By Mark Wright on April 30, 2008 5:51 PM
She may have been tasked with a dubiously impossible mission - to have ITV Productions supplying 75% of programming for ITV1 - but the loss of Dawn Airey as director of global content after a scant eight months heralds yet another worrying thump of a nail into the ITV coffin. Even odder is that Airey’s new job will be taking her back to Five, a company she quit five years ago for pastures new, pastures which clearly have not been all that lush.
The real question on my mind is: just what happened in the eight months that Airey served for ITV and Michael Grade? She was clearly perceived as something of a big name signing and key to Grade’s vision of ITV’s glorious future in the independent sector. But in this case, was Airey not up to scratch in her role, or was it ITV that didn’t perform to her expectations? But coming after an abortive tenure at defunct start-up Iostar, has Airey’s reputation as a reasonable channel boss lost its shine, and how will she cope back at Five?
The BBC’s new media team has just released their latest toy: the Doctor Who trailer maker. Using a variety of video and audio clips from the series, you can now put together your own 30-second trailer using a web-based video editing interface.
The style of the interface should be familiar to anyone who’s worked with programs like Windows Movie Maker or Apple’s iMovie before. While everything’s been simplified to make it as easy to use as possible — options to trim clips and sett audio levels, for example, aren’t as precise as you’ll get in a desktop application — it’s still easy to grasp the concept quite quickly.
To get an overview of what the tool is capable of, here are a few examples that TV Today has knocked up:
The veteran broadcaster it seems has been recording a trial of a new general knowledge game show that could be a contender to occupy the 5pm Monday to Friday slot on C4 once Mr and Mrs Finnegan-Madely get the removal men in. There’s also the notion that a format could be found for ever popular Top Gear presenter Richard Hammond to pilot in the same slot.
But, but, but… My bottom lip is wobbling alarmingly at the notion of Sir Terry popping up on the airwaves of a channel that isn’t the BBC. It just isn’t right, I tell you. Wogan is as much a part of the fabric of the BBC as the ravens are at the Tower of London. I have horrible visions of Television Centre crumbling to the ground as soon as he steps out of the building and jumps into a cab over to Channel 4.
By Scott Matthewman on April 29, 2008 3:06 PM
Good news for fans of quality drama. ITV1 has confirmed that a one-off film sequel to The Naked Civil Servant is to go ahead, with John Hurt reprising his Bafta-winning turn as gay writer Quentin Crisp.
The original film, produced by the late Verity Lambert and recently shown on BBC4 as part of a tribute night to her, followed Crisp’s life up until he departed the UK for a new life in New York — where he revelled in being known as one of the ‘stately homos of England’.
The new film, An Englishman in New York, takes up where the previous film left off, with Crisp part of the New York scene. From the press release:
New Yorkers immediately embrace Quentin and his witty waspish ways, and before long he is being wined and dined by celebrities in every corner of Manhattan.
A shining light of the chattering classes, Quentin befriends Patrick, a young artist who opens his eyes to the possibility that intimate human relationships - something Quentin has spent his life running away from - can work. But, as is so often the case with the maverick gay writer, Quentin cannot help but shock and, at a public event, he quips that the burgeoning AIDS crisis is “a fad”. Quentin is suddenly dropped from high society.
Then, out of the blue, he is re-discovered by English pop star Sting and immortalised in Sting’s famous song “An Englishman in New York”. Could this be the start of Quentin’s revival?
The new film is written by Brian Fillis (who wrote BBC4 biogs Fear of Fanny and Curse of Steptoe) and will be directed by Richard Laxton (Hancock and Joan). It is being produced by Amanda Jenks at Leopardrama for ITV1.
Filming starts in August in London and New York, so it won’t be on screens until Autumn 2008 at the very earliest.
By Linda Gibson on April 29, 2008 11:56 AM
Writers Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong and actors David Mitchell and Robert Webb are on stage at Bafta, two nights after Peep Show won the Bafta Award for Best Sitcom. Together, the four are a well-oiled machine, easily answering questions from a largely fan-based audience and laughing at each other’s jokes. But, there does seem to be some confusion. For the second time David and Robert have been compared to their characters and both are at pains to point out that while they look and sound like Mark and Jeremy, they are in fact not them.
‘I hope I’m not quite as stupid, dishonourable, deluded, selfish, feckless and thick as Jeremy,’ protests Robert.
‘You’ve got to love your characters, haven’t you?’ grins David.
By Mark Wright on April 28, 2008 4:36 PM
Out of the Blue (Monday-Friday 2.15pm, BBC1)
Oooh, this is something new. An afternoon soap to fill the Neighbours gap that might just have a bit more substance about it. It’s still Aussie in setting, but is an original BBC commission, focusing on a group of friends who return to the beach resort of Manly to attend a high school reunion nearly a decade after they left. Before the night is out, one of them will be dead and the group pulled into a twisty-turny murder investigation as the series unfolds. There’s a dark heart at the centre of this otherwise sunny soap of beautiful people, raising it above the level of just another Neighbours replacement.
Waking the Dead (Monday 9pm, BBC1)
When a corpse is uncovered in the woods (oh God, not another one?!), Boyd and the team are drawn into a military conspiracy that links the body to another murder. Sounds like just another Waking the Dead story, but going up against the military, will Boyd find his match in somebody equally shouty? One can hope.
Ideal (Monday 10.30pm, BBC3)
Has this really been running for four series? You’re kidding! That’s at least three too many, and I may have under counted. It might be my aversion to most things Johnny Vegas, but I have never found anything remotely funny in his turn as the allegedly lovable dope dealer Moz. Laugh? I’d rather watch Teenage Kicks. Actually, I can’t back that last statement up…
Holby City (Tuesday 8pm, BBC1)
Adrian Edmonson returns to Holby tonight as disgraced surgeon Abra Durant, somewhat battered and bloody. Maybe he ran screaming from the set of Teenage Kicks and the floor manager tried bringing him down. Watching Edmondson here and his turn last night in Miss Austen Regrets, you realise that the actor is so much better than his childish gurning to camera in TK. That shtick was funny 25 years ago, but it doesn’t cut it now, so it’s probably best to stick to the grown up stuff from now on.
Battlestar Galactica (Tuesday 9pm, Sky One)
Having found its mojo again sometime between the end of season three and the fabulous TV movie Razor, BSG is on brutal and blistering form in the first slice of this fourth and final season. Baltar desecrates a temple, an act which threatens to escalate into a full-on religious war, while the recently revealed Cylons are dealing with things in their own way. It’s a hard watch sometimes, but never less than rewarding. With BSG, who needs a remake of Blake’s 7?
