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First images from Mark Gatiss’ An Adventure in Space and Time

July 12, 2013

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.
David Bradley as William Hartnell reading 1963 copy of Radio Times about Doctor Who

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.



‘Downton Abbey’ to be well represented in Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella

July 11, 2013

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.
Lilly James as Lady Rose in Downton Abbey set to star as Cinderella

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.
Downton Abbeys Daisy set to play Cinderellas ugly sister

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.

Marks & Spencer to bring a bit of Crawley class to UK loos this Fall

July 10, 2013

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.
Downton Abbey signature soaps from Marks & Spencer

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.
Downton Abbey lip balm from Marks & Spencer

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.

A first glimpse at BBC 4′s Burton and Taylor

July 9, 2013

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.
Dominic West and Helena Bonham Carter as Richard Burton and Liz Taylor in BBC4's Burton and 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.

Q&A with Essie Davis, star of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries

July 8, 2013

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.
Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries_E8B

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.
Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries_Miss Phryne Fisher (Essie Davis)#08FD

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.
Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries_957_ Miss Phryne Fisher (Essie Davis) and Detective Inspector Jack Robinson (Nathan Page)

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.

Blue Peter goes behind the scenes of ‘Porridge’ with Ronnie Barker

July 7, 2013

Sometimes, going behind-the-scenes to see ‘how the sausage is made’ can be a bit like letting the air out of a balloon that you’ve had since you were a kid. There are some things that should be left well enough alone allowing you to remain that wide-eyed kid as long as you can. As we showed last week with the BBC’s Call the Midwife, there are times, however, that seeing how the sausage is made serves only to make something even more brilliant. For the record, I’m a total sucker for behind-the-scenes stuff and, if truth be told, sometimes I watch the DVD extras before the actual movie or series.

Ronnie Barker in PorridgeSuch is that case with a recent find by the British Comedy Guide of  a mid-70s video from the legendary BBC children’s series, Blue Peter, going behind-the-scenes with Ronnie Barker ‘to see how the Porridge is made. Fans of Barker will remember the series about two inmates at the fictional ‘Category C’ prison, HMP Slade in Cumberland. Category C referring to the official prisoner security category in the UK as a prisoner ‘who cannot be trusted in open conditions but who are unlikely to try to escape’, which describes Barker’s career criminal character, Norman Stanley Fletcher, perfectly.

The name of the series was derived from the fact that ‘doing porridge’ is British slang for serving a prison sentence and porridge was once the traditional breakfast in UK prisons. Porridge was voted number seven in a 2004 BBC poll of the 100 greatest British sitcoms, finishing behind only Yes Minister/Yes Prime Minister (#6), Fawlty Towers (#5), Dad’s Army (#4), Vicar of Dibley (#3), Blackadder (#2) and Only Fools and Horses coming in at #1. Not bad company for a series that only ran for three seasons from 1974-1977 on BBC One. Of note is that the multi-story set that was created inside London’s Ealing Studios for the wider prison interior was an old converted water tank. That’s why I love knowing how the sausage is made.

A trip to Portwenn and the making of Doc Martin 6….

July 6, 2013

As Planet Earth patiently (ha!) awaits the precise moment that surgery is once again open in Portwenn for the return of Doc Martin, David Rubinsohn and Eric Luskin, colleagues over at American Public Television, the U.S. distributor of the series to public television stations, made the trek to Port Isaac to both interview cast and shoot material for an upcoming behind-the-scenes special on public television. Doc Martin Revealed will air in late November, early December on a number of public television stations across the U.S.

Recently, armed with a full understanding the true meaning of ‘there’s no such thing as a free lunch’, David filed this report exclusively for Tellyspotting readers from the set of Doc Martin as they were filming the upcoming sixth series of the immensely popular ITV drama series. David, you truly sacrifice for the fans of Doc Martin on public television….

