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Big screen treatment of Dad’s Army drawing top-notch talent

October 8, 2014

The big-screen adaptation of the classic BBC wartime comedy, Dad’s Army, is drawing some of the biggest names (outside of Benedict Cumberbatch) together as they begin to assemble the cast. The feature film treatment of the Jimmy Perry, David Croft iconic British comedy has landed one of the greats with the announcement that Bill Nighy, who will soon been seen in America in the next two chapters of the Worricker trilogy on PBS’ Masterpiece series, as upper-class bank employee turned officer in the British Home Guard, The Honourable Sergeant Arthur Wilson. As I’ve always been one to say that I would listen to Nighy read the phone book, I cannot wait to hear him utter the phrase, “Do you think that’s wise, Sir?”.
Bill Nighy to star as Sergeant Arthur Wilson in big screen adaptation of Dad's Army

In other casting news, Toby Jones (The Hunger Games, Harry Potter) will take on the role of the self-appointed leader of the town’s contingent of Local Defence Volunteers, Captain Mainwaring, played brilliantly in the original series by Arthur Lowe with another Harry Potter alum, Michael Gambon, putting on the Home Guard uniform to star as Private Charles Godfrey, the Home Guard’s medical orderly. With a primary purpose of not being taken too seriously and just being yelled at a lot, Blake Harrison (The Inbetweeners) stars as Pike with Bill Paterson (Doctor Who) taking on the doom and gloom role of Scottish Private James Frazer. Danny Mays, whom I will never forget from his dual role as Discipline and Complaints Officer, DCI Jim Keats, and The Devil in the final series of Ashes to Ashes, will star as the lovable but shifty Private Joe Walker, who will be responsible for getting supplies to be rationed.

If that wasn’t enough to get you in line to buy tickets, in as-yet-to-be-named roles, Sarah Lancashire will bring her brilliant work in Happy Valley and Last Tango in Halifax) to the film along with Sherlock co-creator/writer, Mark Gatiss, Gavin & Stacey star, Alison Steadman, and Annette Crosbie, who can most recently be seen alongside David Tennant and Rosamund Pike in What We Did on Our Holiday. Catherine Zeta-Jones will attempt to keep the Home Guard in check as journalist Rose Winters.

While this won’t be the first attempt at bringing the classic late 60′s, early 70′s comedy to the big-screen, it will certainly be one worth checking out, if nothing else for this incredible ensemble cast.

Time to access your inner Carson…Her Majesty The Queen is hiring!

October 7, 2014

Her Majesty The Queen wants to bring on-board a new Back-of-House manager at Windsor Castle. The position was advertised on the Royal Household website and candidates who have experience in operational management and hospitality are wanted. The successful job seeker also needs to be a good problem solver and be able to ensure that everything below stairs runs smoothly and efficiently. As part of a 1,200 member staff, the 40-hour a week vacancy is open to anyone with the right qualifications. The Back-of-House Manager and their team provide operational support principally delivered through event planning and set-up, cleaning and porter services.

Like Mr. Carson, the successful applicant will be in charge of a team of staff and ensure that standards are maintained. They will work closely with the Monarchy’s answer to housekeeper Mrs Hughes and will be paid a salary of up to £30,000. The successful candidate will also have the option to live on site in staff accommodation and have lunch provided. Better hurry, applications close October 12. Hopefully, you won’t have Thomas to deal with, won’t have to listen to Mr. Molesley whine on an hourly basis and definitely won’t have to forever hide any song-and-dance past as one of ‘The Cheerful Charlies’.

Hugh Laurie and Tom Hiddleston return to small screen in John le Carre’s ‘The Night Manager’

October 6, 2014

Three years removed from his brilliant portrayal of a pain medication-dependent, unconventional, misanthropic medical genius, Dr. Gregory House, Hugh Laurie is returning to the small screen to star in the BBC adaptation of the John le Carre novel, The Night Manager. Laurie’s co-star, Tom Hiddleston, is coming off his portrayal of country western singer Hank Williams in I Saw the Light.

