As we sit through the first day of some outstanding BBC program offers at the 2013 BBC Syndication Showcase in New Orleans, the big news wasn’t only the brilliant comedy, drama, natural history and documentary programming that will be available to public television stations in 2014. There was news for fans of a current police procedural that has to represent some of the best television on television.
A fourth series of the brilliant detective show SCOTT AND BAILEY has now been commissioned. While no information has been released about storylines, we do know that series 4 will consist of 6 episodes (as opposed to earlier series which had 8 episodes). In addition, filming is tentatively set to begin in Spring 2014 with a potential delivery date of Autumn 2014 with all the main cast returning.
Besides reprising her role as the no-nonsense DCI Gill Murray who keeps the team under control in spite of the pressures she faces at work and in her home life, Amelia Bullmore will write four of the scripts for the new series.
Back to news from The Big Easy
In the comedy genre, the offerings were both laugh-out-loud funny and plenty. Fans of British comedy on public television can look for the possibility of Twenty Twelve, Spy and Moone Boy coming your way in 2014. From a drama standpoint, the standout offering already running on a number of stations is the quintessentially English mystery/drama series, Father Brown, starring Mark Williams of Harry Potter fame. Also in the drama pipeline, new seasons of Scott and Bailey, DCI Banks, Death in Paradise and newcomer, Frankie, starring Eve Myles from Torchwood.
If you are a fan of British telly, 2014 is looking good on both sides of the pond.
When the BBC recently announced that two Doctor Who episodes that were thought to have been ‘lost’ forever had been found, there was joy not only in Mudville, but across the Doctor Who Nation. Unseen by audiences for some 45 years since their original broadcasts in 1967-68, “The Web of Fear” and “The Enemy of the World” both featured Patrick Troughton as the Doctor, were recently discovered Phillip Morris of Television International Enterprises Archives (TIEA). With the discovery, Morris has earned the nickname of the ‘Indiana Jones’ of the film world for his recovery of missing episodes of the longest running science fiction series in the history of television.
It’s Morris and his team’s job to assist overseas stations with the storage and migration of their materials and, on the outside of that, they recover lost British television programs.
On finding two missing episodes of Doctor Who “The Enemy of the World” and “The Web of Fear” Morris revealed to Radio Times that simple masking tape played rather a crucial role in the discovery.
“These episodes were discovered on a project we were working in Nigeria. And they were found in a TV station in Jos. Just sitting on the shelf, which I can remember now seeing a piece of masking tape, which said Doctor Who on it.
“I thought ‘Oh, that’s interesting’, pulled the cans down I read the story codes. Instantly, of course, recognized what the stories were and realized they were missing from the BBC’s archive. A lot of Doctor Who fans around the world are going to be happy”, Morris added.
He continues: “These episodes had come from Hong Kong and they’d been on what’s called a bicycle system. So they travelled from this country to the next country to the next country and they came to be in Nigeria through this bicycle system. Not at the station in Nigeria they were actually sold to. They were at a relay station. The condition that those programmes were in when we found them, we were quite lucky, considering the temperatures we can be in the upper 40 degrees, luckily they’d been kept in the optimum condition.”
As many of you know if you’ve been either a regular or even a casual follower of Tellyspotting over the past 4+ years, October is the annual BBC Syndication Showcase. Each year, public television programming representatives descend upon New Orleans to sit in a hotel conference room for two days screening non-stop the best of the best when it comes to British drama, comedy and documentaries to determine what to add to each station’s PBS programming line-up. From a timing standpoint, most of what we screen this year will become available for broadcast beginning in early 2014. In years past, fans of British telly have seen the likes of MI-5, Hustle, DCI Banks, Scott & Bailey, New Tricks, Black Books, Lead Balloon, History of Science and much more come out of this meeting. This year will be no exception given the strong line-up in all genres that will be offered.
Mind the Gap — 270 times
So…with Tellyspotting becoming your eyes and ears this week in New Orleans for acquiring the best in British drama, comedy and documentaries on public television, we bring you a bit of across the pond travel-related brilliance to share amongst your friends as we make our way to The Big Easy.
If you are in the UK and you want to try to hit all 270 Tube stations to check the math to see that singer Jay Foreman didn’t miss any, you may not break any Guinness Book of World Records, as Geoff Marshall, 41, from Ealing, West London, and Anthony Smith, 28, did recently by completing the record in 16 hours, 20 minutes and 27 seconds but you can certainly give it a shot.