The Apprentice (Wednesday 9pm, BBC1)
With the ratings soaring week after week, this is easily the most successful series of The Apprentice yet, so it’s a good job the tasks seem to be upping the ante accordingly. Tonight’s task is a case in point - it’s no mean feat to create a new occasion from scratch and market a greetings card to three of the country’s card manufacturers. The egos and guile on display in this series continue to be gob-smacking, and some of tonight’s team discussions raise the bar of stupidity to dizzying heights.
Sex and the City (Wednesday 9pm, Fiver)
Stupid name for a channel - makes it sound cheap as chips - but this digital spin-off from Five is embarking on a showing of Sex and the City. With the movie imminent, it’s a perfect time to go back and look at the series from the beginning. This double-bill of the first two episodes is eye opening and highlights the startling distance the adventures of Carrie and Co travelled by the final episode.
The Invisibles (Thursday 9pm, BBC1)
A promising new comedy drama starring Anthony Head, Warren Clarke and Dean Lennox Kelly. Safe cracker Maurice Riley (Head) and his best mate Syd return from a life of leisure on the Costa del Crime and pitch up in a small Devonshire village intending on going straight. But naturally, that would make a very boring series, so Maurice and Syd are soon on the rob again, helping out Sid’s son who’s in a spot of bother.
The Graham Norton Show (Thursday 10pm, BBC2)
Be still my beating heart! Sunday night TV idols Robert Wagner and Stefanie Powers, aka self-made millionaire Jonathan Hart and his wife Jennifer (she gorgeous!) turn up for some sofa time with our favourite chat captain. TV legends don’t come much-bigger than these two, and Norton is sure to keep the fun factor high.
The Inbetweeners (Thursday 10pm, E4)
E4 steps into the fray with its own original sit-com about a group of teenagers at school on a quest to lose their virginity. Sounds like an episode of Hollyoaks if you ask me. Probably best avoided if you’re over the age of 15.
Apologies for the lateness of the review this week. To make up for it, we’ll start off with this week’s video compilation, which will launch in a separate window.
The theme this week was taking pop songs with strong lyrics and trying to act out the lyric. Which sounds faintly familiar, as it’s pretty much what the contestants do every week. Some managed it, others didn’t. I have to say the song choices weren’t particularly good for some of the Nancies this week, but the overall standard was better than last week’s particularly weak show. And Andrew was back in the studio after his Vegas sojourn, so there was no satellite delay to speak of — although, as we saw at the end of the results show, there’s a gulf the size of the Atlantic between the public’s taste and Andrew’s, it seems…
Ah, this is more like it! After last week’s pretty, yet confused tale of Ood kind, the Doctor and Donna return to Earth in a tale steeped in the legacy of Doctor Who. Lots of slick action, classic monsters (not that the general audience will remember the Sontarans), the return of military taskforce UNIT and a welcome appearance from Freema Agyeman as the wonderful Martha Jones.
Helen Raynor, who penned last year’s (unfairly) maligned Dalek two-parter, rises to the challenge here, delivering a script with a deftly simple premise that makes you wonder why you didn’t think of it yourself. Of course there’s a nicely sinister sci-fi yarn to be told about the prevalence of sat nav and those not-quite-human-voices that inhabit our cars these days. UNIT thinks there’s something up with ATMOS, a system bolted on to many of the world’s cars that eliminates emissions and comes with built-in sat nav. So what does a top-secret military organisation do when they can’t fathom something out? Simple, get newly-minted UNIT operative Martha Jones to summon their former scientific advisor to have a look-see.
By Mark Wright on April 26, 2008 11:35 AM
A very quick note to express how sad we here at TV Today were at the news that the legendary broadcaster Humphrey Lyttelton has passed away at the age of 86.
There aren’t really the words to express just how blessed we were as an audience to have been given so much by this unique talent, whether as a jazz musician, writer, broadcaster and, of course, his most famous role as the chairman of the long running I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue on Radio 4.
I will be spending much of the day listening to some classic episodes of ISIHAC and remember with laughter the many years of entertainment Humph has provided to millions of listeners. We thought he was indestructible - his memory and legacy surely will be.
The lovely Samantha has been robbed of her ultimate gentleman friend and the world robbed of a giant talent, the like of which I can guarantee we will never see again.
The charms of this ITV comedy have thus far passed me by, but tonight’s episode may just pull me in thanks to an appearance by British TV legend Wendy Richard. It’s one of her first turns since saying goodbye to Pauline Fowler, but here she’s playing Sylvia, a character that puts Walford’s finest matriarch in the shade. Thinking that Sylvia’s been messing with her man, Madge is gunning for the bolshy interloper, leading to a showdown by the pool. It’s all good fun in a down at heel kind of way. But thankfully, Teenage Kicks it isn’t.
Friday Night with Jonathan Ross (Friday 10.35pm, BBC1)
Blimey, Wossy has pulled together an eclectic line-up of chit chat tonight as he welcomes Ashton Kutcher, Russell Brand and Ronnie Corbett onto the sofa. Wonder if they’ll all end up as Facebook friends?
I remember the Sontarans off of classic series Doctor Who, but I doubt that most of the general audience will, so it’s quite amusing to see General Staal (Christopher Ryan) slarted all over the cover of this week’s Radio Times as if these potato heads have some significance. Still, the first of a two-part story is a stonker of an adventure for the Doctor and Donna, featuring the return of Martha Jones and UNIT. There’s action aplenty and the signature Doctor Who wit as the team take on the might of the war mongering Sontarans. Well, I’m excited anyway…
Always worth watching, but this week Love Soup has the added bonus of a guest appearance from comedy legend Ronnie Corbett. In addition, there’s the usual comedy of contrivance, which David Renwick always makes look effortless, sexual rivalry between Cleo and Millie and, in the middle of it all, sweet Alice, going through life with that wide-eyed, yet world weary charm. Perfect.
On the map tonight, which leads to Scotland, Jenny Éclair, Johnny Vegas and Doon MacKichan revisit some old haunts from the early days of their careers. There’s also a look at the inspiration for Ronald Searle’s St Trinian’s with a visit to St Trinnean’s school in Edinburgh. Gently undemanding.
A well made and very pretty historical drama, based on the letters of Jane Austen in the latter years of her life. Austen never married, and Olivia Williams brings a nicely reflective air to the 40-something Jane, pondering lost chances, just as her niece, Fanny, is experiencing the first flush of love. There are various suitors along the way, a great turn from Greta Scacchi as Jane’s elder sister, and a vein of sadness running through proceedings to make for a very satisfying insight into the lives of one of our greatest writers.
While filming The Scarlet Pimpernel in the sickeningly picturesque surroundings of Midsomer, the director is offed in creative style by a prop guillotine, thus bringing Inspector Barnaby and his faithful sidekick DS Jones into proceedings. There are suspects galore, as always, but as the director was such a terrible character his murder seems fair game, but we know that our plodding plods will get to the bottom of this before the final scene is in the can. You’ve got to love Midsomer Murders - it still has the courage to do exactly what it’s always done after all these years and still be supremely enjoyable and popular.
