June 2014

Category:Comedy

Bickering Telly Couples: ‘Vicious’ and Beyond

The sitcom Vicious has just started airing on PBS stations this past weekend and it certainly lives up to its name. Starring British acting legends Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi, the two play a gay couple who’ve been together for almost half a century. A lifetime of companionship has worn on their collective nerves and most of what remains between them is catty remarks, primarily from Freddie (McKellan), and not just a little resentment on the part of Stuart (Jacobi).

Of course deep down the two men really do love one another, but if everything between them was sweetness and light it wouldn’t be nearly as funny, would it?

That got me to thinking about other telly couples who are prone to rows and other types of altercations. Regardless of the nature of the relationship, discord and disagreement makes things interesting and, when you’re not the one in the middle of it all, funny as well.

Category:Drama

Martin Freeman Hints at a 'Sherlock' Christmas Special…in 2015

Well, it’s probably a good thing that Sherlock fans are some of the best at patiently playing the waiting game – because there’s another indication that we might be waiting for quite a while to see stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman together on our screens again.

In a new interview with the The Sunday Telegraph, Freeman said that a Christmas special for everyone’s favorite (consulting) detective drama “looks pretty likely,” but don’t get your hopes up just yet folks, because such a special would be unlikely to air before Christmas 2015. 

Category:Drama

Watch: Trailer for HBO’s ‘The Leftovers’ with Christopher Eccleston

HBO’s new series The Leftovers, which premieres this weekend, features a very familiar British face in its cast that will be of special interest to Doctor Who fans.

The drama is adapted from the 2011 Tom Perrotta novel of the same name, and tells the story of a suburb called Mapleton, after the world has seen 2% of its population disappear in a Rapture-like event. The residents who are left behind – the “leftovers”, if you will – must learn how to survive and cope in the aftermath. Which, if the trailers are anything to go by, predominantly seems to involve joining a bunch of cults and/or existing in a day-to-day state of general creeping dread and emotional upset.

This is fine though, because it looks awesome. 

Category:Sci-Fi

A New Era on 'Doctor Who': The New Season and the New Doctor Arrive August 23

The best news possible for all the Whovians out there is finally here: the BBC and BBC America confirmed that the highly anticipated new season of Doctor Who will officially begin on Saturday, August 23 – on both sides of the pond!

Peter Capaldi will debut in his first full episode as the Twelfth Doctor in the Series 8 premiere, which will be a feature-length adventure called Deep Breath. Jenna Coleman is also back as the Doctor’s companion Clara Oswin Oswald.

If this news weren’t enough to send your emotions into overdrive, a new teaser trailer (again, emphasis on the teaser) has been released, which actually features Capaldi and Coleman saying stuff! Not a lot of stuff, but when the only thing we’ve heard Twelve say so far is some claptrap about the state of his kidneys, you take what you can get. 

Category:Movies

Matthew Crawley No More: Dan Stevens Gets Creepy in Trailer for 'The Guest'

It’s probably not incorrect to say that as much as we all love Downton Abbey – and we really, really do obviously – we all still feel a little sting in our hearts when we think about how much we miss Matthew Crawley and his (rather dreamy) portrayer Dan Stevens.  Just face it: We’re never going to be over it.

Luckily, Stevens has kept himself pretty busy since leaving the Highclere Castle crew: starring on Broadway and landing big time movie roles opposite Liam Neeson (A Walk Among the Tombstones), Ben Stiller (Night at the Museum 3) and Benedict Cumberbatch (The Fifth Estate). He’s now prepping the release of yet another film – in which he plays what is possibly his most un-Matthewlike role yet. 

Category:Movies

The Paddington Bear Movie Loses Colin Firth as Its Voice Star

It would appear that Creepy Paddington has claimed his first victim.

Yes, it’s fairly obvious that the big screen version of the children’s tale Paddington Bear is basically your worst nightmare, but weren’t we all hoping that some of the horror of Paddington would be alleviated by the fact that the CGI-created rampant serial killer iconic bear was going to be voiced by Everyone’s Dream Man, Colin Firth?

Well, sorry, because Creepy Paddington doesn’t let us have nice things. According to a report in Entertainment Weekly, Firth has split with the film in the midst of production. “After a period of denial, we’ve chosen ‘conscious uncoupling,’” the Oscar winner told the magazine. 

Category:Drama

Rejoice: The First Teaser Trailer for ‘Downton Abbey’ Series 5 is Here

Thankfully – even if it may seem slow as molasses in January at times - Series 5 of everyone's favorite costume drama Downton Abbey is inching ever closer, and we’ve finally got an official teaser trailer for the new season.

