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From the Friday Vault: Men Behaving Badly turns 20

October 26, 2012

As we pull together our collective thoughts from the past couple of days at the BBC Syndication Showcase in the Big Easy, based on the response from last weeks premiere of From the Friday Vault, I thought we’d not only continue this feature but actually get it to you on a Friday! Great concept, huh?

First, however, a quick thank you to everyone who sent in feedback on the feature and also to those that made suggestions for future Fridays. If you’d like to see something dug out of the vault, don’t be shy. Would love to turn folks on to a hidden gem each week for some last minute weekend viewing.

This weeks entry of the classic British comedy, Men Behaving Badly, magically coincides with the 20th anniversary release of an all-new box-set on Monday, 29 October and will include all six series. As with all DVD anniversary sets these days, you’ll also get the 1997 Christmas Special, Comic Relief sketches and a new BBC Radio 4 documentary.

For those that may be unfamiliar with or forgotten the series, it first aired in 1991 on ITV1 and starred Martin Clunes (Doc Martin) as Gary with Harry Enfield as his flatmate Dermot. Enfield was replaced for the second series by Neil Morrissey with Caroline Quentin and Leslie Ash playing Dorothy and Deborah respectively. Morrissey can now be seen in the new BBC One comedy, Me and Mrs. Jones with Sarah Alexander.

Recently asked about the possibility of a MBB revival, Clunes quickly put an end to the reports. In true Clunes tongue-in-cheek fashion, he seemed to brush off the belief that most of the original cast was extremely busy with other projects which would include himself with the recent announcement that filming would soon begin on series six of Doc Martin and said, “To be perfectly honest, the others haven’t aged as well as I have so I think it would be a bit unfair“.

***FYI, Men Behaving Badly is currently being broadcast on a number of public television stations across the U.S., including Saturday nights at 11:30p on KERA Channel 13.***

BBC brilliance from the Big Easy – Comedy

October 25, 2012

Working very hard on your behalf, Tellyspotting, along with representatives from a number of PBS stations across the country, have taken over New Orleans for the last few days for a sneak peak of what’s in store, programming-wise, for public television viewers in the coming months. With over 50 program/series offerings being made available for syndication, I can tell you that after day one, as a viewer of public television, you are in for some amazing television in 2013.

Today’s three offerings in the comedy genre ranged from charming to laugh-out-loud funny. In all cases, these three reinforce my belief that UK comedy, in most cases, is head and shoulders about the rest of the world for two reasons…writing and casting. Plain and simple, this is intelligent television.

The Café is set in and around a café in Weston-Super-Mare run by generational trilogy Mary (June Watson), Carol (Ellie Haddington) and Sarah (Michelle Terry). Acting as the social hub of the seafront town, ‘the café’ sees all walks of life pass through and gives viewers an honest portrayal of life in a typical British seaside resort. Sarah is in her late twenties and has recently returned home from London as she attempts to pursue a writing career. Many of her old school adversaries still live in the area and are frequent visitors to the café. Royle Family alums Craig Cash and Ralf Little, who also plays Sarah’s former love-interest, Richard, have really delivered a gem of a comedy that has just been renewed for a second series in the UK and will hit public television in 2013.

This new 6-part comedy tells the tale of the Pearson family and their impetuous and ambitious son, Jack. Having left for the bright lights and big city of Manchester, he has ‘secretly’ married Sarah, a nice Jewish girl. The first episode was laugh-out-loud funny when Jason brings Sarah home to meet the family. Trust me, the scene of Jason’s mom feeling the need to make bagels out of rolls with an apple corer is priceless. Stand-up comedian and series creator Jason Cook based the series on his own experiences of growing up in the North East of England. It’s a little tough to ‘understand’ given Northern England accents, but it’s well worth it.

Created by Oriane Messina and Fay Rusling, Me and Mrs. Jones follows the ever complicated life of Gemma Jones (Sarah Alexander) as she balances love, affection, sex and motherhood between and ex-husband, one grown-up son and two young daughters. Not complicated enough? Well, add in the fact that Gemma has to balance the beginning of a new relationship with Tom, one of the Dads from her daughters school and her sudden ‘feelings’ for her son’s best friend (Robert Sheehan, Misfits). Let’s go behind the scenes with Sarah Alexander…

Whether it’s comedy, drama, docs or natural history, if Wednesday was any indication, there will not be enough hours over the course of a week to slot some of the best television on television when combined with the other ‘best television on television’ that comes your way via PBS. 2013 is shaping up to be a great year for us all. Over the next several days, we’ll profile more of what’s coming your way to public television from the BBC. You are so going to want to come back to see the drama offerings…Cheers.

