As confirmed by the Radio Times, Daisy Lewis is set to join the cast of hit ITV period drama for the upcoming series 4, currently being filmed in the UK for transmission this Autumn in the UK and beginning January 5, 2014 on PBS in the States.
Lewis is one of a host of new characters joining the show, including Paul Giamatti as Lady Cora’s playboy brother, opera singer Dame Kiri Te Kanawa as a house guest, former EastEnder Nigel Harman as a visiting valet and Death In Paradise star Gary Carr as a jazz singer (and speculated love interest for Lady Rose, the rebellious great-niece of the Dowager Countess, Violet Crawley) when the series returns for eight episodes and a Christmas special later this year.
The British actress, know for her roles in Doctor Who, Inspector Lewis, the British situation comedy, After You’ve Gone, and the upcoming PBS Masterpiece adaptation of The Lady Vanishes, will star in the fourth series of the world’s most favorite period drama series.
Rumor is she will play the Crawley’s live-in nanny who’ll look after baby Sybil as well as Mary’s new arrival. But her plot lines won’t be confined to the nursery. OF course not, that’s why they call it a DRAMA. Apparently Lewis is set to becoming the first lady to warm Branson’s broken heart since his wife, Lady Sybil, died in childbirth (sorry if you haven’t seen series 3 yet and this spoiled it for you).
Branson, who is played by Alan Leech, started off as the Crawley’s chauffeur before falling for and marrying the family’s youngest sister Sybil. He toyed with a new romance in the 2012 Christmas special when new maid Edna took a liking to him before deciding that he wasn’t ready to move on.
While Lewis is being ‘added’ to the cast, it will be somewhat of an ‘old-home week’ feeling for Lewis when she joins the cast as she worked with several Downton mainstays in her first feature film, From Time to Time. The 2009 film British adventure film was directed by Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes and starred Maggie Smith and Hugh Bonneville.
Unfortunately, no earth-shattering revelations as to how Sherlock Holmes survives that leap from the rooftop of St Barts at the end of series 2 of Sherlock but this is 10-minutes filled with amazingly fun bits of trivia for both the serious and casual (is there such a thing?) Benedict Cumberbatch fan. First up was that priceless bit of information about his mom, Wanda Ventham, and the accompanying photo. His mom played Colonel Virginia Lake in the cult 1970′s science fiction television series UFO. Aside from being in several episodes of The Saint, Doctor Who and Coupling, where she played Susan’s mother, Ventham is also known for her recurring role as Pamela Parry (Cassandra’s mother) in the sitcom Only Fools and Horses from 1989 to 1992.
After learning that Benedict’s first car was a Mini and that he once had an unfortunate incident in it with a rock, we get to see him teach Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson how to take a ‘Hollywood-Fu’ punch before taking his lap in the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car segment. Just how did the Sherlock star stack up against other Star Trek baddies that have been on the show? Let’s take a look….
If you happened to have been trolling around the Internets this past weekend and came across Peter Jackson’s Facebook page, you would have been one of the first ones to know, outside of those involved in the production of course, that principle filming has, as long last, concluded on Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy. For Martin Freeman (Sherlock, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy), who stars as Bilbo Baggins, it’s been a long 2.5 years in Middle-earth. In a photo that Jackson posted on his Facebook page, it’s no wonder Freeman had a big smile on his face as he walked off the set for the last time in Baggins’ feet.
Not only did Jackson post a classic photo, the Hobbit director took time out to pay tribute to Freeman on his final day on set by saying, “The end of an incredible two and a half years. I cannot imagine anyone else in this role, a character that Martin has nurtured and crafted with love and great skill.”
If that wasn’t enough, Jackson then had a unintentional gift of greatness to Sherlock and Benedict Cumberbatch fans worldwide as Smaug stopped by to say his goodbyes to Middle-earth with this awesome pic with the caption, ‘Smaug admires Bilbo’s feet’. Why am I so jazzed about the fact that both Freeman and Cumberbatch are leaving Middle-earth after 2 and 1/2 years? Obviously, that means only one thing. It’s time to begin filming the final episode of the next series of Sherlock, of course. According to reports, Sherlock filming resumes in August.