Prepare yourselves. 

Category:Drama

‘Sherlock’s’ Louise Brealey Joins Cast of ‘Ripper Street’

Luckily, even though we’re all suffering through the terrible experience of waiting through yet another interminable wait for a new season of Sherlock, we’ve got plenty to entertain ourselves with in the meantime since many members of the show’s cast seem to be keeping fairly busy with a variety of projects. And now there’s another name to add to the list of Sherlock stars in unexpected places – Louise Brealey is joining the cast of period crime drama Ripper Street.

Best known for her role as Sherlock’s brilliant but slightly awkward pathologist Molly Hooper, Brealey will play Dr. Amelia Frayn, a trailblazing female Victorian doctor who runs the Obsidian Clinic in Whitechapel. 

Category:Comedy

The Comic Side of World Cup Soccer

In case you hadn’t heard, the FIFA World Cup Finals is in full swing in this year’s host country, Brazil. Teams from around the globe are battling it out on the football pitch aka soccer field to determine who is best at kicking a ball into a net.

Don’t get me wrong, I like the fact that people are coming together to celebrate their passion for a common sport. It’s just that there’s so much of it. The finals phase is comprised of over 60 matches that are played over a month’s time. 

Category:Other

Get Excited: 'Danger Mouse' is Coming Back!

The best news you will read all day – possibly even all week unless Benedict Cumberbatch does something exceptionally awesome tomorrow - is here.

Animated children’s series Danger Mouse will return to British TV screens in 2015, more than two decades after its original run of more than 160 episodes ended. Children’s BBC has officially commissioned 52 new episodes of this beloved cartoon series, which will once again follow the adventures of an eyepatch-wearing secret agent white mouse who, along with his loyal hamster sidekick Penfold, battles the evil toad Baron Silas Greenback.

The original series ran from 1981-1992 and was incredibly popular on both sides of the pond. (In fact, this was one of the first British cartoons to break into America.) 

Category:Drama

‘Page Eight’ Continues as the Worricker Trilogy Comes to America This November

Political thriller Page Eight has not just one but two sequels headed to America this Fall! Now dubbed The Worricker Trilogy, the story will continue on with all the spies and espionage-focused goodness you could possibly want.

The original Page Eight aired on both BBC Two and PBS in 2011 and follows the story of Johnny Worricker, an MI-5 agent who discovers a potentially explosive report that alleges the British Prime Minister has details about the US government torturing prisoners in secret overseas prisons. A moral crisis ensues, Worricker’s boss/mentor figure dies, and he ends up leaving the country to destinations unknown to face an uncertain future.

For the sequels, the always amazing Bill Nighy reprises his role as Worricker from the original Page Eight in two more feature length episodes. He is joined by an all-star cast Christopher Walken, Helena Bonham Carter, Ralph Fiennes, Rupert Graves, James Naughton, Felicity Jones, Judy Davis and more. (You may remember that Fiennes and Davis both appeared in Page Eight as well.)

Both installments will air on Masterpiece this Fall, on November 9 and 16, respectively.

Learn more and watch the UK trailers for both below.

Category:Drama

‘Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries’ Will Return For A Third Season

Good news for mystery fans! The Australian period series Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries has been officially renewed for a third season by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), according to the show’s official Facebook page. (Yes, Miss Fisher isn’t strictly a British show – but as a Commonwealth country, Australia kind of counts, and, many fans of British mysteries have seemingly fallen in love with the show and its exceptionally well-dressed heroine. We can make an exception, I think.)

Based on the best-selling novels by Kerry Greenwood, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries follows the adventures of a glamorous female detective in 1920s Australia who battles injustice with a sharp wit and a pearl-handled pistol.  Essie Davis plays the fabulous Phryne Fisher, opposite Nathan Page as Detective Inspector Jack Robinson, Ashleigh Cummings as Miss Fisher’s loyal companion and assistant Dot and Hugo Johnstone-Burt as Constable Hugh Collins.

Category:Movies

Celebrate Father’s Day with British Film Dads

Father’s Day is an opportunity to honor the men who have supported, raised and loved us every day of our lives. Up until recently, the standard fathering duties were those of bread winner, disciplinarian and purveyor of wise advice.

However, we all know there’s no such thing as a typical dad and I plan to illustrate that fact by introducing you to a number of British celluloid patriarchs who demonstrate the range of fatherly love and emotion.

Category:Movies

Tom Hiddleston to Play Country Music Icon Hank Williams in New Film

This is not a joke: Avengers star and general internet heartthrob Tom Hiddleston has officially signed on to play iconic American country music star Hank Williams.

