Your Week in British TV on WETA

Happy Thanksgiving week, everyone! Hope you are all gearing up for a festival of delicious food and family time, with a splash of excellent British TV thrown in. We’ve got a lot of goodies coming up on-air for you this week!

Monday William and Mary, starring Martin Clunes and Julie Graham, continues tonight at a slightly shifted time of 10:30pm, due to the extended run length of our American Masters Woody Allen documentary.

Tuesday – We wrap up our rebroadcast of Masterpiece Mystery!’s Sherlock at 8pm with the pretty-much-flawless episode “The Great Game” at 8pm. This will also repeat on Wednesday at 2pm, if you happen to be home early in preparation for Turkey Day and need something to watch.

Thursday – Happy Thanksgiving! The first day of our Inspector Morse marathon kicks off at 8AM – we’ll be airing the entire ten-episode second season. Then, if that’s not enough British mystery for you, WETA Mystery night will also continue as usual! Watch Sherlock Holmes' “The Boscombe Valley Mystery” at 8pm, Agatha Christie’s Poirot in “The Chocolate Box” at 9pm, and Foyle’s War’s “The Funk Hole” at 10.

Friday – Welcome to Day Two of our Inspector Morse marathon! We’ll be airing the entirely of Series 3 all day today from 8am-6pm.

Saturday – Catch comedies As Time Goes By and Keeping Up Appearances starting at 7pm. These will be followed by Doc Martin at 8pm, with two episodes from Series 4, “The Departed” and “Midwife Crisis.”

SundayMasterpiece Contemporary returns at 9pm with Framed, starring Trevor Eve and Torchwood’s Eve Myles. Then stick around for back-to-back episodes of con-man drama Hustle, starting a bit earlier than usual this week, at 10:30pm.

ITV Commissions Final Five Poirot Films

Heads-up for our mystery fans! UK network ITV has commissioned adaptations of five new feature-length Poirot films, slated to go into production in 2012.

David Suchet will reprise the role of Hercule Poirot, and achieve his stated “life’s ambition” of filming the entirety of Agatha Christie’s Poirot canon. Suchet has been playing Poirot for over twenty years, so this is a rather impressive achievement, if you ask me.

The five new adaptations will include Labours of Hercules, Dead Man’s Folly, The Big Four, Elephants Can Remember, and Poirot’s final mystery, Curtain.

According to the lovely folks at AgathaChristie.com, Curtain is the Belgian detective’s last case, in which an arthritic and immobilized Poirot calls on his old friend Captain Hastings for assistance as they return to the scene of their first case, Styles Court, to try to prevent an imminent murder.

“Poirot is without doubt one of fiction’s finest detectives and we’re thrilled to welcome him back to ITV1 with his refined approach to crime-fighting, “said ITV’s director of drama commissioning Laura Mackie. “We’re equally delighted that David has agreed to play him in the final Poirot films for the ITV1 audience and immensely privileged to be producing Curtain.”

No word yet, obviously, on when we might expect to see these adaptations here in America, especially with filming not happening for some time yet. We’ll keep you posted!

Doctor Who Supports Children in Need and Previews the 2011 Christmas Special

As part of the BBC’s Children in Need annual charity telethon in the UK tonight, Doctor Who offered a special mini-sketch, as well as the first trailer for the series’ upcoming Christmas special, titled “The Doctor, the Widow, and the Wardrobe.”

Thanks to the lovely folks over at Doctor Who TV, click through to watch the special Children in Need segment that sees the Doctor offering to sell the clothes off his back, then catch the first preview for the Christmas special, which should air on BBC America here in the States sometime in December.

The Friday News Roundup!

Happy Friday! Welcome to this week's edition of our News Roundup, where I attempt to fill you in on all the things of interest that happened this week in British entertainment news. (Emphasis on the "attempt" - if I've missed something excellent, link me!). This week we've got quite a bit of Doctor Who, some Misfits, Sherlock, Poirot, as well as news on a new Pixar film, the Golden Globes, annual charity appeal Children in Need and more. So click right on through to get started.