With no Gavin and Stacey (which ended on a disappointing note) last week, Pulling gets a final episode all to itself in the schedules. I have desperately tried to warm to Sharon Horgan’s brand of comedy, and have failed miserably, but perhaps that’s my mistake. Trying to warm to something that is, by it’s very nature, unlikeable and vile, is a hiding to nothing. Best to accept Pulling’s warts and all approach for what it is and forget any need for sentimentality. And look at Gavin and Stacey - with the exception of Uncle Bryn, Gwen and Mike, they were a pretty horrendous lot, so Pulling’s trio of modern women are hardly a huge leap away.
I am so pleased about this. Being Human has been one of the few dramas this year, outside The Fixer and He Kills Coppers, to engage me as a viewer. The notion of a flat share between a trio of supernatural creatures almost seems a little obvious, but Whithouse’s pilot script pulled it off with some style and originality. It was also blessed with some great performances, particularly Russell Tovey as reluctant werewolf George and Andrea Riseborough as sweet-natured ghost Annie.
It’s always a nervous time for the established casts of soaps when a new producer rocks up on the backlot, full of fresh ideas, new visions, story ideas and inevitably clutching an axe with feverish steel in their eyes.
This pleases me and it points to the nation’s favourite soap being in safe hands. I’ve argued before that one of the most valuable assets to a soap are the veteran characters - your Ken Barlows, Rita Sullivans and Emily Bishops. These characters are absolutely steeped in the history of Coronation Street - they are a touchstone and keep the show relevant to those members of the audience that have been there since year dot. To axe these characters would do a disservice to the fabric of the show, and I’m pleased that Crowther has clearly recognised this crucial aspect of her new charge.
TV Today will be watching developments on Coronation Street under the new broom with a sharp eye.
Is the murder of a prison governor over a decade previously connected to the human remains pulled out of a canal? Probably, but whatever tenuous chains link these events together will no doubt be glossed over in Waking the Dead’s unique approach to plot development. I don’t care, I love this show. Trevor Eve dominates proceedings with his usual strength of character, making Boyd one of crime drama’s most lovable icons. Despite all the shouting and twitchiness.
As I’m still mourning the passing of Ken Stott’s take on Rebus, I have to wonder why ITV’s other Scottish crime drama hasn’t been put to pasture yet. It must be about due, but nevertheless, here is a new tale that has DCI Burke suspended when he is caught nipping out the back of an escort agency being raided by the vice squad. Oops! That can’t be good for his career prospects, and it’s up to his colleagues, including the ever-present DS Jackie Reade, to sort out a couple or murders. Try flicking backwards and forwards between this and Waking the Dead - it’ll probably make more sense that way.
If EastEnders was a Carry On film, Minty would be played by Bernard Bresslaw, Heather by Hattie Jacques and Peggy by erm… Barbara Windsor. Which just leaves Sid James taking on the mantle of Phil Mitchell. Tonight sees Minty and Heather’s “comedy” wedding storyline come to a head as they prepare for the big day, but things are complicated by the return of Hazel - who will Minty walk down the isle with? Kenneth Williams would be my bet.
Starbuck’s looking for Earth, Cally is trying to get to the bottom of why Chief Tyrol is acting weird (pssst, he’s a Cylon), and Lee is about to enter the political arena. Sounds like business as usual in the best sci-fi series ever to come out of America. Contentious, moi? It’s what we’re here for…
The most brilliantly bonkers drama on television comes to a close tonight as the winner of the competition is announced amidst more silliness from warring husband and wife duo Malcolm and Karina Faith. It’s utterly terrible, but utterly lovable for it. Did you vote for the winner? Find out tonight as one of two endings to be filmed is broadcast, depending on the result of the public vote. Bless ITV for trying, but I have a distinct feeling that we won’t be seeing a second series of Rock Rivals.
Heist (Wednesday 9pm, BBC4)
This addition to BBC4’s Medieval season slipped in under the radar, which is very telling. Kriss Marshall “stars” as Dick Puddlecote in this somewhat dubious “comedy” about an attempted robbery on the vault at Westminster Abbey in 1302. This is supposedly a true story, but it nobody involved in the production seems to have a clue what tone to play for, and the whole enterprise should be on CBeebies. If that wasn’t an insult to that august channel.
In tonight’s episode of Holby Blue, DI Keenan shouts a lot. Like he did last week, and no doubt like he will next week. At least this week there’s good reason for Keenan’s cliché counter to go right up to ten as he has a run-in with his dad, and we get to see just why he’s as bad tempered as he is.
Rejoice as the Heroes return! Cry as you realise it’s not as good as you thought it was. Sorry, but Heroes definitely suffers from Emperor’s New Clothes syndrome, and that’s nowhere more apparent than in this opener to a shortened second season thanks to the WGA strike. Hiro has ended up in feudal Japan (which looks like a field somewhere in California), Claire has gone into hiding, and Mohinder is still droning on and on and on. While this show clearly has more going for it than a lot of dramas (Bionic Woman, for instance), it all feels like a bit too much effort to go through it all over again. Oh well, season three might change my mind.
Any chance to see one of my heroes, Martin Sheen, aka President Jed Bartlett off of The West Wing, in action is always good in my book. Tonight he joins Graham Norton for some frothy chat, and with somebody as witty and fast as Sheen, the end result should be very entertaining indeed.
After last week’s successful musical theatre-themed show, unfortunately this week the naff pop songs returned with a vengeance. As usual one or two songs had the potential for acting interpretation, but they were in the minority. With the theme this week being songs by divas who had rocked the Las Vegas circuit, pretty much the only MT song this week was the show opener, a roustabout version of Consider Yourself from all the Olivers and the remaining Nancies.
Kicking off the solo proceedings, Jodie sang Nine to Five. After last week’s showstopping rendition of Send in the Clowns, this risked a return to the cabaret style Jodie is more used to. A very word-heavy song, she managed to get the portray the emotion of the song without ever sacrifing either diction or pitch. If only all the other Nancies could say the same.
Samantha was next up, singing the Christina Aguilera song Hurt which I must profess to not knowing too well. There were plenty of vocal embellishments required, though, which seemed to cause Sam some difficulty in keeping in key. After working on portraying the emotion behind the song, she seemed to lose control in her voice. The judges in the studio liked it much better than previous weeks. Barry noted that the emotion worked both in close-up and as something that could be packed up in the back of a theatre. Which, I think, is one of the first times he’s actually given a perspicacious comment. Will wonders never cease?
Every year since it returned to our screens, the first three episodes of Doctor Who have treated us to life in the past, present and future. And so, after cutesy blobs of fat in the present and lava leviathans in ancient Pompeii, the Doctor takes Donna to the future — and not only that, but her first alien world to boot.
