Saturday, 21 June, marked the ‘official’ beginning of Summer. The Summer Solstice. The longest day of the year if you reside in the Northern hemisphere. That may very well be, but every day this week will seem like the longest day of the year given what PBS has in store for fans of great British telly on Sunday. Six long days away, but well worth it. This coming Sunday, 29 June, will see the return of two long-awaited series and the premiere of a new one that features two ‘Sirs” and one ‘Misfit’.
Last Tango in Halifax, starring Sir Derek Jacobi and Anne Reid
At 8pm ET/7pm CT, Sir Derek Jacobi (Alan) and Anne Reid (Celia) return for the second series of Last Tango in Halifax. Also starring Sarah Lancashire (Happy Valley) and Nicola Walker (Spooks) star as Caroline and Gillian, the respective daughters of Celia and Alan, Last Tango in Halifax gives new meaning to the phrase “family baggage”. Written by Sally Wainwright, who also penned Scott and Bailey, Last Tango… has already been commissioned for a third series, which is great news to fans on both side of the pond.
Endeavour, starring Shaun Evans and Roger Allam
A 9pm ET/8pm CT, Shaun Evans returns in the lead role as young Endeavour Morse, with Roger Allam (The Thick of It, Parade’s End) as his senior Detective Inspector Fred Thursday, in the second series of Endeavour, the successful crime drama prequel to Inspector Morse. In Sunday’s first episode, “Trove”, Morse returns from sick leave to investigate a suspicious suicide, a missing girl, and the theft of a Trove (ancient artifacts)…and, that’s only the first of four episodes.
Vicious, starring Sir Derek Jacobi, Sir Ian McKellen and Iwan Rheon
At 10:30pm ET/9:30pm CT, Vicious tells the story of long-time partners, Freddie (McKellen) and Stuart (Jacobi). Their 50+ year relationship underscores a deep love for each other even though it is many times masked by vicious, co-dependent fighting and nitpicking.
Freddie (McKellen) was a budding actor and Stuart (Jacobi) a barman when they first met but their careers are now pretty much over and their lives now consist of reading books, walking their dog and bickering. Today, Freddie is an over-the-hill actor whose career consisted mainly of bit parts. Although his career never really took off, he insists on behaving as if it did and still does. Stuart is a former bar manager with an aged mother named Mildred who remains clueless as to her son’s relationship with Freddie.
Look up Must See TV in the dictionary and you’ll see all three of these series listed.
Almost completely overlooked amidst all the Doctor Who 50th anniversary hoopla was a brilliant little feature called The Five (ish) Doctors Reboot. The special, which originally aired around the 50th celebration last November, followed Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Doctors Peter Davison, Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy as they attempted to land a role in the ‘official’ feature-length 50th episode.
In addition to the three aforementioned Doctors, Eighth Doctor Paul McGann had a cameo in the comedy short alongside a number of familiar faces that have been an integral part of Who history, both past and present, including current show runner, Steven Moffat, along with Russell T Davies, David Tennant, Matt Smith, Olivia Colman and Sean Pertwee.
It was McGann who, in speaking at the Cambridge Union Society, announced that work had already begun on a follow-up to the wildly successful spoof. Sadly, as with most Doctor Who, Sherlock or Downton Abbey stories these days, you get no details, just a tantalizing hint that something will be coming our way soon.
Just in case you have been completely without power since last November, here’s the full version of the Day of the Doctor: Five (ish) Doctors Special Reboot for your viewing pleasure…
In keeping with the tradition of the entire cast of Sherlock actors making maximum use of their downtime during the maddening but understandable hiatus between series, Louise Brealey will soon be following in the footsteps of series stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Andrew Scott, Mark Gatiss, Una Stubbs and Rupert Graves by taking on other projects. While Cumberbatch has either appeared in or has been rumored to be starring in virtually every film that is set to be released between now and 2015 and Martin Freeman just finished a stellar performance as Lester Nygard in the FX series, Fargo, other cast members have taken the opportunity to enjoy the ability to stretch out and showcase their brilliance both in film and on the live stage.
Louise Brealey, best known as timid pathologist Molly Hooper in the BBC/PBS 21st century adaptation of Sherlock, will step back in time and join the cast of Ripper Street for series three, which is currently being filmed in Ireland. Not a bad gig for Brealey who will temporarily trade in her back and forth with Benedict Cumberbatch for a role opposite Ripper Street star, Matthew Macfadyen. The Sherlock star will play Dr. Amelia Frayn who runs the Obsidian Clinic in Whitechapel, caring for those who cannot look after themselves.