Your choice. Watch either video and decide your course of action. You can ‘virtually’ Mind the Gap 270 times in under 3 and 1/2 minutes or physically try for yourself to break the Tube Challenge record in under 17 hours. Your choice.
Both the BBC and PBS confirmed Saturday that Tony and Olivier award-winning actor Mark Rylance will play Thomas Cromwell in the BBC’s upcoming adaptation of the novels from author Hilary Mantel, Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies.
The six-part drama, which will air on BBC Two and PBS’ Masterpiece series, will be overseen by BAFTA-winning director Peter Kosminsky (Warriors, No Child of Mine) and written by Oscar-nominated screenwriter Peter Straughan (The Men Who Stare at Goats, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy). Rylance, the former artistic director of Shakespeare’s Globe Theater in London, has won Tonys for his performances in the Broadway plays “Boeing-Boeing” and “Jerusalem” and will next be seen on Broadway in a repertory production of Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” and “Richard III.”
Mantel’s Booker Prize-winning Tudor trilogy follows the atmospheric rise to power of Cromwell within Henry VIII’s court. The eventual chief minister to the King was born to a blacksmith in Putney and initially came to prominence when he served under Cardinal Wolsey before rising through the ranks to become Henry’s most trusted advisor.
The “Wolf Hall” mini-series will begin filming next spring for broadcast in 2015.
Sky diving off the roof of St Barts?
Benedict Cumberbatch has given the strongest hint yet as to how his brilliant 21st Century adaptation of Sherlock Holmes survived that ‘impossible’ plunge from the roof of St Bart’s Hospital at the end of series two. Sort of…
“Have you seen the winged suits on YouTube??” said Cumberbatch (jokingly) during a recent webchat on Reddit. “I told you I was into skydiving. How many more clues do you need people?” During the 2-hour long Q&A, Cumberbatch told one fan who asked him about his favorite places in the world: “Touching the earth after my first skydiving jump in New Zealand.”
Sherlock to Mind the Gap and go ‘Underground’ for series 3 premiere
In regards to how the first episode of series 3 plays out, co-creator/writer Mark Gatiss revealed during the recent announcement by the BBC of the discovery of two ‘lost’ Doctor Who episodes starring Patrick Troughton that the first episode, ‘The Empty Hearse’, will involve scenes set on the London Underground rail system and is influenced by the missing Doctor Who “The Web of Fear” lost episode.
“I am obsessed with the Tube and I think it all comes from that story when I was a kid,” said Gatiss. “The first episode of Sherlock is explicitly about the London Underground for exactly that reason, because I love ‘The Web of Fear’!”
Are you ready for some Sherlock? Unfortunately, still no official word out of the UK or U.S. as to when we’ll be seeing Sherlock but conventional wisdom says January 2014 on both sides of the pond.
As we reported earlier this summer, Sir David Suchet will reprise his iconic role as the world famous Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot, for the very last time on Wednesday, 23 October at 9:00pm on ITV1. Wednesdays broadcast will begin the completion of Sir David’s brilliant work in bringing Agatha Christie’s Poirot to life which began with “The Adventure of the Clapham Cook” back in January of 1989. Almost 25 years and some 65 episodes later, the first of the final five episodes in the 13th and final series, “Elephants Can Remember” was broadcast on ITV1 in June. The final four, “Dead Man’s Folly”, “The Labours of Hercules” and “Curtain: Poirot’s Last Case” will tentatively be broadcast in the U.S. as part of PBS’ Masterpiece series beginning in September 2014.
There will, obviously, be mixed feelings by both Poirot fans worldwide and David Suchet himself as the series comes to a close, but ITV’s producer, Michele Buck, calmed the waters by saying: “We can promise the final Poirot films will be a fitting tribute to a much-loved literary character. When the ending comes it’ll be very dramatic and incredibly emotional. We’ve been on a remarkable journey with Poirot.”
When production began on the final series, Suchet reflected back on the last quarter century “I’m more than delighted to be reprising my role as Poirot. It’s been my life’s ambition to bring this amazing canon of works to completion. Poirot is a brilliant, yet profoundly complicated character and I’ve always loved playing him. He’s considerate, with a love of elegance and precision, but he is also so maddeningly frustrating to play as he’s so vain and pedantic! For all his faults he is one of the greatest listeners in literature. I’ve been so fortunate to play him. I’m excited, I will feel as though I have achieved a dream, but I’ll also be gutted, because I will be saying a real farewell and a goodbye [to Poirot] and then I will have to bury him.”
