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‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies’ with Downton’s Lily James up next for a post-Doctor Who, Matt Smith

September 19, 2014

What’s next after you just spent three seasons as the Eleventh Traveling Time Lord? A bit of Jane Austen and Zombies, obviously. The adaptation of the Seth Grahame-Smith novel of the same name has been in the works since 2009, long before Matt Smith became a household face and name as The Doctor, and was originally rumored to be a 6-part television series. Smith has joined the cast as a ‘Mr. Collins’, alongside girlfriend Lily James (Downton Abbey) who is playing the lead.
P&P&Z with Matt Smith and Downton's Lily James

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, affectionately known as P&P&J, is a horror-comedy twist on Jane Austen’s classic novel Pride and Prejudice and follows Liz Bennet (James) as she is pressured by her mother into marrying into the wealthy upper classes. But, thanks to martial arts training from her father, Liz and her sisters are far better suited to defending the English countryside from the grips of a horrifying zombie plague. Sounds more like Downton Abbey meets Buffy, the Vampire Slayer if you ask me.

In addition to Smith and James, Sam Riley (On the Road) will star as Fitzwilliam Darcy, the obligatory pompous, but well-intentioned monster hunter, with Douglas Booth (em>Romeo and Juliet) playing the eligible Mr Bingley and Jack Huston (em>American Hustle, Boardwalk Empire) as the devious Wickham. Booth will be most recognizable to BBC and PBS viewers for his role as Pip in the 2011 BBC remake of Great Expectations.

James is putting together quite the career since she took the residents of Downton Abbey by storm at the end of series 3. She has quietly filled her CV during her off-months filming Downton by taking on the lead role in Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella and is rumored to be considering the lead in the upcoming BBC epic production of War and Peace. Smith has been busy, himself, having just finished filming a major role in Terminator: Genisys opposite Emilia Clarke and Arnold Schwarzenegger followed next year by a part in Ryan Gosling’s film directorial debut, Lost River. Filming for Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is set to begin on September 24

Scotland – Should I stay or should I go now?

September 18, 2014

In the beginning, England and Scotland were not only separate, they were frequently at war. Ever since that fateful day in 1707 when the two countries got together and formed a single country, Scotland has been part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain.  Today’s referendum vote, which has been in the works for almost two and one-half years, offers Scotland the chance to break free from Great Britain and gain its independence. Who better to explain the points to consider on both sides of the issue than the great John Oliver. After all, he all but nailed the debate on the issue of Net Neutrality. It only makes sense that the possible secession of Scotland is up next.

Here, the host of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, takes an in-depth look at both campaigns by not only examining their rather polite but ‘very British’ slogans, looks into each campaign’s financing and analyzing both platforms. Warning…there is just a wee bit of strong language ahead…it is HBO after all.

So…will it be Yes Scotland or Better Together who comes out on top after today’s vote? My question is what will it mean for Doctor Who? After all, two of the best Traveling Time Lords in recent memory, David Tennant and Peter Capaldi, are Scots! Not trying to sway you in any way, just stating fact. Now, here’s your chance to have your voice heard on this side of the Atlantic!

Should Scotland secede from the U.K.?

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Your ‘Downton Abbey’ S4 re-cap just in time for Sunday!

September 17, 2014

As the UK braces itself for Hurricane Downton that should hit landfall this Sunday, say around 9:00pm, we thought it best that since it has been approximately nine months since most everyone last visited the Crawleys we should do a bit of a recap of where we stand both upstairs and downstairs at Downton Abbey. Yes, Mary is STILL deciding on a suitable suitor, Lady Edith is understandably STILL depressed, Mrs. Hughes and Mr. Carson have FINALLY hooked up, the walls are beginning to close in on Bates and Lady Rose didn’t disappoint by getting tangled up in a scandal surrounding the Prince of Wales. And, who can forget Lady Edith’s sudden change of heart after returning from Europe or Lady Mary destroying evidence? Now, wouldn’t you say you need a bit of a refresher before Sunday? For a full written re-cap, happy reading.

