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‘Death in Paradise’ returns as DI Poole becomes island statistic

December 30, 2013

As a journalist, you’re told from the beginning not to become ‘the story’. For Ben Miller, the star of the BBC drama, Death in Paradise, you definitely don’t want your character to become the story. With the new season set to premiere on BBC One on 14 January, Miller’s character, DI Richard Poole, will fall victim to the island’s virulent crime rate. According to the BBC press reports, viewers will see DI Poole murdered before the opening credits of the first episode, with his replacement DI Humphrey Goodman, played by Kris Marshall (My Family), attempting to solve the murder with the aid of clues Poole has left behind to help him along the way.

For two series of Death in Paradise, Ben Miller (Worst Week of My Life, Primeval) was, admittedly, in heaven. Unfortunately, DI Richard Poole, the character that Miller portrayed, was in his own private hell. Heaven for Miller because the series is filmed on the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe. Hell for DI Poole because he is trapped on the stunning beautiful but fictional Caribbean island paradise of Saint-Marie battling sun, sea and sand while solving murders and just trying to find a proper British cup of tea.

Last Spring, prior to filming series 3, Miller decided to vote himself off the island for personal reasons and not return. “I have loved being part of the show,” explains Miller. “But for personal reasons just couldn’t continue. Being away from my family for six months a year, even if it was in the beautiful surroundings of Guadeloupe in the Caribbean was just too hard.

Series 3 of Death in Paradise will premiere on BBC One on 14 January. The new series will be available to public television stations in the States not long after. Stay tuned….

Death Comes to Pemberley coming to PBS in 2014

December 29, 2013

Death Comes to Pemberely came to BBC One this Christmas. Christmas will come a bit early in the States in 2014 as the three-part series, which is adapted from a recent Jane Austen-inspired novel by P.D. James, will air in November 2014 on PBS. James’s novel picks up the story of Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy, from Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’, in 1803, six years after their marriage. In true P.D. James fashion, the drama will be a combination of Austen’s story and a murder mystery.

Set to conclude tonight on BBC One, Death Comes to Pemberely features a quality cast headed by Anna Maxwell Martin from The Bletchley Circle as Elizabeth and Matthew Rhys, currently in The Americans, as Mr. Darcy. The series also features Penelope Keith, Matthew Goode, Tom Ward, Joanna Scanlan, Trevor Eve and James Fleet along with Doctor Who ‘companion’, Jenna Louise-Coleman. Trivia buffs might recognize Tom Ward, who plays Colonel Fitzwilliam, is the only cast member to have also had role in the BBC’s 1995 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice.

In this clip from the BBC/PBS co-pro, Death Comes to Pemberley, the Darcys and their guests are relaxing after supper when a scream calls them to the window and a hysterical Lydia Bennet tumbles out of a carriage screaming murder.

In case you think November 2014 is a long way off, you’ll be able to bridge the gap between now and then with Downton Abbey 4, Sherlock 3, Call the Midwife 3, Mr. Selfridge 2, Endeavour 2, Breathless, Poirot and Last Tango in Halifax 2. Doesn’t seem so far off now, does it?

‘Last Tango in Halifax’ series 3 commissioned with series 2 headed to PBS in June 2014.

December 28, 2013

When several of us were attending the BBC Showcase in Liverpool back in February 2013, we ran across a gem of a series that has since taken both the UK and U.S. by storm. That little ‘gem’ just happened to be the future BAFTA award winner for Best Drama Series, Last Tango in Halifax. Starring Sir Derek Jacobi and Anne Reid as would-be childhood sweethearts Alan and Celia who are reunited after 60 years through Facebook, Last Tango in Halifax takes viewers on a roller coaster ride as their lives collide for a second time and we watch Alan and Celia lament over what might have been as they take us on a life-affirming journey of what can still happen.

On the surface, this is a maximum feel good story which is a testament of the uplifting power of love at any age. Underneath the brilliant Sally Wainwright (Scott & Bailey) script, however, the story digs deep into the lives of both families. As with virtually every British drama and/or comedy, the supporting cast is equally as brilliant. Headed by Sarah Lancashire and Nicola Walker who star as Caroline, Celia’s daughter, and Gillian, Alan’s daughter, the dysfunctional families are also reunited just as the two central characters.

With series 2 having just finished transmitting on BBC One Christmas Eve, it was announced on the same day that a series 3 would begin filming in 2014 with a target premiere date in November 2014. Series 2 in the U.S. on PBS has a tentative broadcast date of June 2014.

If you haven’t had a chance to see this yet, put it in your viewing queue now and enjoy.

After ‘Still Open All Hours’, could there be a ‘Still Only Fools and Horses’?

December 27, 2013

After headlining the BBC One schedule on Boxing Day and with hopes of a full-blown series possibility this coming Spring, Still Open All Hours may soon have a bit of friendly competition when it comes to the return of classic comedy nostalgia to television.