Unfortunately, that world is the Ood-Sphere, the homeworld of the subservient creatures first seen two series ago in the two-part story The Impossible Planet/The Satan Pit. A world of trouble, then — and one in which we discover the rather shocking truth that Slavery Is Bad, Kids, via a lot of unnecessary running around and shouting.
It’s Gail Platt’s 50th birthday (actress Helen Worth is 57, fact fans), and how does she find herself celebrating? By having a troubled tearaway son who pushed her down the stairs up in court. Is this the day we finally see Devil boy David Platt get his comeuppance? It seems likely, especially after a he took a baseball bat to most of the Street (and Ken Barlow’s unmentionables), and it seems the lad is looking forward to a bit of correctional therapy at Her Majesty’s pleasure. Can Gail sleep easy? What do you think?
Jack Dee pops in for a return visit as guest host of the perennial panel show that still earns its keep in the schedules after donkey’s years on air. On hand, as always, are Ian Hislop and Paul Merton who have been at this game since 1990. The gags are still on the money, and watching HIGNFY now makes you realise just how empty Friday nights can feel without it. My Family follows at 9.30pm.
I’m sorry, but I just cannot help myself. I find that there’s something infinitely, hatefully fascinating about Teenage Kicks. Tonight, Vernon ends up in hospital after going to a rave. Inspired stuff!
Back to 6.20pm for this episode of Doctor Who that sees the Doctor and Donna travel to the Planet of the Ood, the aliens with mince meat spewing out of their mouths last seen in The Satan Pit. As monsters go, the Ood are perhaps the most effective deployed in new Who, and this episode is certainly very pretty on the visuals, with some sinister undertones bubbling away. However, the plot is slightly thin, sacrificed for lots of running around corridors (yay!) and some overtly heavy moralising about slavery. Still, Tim McInnerny makes a suitably icy villain, Catherine Tate continues to impress and David Tennant is as good as ever, so I’m not going to grumble too much. Doctor Who Confidential follows over on BBC3 at 7.05pm and TV Today will bring you the usual review before the weekend is out. In the meantime, a preview clip from the episode is below:
There’s something quite comforting about this geographical ramble around locations that have shaped some of Britain’s comedy talent over the years. Alan Carr visits Northampton Town FC where his dad was manager for a time, Spitting Image creators Peter Fluck and Roger Law drop in at the workshop in Cambridge where there puppet satire show was developed, while Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins revisit Cambridge Footlights, where they met as students. The Comedy Map of Britain isn’t particularly startling or slick, but it is narrated by Alan Whicker, and for anyone with a passing interest in TV comedy, it’s a must.
I love the TV Baftas (or is that Batas?). I usually spend the evening with a big bag of crisps and a bottle of wine, shouting at the screen at some of the diabolical decisions made on the night. It’s great sport, but this year I’m rooting for Cranford to pull in a massive haul, and I’d like to see Life on Mars come away with something, but The Street will probably take that one again. Graham Norton hosts the all-star gathering at the London Palladium. We assume Piers Morgan won’t be presenting an award…
Foyle’s War (Sunday 8pm, ITV1)
If the Baftas aren’t your thing, then Foyle’s War might just be a suitable alternative. We have assurances, as mentioned last week, that the rumours of Foyle’s death might have been premature, but it’s still 1945, with VE Day just around the corner. But before he can take it easy for a bit, our likeable plod must solve one last case involving ex-soldiers and a body in a museum. Take care Inspector, don’t stay away too long.
Will the final episode of this second series of the best comedy on television be able to deliver? One things for sure, Nessa will as she goes into labour early, leading to mad dashes across the country and energetic trading of great one-liners. In the midst of the baby crisis, it’s easy to forget the plight of Gavlar and Stace as they have been struggling to keep their marriage together. If there’s one thing this effortless comedy has taught us, it’s that love will win out in the end. Have faith.
Um… if this is a plea to be taken seriously in his work by Ian Wright, who has been a pundit for the BBC for many years, it might help his case if, with the timing of a comedy jester, I wasn’t able to write the next line…
Ian Wright will present the new series of Gladiators on Sky One this summer.
Never mind eh, Ian? We’re sure this will bring you some credibility as a serious presenter.
By Scott Matthewman on April 17, 2008 10:30 AM
Apologies for the lateness, but here are the week 5 videos on YouTube as uploaded by the BBC, arranged into their correct chronological order.
Unfortunately, there’s no official video of the sing-off available on YouTube this week. However, it is available on the BBC website. And of course, the BBC iPlayer carries full versions of Saturday’s show and Sunday’s results programme for another couple of days.
I’d long known about the notion that on the night ITV launched in 1955, it was decided to give a popular character in The Archers a nasty send-off to scupper the chances of the new enterprise attracting an audience. And so Grace Archer, as played by Ysanne Churchman, perished in the Grey Gables fire on 22 September 1955.
But with the opening of the BBC Archive, it’s quite enlightening that there is some quite plain speaking documentation relating to this guerrilla action against ITV doing the rounds, startling when you consider the BBC’s cosy, Auntie Beeb persona at the time.
“The more I think about it, the more I believe that a death of a violent kind in The Archers, timed, if possible, to diminish interest in the opening of commercial television in London, is a good idea.”
said H. Rooney Pelletier, controller of the BBC Light Programme where The Archers resided, in a memo at the time.
I love the almost clinical brutality of this statement, and it’s a fascinating insight into a Corporation that was perhaps petrified for its continued future at the time. The moral of this story being, considering the climate the BBC operates in today, that the more things change, the more they stay the same.
I do love ITV sometimes. They finally pluck up the courage to stump up the cash for a top new US import and stick it front and centre in a prime time slot on Saturday night. It debuts to encouraging ratings. Hurrah! And then ITV has to put their hands up and say “Oops! There are nine episodes of this series, but we’ve only got time to show eight. So we won’t bother airing episode two. Hope that’s okay. Bye!”
Yes, this is the story of Pushing Daises, the quirky US drama starring Lee Pace and Blighty’s very own Anna Friel, the first episode of which formed part of a very strong night, alongside Britain’s Got Talent, in the ratings for ITV last Saturday. The episode pulled in a very healthy 5.7 million, a figure many (most?) ITV shows can only dream about these days. I’ll admit to being surprised by this figure (and I’m glad to be proved wrong, of course). With a target audience of bright young things who should be out having a good time on a Saturday night (after Doctor Who, of course), I felt ITV had misjudged the night and the ratings would be lacklustre at best. Pushing Daisies has a slightly oddball feel, more suited to a mid-week slot a la Desperate Housewives - or so I thought.
