Why is it that the good ones always leave us too soon?
Lonesome George who was believed to be approximately 100 years of age and listed in The Guinness Book of Records as ‘the loneliest animal on the planet’, has died. Lonesome George was ‘discovered’ in 1972 and had become a symbol of Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands, which attracted some 180,000 visitors last year. According to a spokesperson from the Galapagos National Park, George was the last member of a species of giant tortoise from La Pinta, one of the smallest islands in the Galapagos. The giant Galapagos tortoises are said to be among the species that helped Charles Darwin formulate his theory of evolution in the 19th century.
George, a saddleback tortoise, was easily the most well-known resident of the Islands and was the subject of a BBC documentary back in 2007. Lonesome George and the Battle for Galapagos will be airing over the next few weeks on a number of public television stations across the U.S. as a tribute to George. ***KERA in North Texas will air on Saturday, June 30 at 6:00pm.***
The documentary explores the issues that surround the co-existence of human and animal populations on the environmentally precious Galapagos islands. The film tells George’s story against the backdrop of the bigger conservation issues faced by the islands.
Unfortunately, the Pinta tortoise has been heavily hunted, and the islands have long been invaded by non-native species which push out the local wildlife. Even tourists, who come here partly to see the famous George, have added to the problems. There is an enormous struggle going on to restore the islands’ unique biodiversity, but not everyone loves George: local fishermen who want to protect their rights to fish in Galápagos’ protected waters have seized on him as a focus for their frustrations; meanwhile conservation efforts need to be balanced with an economy based on letting tourists in.
Following our 2009 interview with Penelope Keith on the stage of the Theatre Royal in Bath for the PBS special, More Funny Ladies of British Comedy, we spent a bit of down time getting the full understanding of the importance of regional theatre in the UK from one of the grand dames of British comedy. Take the Theatre Royal in Bath, for example. At the time, Ms. Keith was appearing in the Richard Everett comedy, Entertaining Angels. Following her the next month was her former Good Life co-star, Felicity Kendal. 2012-2013 will be no different with the upcoming season just announced in Bath. If you want to catch your favorite British actor live up close and personal, check this out.
In September, Scottish actor Tom Conti will star in the Terence Frisby courtroom drama, Rough Justice where he plays James Highwood, the producer of a series of documentaries challenging the British justice system. Following Conti in September will be Good Life and Rosemary & Thyme star, Felicity Kendall, who will star alongside Jonathan Coy of Downton Abbey fame in the Alan Ayckbourn comedy, Relatively Speaking.
Penelope Keith returns once again to the Theatre Royal to star in the Keith Waterhouse adaptation of his novel of the same name, Good Grief. Gavin and Stacey star Mathew Horne (Gavin) will visit the theatre for the first time in November starring in Brandon Thomas’s Charley’s Aunt. Horne will play Lord Fancourt Babberley, who is persuaded by two fellow Oxford students to impersonate Charley’s Aunt when his real aunt is delayed.
If that’s not enough to convince you of the importance the British acting community places on regional theatre, Blackadder and Mr. Bean star, Rowan Atkinson, will make his first appearance in a play in nearly 25 years as St. John Quartermaine in Quartermaine’s Terms before heading to the Wyndham Theatre in London’s West End beginning 29 January 2013 through 13 April 2013.
As I wrote following that 2009 interview, personally, to me, this has always been what has elevated British comedy well-above their American counterparts. There isn’t a night somewhere in England that you won’t find a very familiar face from your favorite British comedy performing in either one of the many strong regional theatre’s or on London’s West End stage. It’s not uncommon to see the likes of Felicity Kendal, Penelope Keith, Patricia Routledge, Judi Dench or any of a number of other Britcom stars on stage. Though many will argue it’s the writing that sets British comedy apart, of which I will whole-heartedly agree, it’s also the incredible talents of the actors and actresses involved that have had years and years of formal training at places such as The Old Vic or the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Next time you find yourself looking for something to do most anywhere in England, take a moment, look up at the marquee of the nearest theatre and I’ll bet you’ll recognize the name in lights.
Thanks to the brilliant folks over at Kudos Film and TV, there will, definitely, be a brighter light at the end of the tunnel for quality drama on telly in 2013.