As if Lord of the Rings and Hobbit fans need a reminder, Jackson’s trilogy began with The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, which was released late last year. The next installment, The Desolation of Smaug, is set to debut on December 13 of this year and followed by There and Back Again on December 19, 2014.
When Jean Marsh and Dame Eileen Atkins revived the classic 70′s series Upstairs, Downstairs for the BBC back in 2011, unfortunately, it failed to survive partly due to the inevitable comparisons that both viewers and critics made with their rival costume drama Downton Abbey. Sadly, and a bit unfairly, it was given the boot after two series and only nine episodes.
Armed with the understanding of Einstein’s definition of insanity, that of ‘doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results’, and determined to avoid the possibility of lightning striking twice in the same place, Marsh, who co-created Upstairs, Downstairs, is working on a new version of The House of Eliott, the BBC drama from the 90′s about two sisters who set up their own haute couture fashion house in the Twenties.
This time, however, according to Marsh, she will make sure that the drama is set in a different period to Downton Abbey. Speaking at a reception at the English Speaking Union in Mayfair, Marsh said, “I want to bring House of Eliott back. We would like to set it in the 40′s and 50′s rather than the 1920′s. That way we would be a couple of decades ahead of Downton and wouldn’t have to worry about comparisons. Everyone always compares period dramas.”
Dame Eileen Atkins echoed Marsh’s sentiments recently saying, “I happen to think that The House of Eliott would be far more relevant today as it is about a fashion house and it is that world which people still find very interesting today. I see a much greater potential there for success and hope others will agree.”
They should know. Like Upstairs Downstairs, Marsh and Atkins created and wrote both the original House of Eliott along with the original Upstairs Downstairs and the remake some 40 years later. My money is on the new House of Eliott getting a successful makeover. You?
I know I need to get past this but hearing of the series 2 plans for CBS’ Elementary and now seeing images, it really is becoming more and more like a U.S. version of their BBC counterpart than the law allows.
First, it was envisioned as a 21st century adaptation of Sherlock Holmes. Hmmm…wonder where I’ve heard that before? Then, Jonny Lee Miller was cast as the world’s most famous consulting detective. Even thought I do think Miller does a fantastic job in the role, it still seemed a bit odd given that there was too much of a Kevin Bacon-type connection between he and Benedict Cumberbatch (Frankenstein). Yes, the concept was tricked up a bit with the casting of Lucy Liu as Dr. ‘Joan’ Watson. As with Miller’s take on Holmes, Liu does a very different take on Watson and it does works.
Even though there have been similarities and you, obviously, can’t copyright the ‘concept’ of a 21st century Sherlock, I was begrudgingly OK with the U.S. version as I never felt that Elementary could stand up to the Steven Moffat/Mark Gatiss BBC version from a production technique and quality standpoint. And, as much as I loved Jeremy Brett as Sherlock, to me, Benedict Cumberbatch IS Sherlock Holmes just as much as Martin Freeman is Dr. John Watson. The on-screen chemistry between the two cannot possibly be duplicated.
Then, as we have been reporting recently, the influx of British actors into roles on the CBS series makes me think that Elementary is trying to be too hard like the BBC version. First it was Natalie Dormer (Game of Thrones) taking on the dual role of Holmes’s arch-nemesis Moriarty and his love interest Irene Adler. Then it was Vinnie Jones as Moriarty’s henchman Sebastian Moran, John Hannah, who made a guest appearance as the detective’s former drug dealer. If you haven’t seen the series one finale then STOP READING NOW as the finale saw Holmes realize that his mortal enemy Moriarty is actually his former lover Irene Adler. Again, another tricked up bit to me.
Now, Rhys Ifans (Notting Hill, Amazing Spider-Man) has been tapped as the latest British star to join the cast of Elementary as the detective’s older brother Mycroft in the season premiere episode.