Meryl Streep is "The Iron Lady"

Is anyone else looking forward to upcoming Margaret Thatcher biopic The Iron Lady with the always amazing Meryl Streep in the title role? I'm actually not sure how accurately I think this film is going to portray the Thatcher era, but I still cannot wait to see it, even if it does have one of the weirdest promotional posters I've ever seen (Why is Westminster growing out of her head?).

Apparently I'm not the only person not quite sure how to feel about this film, as it's already sparking many mixed reactions and some controversy, even when it's a month away from release. The Guardian's Xan Brooks calls Streep's performance "astonishing and all but flawless," but labels the film itself "silly and suspect." The Daily Mail also has many complimentary things to say, one of which being that all those naysayers who were worried about the film "villifying" Baronness Thatcher can calm down. On the flip side, one-time Conservative party chairman and trade and industry secretary Norman Tebbit wrote a fairly blistering dismissal of the film in the Telegraph, claiming that this film version "is not the Margaret Thatcher [he] knew." Other Thatcher allies are similarly upset. I suppose this is what happens when we make biographical films about subjects who are both this recent and this polarizing. I'm willing to see for myself though, if only because I would probably watch Streep read the phone book with no complaints.

The full trailer came out on Monday - take a look below. The Iron Lady will open December 30 in New York and Los Angeles - I presume to make sure Streep is eligible for this year's Academy Awards, as she's probably a shoo-in for an Oscar nomination. The rest of us Yanks will have to wait unti the film's wide release on January 13.

 

Tune In Tonight: The Best Things About Sherlock's "The Blind Banker"

Our rebroadcast of Masterpiece Mystery’s Sherlock continues tonight with the second episode, “The Blind Banker” at 8pm. Loosely based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s short story “The Dancing Men,” the premise involves a mysterious break-in at a major London bank, possible suicides that turn out to be murders, an unintelligible code left in graffiti, a Chinese traveling circus, and an underground smuggling ring. Just go with it – it ends up being a pretty great ride. This episode also really cements the wonderfulness that is this new Holmes-Watson partnership; Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman are just gangbusters together onscreen and I would like to applaud the casting director who was genius enough to come up with this pair.

But, to be fair, “The Blind Banker” is my least favorite of the three episodes of Sherlock’s first series. That statement is also kind of like saying, Oh, yes, that’s the Van Gogh painting I enjoy the least, but nevertheless. Whether it’s because its lacking the really great villain of the other two episodes, whether the mystery is just a teensy bit less compelling and more convoluted than the other two offerings, whether it’s the absence of Lestrade, Mycroft or the other interesting supporting characters from “A Study in Pink” while we’re stuck with the truly dreadful Sebastian, I don’t know. Maybe it’s just that “Pink” is a really hard act to follow. All that said, there’s not a lot that’s truly “wrong” with this episode – most of its problems really are more missteps than outright failures – and while it may not reach the heights of the pilot, it’s still loads better than pretty much anything else you could be watching on a Tuesday night.

Click on through for some of my favorite things about this episode – mostly a lot of small moments that add up to a pretty great whole. One thing this episode does do very well is character moments and relationship development – and these are so strong and well done that the centerpiece mystery matters less.

Your Week in British TV on WETA

Happy Monday! Here’s a look at what we’ve got coming up this week on WETA for our British TV fans.

But first – a save the date for next week! We’ve got a two-day Inspector Morse marathon coming up over the Thanksgiving long weekend (Thursday and Friday). So, make plans now to save some time for sleuthing along with your turkey.

Monday – Tonight William and Mary with Martin Clunes and Julie Graham is on at 10pm with two back-to-back episodes.

Tuesday – Our rebroadcast of Masterpiece Mystery’s Sherlock continues at 8pm with “The Blind Banker.” One of my all time favorite Benedict Cumberbatch moments is in this episode! (Any guesses?)

