December 2012

Obligatory Year End List: The Best of British TV in 2012

Happy New Year’s Eve, Telly Visions readers! Hope you have a fun and safe and fabulous time tonight ringing in the New Year and that 2013 is full of many wonderful and magical moments for you.

Because everyone else is doing it, it seems today’s a fitting time to look back on 2012 and everything that happened in it. Which, quite frankly, was a pretty epic amount of great British TV. So, since everyone else on the internet appears to be making “Best of” lists today, here’s mine – my favorite bits of British television I consumed in 2012. Share your personal picks in the comments – and tell me if I’ve managed to miss something that was must-see this year.

British Critics Name Sherlock Best TV of 2012

In a move that probably seems pretty obvious to a lot (most?) of us, Sherlock has been voted the Top TV Show of 2012 by a poll of British writers and critics at the Radio Times.

The second series of Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss’ modern-day Holmes adaptation edged out US critical darling Homeland and BBC Two’s Olympic mockumentary Twenty Twelve for the top honor. Everyone’s favorite costume drama Downton Abbey clocked in at Number 8 on the Radio Times poll. editor Tim Glanfield said: "Sherlock delivered the TV event of the year with three perfect episodes. Nothing got people talking more than that cliffhanger series finale." Glanfield added that Sherlock won the vote “easily,” despite the fact that the series aired eleven months ago in the UK.

Responding via email to the news that his drama had nabbed the top slot Moffat wrote, “I've just had a word with all the others, and we're so pleased by this latest accolade from the Radio Times, we've decided to tell you how Sherlock survived the fall – oops, we're out of space!” (This would probably be a funnier response if we didn’t have the better part of a year’s worth of Reichenbach Fall “jokes” to “look forward” to, but it’s lovely that the creative team is chuffed about winning!)

See the rest of the Top 40 TV Shows of 2012 as chosen by the Radio Times pool of writers and critics over here.

Happy Birthday, Maggie Smith: Celebrate the Dowager Countess with a Few of Her Other Fantastic Roles

Happy birthday to the Dowager Countess herself! The incomparable Dame Maggie Smith turns 78 today.

Last year, we celebrated with our favorite Lady Violet moments, but this year it seemed worthwhile to celebrate Smith’s entire catalog of fantastic performances, especially as there are likely some people who have come to know her primarily from her role on Downton Abbey and are subsequently missing out on a lot of great films!

Ten of my favorite Dame Maggie performances (complete with trailers) are below – what are yours? Did I leave out something must-see?

First Look at Mr. Selfridge – Coming to Masterpiece This Spring

Now you can get your first look at Entourage star Jeremy Piven all dolled up in period dress, as ITV has released the first trailer for the new ten-part series Mr. Selfridge.

Piven stars as famous American entrepreneur Harry Gordon Selfridge, the man who reinvented the concept of shopping for Edwardian-era women. (And also launched a little London department store that you can still visit and shop in on Oxford Street today.). The costume drama will focus on Selfridge’s visionary business skills and love of putting on a show, as well as his quite colorful and dramatic personal life.

Piven seems a decent showman in this brief clip, though we certainly don’t get much by way of introduction to any of the (apparently legion) other/supporting characters. Take a look for yourself below.

Watch the New Teaser Trailer for the Second Half of Doctor Who Series 7

Another Christmas has come and gone and with it another Doctor Who Christmas special featuring a new companion, creepy monsters and the Doctor in a snazzy new outfit. Regardless of your thoughts on The Snowmen (and personally I am squarely middle of the road on it), it’s almost impossible not to see the “Coming Soon” trailer hyping the series’ return for the back half of Series 7 and not get excited.

Stuffed full of a tremendous amount of monsters, some fabulous guest stars (Hi, Celia Imrie!) and the ongoing mystery of the identity of the Doctor’s new companion Clara (Is she replicating? Reincarnating? An alien?), the BBC’s newest Who trailer is certainly compelling. It’s got an air about it that says we’re really building to something, which is nice to see – so I hope that means the Clara revelation will be worth the what! (Fingers crossed this impending character twist will end up making more sense than that whole River Song/Melody Pond thing.) At any rate, it’s definitely worth a watch (or three) for yourself!)