In the original Open All Hours, Ronnie Barker starred as the stammering, miserly owner of Arkwright’s Grocery. Nephew Granville, played by David Jason, consistently blamed his relentless work schedule for his visible lack of a social life. In Still Open All Hours, Sir David Jason reprises his role as Granville, who has inherited a grocery shop from his beloved skinflint Uncle Arkwright. Granville now runs the shop with his son Leroy, a cheerful, good looking kid with more female admirers than Granville ever dreamed of. While Granville sees him as the shop assistant, he sees himself as the head of IT. In a sense, for Still Open All Hours, Granville has become Arkwright while Leroy takes on the role of the foil for Granville.

Series’ creator Roy Clarke jumped at the chance when Jason approached him about the possibility of ‘re-opening’ Arkwright’s. The one-off special has come at a good time…a time when TV comedy seems to be reverting back to a bit of old-school comedy (Miranda, Mrs. Brown’s Boys) that actually pays attention to a growing older audience. “We took no notice of the modern world whatsoever. It’s either going to work on its nostalgia legs or it’s not,” said Clarke. “I have been outdated all my life. I think there’s a huge audience out there for my kind of less acid comedy. It’s an age thing. I think people grow into it. It’s an audience that’s been overlooked for some years now.”

Could it be Still Only Fools and Horses too?

If Still Open All Hours connects with today’s comedy audience, not only is there a possibility of a full series but Sir David hinted recently at a possible return for his iconic comedic series, Only Fools and Horses. According to Jason, the sons of original creator, John Sullivan, devised a script from an idea their father had that never made it onto television. In very ‘un Del Boy’-like fashion, Jason said that he had a copy of the script on his desk at home but had been too nervous to look at it. He did add, “I’ve had a quick look at the treatment and it’s very good but I’m saving the proper read-though until there are no distractions. It’s not the sort of thing you can muck about with.

Personally, on paper and in the clips I’ve seen, Still Open All Hours has the potential to connect to a 21st-century comedy audience. I’m not so sure about an Only Fools and Horses re-do. Fast-forwarding Del Boy some 25 years later just doesn’t seem to read as well. What did work better, for me, was the OFAH prequel one-off, Rock & Chips, starring Nicholas Lyndhurst as Freddie Robdal and James Buckley as a young Del Boy.

U.S. “Broadchurch” adds Nick Nolte to cast

December 26, 2013

Good idea or bad idea, like it or not, things seem to be shaping up for the American version of the hit ITV drama, Broadchurch. Like its UK counterpart, Gracepoint, as it will be known for the American re-make, will center around the investigation into the murder of a young boy named Danny in a small town.

With filming set to begin in January, casting is all but complete for the Fox Television crime drama set to premiere in late 2014. Headed across the pond to recreate his critically acclaimed role as DI Alec Hardy, the chief detective of the investigation (renamed Emmett Carver), David Tennant will be joined by Breaking Bad star Anna Gunn who has been cast in Olivia Colman’s role of DI Ellie Miller.

Nick Nolte joins cast of Gracepoint, the American version of BroadchurchNow comes word that Academy Award nominee, Nick Nolte, has signed on to play Jack Reinhold, the stubborn owner of a kayak rental business and the local wildlife observation program, at which the murdered boy volunteered (thanks, TVLine). David Bradley, of An Adventure in Space and Time and Harry Potter fame had the corresponding role in the UK version.

Normally, I’m not a big fan of re-makes or reboots of hit series. Gracepoint (or Broadchurch) has the potential to be different. Already on the upside, in addition to David Tennant reprising his role (even if he will be speaking with an American accent), you have Chris Chibnall, creator of the original show, set as executive producer for the remake. On the downside, and completely unfair to the talents of Breaking Bad‘s Anna Gunn, you don’t have the greatness of Olivia Colman.

Adding the likes of Nick Nolte surely will up the potential ante for Gracepoint (as long as there isn’t the obligatory ‘Nick Nolte getting out of bed scene in the morning’ where every bone in his body seems to creak and pop). Ok, that’s just a personal issue I’ve had since seeing North Dally Forty years ago. Not that the track record is great for American re-makes of hit British series (actually, hasn’t been a successful one in almost 40 years in my book), Gracepoint might just stand a chance. At least we have to give it one…

Sherlock 3 prequel provides ‘Many Happy Returns’ for Christmas

December 25, 2013

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus and his name is Steven Moffat. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, the Sherlock co-creator/writer pulls 7:13 of greatness out of his red bag and delivers it to Sherlock fans across the land. The run-up to the BBC One series 3 premiere on 1 January and the PBS series 3 premiere on January 19 is more than anyone could have expected.