Hurrah! Shouty detective Peter Boyd is back for a new series of the BBC’s top-rated crime drama, along with the rest of the Cold Case team. Boyd’s lost the beard, which is odd, as Gil Grissom is now whiskerless in CSI - am I detecting a pattern here? It’s all business as usual, which means impenetrable plots, lots of shouting in the autopsy room, Grace telling Boyd to calm down, and incredible leaps of logic in the final reel to solve the case. And it’s as brilliant and bonkers as ever. This two-part story concludes tomorrow night.
The Fixer comes to an end tonight in a dramatic episode that’s sees our wonderfully dour hero, John Mercer, drawn into a situation where he must question his loyalties. Will he pull the trigger on Lenny when he is tempted to go rogue by jury-fixer Richard Blakeny, or will his sense of justice come through in the end? There is no word yet on a second series of this highly enjoyable series, but ITV would be mad if they didn’t recommission. With a little nip and tuck here and there, The Fixer could be truly great.
Stephen Fry and the Machine That Made Us (Monday 9pm, BBC4)
As part of the attractive looking medieval season on BBC4 (well, the trailers are nice), Stephen Fry takes us on a journey through the invention of the Gutenberg press, an invention that truly revolutionised the world of print. As well as the history lesson, Fry enlists the help of some technical types to try and recreate the construction of this most important of inventions. An amiable way to spend 60 minutes.
Age of Terror (Tuesday 9pm, BBC2)
The first in a series of documentaries that dramatises events in recent history revolving around terrorist action. This first piece, which also mixes interviews in with the action, focuses on the hijacking of an Air France jet en route to Paris from Tel Aviv. The incident was eventually played out at Entebbe Airport in Uganda (previously dramatised in a TV movie in the 70s. It’s stark, distressing stuff and well-judged all round, with important lessons to be learned for the times we live in.
A truly magnificent show returns for the first lap in its fourth and final season, and this opening double-bill displays all Battlestar Galactica’s strengths front and centre, from the signature violence of the battle sequences to the emotional turmoil of these now familiar characters. There are lots of questions, and few answers, from Starbuck’s return from the dead, to the plight of the Cylon sleepers who were finally awoken at the close of last season. It’s a frequently frustrating show, but persevering beyond those frustrations will always reap rewards.
Is this perhaps the best series of The Apprentice yet? If the stellar ratings are to be believed, then the audience certainly think so. It’s all down to the gallery of grotesques selected to be this year’s candidates, with not one remotely likeable beast among them. This week the teams must set up a photography business in a busy shopping centre and take shoppers’ photographs. It sounds simple, but this lot couldn’t organise an alcoholic-themed gathering in an establishment for fermenting hops, so expect fog before teatime.
Much as I love this show, I do miss the five episode back-to-back experience on a Sunday afternoon, rather than fusing it all together in one hour-long chunk, although reducing the numbers to four does help. That being said, one of the vicarious pleasures of this cookery show is seeing the houses the various contestants live in, so it becomes like a cheekier version of Through the Keyhole, mercifully free of Lloyd Grossman. Who would live in a house like this? Well, quite…
It’s nice to see The Graham Norton Show becoming a fixture on BBC2, and tonight Norton returns for a 12-week run. He’s joined by Hollywood legend Tony Curtis and Kevin Bacon for the usual mix of cheeky chat and audience participation.
Heroes Return (Thursday 9.45pm, BBC2)
A quick look at the first series of the hit US series and a look forward at what to expect from the upcoming second series, due to start soon on BBC2. It may be worth noting that the show’s creator, Tim Kring, has gone on record to admit that the second season was a bit pony, so you have been warned.
I must admit, my flu-ridden heart leapt when I heard that this week, all the Nancies would be singing songs from musical theatre that proved they had leading lady potential — although I do wish that didn’t have to be a one week only deal. Shouldn’t musical theatre be the core of this show?
Anyway, even with the extra proviso of the songs being from musicals or films, the result was a much improved selection of songs for the most part, producing the strongest week yet in the quest to find a new West End leading lady.
It’s a moral dilemma that has haunted Doctor Who since its earliest days. While the Doctor has always meddled in the affairs of other planets and present day Earth, our planet’s history has always been treated differently. Ever since strong-headed schoolteacher Barbara Wright failed to stop the Aztecs from performing human sacrifices, the message has been clear: you cannot change the past.
Trust Donna — brash, loud, intelligent Donna — to ask the question, “Why not?” and refuse to give up until she got a satisfactory answer. It was that process that formed the emotional backbone of this episode, producing some truly heartbreaking performances from both David Tennant and Catherine Tate.
Unfortunately, the episode also had its fair share of hammy, underwritten characters — but thankfully, the positives in this week’s episode far outweighed the negatives.
Good lord, have their really been eight series of BBC1’s premier (ie only) prime time sitcom. Many would argue that’s eight too many, but I have quite a soft spot for this unashamedly trad and middle of the road family saga starring Robert Lindsay and Zoe Wanamaker. It’s clearly down to these two fine actors, who could persuade a sow’s ear to go and get a silky makeover, that much of the success of My Family rests on. In the first of six new episodes, Ben covets his neighbours new plasma screen TV, and Michael is expecting a delivery of his own - in about nine months. It’s not big, it’s not clever, but it is, despite everything, funny (and no, I refuse to define what funny actually means in this context).
And as if to put My Family into context, Teenage Kicks handily demonstrates how easy it is to get a sitcom woefully, irreparably wrong. And it makes me weep to see star Adrian Edmondson’s name on the writing credits, although he is the man who made smashing somebody in the face with a frying pan last for three series. And no, Bottom wasn’t funny either.
After last week’s frothy and light opener, the fourth series gets down to the nitty gritty in this rather dark tale set in Pompeii, AD79 - volcano day! This is where Donna will surprise everybody and Catherine Tate proves that the production team hadn’t stopped taking the pills when they asked the comedy actress to reprise her role for 13 episodes. We get the thorny question of the Doctor being unable to warn anybody what’s coming as Mt Vesuvius rumbles and grumbles in the background, with Donna taking the opposite view. It’s good stuff and shows Doctor Who still, as they say, gorrit. Catch up with Scott’s review later in the weekend.
A huge success last year, Britain’s Got Talent returns to ITV for a 13 week run. This makes me nervous - the show was a huge success when it was stripped over a two-week period, capitalising on audience momentum to grow huge ratings. I’m not convinced the format will hold as well over 13 weeks, but time will tell. The ratings will be no doubt be good, and I’d Do Anything will have its work cut out to match them, but will this be as stunning a success as it was first time out?
Um… I’m not sure about this one. Kudos to ITV for testing the waters by putting a high profile US import into Saturday prime time, but is Pushing Daisies too high concept to charm audiences? Pie maker Ned has special powers - he can bring people back to life with a single touch, which is great when his girlfriend, Chuck, is murdered. The one catch is, once she’s walking again, they can never touch again or she will die. Oops! It’s bright and breezy, perhaps a little too bright and breezy, and Britain’s own Anna Friel adopts an American accent that absolutely drives me to distraction. But you can’t win them all, and Pushing Daisies has enough going for it to be worth a look.