The Night Manager, published in 1993, is the author’s most recent work to be adapted for television. It follows Jonathan Pine, a British soldier turned luxurious hotel night auditor. Pine crosses paths with a French-Arab woman named Sophie with ties to Richard Onslow Roper, an English black marketer who specializes in weapons. The woman provides Pine with incriminating documents, which he forwards to a friend in British intelligence. After Sophie winds up dead, Pine works with intelligence operatives and goes undercover as part of a sting against Roper to avenge Sophie’s death. No newcomer to the small screen, le Carre’s earlier works that have brilliantly found their way to tell have included Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Smiley’s People, A Perfect Spy and A Murder of Quality.

David Farr, who wrote a number of episodes for Kudos’ Spooks series, will write The Night Manager. Thankfully, no True Detective 2 casting dance involved with their weekly rumors of this duo or that duo as this looks like a signed, sealed and delivered deal according to The Hollywood Reporter. Although a BBC broadcast is assured in the UK, there currently is no American broadcast outlet as of yet. One can only hope PBS is in the mix. A series of this nature with commercial breaks would be a serious buzz-killer.

Nearly 100-year-old Sherlock Holmes film discovered in Paris

October 5, 2014

While it won’t erase the daily reminder that we still have 14 months (plus or minus a few days) until Benedict Cumberbatch returns to the small screen in Sherlock, the recent discovery of a long thought to be lost Sherlock Holmes film will delight even the most casual fan of the world’s most famous consulting detective. The 1916 silent movie about Sherlock Holmes has been discovered by the Cinematheque Francaise, which has joined with the San Francisco Film Festival to create a digital restoration. Cinematheque Francaise is a Paris-based archive that houses one of the largest film collections, movie documents and film-related objects in the world.

Titled Sherlock Holmes, the film stars American actor and playwright, William Gillette, who was one of the earliest actors to bring Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s creation to life on stage, and is credited with helping to popularize both the deerstalker-and-cape image of the detective along with one of Holmes’ signature lines by saying to Holmes’ sidekick Dr. Watson, “Oh, this is elementary, my dear fellow.” Produced by Essanay Studios in Chicago, which is best known for a number of Charlie Chaplin short films produced in 1915, the film is the only surviving example of Gillette’s performance as Holmes and is also the only film Gillette ever made. Gillette’s play, and presumably the film, is a compendium of Holmes’s “best bits”, weaving scenes from a number of Arthur Conan Doyle stories into a single narrative ranging from “A Scandal in Bohemia” to “The Final Problem”.

At last we get to see for ourselves the actor who kept the first generation of Sherlockians spellbound. We can also see where the future Holmeses— (Basil) Rathbone, (Jeremy) Brett, (Benedict) Cumberbatch and the rest—come from. As far as Holmes is concerned, there’s not an actor dead or alive who hasn’t consciously or intuitively played off Gillette,” Russell Merritt, the supervising editor of the restoration project and a member of the Baker Street Irregulars, said.

The restored film will be unveiled in Europe at the Cinematheque Francais’ festival of film restoration in Paris in January as part of the Toute la Mémoire du Monde festival, and will have its American premiere at the San Francisco Silent Film festival in May 2015.

The Imitation Game – a first look

October 4, 2014

Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing in The Imitation Game

The long-awaited first lengthy video look at The Imitation Game is here. Based on the real life story of Alan Turing, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, who is credited with cracking the German Enigma code. THE IMITATION GAME portrays the ultimate real-life reality show race against time by Turing and his brilliant team at Britain’s top-secret code-breaking center, Bletchley Park, during the darkest days of World War II. This ‘team of misfits’ was made up of scholars, mathematicians, linguists, chess champions and intelligence officers with one powerful ally in their back pocket…Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Turing, whose contributions and genius significantly shortened the war, saving thousands of lives, was the eventual victim of an unenlightened British Establishment, but his work and legacy live on.

