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World Cup 2014: OK, England, it’s time to ‘Bring It Home’

June 6, 2014

The 2014 World Cup in Brazil just around the corner, beginning next week on 12 June. Every participating country is still in the running and, just like Lloyd Christmas in Dumb and Dumber, they all still have a chance. For England, however, 2014 couldn’t have come soon enough in order to quickly erase the disaster that was 2010 and to set their sights on a 1966 repeat performance.

Bring it Home was directed, shot and edited by Karl Elwell along with production assistant Lili Brewin Music and lyrics are by Disco Mister (Robin Parmiter and Ian Wilson.

Just like the annual Eurovision competition, however, the World Cup can bring out both the best AND the worst in musical creations. Here are several that come to mind, all giving you the rare opportunity to be Simon Cowell for the evening. Up first, this 2010 video featuring Neil Morrissey (Men Behaving Badly, Me & Mrs. Jones, Line of Duty) to the tune of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”.

Next up, it’s White Van Man vs Sean Ruane and “Viva Englandia”

Finally, it’s Eastenders‘ star Neil McDermott, as Mr. England, taking it upon himself to inspire the nation to get behind the England football team in Brazil with “Bring Back the Roar”.

Net Neutrality, John Oliver and the IT Crowd

June 5, 2014

Whatever side of the fence you are on, with all the talk in recent weeks about net neutrality and what the FCC might do that could change the way the United States uses the Internet, we must turn our attention to the brilliant John Oliver as he shares his thoughts on net neutrality and the Internet, or the electronic cat database as he calls it. Recently, on his HBO series, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, he explained in as non-boring a fashion as is humanly possible, how the Internet is a “weirdly level playing field“. The Internet is not broken and the FCC is taking steps to fix that.

A NSFW word of warning and a reminder that this is premium cable television at it’s finest, so even though most words are ‘bleeped’, there are extreme language issues ahead should you choose to hit play.

Sadly, the world has changed since the days of “cellular telephones” in your car. Today, with internet providers/cable providers trying to create an unequal playing field for internet speeds with a pay-to-play tier system scenario, it’s sometimes more appealing to go back to the beginning of the World Wide Web when times were simpler and ignorance was bliss. A time when Jen could take the entire Internet to a meeting wondering just how the ‘elders of the Internet’ knew her name…


Is ‘Journey’s End’ next up for Benedict Cumberbatch?

June 4, 2014

Ho-Hum. Another day, another day that Benedict Cumberbatch is being linked to a starring role in a proposed new film. According to the Sunday Times, the Sherlock star has been targeted to play the lead role of the hero Captain Stanhope in Journey’s End, a new film based on the R.C Sherriff’s 1928 play about a group of officers in the last year of the conflict.

The storyline, which is set entirely in a trench on the western front, focuses on a group of public school officers struggling with the pressures of trench warfare in 1918, the final year of WWI.

While Cumberbatch starred as the idealistic Christopher Tietjens in the BBC series Parade’s End, others mentioned in the same breath of potential stars are Tom Hiddleston and Eddie Redmayne both of whom have also had memorable roles in previous WWI efforts with Hiddleston playing Captain James Nicholls in Steven Spielberg’s film version of the stage play War Horse and Redmayne starring as Stephen Wraysford in the recent BBC adaptation of Sebastian Faulks’ novel Birdsong, which also aired on PBS in America.

It won’t be the first time that Journey’s End would hit the big screen. A 1930 version was banned by Nazi Germany in 1933. The recently rekindled interest is due to a letter from Prince Andrew to the head of Warner Bros UK Josh Berger asking to him reconsider reclaiming the rights to the project and the story which the Prince said was of significance to the UK as we reach the war’s 100th anniversary.

Unfortunately, as with each project that comes Benedict’s way, my main thought is to wonder just how much longer this puts off the next set of Sherlock. And people wonder why it takes two years between series…

Cumberbatch and Dench in Richard III – To Be or Not to Be?

June 3, 2014

It seems as though Benedict Cumberbatch is adding casting director to his ever-growing list of CV accomplishments. According to the BBC, his initial efforts came at the conclusion of the Hay Festival in Powys this past weekend.

The star of Sherlock, and just about everything else on Planet Earth, seized his opportunity during Dame Dench’s appearance as she was being interviewed by TV and theatre director Richard Eyre. From his front row seat, Cumberbatch was called upon during a Q&A session with the audience and asked Dame Judi to star in a forthcoming adaptation of Richard III.
Benedict Cumberbatch and Dame Judi Dench on stage at the Hay Festival

Would you like to be in Richard III with me?” he asked. “Yeah,” Dame Judi replied after a theatrical pause, prompting cheers from the crowd. No ‘official’ confirmation of the pairing as of yet, but with filming set to begin later this year, I’m taking this to the bank and will continue to at least think for the time being that this is a possibility even though it was also recently rumored that Sophie Okonedo would play Queen Margaret opposite Cumberbatch’s Richard III. Okonedo received a Tony nomination for her role in A Raisin in the Sun currently on Broadway.

