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Karen Gillan joins ‘A Touch of Cloth’ for series 3

July 26, 2014

Suranne Jones (DI Anne Oldman) and John Hannah (DI Jack Cloth) are back for a third installment of Charlie Brooker’s police procedural spoof, A Touch of Cloth! Reminiscent of the greatness of Police Squad, this brilliant parody of British detective and crime dramas will also feature some new blood this time around. Kerry Newblood, to be exact. Karen Gillan (Doctor Who will cross paths with drink-addled copper Jack Cloth when series 3 returns to Sky1 on Saturday, August 9.

If you are unfamiliar with A Touch of Cloth, it’s a series that, through the first four episodes, has been jointly criticized and praised for its relentless jokes. My two cents is that, like Police Squad, it’s a spot-on wind up of the more gritty police procedural programs such as Scott and Bailey, DCI Banks, Prey and Happy Valley. It also sports a crack cast of regulars headed by Jones and Hannah along with a who’s who list of great guest stars including Anna Chancellor (Spooks, The Hour, Downton Abbey) and Raquel Cassidy (Lead Balloon, Downton Abbey). To explain more about the series…
Interview with Suranne Jones

Interview with John Hannah

‘Doctor Who’ meets The Nerd on ‘Robot Chicken’

July 25, 2014

Robot Chicken, created from the mind palaces of Seth Green and Matthew Senreich, got just a bit cooler recently as, at long last, The Doctor finally meets The Nerd. Airing as part of the Adult Swim block on The Cartoon Network, Robot Chicken is a sketch comedy series that parodies a number of pop culture conventions using stop motion animation of toys, action figures, claymation, and various other objects. While the comparisons between the TARDIS and Snoopy’s doghouse are probably a bit over the top for The Doctor, The Nerd does last long enough to travel back to the stone age in the TARDIS before quickly wearing out his welcome.

True fans of Doctor Who will, no doubt, take exception with the Robot Chicken parody because as we all know, “a real Dalek could never be subdued by a mere kick” and “The Doctor doesn’t simply confront total strangers with the proposal of becoming his next companion“. That said, this is a cross between brilliant and greatness and definitely well worth the 2+ minutes to watch.

Downton Abbey 5 — What we know so far…

July 24, 2014

With the return of Downton Abbey only mere months away on ITV in the UK, it was officially announced at the Television Critic’s Association gathering in Los Angeles that series 5 will premiere on PBS’ Masterpiece series beginning Sunday, January 4, 2015. Regardless of where you are, the great thing now is that both cast and crew are beginning to have some loose lips with regards to storylines even with creator/writer Julian Fellowes hanging in the wings to ensure a complete lockdown when it comes to information.

No real revelation here but Gareth Neame, the show’s executive producer, has revealed that the upcoming run will contain “high-stakes drama, laugh-out-loud comedy and… romance” as well as “…a few really nice twists and turns” for the characters we know and love. Unfortunately, you pretty much could have said that at any time about any of the previous series the past four years. Here’s what’s in store for…

Isn’t it about time for Anna to have a good day?

— Speaking to TVLine, Neame did say that Anna will still be dealing with the repercussions of series four, a storyline that Joanna Froggart confirmed at the TCA meeting telling critics, “It’s something that sort of haunts her in Season 5. It’s this added anxiety on top of what else she’s going through.”

Will Lady Mary finally make a decision?

— Surprise, surprise. Lady Mary is still on the look out for a man. “She’s still not quite sure, and I think there’s a good hook for the audience in the fifth season to see which decision she’s going to make,” says Neame.

Romance in the air for Mr. Carson and Mrs. Hughes?

— The real kicker came with regards to the teaser that there really could be romance on the cards for Carson and Mrs Hughes: “Downton is about romantic love and companionship, and in that sense, they are one of the Downton relationships, even if they’re not married. Obviously that was a lovely tease at the end of last season, so we’ll see what happens to them.”

