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Doc Martin – he may not be a real Doc but he has stayed at a Holiday Inn Express before….

August 15, 2013

If you’re a Doc Martin fan or a Martin Clunes fan, you might want to check out the September edition of Readers Digest. It features Martin Clunes, a.k.a. Doctor Martin Ellingham, as he recounts a textbook case of Life Imitates Art. Seems as though Philippa Braithwaite, Doc Martin producer and wife of series star, Martin Clunes, was admitted to hospital with an infection in her gall bladder and surgeons wanted to take out her appendix.

She had an infection in her gall bladder and the surgeon was minded to take out her appendix. There was no infection in her appendix and instinct told me that it would be the wrong thing to do. So I took her home instead and she was treated there. As Philippa’s husband, it was my prerogative to do this. But when I was chatting to hospital staff they handed me her medical notes to look at in a way they might not have with an ordinary member of the public. I do wonder whether there wasn’t some confusion between me and Doc Martin.
Doctor Martin Ellingham on call in Doc Martin

Clunes did go on with a bit of an odd comparison between British and American medical dramas, “You have to remember that British medical dramas are obliged to be accurate. You can’t just make things up as they do on American shows. So we have a medical expert on the series and I have learned about certain conditions and procedures.

For my money, I have to believe that the likes of ER, Grey’s Anatomy and even the early days of St. Elsewhere all had medical experts on set during production so that things weren’t just ‘made up’.

CBGB – from Severus Snape to Hilly Kristal for Alan Rickman

August 14, 2013

It’s a bit if a hike from Hogwarts to the streets of New York, but if anyone can do it, it’s the greatness that is Alan Rickman. Rickman stars as iconic CBGB club owner, Hilly Krystal, with his Harry Potter co-star, Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley) appearing in the film as punk star Cheetar Chrome.

CBGB follows the story of Hilly Kristal’s New York club from its origins as Country, Bluegrass and Blues (CBGB) to what it ultimately became – the birthplace of underground rock ‘n roll and punk. Kristal, a fan of Country and Bluegrass dreamed of having a club in the lower Eastside that catered to that kind of music. The club opened in December of 1973 but when he had difficulty booking those bands he turned to other kinds of rock music. Hilly had one demand of the acts he booked, they could only play their own original music. No top 40′s, no covers. It was the credo he lived by, support the artist at whatever the cost. In a short time, CBGB became the birthplace of American punk and the launching pad for scores of bands.

CBGB, which features music from the likes of Iggy Pop, Blondie, Patti Smith, The Velvet Underground, The Police, Talking Heads and Dead Boys and also stars The Big Bang Theory‘s Johnny Galecki, Twilight‘s Ashley Greene, Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins as Iggy Pop and Sting’s daughter Mickey Sumner as Patti Smith, is set for an October 11 release in the States with no release date set as of yet in the UK.

Looks like a fun trip through an amazing place and time, but with a killer soundtrack.

‘Death Comes to Pemberley’ comes to PBS, BBC One

August 13, 2013

uktv-jenna-louise-colman-death-comes-to-pemberly-set-pics-5When it comes to BBC, ITV and PBS, when the drama rains come, they pour. Already on the books for 2013-2014 are the know commodities of Downton Abbey 4, Sherlock 3, Call the Midwife 3, Mr Selfridge 2, Bletchley Circle 2, the final five Hercule Poirot mysteries, another George Gently series, more DCI Banks, Scott & Bailey, Endeavour, Father Brown and on, and on. Now, just announced last week at the TCA meeting in LA…

Death Comes to Pemberley, adapted from a recent Jane Austen-inspired novel by P.D. James, will air next year on PBS and BBC One. James’s novel picks up the story of Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy, from Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’, 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.

The three-part series features a stellar cast headed by Anna Maxwell Martin from ‘The Bletchley Circle’ as Elizabeth and Matthew Rhys, currently in ‘The Americans’, as Mr. Darcy. Currently filming in Yorkshire, the series also features Penelope Keith, Matthew Goode, Tom Ward, Joanna Scanlan, Trevor Eve and James Fleet along with Doctor Who ‘companion’, Jenna Coleman.

