Category:Reality

British Reality Hit ‘The Great British Bake Off’ Comes to PBS This Winter

The Great British Bake Off – the most watched show of the year in the UK and one of the most successful cooking competitions of all time – is finally coming to America this winter on PBS stations nationwide.

Re-titled The Great British Baking Show for US audiences, PBS will screen the recent fifth series of the popular baking competition, which will teach us all about “soggy bottoms”, a “good wobble” and the surprise horrors hidden in the seemingly mundane task of waiting for pastry dough to rise.

So, how does this show work? Let the official press release explain: Renowned British bakers Mary Berry, the U.K.’s “doyenne of baking” and a leading cookbook writer, and Paul Hollywood, one of Britain’s top artisan bakers, serve as the series’ judges. Together with hosts and comic foils Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc, Berry and Hollywood search for the country’s best amateur bakers by testing their competitors’ skills on cakes, breads, pastries and desserts of all kinds, ultimately crowning a winner after 10 weeks of competition.

The Great British Baking Show features 12 passionate amateur bakers whose goal is to be the U.K.’s best. The series follows the trials and tribulations of the competitors — young and old, from diverse backgrounds across Britain — as they work to prove their baking prowess. Each week, the bakers tackle a different skill, the difficulty of which increases as the competition unfolds. PBS will present the BBC’s recent fifth season of the series, which received both critical and audience acclaim for its quick pace, lively comedic tone and competitor diversity.  

Category:Online

Watch: George Clooney Guest Stars on ‘Downton Abbey’ for Charity

We heard about this momentous occasion earlier this month, and now it’s finally here – the mega popular actor George Clooney joined forces with the mega popular costume drama Downton Abbey. This Voltron of cultural awesomeness combined for charity and its end result is sure to make every fan of the world’s most successful period drama smile.

Clooney appeared as part of a Downton skit for ITV’s Text Santa campaign, a charity effort which benefits such organizations as Alzheimer’s Society,Guide DogsMarie Cure Cancer CareTeenage Cancer TrustTogether for Short Lives, and WellChild. Much like the BBC’s annual Children in Need event, the telethon features all sorts of fun, including celebrity hosts, pop stars performing their latest hits and a variety of skits and clips from popular network programming. 

The clip, which features Clooney as the Most Honorable George Ocean’s Gravity, opens during the holiday season, just as Lord Robert Crawley has discovered that he’s managed to lose the family fortune.

Again.

Luckily, Absolutely Fabulous star Joanna Lumley appears before disaster can strike, portraying an It’s a Wonderful Life-style angel sent to educate Lord Robert about what his family and estate might be like if he’d never existed. Hilarity ensues. 

Category:Culture

Christmas Telly: A British Holiday Tradition

In America we get plenty of holiday TV programming. There’s usually one musical variety effort each year be it Michael Buble, Kelly Clarkson or the hottest country artist at the moment. ABC Family broadcasts the 25 Days of Christmas, the Hallmark Channel features heartwarming Christmas fare (non-stop for weeks) and of course no one should forget the 24 hour A Christmas Story marathon.  Say it with me, “You’ll shoot your eye out!”

In my youth you had three networks and one chance to see A Charlie Brown Christmas. Miss it and you were out of luck; there was certainly no DVR, let alone VHS! They were called “specials” for a reason. Am I starting to sound like a cantankerous old lady because I’m really not? I’m on Twitter and everything.

Let’s meander back to the subject at hand - Christmas telly. Despite the volume of shows out there intended to keep our spirits merry and bright (or perhaps because of that very fact) Americans might get nostalgic, but they don’t seem to get too excited about the Christmas TV schedules. In the UK, however, it’s a whole different animal – a tradition in and of itself.

Category:Drama

The First Trailer for ‘Mr Selfridge’ Series 3 Has Arrived

ITV has officially released the first trailer for popular period drama Mr. Selfridge and, if this clip is anything to go by, the new season is going to be quite a bit darker than its predecessors. 

The drama is inspired by the story of charismatic American entrepreneur Harry Gordon Selfridge, whose famous department store in London’s Oxford Street changed shopping forever. (If you missed any of the drama up to this point, or need your memory refreshed on what happened - we recapped both Series 1 and Series 2. So go read up.)

Series 3 has jumped forward in time again, and will take place in 1919, just after the end of World War I. As was hinted at last season, Harry Selfridge has lost his beloved wife Rose, and his behavior is becoming increasingly erratic as he continues to spiral after her death. 

Category:Comedy

Watch: Martin Freeman in Middle Earth’s Answer to ‘The Office’

Hi gang! I’ve been on vacation for the past week – so if you noticed that the blog was dark over this time, that’s why – and now that I’m back catching up it seems like a lot happened during the past few days!

Clearly the best thing that I missed out on – and it’s so good I’m not even upset that I’m writing about it so late – is the fact that Sherlock star Martin Freeman hosted the iconic Saturday Night Live last weekend.  While I haven’t managed to watch the entire episode yet – though I hear from various corners of the internet that the whole thing was actually good, something of a rarity during the past few years of SNL – I did catch the standout moment that resulted when the worlds of two of Freeman’s biggest hits collided.

