July 2013

'Sherlock' Star Benedict Cumberbatch as Julian Assange in First Trailer for 'The Fifth Estate'

Ever since the news broke that Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch had signed on to play the infamous Julian Assange in a major film for Dreamworks, fans the world over have been desperate to see what the final product would look like. Well, now we can get our first look – the trailer for That WikiLeaks Movie is finally here!

Called The Fifth Estate, the film tells the story of WikiLeaks founder Assange and the 2006 launch of the controversial website, which was ostensibly meant to hold governments accountable for their actions by providing the public with access to confidential intelligence documents. Assange remains a polarizing figure today for a variety of reasons and is currently still living in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, in order to avoid extradition orders from both Sweden and the United States.

Despite the (admittedly a bit creepy) blonde wig, it’s clear Cumberbatch has spent some time watching videos of Assange giving speeches, because he has so many of his mannerisms down pat. This already appears to be a frighteningly uncanny portrayal.

Get your first look at the official trailer for The Fifth Estate below:

British Actors You Should Know: Ben Whishaw

Welcome to the second installment in our series on some of our favorite British actors and actresses. You all totally thought I was going to do a Benedict Cumberbatch one first, didn’t you? Don’t worry. We’ll get there. You know it.

British television is often full of what one might term “Hey, It’s That Guy!” actors and actresses – performers you’ve seen probably a dozen times, but maybe aren’t quite sure who they are or where you’ve seen them before. While actor Ben Whishaw’s professional star is rising rapidly, thanks to a couple of recent very high-profile roles (thanks lots, James Bond!), he probably falls under that category for a many of you. But he shouldn’t, because he is the real deal.

Frequently referred to as one of the best British actors of his generation by various members of the press, Whishaw has been nominated for multiple awards for his various performances on stage and screen, and is generally just amazing.

Why? Read on.

'Sherlock’s' Series 3 Villain Revealed

Filming on the final episode of Sherlock Series 3 is officially under way this week and, subsequently, tantalizing bits of new information about the upcoming season have started to surface. With the departure of Andrew Scott’s nefarious Moriarty after the, um, rather dramatic events of the Series 2 finale, everyone’s been waiting to see who Sherlock Holmes’ next great nemesis might turn out to be. There are several intriguing bad guys littered throughout Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s works who, while not necessarily as well known as Moriarty, would nevertheless be fun to see face off against Sherlock and John. And now we know – Lars Mikkelsen has officially joined the Series 3 cast as new villain Charles Augustus Magnussen.

Fans might recognize Mikkelsen from his work on the original Danish version of The Killing (called Forbrydelsen) and it turns out he’s the real-life older brother of another TV bad guy you might be familiar with – Mads Mikkelsen, who is currently starring as Dr. Hannibal Lecter on NBC’s Hannibal. (Just imagine the potential crossovers now...)

But what does this casting mean? Let’s talk about it.

First Look: PBS Preview for Shakespeare Series 'The Hollow Crown'

The highly anticipated Shakespeare mini-series The Hollow Crown will finally air in America this Fall as part of PBS’s Great Performances series – and given the response online to the announcement of the series’ premiere date, a lot of people are pretty excited to get their Bard on. (No judgment, I am too.)

The star-studded quartet of films adapts four of Shakespeare’s most famous history plays – Richard II, Henry IV Part One, Henry IV Part Two and Henry V – as single chronological narrative, telling the story of the rise and fall of a dynasty. The series, which stars many notable British actors including Ben Whishaw, Jeremy Irons, Tom Hiddleston, Patrick Stewart, Rory Kinnear, Michelle Dockery, David Suchet, Simon Russell Beale and more, will run weekly on Friday nights beginning September 20.

Watch the first PBS preview for The Hollow Crown below – plus an extra bonus clip featuring BAFTA-winning actor Whishaw performing the deposition monologue from Richard II.

Meet 'Moone Boy'

Martin Paul Kenny Dalglish Moone is a twelve year old boy who lives in Boyle, Ireland with his parents and a trio of older sisters. He has many of the same problems as most boys his age – the inevitable confusion of puberty, bullies at school, sibling tiffs. He also has a youthful naivety, a love of drawing and a vivid imagination.

This is the premise of Moone Boy, a sitcom I just finished watching this weekend. Originally broadcast in the UK on Sky1 last fall, the entire series is currently available in the States on Hulu – new episodes go up every Wednesday, or if you have Hulu Plus, you can stream the full series right now.