“I’m playing one of the first women doctors,” Brealey told RadioTimes.com recently. “I’m really excited because I did history at university and I love a bit of research. Elizabeth Garrett Anderson blazed the trail in the 1870s and in the intervening decade or so a few extremely intrepid and unusual women started learning to be doctors themselves.”
The Victorian detective drama, which originally had a home on BBC1 and BBC America was revived from the back alleys of Whitechapel by Amazon Prime Instant Video where it will premiere with a not-long-after run on BBC1 in the UK.
What do you get that hard-to-buy-for individual on your shopping list? If you are Prime Minister David Cameron and you find yourself on the way to meet up with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang during his first official visit to the UK, there’s only one option…you play the Downton Abbey card. Seems as though the PM secured a copy of the script for the show’s first episode signed by creator/writer Julian Fellowes to give to the Chinese Premier as a gift recently.
Evidently, as with the rest of Planet Earth, the British period drama has been a huge hit in China. Last year, according to the Hollywood Reporter, a study from Beijing-based entertainment research firm Entgroup has revealed that China’s urban wealthy and educated are increasingly buzzing about Britain’s lavishly produced TV dramas, including shows such as Downton Abbey and Sherlock. It seems as thought social media sites that draw an exclusive white-collar and college-educated user base are seeing a significant increase in the discussion of British shows when they air. Just so you don’t think the PM got off easy, he also gave Keqiang a special £10 gold coin designed by artist Wuon-Gean Ho which celebrates the Chinese year of the horse and a DVD box set of works by Charles Dickens.
Wonder what you get him next year?
According to the BBC, not one, but two iconic children’s television series are set to return to the small screen. Danger Mouse AND Teletubbies will resume production with new episodes airing on CBeebies in 2015.
Danger Mouse, the English mouse/Secret Agent who wore a patch over one eye was voiced by Sir David Jason, and his bespectacled hamster sidekick, Penfold, played by the late Terry Scott, originally ran in the UK from 1981 to 1992. For the 21st century version, Danger Mouse and Penfold’s HQ will continue to be in a red postbox, although it will now be packed with cutting-edge technology as befitting any modern action mouse. DM’s iconic eye patch will be replaced by an “i-patch” equipped with multiple state-of-the art functions. The BBC has ordered 52 episodes with Danger Mouse and Penrod continuing their battles with the evil toad, Baron Silas Greenback.
New episodes of the BBC children’s favorite Teletubbies are to be made for the first time in more than a decade. The series, which originally premiered in 1997, will return in 2015 with 60 new episodes. Like Danger Mouse, the new Teletubbies will incorporate more CGI special effects and other updated elements to reflect technological advances designed to ‘reinvigorate the show for future generations’.
The iconic Teletubby-land hill that was home to Dipsy, Laa-laa, Tinky Winky and Po was turned into a pond a couple of years back because its owner was sick of tourists visiting the vacated site in Warwickshire following the shutdown of production in 2001. The new episodes will be a filmed on a replica of the show’s distinctive original outdoor set. No word yet as to whether or not Noo-Noo and the baby in the sun will sign up for the newest incarnation.
The bad news? America is dangerously close to the final five broadcasts of Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot series starring Sir David Suchet. Over the last 25 years, Suchet will have played the Belgian detective in every Poirot story ever written by Christie, 66 to be exact.
The good news? There are still approximately 20 short stories that are as yet to be filmed for Miss Jane Marple. Over the years, the small screen adaptations have seen Joan Hickson, Geraldine McEwan and Julia McKenzie portray the popular sleuth. September will see three new Agatha Christie Miss Marple programs make their way to PBS following a three-year hiatus. Beginning September 21, Julia McKenzie will don Marple’s trademark tweeds for her third stint as the crime-solving consulting detective in A Caribbean Mystery, Greenshaw’s Folly and Endless Night. McKenzie will star alongside Oliver Ford Davies, Anthony Sher, and Hermione Norris in A Caribbean Mystery on September 21 as Miss Marple battles a bit of intrigue and black magic while lending her talents to the local Caribbean police force to solve a murder while on holiday. Also on September 21, Greenshaw’s Folly will combine two Christie short stories, Greenshaw’s Folly and The Thumb Mark of St. Peter and will co-star Fiona Shaw, Judy Parfitt, Julia Sawalha and Kimberley Nixon.
The final program, Endless Night, which will air on PBS’ Masterpiece Mystery! series on September 28, has long been considered one of Christie’s personal favorites. Interestingly, the book did not originally include the Miss Marple character. The Kevin Elyot small screen adaptation also stars Tom Hughes (Silk), Aneurin Barnard (The White Queen), Joanna Vanderham (The Paradise) and Wendy Craig (Butterflies, Reggie Perrin, The Royal) which tells the story of a young couple who ignore the warnings of a gypsy and build a dream home on allegedly cursed land.