Unless you are thinking of binge viewing series 4 this weekend in preparation for Sunday’s premiere, I think you’re all caught up. Now you can sit back and watch as the suitors line up for Lady Mary, I mean the Dowager Countess. Hopefully, it’s someone who knows what a weekend is…

‘W1A’ to return to the halls of BBC’s New Broadcasting House in 2015

September 16, 2014

While the world carefully watches the historic “Yes Scotland” vs. “Better Together” vote this coming Thursday that will determine if Scotland is to remain part of the United Kingdom or become an independent country, there is another extraordinarily critical issue on the table that is just around the corner and, most likely, going virtually unnoticed. The 2016 BBC Charter Renewal is inching ever so close with the ultimate outcome quite possibly in the hands of Ian Fletcher (Hugh Bonneville), the BBC’s Head of Values. Fletcher will, once again, solicit the help of Siobhan Sharpe’s PR agency Perfect Curve and their “high standards of clarity and presentational skills when it comes to the key issues facing the Corporation.” As the former Head of the Olympic Deliverance Commission, Fletcher brings immeasurable skill and talents to his position as Chair of the The Way Ahead Task Force BBC’s Head of Values when W1A returns for a second series.

A very ecstatic Fletcher commented on his return, “I am very happy to have the cameras back. Being Head of Values is all about re-setting the dial for the BBC and perhaps about shining a new light on that dial, or at least shining the old light but with a new bulb, so none of us can be in any doubt where the dial is or can have any excuse for not being able to read what it says.

While series 1 will finally find its way to public television beginning in January 2015, Series 2 will begin filming around that same time and will again be made up of four episodes, comprised of one hour long program and three, thirty-minute programs as was series 1. For those trying to do the math in your heads, not to worry as should there be a series 6 of Downton Abbey, filming will end in plenty of time for Bonneville to shift gears and head back to the mid-1920′s in his role as Lord Grantham.

Already lined up for the series 2 return will be Bonneville, Hynes, Sarah Parish (Breathless) and Jason Watkins (Being Human, Trollied). Everyones favorite Traveling Time Lord, David Tennant, will return to narrate. Look for W1A on both BBC2 and public television in the States in 2015.

Miss Marple: Two Mysteries, One Night, One Place – PBS

September 15, 2014

By the end of this week, I’m guessing that most of America will be Roosevelt-ed out having just been riveted to the small screen for 14 hours of brilliant telly from the mind palace of filmmaker, Ken Burns. Not to worry, PBS stations around the U.S. will have three new Miss Marple mysteries headed their way beginning Sunday, September 21. Yes, I’m fully aware that this is Downton Day in the UK but there is plenty of quality drama headed your way to fill the time until January 4, 2015 starting with a bit of Agatha Christie and consulting detective, Miss Jane Marple.
Two Mysteries, One Night, One Place - PBS

Julia McKenzie returns in her iconic role as spinster sleuth Miss Marple for three new mysteries. Beginning next Sunday, PBS fans of Masterpiece will get a double dose of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple beginning at 8:00p ET/7:00p CT with “A Caribbean Mystery”. Then, at 9:30p ET/8:30p CT, PBS’ Masterpiece series presents “Greenshaw’s Folly”. On Sunday, September 28, McKenzie continues her mystery solving ways in “Endless Night” at 9:00p ET/8:00p CT.

McKenzie is the third British actress to play the Agatha Christie creation following in the footsteps of Joan Hickson, who first played the Agatha Christie creation for PBS’ Masterpiece series from 1984-1992 and then Geraldine McEwan from 2004-2008.

A Caribbean Mystery, September 21, 8:00p ET/7:00p CT

Adapted by comedian, author and actor Charlie Higson, who has a cameo as the unassuming American ornithologist James Bond, “A Caribbean Mystery” has Miss Marple on holiday at a lavish tropical island hotel. In true Christie fashion, Miss Marple finds herself investigating the
 sudden death of a fellow guest and then unravels a web of deceit, murder and “dark magic” with the help of a curmudgeonly business tycoon played by Sir Antony Sher (God on Trial), leaving her to consider every one of the hotel’s guests as a suspect. Also starring are MyAnna Buring (Downton Abbey), Pippa Bennett Warner (Case Histories), and Charity Wakefield (Any Human Heart).

Greenshaw’s Folly, September 21, 9:30p ET/8:30p CT

Adapted from two of Christie’s short stories, Greenshaw’s Folly and The Thumb Mark of St. Peter, the second mystery reunites Julia McKenzie with two of her Cranford costars, Kimberly Nixon (Louisa) and Julia Sawalha (Mrs. Cresswell). When an old family friend and her young son turn to Miss Marple for assistance, she places them at nearby Greenshaw’s Folly, the family home of an eccentric botanist. But it becomes clear that the labyrinthine Folly isn’t quite the safe house that Miss Marple had hoped, when death casts its dark and sinister shadow on the residents.

Sunday, September 21 – Two Mysteries – One Night – One Place – PBS! Be there. Don’t forget to stay away from Twitter and Facebook to avoid Downton Day spoilers from the UK. You’ll thank me later.