Yup. Straight out of the “Never Saw That Coming” casting files – and per Deadline Hollywood – it’s true. Hiddleston – one of the Britishiest British actors around these days – will not only be doing an Alabama accent, he’ll be singing too, including such Williams classics as “Your Cheatin’ Heart,” “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” and “Hey, Good Lookin’.” (Here’s a snippet of Hiddleston singing, if you’re wondering if he’s got a voice or not.)

Entitled I Saw the Light, the film will tell the story of Williams’ meteoric rise to fame during his early teens, his subsequent battles with alcohol and prescription drug abuse, and his shocking death at the age of just 29. (The story of how Hank Williams died is probably enough to power a movie on its own, honestly.)

Category:Movies

The New Paddington Bear Looks More Than a Little Bit Creepy

So, we’re all excited about the fact that there’s going to be a Paddington Bear movie, yeah?

But, really, how could you not be? Iconic children’s character has his own film, in which he is voiced by everyone’s dream man Colin Firth and where he stars opposite the likes of Nicole Kidman, Hugh Bonneville. Sally Hawkins, Peter Capaldi and Jim Broadbent.

For those that don’t know, Paddington’s story originally began as a book series by Michael Bond, the first of which was released in 1958. His story goes like this: A small bear is found by a family at Paddington Station in London. Named for the station in which he was discovered, he’s a very polite bear from Darkest Peru who comes equipped with that amazing red hat and a dark blue duffle overcoat to which is attached the label “Please look after this bear, thank you.” Paddington is adopted by a nice family named the Browns, and they feed him marmalade sandwiches and deal with his tendency to make messes everywhere.

But apparently what happens after that – at least according to this trailer - is that Paddington grows up to be a creepy serial killer. Okay, that’s probably not true, but man, it kind of looks like it might be.

Category:Movies

Forget Otters: Watch Benedict Cumberbatch Be a Wolf in the ‘Penguins of Madagascar’ Trailer

While it may be a popular internet meme to compare Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch to an otter, the actor’s going a bit bigger for his first animated role. He’ll be lending his voice to a “suave, debonair” wolf with some rather dramatic eyebrows in upcoming children’s flick The Penguins of Madagascar, a spin-off from the popular Dreamworks Madagascar franchise, which thus far has comprised three movies’ worth of various zoo animals getting in all sorts of capers.

The Penguins spin-off finally gives what is arguably the best part of the Madagascar films their own movie, which will follow the adventures of the special-ops group of the flightless birds who fight, blow stuff up and get in all sorts of general trouble.

Cumberbatch voices a wolf named Classified, leader of a covert group of animals known as the North Wind. He is assisted by a seal voiced by Ken Jeong, an owl voiced by Annet Mahendru and a bear voiced by Peter Stormare

Category:Drama

Michael Gambon and Keeley Hawes to Star in TV Adaptation of J.K. Rowling’s ‘The Casual Vacancy’

An all-star British cast has been announced to take part in the TV adaptation of author J.K. Rowling’s best selling The Casual Vacancy, led by none other than Dumbledore himself. Harry Potter’s Michael Gambon is set to star, alongside such notable and fabulous faces as Line of Duty’s Keeley Hawes, The Hollow Crown’s Rory Kinnear, Appropriate Adult’s Monica Dolan, Miss Marple’s Julia McKenzie and more.

Casual Vacancy was Rowling’s first novel for adults after the conclusion of the Harry Potter series, and focuses on the small English town of Padford, where a special election is being held following the sudden death of a local council member. Drama ensues, as squabbles amongst the townspeople erupt - rich vs. poor, teenagers vs. parents, wives vs. husbands, teachers vs. pupils.

Category:Drama

Crime Drama ‘Vera’ to Return for Series 5

Popular British crime drama Vera will officially be back for a fifth season!

Based on the characters from the popular series of novels by Ann Cleves, the show follows the obsessive and driven Detective Chief Inspector Vera Stanhope as she tries to crack some of the toughest cases in Northumberland.

Brenda Blethyn will once again reprise her role as Vera; however, she’ll be getting a new sidekick this year. Long-time cast member David Leon, who played Vera’s loyal right-hand man Joe Ashworth, has departed the show, as his character has finally received a promotion. Vera will be joined instead by newcomer DS Aiden Healey, played by Stella’s Kenny Doughty.