Dempsey and Makepeace (Sunday 7.50pm, ITV3)
I’m just curious, okay?
Foyle’s War (Sunday 8pm, ITV1)
This is supposed to be the last series of Foyle’s War following the decision by ITV’s former director of Simon Shaps to axe the hugely successful and popular wartime crime drama starring Michael Kitchen. Yes, that’s right, the hugely successful and popular wartime drama… because ITV has such a surfeit of popular and successful output on its book right now, doesn’t it? But after a hoo-ha caused by an interview in this week’s Radio Times with series creator Anthony Horowitz, ITV seems be back peddling somewhat, and it seems that no sooner is Shaps out of the door, head of drama Laura Mackie is admitting they may have been little hasty. So, with hope in sight of a return for Kitchen’s sombre detective in the future, sit back and enjoy these two episodes that take the story up to VE Day.
Just as TV Burp heads off for the summer, we get the return of Bear Grylls, one of Harry’s favourite targets. Never mind, there’ll be plenty of thrills and spills in the company of the survival expert - all of it for real. No, really, it is. Room service, Mr Grylls?
After taking a backseat to the rest of the cast for much of this second series, James Corden and Ruth Jones appear to have remembered that their hit sitcom is called Gavin and Stacey and give their titular characters some attention. But is it too late, as the pair’s marriage appears to be in tatters after Stacey’s revelation that she will be staying in Barry and not returning with Gavin to Essex. Trouble in paradise, but there will no doubt be plenty of comedy along the way to lighten things up.
By Scott Matthewman on April 11, 2008 12:43 PM
After my rant (and follow-up rant) about the BBC’s abuse of BBC7 airtime to get round a silly self-inflicted rule, it appears that a small step towards sanity has been taken.
(Of course, this small step forward follows on from several going back — a couple of days ago, the podcast contents changed so that viewers could only download the 30-minute condensed version.)
TV Today is indebted to commenter Ian Robinson for pointing out that the full-length commentary track will now be broadcast on BBC7 (as pointed out by a BBC moderator on their message boards, which should at the very least guarantee that we’ll continue to get the full length versions available in the podcast.
But it doesn’t get round the fact that the Beeb shouldn’t need to twist itself into such tortuous knots to get round a problem of its own making.
Let’s just say this isn’t a huge surprise, but I can’t help but feel a little bit sorry for this quite ludicrous drama about a fictional royal family as a new young king taking to the throne following the death of his father. Good job it was fictional, nobody would believe the real stuff. It was a fairly inoffensive piece of work and almost managed to tread the line between camp comedy and high drama. Almost…
Nobody is ever going to accuse The Palace of having the depth and complexity of a novel, but I’m glad it didn’t. It was silly, granted, but you cannot deny it was enjoyably entertaining. And on a Monday night, all we generally want to do is sit down and disengage brains for an hour after the shock of getting back to work has hit us.
By Mark Wright on April 9, 2008 3:00 PM
For months, even years now, friends, colleagues, casual acquaintances and the tramp who lives in a shopping trolley at the bottom of my road have all been telling me that I really should check out The Wire. You know The Wire, it’s the HBO crime drama that nobody watched but has gained cult status and huge critical acclaim. And yes, it’s on my lists of seminal TV shows that I will watch before I die. I’ll be passing that long line of box sets in HMV or wherever sometime soon, and season one will catch my eye…
This got me to thinking (as these things do) about a Charlie Brooker documentary that FX put out last year ahead of a complete rerun of The Wire. I watched it, it was hugely enjoyable, full of people I admire a great deal (including Brooker) saying how amazing The Wire was.
Amongst this group of luminaries was a bit of a hero of mine, novelist Nick Hornby. He writes my kind of books, the kind of books I’d love to write myself if I had an iota of his talent. But he said something in the course of the documentary that got me rather irritated, even a little bit angry. Now, I’ll admit to paraphrasing here as I cannot track down the exact quote, but it went something along the lines of The Wire having:
I’m chiefly talking about The Fixer, which TV Today confidently predicted some time back was going to be a critical and ratings success. And it’s great - a bit gritty, a bit funny, well made and edgier than most of ITV’s drama output. And yet last night’s episode, now well into the run of the series, could only manage 4 million viewers. Admittedly, that’s not a terrible figure in this day and age, and for ITV, it seems to be well above the average for a mid-week drama - The Palace hovered worryingly above the two million mark for most of its run.
By Scott Matthewman on April 8, 2008 5:00 PM
Cue the scurrying of many a wannabe TV presenter to the jobs pages of a certain entertainment newspaper — Blue Peter is going to be casting for a new presenter. The BBC has just announced that current presenter (and former Strictly Come Dancing contestant) Gethin Jones is to leave the show.
Jones joined Blue Peter in April 2005 as the programme’s 31st regular presenter.
Tim Levell, Editor, Blue Peter, said:
Gethin has been a brilliant Blue Peter presenter, who has taken on everything we’ve thrown at him with complete dedication - he really is the total action man. He also cemented his young fanbase and helped raise Blue Peter’s profile last year with his starring run on Strictly Come Dancing, in which he reached the semi-finals. We wish Gethin all the best for his future career on TV.
I’ve had a career on Blue Peter that you wouldn’t even dream about and for that I feel privileged and fortunate. I’ve appreciated every day of the past 3 and a bit years and am grateful to all the viewers for tuning in. It’s astonishing how much the little blue badge can help others, and long may that continue… It’s very sad to be “jumping ship”, but I will still be on-screen until the end of the series whilst working on other projects. I’ve loved it, lived it…and now I feel the time is right to leave it.”
Presumably when he says “the past 3 and a bit years”, he means the period between starting on the show and when he will finally leave it, considering as his three-year anniversary is a couple of weeks away yet… But then, I may be able to use a calendar, but Gethin can dance, yomp with commandos, fight as a Samurai, play the violin, look after giant pandas… I think he pretty much has me beat.
Gethin’s replacement will be cast by the BBC shortly (polish up those showreels, people!) and will join the show in the Autumn.
Yesterday I railed against new BBC7 “radio” show Doctor Who: The Commentaries, which abuses the digital channel by foisting upon it a severly edited half hour of content that works neither on its own, nor when run alongside the TV programme the full length version is designed to run alongside.
By Mark Wright on April 7, 2008 4:52 PM
EastEnders (Monday 8pm, BBC1)
Bianca Jackson finally arrives back in Albert Square this evening, seeing Patsy Palmer return full time to a show she once vowed never to darken the doors of ever again. This event, however, has been tainted by the dreadful trailer that has Bianca and her brood dancing and singing to a Jackson 5 track in the middle of Albert Square. And it had all been looking so good.