Downton Abbey 5 – Drama, drama and more drama headed our way

September 14, 2014

Lots of questions to be answered one week from tonight in the UK when Planet Earth’s favorite British period drama, Downton Abbey returns to the small screen with the premiere of series 5. Filming has concluded, it’s now Downton Time in the UK. Now that we are inside one week, Chloe Fox from the Telegraph takes us behind the camera as filming winds down at Highclere Castle.
On the set of Downton Abbey at Highclere Castle for the filming of series 5

While there is lots of drama on the horizon, it’s not like the first four series have been without their own personal drama. Did Bates (Brendan Coyle) murder his wife? Would Lady Mary Crawley (Michelle Dockery) end up with her cousin Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens)? And, how can we forget the fact that within a matter of weeks Lady Sybil (Jessica Brown Findlay) died in childbirth and Matthew had been killed in a car crash. And that’s just the first three series. Series 4 ramped up the drama quotient quite a bit with the attack on Anna Bates (Joanna Frogatt) and then seemed to endlessly stretch out the question of who would Lady Mary end up with.

Though cast and crew have been threatened to within an inch of their respective period drama lives by series creator/writer, Sir Julian Fellowes, if they even think of divulging any plot lines, there are some things that we do know about for series 5. You do get the feeling that if there were any leaks, you might just get a middle of the night visit from Mr. Bates.

Some things are pretty easy to guess knowing that it is 1924, one year removed from where season four left off. Lady Mary will, no doubt, continue to juggle suitors, Bates and Anna will continue their struggle to come to terms with the aftermath of her rape, and a new character, Kuragin, a dashing Russian refugee played by Rade Sherbegdia, will spice things up for everyone. Richard E Grant arrives at Downton and play art historian Simon Bricker, a friend of the family along with Anna Chancellor, who plays Lady Anstruther.

Series 5 is set against a backdrop of the first-ever Socialist government, so that brings it’s own drama to the inhabitants of Downton. “The 1920s were a strange era of transition,” Fellowes says. “Visually, that change will be reflected in the costumes – hemlines moving up, necklines moving down, and, for all characters, adjustment to the new world will be the order of the day.” One new revelation, according to Fox, is that Violet Crawley, the Dowager Countess of Grantham (Maggie Smith) will be discovered to have ‘a past’. That ought to bring a smile to the face of Isobel Crawley (Penelope Wilton).
Is Violet sharing her past with Isobel Crawley

One of the more encouraging things to come out of ANY interview to this point comes from series writer/creator, Julian Fellowes. “I must say, I’m incredibly pleased with this series. Who knows how long we’ve got left in us. My own belief is that we will all reach a natural consensus about when it’s time to say goodbye. In the meantime, we are going to keep telling the story as best we can.” Don’t know about you but it sounds to me like we’ll be right back here again in 12 months talking about series 6, don’t you think? In the meantime, get that proper cup of tea ready for Sunday, 21 September for the return of Downton Abbey on ITV1.

A bit of blooper gold from ‘Sherlock’

September 13, 2014

There are times when you wade through the Internets where you wonder just even if its just for a brief moment who are all these people that have all this free time to both upload things on YouTube and to also watch the endless cat videos uploaded from that particular day. There are those times, however, that you run across a video that defies description and makes the steady stream of cat videos worthwhile. Such is the case with the recently released blooper clip from the BBC/PBS series, Sherlock. Fans of the well spoken, nicely presented, thoroughly respectable Benedict Cumberbatch may want to look away as this exclusive outtake clip from Sherlock shows he has just a bit of a potty mouth.

Although the blooper is bleeped, Cumberbatch is clearly riled up by trivia questions from his co-star Martin Freeman. When Benedict admits he has never heard of a particular actor, Freeman shoots back “I assumed you’d probably been christened by him. I thought you knew every actor over 50. I thought there was a by-law.” What then ensued was an endless flurry of laughter every time you heard the director yell “action”. No wonder it takes 12-18 months to get three new episodes each season.

The clip, which was first seen exclusively on RadioTimes.com, was released to promote Sherlock: The Complete Collection Limited Edition Gift Set. As well as featuring all three series of Sherlock on Blu-Ray and DVD, the gift set also includes these incredibly lifelike busts of Holmes and Watson.
Sherlock statues

George Clooney to get some face time on ‘Downton Abbey’ – well, sort of

September 12, 2014

Ellie Walker-Arnott of Radio Times reports today of what seems to be turning out to be closer to fact than fiction concerning that little British period drama we all know as Downton Abbey.

