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New ‘old dogs’ set for ‘New Tricks’ series premiere

August 14, 2014

What started as a simple one-off special back in March 2003 has morphed into one of the best series on television in 2014. With a mere 10 seasons and 87 episodes under their belts, New Tricks has weathered the kitchen sink of reality and talent competition shows thrown at them to become one of the BBC mainstays when it comes to police procedurals. In addition, the series has overcome almost a complete cast overhaul with Amanda Redman, Alun Armstrong and James Bolam all having left the series this past year and new ‘old dogs’, Dennis Lawson, Nicholas Lyndhurst and Tamzin Outhwaite, joining the UCOS (Unsolved Crime and Open Case) Unit.
New 'old dogs' hit the streets in new New Tricks

Outhwaite, who joined UCOS as DCI Sasha Miller at the end of series 10, had her work cut out for her given she was coming in as the lead ‘old dog’, replacing DS Sandra Pullman, played since the beginning of the series by Amanda Redman. Immediately faced with having to be ‘accepted’ by Gerry, DCI Miller ultimately earns the respect of the unit by cracking their first case, albeit, amidst a bit of a tense atmosphere.

The UCOS sets their sites on a new set of unsolved crimes when New Tricks S11 begins Monday at 9p on BBC One with a U.S. broadcast targeted on public television in 2015. New cast members aside, one thing doesn’t change. The theme song “The End of the Line”, which was written by George Harrison, is still sung by cast member Dennis Waterman. Thank goodness as, sometimes, you can only teach an old dog so many new tricks at one time.

Take a “Deep Breath”. ‘Doctor Who’ is almost here…

August 13, 2014

The countdown to 23 August begins with the newest bit of trailer gold released by the BBC yesterday. With a dinosaur, a new Tardis interior and Peter Capaldi in a nightgown, how can you not be beside yourself with anticipation. “Deep Breath” is the first episode of the eighth series of Doctor Who which will usher in the Peter Capaldi era as he takes over as the Twelfth Doctor. In “Deep Breath”, the Doctor lands in Victorian London.

Don’t fret if you’re not within visual range of a telly on the 23rd. The episode will be beamed globally to over a thousand cinemas in the UK and the U.S. According to the great folks over at Den of Geek, there will be 12 theatrical events in 12 cities in the States at 12am/midnight to celebrate the launch of the new season on Saturday, August 23. For U.S. theaters that will be participating, click here to find one near you. Then, on Monday, August 25, the celebration will go nationwide with two showings at 7:00pm and 9:30pm (local time) to over 550 theaters in the U.S. UK fans can see the premiere at cinema chains Odeon, Empire, Cineworld, Vue, Omniplex and Picture House on August 23.

Why go to the cinema, you ask? Hello. It’s the big screen. And, there will be an exclusive 5-minute prequel scene preceding the premiere, and a 10-minute “making of” documentary immediately following. Need we say more?

Meet the youngest residents of ‘Downton Abbey’

August 12, 2014

You remember Nanny West, right? She was only in one episode as the governess and nanny for baby George Crawley and cousin Sybbie. Her days at Downton, however, were numbered right from the start. As we all know, once you make an enemy of Thomas Barrow, you’re done. Who can forget that fateful day in February 1922 when Lady Cora sacked her on the spot after overhearing this:

Don’t let that chauffeur’s daughter disturb you. Go back to sleep you wicked little cross-breed.” — Nanny West to George and Sybbie.

When Downton Abbey returns for series five next month in the UK and January 2015 on PBS, we find ourselves in the mid-20′s. Sorry to say, Matthew Crawley is still gone but, on the upside, his and Lady Mary’s son looks to be growing into a spitting image of his late father killed in the road accident that still, to this day, has unforgiving fans of the series upset. Last seen as a baby, Master George Crawley, the heir to the Downton estate, will now be played by twins Oliver and Zac Barker.
Downton Abbey series five_ Meet Master George Crawley and Miss Sybbie Branson - the youngest new cast members

Little George is joined in the Downton nursery by Miss Sybbie Branson, played by Fifi Hart and pictured here with her father, Tom Branson (Allen Leech), another single parent after his wife, Lady Sybil (Jessica Brown Findlay), died in childbirth.