Sky1 HD has commissioned The Smoke, a new eight-part drama set in a London fire station from from Kudos Film and TV, the company behind Spooks, Hustle, Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes.
Written and created by Lucy Kirkwood (Skins), The Smoke will follow the lives of the members of White Watch and promises “bigger explosions and fires than any other British drama” but with a “strong emotional vein running through it“. Although I immediately think of the greatness of Rescue Me with Dennis O’Leary, In somewhat of a variation of Renee Zellweger’s classic line to Tom Cruise in Jerry Macguire, …you had me at ‘bigger explosions and fires’.
The series will have big shoes to fill, however, when it comes to a drama set in a fire station. Although it’s been 10 years since London’s Burning came to an end on ITV after a 14-year run, The Smoke will be fighting an uphill battle when it comes to creating a successful drama set in a fire station. That said, I’m thinking with their track record, Kudos will be up to the task.
The Smoke will follow the day to day lives of a crew in a London fire station. At the heart of the story will be a family of firemen and women who, no matter what, always have each other to fall back on. Many crew members are forced to hold down other jobs on the side, taking some of them into the city’s after dark world. The stakes are high but, in The Smoke, it’s the very lives and souls of the White Watch crew that are at risk.
Anne Mensah, Head of Drama, Sky, says “We wanted to bring a new, modern view of heroism to Sky 1 HD. The Smoke was a perfect fit. It has all the huge scale action and adrenaline that a show about fire can bring to the screen, but in Lucy’s hands there is also a beautiful depth and complexity to the characterisation. This is a show that asks real questions about what it means to be a man in today’s world.”
Production will start in early 2013 for transmission later in the year
Thanks to SKY 1 HD, telly watchers on both sides of the pond will be filled with hopes, dreams and reality in 2012-2013 when it comes to good comedy in the not-too-distant future. And, there is a better than good chance that both of these series will land on public television in the States in 2013. For those in the UK that have seen either series, what do you think? For those in the States, interested?
Spy begins second series filming on Monday
Robert Lindsay (My Family) and Darren Boyd (Whites, Holy Flying Circus) star in Spy the story of a hapless single father Tim (Boyd), whose one aim in life is to get his precocious son Marcus to like him. The first series saw Tim accidentally recruited into MI5, and followed his attempts to balance his secret life as a trainee agent with his chaotic domestic life.
Under the watchful and, sometimes, creepy eye of ‘The Examiner’ (Lindsay), Tim surprised even himself by successfully qualifying as a fully-fledged secret agent (the interview exam process is priceless if you haven’t seen).
Boyd, who recently won the BAFTA for Best Male Comedy Performance in a Comedy Program up against some pretty stiff competition including Hugh Bonneville (Twenty Twelve), Tom Hollander (Rev) and Brendan O’Carroll (Mrs. Browns Boys), is brilliant.
The second series, which will consist of 10 episodes and a Christmas special, will follow Tim as a newly qualified agent as he continues to keep his secret from those closest to him and attempts to win the love of his son.
Trollied to re-open in August
A bit beyond the traditional UK way of commissioning series, Trollied was renewed for a second AND third series following a very successful run last year. Set in Valco, a fictional supermarket in the north-west of England, Trollied stars Jane Horrocks (Absolutely Fabulous), Jason Watkins (Being Human) and Mark Addy (Thin Blue Line, Full Monty, Game of Thrones). If you haven’t seen, you need to power watch the first set of 8 episodes before series two begins.
Valco to re-open its doors in August with the premiere of the second series of Trollied.
The recent announcement that ITV2 was developing what, they hope, would be a ‘channel-defining sitcom’ was not only another example of broadcasters (e.g. Sky, Channel 4, ITV) commitment to increase comedy output but reminded me of a classic 70′s BBC sitcom during the golden age of comedy when it was essentially the BeeB or nothing when it came to comedy output. According to the British Comedy Guide, Plebs is in the completed pilot stage with hopes of being picked up for a full series given reports coming out of ITV2.
Plebs – a title which is a reference to the Latin word used to describe common people – will be an ensemble sitcom following the lives of young people in Ancient Rome. Hoping to emulate the success of The Inbetweeners, Plebs will star some potentially unfamiliar names from some very familiar series with Tom Rosenthal from Friday Night Dinner, Joel Fry from White Van Man and Trollied and Adrian Scarborough from Gavin & Stacey and Psychoville as Claudius.