Before I forget…a big Tellyspotting shout-out to the crew working on Doc Martin, including Simon the head audio tech. It was brought our attention that Simon and a number of the crew are readers of Tellyspotting. That is beyond cool. Thanks to the entire cast and crew on behalf of Doc Martin fans worldwide for doing what you do on this brilliant series.

On the set with Doc Martin

When my colleague at American Public Television, Eric Luskin, told me that we had an opportunity to shoot some behind-the-scenes footage of Doc Martin, I forced myself to get excited. To have an opportunity to go to Port Isaac to be involved with one of the best shows on television was a thrill. You can expect to see this special, Doc Martin: Revealed hitting the PTV airwaves sometime in late November or early December. The new season, Series 6, with additional behind the scenes material also available will air early next year – 2014.
Port Isaac Panaroma

After red eye flights to London, Eric and I boarded the First Great Western train to Cornwall from Paddington Station in London. The destination: Bodmin Parkway, some place four hours southwest in beautiful Cornwall. From there our driver, Paul, drove us another half hour to our destination. And there it was – Port Isaac which is, in my opinion, the main character in the series. It is just a beautiful in person as you would expect it to be. After getting settled we forced ourselves to a pub to get acclimated to the local culture. (We do sacrifice ourselves for you!) After a red eye flight and a 4 hour train ride, falling asleep that evening was no problem.

We were allowed on the set for just three days and we took it upon ourselves to shoot and record anything that moved including cast, crew, tourists, townspeople, babies, dogs, and seagulls. The regular cast and crew all live nearby in houses, lodges, inns for the entire shooting period. Many of them are there for the entire April – August shoot so it is hard for them to get back up to London except on the weekend. Therefore to accommodate them, the shooting schedule is, at least, a 12 hour day – 7am to 7pm Monday through Friday.

Having access to everything for those three days was a truly tremendous experience. Our cameraman, Tom Harding, has worked on Doc Martin over the years and his wife is the principal sound recordist for the series. Because of that everyone on set was comfortable with the “making of” crew.
waiting room Tom

Each morning the cast and some of the crew report to base camp which is, in reality, a farm 15 miles out of town. There are trailers everywhere. There are trailers for actors, make-up, costume, editing, production offices and even a breakfast trailer where you can get a full English breakfast. Yummy! Bring on the baked beans!!

It is there that the cast is made up and costumed. Then they are driven to Port Isaac to shoot their scenes. Also on the farm is a giant barn that has been converted to an indoor studio. It is here that the interiors are shot including Doc Martin’s Portwenn surgery.

While the inside of Dr. Ellingham’s surgery is on the farm, the outside door of the iconic location is fifteen miles away which is where we met Martin Clunes. He really does set a great example for a happy filming set. His attitude makes everyone on the crew happy and professional. Martin is all smiles until the director calls “Action!” and then that famous scowl appears. There is lots of lip biting to avoid laughing out loud.
Doc Martin trio

We watched multiple takes of a scene. Each scene that is shot is generally done with around four or five camera angles. The crew alters the cameras; the continuity people make sure everything looks the same; the costumer makes sure that a wayward lapel hasn’t moved outside a jacket, etc. They really work hard. The cast, meanwhile, needs to be ready to jump in when it is time and do their lines just as sincerely and accurately on the 15th take as they do on the 1st. In fact, for the three days we were there, we never saw a “blown-take” be the fault of the actors. It was always because of boat or truck noise or a dog barking.

Martin Clunes, unlike his character, absolutely loves dogs. In fact, while he was doing his brief scene, one of his dogs was just out of camera range whimpering until his master returned to him. To see cranky Doc Martin turn into mushy dog-owner, Martin Clunes, in seconds was delightful.