According to Michelle Dockery, who plays Lady Mary, the introduction of a new character, Lady Anstruther, played by Anna Chancellor, will create “havoc” down at the Abbey. “She’s a troublemaker. She comes to the house and she creates havoc,” Dockery said.

Saving the best for last, Julian Fellowes has strongly hinted that there will be a series 6 in Downton Abbey‘s future. That alone is all I will need going in to this season. No need for any more teasers until September premiere. You?

Monty Python, 1969-2014

July 23, 2014

Dressed in white suit jackets befitting the occasion, the five surviving members of Monty Python, Michael Palin, Eric Idle, John Cleese, Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam, closed out their run of reunion shows Sunday evening by bidding farewell with the 1979 song from Monty Python’s Life of Brian, Always Look on the Bright Side of Life“. Considered by many to be the most influential group of individuals on ‘what we call’ comedy today, this would be the musical equivalent of the Beatles getting back together. Joining them onstage Sunday (and for the entire reunion ‘tour’) was Carol Cleveland, the only woman to have made regular appearances in the 1960s iconic show.

Since announcing the tour, of which the opening night on July 1 sold out in 44 seconds, the troupe has repeatedly said that this would be the final time they would perform together. At 45, (1969-2014), they felt it was time. They would cease to be. They had run down the curtain and would be meeting the choir invisible. They would be no more. Bereft of life, it was time for Python to rest in peace. They are an ex-comedy troupe.

While it has been 45 years since they first appeared on the BBC with Monty Python’s Flying Circus, the group’s 40th anniversary of their U.S. television premiere on KERA (PBS/Dallas) is coming up this October. It was Sunday, October 6, 1974 at 10:00pm that Dallas’ public television station and program director, Ron Devillier, changed the television comedy landscape forever. It was March of 1975 that Palin, Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam and Graham Chapman appeared in studio at KERA in Dallas for “Festival ’75″, part of the stations fundraising drive. With no U.S. distributor for their newest venture, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the group seemed a bit oblivious as to the world-wide Python madness that was getting ready to be unleashed. Unfortunately, as you will see, only 15 minutes of a nearly 3-hour night on KERA in 1975 remains.

On behalf of public television in America and fans of Python worldwide, thanks for 45 years of laughter and here’s to 45 more.

Endeavour takes you back to the 60′s

July 22, 2014

Having just spent a week in the 50′s on the set of the filming of series 3 of Father Brown in the Cotswolds, you get a crash course on the complexities of the overall transformation that has to take place to create the reality for both the actors involved and the viewers at home. The incredible attention to detail from the costume designers and the art departments were on display this week as they kicked into high gear to ensure complete accuracy down to the last detail.

As PBS Masterpiece viewers have experienced time and time again, British drama has taken us to virtually every time period from Victorian England through Edwardian England and right up until today. With Endeavour, of which series 2 ended on Sunday on PBS, the task was to re-create the magical time of 60′s. After seeing first hand, I can only sit at home and marvel at the incredible talent that goes to great lengths on both of these series.

The extent to which the actors go to transport themselves into the time period is a complicated one, if not fascinating. With the daunting task of ‘becoming’ an young Morse in front of him, Shaun Evans, who brilliantly plays the young Inspector Morse, looked for inspiration no further than Monty Python. “I listened a lot to Michael Palin, who was from the north, went to Oxford and who was alive in the 60s,” he said. “That’s how I imagine Morse’s voice to be.” He also said that Scandinavian crime dramas such as The Killing and The Bridge had also left their mark on Endeavour.

Asked whether viewers could expect to see the drama move into the 1970s, Evans said: “Listen, never say never. It would be a great life for me, I suppose. But is it something you’d want, creatively? I’m not so sure.” Author Colin Dexter has insisted there can be no remakes of the Inspector Morse episodes starring John Thaw. Evans added: “I know that Colin has it in his will that no one else can play the part, which is as it should be.

No word yet as to the future of Endeavour and whether or not a series 3 is in the works and/or commissioned, but given how series 2 ended on Sunday and the fates of DI Thursday and DC Morse so up in the air, how can there not be?

