Anytime Mark Gatiss talks Sherlock, I consider it official.
While it has been the subject of intense speculation ever since Sherlock lept from atop St Barts Hospital, it has now been confirmed by stv Entertainment that the third series of Sherlock will begin filming in January 2013. Co-creator/co-writer (and Sherlock’s elder brother, Mycroft), Mark Gatiss, confirmed for all the world to hear recently, ”We start filming in January. It might be more expensive but they both wanted to do it. It’s very exciting.” Obviously, both meaning Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock Holmes) and Martin Freeman (John Watson). I’m guessing expensive because both actors have, perhaps, the tightest schedules on the planet at the moment given the fact that since series 2 ended, Benedict has done The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, The Hobbit: There and Back Again, Star Trek Into Darkness and Parade’s End, not to mention finishing up work on Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and War Horse. While the bulk of Martin Freeman’s time was spent on the three Hobbit films, he did kind of have an important role in that of Bilbo Baggins.
While probably not a shock to anyone who watched even one of the previous six episodes, Sherlock has been a huge success for both the BBC and PBS in the States, Martin Freeman previously revealed he was shocked at the amount of viewers it managed to pull in, even beating BBC stalwart EastEnders. Cleaning it up a bit, Freeman couldn’t contain his excitement when he commented that, ”…Some of the viewing figures we got with the second series of Sherlock were outrageous. One week, we beat EastEnders, and I’m so proud – not because we beat EastEnders – but I’m just proud that millions, I mean literally millions of people wanted to watch it then. That night, do you know what I mean?”
While it’s probably a bit early to hang the Sherlock 3 broadcast countdown calendar on the wall, I am going to get it ready to put up at a moments notice. Anyone with me?
Martin Freeman’s stock is going through the roof these days given his brilliant performance in Sherlock and, what I’m already assuming is brilliant in the upcoming Peter Jackson fantasy epic, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, as Bilbo Baggins. Many were ‘introduced’ to Martin back in 2001 as Tim in Ricky Gervais’ The Office. Post “Office, Freeman starred in Hardware, a short-lived situation comedy set in Hamway’s Hardware Store in London.
The Simon Nye (Men Behaving Badly) creation revolved around the store staff and their daily wisecrack battles with an endless array of DIY-obsessed shoppers. The series also starred Peter Serafinowicz, the English actor, composer, voice-over artist and director that I will forever remember as Pete, the tidy flatmate of Shaun and Ed in Simon Pegg’s Shaun of the Dead. In real life, Serafinowicz is married to Sarah Alexander (Coupling, Me and Mrs. Jones).
Freeman plays Mike, the blunt and grumpy DIY fanatic who works in the shop. His daily mission is to try, mostly unsuccessfully, to avoid the daily behind the counter ‘life chats’ but often gets sucked in. The series also features early Ryan Cartwright, know better in the U.S. for his more recent roles in Bones and Mad Men. Worth checking out. As always, anyone have any suggestions for future Friday Vault profiles, send them my way. Cheers.
As with most police procedural programs that come out of the UK (i.e. George Gently, Daziel and Pascoe, Prime Suspect, Inspector Lewis, Endeavour, etc.), brilliant as they are, they all tend to constantly reinforce the thought that there is a definite pecking order within the department between the DCI and everyone else from DI on down. In both Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes, it was DCI Gene Hunt versus the rest of the planet, but that’s a story unto itself for another day. Accompanying that pecking order, however, is a clear sense of having each other’s back when needed.
The newest addition to an already stellar pipeline of police procedural dramas coming out of the UK is no different. DCI Banks, starring Stephen Tompkinson (Ballykissangel) and Andrea Lowe (Silent Witness, Torchwood, The Tudors), will find a well-deserved home on PBS stations nationwide beginning in January 2013 (tentatively set for the week of 6 January). In DCI Banks, Chief Inspector Alan Banks has been called tenacious and stubborn…and, I’m sure, a lot of other things that you probably ought not put in print. Detective Sergeant Annie Cabbot is considered both feisty and headstrong and, yet, the respect and bond between the two is evident from the beginning. They have their bumps along the way, but they have each others back without question.