Richard III will be part of the BBC’s second series of Shakespeare’s History plays which comes from the same team as the award-winning Hollow Crown series that aired on PBS in the States this past year. Saying that he “…can’t wait to bring this complex, funny and dangerous character to life for the BBC“, this will not be Cumberbatch’s only foray into the world of Shakespeare over the next year. The Sherlock actor will also star in William Shakespeare’s classic tragedy Hamlet at London’s Barbican Theatre in August of 2015.

Buzzfeed talks ‘Downton Abbey’ with Joanne Froggatt

June 2, 2014

Time to appease members of The Downton Abbey Separation Anxiety Society once more…

As part of the Screen Actors Guild Foundation, Buzzfeed’s Jarett Wieselman talks with Joanne Froggatt (Anna Bates) about her early days of acting beginning with ‘stage school’ at the age of 13. At 15, her first acting job was a guest shot on the UK series, The Bill. Her first major role came at the young age of 16 where she was on Coronation Street for two years until the ripe old acting age of 18.

Froggatt goes on to talk about the early days of Downton, including her audition, and how it immediately hooked her that it was going to be something special. While it’s still surprising to a few, Wieselman points out that the hit British period drama, Downton Abbey, was not the first acting gig for most involved with the series. As with Froggatt and most actors in the UK, it’s abundantly clear that their early training in theatre gives them a strong base for both drama and comedy.

The 5th series of Downton Abbey will transmit in Autumn in the UK and in January 2015 on PBS in America. Be patient, we’ll have more bits and bobs from the set as filming continues until August.

Lost Hitchhikers Guide chapters found!

June 1, 2014

The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, which tells the story of how human Arthur Dent travels the universe after escaping the destruction of Earth, originally began as a BBC radio series in 1978. The following year brought joy to the literary world when H2G2 was released in novel form with the brilliant six-part BBC 2 television series, starring Simon Jones, David Dixon and Mark Wing-Davey, premiering in 1981.
Douglas Adams on the set of the television verison of H2G2

The BBC has reported that Douglas Adams originally wrote 16 chapters for an early version of his third book in the H2G2 trilogy, Life, The Universe and Everything, but filed the typescript away and started over. This abandoned draft for Life, The Universe and Everything was recently discovered in an archive of his work at the University of Cambridge. Extracts will now be included in a new biography, titled The Frood: The True Story of Douglas Adams and the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Jem Roberts, the biography’s author, received permission from Adams’ family to look at his papers after they were loaned to Cambridge University made the discovery. Roberts explained to BBC News: “The original version was going brilliantly. He had loads of really funny chapters and scenes and then he just decided to abandon the whole lot and start from scratch. The book that we know has exactly the same plot. He’d written a version that was about two thirds of the way through before he abandoned it.

There are two short extracts, which are very entertaining actually, which were cut from the first book,” Roberts said. “One of them is all about the history of the Dentrassi, who work on the Vogon ships, and there’s a bit where Arthur goes on this long reverie about science, which is very out of character for him, which I think is maybe why it got cut.”

The Frood: The True Story of Douglas Adams and the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Jem Roberts will be published in September. If, for some crazy reason, you need a reminder as to the genius that is Douglas Adams and the brilliance of the television series….enjoy!


Fancy a story read by Benedict Cumberbatch or Hugh Bonneville?

May 31, 2014

Yet one more reason why I think the UK is a continual source of amazement.

It seems that BBC Radio 2 was THE place to be yesterday as The Chris Evans Breakfast Show hosted six very talented youngsters who won this year’s 500 Words competition. The annual contest challenges children to write an entire story in just 500 words. This year there were a record 118,632 entries, with judges having to choose a top three in two age categories: nines and under and 10-13 years of age. This year’s judges were Top Gear‘s Richard Hammond, Frank Cottrell Boyce, Malorie Blackman, Charlie Higson and Francesca Simon.

The Gold, Silver and Bronze medal winners in each age category (9 & under and 10-13) were announced Friday at the Hay Literary Festival. As if this wasn’t cool enough to have the 50 finalists present to find out who won, the top 3 stories in each age group were read by some pretty amazing talent in their own right, all of whom not only lent their talents and voices but strongly recognize the value of tapping into a child’s imagination and to encourage creativity.
Benedict Cumberbatch and Hugh Bonneville read 500 Words winning childrens stories

The Bronze medal winner in the 9 & under age group, ‘Should-Be’s’ by Juliette Lea, was read by Sherlock‘s Benedict Cumberbatch.