Monty Python’s Fliegender Zirkus – And Now for Something Completely Different

July 21, 2014

While getting ready to head back to the States in the AM having spent the last week in the Cotswolds on the set of Father Brown as they continue filming series 3, the combination of last night’s Monty Python finale at the O2 Arena in London and Germany winning the 2014 World Cup in Brazil when we arrived this past week got me thinking…and you know what happens when THAT happens. Fans of the British comedy troupe that did as much for the future of comedy as the Beatles did for the future of music will immediately know where I’m going. It’s…Monty Python in German, of course. Here’s how it first appeared on German television in 1972.

Produced by WDR for West German television in 1971-72, Monty Python’s Fliegender Zirkus con sited of two, 45-minutes episodes, shot entirely on film and mostly on location in Bavaria, with the first episode recorded in German and the second recorded in English and then dubbed into German. According to Python member, Eric Idle, the reasoning behind the group’s interest in taping the shows in German was pretty straightforward. “The Germans came to us and said ‘Look, we haven’t got a sense of humour, but we understand you do. Can we use yours?”, said Idle.

As the story goes, only Michael Palin and John Cleese were capable of delivering lines in ‘understandable’ German. Despite extensive language coaching, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones and Graham Chapman were virtually incomprehensible. For this reason, German television producer, Alfred Biokek, made the decision to make the second programme in English, with German overdub added later. We leave the UK and leave you with the Python’s famous Lumberjack Song and Cheese Shop sketches…in German.

The Lumberjack Song featuring the Austria Border Police Choir.

The Dead Parrot sketch


Final chapter of Hercule Poirot begins July 27 on PBS’ Masterpiece Mystery

July 20, 2014

Not wanting to put the cart before the horse given that PBS Masterpiece Mystery fans still have the final episode of series 2 of “Endeavour” starring Shaun Evans to look forward to tonight, but this warrants more than a week’s notice. Next Sunday on PBS marks the beginning of the final chapter in David Suchet’s brilliant portrayal of Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot with the first of the final 5 episodes, “The Big Four”.

Adapted for television by Sherlock‘s Mark Gatiss, “The Big Four” plunges Poirot into a world he has never been before seen, a world of global espionage set against the backdrop of an impending World War. It seems as though the public is in a panic after the shocking death of a Russian chess grandmaster at the climax of a high-profile international Peace Party reception. Reunited with old friends Captain Hastings (Hugh Fraser), Inspector Japp (Philip Jackson) and Miss Lemon (Pauline Moran), the legendary Belgian detective must make a dramatic move that only a chess champion could love, while navigating international figures and intrigues in order to identify the culprit.

Next up after “The Big Four” will be “Dead Man’s Folly” which features a splendidly complicated murder mystery weekend prepared by famous mystery writer Ariadne Oliver (Zoë Wanamaker) at a country retreat that takes a tragic turn when an actual murder occurs. An interesting side note, this episodes was filmed partly on location at the legendary crime writer Agatha Christie’s beloved holiday home, Greenway. The final three episodes in David Suchet’s priceless 25+ year portrayal of Hercule Poirot will air on public television stations in November.

Yes, it’s over a week away, but…Set. DVR. Now. Sunday, July 27 at 8:00p CT / 9:00p ET on PBS’ Masterpiece Mystery.

Passing the time until ‘Downton Abbey’ 5 with Hugh Bonneville

July 19, 2014

Like more everyone on the planet, the world awaits he arrival of Downton Abby. While a number of the inhabitants of Downton, both upstairs and downstairs have found other work in-between series filming, Hugh Bonneville, known on this planet to everyone with a TV as Lord Grantham, recreates his role as Ian Fletcher, the Head of Values for the BBC in the British comedy, W1A. His task is no small one. Put simply, it’s to clarify, define, or re-define the core purpose of the BBC across all its functions and to position it confidently for the future.