Set in the Yorkshire countryside, DCI Banks is based on the Inspector Banks novels by Peter Robinson. In the pilot episode, ‘Aftermath’, two police officers stumble across the lair of a serial killer and Inspector Banks finds himself faced with a chilling murder investigation that will test him to the limit. The pilot episode also features an amazingly chilling performance by Charlotte Riley. You think Kurt Wallander has issues, just wait.
***FYI, Major spoilers below for DCI Banks ‘Aftermath’ if you haven’t seen yet. That said, if you can’t wait until January 2013, it’s worth being spoiled***
Just when you thought it was safe…The Comic Strip Presents returns
The Comic Strip Presents series first aired in 1982 with ‘Five Go Mad In Dorset’, a brilliant parody of the original Famous Five books. Cast and crew include Comic Strip founder, Peter Richardson, along with The Young Ones alums, Adrian Edmondson, Rik Mayall and Nigel Planer, in addition to Jennifer Saunders and Dawn French. All regularly recall the significance of the show and what it was like to make, seemingly with a complete disregard for health and safety. The series, which tended to be more a series of specials, put Channel 4 on the map as a source of comedy in the 80′s. Their most recent comedy efforts came in 2011 with the satirical 50s-style film noir spoof ‘The Hunt For Tony Blair’.
Fast forward to 2012 and you have The Comic Strip Presents ‘Five Go To Rehab’ which airs tonight at 9:00pm on UKTV Gold. The video below, which was filmed in London’s Victoria Station last month to promote tonight’s broadcast on UKTV Gold, saw a brass band expertly painted to blend inanimately into the front cover of a giant book which visually mimicked the nostalgic ‘lashings of ginger beer’ style of the original Enid Blyton tales of The Famous Five. Just imagine. People in Victoria Station actually smiling and interacting! This can’t help but be good.
Vote for Britain’s Best Political Sitcom – 2012
Today is the day that most Americans either thought would never get here or couldn’t get here fast enough — Election Day 2012. While America goes to the polls to elect the next President of the United States (POTUS), it’s time to spend about $3 billion less than was spent on this year’s Presidential election and to virtually open up the right to vote to the entire world and determine Britain’s Best Political Sitcom of all-time.
Unlike the U.S. election, the object here is to vote early and vote often as the polls never close. Unlike official polling places, the virtual election poll encourages you to try and influence your fellow registered or un-registered voters through posted comments as to either who they should vote for the first time around or maybe change their vote the second time through. Remember, virtual polls don’t close so feel free to vote today, vote tomorrow and feel free to forward to ensure a 100% turnout.
Candidate #1 – Yes Minister
Yes Minister, the 80′s British sitcom which is set primarily in the private office of a British Cabinet minister in the fictional Department for Administrative Affairs in Whitehall, follows the ministerial career of The Rt Hon Jim Hacker MP, played by Paul Eddington (Good Neighbors). His various struggles to formulate and enact legislation or effect departmental changes are opposed by the British Home Civil Service, in particular his Permanent Secretary, Sir Humphrey Appleby, played by Nigel Hawthorne. His Principal Private Secretary Bernard Woolley, played by Derek Fowlds, is usually caught between the two. Both created and written by Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn, this series is so brilliantly done that it is probably more relevant today than when it premiered some 30+ years ago.
Candidate #2 – The Thick of It
Forever to be described as the 21st century’s answer to its 1980′s predecessor, Yes Minister, The Thick of It is equally a brilliant. Highlighting the struggles and conflicts between politicians, party spin doctors, advisers, civil servants and the media, the series centers on the fictitious Department of Social Affairs and Citizenship which supposedly came out of the Prime Minister’s desire for a “joined-up government”. Peter Capaldi is perfection as Malcolm Tucker, Number 10′s highly aggressive and domineering enforcer. Many of the episodes featured story lines that not only mirrored reality but, in some cases, actually predicted real-life policies, events and/or scandals. Interestingly, creator/writer/director Armando Iannucci originally conceived of the modern political satire after arguing the case for Yes Minister in BBC Two’s 2004 Best British Sitcom poll.
So, vote early, vote often and, remember, if you don’t vote you can’t complain about the outcome tomorrow….