Other returning cast members include Jon Morrison, Cush Jumbo, Kingsley Ben-Adir and Riley Jones

Category:Comedy

Preview 'Vicious' Starring Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi, Premiering on PBS June 29

Gay comedy Vicious – starring acting legends Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Derek Jacobi – will premiere on PBS stations nationwide beginning June 29.

McKellen and Jacobi play elderly gay couple Freddie and Stuart, who’ve been living together in a small central London flat for nearly fifty years. Their co-dependent relationship is largely focused around the two of them sniping at one another and walking the dog, but the two love each other deeply. Their lives are turned upside down by the arrival of a new upstairs neighbor named Ash, played by Game of Thrones’ Iwan Rheon. Ostensibly, this will be a much less psychotic character than the one he plays in Westeros.

The sitcom aired in the UK last year, and its addition to the PBS roster marks a rather exciting foray into comedy for the network’s national Sunday night schedule which, I think it’s safe to say, is something we all hope continues into the future.

The first US trailer for the Vicious premiere at the end of the month has been released and, in an extremely pleasant surprise, it actually features different footage than the bits featured in the ITV promo last year. Huzzah. 

Patrick Stewart, Toby Jones and Benedict Cumberbatch Read D-Day Bulletins for the 70th Anniversary

BBC Radio 4 is observing the 70th anniversary of the Normandy invasions today by featuring broadcasts of the BBC’s original news reports from 1944, read by such familiar voices as Sir Patrick Stewart, Benedict Cumberbatch and Toby Jones.

The first British and American airborne troops began landing in France shortly after midnight on D-Day, and the storming of the Normandy beaches began around 6:30am. News of the attack did not arrive for several hours, given the fact that there were strict wartime censorship rules to prevent journalists from providing the enemy with sensitive military information.

The D-Day news bulletins will be broadcast at the same time of day as the original transmissions.. The commemoration began this morning with Cumberbatch reading the 8am news bulletin on Radio 4, and will continue through the weekend, as the landings continued, ending at 9pm on Sunday night. 

Watch: An In-Depth Chat with ‘Downton Abbey’s’ Joanne Froggatt

Since we’re all undergoing fairly severe Downton Abbey withdrawal by this point, most of us will gladly sit through anything we can get that might even be tangentially related to the show. Luckily, getting to watch a fairly lengthy new interview with Joanne Froggatt, who plays everyone’s favorite housemaid-turned-ladies-maid Anna Bates, doesn’t even feel like cheating. So, why not do that?

Buzzfeed editor Jarrett Wieselman sat down with the Emmy-nominated actress recently as part of a special event for the Screen Actors Guild Foundation in Los Angeles, which involved a screening followed by a Q&A session. Happily, it was recorded for those of us who don’t have SAG cards. The two chat for about forty-five minutes on a variety of topics, ranging from Froggatt’s early days as an actress, to her initial reaction to the script for Downton Abbey, to her experiences filming on the set.

And of course, she really digs in to Anna’s character and the responsibility she herself felt in being truthful to the character during her intense – and much darker – scenes this past season.

It’s well worth a watch if you’ve got a few minutes to spare!

Category:Culture

Hugh Bonneville, Benedict Cumberbatch and More Read Children’s Stories at Hay Festival

Last week, BBC Radio 2’s The Chris Evans Breakfast Show ran a special competition meant to encourage children to write short stories. Called 500 Words, the annual event challenges children to compose a complete short story in – you guessed it – just five hundred words.

(Which is a task that, if you’ve read this blog for any length of time at all, we all know I would fail. Badly.) 

Category:Movies

A Look at British Road Trip Films

Summer’s unofficially here, the snow is but a memory (fingers crossed) and it’s a great time to think about planning a cross-country excursion.  

Road trip movies are basically a genre all their own in America – we are known for our car culture and love of the open highway. But that doesn’t mean they haven’t made use of this plot device in British films as well.  After all it’s not the distance travelled but the purpose behind the journey and what the characters learn about themselves along the way that’s most important.

So if you’re looking for a little of inspiration for your next holiday, perhaps you’d like to check out a few of these…

Category:Drama

Sophie Okonedo Joins Benedict Cumberbatch in the Cast of the Upcoming ‘Hollow Crown’ Sequel

Oscar-nominated actress Sophie Okonedo is joining the cast of the upcoming sequel to Shakespeare series The Hollow Crown.

Per a report in the Mail Online, Okonedo will play Queen Margaret (of Anjou), the wife of King Henry VI, who spends much of her reign fighting the York family for the crown of England while her husband slips between periods of madness. Incidentally, she’s also the queen who curses Richard III and is the only character who appears in King Henry VI, Part One that’s still alive at the end of Richard III

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