Which actor do you think does the best Miss Marple?
At long last, The Paradise is set for a series 2 return to PBS this Fall. While the doors have been closed since series 1 came to a close November 2013, fans of the BBC drama series have been wondering whether or not the second series would make its way to the US given it ended in the UK last December. Beginning September 28, Sundays will once again be Must See TV leading viewers up to the next long-awaited series return, Downton Abbey on January 4, 2015.
During series 1, fans of The Paradise, the BBC’s answer to ITV”s Mr. Selfridge, lived vicariously through the life of a bright-eyed country girl, Denise Lovett, played brilliantly by Joanna Vanderham. You know, the girl with endless new ideas on how to promote business, who found more than just shop-girl work when she brought those clever ideas and ambition to Britain’s glamorous first department store, The Paradise. It wasn’t all that easy as Lovett came to know first hand the power struggles, intrigues and romance of retail catching the attention of the store’s dashing and enigmatic owner, John Moray. The Paradise revolves around the lives of the people who live and work in the store, each bound in their own way by the power of the world they live in, and the pasts that follow them there. It’s a love story, a mystery, a lavish costume drama and a social comedy all in one.
As you can see, series 2 takes place a year after the dramatic events (and all that that entails) which occurred in the series 1 finale. Unfortunately, no spoilers here so you’ll have to wait until the series 2 premiere to find out what’s in store (sorry) for Lord Glendenning, Katherine, Denise and Moray. It promises to be more of the same…power struggles, intrigues and romance. Can’t wait.
We heard from a number of you asking where The Paradise is filmed. The series is filmed at Lambton Castle in County Durham in England, which has been converted into an 1870s bustling upmarket department store, complete with a Victorian street with shops and a tavern. Ah, the magic of telly.
Series 2 will premiere Sundays at 8p ET/7p CT on PBS as part of the Masterpiece Classic series beginning September 28.
As series 4 begins on public television in America, filming has begun in the North East of England for series 5 of Vera. Academy Award nominee Brenda Blethyn reprises her role as the brilliantly perceptive DC Vera Stanhope alongside her new partner, DS Aiden Healy, played by Kenny Doughty. Gone from the forthcoming series is DS Joe Ashworth, played by David Leon, finally getting his long-awaited promotion.
Even though we can all pretty much guess that DS Healy will quickly be on the receiving end of the biting wit of DCI Stanhope, Doughty seemed pretty chuffed about his addition to the popular British crime drama saying, “I’m really thrilled to be joining Vera. It’s such a fantastic show and I’m especially excited to be working alongside the lovely and brilliant Brenda Blethyn.”
Based on the characters created by novelist Ann Cleeves, series 5 of Vera will have four new episodes with the first episode written by Martha Hillier and will follow Vera and Aiden as they investigate a mysterious death at a caravan park. Series 5 will also see the return of Jon Morrison as DC Kenny Lockhart, Cush Jumbo as DC Bethany Whelan, Kingsley Ben-Adir as pathologist, Dr. Marcus Summer and Riley Jones as DC Mark Edwards.
Prior to filming Blethyn said: “I am so happy to be embarking on series 5 of Vera and whilst I’ll miss David Leon. I’m very glad to be reunited with Jon Morrison, Riley Jones, Cush Jumbo and our new member of the team Kenny Doughty. Northumberland here we come!”
Filming will continue in the North East until Autumn 2014 and will be onscreen in 2015 in the UK and an American broadcast on public television not too long after. For American audiences wanting a head start as to what’s coming your way on Vera, series 4…enjoy.
Even though I will forever be of the mindset that Benedict Cumberbatch has the insane ability to do anything, I now think he has company. David Tennant just may be challenging him for the top spot with his most endearing role of reading a bedtime story on CBeebies. Imagine the ability to ‘drift off’ to the sound of the Doctor reading a bedtime story!
With the overall CBeebies channel mission to encourage “learning through play in a consistently safe environment for children aged 6 or under”, the final show of each day, the Bedtime Story, is read by a guest storyteller, including well known actors, comedians, and past presenters of BBC children’s television. Over the years, a number of incredibly talented folks have lent their time and efforts to the show with some of the most notable names being Tennant, Simon Pegg (World’s End), Jon Simm (Life on Mars), New Tricks‘ James Bolam, Peter Serafinowicz (Mr. Sloane) and Brian Cox.
Back in 2009, Tennant read three stories the week before Christmas to the delight of everyone in the UK, not just those 6 and under. Don’t know about you but I think I felt myself yawn there for just minute.
Miki by Stephen Mackey
How High is the Sky by Anna Milbourne and Serena Riglietti
Small Mouse, Big City by Simon Prescott