News Roundup: Happy Christmas Edition

Happy Christmas Telly Visions readers! (If you’re celebrating, of course – Happy Tuesday and generally Winter-ish season if you’re not.) Hope your day is going wonderfully and that Santa has brought you lots of goodies, including hopefully some British TV under the tree!

As ever at this time of year, it seems appropriate to once again say thank you to each and every one of you for being here – for reading and commenting and tweeting and just being generally fantastic. Getting to talk about a topic I love with such smart people regularly is pretty much the best present a gal could ever want. Well, that and the rest of the classic Doctor Who box sets I don’t already own. (But, I think I ask for that every year.)

So, as we head into the part of the day where everyone is buried under wrapping paper and is possibly guilty of eating too much, take a break to pat yourselves on the back for being awesome, and then catch up on the latest from around the world of British entertainment with this week’s edition of the News Roundup. We’ve got bits and bobs on Sherlock, Call the Midwife, Downton Abbey, The IT Crowd, The Making of a Lady, Call the Midwife and more!

Holiday Cheer: Have Yourself a British Little Christmas

This is a slightly updated version of a post from Christmas 2011. But, since Christmas crackers and mince pies are always awesome in my opinion, it seemed worth sharing again. Hope all of you are having a wonderful Christmas Eve!

Most of the biggest – well at least most important and/or most popular – Christmas traditions in Great Britain are…shall we say very well established, with many having been around in some form or other for hundreds of years. There are certainly more great British Christmas activities that didn't make this list - for example, the Top of the Pops Christmas Number 1 is something that's always fun to speculate about at this time of year, but these are some of the most prominent.

Sherlock and Downton Abbey Collide: Dan Stevens Joins the Cast of Benedict Cumberbatch’s Wikileaks Movie


Sherlock and Downton Abbey fans have something to celebrate this holiday season – the news that their favorite leading men are going to be in a film together!

Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch was confirmed to star as the infamous Julian Assange in a biopic about the whistleblower’s life earlier this fall, and now it looks like Downton’s Dan Stevens will be joining the film’s all-star cast as well. Hip hip hooray!

Tentatively titled The Man Who Sold the World, the film will be directed by Bill Condon and written by West Wing alum Josh Singer, based on the books Inside WikiLeaks: My Time with Julian Assange at the World’s Most Dangerous Website and Wikileaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War on Secrecy. It will dramatize the tumultuous years in Assange’s life following the launch of the notorious Wikileaks site in 2006. The site went on to leak anonymous corporate and government documents from around the world to the public and, as a result, Assange is currently seeking asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy in London. Want more details? Read on.

Amazing Internet Things: This Guy Made a Downton Abbey House Out of Gingerbread

Welp, let’s just add this to the long list of Amazing Internet Things that make me feel like a talentless hack.

A super creative and talented guy named Curtis Jensen has made an extremely detailed gingerbread replica of the house in Downton Abbey. The time lapse video below shows all the work that went into creating an edible Yorkshire country estate – cutting and baking the dough, creating candy window panes, frosting the windows and trim, putting the pieces together, hooking up lighting and more. Truly, a massive project!

The End of an (Arthurian) Era: Preview the Merlin Series Finale

Welp, the end is indeed nigh. For many fans of fantasy drama Merlin, the holiday season will be a bit bittersweet this year, as the popular series wraps up its five year run this Christmas with a two-part special called The Diamond of the Day.

It was a somewhat unexpected cancellation, from what I’ve been given to understand – and it seems fans are still processing it a bit (or at least it does from my quick glance around the internet at any rate). However, this just-released trailer for the series finale looks pretty fantastic, so it’s a bit comforting that it appears as though the series will at least go out on a high note. Not a lot, but, you know, some.