We’ll have to wait and see if there are any plans for a Colin Firth-type Mr. Darcy statue to promote the 2014 premiere. This statue of Jane Austen’s romantic hero, Mr Darcy, found its way to The Serpentine in London’s Hyde Park to celebrate the launch of UKTV’s new free channel ‘Drama’.
Oversized Mr Darcy in London's Hyde Park

‘Philomena’ with Judi Dench & Steve Coogan: A first glimpse

August 12, 2013

It’s Oscar time….

Judi Dench and Steve Coogan play ‘unlikely friends’ in Philomena, the moving, funny and at times shocking true story of one woman’s search for a lost son. Coogan, in a complete 180 degree departure from his recent alter ego film release of Alpha Papa: Alan Partridge, also produced and co-wrote the film with Jeff Pope. The film is directed by BAFTA winning director, Stephen Frears, the man behind such critically-acclaimed movies as High Fidelity and The Queen.

Philomena tells the true story of Philomena Lee, who was sent away to a convent to be looked after as a ‘fallen woman’, having become pregnant as a teenager in Ireland in 1952. Her son was taken away from her at the age of 3 by the nuns for adoption in America. Forced to vow she would never seek him, Philomena fought her vow and spent the next 50 years searching for her lost son. With the help of journalist, Martin Sixsmith, Philomena travels to America to find her lost son.

Having virtually no success for 50 years, she meets Martin Sixsmith, a world-weary political journalist who happens to be intrigued by her story. Together they set off to America on a journey that would not only reveal the extraordinary story of Philomena’s son, but also create an unexpectedly close bond between Philomena and Martin.

Sixsmith’s book ‘The Lost Child Of Philomena Lee’ was published in 2009 and has acted as a catalyst for thousands of adopted Irish children and their ‘shamed’ mothers to come forward to tell their stories. Many are still searching for their lost families.

Philomena will open in the UK and Ireland on November 1, 2013 with a U.S. premiere not too far behind, hopefully. Coogan looks great and another Oscar nomination looks to be in Dame Judi Dench’s future.

The Audience with Helen Mirren back for an NTLive encore

August 11, 2013

For 60 years Elizabeth II has met each of her 12 Prime Ministers in a weekly audience at Buckingham Palace, a meeting like no other in British public life, it is private. Both parties have an unspoken agreement never to repeat what is said. Not even to their spouses.

From Churchill to Cameron, each Prime Minister has used these private conversations as a sounding board and a confessional, sometimes intimate, sometimes explosive. From young mother to grandmother, these private audiences chart the arc of the second Elizabethan Age. Politicians come and go through the revolving door of electoral politics, while the Queen has remained constant, waiting to welcome her next Prime Minister.

The Audience, starring Helen Mirren, breaks this contract of silence and imagines a series of pivotal meetings between the Downing Street incumbents and their Queen. The Peter Morgan, Stephen Daldry production ran to stellar reviews from early March through mid-June of this year at the Gielgud Theatre in London’s West End. If you missed it, enter National Theatre Live to save the day.

National Theatre Live is The National Theatre of Great Britain’s initiative to broadcast live performances from the National’s stages to cinemas worldwide. Back in June, the most recent National Theatre Live broadcast was the brilliant West End production of The Audience, with Helen Mirren reprising her Academy Award winning role as Queen Elizabeth II, live from London’s Gielgud Theatre beaming it to theaters around the world.


If you missed it a second time, you have one more opportunity. Encore screenings of The Audience with Helen Mirren are taking place in theaters worldwide. If you missed the June broadcast, DO NOT let this happen again. In North Texas, the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth will be rebroadcasting this brilliant production on Wednesday, August 28 at 2:00p and 7:00p.

Next up for National Theatre Live is another ‘you don’t want to miss this’ moment coming your way in October, a major new production of William Shakespeare’s Othello. The National Theatre presents the celebrated play about the destructive power of jealousy starring Adrian Lester (Hustle) in the title role with Rory Kinnear (Skyfall) as the duplicitous Iago.