Technically, W1A is the follow-up to the BAFTA award-winning comedy series, Twenty Twelve. Along with Bonneville, comes Jessica Hynes, Jason Watkins and the voice of David Tennant as the narrator for their newest efforts. With only four episodes, it won’t pass the time completely until Downton Abbey 5 but you might have missed W1A but it is more than worth your time.

The final episode of the short series sees brand consultant Siobhan Sharpe and her team unveil their barnstorming idea for a new BBC logo. One can only hope there will be more next year so we can pass the time again before Downton Abbey 6. Yes, the sky is blue in my world…

On the set with ‘Father Brown’ in the Cotswolds

July 18, 2014

Today is our last day in Moreton-in-Marsh on the set of principle production filming for the forthcoming series 3 of Father Brown. Having spent a week on set with the production team behind the camera whose faces you never see but who bring Father Brown and the drop-dead brilliant visual settings of the Cotswolds to life has been nothing short of magical. The end result of our journey will be seen in the States in early 2015 with a 60-minute ‘behind-the-scenes’ special on public television that, hopefully, will be a visual feast for fans of the series.

Our endless thanks go out to the entire production team who have given us unprecedented access to the set from the former Moreton-in-Marsh Hospital to the new home to the Kembleford Police Station and Inspector Sullivan to the Stanway Cricket Club, which is where one of the episodes in series 3 was partly filmed yesterday (and today), to the church in Blockley that is the home to St. Mary’s and all points in-between. While I will never understand cricket, cast and crew has done their best to explain this gentleman’s game which dates back to the 16th century. The fact of the day I learned yesterday was that, originally, overhand bowling was illegal with the ‘bowler’ pitching the ball to the batter underhanded. As the story goes, overhand bowling came to evolve when Christina Willes, sister of Kent cricketer John Willes, was bowling at him in their garden, and unable to bowl underarm because of the voluminous skirts that were the fashion of the time. She raised her arm in a more overhand fashion and the rest is history.

In addition to the entire crew, the regular Father Brown cast of Mark Williams, Nancy Carroll, Sorcha Cusack, Tom Chambers and Alex Price have been priceless in sharing their thoughts and insights as to the characters that they bring to life on the BBC and public television each year for the past two seasons. While the show that will air in 2015 will give fans a look at ‘how the sausage is made’, it will also give you a sense as to the beauty of the English countryside, we’ll hear from writers of the series and learn where the ideas come from for each script and also the endless efforts of the costume department who spend countless hours making sure everything is spot on 1950′s.

Principle filming ends in October with the series set to transmit on the BBC tentatively in January 2015. U.S. broadcast on public television is not far behind with, most likely, a Spring 2015 broadcast. While we’ll be leaving the Cotswolds tomorrow, all of us look forward to getting back and putting a show together that will, if nothing else, show you the incredible passion that every person has whose name is listed on the credits of each <em>Father Brown</em> episode to make brilliant telly. More to come on Tellyspotting on our trip back in time with Father Brown in the coming months so stay with us as we put the show together.

Doctor Who 50th – Lego style!

July 17, 2014

There was a time, back when the Earth was cooling, that an entity had arrived when you were parodied on a Saturday Night Live sketch. Once they lost their way, your stamp of approval came at the hands of Jimmy Fallon with parodies or spoof sketches on Latenight with Jimmy Fallon. Now, it seems the most important benchmark as to if you have achieved pop culture greatness is when you are immortalized in Lego.

Such is the case with Doctor Who‘s 50th anniversary episode, “The Day of the Doctor”, which has been transformed into a Lego special by Bookshelf Productions along with Stupendous Films. While it won’t take the sting out of the fact that there is still just over a month until the 23 August worldwide premiere Doctor Who S8, it does pass the time rather well. Matt Smith, David Tennant and John Hurt’s Doctors are given miniature Lego makeovers, complete with top-notch outfits and set pieces, including the TARDIS. The dialogue from the original episode is played on top of the action, which builds up to the epic moment where all the Doctors team up, including a look at the new Doctor, Peter Capaldi!

Just think, after you watch, you’ll be 5 and 1/2 minutes closer to the beginning of the Peter Capaldi era.