Doc Martin to make series 6 house call in 2013

October 24, 2012

Bad news for patients, but good news for fans of Dr. Martin Ellingham came Monday with the announcement by ITV that the Martin Clunes series, Doc Martin, has been renewed for a sixth series comprised of eight episodes. According to the ITV Press Centre, all regular cast members will all but take over the fictional town of Portwenn when filming begins next spring on location in the coastal town of Port Isaac.

For those that remember the ending of series 5, the Doc has, once again, reconciled with his long-time love interest Louisa Glasson (Caroline Catz) after rescuing their son James from pharmacist Mrs. Tishell. Clunes recently mixed happiness with a bit of wondering out loud when thinking of his return to Cornwall to film another series. Clunes gave a few hints as to the direction the next set of programs by saying, “Our challenge this season will be to force Louisa and the doctor to live together with Baby James which as far as I can see has disaster written all over it. And then there’s the dog and Dame Eileen but not necessarily in that order!

Look for Doc Martin 6 in the Fall of 2013 on ITV in the UK and on public television stations nationwide, most likely, in January 2014.

Sir David Jason goes behind the camera for the Pearly Gates

October 23, 2012

Following years in front of the camera, first as Del Boy in the brilliant Only Fools and Horses, then as Detective Jack Frost in the crime drama, A Touch of Frost and, most recently, as the Queen’s incompetent minder in The Royal Bodyguard, Sir David Jason is stepping behind the camera for his next project. Pearly Gates, which stars The Fast Show‘s Mark Williams and is written by Ben Sweet, centers around a family-owned funeral business. Working with Jason on the project will be Gareth Gwenlan, former BBC Comedy head and Only Fools and Horses producer-director. Most recently, Gwenlan produced the OFAH ‘prequel’ series, Rock & Chips starring Nicholas Lyndhurst.

Not at all happy with the state of British situation comedy these days, Jason explained his thoughts behind the concept of Pearly Gates, “The subject of death and the funeral business is something that’s changed quite a lot over the years – it’s not all sadness, sorrow and grieving anymore. There can be quite a lot of humour as we celebrate someone’s passing. I thought of the idea of bringing a classic bit of British humour out of that scenario and creating a dysfunctional family of funeral directors who get up to a load of mischief as they go along.

A recent critic of the notion that Only Fools and Horses has been scheduled for an American re-make, Jason recently revealed that he has been negotiating to take Everybody Loves Raymond in the other direction and make a UK version. “I’ve always thought it needs a wider audience,” he says. “I could never understand why they didn’t put it out at prime time because it’s so good. And so I said: ‘Why don’t we do an English version?‘”

BBC’s REV to get U.S. re-make set in Chicago

October 22, 2012

What do you get when you come to the intersection of ‘Are You Kidding Me?’ Avenue, ‘This is Getting Ridiculous’ Boulevard and ‘Are There No New Comedy Ideas in America’ Street? The news that Rev, the award-winning BBC2 comedy starring Tom Hollander and Olivia Coleman, has been targeted for an American re-make, of course. Following the news in recent months that Spy, Whites, Only Fools and Horses and Gavin & Stacey will be remade for American broadcast, comes the news that Rev will be remade with Desperate Housewives producer Bob Daily on board to write the American version.

The British series has had limited success in the States with a short run on Hulu earlier this year. The series, which follows an inner-city vicar in London and his eclectic congregation, will now be seen on public television stations across the U.S. beginning in November. After winning the best sitcom BAFTA in 2011, the BBC renewed the comedy for a third series which will broadcast in 2014 on BBC2.

The U.S. version will center on an Episcopal priest who leaves a small rural parish in Wisconsin to take over a failing inner-city church in a deprived Chicago neighborhood. Hollander, who plays Rev Adam Smallbone, and who co-created the series, will consult on the US version with fellow creator James Wood.

At this stage of the announcement, no cast has been announced, no script has been written and no network has signed on as of yet. But, as with the British version, the congregation will include a homeless man and a crack addict. Somehow, that’s not much reassurance that this stands a chance given the brilliance of the British version. Another reason to adopt a wait and see mindset again.

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