Benedict Cumberbatch, the star of the BBC/PBS Sherlock has done the best male imitation of Annie Carnes in Oklahoma. He just can’t say no. I only say selfishly because the more Benedict’s star keeps rising and the more he says yes to projects such as The Hobbit, Star Trek, War Horse, Parades End and Tinker Tailor, the longer we have to wait for the likes of any new Sherlock brilliance.
Both the BBC and The Hollywood Reporter are reporting that Cumberbatch has been cast in the big-screen biography of Brian Epstein, the manager of the Beatles when they first started out. Often referred to as “the fifth Beatle”, Epstein was instrumental in the birth of the group, their iconic look and style and their emergence as the most popular musical act on the planet. In 1967, at the height of Beatlemania, Epstein died of an overdose, in what many believe was a suicide. Tom Hanks will produce and Paul McGuigan will direct. Cumberbatch should feel right at home with McGuigan given he has directed four of the six episodes of Sherlock. Producers describe the film as the story of “the man who threw the biggest party of the 1960s but ultimately forgot to invite himself.”
Interestingly, the news of the Tom Hanks project surfaces just as another Brian Epstein film, dubbed The Fifth Beatle, is coming together from author Vivek J. Tiwary, who will write and produce a big-screen adaptation of his graphic novel. That project has secured the rights to inlude Beatles songs from Sony/ATV, which controls the John Lennon/Paul McCartney music catalogue.
While it might seem odd at first, only the likes of Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hanks and Paul McGuigan might just actually be able to pull of a Fifth Beatle biopic with no Beatles music anywhere in sight….
Forget the obligatory countdowns that are beginning to surface with regards to how many shopping days until Christmas, etc. The real countdown is that, in the States on PBS, we are exactly 9 weeks from today away from the premiere of the new season of Downton Abbey – (insert a public thank you to all of our friends across the pond who are, as we speak, coming to the end of the current series and have yet to provide spoilers for those of us who haven’t seen yet. We know how hard this is in the Age of Twitter, etc., so, thank you). Hopefully, by the time Downton Abbey 4 rolls around the amount of time between UK and U.S. broadcast will be diminished dramatically. A same day broadcast in both countries would be kind of great, wouldn’t it?
In the meantime, knowing a bit about the subject like he does, ITV has tapped Downton writer/creator, Julian Fellowes to present a 2-part series, Julian Fellowes’ Historical Houses in 2013. “The great houses of Britain have for centuries been the guardians of much of our history, not just of the families who built and lived in them, but of the people who worked there, of the local area, of all of us,” said Fellowes. “Where they have remained in the hands of the original families, the archives are rich in their stories and I have been on the trail of just a few of these.”
The series will be produced by Chocolate Media which is owned by NBCUniversal International Television Production and who also owns Carnival Films, the producers of Downton Abbey.
With Hollywood studios finally beginning to recognize that older people do go to the movies and that there is, in fact, money to be made with films that actually place more emphasis on script than special effects, the word on the street is that there is a sequel to The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel in the works. Cast members including Dame Judi Dench, Bill Nighy and Dame Maggie Smith are, ‘in principle’, eager to return for the second film but no mention as to whether or not John Madden will return to direct the film. Based on author Deborah Moggach’s novel, These Foolish Things, news of the possible film sequel is being reported in MovieScope magazine with original screenwriter Ol Parker set to deliver a new script to 20th Century Fox studios in the next couple of months.
If you haven’t seen the gem of a film, this is a must see. Interestingly, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel was not a hit with critics when it first premiered in 2011 which does nothing but further my belief that if critics don’t like something, I go see it and vice versa. With a cast that reads like a Who’s Who of British acting, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel tells the story of a group of retired Brits who move to a newly-restored hotel when they, individually, decide to “outsource” their retirement to less expensive and seemingly exotic India.
Since the original, both Dame Judi Dench and Dame Maggie Smith have been busy both on the big and small screen. Judi Dench reprising her role as agent M in the soon to be releases James Bond film, Skyfall while Maggie Smith continued her Dowager Countess brilliance in the newest series of the ITV/PBS mega-hit, Downton Abbey, and will then return to the big screen in late December 2012 with Billy Connolly and Sheridan Smith in Dustin Hoffman’s directorial debut Quartet.
This will be one sequel that I’m willing to put on the calendar as one to go see….anyone with me?