The clip features Morgana preparing for war on Camelot - again, apparently? – bolstered by a vengeful looking Mordred and some sort of magical-looking sword. We’ve also got Gaius sounding dire, Arthur riding with the knights whilst looking exceptionally somber and kingly, a Merlin who may have lost his magic and the Great Dragon swooping in to light something or other (that may or may not actually be the aforementioned pack of knights) on fire.

Benedict Cumberbatch Weighs in on the Future of Sherlock

Finally – a bit of good news for Sherlock fans in the wake of the announcement that Series 3 filming has been delayed! Earlier this fall there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth online thanks to an unfounded news report that claimed the drama’s third season was likely to be its last, citing the packed professional schedules of stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman.

Despite the fact that this initial report came from “unnamed sources” and featured more than a few inaccuracies, Sherlock fans understandably freaked out because, well, it wouldn’t be the first time that a television series has lost out because stardom came calling for its leads. Cumberbatch is busy starring in what appears to be every other movie slated for release next year and Freeman’s professional dance card is about to get a lot more crowded, now that he’s playing Bilbo Baggins in this little trilogy whose first installment broke global records at the box office last weekend.

However, there appears to be little to worry about where the future of Sherlock is concerned – and that’s news straight from the star himself. In a recent interview with Yahoo UK, ostensibly to talk about his role in the upcoming Star Trek sequel, the actor did have one particularly interesting thing to say about Sherlock. Asked whether his current big screen success means that he might “get too big for Sherlock” in the future, Cumberbatch seems adamant that that will never be the case.

[Spoilers!] The First Trailer for the Downton Abbey Christmas Special is Here

SPOILER WARNING: While this trailer does not directly reveal any spoilers for things that happen during Downton Abbey Series 3, eagle eyed viewers will certainly be able to draw their own conclusions about a couple of key plot twists, just based on some of the things featured in this trailer. If you’re attempting to stay completely spoiler-free until the third series gets under way on January 6, I would strongly advise you to skip this post!

There, with that messy bit out of warning out of the way – let’s talk about the Downton Abbey Christmas special a bit! The special holiday installment is set to screen on December 25 in the UK – though apparently not against the BBC’s Call the Midwife, as many TV talking heads had initially theorized. Here in America, this episode will air as our Series 3 finale (on February 17 if my math is correct), so we’ll still be able to see everything that there is to see by way of new Downton episodes, we’re just going to take a little bit longer to get there. Read on for further details (which are going to live under this handy cut, for safety’s sake.)

Doc Martin Willing to Make a House Call at Downton Abbey?

Since what feels like good seventy percent of actors working today have admitted that they’re secretly dying to get the chance to appear on megahit costume drama Downton Abbey, perhaps this moment was inevitable.

Doc Martin star Martin Clunes apparently recently told the Sun that he’d love to be part of Julian Fellowes’ Edwardian epic and revealed that he’s pestered Fellowes about writing him a role, though obviously his powers of persuasion have yet to be effective.

“Julian is my neighbour. He lives just around the corner and I keep lobbying him but he won’t,” Clunes said. “He knows where I am and what my measurements are, so it wouldn’t be difficult.”

Clunes’ most recent TV role has been as a troubled mayor on ITV’s three-part drama The Town alongside Sherlock’s Andrew Scott. (A project I wish someone would find a way to import to the States!) Filming on the next series of Doc Martin gets underway this spring, so it’s unlikely he’d have time to fit something like Downton Abbey in his schedule anyway – but it’s the sort of wishful thinking/stunt casting that is always fun for fans to speculate about.

In that vein – if you could cast Clunes (or any other popular Brit you prefer) in Downton, where would you put them? If we’re talking about a role for Clunes, specifically, it might be nice to see Mrs. Padmore or Mrs. Hughes finally get themselves a romance in Series 4. As most of you all are probably already tired of hearing deeply aware, I’m avowedly partisan toward Sherlock’s Benedict Cumberbatch, but given his somewhat crowded professional schedule and the media kerfuffle surrounding his comments about Downton Series 2 earlier this year, I doubt I’ll be experiencing that sort of wish fulfillment any time soon (even if he would be the best posh neighbor ever).