I can almost get past all of this. But…now, comes the initial storyline for season 2…the cast have ventured across the Atlantic to film in the UK! Imagine that. According to the Hollywood Reporter, season 2 will see the ex-Scotland Yard consultant revisit an old case and face his past while Watson will learn more about her partner’s mysterious life before he moved to New York. Filming has begun for series two with the crime-solving duo back in Holmes’ literary home of London, specifically on the South Bank with their bags in hand and a classic British black cab in the background.
Season 2 of Elementary premieres on 26 September on CBS in the States with a Sky Living premiere approximately two weeks later. You be the judge. I may be just bit biased.
Call me crazy, but I have to confess that I’m secretly way more interested at this point in the upcoming Doctor Who drama, An Adventure in Space and Time than I am for the actual 50th anniversary coming up in November. Mark Gatiss’ 90-minute special will be a one-off look at the origin of the show, which first aired on 23 November 1963, and will kick off the BBC’s 50th celebration. Playing the part of and bearing a striking resemblance to William Hartnell, the first Doctor, is David Bradley (Argus Filch, Harry Potter). The newest image does nothing but validate my total fanboy interest in seeing this asap.
The show’s title is derived from an early Radio Times report that called Doctor Who ‘an adventure in space and time’. One of the first production stills published recently by the Radio Times shows Bradley, as Hartnell, sitting on a bench with Lesley Manville as Hartnell’s devoted wife, Heather, reading that early copy of Radio Times and the review of what has now turned into the longest-running science fiction television show in the world as listed in Guinness World Records.
Lots of familiar faces to telly watchers on both sides of the pond are involved in addition to Bradley. The BBC’s Head of Drama, Sydney Newman, who is officially credited with the creation of the show, will be portrayed by Brian Cox, the actor from The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Identity not the physicist, and the producer, Verity Lambert, is portrayed by Call The Midwife star Jessica Raine. The director of the first ever episode, ‘An Unearthly Child’, Waris Hussein, will be played by Sacha Dhawan (History Boys, Last Tango In Halifax).
Thankfully, the reviews from Guardian critic, Mary Crozier, were not taken too seriously by either the BBC or by producers. As you’ll see, given her review, Doctor Who should never have made it past two episodes. Actually, Crozier did not review the series until the second episode was transmitted on 2 December 1963 on BBC One. The previous weeks premiere on 23 November was never reviewed due to coverage of the assassination of U.S. President, John F. Kennedy in Dallas. In her review, Crozier seemed more worried about the ‘ludicrous dialogue’ and questioning why the space ship looked like a police box than she did with the groundbreaking program that was about to begin a 50-year run.
The Kenneth Branagh directed Cinderella seems to have raided the Downton Abbey cabinet when it comes to assembling the all-star cast. Upstairs at Downton will be well-represented as Lily James, Downton’s free-spirited, jazz-loving Lady Rose, heads the cast as Cinderella. Not to be left out, downstairs will be well-represented as Sophie McShera, who plays Daisy, the former kitchen maid, now assistant cook at Downton Abbey, has been signed up for the role of Cinderella’s bitter, ugly and mean sister.
Showing their sentimental side, the Radio Times points out that, given Daisy’s luck at Downton of having had a husband who died in the war, been a part of several unfulfilled crushes on incoming Downton footmen and being repeatedly passed over for a promotion, you were kind of secretly pulling for her to be Cinderella weren’t you? Sadly, again, the slipper wasn’t meant to be Daisy’s this time around.
With inspiration coming from Tim Burton’s 2010 remake of Alice in Wonderland, Disney’s Cinderella will re-unite director Branagh with his Thor star, Stellan Skarsgard. The Swedish actor, who was also seen in Good Will Hunting, Pirates of the Caribbean and Momma Mia, is set to take on the role of the king’s advisor, the Grand Duke. Joining Skarsgard and giving the cast a decidedly international flair is Game of Thrones‘s Richard Madden as Prince Charming, Helena Bonham Carter as the fairy godmother, Great Expectations‘ Holliday Grainger will join McShera as wicked stepsister, Anastasia and, finally, Australian-born Cate Blanchett as Lady Tremaine, the evil stepmother.