The spoiler here isn’t that Sherlock survived the high dive off the rooftop of St. Barts. With the exception of John Watson and a few others, we all know he has survived. But, Sherlock has been gone for two years. Many Happy Returns sets the stage for Sherlock’s return to London. A series of crimes across the globe, from New Dehli to Germany, have been solved by almost impossible means which leads ‘someone’ to believe Sherlock just might not be dead. That’s all that should be said at this point. One week from today, with the return of Sherlock, the UK will become officially a ‘do not call’ zone for 90+ minutes. Sadly, the U.S. will have to wait until January 19 and the PBS broadcast on January 19.

Happy Christmas to all…from Tellyspotting! Thank you for a wonderful year of connecting. Here’s to 2014 and a brilliant year of British telly!

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas – Python style

December 24, 2013

Much like watching It’s a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Story, one of my Christmas traditions is to listen to John Cleese’s adaptation of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.

Published anonymously in 1823 under the title ‘A Visit from St. Nicholas‘, the poem ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas has been called “arguably the best-known verses ever written by an American”. It is said to have largely been responsible for some of the conceptions of Santa Claus from the mid-nineteenth century to today. While there are conflicting camps that believe both Clement Clarke Moore and Henry Livingston, Jr be recognized as the author, there can be no mistaking one of the best modern-day renditions. No, we’re not talking Clark Griswold in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. We’re talking Python.

It was six short years ago in 2007 when one, John Cleese, set his Pythonesque sights on the traditional reading of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. In John’s own words from his podcast of thoughts, observations and musings, this is his attempt to alleviate the planet from holiday stress “…that finds everyone assembled around a blazing fire, where families eat themselves sick, drink themselves silly, and fight for their entertainment options with unaccustomed ferocity.”

While I’m not all that positive that this will go a long way towards ‘alleviating the planet from holiday stress’, it is great fun. Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night…from Tellyspotting!

Christmas Acting Masterclass 101 with Miranda Hart and David Walliams

December 23, 2013

With Christmas just days away, there is bound to be a returnable gift in your future. The key, according to Miranda Hart (Miranda, Call the Midwife) and David Walliams (Little Britain, Big School, Mr. Stink, Gangsta Granny), is not to let on that you’ll be making a trip to the mall on Boxing Day.

Generic excitement

David Walliams and Miranda Hart share with us that most critical of Christmas skills: how to act when receiving a disappointing gift.


Gift-specific excitement

From socks, to novelty items, to more socks, Miranda shares a series of acting exercises on how to act when receiving a disappointing Christmas gift.

From car vacs to bath bombs, David Walliams shares a series of acting exercises on how to act when receiving a disappointing Christmas gift.

Don’t know about you, but I’m totally ready for Christmas Day now. You?

Celebrity guests lining up for ‘Kumars at No 42′ return in January

December 22, 2013

As the Duck Dynasty-clan will, hopefully, soon disappear from both telly AND its place as one of the trending topics on Twitter, it looks like the Kumar-clan will soon return to television after a seven-year break. The International Emmy and Peabody Award-winning comedy/talk show hybrid The Kumars At No. 42 will return beginning 15 January on SKY1 HD in the UK. Returning will be Sanjeev Bhaskar, Vincent Ibrahim and Meera Syal.
Kumars at No 42 returns to Sky1 HD in January

The part scripted, part improvisation series, which ran on the BBC for 7 seasons and 53 episodes, centered on three generations of a British Indian family. Sanjeev Bhaskar played the thirty-something son, Sanjeev, whose parents (Madhuri and Ashwin Kumar) both simultaneously supported and made fun of his dream of being a talk show host by building a TV studio onto the back of their home.

Weekly celebrity guests were usually greeted with fanfare at the family’s front door, sometimes making a pit-stop on the living room couch for a quick taste of Madhuri cooking, Ashwin’s questioning and a bit of drooling over by Sanjeev’s grandmother, Ummi. The bulk of the show then moved to the back garden/television studio for a chat with Sanjeev while his parents and grandmother fired off a steady diet of inappropriate questions from the couch.

As with the original, the new six-part series will host a who’s who list of guests, including Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter), Chevy Chase and Broadchurch‘s Olivia Colman. Guests lined up for the rest of the series include Ray Winstone (Great Expectations), Rupert Everett (Parade’s End), Diana Rigg, Richard E Grant, Elizabeth McGovern (Downton Abbey), James Corden (Gavin & Stacey, The Wrong Mans) and former original Monty Python member, Terry Gilliam. In the new series, the family now lives in a flat behind a homewares and gift shop that the father runs.

A bit of Kumars trivia for your use in any upcoming holiday parties. The reference to house number 42 in the title of the series was deliberate, paying homage to the ultimate answer to Life, the Universe and Everything in Douglas Adams’ Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy trilogy.