Who would be your dream addition to the Downton Abbey cast? And what sort of character would you cast them as?

Amazing Internet Things: The Downton Abbey Meets Breaking Bad Parody You Never Knew You Needed

Downton Abbey is a megahit around the world and, as such, has seeped into our general popular culture in a way that few series from recent years can match. Luckily for us, this generally means that we get a lot of great Downton-themed videos and other bits of fun to enjoy, which can take some of the sting out of the wait between seasons. We’ve had two Downton spoofs from late night host Jimmy Fallon, we’ve taken a trip to Downton Arby’s and rapped about the Dowager Countess. But this incredible mash-up courtesy of Stephen Colbert’s The Colbert Report might actually take the cake as Best Downton Parody of the Year.

Featuring several of the men of Downton Abbey – namely Hugh Bonneville, Jim Carter, and Rob James-Collier – this clip re-imagines the cast of Downton Abbey in the world of AMC’s critically acclaimed drama Breaking Bad. (Breaking Bad tells the story of Walter White, a high school science teacher turned meth dealer and his subsequent spiral into a life of crime.)

In Breaking Abbey, Lord Grantham is now the “tea kingpin of Yorkshire,” having resorted to some apparently quite illicit and shocking activities in order to acquire the money to keep Downton afloat. All handdled with the proper etiquette of course.

WARNING: There is some strong language (even if the worst of it is bleeped) and some potential content issues due to the general themes involved with Breaking Bad. Proceed with serious caution if talk about drugs, drug use or drug running is not exactly your cup of tea.

Roll Up for the Mystery Tour

This is a guest post from Nick Scalera, resident music enthusiast and part-time history buff here on WETA's digital team. He writes more regularly over at Boundary Stones, our local history blog focused on the Washington, DC area.

Magical Mystery Tour, the surrealistic 1967 Beatles TV special shown only in the U.K., will finally premiere on TV in the States — 45 years later, newly restored, in December on PBS stations. The film was originally broadcast in black and white on BBC One on Boxing Day 1967 to a family audience expecting a frothy entertainment in the style of A Hard Day’s Night and Help!. It followed a Petula Clark special and preceded a Norman Wisdom feature film.

While the music itself had been rapturously received in the form of a double EP already high in the U.K. charts, the response to the “film” from TV critics and the majority of the 15 million adult viewers was negative to the point of downright vitriolic. As a result, the film was never nationally broadcast in the U.S. and had only limited distribution elsewhere.

The U.S. telecast will premiere on WETA TV26 & HD, on Dec. 21, at 9:00 pm and will be part of an exclusive double feature, accompanied by a new documentary, Magical Mystery Tour Revisited, featuring the history of the bizarre project, as well as snippets of outtakes.

So, why it this big deal? Read on.

Full Video: Watch the Downton Abbey Cast Dish Series 3 During Their NYC Q&A Panel!

Last night a lot of lucky people in New York City got to attend a special discussion and Q&A panel with the Downton Abbey cast and basically hear all about the drama’s upcoming third series straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak. (No, I am certainly not dying of jealousy or anything. At all.)

Masterpiece executive producer Rebecca Eaton sat down with Downton Abbey stars Hugh Bonneville, Jim Carter, Rob James-Collier, Joanne Froggatt, Sophie McShera, as well as producer Gareth Neame and moderated a panel featuring many questions from a (very excited) audience on a variety of topics. There are a few tidbits here and there about things we can expect to see in Series 3, as well as some very interesting insights into several beloved characters.

New Preview for the Doctor Who 2012 Christmas Special, The Snowmen!

We’re just 12 days out from Christmas but, definitely probably possibly just as importantly, this means that we’re also just 12 days away from the premiere of the Doctor Who Christmas special, The Snowmen!

