedict Cumberbatch who took a break from STar Trek, The Hobbit and Sherlock to star as Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange, plunges us into the age of high-stakes secrecy, explosive news leaks and the trafficking of classified information.

As Benedict Cumberbatch and the film’s director, Bill Condon, reveal in this short feature, the film is more about citizen journalism in the internet age with the title of the film taking it’s name from the phrase attributed to bloggers and online journalists who often position themselves as watchdogs to traditional media than it is about determining whether or not transparency in the form of Wikileaks is good or bad.
 

 
As you can see. they are clear from the outset that this is not a documentary but merely an attempt to show all sides of an issue in the form of a journalistic cinematic thriller. Besides Benedict Cumberbatch, the film boasts a stellar cast including Daniel Brühl, Stanley Tucci, Laura Linney and Peter Capaldi.

Based, in part, on Daniel Domscheit-Berg’s book about Wikileaks and its founder, THE FIFTH ESTATE reveals the website’s central purpose to expose the deceptions and corruptions of power that, ultimately, turned the Internet upstart into the 21st century’s most fiercely debated organization. The story begins as WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and his colleague Daniel Domscheit-Berg (Daniel Brühl) team up to become underground watchdogs of the privileged and powerful. On a shoestring, they create a platform that allows whistleblowers to anonymously leak covert data, shining light on the dark recesses of government secrets and corporate crimes. Soon, they are breaking more hard news than the world’s most legendary media organizations combined. But its when Assange and Berg gain access to the biggest trove of confidential intelligence documents in U.S. history, that they begin to battle each other and raise the ultimate defining question of our time — what are the costs of keeping secrets in a free society, and what are the costs of exposing them?”

No matter what side you come down on with respect to Wikileaks and/or Julian Assange, this really looks like it will be worth the time and effort to see.

Michael Kitchen looks back on ‘Foyle’s War’ as series 7 comes to a close

September 29, 2013


 
As the sun sets tonight on PBS with the season ending episode of Foyle’s War “Sunflower”, Michael Kitchen spoke recently with the Associated Press sharing his thoughts on bringing DCS Christopher Foyle to life. Kitchen, a highly respected British theater actor and noted film and television actor, rarely talks to the media which makes this all the more special to be able to share.

Michael Kitchen has no regrets over a spending a decade with Foyle’s War

AP – LOS ANGELES — Christopher Foyle, the World War II English police detective turned postwar spy catcher, is a man of few words. Michael Kitchen, the actor who plays him, also tends to limit his public utterances, at least to the media. For film-goers, Kitchen may long be remembered for his small but precisely drawn performance in Out of Africa as Robert Redford’s friend who succumbs bravely to illness, or in Enchanted April as a man visited by unexpected romance.
 
Michael Kitchen as DCS Christopher Foyle on PBS Masterpiece

Whatever the case, precision is Kitchen’s hallmark, such as the level gaze or tilt of the head he uses to great effect in Foyle’s War, which wraps its latest PBS season tonight. More episodes are in the works for next year and there are hopes for “many more seasons” ahead, said Mark Stevens, head of producer-distributor Acorn, which released the show on DVD this week and is streaming it on Acorn TV.

In an email exchange, Kitchen discussed breaking a vow, his career and the symbol of respect for war’s casualties that he keeps close.

AP: Why did you decide to return to the role of Foyle in the postwar episodes?
Kitchen: There was not one good reason not to. It’s the case that, as a younger man, I’d sworn never to become a TV detective and although signing up for the show at the very beginning was never an issue, I couldn’t shift a lingering guilt for letting the younger guy down. So it’s a fact that I had suggested fairly early on — and on more than one occasion and not least because I believed it — that moving the character into Intelligence (work) might be less confining than the obligation to a weekly Hastings murder. So, as far as this series is concerned, there was no decision to make. Happy and guilt-free with the move and I concede the timing’s right to move him now; I’d been a bit premature.

AP: Unless you perceive it otherwise, Foyle appears to be the defining role of your career and clearly is a character embraced by the audience.
Kitchen: It’s certainly defined the last 10 years because I’ve done little else. This isn’t a complaint; having enjoyed the 30 previous years avoiding definition, it’s a privilege to be able to wait for projects that 100 percent fulfill the criteria, of which there have been, theater and radio aside, perhaps only about six. All worth the wait.

AP: Did you see it as a possible turning point in your career, from a respected character actor to leading man at midlife?
Kitchen: Less a turning point than a consequence of the turning point which had happened some while before. But it did come at a time when my attitude to the business had changed considerably, and whereas before I’d turned down a good handful of long-term offers for various reasons, this now felt right, good and very acceptable.