In setting only, as Plebs reads more like an Animal House style Toga party, the series reminds me of the classic BBC comedy, Up Pompeii, starring the late, great Frankie Howerd. The series, which ran only two short seasons back in 1969-1970, was written by and starred a number of Carry On film alumni, would probably have a hard time being broadcast today with its endless series of double entendres and sexual innuendos, although Are You Being Served still manages to find a home on public television stations in the States to some success.
With some of Howerd’s inspiration for the series coming from the film A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, the greatness of it centered around Howerd’s ability to depart from the script and play it up to the camera along with some extremely politically incorrect character names like Senator Ludicrus Sextus, his promiscuous wife Ammonia, daughter Erotica and his forever virginal son, Nausius.
Case in point, in episode one from series one, titled “Vestal Virgins”, where the annual ceremony of the Vestal Virgins is about to be held. The compere hasn’t turned up, so Ludicrus has to do the honours, aided by Lurcio (Frankie Howerd). Ludicrous is promoting a bill in the Senate to close down the local brothels. This brings him into conflict with the brothel keepers, who plot to ruin the Vestal Virgins ceremony.
A fun side note: look for a young Geoffrey Hughes (Onslow, Keeping Up Appearances) as Piteous appearing at around 8:00 minutes into the episode.
Sometimes you just find things that you can’t help but share like this from The Huffington Post…
Fawlty Towers Motel Becomes Naked Resort To Bolster Bottom Line
When times get tough, the tough get naked. At least that’s what a Florida motel owner hopes, as he turns his 32-room property into a potential magnet for nudists. Seems as though after years of running a declining business and facing increased competition from larger chain hotels in the area, the Fawlty Towers Motel in Cocoa Beach, Fla has decided recently to go ‘clothing-optional’ as of May 1.
Speaking to Florida Today, motel owner, Paul Hodge, admitted that going nude wasn’t a snap decision. He first had to convince his skeptical wife. And he has yet to sway some of his concerned neighbors, who fear the soon-to-be nude motel will expose tourists, and local children, to some unwanted sightseeing. “Young people surf on that beach,” one local woman complained to WFTV-TV. “What kind of a message is that sending them? It’s inappropriate.”
But Hodge says his nude motel plan is all about his bottom line. “It’s sort of a make-or-break situation,” he told Florida Today. “We can’t pay ourselves in winter. We had to scrap health insurance. Every year it gets a little bit worse.”
To prepare for his guests to bare all, Hodge hired a lawyer and consulted with the American Association of Nude Recreation. They apparently found no state or local laws that would stand in the way of Hodge’s plan for unabashed indoor nudity.
While that may be the case for Hodge’s nude motel, other business owners may want to think twice before adding a naked twist to their business plans. Nudity may reclassify your business as “sexually oriented” (as one nude maid service in Texas recently found out), and may require new permits.
Failure to follow local laws can lead to costly fines. That’s why it’s wise to follow Hodge’s nude motel preparations, and consult a local business attorney. Hodge’s nude guests, however, may still face criminal charges of indecent exposure if they set foot — or technically, their naked private body parts — outdoors.
As for nude motel owner Paul Hodge, neither he nor his wife plan to remove any clothing when the Fawlty Towers Motel gets its first nude guests on Tuesday. He’s hoping the motel’s bartenders, however, will at least go topless —
Personally, even though the sign advertises an ‘authentic Tiki Bar’, the thought of seeing a topless Basil Fawlty getting a gin and orange, a lemon squash and a scotch and water for Mr. Wareing just isn’t very appealing to me. How about you?
If Benedict Cumberbatch gets his way, and let’s hope he does, Sherlock fans around the globe will get the opportunity to watch some of the greatest television on television until roughly the year 2025. Much like David Suchet who made it his life’s ambition to complete the entire Hercule Poirot series of 65 Agatha Christie stories after 22 years, one can only hope that the Sherlock star gets his wish. Cumberbatch recently revealed that he would relish the thought of playing the world’s most famous consulting detective for at least another 15 years – despite now being offered bigger roles on the big screen. Following the explosive success of Sherlock, Cumberbatch has had roles in Tinker Tailor Solder Spy, Parade’s End, War Horse, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and the upcoming as yet to be named Star Trek sequel.