Oddly, this weeks From the Friday Vault selection, The Crystal Maze, comes out of the fact that I was watching Rocky Horror Picture Show earlier this week on Halloween. At this point, you’re probably trying to figure out the connection. While it is sometimes pretty scary how my mind works, for those that remember this early 90′s British game show that aired on Channel 4, you’ll immediately remember the host, Richard O’Brien, who was also brilliant as Riff Raff in Rocky Horror.
Initially, the show was intended to be a British remake of the French program, Fort Boyard, whose set was actually a real fort in the middle of the sea. Realizing that this would make it impossible to import, British producer Malcolm Heyworth decided to reinvent the show using four themed zones, representing various periods of time and space, all designed to weave contestants through a myriad of physical and mental challenges. Each week, the team of six contestants took part in a selection of challenges in order to win ‘time crystals’, which were actually, golf ball-sized Swarovski glass crystals. If the contestant failed to complete the stated challenge and exit the chamber in the alloted time, they would be locked in until the team captain opted to buy their teammates freedom at the cost of a previously-earned crystal, which could be done at any time after the lock-in.
With a stated overall goal to collect ‘crystals’ each of which would give the team five seconds of time in the Crystal Dome, the heart of the maze, teams would then enter the dome to take part in their final challenge and, hopefully, win prizes. While the weekly challenges were ‘challenging’, the set was amazing. The maze, itself, cost £250,000 to build and was the size of two football fields. If you get a chance, check it out this weekend when you are desperately searching for something to screen. Anyone out there in Tellyspotting-land remember this from the early 90′s?
The Crystal Maze, series 2, episode 1
I have to say, upfront, I love the civility that surrounds any discussion of British politics. The most recent example occurred 16 October when Rowan Atkinson took issue with a particular clause in the Public Order Act of 1986 in Britain.
As Section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986 currently reads, Edmund Blackadder would have somewhat of a difficult time formulating a sentence any time Baldrick enters the room. At the center of the controversy is the provision of the Public Order Act of 1986 which considers it illegal to insult people. When you think back to the early days of Rowan Atkinson in Not the Nine O’Clock News, it does seem that, in 2012, life actually does seem to be imitating art.
As brilliantly reported in the Digital Journal, Atkinson, speaking at a reception in the British Houses of Parliament in front of Members of Parliament and Peers (members of the House of Lords) cautioned that criticism, unfavourable comparison or “merely stating an alternative point of view” could, under Section 5 of the Public Order Act as it presently stood, lead to arrest. The star of Not the Nine O’Clock News, Blackadder and Mr. Bean went on to say, ”The clear problem with the outlawing of insult is that too many things can be interpreted as such. Criticism is easily construed as insult. Ridicule is easily construed as insult. Sarcasm, unfavourable comparison, merely stating an alternative point of view can be interpreted as insult.”
Stephen Fry, often described in Britain as a ‘national treasure’, has also lent his support to the campaign by tweeting “Insults aren’t nice. But should they be illegal? Support my friends in removing ‘insulting’ from public order act.”
According to individuals that are in support of the repeal of Section 5, at issue is whether it is a function of the state to protect individuals from insult and quotes from the legal textbook ‘The Law of Public Order and Protest’: “Section 5 extends the criminal law into areas of annoyance, disturbance and inconvenience. In particular, it covers behaviour which falls short of violence or the threat of violence”. Citing an increased usage of the provision by UK police who are using it as a catch-all provision convenient for silencing those expressing views which others find uncomfortable, or, on occasions, views which the establishment wishes to suppress.
Organizers of reformsection5.org.uk targeting the repeal of a criminal law as it relates to insults and insulting behaviour takes the view that an “inconvenience with no threat of violence is not the sort of situation which should warrant the involvement of the police and the courts.” It does not dispute that laws are necessary to protect against defamation, incitement to violence or threats of violence“.
Support for the repeal of the provision in question also came from leading Conservative back bench Member of Parliament, David Davis, who said, ”The simple truth is that in a free society, there is no right not to be offended. For centuries, freedom of speech has been a vital part of British life, and repealing this law will reinstate that right.”
Having witnessed Parliament during a Q&A session both on the small screen and in person, I would absolutely love to see how this plays out in the coming weeks. One thing, for sure, it will definitely be a civil and adult discussion.