Shepperton Studios is THE place to be tonight as it’s zero hour for the lucky few that scored tickets to the first taping date for Red Dwarf X. All the familiar faces will be present. Lister, Rimmer, Kryten and Cat. But, according to producer, Charles Armitage, there will be a ‘fifth star’ present over the next six weeks….the set. In an exclusive interview with SFX Magazine, Armitage explains, “We’ve got no Red Dwarf ship because it fell off the shelf; we’ve got no sets, they’ve all been destroyed.”
Tom Spychalski over at Cult Brittannia reminds us that when ‘we last saw the crew of Red Dwarf, the ship might have looked a little lacking and a bit less than solid than in the original runs. Mainly, that was because the sets used in the 2009 mini-series Red Dwarf: Back to Earth were computer generated’. It’s time to return to the glory days of RD as Armitage enthusiastically explained further, “We’ve got a brilliant designer, Michael Ralph, who did the last series of Primeval, and my feeling is the sets will very much become the fifth star.”
Red Dwarf X begins filming tonight and for the next 5 Fridays at Shepperton Studio. Dave, the home of witty banter, is tentatively targeting the latter part of 2012 for a broadcast premiere in the UK. Hopefully, it won’t be too far beyond that for public television stations to acquire for broadcast in the States.
Leave it to Foster’s lager to continue their assault on the world of British comedy with a recent survey that attempts to determine what region of the UK believes they are they funniest in the land. You may remember that it was Foster’s who resurrected the career of Alan Partridge in 2010 for a series of Mid-Morning Matters programs on their Foster’s Funny website which saw Alan’s career as a DJ on North Norfolk Digital radio go worldwide via the Internet. This year, Foster’s orchestrated the reunion of The Fast Show with Paul Whitehouse, John Thomson, Arabella Weir and Charlie Higson.
Now comes a survey, designed to promote tomorrow’s British Comedy Awards, which reveals that a confident 65.5% of the residents of London rate themselves as the funniest, while the more subdued residents from the South West are the least likely to think they can make you laugh with only 24.4% daring to admit they are funny.
More on the survey here from the British Comedy Guide. Can you guess how much the average Brit thinks they make their family, friends and co-workers laugh a day?
I really feel for the judges in this years British Comedy Awards, which take place Friday, 16 December, at Wembley’s Fountain Studios. Not only have there been some great comedies nominated this past year which, ultimately, are all competing against other, but there is a stellar group of comedic actors and actresses pitted against each other for the likes of Best Comedy Actor and Actress, Best Male and Female TV Comic andBest Comedy Entertainment Personality. No envy here trying to determine a winner in the Best Sitcom category when you have Miranda up against Twenty Twelve, starring Hugh Bonneville or in the Best New Comedy category which pits Twenty Twelve against Spy, starring Darren Boyd and Robert Lindsay.
Hosted by Jonathan Ross, the annual ceremony will be telecast live on Channel 4 in the UK at 9:00pm. Should you attempt to play along at home with the judges, wherever you are, here is a full list of nominees in all 17 categories.
In addition to the announced awards, the public will, again, have the opportunity to be a part of the festivities this year by voting for the King or Queen of Comedy Award via an American Idol-ish public telephone poll with nominees selected by the British Comedy Academy. To register your vote before Friday, here is a list of this years nominees with instructions of how to vote.
FYI, a programming update for those playing along in the United States. Miranda will premiere on a number of public television stations (including KERA, Dallas/Fort Worth) beginning in January 2012. Hopefully, Twenty Twelve and Spy aren’t too far behind.
An early Christmas gift for Doctor Who fans worldwide surfaced this past week as two previously ‘missing’ episodes were returned to the BBC archive having been in the unknowing possession of a film collector, Terry Burnett, who purchased the missing episodes near Southampton in the early 80′s. Found were episode 3 of the William Hartnell adventure “Galaxy 4″ and Episode 2 of Patrick Troughton’s “The Underwater Menace”.
Surprisingly, according to the BBC, over 100 episodes of Doctor Who, the iconic science-fiction series from the 1960′s, still remain missing. While it’s hard to imagine in today’s age of endless DVD’s and video on demand, production tapes from broadcasters and production companies around the globe were routinely wiped once the rights to repeat them had expired. The two Doctor Who episodes were part of Sunday’s British Film Institute’s annual “Missing Believed Wiped” event at the National Film Theatre in London, hosted by Mark Gatiss. The BBC has generously released clips of the two missing episodes for fans worldwide to see and enjoy. Watch below or click here for your early Christmas present.
Clip from ‘lost’ William Hartnell episode – Galaxy 4, episode 3
Clip from ‘lost’ Patrick Troughton episode – The Underwater Menace, episode 2
With apologies to the great Judi Dench, we’d like to take a moment and wish her a very happy belated birthday. Turning 77 on Friday, 9 December, the brilliant actress has done nothing but give theatre goers, film lovers and situation comedy fans, worldwide, birthday presents every year since her first professional stage appearance in 1957 with the Old Vic Theatre Company, at the Royal Court Theatre, Liverpool, as Ophelia in Hamlet.