Applying some quick Sherlock-like reasoning as to why 15 years would be easy to do, Cumberbatch said: “It’s rare to see Holmes and Watson at the beginning of their relationship. We usually join them in their mid to late 40s or 50s. I’ve got a way to go, I’m only 35.”
“I’ll always do Sherlock – it’s something that I’m not going to give up on. I love it too much. It’s hard work but it’s so rewarding and such a lovely bunch of people who do it. We love our fans and we love what it’s created,” he added. “It’s an incredible thing to be part of; it doesn’t happen that often. Don’t worry, it’s not going to disappear.”
Guess we had better let Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss in on our plans. Thoughts?
There are countless reasons as to why Doctor Who is what it is. The thought that those involved in the series would go to the expense and effort to create something like this and engage fans in a contest of this magnitude is right up there at the top of the list. It’s no wonder the series will be celebrating its 50th anniversary in November 2013. It is constantly re-inventing itself, has a genius production staff from show runner, Steven Moffat, on down and now has generations able to share stories of growing up watching the weekly adventures of the Traveling Time Lord.
Doctor Who Olympic greatness from TheMarySue
Last year, BBC Learning held a special contest called Script to Screen, where primary schools could compete to write a winning script for a Doctor Who short. The best would be produced and filmed as if it were a real episode of Doctor Who, the longest running science fiction series on television which is getting ready to celebrate its 50th anniversary in November 2013. This year’s winner, “Good as Gold” premiered recently and with the London 2012 Olympics on the horizon, it’s very “Olympics-friendly.
The funny/amazing thing is how the Internets exploded following the release littered with ugly, inane comments from ‘serious’ Whovians that took offense to the leeway given to the winning entry. Ok, it probably won’t be part of any serious effort to fit it into a Doctor Who story arc anytime soon, but it is fun and, considering the ages of those that penned the winning entry, its quite good. The look on the kids faces when the hear why series producers thought their script was a winning entry, get to meet the likes of Matt Smith and Karen Gillan and see their words come to life are priceless.
Behind the scenes from Blue Peter, the BBC and the producers of Doctor Who…
The most interesting thing about it is that it goes right along with some tweets back in May from @bbcdoctorwho about when the Olympic Torch relay was to pass through Cardiff, the studio location of Doctor Who. Who fans, you know why this is important.
Explanation from TheMarySue as to why this is important
Waaaay back in 2006, the episode “Fear Her,” aired, and, long story short, it was set in 2012 and culminated in the Doctor (then played by David Tennant) completing the very last leg of the Olympic torch relay and lighting the official torch of the games on international live television. Now that the time at which it would be possible for reality to confirm fictional details of Doctor Who is nigh, fans have understandably become very interested in any possibility that Doctor Who might have something to do with the torch relay, with David Tennant lighting the torch as the most perfect of all outcomes. Whether or not anybody expects it to happen is another story.
Indeed, Matt Smith, did carry the Olympic Torch to begin the Cardiff leg of the 8,000 mile, 70-day trip on its way to the Olympic village.
Over the next several months, there will be lots of momentous anniversaries that will carry a lot of weight with countless Beatles fans worldwide. Starting with today, Sir Paul McCartney turns 70. This may be a bit hard to digest for millions of fans that remember as if it was ‘yesterday’ that on Sunday, 9 February 1964 the Fab Four made their first American television appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show.
That said, it may be even harder to grasp that later this summer, 22 August to be exact, will be the 50th anniversary of their first public concert as the group we all know as John, Paul, George and Ringo in 1962.
Another milestone anniversary date in Beatles history coming up this summer will be 6 July with the 55th anniversary of when a 16-year old John Lennon met a soon to be 15-year old Paul McCartney in 1957 at St Peter’s Woolton Parish Church during a Sunday afternoon concert of John’s band, The Quarrymen.
But, for today, it’s all Sir Paul as we wish him the happiest of birthdays as he celebrates his 70th. Sad that you have to sing Happy Birthday to yourself, but I couldn’t think of anyone better to do the honors. Happy 70th, Sir Paul.