Having a somewhat older Master George and cousin Sybbie seems to suggest that we’ll be seeing plenty more of both when Downton Abbey returns while their on-screen parents are also reported to be pursuing new romances during the forthcoming series. Lady Mary is still caught between her two suitors, Viscount Anthony Gillingham (Tom Cullen) and Charles Blake (Julien Ovenden), while her brother-in-law Branson continues to embark upon his relationship with Sarah Bunting, the young schoolteacher in Downton who challenged Tom when they met at a political rally last series.

Downton Abbey returns to ITV next month and in January 2015 on PBS…with or without Nanny West.

Scooby-Doo, Pee Wee’s Playhouse and…Doctor Who?

August 11, 2014

How great would this have been or be? Imagine a Saturday Morning Fun Club made up of the greatness of Scooby Doo, Pee Wee’s Playhouse and the Traveling Time Lord himself in an animated Saturday morning version of Doctor Who. Unfortunately, at this point, the idea lives only in the mind palace of artist and animator Stephen Byrne. Byrne’s fictional Saturday morning-style animated series of Doctor Who stars Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman with a little K-9 thrown in for good measure is Time Lord greatness.

Can’t immediately explain the Dalek chasing Clara around the TARDIS but, hey, it’s nothing more than just a bit of Saturday morning writer’s embellishment I’m guessing. What do you think? I know it’s not Scooby-Doo but would you have watched this on Saturday mornings?

First glimpse of ‘The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’

August 10, 2014

As with the first time we checked into India’s self-described “luxury” resort, the front desk register at The Marigold Hotel once again reads like a who’s who of British acting royalty. Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Judi Dench, Celia Imrie, Ronald Pickup, Diana Hardcastle, Penelope Wilton and Dev Patel all return for a second stay in the sequel to the highly successful 2011 film that followed a group of British retirees who decided to ‘outsource’ their retirement to less expensive and seemingly exotic India. As they take up residence in what they believe is a newly restored hotel, the Marigold is just a shade less luxurious than its adverts.

In The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, the story picks up right were we left off with everyone’s favorite Dowager Countess, Dame Maggie Smith, emerging as the newly-installed hotel co-manager who is immediately faced with the demands of a traditional Indian wedding. Judi Dench and Bill Nighy (Evelyn and Douglas) have now joined the local workforce, Patel (Sonny) is now faced with having to choose between his business and his upcoming marriage to the love of his life Sunaina, played by Tina Desae, Ronald Pickup and Diana Hardcastle (Norman and Carol) come to terms with the ups and downs of their exclusive relationship and Celia Imrie (Madge) has two eligible and very wealthy suitors on her plate. Tamsin Greig (Green Wing, Black Books, Episodes) and Richard Gere join the already stellar cast as new arrivals to the hotel.

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel has a 27 February 2015 release date in the UK with an early March 2015 date for release in the States.

‘Being Poirot’ is a delight for current and future Poirot fans

August 9, 2014

When the phrase Must See TV was coined by NBC years ago for its’ Thursday night comedy/drama lineup it must have had an upcoming public television special in mind some 30 years later. Being Poirot, which recounts Sir David Suchet’s last days as that ‘funny little man’ born in the mind of Agatha Christie, will leave long-time viewers of the Poirot series just as gutted as David Suchet was during the final days of filming. Being Poirot is Must See TV for the 21st century. Beginning this weekend on a public television station near you, fans of the Poirot series can see, and hear, the incredible level of detail in which Sir David Suchet prepared when creating his impeccable on-screen version of the famous Belgian detective.

Having invested a quarter of a century of his acting career in his portrayal of Hercule Poirot, the doc gives brilliant insight into how the consummate actor transforms into his ‘imaginary friend’ for the final time and how playing Poirot during those final scenes was the ‘hardest of his career’.

Long-time fans of the series were recently treated to the first two of the final five episodes which will complete entire Agatha Christie collection of stories ever written for her creation when Suchet returned to PBS with The Big Four and Dead Man’s Folly back in recent weeks. The final three episodes will make their way to public television stations beginning in November with Labours of Hercules, Elephants Can Remember and Curtain: Poirot’s Last Case.

Being Poirot, public television’s version of Must See TV, begins this weekend with the final three episodes headed your way in November 2014.