Many of the scenes that were shot when we were there were at Bert Large’s restaurant. This always poses quite a challenge as it is actually a private residence and the crew is not allowed indoors. It is a very narrow patio which makes things a little snug for everyone. The day before shooting the set designers build the outdoor restaurant structure and the prop masters decorate it with very authentic looking paraphernalia. So authentic, in fact, that visitors to Port Isaac still actually try to book a table at “Large’s Restaurant” and are quite surprised to find out it exists only on their TV sets.
Large Restaurant sign

The production team actually shoots multiple episodes at once. During our week they were hopping back and forth between scenes for episodes 4,5, & 6 so the cast needed to know their lines for three different episodes. Some scenes were shot in sunlight and some were shot in a misty rain but when you see the final scene it will all flow beautifully. They are magicians.

Ian McNeice (Bert Large), by the way, is a real fan of public television and said some marvelous things about PTV for the camera. Fans of Mr. McNeice may be aware that he has also played Winston Churchill in some episodes of Doctor Who (a totally different kind of doctor). He even did a pledge pitch, as Winston Churchill, for us. Great stuff!
Ian McNeice interview

Many of you submitted questions for the cast and crew, via your local public television stations, and Eric and I asked as many of those as we could. The most universal questions centered around Doc Martin’s personality and what is up with the relationship between he and Louisa. Every cast member had thoughts on The Doc and you will see some of their responses in the special. However we were very lucky to be able to be in Port Isaac during a week that Claire Bloom was present. As you may recall the acclaimed actress plays Martin’s mother and her insights into the character’s personality was a terrific “get” for public television.

After each day of shooting our behind-the-scenes stuff we would race back to the production offices where we transferred the interviews and “making of” material from camera cards to hard drives — to free up space for the next day’s schedule. There was always a big sigh of relief when we would see actual pictures and sound from our hard work.

This truly was one of the best 72 hours of my life. We worked very hard to grab as much footage as possible for the upcoming special and bonus extras for Series 6 and the DVDs that will be released. The entire cast and crew were so welcoming we wished we could have stayed there for the entire time. But it all started at the top with that married couple, Executive Producer Philippa Braithwaite and series star Martin Clunes. The examples they set makes this a truly happy place to work. I’d sign up to go back in a heartbeat—even though I know those seagulls are loaded and lurking.

I wouldn’t dare reveal any plot points but I can tell you that you are in for 8 terrific episodes of the new season of Doc Martin. Hopefully, you’ll get a sense of what we experienced when you see the Doc Martin: Revealed later this year on KERA or your local public television station.

Thanks, David. Good to see you immediately found the one and only pub in Port Isaac from the get go.

The newest Doctor Who villain is…Prince Charles?

July 5, 2013

The set of Doctor Who played host to some very special visitors on Wednesday…
The Prince Of Wales & Duchess Of Cornwall Visit BBC Roath Lock Studios

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall explored the show’s set, made their way into the TARDIS and, met several villains along the way, including the Cybermen and the Daleks. The royals visit was in conjunction with the Doctor Who 50th anniversary, slated for 23 November of this year. The royals crossed paths with Matt Smith, Jenna-Louise Coleman and showrunner, Steven Moffat with Prince Charles even skillfully wielding the sonic screwdriver.

While the Tardis controls didn’t prove too troublesome for the qualified helicopter pilot and self-professed longtime fan (since he was 15) of the longest running science fiction series on television, Prince Charles even had a little fun on the set of the show, using a voice modulator to impersonate a Dalek, voted the scariest villian of The Doctor in a 2005 poll.

Meeting The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall today was such an honor” Coleman said in a statement. “The Prince was particularly interested in the mechanics of how the TARDIS works and the storyline for the upcoming 50th anniversary special, but I didn’t give too many secrets away.

Good to know that while royalty does have its privileges, even they can get any information about the Doctor Who 50th anniversary special.

Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Day Out in Bristol starts out not so grand

July 4, 2013

While the sight of giant Gromit statues might be a bit unnerving to some, folks in and around Bristol woke up Monday morning surrounded by 80 giant Gromit statues strategically placed around the city and they seemed to be ok with it. Most everyone, that is. From the ‘Department of Is Nothing Sacred’, it seems as though Gromit’s grand day out in Bristol began with a bit of vandalism when the 5-foot statue designed by Joanna Lumley had its tail smashed off in College Green. Adding insult to injury, a second Gromit was knocked off its base platform in Bristol City Centre. Despite the destruction, Gromit’s Unleashed has gotten off to a brilliant start.

The Gromit statues, which will be auctioned off for the charity in October, are part of this years Wallace and Gromit’s Grand Appeal campaign. Each statue has been designed by an artist or celebrity with the idea to raise money to go towards new equipment for the Bristol Children’s Hospital. This year’s initiative kicked off with Nick Park, Oscar-winning creator of Wallace and Gromit, bringing many of the sculptures into the city on a special steam train. Among the designers of the 80 giant Gromits, which will be auctioned in October, are Harry Hill, Jools Holland, Trevor Bayliss, Joanna Lumley, Quentin Blake, Cath Kidston, Paul Smith, Aardman’s own Nick Park and Peter Lord and One Direction’s, Zayn Malik.

If you find yourself in or around Bristol (or London’s Paddington Station) this summer, download the Gromit Unleashed trail map and visit all 80 locations. Let us know what your favorite is and send us a photo to post. I’m guessing Gromit’s favorite location will be the one in Cheddar Gorge. The statues are on display now through September 8 so print out the map or get the ‘Detect-O-Gromit’ app for your complete guide to all the locations.

Happy Gromit-spotting!.

Series 4000 mechanoid, Kryten 2X4B – 523P, sends message from Red Dwarf

July 3, 2013

Monday evening’s preview screening, which leads up to this coming Saturdays U.S. broadcast premiere of Red Dwarf X on KERA TV in Dallas/Fort Worth, is receiving worldwide attention of epic proportion. Putting it all together would not have been possible without the herculean efforts of a number of individuals who, unfortunately, happened to be about 5000 miles away from the Studio Movie Grill in Dallas Monday night.

First, a big debt of gratitude goes out to Doug Naylor, co-creator of Red Dwarf for his tireless efforts over the last year and a half working with KERA to make this U.S. premiere possible. Thanks, also, to Seb Patrick, the official mind who oversees the official website of Red Dwarf for an absolutely brilliant write up about the event and the U.S. premiere on KERA. And, finally, thanks to everyone’s favorite Series 4000 mechanoid, Robert Llewellyn who, together with Richard Naylor, co-producer of Red Dwarf X, put together this very special message direct from a wayward mining vessel owned by the Jupiter Mining Corporation to all the North Texas smegheads in attendance on Monday.

At that point it was time for what everyone came for…the big screen preview premiere of “Trojan”, the first episode of Red Dwarf X. Needless to say, a good time way had by all with the studio laugh track consistently drowned out by those in attendance for the episodes entire duration of 31:46. Now come the huge tip of the hat to all who attended, some who even traveled from as far away as Tyler (96.9 miles from Dallas according to Google Maps) to spend the evening with KERA and Red Dwarf. Thank you so much!

Oh, no. Here comes the pledge pitch. You knew this was coming…

Programs like Red Dwarf and all the British comedies don’t magically appear on public television stations around the U.S. They are there because of the continued voluntary financial support of fans just like all those in attendance on Monday and those who were unable to attend. I know I can speak for all my colleagues at the over 300 public television stations around the U.S. when I say thank you for watching and supporting the shows you can’t live without on your local PBS station….like Red Dwarf, of course.

Now, if you are in the North Texas area, tell everyone you meet between now and Saturday to tune in to the U.S. broadcast premiere of Red Dwarf X on KERA beginning this Saturday at 10:00pm. Look for RDX to make its way across the U.S. on public television stations beginning in 2014.

With that, to quote Kryten…bye, bye.