The definite ‘fact’ part of equation which everyone confirms is that George Clooney visited Highclere Castle back in May of this year supposedly scoping out venues for his upcoming wedding. The ‘rumor, but doubtful it is fact’ part of the equation has it that the American actor will actually rub elbows with the Crawley family on the forthcoming season of Downton Abbey. Initial reports had Clooney playing an American guest at a wedding which is taking place at the Abbey. According to sources close to the show, Clooney’s appearance “is the biggest moment in Downton history and shows it’s now the biggest drama in the world.

In reality, however, what looks to be a more accurate account of the couple’s trip to Highclere was that Clooney was there to make a special-guest appearance in a Downton Abbey-themed sketch that will appear during the overseas charity telethon, Text Santa, which will air in the U.K. around the holidays. So, erase that thought of the possibility of a George Clooney attempt to sweep Lady Mary off her feet right under the nose of Lord Grantham and Lady Cora.

While both America and Ellie Walker-Arnott of Radio Times may be ready to see the likes of Meryl Streep playing a no-nonsense Nonnatus House nun in Call the Midwife, or Angelina Jolie playing Sherlock‘s next nemesis, or even Jennifer Lawrence taking off with the Tardis in Doctor Who, I’m not sure how I feel about the possibility of George Clooney making a cameo appearance on Downton Abbey. Probably about the same as when I heard several series back that there was a chance that Mick Jagger and Keith Richards were fans of the series and would entertain an opportunity to appear should something materialize. I know that we’ve seen the likes of Shirley MacLaine and Paul Giamatti for more lengthy roles playing the crazy Americans cousins, etc. but having someone the magnitude of George Clooney seems a bit jump-the-shark to me. Thankfully, it looks like it’s just a rumor…for now.

The Dowager Countess schools Isobel Crawley in the concept of ‘what men want’

September 11, 2014

As Downton Abbey Nation inches ever so close to the 21 September premiere on ITV, nothing but video greatness is coming out of the ITV Press Centre to promote the forthcoming series 5 premiere. We’ve already seen the potential of there being ‘trouble in River City’ (or Downton) with our first teaser where Mr. Carson ‘feels a shaking of the ground he is standing on’, Lady Edith proclaims ‘the world is changing’, Daisy finally realizes she just can’t follow orders for the rest of her life and it looks like while Downton is burning, Mr. Carson refuses to believe that the house in which he lives is catching up to the times they live in.

Next up is classic Dowager Countess in what will certainly go into the next installment of The “stuff” the Dowager Countess says. Here, Violet shares what looks to be a teachable moment with Isobel Crawley. She may not know “what at weekend is” but she certainly knows “what men want”.

As if the dates aren’t already circled in red on your calendars, Downton Abbey returns to ITV on Sunday, 21 September at 9p and then Sunday, January 4, 2015 on PBS in the States.

Downton Abbey’s Mrs. Hughes headed upstairs to guest star on ‘Bones’

September 10, 2014

Downton Abbey's Phyllis Logan to guest star on BonesAs has been the case since day one of Downton Abbey, the cast does their best to live up to the label of ‘hardest working group in show business’. Let’s just say they don’t idly sit by waiting for filming of the next series to begin. Many head to the West End for a little theater work, Hugh Bonneville has been know to head over to the BBC Light Entertainment department to film the likes of Twenty Twelve and W1A, others, both upstairs and downstairs, taking parts in other drama series for either the BBC or ITV and, if schedules match up, Elizabeth McGovern (Lady Cora) sings and plays guitar in her own band “Sadie and the Hotheads”. Penelope Wilton (Isobel Crawley) and the Dowager Countess herself, Maggie Smith, found time to film both the original and the sequel of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel in their spare time. In recent memory, however, a number of the stars of Downton Abbey have begun passing the time when filming for the series is shut down (between the end of August and the beginning of March) by heading across the pond to try their hand at American television. A couple of years ago, Lesley Nichol (Mrs. Patmore) was a guest star on Fox’s Raising Hope.

Now it’s time for Mrs. Hughes to break away from the clutches of Mr. Carson, if just for a brief moment. Phyllis Logan, a.k.a. Downton Abbey‘s head housekeeper, will play a millionaire in an upcoming episode of Fox’s long-running hit series, Bones. According to Bones executive producer, Stephen Nathan, Logan’s character, Sandra Zins, “…is a wealthy woman whose housekeeper has been murdered. Her attempts to help are revealed to be a cover for something much darker.

Bones returns Thursday, September 25 at 8:00pmET/7:00pmCT on Fox with Phyllis Logan set to appear in the tenth season’s sixth episode slated to air in early November.