AP: When you were a youngster, did members of your family share their wartime experiences? If so, did any of those memories influence your work on the original Foyle’s War series set during WWII?
Kitchen: I can’t say they did, directly. My dad had a small suitcase stuffed with photos, mementos from wherever he’d traveled as a Royal Navy gunner. Not that he gunned very much, as it turned out. I’d haul it out and go through it time and time again. That world, that war, that time, in that suitcase, the smell, the feel, the aura, the weight of it, I carried with me and still do: A poppy hangs in my car 365 days a year.

For those in the North Texas area watching Foyle’s War on KERA, you can see the season ender tonight at 8:00pm on Masterpiece Mystery!. If you’re new to the series or just want to go back and watch some brilliant telly without having to binge watch, KERA will be airing Foyle’s War on a weekly basis from the first episode on Thursdays at 9:00pm CT beginning October 24.

Martin Freeman: From Sherlock to Fargo

September 28, 2013

How does Martin Freeman, who plays Dr. John Watson in the BBC/PBS series Sherlock, plan on passing the time from the excruciatingly long wait between the premiere of Sherlock 3 and the hopefully inevitable filming of Sherlock 4? Like the rest of us, head to Fargo, of course. According to the Hollywood Reporter, his next role will see him taking on the American television landscape in FX’s remake of the Coen brothers’ 1996 film Fargo.
 
Martin Freeman joins cast of FX's Fargo

Knowing my ‘love’ for remakes s I’m sure you do, you won’t be surprised when I admit to being instantly mortified when I first heard of the cable networks plans to create a small screen version of the film classic. There simply was no socially redeeming value in attempting to recreate perfection. That said, with the addition of Freeman to the cast along with the already named Billy Bob Thornton, I may suspend my usual knee jerk gut reaction when it comes to remakes. Admittedly, it will be tough. No Frances McDormand, no William H. Macy, no Steve Buscemi, no Peter Stormare, whom you may not know the name but you’ll recognize his part in Fargo when you see the name of the band he plays in…Blonde from Fargo and, potentially, no woodchipper.
 
Fargo-1996

Freeman will play Lester Nygaard, the uninspired car salesman with a desperate need to sell undercoating which was originally portrayed brilliantly by William H Macy in the Coen brothers film. Sounds like the small screen adaptation will take roughly the same storyline but with a bit of different twist with the introduction of Lorne Malvo, played by Billy Bob Thorton, a mysterious stranger who comes to town changing Lester’s life forever. Since the woodchipper kind of put an end to the original storyline, the updated series will follow an all-new ‘true crime’ story with a new case and characters but, thankfully, all nicely wrapped in the humor, murder and ‘Minnesota nice’ of the original.

Production on the initial 10-part series is set to begin in October in Calgary and Canada with a spring 2014 target for an FX premiere. If you haven’t seen the original film…go rent, download, stream now.
 

It’s The IT Crowd finale – The Internet is Coming…tonight on Channel 4!

September 27, 2013

Graham Linehan, the genius behind the likes of The IT Crowd, Black Books, Father Ted and, more recently, Count Arthur Strong has done it again. While the rest of Planet Earth continues to endlessly debate the merits or shortcomings of the series finales of The Sopranos, Dexter and Breaking Bad while speculating on the Spring 2015 finale of Mad Men, Linehan makes it Christmas in September with his gift of an IT Crowd finale for all the world to see….well, the UK world anyway.

Airing tonight at 9:00pm on Channel 4 in the UK, the reputations of Roy, Jen and that of Reynholm Industries are at risk when an incident involving spilt coffee and a homeless person ends up on the internet. While it seems like a lifetime ago since we last trolled the basement of Reynholm Industries, it’s only been three years. Still, Roy, Jen, Moss and, even, Douglas are like family.
 

 
While, sadly, I have not seen the ‘finale’ as yet, check out this brilliant non-spoiler review from Den of Geek and then, after tonight, let us know what you think. In the meantime, check out this classic scene from the third season of the series when Jen was introduced to and, subsequently, given the Internet. Lucky girl…
 

 
After the show and before you turn your laptop off and back on again, head on over to your favorite tablet device and play the IT Crowd internet game where you can assist Jen, Moss and Roy in protecting Reynholm Industries from all kinds of electronic bad stuff.

Sherlock in LEGO anyone?

September 26, 2013

For my money, if it’s good enough for the Winchester Pub, it has to be good enough for Sherlock. With over 10,000 votes of support, the thought of a LEGO version of the BBC/PBS Sherlock is a bit closer to reality…only a bit, unfortunately, as the LEGO Group and the Cuusoo team still have to consider and vote on the possibility.
 