Opening in UK cinemas on 14 November with the U.S. premiere one week later on November 21, THE IMITATION GAME stars Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock, Star Trek Into Darkness, 12 Years a Slave, Tinker Tailor) as Turing and Keira Knightley (Atonement) as close friend and fellow code breaker Joan Clarke, alongside a brilliant cast that includes Matthew Goode (A Single Man), Mark Strong (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), Rory Kinnear (Skyfall), Charles Dance (Gosford Park, Game of Thrones) and Allen Leech (Downton Abbey).

The real story behind Benedict Cumberbatch’s photobomb of U2

October 3, 2014


As if anyone needed yet another reason to put Benedict Cumberbatch on a pedestal…now comes the real story behind the now famous photobomb by the Sherlock star of U2 on the red carpet at the 2014 Oscar ceremony. Now that a safe distance has passed since that fateful night in March 2014, Cumberbatch has come clean about what induced him to photobomb the unsuspecting Bono & band. “Yes, I photobombed U2!” he told Time Out magazine while throwing an unnamed Oscar host under the bus.

Cumberbatch went on to explain, “…that was all Ellen DeGeneres’ fault because she plied everyone with vodka on the red carpet. Her team was handing out these miniatures. A friend really wanted me to get a photo with U2. So I just saw the opportunity and I’ve never felt an impulse like it. I spotted them all standing around and I thought, ‘Perfect!’ It wasn’t preordained or anything. I just did it.”

Special thanks to ShortsHD for their stellar work in capturing this little bit of video gold on tape in the midst of the film industry’s biggest night of the year.

‘Endeavour’ back for third series in 2015

October 2, 2014

As we dive head first into our 6th year of Tellyspotting, why not start things off with more great news from the world of British telly — it was announced late last week that the brilliant Inspector Morse prequel, Endeavour, will return for a third series on ITV. The series will, most likely, find its way to the shores of the United States in Summer of 2015 on PBS as part of the Sunday night Masterpiece Mystery! series.

Given how series two ended, it would have been pretty much unthinkable that commissioners would not have handed the keys to Lewis creator and Inspector Morse writer Russell Lewis for a third trip around the racetrack. The new series of Endeavour will be set in 1967, picking up from the dramatic second series finale that saw Endeavour Morse (Shaun Evans) placed in police custody, framed for a murder he didn’t commit, and DI Fred Thursday’s (Roger Allam) life hanging in the balance after being shot in the chest. Creator Lewis added: “Endeavour ’67… Pepper – Piper – Purple Haze…as ‘Oxford’s finest’ encounter friends and foes both old and new, our next quartet of mysteries will take the audience on a psychedelic Summer of Love fairground ride, filled with twists and turns, shrieks and scares. For something wicked this way comes…

Actually, you had me at Endeavour ’67. How about you?

Tellyspotting is 5! Can you believe it?

October 1, 2014

I know there are those of you out there that will immediately say “Gee, you don’t look a day over four!“. Hard to believe it has been five years already. Seems just like yesterday that the first post of our brief existence announced on October 1, 2009 that it was Time for Tellyspotting!. And now, over 2000 posts later (2,003 to be exact), here we are better than ever because of one thing — YOU! Your love of all-things British, our shared recognition that British comedy and drama is the best telly on telly and your comments/feedback over the last five years make it really easy to look forward to the next five. And, thanks so much to the folks over at the London Underground for this really special greeting!
Tellyspotting London Tube sign

A lot has changed since that fateful day of 10.01.09 when you think about it. Here’s where I could launch into how much a gallon of milk or a loaf of bread cost back then but there are a just a few more important things to understand how our lives have changed. Just imagine a 2009 world where it was BD (Before Downton Abbey), BS (Before Sherlock) BRDX (Before Red Dwarf X) and we were coming to the end of the David Tennant era on Doctor Who. There was no Scott and Bailey, no Endeavour, no Call the Midwife or even Miranda for that matter. At the time, we only knew of Miranda Hart from a brief guest shot in Lead Balloon and a leading role in Hyperdrive with Nick Frost. And, one of the best series ever to grace the small screen, Spooks or MI-5 if you’re in the States, still had three seasons to go!