NT Live screenings of Othello will begin in theaters worldwide on Thursday, 26 September. For a list of screening venues, dates and times around the world, click here.


UK’s biggest pub, The Great British Beer Festival, is just around the corner

August 10, 2013

One of the greatest inventions on the planet, the pub. The neighborhood ‘local’ is the center of community life in the UK. For me, The Nags Head in Belgravia is the perfect example of what a good pub should be (say hi to Kevin for me). The Nags Head just might be one of the smallest pubs in the UK, but your chance to visit the polar opposite is only a couple of days away.
Back Camera

The Great British Beer Festival, otherwise known as ‘the UK’s biggest pub’, runs 13-17 August. Expected to attract more than 55,000 people this year, there is still time to hop on a flight from the States on Sunday, take Monday as your jet lag day and be ready to hit the ground running on Tuesday. With over 800 ales, ciders and foreign brews on display for the annual CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) gathering at Olympia London, if you’re a beer lover, this is the place to be.


Formed in March 1971, CAMRA is an independent, voluntary organization campaigning for real ale, community pubs and consumer rights. With 149,424 members around the world, the organization has been described as the most successful consumer campaign in Europe whose purpose is to support the pub as the one place in which to consume real ale, also known as cask-conditioned beer, or cask ale.

Expert beer taster, Neil Walker, put together his five top pints not to miss at the show for the Radio Times just to give you something to do between the music, shopping, food pairings and pub quizzes.

So, nothing to do next week? Support the pub, biggest one (The Great British Beer Festival), the smallest one (The Nags Head) or ant favorite local in-between. For admission and tasting tickets, click here.

Call the Midwife 3 Q&A with Camilla Cholmeley-Browne, a.k.a. Chummy

August 9, 2013

Who better to follow the ‘Ladies of Downton’ at the Television Critic’s Association summer meet-up in LA but Camilla Cholmeley-Browne, a.k.a. Chummy, a.k.a. Miranda Hart. Since the series is now in production on series 3, saying that it’s just like riding a bike takes on a different meaning to Hart, who plays the clumsy and lovable character, Chummy, on the hit BBC/PBS period drama. According to Hart, getting back into character has been a bit easier than Chummy’s mastery of the preferred two-wheeled mode of transportation in post-World War East London, “In the everyday sense, picking up on the show has been without wobbles and crashes — thankfully.
Chummy learns to ride a bike in Call the Midwife

Call the Midwife, based on the memoirs of Jennifer Worth, revolves around a group of midwives and nuns at the nursing convent Nonnatus House. Season 3 of “Call the Midwife” is set to roll out in the UK on BBC One in early 2014 before making its U.S premiere on PBS soon thereafter. Word is that the Christmas Special, which is currently being shot in London, will be set 4 months after the end of series 2 and the start of series 3 will be six months after the end of series 2.

Hart sat down with the Los Angeles Times to talk Call the Midwife, Doctor Who and Chummy, of course…

You’ve started production on Season 3–

Yeah, we just started. We’re actually filming the Christmas episode first — naturally, when we’re having a hot week in London. We have to have summer now when I’m in wool and tweed, scarves, coats and gloves. Lovely.

Is it weird to go into this season, in that it’s reached the point where the show has run out of stories from Jennifer’s memoir?

I was a little worried, initially, but it was a seamless transition. We don’t get the scripts in advance, so we’re kind of seeing how things are turning out as we go along. There doesn’t seem to be a jolt of difference. And I think she always had to make up some things — not necessarily big stories, but to create the television world of it. But, no, the main creator and writer Heidi Thomas has continued the great stories and has made them feel part of the word. There are still a few Jennifer stories going on in Season 3, a few.

And we’re in 1959 now!

Yes, 1959! We’re about to hit the ‘60s. I’m scared for Chummy. I don’t know how Chummy will cope with that. She’d be like [clutches her collar], “Oh, gosh. I’m not sure about this.”