Cinderella is currently in pre-production and is tentatively set for a 2015 release.
As if your favorite British period drama wasn’t already taking over every waking moment in your life wondering what creator Julian Fellowes has in store for us in series 4, it’s time to maximize the retail and merchandising potential, which is somewhat uncommon for a British drama series. Recently, Wines That Rock, announced distribution of a Bordeaux fit for a Crawley’s palette. In the not-too-distant future, you can now dress like a Crawley when Ralph Lauren brings a bit of Downton influence to his upcoming collection. Not sure he has a Dowager Countess look in mind, but maybe some Crawley sisters inspired lines could be cool?
Now, just when you thought it was safe to head back in to the water, magically timed to coincide with the series 4 premiere of Downton Abbey, Marks & Spencer is set to bring a bit of Downton class and beauty into UK bathrooms this October with the launch of a full range of cosmetics ‘fit for a Crawley’. The centerpiece the 10-piece gift collection includes soaps, a scented candle, lipstick, crème bath and nail polishes.
Now you can smell like Violet Crawley (not sure that’s a good thing), have lips as pouty and kissable as Lady Mary, or lounge around like Lady Edith in a bubble bath with the launch of the first ever range of official Downton Abbey beauty products. Sorry U.S. fans, only in the UK at this time.
Each product is deemed ‘official’ by virtue of a Downton Abbey stamp and a quote from the series. Some, such as the above from the Dowager Countess herself, “No one wants to kiss a girl in black“, even doubles up as a wise word of advice while you are getting ready in the morning.
The upcoming and, unfortunately, last in a long line of brilliant dramas from BBC 4, Burton and Taylor, deals with the final act in the 20 year on-off relationship between Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. Dominic West and Helena Bonham Carter take on the roles of the couple with the infamous romantic past, which saw them married and divorced twice within 12 years (1964-1974 and 1975-1976). West, an accomplished stage actor is most widely known for his time on The Wire in addition to playing TV news presenter, Hector Madden, on the BBC drama, The Hour stars as Richard Burton with Bonham Carter, known for more roles than the law allows, including Harry Potter, The King’s Speech, Dark Shadows, Sweeney Todd and Alice in Wonderland, starring as Elizabeth Taylor.
Photograph: Gustavo Papaleo/BBC/PA
Burton & Taylor will focus on the final reunion of the pair on the set of the 1983 stage revival of Noel Coward’s Private Lives. The casting of Taylor and Burton in Coward’s comedy, which is about a divorced couple running into each other in France while honeymooning with their new spouses totally played upon the public’s fascination with the real-life tempestuous relationship of Burton and Taylor. The original stage production was universally panned but a huge audience hit as theater-goers thought this to a their on-again-off-again relationship is played out once more, but this time on center stage in front of a live audience.
The film will be aired in the UK on BBC4 later this year as one of the channel’s last original dramas with no broadcast date or network lined up yet in the States. Personally, way more interest in this version over Lifetime’s Liz & Dick for the simple fact that it’s Bonham Carter in the title role of Taylor and not Lindsay Lohan.
Look out, United States, the Honourable Miss Phryne (pronounced Fry-nee) Fisher is coming to America. While Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries may not make you immediately abdicate your allegiance to Sherlock, it is, without a doubt, worth checking out in the coming months on public television. Definitely not your parents’ Miss Marple, Phryne Fisher is a fashionably beautiful investigator with a penchant for murder cases that take her through back alleys, jazz clubs and shady neighborhoods all with a twinkle in her eye that fits right in to the risque world of 1920′s Melbourne. Phryne Fisher is equally at home solving murders with her pearl-handled Smith & Wesson as she is with a cocktail in hand, charming paramours in her full-length white silk coat.
Thanks to the great folks over at Acorn Media, Tellyspotting recently caught up with Essie Davis, one of Australia’s most respected and acclaimed film, theatre and television actors, as she found a few free moments during the filming of series 2 of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.