If you’re a fan of Chris O’Dowd, he is not only the co-writer and co-star but his childhood is the subject of this delightful semi-autobiographical series. If you’re partial to slightly surreal, coming of age comedy, you don’t need my encouragement. You’ve probably already watched it anyway.

But if you’re not sure if Moone Boy is for you, allow me to illustrate some if its more unique points.

Watch: The First Trailer for '12 Years a Slave' Features Some Recognizable British Faces

Director Steve McQueen’s highly anticipated adaptation of 12 Years a Slave has been much-discussed since it went into production last year – and you can now get your first look at this gritty historical drama.

This film seems like a surefire awards season contender, with its high-end behind-the-scenes pedigree (McQueen made quite a splash with Shame a couple years ago and Brad Pitt is a producer) and star-studded cast that includes several recognizable British performers. The ensemble cast features Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, Alfre Woodard, Michael K. Williams, Quvenzhané Wallis and more, including Pitt himself as a Canadian abolitionist.

Watch the first trailer below.

Go Behind the Scenes with 'Sherlock' Star Benedict Cumberbatch on 'Top Gear'

To the general joy of the majority of the internet, the currently ubiquitous Benedict Cumberbatch has now joined another beloved British television institution – Top Gear. The Sherlock star recently appeared on mega-popular driving series as the Star in a Reasonably-Priced Car and did a lap of the Top Gear race track in this year’s vehicle: a 1.6 Tech Line Vauxhall Astra. (And, really, if he can pilot a starship, the whole car thing should be a cakewalk, yes?)Let's just be honest: we all knew this was appearance going to be amazing, because there are just so many elements combining here that the formation of a virtual Voltron of Top Gear Awesomeness was pretty inevitable. But, basically, the entire thing is actually just as awesome as you could have ever hoped. .

Why You Should Still Be Watching Being Human

The end is nigh. The fifth and final series of Being Human is currently being broadcast on BBC America and only four episodes remain in this saga which tells the story of a unique threesome of housemates.

In the beginning there was George, a bewildered werewolf; Mitchell, the tortured vampire who befriends him; and Annie, the lonely ghost whose house in Bristol George and Mitchell find to let. After a bit of adjustment, these three paranormal black sheep learned to support and encourage one another in their attempts to “be (more) human.” However, at the end of Series 3 the trio starts to fall apart quickly. First we see the departure of desperate, defeated vampire John Mitchell. Actor Aidan Turner had to go off to Middle Earth to play a dwarf for a few years so his exit came as no surprise. Then, right on the heels of Mitchell’s sad end, besieged werewolf George sacrificed his life in the first episode of Series 4 because Russell Tovey had decided to explore other options as an actor. Fans were left wondering whether Annie’s (Leonora Critchlow) ghostly antics alone would be enough of a reason to continue watching the show.

If this was the case for you, I’d like to take this opportunity to convince you to stick with the series because I feel it accomplishes one of the best cast turn-overs I’ve ever seen. While it’s very clear the trinity of a werewolf, ghost and vampire is fundamental to the show, the writers didn’t just substitute impersonators - the same supernatural with a different face. They created characters that were unique and interesting in their own right and, I felt, worthy of my time. Let’s compare and contrast, shall we?

Sherlock Update: Comic Con Panel, Cast Messages and An Episode 3 Title

Note: Yes, I am back from the wonderful world of San Diego! Let me know what I missed while I was gone.

One of the highlights of Comic Con International this year was the first ever panel for super popular mystery series Sherlock – in what, incidentally, was also PBS’s first appearance at the forty-some-year-old convention. The Sherlock panel was – next to perhaps only the 20th anniversary celebration for The X-Files – the convention’s most popular panel that Thursday, with many fans reporting that they camped out for twelve hours or more for a chance to be in the room and see this event.

The panel was moderated by Entertainment Weekly writer James Hibberd, and featured co-creators Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, as well as producer Sue Vertue. Moffat, Gatiss and Vertue spent an hour regaling fans with set stories, discussing Series 3 and taking question from the audience. Want some highlights and a clip or two? Read on.

Telly Visions is Heading to Comic Con 2013!

Bear with us if things are a bit quiet around the blog this week – we’ll be back up and running at full strength next week.