A lot is happening. Contraception is being mentioned — it hasn’t in the scripts I read, but they’re probably hearing more of that at work. One of the mothers who’s about to give birth wanted to give birth in a hospital — and even that was quite shocking. It was like, “What do you mean you want to go to a hospital? We’re fine at home with just us. What do you mean you want a doctor?” Things are shifting health-wise, medically …. But in terms of gearing up for swinging ‘60s — no way. We’re very pure. We might go to a jazz club, and that’s already pushing it.

I sort of love that simple, calm way of life. I kind of wish I was there. It was more peaceful and less frantic. People didn’t live on their iPhones. They weren’t trying to communicate all the time or work all the time. They were incredibly hard-working and had amazing jobs, but their home life and community life was very simple.

How about Chummy’s style — are we going to see that change as new fashions are introduced?

You might see some new Chummy outfits in Series 3 because she’s a mom. She has her confidence as a woman. There’s tweed suits. The costume designer was like, “Let’s see her grow as a woman.” Before she was so gangly and awkward. She’s got these dreadful slacks that made me feel like Charlie Chaplin. 1950 slacks, can I just say, are not a good look. The sexy girls on the show are fine — they’ve got these sleek styles — a bit like we wear now. Chummy has got these massive, flannel Charlie Chaplin-like pants. It’s like, thanks costume guys, thank you so much.

Well, in the Season 2 finale, we see Chummy give birth. Was it weird to be the woman giving birth, rather than the woman helping to deliver a baby?

Luckily, I didn’t have a full-on birth — it’s weird that I’m happy she got sick, isn’t it? But, yeah, she ended up at the hospital. It wasn’t a yay moment for the story line, but it was a yay moment for me as an actress. The girls found it hilarious, though, that I now had to be the one doing contraction noises. I didn’t want to even do them until we were on set. I remembered when I did, they all laughed at me.

Chummy went from barely being able to ride a bike to having a kid. That’s quite a journey.

I know! I’m so pleased with the curve of the story lines. I think people have really warmed to her character, and they want her to win and see her do well. She has had quite the journey, and now she has a baby. She loves being a mom. What’s great about the character’s being based on real-life stories is you know their background a bit. The fact that Chummy had this quite tough upper-class upbringing with not much emotion going on makes me think she is so in love with this baby because she’s pouring all the love she needed and never had into him.

It’s quite difficult to act, though, with somebody else’s baby. Because you don’t know them and they’re wriggling around. You’re actually going “Stop it!” I wore a necklace — Chummy wears a cross — and the baby kept grabbing it. I was like, “How do I make him stop?” And then the poor mother is off to the side going, “My son!” But I have yet to drop a baby. In fact, no one has ever dropped a baby on set — at least not that I know of.

But it was very emotional for me to watch her reach this point. To be a mother — it’s a huge turning point for her. And it’s interesting to get in that skin, to see how she navigates this new world.

Look for the Christmas episode to premiere on either Christmas or Boxing Day on BBC One an not too many days after on PBS in the States with series 3 set for early 2014 on both sides of the pond.

The ‘Ladies of Downton’ meet up at the TCA for some series 4 talk

August 8, 2013

Appearing at the Television Critics Association summer press tour in Los Angeles on Tuesday evening, along with executive producer Gareth Neame, the womwn of Downton Abbey seemed right at home in the 21st century. The Dowager Countess may have cringed by the amount of electricity in the room, but it was like old home week for the cast of the British period drama as they answered questions during the PBS portion of this years presentation.

The Ladies of Downton Abbey

Aside from the ‘I’m really jealous’ fact that clips of series 4 were shown in the room, lots of great Downton tibdits came from the packed session.