The Office: Middle Earth imagines what life might be like for Bilbo Baggins following the conclusion of his quest in The Hobbit. It turns out that life looks a lot like the iconic  British sitcom The Office, which also starred Freeman as loveable everyman Tim way back when. Only this time, there are definitely more orcs. 

Birthday Binge Watch: Five Judi Dench Performances You Can Stream Online

December 2014 holds an important milestone for fans of British drama everywhere as the great Dame Judi Dench celebrates her 80th birthday (December 9).

Dench, a stunningly talented actress who has served as a gateway drug of sorts for several generations of Anglophiles, is pretty much universally beloved, having wracked up untold numbers of BAFTAs, Tonys, Olivier Awards, Golden Globes and even an Oscar for her work and a massive global fanbase obsessed with her general sass and perfection. And, now that she’s officially an octogenarian, she’s even more awesome than ever, with upcoming roles in sequel The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and the second round of Hollow Crown films, in which she’ll play Cecily, the Duchess of York (i.e. Richard III’s – or in this case Benedict Cumberbatch’smom.)

So, to celebrate her special day, here are five classic Dench performances that you can stream online right now.

 

Category:Drama

First Look at the ‘Call the Midwife’ 2014 Christmas Special

Rejoice, Call the Midwife fans – it’s almost time to return to Nonnatus House for the midwives annual holiday episode, and in celebration the BBC has released the first trailer for this upcoming special.

The clip is all sorts of festive, featuring Christmas crackers, an enormous tree, a nativity play and a handful of platitudes, all backed by a moving over of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”.  It’s pretty much a textbook holiday spot, and it’s enough to make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside after just 30 seconds.  Of course, there’s also a dash of the standard emotional angst, and adorable newborns, but, hey, that’s fairly standard fare for Call the Midwife.

And, while it’s strange to see a clip without star Jessica Raine – who departed at the end of Series 3 – it’s equally as strange to feel okay about that. The show looks pretty much the same – and by that I mean I think we can assume it’s going to be just fine. 

British Actors You Should Know: Timothy Spall

If you’re the type of person who pays attention to film award season, you probably will have heard about the recent accolades for our spotlighted actor, Timothy Spall. A hardworking and versatile performer since the late 70’s, Spall seems to be finally getting the attention he deserves for a career defining achievement.

He won best actor honors at this year’s Cannes Film Festival for his title role in the biopic Mr. Turner. Spall embodies eccentric English Romantic landscape painter J.M.W. Turner. Director Mike Leigh (with whom Spall has worked four times perviously) is known for his formidable demands on his actors. For this period piece, Leigh insisted Spall not only research the artist he was setting out to play but also to spend two years learning his distinctive painting technique. What resulted was this Oscar buzz-worthy bit of acting. 

Mr. Turner will be out in limited release beginning December 19, presumably to qualify for the Academy Awards race. Here’s hoping it won’t be much longer after that that those of us not living in major metropolitan cities will be able to witness the magic as well.

While all the kudos and glowing reviews are surely very nice indeed, Spall has been putting in memorable, entertaining performances for years. From notable roles in TV series such as Auf Wiedersehen, Pet and The Street to a cameo in The King’s Speech as Winston Churchill,  his talent has consistently been on display. If you’d like a reminder of his range or just want to explore his body of work for the first time, here are a handful of film and TV roles you might want to try. Believe me, Peter Pettigrew from the Harry Potter films is just the tip of the iceberg.

Category:Other

BBC Radio 4’s ‘Good Omens’ Gets an Airdate

Get ready, fans of radio drama, for the apocaly pse is nigh. (In the best way of course.)  The highly anticipated radio adaptation of Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman’s 1990 cult classic Good Omens finally has an official airdate.

The six-part drama is due to begin with a double Monday, December 22 at 11pm and running throughout Christmas week before culminating in an hour-long finale on December 27. (This is a fairly similar rollout to what BBC Radio 4 did for their popular Neverwhere adaptation, stripping the episodes over the course of a week back in March.)

Category:Movies

From ‘Sherlock’ to Superhero: Benedict Cumberbatch is Your New ‘Doctor Strange’

Well, at least we can say we knew him when, right? After weeks (months, maybe) of will he/won’t he rumors and speculation, it’s finally official Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch has added another crown jewel to his geek credentials by nabbing  the lead role in upcoming Marvel tentpole Doctor Strange.  

For the past year a slew of big Hollywood names have been attached to the role of Stephen Strange, including Johnny Depp, Jared Leto, Ryan Gosling, Tom Hardy, Keanu Reeves and more. In fact, Cumberbatch was mentioned as being on Marvel’s short list for the part earlier this year, though that talk died out over the summer, when it seemed like Joaquin Phoenix was going to take it on. But now, Marvel has come back to Cumberbatch, and have brought the actor officially on board.

Pages

Public Broadcasting for Greater Washington Copyright © 2015 WETA. All Rights Reserved. Terms | Privacy | Guidelines | Photo credits: BBC America