The Craig Ferguson/Peter Capaldi 80′s punk band connection

August 8, 2014

Who knew (or remembers) that the current host of The Late Late Show, Craig Ferguson, and the newest Traveling Time Lord (Peter Capaldi) go way back. As the story goes, Ferguson began as a drummer in a rock band called Exposure. He then joined a punk band called The Bastards from Hell, which was later renamed Dreamboys, which was fronted by guitar player and lead vocalist Peter Capaldi. They performed regularly in the early 80′s in Glasgow at such places as The Hellfire Club, where they record a live 3-song 7″ vinyl recording in October of 1980. Also in the band was Temple Clark on bass guitar, who is now a highly successful feature film storyboard artist that has worked on such films as The Avengers, Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows, and two films in the Harry Potter franchise, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
The Dreamboys with Peter Capaldi and Craig Ferguson

Not much is known about the former Bastards of Hell, other than what Capaldi discussed on The Late Late Show a few years ago. The ensuing discussion of their early days exploits in Glasgow are priceless.

In 1980, the Dreamboys recorded their ‘hit’, Bela Lugosi’s Birthday.


Is James Corden the new Craig Ferguson?

August 7, 2014

First it was Pink is the new Black. Then, everyone said that Orange is the New Black and Kale is the new Spinach. Now, it’s quite possible that James Corden is the new Craig Ferguson! With Ferguson leaving The Late Late Show at years end, I think that Benedict Cumberbatch’s name is the only one that has not surfaced as a possible replacement. The latest is British actor and comedian, James Corden, known widely in the UK for his BAFTA winning performance in Gavin & Stacey, which he both co-wrote and starred in, his performance in both the West End and on Broadway in One Man, Two Guvnors where he won the Tony Award and, most recently, for his co-creator/starring role in the comedy, The Wrong Mans.

While he’s not yet a household name in the States, he may soon get there with the recently released feature, Begin Again with Keira Knightley.

While I think Corden could be a great choice, the brilliant shoes of Craig Ferguson will be hard to fill. Personally, I have always thought him to be the funniest and most quick witted of all the current latenight hosts and should have replaced Jay Leno on The Tonight Show but that’s another story for another day. Unfortunately, no one asked me this time around. That said, I think the possibility of someone with the quick wit, enthusiasm and energy of a James Corden has potential…IF, he gets the creative freedom that Ferguson had or that Graham Norton has.

This won’t be the last we’ll see of Ferguson. After all, he was also the voice of Freakazoid‘s mentor AND the British comedy drama Doc Martin was based on a character from Ferguson’s film Saving Grace, with Ferguson getting writing credits for 12 of the episodes. Did I mention he was also in an episode of Red Dwarf back in the late 80′s? Need I say more about why Craig Ferguson is brilliant?

It’s Christmas time as ‘Downton Abbey’ films at Alnwick Castle

August 6, 2014

As we reported recently, Planet Earth’s favorite British period drama headed to Hogwarts this past week to continue filming for their forthcoming series 5 which will transmit in September on ITV1 and in January 2015 on PBS in the States.

What wasn’t completely clear at the time was that the filming taking place at Alnwick Castle, the home of the Duke and Duchess of Northumberland, was for the holiday special scheduled for this Christmas in the UK (traditionally moved to February and aired as the last episode in the season for the PBS broadcast). Fake snow was laid near Alnwick Castle with plenty of wintery white stuff laid on the pavements on Bailiffgate and the outside of one of the Duchess’s High School buildings, which has been transformed into a pub (a.k.a. The Crown and Anchor) for the scene.
Christmas in August at Alnwick Castle with Downton Abbey

If you’re headed to Northumberland for a quick tour of one of Britain’s most iconic castles, they have a message for you on their website.

Please note that various areas of Alnwick Castle will be closed or have limited access on July 28 – August 8 (inclusive), due to the filming of a major ITV period drama. Please check the ‘What’s On’ page for details about which events will be taking place on these days, as some are affected by the filming and may have to be cancelled or rescheduled. Some days may require a visitor capacity limit. The grounds are open as usual unless otherwise stated (certain areas of the grounds may need to be closed off at short notice on the day). Please note that some of the State Rooms may be dressed for filming while open to the public on those days. We apologise for any inconvenience.”