Tellyspotting: With U.S. audiences on the verge of being introduced to Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, who is Phryne Fisher?
Essie Davis: I guess Phryne Fisher is the female answer to James Bond, Indiana Jones or a combination of both. She’s an incredibly independent woman from the 1920′s, who was born in poverty and inherited great wealth. She’s incredibly skilled, she lives life to the fullest and is a woman who never wants to get married but loves life and loves men. She’s an advocate for women’s rights and the rights of the less privileged in the world and she’s got a knack for sleuthing and finding out ‘whodunit’. She’s both a mystery and a bit of a romp.
T.S.: The series is set during a time of incredible change for women. Phryne Fisher seems to be someone that really embraced the opportunity in front of her of being more independent. Her character would seem right at home in the 21st century given her ‘adventurous’ spirit don’t you think?
E.D.: I think, absolutely, that Phryne is a person that often finds herself more liberated than women are today and realizes the luxury of her independence. She knows what it is to have money, to own her own home, her own car and yet she’s not stingy with her money either. She’s quite happy to buy cars for other people. She is definitely someone who holds on to her independence. Many men would like to marry her but…she’s not the marrying kind.
T.S.: Your acting background features extensive stage and screen work. Has that helped for your work in television?
E.D.: Absolutely. I think certainly because the show has so much to do with language and the dexterity and fluidity of using complicated language it no doubt helps. I’ve done a lot of very complicated language on stage from Shakespeare to Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller to Tom Stoppard. Having done that work has really helped with the dexterity that Phryne has with language and her incredible wealth of knowledge. She’s kind of like a superhero that can speak a lot of languages such as Mandarin and French while at the same time dance a tango, fly an airplane, drive a car and do the foxtrot. She’s very surprising. Every episode she’s got another skill that nobody knew.
T.S.: Miss Fisher is not your traditional murder mystery in the vein of Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot. It’s irreverent and fun, but can you comment on the very dark undercurrent that runs throughout the series dealing with some very strong subject matter for the time?
E.D.: There is a very dark side to the series and there is lots of heavy subjects because it’s all set in the midst of real events that are going on in 1928, in particular, abortion, women’s rights, aboriginal rights and drug smuggling. And Phryne, herself, has a dark past that she’s trying to find out what happened to her little sister.
T.S.: As with many British comedy or mystery series that public television viewers in the States are familiar with, writing is considered a cut above the rest. Beyond the obvious, can you comment on the importance of good writing as the basis for any successful series?
E.D.: Well, it is the most important thing, I really believe. There’s nothing worse than average writing. No matter how skilled actors are coming together to do it, it can never work and can only be ordinary. It really helped that the first series came from the novels that Kerry Greenwood wrote. She has a great knowledge of the period as well as being incredibly witty.
T.S.: How important is it for you to dig a bit deeper and get a ‘beyond the surface understanding’ of a character you are playing, Phryne in particular.
E.D.: Absolutely. That’s where the novels came in incredibly handy. Kerry’s written a whole history and you find out more and more in each book about Phryne’s life and the fact that she worked as an air ambulance officer in the First World War then went off and modeled in France afterwards trying to make a living. All of the books gave me a huge background to her life. Each story will have something new about her history or where she’s come from. I read a lot of the novels during the first series to make sure I knew who she was. I hadn’t read any of the books before I was cast in the role and all of that helped immensely. Because the books have a massive fan base around the world, there’s no point in playing a character one way and then finding out that she would have thought something completely different if only you’d known.
T.S.: One of the most striking things about the Miss Fisher series is the level of detail that went in to the costuming to set the tone for the series. Has Phryne ever worn the same outfit twice?
E.D.: (laughs) Oh, I think there are a couple of repeats, probably shoes. Marion Boyce, our costume designer, has an incredible wealth of knowledge and is a fastidious designer who would never put me in anything that is not authentic to the period. She has beautiful collections of materials, buttons, buckles and gloves all from the period as well as designing me beautiful outfits. I often walk on set and everyone’s jaw drops and I smile and go…I know.