We got our first sneak peek at the Who holiday installment during the BBC’s annual Children in Need charity telethon, but now the “official” trailer has arrived, which features some new footage and a longer look at our titular Snowmen villains.

The Snowmen will also be our first “official” introduction to new companion Jenna-Louise Coleman who will be attempting to fill the shoes of previous TARDIS residents Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill. If her surprise appearance in Series 7’s Asylum of the Daleks was any indication, she’s going to do better than fine here in her new gig. (I’m still rabidly curious to find out how this new girl Clara Oswin is connected to the Oswin Oswald we met on the Dalek ship, but it’s probably best not to get our hopes up that that is going to be addressed in any meaningful way in the holiday episode.)

All that said – if you ask me just from the roughly two minutes of footage between these two trailers, The Snowmen already looks miles better than The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe from last year. Richard E. Grant looks appropriately evil and villainous – and he’s not even the episode’s biggest guest star. That’s because the Snowmen are being voiced by none other than Sir Ian McKellen! It’s really like Santa is bringing me an episode featuring pretty much every one of my favorite flavors of geek in one big, fabulously nerdy ball. Best present ever! (Well, almost. Throw Benedict Cumberbatch in there, Santa, and I’ll be happy forever. Just so you know!)

Catch up on Downton Abbey in Five Minutes (And Get a New Promo Too)

Series 3 of Downton Abbey is almost upon us! If you need a refresher on the many dramatic twists and turns travelled by the Crawley clan and their loyal gang of downstairs denizens, well, you’re probably not alone.

Between the arrival of a new heir (and his occasionally intolerable mother), Matthew and Mary’s flirtation, Sybil’s brief foray into politics, the battle over Downton’s entail, Edith forever being everyone’s second choice, Mary’s poor choices in men generally (x2), Bates and Anna’s romance, O’Brien’s basic evilness, Thomas’ thievery, Mary’s scandalous reputation, Bates’ weird leg brace, World War I, the arrival of Lavinia Swire: Dating Roadblock, Matthew’s paralysis, the death of Bates’ wife (surprise!), Sybil’s elopement, Daisy and William’s five-minute marriage, Robert’s almost affair with a random housemaid, the Spanish flu, Bates’s trial, Lavinia’s death, Matthew’s second proposal to Mary and approximately 15,879 acidic remarks from the Dowager Countess, well. It’s a lot to keep up with. It’s no surprise if you’ve maybe forgotten a few of the (millions of) details.

Luckily, if you need a quick refresher of the Downton high points before the January 6 premiere – or possibly you’re one of the few people in America who has yet to be completely overcome by Downton mania and want to see what the fuss is about – watch this super fun recap which conveniently fits over sixteen hours of drama, wit and fabulous outfits into a nifty little five minute package.

The News Roundup: Less Than a Month Till Downton Abbey Series 3 Edition

Happy weekend, Telly Visions readers and welcome to being officially under the one month mark in our wait for the Downton Abbey Series 3 premiere! (This just generally seems worth of celebration, don’t you think?)

Alas, however, the weekend’s winding down – wrap up your Sunday night with a look at the lastest from around the world of British entertainment news in this week’s installment of the News Roundup! This week we’ve got bits and bobs from Merlin, Miranda, Downton Abbey, Doctor Who, Red Dwarf, Being Human, the cast of Sherlock and more!

Countdown to Middle Earth: Watch The Colbert Report’s Week-Long Hobbit Tribute

We’re less than a week away from the premiere of Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, which features a large percentage of the British acting population in some role or other, including Sherlock’s Martin Freeman, Sir Ian McKellen, MI-5’s Richard Armitage, Andy Serkis, Being Human’s Aidan Turner and more.

Those of us who are big fans of J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy world of Middle Earth are over the moon at being so close finally getting to return to the world of hobbits, dwarves and wizards after a near ten-year absence. Stephen Colbert, the host of Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report, is also a huge Tolkien enthusiast and featured a week-long tribute to The Hobbit on his show this past week. This included turning his set into a replica of Bag End and reimagining the map of New York, Lord of the Rings style.