Showing absolutely no signs or desire to begin to take some down time, Dame Judi Dench played a part in nine films in 2011 that are all in various stages of pre-production, post-reduction or release. Next up, with a March 2012 scheduled in both the U.S. and the UK, is The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Directed by John Madden (Shakespeare in Love, Her Majesty, Mrs. Brown), the film also stars a line-up of a who’s who in British acting, both young and old, including Dench, Bill Nighy (Page Eight), Maggie Smith (Downton Abbey, Harry Potter), Tom Wilkinson (Full Monty, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol), Ramona Marquez (Outnumbered) and Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire).
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel tells the story of British retirees who travel to India to take up residence in what they believe is a newly restored hotel. Less luxurious than its advertisements, the Marigold Hotel nevertheless slowly begins to charm in unexpected ways. How can it not with this ridiculously brilliant cast. Can’t wait.
A very, very happy belated birthday, Dame Judi Dench.
Time to shelve the Downton Abbey 2 talk for a day. Everyone already has the DVR set for Sunday, January 8, 2012 for the second series premiere as part of PBS’ Masterpiece series. Time to turn our attention to, perhaps, the best television series, bar none….Spooks, or MI-5, in the United States.
With the final series set to premiere in April on public television stations across the U.S., it’s time to prepare, America, for what the U.K. already knows. For a series such as Spooks to remain fresh and continue to keep audiences coming back week after week, you need more than your share of memorable moments. Harry Pearce (Peter Firth) picked his top-10 moments from the first 9 seasons of the series for the Radio Times. Here are the first five. To me one of the most memorable only made it to #8 in Harry’s complete list in the Radio Times – the bomb in Tom’s house from series 1, episode 6. Oh, well. How did you fare?
As with many Spooks deaths, you wouldn’t have expected it. Harry had to choose which of Danny and Fiona had to die and Danny makes the choice for him by calling the villain “a death worshipping fascist”. He then gets shot in the head.
Lisa Faulkner, that lovely girl from Holby City was not only killed, but killed in a thoroughly gruesome way. It was done for impact and it worked. Everyone tuned in the following week. Cynical but, hey, it’s TV
People knew Adam [Rupert Penry Jones] was leaving but, like Adam’s exit, the details can still surprise. Frequently you read scenes and you think “They won’t shoot that” and frequently they don’t because it’s too difficult or too implausible, but they really pulled it off with Adam’s death in the car bomb.
You can usually tell when actors are destined for great things, and that was definitely the case with Matthew Macfadyen. When you see Matthew in full flow – as he was with Tom Quinn being forced to retire – you know that you’re in the room with something special.
One of the Spooks’ mantras has always been “Kill your heroes” – even if they’re not right in the frontline. Geeky Colin was a fan favourite so his end was almost more shocking than one of the leads.
The Telegraph picked their top-10 memorable moments just prior to the premiere in the UK and, with only one exception, they match Harry’s. Have to say, I’m with the Telegraph on this one. Great, great scene.
Forget the annual Christmas Day BBC 1 vs. ITV 1 battle royal. 2012 brings an even bigger main event to the forefront with challenger, Sky 1 declaring they are poised to be the ‘home of original British comedy’ and taking on the perennial powerhouse, the BBC, on their home turf – comedy and light entertainment.
As the BBC seemed to be somewhat in the midst of a fairly sizable cutback in comedy and light entertainment output, the last half of 2011 saw Sky 1 really back up their verbal commitment to original comedy in the Fall by bringing UK viewers the likes of Trollied (Jane Horrocks, Mark Addy), Mount Pleasant (Daniel Ryan, Sally Lindsay), Spy (Darren Boyd, Robert Lindsay) and, most recently, The Cafe, directed by Craig Cash (The Royle Family). Now, from Ruth Jones, co-writer and co-star of Gavin and Stacey, comes Stella. in what promises to be a warm, funny series and an authentic slice of the working-class Welsh Valleys.
Upcoming projects include Gates, starring Sue Johnston (Royle Family), Tom Ellis (Miranda) and Joanna Page (Gavin and Stacey). Sky 1 will also be tapping the brilliance of Baby Cow Productions for a new comedy called Starlings. While Sky 1 seems to be grabbing some well-established and well-known talent traditionally associated with the BBC, you can bet the Beeb won’t take this surge by Sky 1 lying down so it will be interesting to see what they have in store for 2012.
A personal side note….