T.S.: Filming the series has to be exhausting. If you could speak to both the physical nature of the role and her ‘love of life’ adventurous nature and to what immediate challenges did playing Phryne bring for you?
E.D.: The biggest challenge is that there is very little time for rehearsals. Whenever I get a moment off, I’m doing a tango lesson or learning Mandarin. I think that was one of the hardest things that I’ve ever had to do. But, I know my one sentence incredibly well. A year and a half later, I can still pull it out when needed. Certainly, all of the dancing, you’ve got two hours to learn how to flamenco and look like you’re brilliant at it. Because she’s really good at everything she does, trying to do each little part of it with great skill is very challenging.
T.S.: On the oft chance you do have a free moment, what do you enjoy watching from a comedy or drama standpoint?
E.D.: My favorite American dramas are The West Wing and The Sopranos. I love comedy. I love having a good laugh. I absolutely loved The West Wing because of the writing and the actors were brilliant and the politics of it all was fascinating. From a comedy standpoint, I love 30 Rock and I absolutely love Arrested Development. It’s brilliant.
T.S.: While Phryne is clearly the centerpiece of the series, can you comment on the ensemble cast that has been assembled for Miss Fisher and, in general, the importance of the strength of a supporting cast in a series?
E.D.: Very important. You can’t act on your own. The family of characters that the series brings together are extremely important. The overarching story is much more about this group of people who work together. The beautiful thing that happens between Detective Inspector Jack Robinson (Nathan Page), who at first finds Phryne a thorn in his side, and is then eventually very pleased that she can help by going about solving these cases in a less than conventional police manner is a perfect example. That’s why people want to watch. I think they want to see more of what happens between the characters and not just someone dies and a murder gets solved.
T.S.: Is there a little bit of Phryne Fisher in Essie Davis?
E.D.: I think so (laughing). I think every role that an actor plays has to have some element that comes from you. I’m very lucky in that all the characters I’ve played are very different from each other. I will say, however, that there is some part of Phryne that is me. You do learn a lot about yourself from the characters you play.
T.S.: For those that have never been to Australia, where would Phryne Fisher be apt to first take you to get the full Aussie experience?
E.D.: Well…I would say, a speedy drive along the Great Ocean Road would be a good start. Then go to some beautiful little cocktail bar in Melbourne and maybe scale the police and justice building and take you for a rooftop and then perhaps a little fly over the countryside.
T.S.: How about Essie Davis?
E.D.: I would take you to some remote beaches in Tasmania and to the southwest of Tasmania mountaintops and just home for dinner.
With that, my 30-minute brush with Aussie greatness ended. Oh well, I guess we’ll always have the possibility of driving along the Great Ocean Road and the remote beaches of Tasmania.
While public television viewers in the States were first introduced to the series this past April, more stations will be premiering the series over the next several months. Series 2 of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries will transmit on ABC in Australia later in 2013.
Definitely be on the lookout for Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, with Phryne solving murders and leaving a trail of men floundering in her rear view mirror, on a public television station near you in the not-too-distant future. FYI, KERA TV viewers in North Texas can see series one, Saturdays at 9:00pm beginning August 24.
Now THIS is what makes the Internets interesting. Since 2010, the desire and hope there would be a Sherlock/Downton Abbey crossover has been an on-again, off-again trending topic on Twitter. I recognize most of Planet Earth would rather see Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock step out of the TARDIS but, somehow, seeing Sherlock match wits with the Dowager Countess ranks right up there for me. Imagine if Sherlock had been called in from the beginning, Mr. Bates would have never spent the entire series 3 in prison for the murder of his ex-wife! Given that both Sherlock creators and writer, Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, have sizable ties to the Traveling Time Lord, a Sherlock/Doctor Who crossover was always more likely to happen “someday” but still…
Thanks to YouTubber, Jasmin Holmes, we don’t have to wonder what it would be like. At least how the opening of Sherlock would look if done in the style of Downton Abbey. Enjoy!