Colbert featured four nights of interviews with The Hobbit cast – Freeman, McKellen and Serkis – as well as director Jackson. Watch all four below.

Call the Midwife Set to Return to America for Christmas, Series 2 Premieres in the Spring

Santa is bringing a present a bit early to everyone that loves hit series Call the Midwife! It’s official: the period drama will be back on American televisions much sooner than almost anyone could have imagined, with a special Christmas installment premiering at the end of December and the highly anticipated second series set to bow in the Spring.

The 75-minute Call the Midwife holiday episode is scheduled to air on Christmas Day in the UK and will premiere here in America on Sunday, December 30. This is extremely exciting news, as this means we’ll all only have to avoid reviews and spoilers (and Twitter and Facebook and the internet generally) for a few days before we can see it for ourselves. Huzzah!

In the Christmas special, newly married Chummy (Miranda Hart) and Nurse Jenny Lee (Jessica Raine) are hard at work during their first Christmas in Nonnatus House. As nurses and nuns minister to an abandoned newborn and search for the mother, Jenny tries to find the children of an elderly vagrant and Chummy plans an ambitious nativity play. It looks like another wonderful installment of a series that somehow manages to to exude genuine charm and heart rather than gross sentimentalism (not always a given when dealing with this sort of subject matter).

Furthermore, viewers can look forward to seeing even more of the women of Nonnatus House this Spring, as Series 2 of Call the Midwife will bow at 8pm on Sunday, March 31, just before the Masterpiece premiere of Mr. Selfridge starring Entourage’s Jeremy Piven. (So, there’s yet another bit of quality drama to look forward to in the coming months!) The second series will feature eight episodes (up from Series 1’s six) and the lag time between UK and US transmission is much, much shorter this time around. A positive trend? Let us hope so! More information about Series 2 should start surfacing over the next few weeks as UK promotion gets under way. Check out the first PBS promo for the holiday special below and let us know what you think!


Amazing Internet Things: Listen to “I’m Gonna Spend My Christmas with a Dalek"

Yes, this is a real thing. It’s a bit hard to believe – and yet, it’s pretty awesome that it even exists, because it's possibly the kitschiest piece of music ever made. (It's almost up there with the whole Leonard Nimoy "Ballad of Bilbo Baggins" thing, if you ask me. Though it lacks the star power.)

In 1964, a band from Newcastle called The Go-Go’s – most definitely not the same group as the American all-girl band famous for hits like Vacation and We Got the Beat – recorded one song. This song was a Christmas ditty meant to capitalize on the popularity of Doctor Who’s now infamous enemy, the Daleks, who were apparently quite the thing at that time. (Remember, the show had only premiered the year before!)

I’m Gonna Spend My Christmas with a Dalek is completely silly, and not even a particularly good song, but the lyrics are hilarious, complete with a representation of Daleks that is off base enough to make one wonder if any of the band members ever actually watched Doctor Who. Take a listen for yourself!

The Downton Abbey Rumor Mill: Whither, Dan Stevens?

It’s been kind of a rough couple weeks for British television lovers everywhere. First Merlin gets cancelled, then Sherlock Series 3 filming gets pushed back and now there’s a very unsettling rumor going around (again) about everyone’s favorite costume drama Downton Abbey.

Americans everywhere are eagerly awaiting the premiere of Series 3 in the States in just about a month and the news that Series 4 has already been commissioned by ITV has been greeted with widespread excitement worldwide. Therefore, it’s extra hard to contemplate this particular rumor, which is a bit on the upsetting side. Take this with a gigantic grain of salt considering the source, but the Sunday Express has reported that Downton leading man Dan Stevens will not be returning for Series 4. (Warning: there are major Series 3 spoilers in that Express article, so tread carefully if you want to read more over there.)

The charismatic actor, who plays Matthew Crawley, is extremely popular with fans and one-half of the show’s central romantic relationship, opposite Michelle Dockery’s Lady Mary. The Express quotes a source as saying, "Dan Stevens isn’t returning to the series. He will probably do the first episode of the fourth series, but that will be it."