The Fixer (Monday 9pm, ITV1)
This week The Fixer takes to examining what happens to those assassins used by Peter Mullan’s brilliant Lenny Douglas when they are no longer required when Mercer (Andrew Buchan) is assigned to take out Patrick Finch (the always good value Patterson Joseph). Finch used to work for Lenny, but went rogue, taken over by his desire to kill. Will Mercer come to face to face with his own future, or with a typical wry one-liner dispatch his latest mark and ask for more? This series can be surprising, but the early promise of some dramatic bite to this series hasn’t really developed.
Chuck (Monday 10pm, Virgin 1)
A promising comedy drama from the US about a store clerk who finds himself with a stack of state secrets downloaded into his brain (I hate it when that happens…). Poor clumsy Chuck is press-ganged into being a secret agent (I hate that too). A little silly, but good fun.
Damages (Monday 10.35pm, BBC1)
This 13-part example of drama brilliance comes to a close this evening, and even with this conclusion you’re still not quite sure where you are with any of these characters - will the Frobisher case even come to a close, and will David’s killer be revealed? You can bet that some questions will be resolved, but with more Damages in the pipeline in the States, you can bet that more will be posed before the closing credits roll. Brilliant!
Hotel Babylon (Tuesday (9pm, BBC1)
It’s the end of another series of Hotel Babylon (my, don’t they go quickly?). New guy in charge, Jack, finds himself on the wrong end of a hostage situation when an evangelical preacher checks into the hotel. As it’s the season closer and there are guns in the mix, could it be that certain casts members might not make it to season four (which TV Today is relieved to know has already been commissioned)? Place your bets here.
Battlestar Galactica: The Phenomenon (Tuesday 9.30pm, Sky One)
An exercise in talking head hyperbole, various celebs and those in the know yak about their appreciation of BSG and hopefully get us excited about the upcoming fourth season that starts next week. To be honest, I’m excited enough, I don’t need this lot to tell me that.
The Apprentice (Wednesday 9pm, BBC1)
This week the candidates must transform a pub into a themed restaurant and make lots of money peddling food in the process. We’re only three weeks in, and Sir A is throwing in ball-breaking tasks in at a very early stage. If there’s one to separate the wheat from the chaff, it’s a good catering based task, and this should push the entertainment factor through the roof.
Frankie Howerd: Rather You Than Me (Wednesday 9pm, BBC4)
BBC4’s Curse of Comedy season has been largely excellent, with stunning performances helping to paint some poignant portraits. But I have a problem when we get to this Frankie Howerd piece - David Walliams. Yes, I know he’s a Bafta award winning, multi-millionaire, but I simply do not rate him as an actor. His performing talent has been frequently put in the shade by Matt Lucas on Little Britain, and his turn in Poliakoff’s last piece of self-indulgent twaddle didn’t convince me that we have a fantastic dramatic talent waiting to emerge. His presence here makes me nervous… But, this could also prove to be a turning point in my opinion on Walliams as an actor. I’m prepared to be impressed. An Arena profile of Howerd follows directly after at 10pm, also on BBC4.
Celebrity Come Dine with Me (Thursday 8pm, C4)
I have frequently lost whole Sunday afternoons of this to the repeats on More 4, and now the once daytime show comes to prime time Channel 4 with a celebrity theme to start things off. Obviously “celebrity” is used very loosely - Tamara Beckwith, Lynsey de Paul, Jonathan Ansell and MC Harvey (who?) do not celebrities make (although de Paul is rather fab). But such is the way with these things, and the format is strong enough to provide plenty of entertainment as the celebs turn up en masse at one of their number’s houses to eat and then vote on the quality of the dinner. And so on… There’s a lot to cram in to an hour, so they’ll have to keep the pace up.
House/Grey’s Anatomy (Thursday 9/10pm, Five)
Looking at the schedules of recent weeks, it looks like we are on the final approach to the months of light nights and not much on the telly. Thursdays are no exception, so here we are once again tipping House and Grey’s Anatomy for a looksee. House seems a little past its best this year, but both shows are among the best the US has to offer on the drama front, and always worth watching.
Turn off the TV is an occasional series of posts exploring TV-related programmes on radio.
Complementing the latest series of Doctor Who, a new programme appeared in the schedules of digital radio station BBC7 yesterday. Broadcast in the ‘Seventh Dimension’ sci-fi strand on Sunday at 6.30pm (repeated at 12.30am), Doctor Who: The Commentariespromised:
David Tennant and Catherine Tate discuss Partners in Crime, Episode 1 of the new TV series
Eagle-eyed readers of my review of Partners in Crime have noticed that I didn’t use a single letter ‘b’ in the whole review (a nod to a line in the episode about ‘all the bees disappearing’).
I’m not about to repeat that for a review of the BBC7 show. But if I were, I’d have to say that it’s total ollocks.
The BBC has generously set up a playlist on YouTube for all its I’d Do Anything performance videos. Unfortunately, the order seems to be a little unusual, and it doesn’t differentiate between weeks too well.
So, we’ve done the hard work of reorganising it so that you can view all the performances, including the Olivers’ renditions of Electricity and Pie Jesu, and the sing-off and result from Sunday’s results show.
I’d Do Anything: week 4 videos will launch in a popup-window, with a list of videos on the right-hand side — but if you just let it run, it will play all videos in order.
Sadly, there is no video content available of either of this weekend’s acting tasks — the boys at Billy Elliot, or the Nancies playing against Steven Hartley’s Bill Sikes. For those (and higher quality versions of the musical performances), you can go to the BBC’s iPlayer site: Week 4 live show / Week 4 results show for the rest of this week (UK users only).
I’m glad to say that I was not one of those who were wary when it was announced Catherine Tate would rejoin the TARDIS for a full series as the new companion. While her character, Donna, had many shrewish moments in the 2006 Christmas Special, come the end of the episode Tate demonstrated insight and depth that I wanted to see more of.
Now, after a year with Freema Agyeman’s Martha at David Tennant’s side, we get to see what life could entail with Donna in her stead. If the first episode of this new series is any indication, the words ‘roller coaster’ spring to mind.
This week’s show started out with some Oom Pah Pah, and managed to keep up the pace throughout. Unlike last week, I don’t think there were any particularly duff performances — although one or two prospective Nancies didn’t deliver as well as the majority did.
The theme this week was supposedly for all the girls to sing songs that brought out an unknown side to their character. Which isn’t exactly hard: on only the second live show, pretty much every side of their characters is unknown at this stage…
By Mark Wright on April 4, 2008 4:38 PM
Torchwood (Friday 9pm, BBC2)
The season finale of Torchwood, and it’s a belter, but is sadly let down by some atrocious casting of a key guest role. And no, I’m not talking about James Marsters, who is rather better second time round as Captain John Hart. I won’t go into too much detail, just see for yourself. And then weep. But as with much of this series of Torchwood, it’s zippy, action-packed and somewhat epic, with plenty of shocks along the way. Who would have thought - Torchwood is all grown up now. Bring on season three!