Spy, which stars the great Robert Lindsay (My Family) and Darren Boyd (Green Wing, Whites) is a personal favorite from both a storyline and cast. The series just finished transmission of the first season with no word as of yet as to whether or not there will be a second series. Let’s hope if fares better than Boyd’s earlier BBC comedy series, Whites, which starred Alan Davies and was, surprisingly, cut down in its prime and not commissioned for a second season. Oh, well. Just add Whites to the long, long list of shows that were ‘critically acclaimed’ but cancelled that I love. Two immediate examples come to mind in Arrested Development and Sports Night.
From the brilliant minds of Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, the UK eagerly awaits the ‘official’ word as to when Sherlock 2 will transmit on BBC One. While the U.S. date is confirmed for May 6, 2012 on PBS’ Masterpiece series, word circulating around as of today confirmed that there will be a 1 January, 2012 airdate on BBC One in everyone’s Christmas stocking this year beginning at 8:10p.
A number of lucky individuals gathered on Wednesday evening at the British Film Institute for a screening of episode one from the upcoming second series, “A Scandal in Belgravia”. Following the screening was a Q&A with series creators, Moffat and Gatiss, along with stars Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock Holmes) and Lara Pulver (Irene Adler).
We are extremely fortunate to be able to tap in to someone that was in attendance on Wednesday night who has offered a very detailed account of the screening event. The generous folks over at Cumberbatchweb, the unofficial website for Benedict Cumberbatch, offer the following review in as much detail as the law allows without any spoilers. The full review can be found on their tumblr page here. After reading even the beginning of their wonderfully detailed review below, I have already set the DVR for Sunday, May 6, 2012.
Sherlock – A Scandal in Belgravia is clever, witty, sexy, action packed, thrilling, intelligent, nuanced and just all round bloody brilliant telly. It’s something you’ll immediately want to watch again the second it finishes.
So Moriarty, Sherlock & John, a gun and a bomb? How ever could our intrepid heroes get out of that terrible pickle? Well, the resolution to the cliffhanger is dealt with swiftly and resolved in a fairly jaw dropping, audacious way which made the entire viewing audience burst into spontaneous applause. Witty, darkly funny, terribly clever and the credits hadn’t even rolled yet!
Cliffhanger over and done with the story proper begins with a clever modern re-working of A Scandal in Bohemia. And that of course means Irene Adler. Naughty Irene is in possession of some items the powers that be (represented by the mighty Mycroft) would like back and Sherlock is set the task of their retrieval. I’ll admit I’d been nervous about how Adler would be portrayed. I rather enjoyed Rachel Adams portrayal of Irene in the Sherlock Holmes movie but was less enamoured of RDJ’s Holmes mooning over her and did not much fancy the notion of Sherlock going all gooey eyed over Irene. So I was delighted at how much I absolutely adored the character.
In Lara Pulver’s incredibly capable hands Irene is sexy, fierce as hell, clever, calculating, amoral, flirty and brave. It’s a wonderfully nuanced performance. Pulver manages to make Irene both a master of manipulation and yet surprisingly vulnerable all at the same time. She commands every scene she is in and she holds her own against Cumberbatch and Freeman which is not an easy feat. Pulver is also gorgeous and has a wardrobe to die for (I may have audibly sighed with envy at a brief glimpse of Irene’s stunning wardrobe).
The rest of the review is sprinkled with such brilliant phrases as….
Irene’s first scene with Sherlock and John is an absolute delight….
The script for the episode is fantastic. Steven Moffat once again proves that he is a writer working at the very top of his game….
The episode is also a visual feast. It’s impossible to single moments out without spoiling but Paul McGuigan directs masterfully coaxing great performances from a cast which doesn’t have a single weak link….
Again, the full review can be found on the Cumberbatchweb tumblr page here. It’s a joy to read for Sherlock fans worldwide. Makes you wish it was simultaneously 1 January and May 6 on the same day. Kudos to Cumberbatchweb and thanks from a very jealous lot on this side of the pond.
Great Expectations, one of Charles Dickens’ greatest novels, has a 2012 airdate as part of PBS’ Masterpiece series. The two-part series will premiere April 1, 2012 on PBS stations across the U.S., with the conclusion of the most recent adaptation scheduled the following Sunday, April 8, both at 8p CT/9p ET. This version of Great Expectations, the fifth by the BBC since 1959, has all the makings of being classic television as evidenced by the initial trailer just released by the BBC in advance of the scheduled UK broadcast in late December on BBC One.
The mini-series features an all-star cast with Gillian Anderson (The X-Files) as Miss Havisham, David Suchet (Poirot) as Jaggers, Ray Winstone (Sexy Beast) as Magwitch and Douglas Booth (Worried About the Boy) as Pip. Sarah Phelps, who adapted Oliver Twist for the Beeb in 2007 has written the newest incarnation. Dickens’ Great Expectations will be one of a number of scheduled programs in 2012 that will be broadcast on both PBS and the BBC as part of international celebration marking the 200th anniversary of Charles Dickens’ birth,