Unfortunately, it doesn’t make it any easier for David Suchet, but Poirot fans will be gutted as well.
It’s been what can easily be described as a roller coaster week for Downton Abbey. Still riding the incredible 3+ year pop-culture high in the States as viewers try to avoid all forms of social media and eagerly await the series 4 PBS premiere on January 5, 2014, some UK viewers are bordering on outrage and have threatened a future boycott over events that unfolded during last Sunday’s broadcast of episode 3.
UK television critics indirectly received a heads up last week when advance screening copies were not made available for last Sundays episode that something bad was about to happen. The last time that occurred was the final episode of series 3…and we all know what happened at the end of that episode, which aired on Christmas Day in the UK. While the Twitter universe exploded following the broadcast with complaints ranging from ‘you’ve spoiled this for me’ to ‘I’m never watching again, you’ve jumped the shark’ to writer/creator Julian Fellowes being accused of merely trying to ‘spice things up’, the actors involved in the controversial episode felt ‘proud’, described it as ‘bold and risky’ and denied any complaint of sensationalism or being of the lowest common denominator. Having just seen the episode in question and given the fact that most of the outrage continues to be reported daily in the Daily Mail, I’m completely on the side of the writer of and the actors involved in the episode as opposed to those who have ‘officially’ complained to UK television watchdog/regulator, Ofcom.
Part of the outrage can’t help but be a result, partially, of just how popular the series is and how viewers get attached to certain inhabitants of Downton whether it be above or below the stairs. After 3+ years, viewers are more than emotionally attached. Fortunately, with the exception of Dame Maggie Smith, a majority of the cast were signed up for two series leading up to the current series we can surmise that there won’t be any shocking exits this time around and we won’t experience the same sort of angst that was felt last 25 December and February 17.
UK viewers feel free to talk amongst yourselves and, if possible, please share your thoughts of the episode in question without revealing any spoilers. It’s a long way until January 2014 to have to avoid facebook and Twitter.
You know who you are. You’ve seen every episode of the first three series of the mega-hit British period drama, Downton Abbey. You own a ‘Free Bates’ t-shirt. You’re feeling pretty good about the fact that you know that the labrador dogs of Downton Abbey go by the name of Pharaoh and Isis. Well, there just might be a few things you don’t know about the series even though you’ve seen each episode more times than the law allows.
Definitely no spoilers here, we’ll leave that to other sites. Just some cool bits of behind-the-scenes/how the sausage is made cocktail party trivia as the U.S. tirelessly counts down the days until series 4 of Downton Abbey premieres on PBS’ Masterpiece.
The 5 Things You Don’t Know About Downton Abbey
In a yet another ‘Christmas comes early’ moment for British telly lovers, the Call the Midwife Christmas Special will be coming stateside to PBS on Sunday, December 29, shortly after BBC One viewers experience the joy of the inhabitants of Nonnatus House. During a break from filming, Chummy is being…Chummy, or Miranda Hart, hard to tell.
CALL THE MIDWIFE – THE CHRISTMAS ALBUM
Currently finishing up production on both the 2013 Christmas special and series 3, it’s almost beyond belief that when originally pitched to the BBC, Call the Midwife was initially dismissed. Thankfully, Danny Cohen took over as Controller of BBC One and the rest is history. To coincide with the Christmas premiere, Call the Midwife fans can add to their seasonal excitement a very special new CD and Digital release. CALL THE MIDWIFE – THE CHRISTMAS ALBUM, which is packaged in a specially designed pop up gift pack for the festive season, is set for release by Demon Music Group on 25 November 2013.
Comprising 30 tracks, including music from the 2012 and forthcoming 2013 Christmas specials, CALL THE MIDWIFE – THE CHRISTMAS ALBUM features a very special bonus cast recording of the Nat ‘King’ Cole classic “When I Fall in Love”. Also included included on this crazy phenomenal holiday album are Bing Crosby (White Christmas), Judy Garland (Have Yourself A Merry Christmas), Harry Belafonte (Mary’s Boy Child), Elvis Presley (Santa, Bring My Baby Back (To Me) and Blue Christmas), Nat ‘King’ Cole Trio (The Christmas Song), Perry Como (Frosty The Snowman), Brenda Lee (Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree) and Johnny Mathis with Percy Faith and His Orchestra (The First Noel).