Sherlock in Lego 1

Brilliantly created by Flailx, a.k.a. Peter Hale, the Sherlock LEGO design exists at present in two different scales, with the 630 piece expanded version featuring Sherlock’s couch and iconic wallpaper along with a full range of LEGO mini-figures of Sherlock Holmes, John Watson, Mrs Hudson, Jim Moriarty, Molly Hooper, DI Lestrade and Mycroft Holmes.

The smaller set, containing 370 pieces and featuring Sherlock Holmes, John Watson and Mrs. Hudson, Sherlock’s landlady, recreates the consultation room from 221B Baker St. Designed with the adult fan of the series (and LEGO’s, of course) in mind, the room is packed with books and features two comfortable chairs, a cozy fireplace and Holmes’ desk with reading lamp. There is also a side table with teapot, and a hat rack topped with the iconic Deer Stalker.
 
Sherlock in Lego - the Consultation room

As one can imagine, the Sherlock fan base got the attention of the LEGO CUUSOO Team by reaching the required 10,000 votes in a mere 26 days. 10,000 supporters is key as that’s where the review stage of CUUSOO kicks in, with LEGO officially looking into whether they’d create a set based on the idea or not. It would be slotted into the review for Winter 2013 as there’s a currently a lengthy backlog of supported projects awaiting LEGO’s judgement.

In the meantime…enjoy until the ‘official’ LEGO set becomes a reality, he said confidently.
 

‘The Wrong Mans’ Rule #1: Next time, don’t answer the phone…

September 25, 2013

The Wrong Mans Rule #1 – After witnessing a horrific car crash on a desolate country road, never ever answer the dead driver’s ringing mobile. If only Sam Pinkett had read rule #1.

Blessed with both laziness and lack of ambition, Sam (Mathew Baynton) spends his days as a lowly Town Planning and Noise Guidance Advisor at Berkshire County Council. His buddy, Phil Bourne (James Corden), works in the mailroom at the County Council building. While Sam’s life is boring and painful, Phil longs for some excitement and adventure beyond what the mailroom has to offer.

Created by and starring James Corden (Gavin & Stacey) and Mathew Baynton (Horrible Histories, Spy), last nights premiere of The Wrong Mans on BBC Two, where Sam failed to follow rule #1, the two well-meaning idiots and viewers alike were immediately tossed into a world of crime, international conspiracy and corruption.
 

 
Reminiscent of the BBC’s earlier online greatness with Being Human, the coolness experience is ramped up a bit with additional online content added each week as an extension to each episode. Noel Ward (Tom Basden), the nosy, irritating work colleague from Berkshire County Council who sits at the desk opposite Sam and is the bane of his existence, has his own storyline that UK viewers can access via The Red Button and online.

After every episode, Noel will release a new section from his dossier of evidence he’s gathered on Sam, as he begins to notice his colleague’s strange behavior and starts to suspect the plot he’s involved in. As you will see, Noel’s first efforts to out Sam starts by interviewing work colleagues. You can also check out Noel’s blog diary as he attempts to obtain any information that might be used in any future disciplinary proceedings and/or courtroom dramas.
 

 
The Wrong Mans airs Tuesdays at 9pm on BBC Two and will come stateside on Hulu Plus in November. Well worth checking out.

Introducing…Doctor Puppet

September 24, 2013

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There are some things that exist on the Internets that need no introduction. Doctor Puppet happens to be close to, if not at, the top of the list. Brooklyn based fan and animator Alisa Stern is behind the brilliant Doctor Puppet series, which follows the adventures of the Doctor(s) rendered in stop motion. The stop motion process is massively painstaking which makes this all the more unbelievably cool. For more information on just how Alisa created the series, click here. The equally as brilliant score was done by Scott Ampleford. Enjoy.

How the Doctor Puppet Saved Christmas
 

 
Doctor Puppet Ep1 – The Red X

The Doctor Puppet finds a strange note on his TARDIS that leads him on a mysterious adventure. Who will he meet along the way?
 

 
Doctor Puppet Ep2 – The Conjunction of Eleven

In episode 2 of Doctor Puppet, the Doctor discovers that the mystery of the letter is much bigger than he imagined, and might involve some unexpected characters.
 

 
Doctor Puppet Ep3 – The Doctor in the Garden

In episode 3 of Doctor Puppet, the Doctor travels into his own past to make sure it’s still safe.
 

 
Doctor Puppet Ep4 – Smoke and Mirrors

In episode 4 of Doctor Puppet, the Doctor finds a familiar enemy in a strange place.
 

 
Hooked yet? If so, you can follow the Doctor Puppet on social media:

http://www.doctorpuppet.tumblr.com
http://www.facebook.com/TheDoctorPuppet
http://twitter.com/TheDoctorPuppet

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