In the last five years, we have had the great good fortune to sit down and interview a number of amazing individuals for Tellyspotting. Essie Davis (Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries) immediately comes to mind as does Michael Palin (Monty Python, Brazil with Michael Palin), Martin Shaw and Lee Ingleby (George Gently), Simon Pegg and Nick Frost (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, The World’s End) and Jonathan Lynn (Yes Minister, Yes Prime Minister). And, there’s more to come in the not-too-distant future (hint: think New Tricks!) so stick around and join us for the next five and beyond. It’s going to be a great ride but it won’t be the same without you!

A special thanks to everyone that has written to us, commented on or even read just one post in the last five years. Thanks, also, to BBC Worldwide for their overwhelming support from Day One, to John Manthorpe over at ITV for all the advance press material, to Acorn Media for constantly thinking of us when actors are made available for interviews and to Mark over at the British Comedy Guide for warning me in the beginning stages back in 2009 as to what I was getting ready to get myself into.

Thinking back, I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into but I wouldn’t trade anything in the last five years for anything. So, here’s to the next 2,003 posts. Are you with me?

Inspector Lewis returns to PBS with Hathaway in-tow

September 30, 2014

There was no joy in Mudville back in the Fall of 2013 when news came out of the UK that Inspector Robert ‘Robbie’ Lewis and Detective Sergeant James Hathaway were pulling a Brett Favre and were going to ‘retire’ after seven series. As you can imagine, when ITV announced that both Kevin Whately and Laurence Fox were ‘un-retiring’ and were set to reprise their roles as the ‘perfect’ detective team solving murders against the backdrop of the beautiful university spires of Oxford, it was more than welcome news. Things have changed just a bit, however, since we last left the duo.

After an extended break from the Police, Hathaway has been promoted to Inspector. When the chemistry that was so much a part of his relationship with Lewis eludes Hathaway, a retired Lewis is drafted back to renew their partnership. It will be interesting to see how both Lewis and Hathaway will come to grips with their new found dynamic in order to achieve results. Clare Holman, who was introduced to viewers as forensic pathologist Laura Hobson in the 1995 Morse film, “The Way through the Woods”, and has continued to appear in Lewis in recent years. Rebecca Front will also return to the series as Chief Superintendent Jean Innocent who is frequently at odds with Lewis over his investigative style.

The first installment, ‘Entry Wounds’, which will premiere on PBS’ Masterpiece series this Sunday, October 5 at 9:00p ET/8:00p CT followed by “The Lions of Nenea” on October 12 and then, closing out the new season, “Beyond Good and Evil” on October 19.

Could Leonardo da Vinci ever have imagined ‘Mona Lisa Bean’?

September 29, 2014

Something that most British comedy fans knew from day one has come to life thanks to Southern Louisiana artist, Rodney Pike. Mr. Bean, the classic Richard Curtis comedy series which starred the rubber-faced Rowan Atkinson, is…Art, in the truest sense of the word. Pike, who lived in the UK for several years back in the 90′s, felt his love of classic art and Atkinson’s Bean character was about as good of a match as when bacon collided with chocolate in recent years. “Rowan Atkinson can make any situation funny no matter how absurd,” he explained.

Up first was Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa which probably sent chills throughout the art world as Pike gave the iconic portrait an unlikely makeover by adding in Rowan Atkinson’s face instead.
Mona Bean?

(PICTURED: Mona Lisa Bean by Rodney Pike/Caters) Created by photoshopping Rowan Atkinsons comedic characters on to some of the most iconic artworks through history. Other pieces given the Blackadder and Mr Bean treatment, include Holbein the Youngers portrait of Henry VIII and Rembrandts self-portrait. For more works of greatness by Rodney Pike, click here.