Following this years Christmas Special, the eight-part series 3 will transmit in very early 2014 in the UK, with a PBS airing following soon afterwards tentatively set for a Sunday, March 30, 2014 premiere.
Christmas has, once again, arrived in October. Arkwright’s Grocery may have closed in 1985, but, word is, it will re-open this Christmas. Titled Still Open All HoursI am sure there is an audience out there who would like to see what Granville has been getting up to in the corner shop. It will be a great family show for Christmas and a fitting tribute to the legacy of Arkwright.”
Creator Roy Clarke (Last of the Summer Wine, Keeping Up Appearances) has written the special which will star Sir David Jason will reprise his role as South Yorkshire shop worker Granville. According to the Radio Times, the story will pick up with Granville having inherited the business previously run by Ronnie Barker’s Albert Arkwright with his son as his, hopefully, hapless assistant.
Having premiered in 1976 and running for 4 series, it’s been nearly thirty years on since the last episode of Open All Hours was shown on BBC One in 1985. Still a perennial favorite in the U.S. on public television stations, the series ranked eighth overall in Britain’s Best Sitcom, a poll taken in 2004 in the UK.
We were extremely fortunate to interview Roy Clarke back in 2010 as part of PBS’ Behind the Britcom: From Script to Screen to talk the final days of Last of the Summer Wine, Keeping Up Appearances and Open All Hours. Besides giving us a bit of insight as to how he was able to write LOTSW for some 38 years and 295 episodes, he also let us in on how the shop in Open All Hours was based on a shop called L E Riddiford in Thornbury, South Gloucestershire.
He mentioned that most writers of British situation comedy, if possible, base characters or situations on something they are familiar with or have experienced. It was common knowledge that Are You Being Served writer, Jeremy Lloyd, based much of his writing of the series on his early days at Simpson’s Department Store. In writing Open All Hours, Roy Clarke visited Thornbury while traveling, ran across the small shop and loved the shop layout and the store owner, Mr Len Riddiford. As a result, the store was referenced in numerous Open All Hours episodes by Barker’s Arkwright character.
Is it Christmas yet?
“My name’s Foyle and I’m a police officer…”
“It’s always been a series about a good man in evil times and I felt, particularly as we’re moving towards the end of the series, that I really wanted to confront Foyle with the ultimate evil“, says series creator, Anthony Horowitz. Horowitz is also promising faithful followers of the first seven series of Foyle’s War that the upcoming eighth series of the ITV drama will be more ambitious than those that have come before and will contain a shock for viewers. “For this season, we’ve built a concentration camp because Foyle visits Monowitz. Monowitz has been razed, so we couldn’t film there. And you’re not allowed to film in concentration camps anyway. Quite correctly, in my view. So we had to build it ourselves.“, said Horowitz, speaking to Radio Times. Horowitz is prepping for his #IsawMoriarty carriage tour which winds its’ way through the streets of London promoting today’s release of his newest print effort, Moriarty.
Last series saw Christopher Foyle, who has retired more often than Brett Favre, join MI-5 after World War II with longtime driver Samantha Stewart, played brilliantly by Honeysuckle Weeks, returning as his junior clerk on the grid. According to Horowitz, who has hinted that viewers might soon see an end to the series, the forthcoming episodes will continue to be set in a post-WWII/Cold War period and pick up where the last episode left off. Horowitz explained, “It’s now 1947 and we move directly on from where we were at the end of the last season. The first story (“High Castle”) will be concerned with the Nuremberg Trials, not of the Nazis, but of the industrialists who supported Hitler and who built the furnaces and the bombs. The second episode (“Trespass”) will look at Palestine, which is very ambitious because it’s a complicated and divisive field. And the third one (“Elise”) looks at a scandal within the Special Operations Executive, which has only recently come to light. It’s one of the most horrendous stories of the Second World War, which seems inexplicable even now.”
For PBS viewers, 2015 is already shaping up to be another brilliant year for British drama. You can now add Foyle’s War to the mix that already includes new seasons of Downton Abbey, Call the Midwife, Mr. Selfridge, Endeavour, Scott and Bailey, DCI Banks, Case Histories, Father Brown, Death in Paradise and New Tricks not to mention the new series premieres of Grantchester and Wolf Hall. To be honest, you had me at Foyle’s War!