  • Asked why she isn’t on Twitter, Michelle Dockery (Lady Mary) said, “It turns out that Lady Mary’s Eyebrows beat me to it.
  • Laura Carmichael (Lady Edith) when asked where Edith’s storyline is going this season, now that she’s a professional woman writing a newspaper column: “I like to think of Edith as the Carrie Bradshaw of the 1920s”, referencing the Sex and the City character.
  • Phyllis Logan (Mrs Hughes) when asked whether Downton Abbey will continue to chart the history of Britain all the way into the 1940s and show World War II, said she hopes that the show doesn’t go that far into the future or Mrs. Hughes won’t be around: “I’d certainly be dead by then, so I hope not!
  • Not letting Michelle Dockery off the hook with only a softball question about Twitter, one critic asked about what fans should be reading into a recently released photo of Lady Mary and Tom Branson (Allen Leech), Dockery said, “We are aware that there are suspicions about Tom and Mary’s relationship, but they are very much just friends”,  adding that it would be gross “…if Mary went after her dead sister’s husband.”

Finally, the single biggest bit of news to come out of the Television Critics Association meeting isn’t something you can really take to the bank just yet, Michelle Dockery all but confirmed a fifth series by saying: “As far as we know, we’re all doing Season 5 next year.” Quick to follow up was Downton Abbey show producer,  Gareth Neame, who added: “Our minds are on the fifth season and what those potential stories will be… I think the show has a while to go. If people love the show, we want to keep making it.

Want your house to ‘look a bit more Downton’ on the inside?

August 7, 2013

In recent months, fans of the most popular British period drama of all time, Downton Abbey, have been able to drink wine like the Crawley family, thanks to Wines That Rock who have set about recreating the rich Bordeaux wines that Lord Grantham, himself, would have been proud to serve in Downton’s dining room. This Fall, thanks to Marks and Spencer, anyone will be able to have lips as red and hands as soft as Lady Mary with the soon-to-be-released line of Downton cosmetics. And, thanks to Ralph Lauren, you can now even dress the part with his Downton-themed fall collection.

While all this is a great way to pay tribute to your favorite series, you can now be the talk of the neighborhood and take that upcoming Downton Abbey-themed party to the next level thanks to Mylands, which launched in 1884 when John Myland opened his first shop in Stockwell, south London. No stranger to telly, the company has supplied paint to both Pinewood and Elstree studios since the 1920′s which is why it can boast that it has colored the walls of every Bond film, Harry Potter and Mr Selfridge as well as Downton Abbey.

Could Grey be the new Black?

Two shades of grey paint, Empire Grey and Amber Grey, which were specifically developed for Downton Abbey (only the downstairs, however, it is grey after all), are now on sale to the public. For future reference, Empire Grey is the color of Mr Carson’s pantry while Amber Grey is the color of Mrs Patmore’s kitchen.

Grey used to be for the dull. Certainly nothing you would ever want on your walls. Now, thanks to the walls of Downton, grey is starting to look kinda cool, don’t you think? Hey, if it’s good enough for Mrs Patmore or Mr Carson, it’s good enough for me.

Charlie Brooker’s ‘A Touch of Cloth’ returns to Sky 1…be there!

August 6, 2013

A Touch of Cloth, Charlie Brooker’s spoof of “every British crime drama made in the last decade”, was an instant classic when it stormed the Sky 1 comedy landscape in 2012. Watching the first series immediately brought back memories of the early 80′s and the Zucker brothers’ brilliant Police Squad TV series which starred Leslie Nielsen and spoofed every police procedural series known to man. Ultimately, the series spawned the ridiculously successful Naked Gun film series.
Police Squad starring Leslie Nielsen

Sky 1′s A Touch of Cloth stars John Hannah as DCI Jack Cloth, a heavy drinking loner who has thrown himself into his work following the mysterious death of his wife. The severely damaged Cloth is teamed with no-nonsense sidekick DC Anne Oldman (get it?), played by Suranne Jones (Scott & Bailey). Together, the pair investigate a series of increasingly grisly murders and find themselves on the trail of a devious killer, which is what you do, if you’re a detective.

Written by Charlie Brooker and Dan Maier, A Touch of Cloth: Undercover Cloth has DCI Cloth continuing his struggles to hold himself together while solving grisly murders and suffering from the death of his wife when the series returns, Sunday 25th August at 9pm on Sky1.

A Touch of Cloth 2 trailer

While there are no immediate broadcast plans in the U.S. as of yet, I think it won’t be long before a public television possibility is on the table. Interested?