Dirty Sexy Money (Friday 9pm, C4)
I’m afraid Dirty Sexy Money has become all fur coat and no knickers within the space of three episodes, and that’s a great shame. It seems little thought has been put into what the series wants to be, and as such, it’s a confused beast. Even Donald Sutherland and Peter Krause can’t save this from mis-firing on most counts, and saints be praised, Brothers and Sisters is back on Sunday, so it’s all going to be okay.
Friday Night With Jonathan Ross (Friday 10.35pm, BBC1)
Some fella called David Tennant pops in to have a chat about this little show he’s been doing, along with Catherine Tate. John Hurt is also on hand - wonder if Tennant and Tate can persuade him to do a Doctor Who guest spot?
Oh God, is this silly load of old toot back on TV? I think I’m over it all to be honest - come on folks, it’s just TV programme and it’s high time the BBC stopped making it and give all the money to Ben Elton so he can write another sit-com. Okay, so Doctor Who might be critically acclaimed, have stacks of awards on the mantelpiece, pull in consistently high ratings, have a charming and engaging lead actor and look fantastic, but come on now. Enough is en… Who am I kidding? I’m still as much of a daftie for this crazy, wonderful show as I’ve always been. Catherine Tate returns as Donna Noble off of The Runaway Bride to take up full-time companion duties, while Sarah Lancashire is on sultry form as Miss Foster in this season opener. Doctor Who Confidential can be found on BBC3 at 7.10pm, and as always, TV Today will bring you our thoughts on each episode. I can’t wait!
Where else are you going to be straight after Doctor Who?
Verity Lambert: Drama Queen (Saturday 9.50pm, BBC4)
How fitting that on the night Doctor Who starts a new series, BBC4 pays tribute to the late Verity Lambert, one of the key architects of the original series. As the first producer of the show in 1963, she helped to shape many of the elements that are still iconic today - including fighting to have the Daleks in there, despite Sydney Newman’s desire for no “bug-eyed monsters”. But Who aside, Lambert’s legacy spans Adam Adamant Lives!, The Naked Civil Servant, Minder, Widows, Budgie, Jonathan Creek and Love Soup. This film celebrates her career, punctuating showings of her work, including those historic episodes of Doctor Who that introduced us to the Daleks.
Casualty 1907 (Sunday 9pm, BBC1)
Its ratings were strong last week, so it will be interesting to see how Casualty 1907 fares second week out. It’s certainly a well-made piece of drama, but it feels a little worthy and po-faced for its own good. Tonight sees the capital in the grip of a heat wave, and the doctors and nurses must endure a torturous night shift on the wards. Good period detail and a great cast all help to make Casualty 1907 a rounded, pleasing piece of work.
He Kills Coppers (Sunday 9pm, ITV1)
He Kills Coppers is easily my top TV drama of 2008 to date, and it breaks my heart to see the ratings it’s been pulling. This third episode keeps the quality up as time jumps forward to 1985. It’s been 20 years since the fateful shooting, but Billy Porter is still out there, his name having become something of an urban legend. With his marriage to Jeannie on the rocks, will Frank ever catch up with the man who murdered his partner? A practically faultless piece of drama and one that deserves every award in the industry.
Gavin and Stacey (Sunday 9pm, BBC3)
There isn’t much we can say here apart from: watch it, it’s lush!
By Mark Wright on April 3, 2008 4:52 PM
It’s been expected for a very long time, but as NBC gets ahead of the game in the States and announces the upcoming fall schedule, it has now been confirmed that the legendary ER will end following a 15th and final season.
I’ll admit to have only been following the current season’s showings on Channel 4 on and off, but this news saddens me as the hospital based drama has been one of the most consistently enjoyable and dramatically thrilling shows to grace TV screens across the world. We’ve loved these characters, cried with them, laughed with them and ER will be missed greatly. We will see hospital dramas again, but perhaps not of the like of ER.
In this week’s print edition of The Stage, columnist Zoe Tyler casts her eye over the first live show.
Zoe, a former panel member of How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? and Any Dream Will Do, shares her thoughts on new judge Barry Humphries, as well as casting her eye over the twelve girls who started the live journey into Nancy’s petticoats on Saturday.
The standard was very high and I feel, unlike Maria? where Connie stood out like a sore thumb from day one as the winner, this series is different, with a real array of talent. How refreshing.
However, she does not agree with the final decision to send Amy Booth-Steel home:
I thought Tara was the weakest… she tends to put on an affected sound which makes it sound a little karaoke. I think she should have gone out and not Amy.
You can read the full column in this week’s edition of The Stage, available in most high street WHSmiths and other leading newsagents for £1.30.
There are so few stories we get to comment on here at TV Today towers that have anything positive about them - we’re frequently being sniffy or shouty about one thing or another. Well, I am at any rate, but the news of this recommission is just plain nice and gives me a warm fuzzy feeling.
Without doubt, Cranford was my TV highlight of 2007 - studded like a tiara with star talent, funny, witty and poignant, the series embodied everything that is great about British television drama.
Before I go on, the next paragraph contains spoilers for the first run, so read on at your peril…
The BBC has responded swiftly to Kevin Spacey’s criticism of musical theatre talent shows, TV Today can exclusively reveal this morning, by commissioning a search to find a character actor worthy of one of Shakespeare’s most difficult roles.
This time next year, audiences will be asked to find a male actor to play Shylock in a new production of The Merchant of Venice. I understand that the BBC is in talks with the Old Vic to put on the resulting show, and have asked Spacey to head up the judging panel.
My source tells me that the BBC are keen to downplay the stereotypical aspects of the Jewish money lender. “This will be a very twenty-first century production,” they tell me. “Although we could stipulate that Section (2)(A) of the 1976 Race Relations Act were to apply, auditions will be open to all, regardless of race or religion.”
Other judges have yet to sign up, although it is thought John Barrowman may not appear, for fear of over exposure.
The new show, with a working title of PRICK ME!, will be auditioning early next year, with the first programme airing the week of April 1 2009.
A phone call last night from a friend with contacts in BBC archives had me feverish with excitement at the news of a piece of television history being unearthed and returned to its rightful place in the archives.
Early in1967, during tests of colour television transmissions, the BBC commissioned a pilot for a television version of The Archers, intended to spearhead the ushering in of a new age for the television industry. As a top-rated radio drama, it was only a matter of time before television beckoned for Ambridge and its locals, including Phil and Jill Archer.
Sets were constructed for Brookfield (interior and exterior), The Bull, Home Farm and the village green, with storylines culled from the ongoing radio series and adapted into the 30-minute script that would serve as the pilot.