The Gold medal winner in the 9 & under age group, ‘Lost Undergound’ by Daniel Martlew, was read by Downton Abbey‘s Hugh Bonneville.

The fact that these stars lend their time and talents to a competition such as this is nothing short of greatness. Other winning stories were read by Harry Potter‘s Matthew Lewis, singer Paloma Faith, Dick ‘N’ Dom and Barney Harwood. Click here to have a listen.

Royle Family’s Sue Johnston added to cast for ‘Downton Abbey’ 5

May 30, 2014

It’s that time of year when most members of the Downton Abbey Separation Anxiety Society are desperate for any sliver of information that might come from the set during filming of the forthcoming series.

Not wanting to disappoint, brilliant news came from series producers yesterday as they announced that Royle Family, Waking the Dead and Coronation Street star, Sue Johnston, will play Denker, a lady’s maid to Dame Maggie Smith’s character, the Dowager Countess of Grantham. Recognizing the monumental task at hand of having to stand up to the Downton matriarch, series producers said that Johnston will definitely play a character robust enough to live up to the Countess’ exacting standards while understanding her hidden depths.
Sue johnston

Johnston said: “I’m delighted and very excited to be a part of Downton Abbey, I have some lovely friends in it that I’ll be so happy to be working with and I cannot wait to start filming.”

Having already added 24 star Rade Sherbedgia as a Russian refugee who has fled the revolution after World War 1 and Richard E Grant and Anna Chancellor, both of whom will play guests of the Granthams at Downton, the mega-hit ITV period drama is definitely not sitting on their awards for the upcoming series. Returning for series 5, currently in production, will be Dame Harriet Walter, reprising her role as Lady Shackleton, the Dowager Countess’s friend, and Peter Egan, who will return as Lord Flintshire.

Downton Abbey 5 returns this Autumn on ITV in the UK and, at this point, Sunday, January 4, 2015 on PBS in America (unless series creator/writer Julian Fellowes can convince otherwise).

Does Julian Fellowes have a point re: Downton Abbey 5?

May 29, 2014

Historically, from a Doctor Who broadcast standpoint, the concept of same day transmission has long been the subject of what has sometimes been a rather heated debate over the years. While this wasn’t even in the wheelhouse in the pre-Internet days, with today’s over the top social media fascination with the likes of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, it’s virtually impossible to not be bombarded with spoilers unless you just completely shut off from the outside world and watch TV Land until a series premieres sometimes several months following its actual completion on the other side of the pond.

Finally finding a way to figure it out, the most recent series of Doctor Who and Mark Gatiss’ “An Adventure in Space and Time” were both aired same day in the UK and America. More recently, the 50th anniversary special, “The Day of the Doctor”, was actually simulcast at the same time, same day in November 2013 where it was named the largest ever simulcast of a TV drama by the Guinness Book of World Records.
Day of the Doctor

The creator/writer of Downton Abbey says it’s now time for the hugely successful British period drama to follow in the footsteps of Doctor Who with a same-day transmission on ITV and PBS to avoid any transatlantic storyline leaks. “The difficulty that we have is that people are discussing the series as it happens online before America’s seen it and on the internet we’re all in the same company. It’s madness”, said Fellowes in a recent Telegraph interview.
Downton Abbey

That said, the premiere of series 4 of Downton Abbey on PBS in January 2014 didn’t seem to suffer too much for having its premiere several months after the series ended in the UK as a record 15.5 million viewers tuned in to see how the Crawleys would adapt to life without Matthew. The elephant in the room comes in to play when you have a major plot issue the likes of Lady Sybil dying or Matthew headed towards a fatal car accident and trying to avoid those spoilers for several months.

So far, it hasn’t seemed to matter with the Downton Abbey audience. The benefit of the word-of-mouth buzz and promotional opportunities that take place for the months leading up to the PBS premiere has, so far, outweighed the negatives. So far. It varies series to series which is why you saw series 3 of Sherlock air within weeks of the BBC broadcast. Not optimum but a step in the right direction given the fact that the audience is by far younger and more in to social media which blew up after the BBC premiere to discuss how Sherlock survived his rooftop dive from St Barts.

Who knows where this will end up with regards to the premiere of Downton Abbey 5. I can see both sides. Julian Fellowes jokes about what he’d like to see and what will probably happen saying: “I don’t have enough sway to choose my own clothes. It’s what I’d like but who cares what I think. What say you?

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