Thursday – Time for WETA Mystery night! This week, we’ve got Sherlock Holmes in “The Adventures of Shoscombe Old Place” at 8pm. Agatha Christie’s Poirot in “The Case of the Missing Will” at 9pm and Foyle’s War’s “War Games” at 10pm.

Friday. We’re airing a special four episode block of Eastenders from 4-6pm to compensate for last Friday’s preemption. (Note: The first two episodes aired last Saturday AM, however.)

Saturday – Watch As Time Goes By at 7 followed by Keeping Up Appearances at 7:30pm. Then visit Portwenn with Doc Martin in “Perish Together as Fools” and “Driving Mr. McLynn” from Series 4.

Sunday – There’s no new Masterpiece Contemporary this week, but it will return on Sunday, November 27, with Framed. You can still catch con-man drama Hustle at 11pm, though!

Preview The Song of Lunch

Let’s spend a Sunday night watching a film dramatization of a narrative poem! You’re forgiven if an eyebrow went up at reading that sentence –it’s almost a little too painfully highbrow, even for me, and I live for stuff like this. But The Song of Lunch is a unique, occasionally painful depiction of a lunch date between two ex-lovers over a decade after their relationship ended is definitely worth a look. It’s rare that something on television nowadays is willing to take a risk and be original – and this has that in spades.

Take a minute to watch a scene from the film, then click through for a few of my (spoiler-free) thoughts!

It's Friday - Must Be News Roundup Time!

Happy Friday, everyone! That means it’s time for our weekly News Roundup post, where we fill you in on all things interesting in British entertainment. It’s also 11/11/11, so let’s just pretend that there’s a creative Doctor Who joke inserted here somewhere. (I was trying to come up with puns on “The Eleventh Hour” that were actually funny all morning, with no luck. Alas.)

But, before we jump into that, a quick heads-up for our Eastenders fans. Every week we repeat Friday’s Eastenders episodes on Saturday mornings. Due to the special programming marathon airing for Veterans Day today, we won’t be visiting Albert Square this afternoon. However, the Saturday repeats tomorrow will go on as scheduled. So, if you must have your Eastenders fix as soon as possible, we’ve got you covered! However, we’ll also be airing a four-episode block next Friday, to make up for the preemption today. Let us know if you’ve got any questions on this programming shift, and we’ll sort you.

Now, go ahead and click through for news on Remembrance Day observations, Doctor Who, Downton Abbey, The Only Way is Essex, Absolutely Fabulous and more!

Remembrance Day

 

We call today Veterans Day here in the United States, it’s referred to as Remembrance Day in the United Kingdom and Commonwealth Countries, some folks still like to call it Armistice Day, or even Poppy Day, but, nevertheless, the sentiment is all the same – when we all take a moment to reflect and to say a heartfelt thank you to all the brave men and women who have served and continue to serve in the armed forces, whatever country they may hail from. We’re grateful for your sacrifice!

Remembrance Day is observed on November 11 to recall the official end of World War I; hostilities formally ended “at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month” when Germany signed the Armistice agreement.

The use of a red poppy is a popular symbol for Remembrance Day in the UK and other Commonwealth nations. Paper poppies are sold by as part of the Royal British Legion’s annual fundraising appeal (and they look like the image above.)

The use of the poppy was inspired by the World War I poem “In Flanders Fields” by Colonel John McCrae (quoted below), which describes the fields of flowers that were the first to grow over soldiers’ graves on battlefields in Belgium and France.

If you’d like to read more on the history of the Remembrance Day poppies, this site is a great resource. If you’re in the DC area and you’d like to go get yourself one, and donate to a worthy cause at the same time, you can get one at the British Embassy’s main security gate, according to their Twitter account. (If you’re not in the DC area, check the British Embassy's full site, it’s likely that you can get one where you are, as well.)

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

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