Um. What?

Well, first of all fellow Downton obsessives, let’s take a deep breath. There’s every reason to hope that this story isn’t actually something that will come to pass. I’ve gone on at some length before about the fact that the Express is not the most trustworthy of sources given their extreme reliance on citing seemingly random and unnamed “production sources,” so there’s every possibility that this story isn’t true. (Yes, this rumor has basically run everywhere, in every kind of entertainment publication over the past week. But those stories all track back to the Express as the initial source.) ITV has yet to issue any sort of statement or confirm or deny this report. All we have to go on are these “unnamed sources” who could realistically be anyone at all.

But…what if it is true? Can Downton Abbey survive without one of its biggest leading men? And, more importantly, would people still tune in? There are a lot of possibilities/issues to address on this topic, so bear with me and let’s hash it out.

J.K. Rowling Novel The Casual Vacancy to Get BBC Adaptation

While it’s still a bit strange to talk about news involving J.K. Rowling that isn’t tied to boy wizards or Quidditch, fans of the Harry Potter author will be pleased to know that her latest novel (and first for adults) The Casual Vacancy will be adapted for television by the BBC and broadcast in 2014.

Little is known at this juncture about what a Casual Vacancy series will look like – things like number and length of episodes are apparently going to be sorted out along the way as the development process gets going. Rowling is said to be “consulting closely” with the BBC on the upcoming adaptation, so odds that it will remain fairly faithful to the novel are high.

"I’m thrilled that the BBC has commissioned 'The Casual Vacancy,'" Rowling said in a statement. "I always felt that, if it were to be adapted, this novel was best suited to television and I think the BBC is the perfect home."

The Casual Vacancy is a social satire centered on a local election following a sudden death in the small English town of Pagford The novel received mixed reviews upon its release last Fall, but was an instant global best seller nevertheless. Personally, I’ve not read it yet, but it’s on my list of things to get to at some point. (Got reviews? Tell me!)

There are no plans as yet to currently air The Casual Vacancy in the United States as yet, but thanks to the sheer size of author’s fanbase, it would seem a fairly safe bet that we’ll see this series here at some point in the future.

Royal Ramblings: William and Kate are Having a Baby and Basically the Entire World is Excited

As you’ve probably already heard multiple times so far today (my Facebook feed certainly appears overrun with this news), their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have officially announced that they’re expecting a baby!

St. James’s Palace confirmed the news this morning – and you can see the official statement from Clarence House here. They further explained that part of the reason for the relatively rushed announcement is that the Duchess is suffering from Hyperemesis Gravidarum (acute morning sickness) and had to be admitted to King Edward VII Hospital in London where she’s expected to stay and rest for a few days.

The royal baby will be third in line for the British throne, after Prince Charles and Prince William. Thanks to some proposed radical changes to the current rules of the monarchy and its practice of primogeniture, the sex of the baby will not determine whether he or she wears the crown. (Also: that’s awesome.)

The people of England (and the world, really) are already celebrating the impending arrival of a royal heir, including myself and what appears to be nearly every person I know and interact with in any capacity on the internet. Why are we all – especially us Americans – so excited about the expansion of the British Royal Family?

News Roundup: Welcome to December Edition

Happy weekend, Telly Visions readers! Somehow it’s suddenly become December – how on earth did that happen so fast? We’re counting down to the end of 2012, but luckily, we’re also getting every closer to several very awesome things – most notably the premiere of Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit, the US debut of Downton Abbey Series 3 and the start of Cabin Pressure Series 4 (all of which rank very highly on my list of things I’d like Santa to bring me a little bit more quickly than usual, if he has no objections).

So, wind down from the start of holiday preparations with a Sunday night read through the latest tidbits from around the world of British entertainment in our News Roundup. Click through for bits and bobs on Doctor Who, Skins, Blackadder, Red Dwarf, Downton Abbey, The Hour, Luther and more.