Besides an unexpected personal issue that’s kept me off the internet for the past few days (I lost a beloved pet), I’m off to San Diego Comic Con International for the weekend, land of costumes, geeks and general merriment.

While I’m technically going for fun once again this year (and with the hopes that it’ll take my mind off things to be quite honest), there’s no reason that I still can’t report back to everyone about all the relevant and exciting Brit-related news from this year’s convention. Sherlock is slated to make its first ever Comic Con appearance, Doctor Who will be having a celebratory 50th anniversary panel, and there are multiple other panels featuring a variety of British talent. (I may also be supposed to dress up like a TARDIS. There will probably be pictures.)

Expect a full report next week, but in the meantime make sure you're following the blog on Twitter, because if I manage to see or do anything exceptionally aweseome, that's likely where you'll see it first.

Worlds Colliding: Sherlock Star Benedict Cumberbatch To Be On Top Gear

If he can drive a starship, then a car ought to be pretty easy, right? Yes, that sound you hear reverberating around the internet is British TV fans of all sorts shrieking with glee – Sherlock and Star Trek star Benedict Cumberbatch is going to be on Top Gear. Really.

The actor will be the infamous Star in a Reasonably-Priced Car and, as such, will have to do a lap of the Top Gear race track in this year’s car: a 1.6 Tech Line Vauxhall Astra. (This segment is absolutely the best part of Top Gear, by the way, for the approximately six of you out there who’ve never seen the show.) There will also be a bit of a - probably pretty silly - interview to go along with the racing thing. All in all, it promises to be an excellent show, don't you think?

BBC Adaptation of The Lady Vanishes to Air on Masterpiece This August

More good news for mystery fans this summer: BBC One’s recent one-off film The Lady Vanishes will be coming to Masterpiece Mystery in August. This 90 minute drama is a new adaptation of the classic thriller, made famous by Alfred Hitchcock’s 1938 film and based on Ethel Lina White’s classic 1936 novel The Wheel Spins.

In this version, The Spies of Warsaw’s Tuppence Middleton plays Iris Carr, a young socialite who suspects foul play after a woman she befriends on a train journey home disappears and her fellow passengers deny she ever existed. Upstairs DownstairsKeeley Hawes, MI-5’s Gemma Jones, Silk’s Tom Hughes and Doc Martin’s Stephanie Cole and Selina Cadell are all part of the all-star cast.

Watch the BBC trailer for The Lady Vanishes below:

This is a Real Thing: Giant Colin Firth Currently Hanging Out in Hyde Park’s Serpentine Lake

This is one of those things that feels like it ought to be too incredible – or just flat out too weird – to be true. And yet, it actually exists, in a perfect storm of awesomeness with just a dash of crazy mixed in. In short: There’s a giant sculpture of Colin Firth coming out of Hyde Park’s Serpentine Lake in London, basically like Godzilla, except considerably more attractive.

The twelve foot sculpture has been created to mark the launch of new UKTV channel Drama and recreates the famous scene from the 1995 BBC adaptation in which Firth’s Mr. Darcy emerges from a lake, clad in a white shirt and breeches, to meet Elizabeth Bennett and made women across the globe swoon. It was voted the most memorable moment in British TV drama, hence the creation of the sculpture, which is the height of a double decker bus. Click through for more details.


Ten Film Adaptations of Shakespeare You Should Watch

Director Joss Whedon’s new ultra modern, black and white adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing has arrived in theaters – both here in DC and all over the country - and suddenly everyone in town seems to be besotted with the Bard.

To celebrate, this seems like a perfect time to talk about that most famous of British writers and the many great film versions of his work that are out there. Some are great, some are good, some are…a bit on the strange side, but nevertheless still a fantastic example of the many different ways that Shakespeare’s work can be interpreted hundreds of years after his death, and how his stories and characters still resonate with modern audiences.

Here are ten Shakespearean film adaptations that are worth watching – take a look and tell us what you think got left off the list in the comments.

Sherlock is Going to Comic-Con; US Premiere of Series 3 Set for 2014

It’s official – PBS will take its first ever trip to San Diego Comic-Con International in a couple of weeks. Popular series Sherlock will host its first panel at the gigantic fan convention, and fans everywhere are already hoping that we’ll finally get some real information about the its highly anticipated third season.

The panel will include co-creators Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, along with producer Sue Vertue, and will be hosted by Entertainment Weekly writer James Hibberd. Sadly, neither Benedict Cumberbatch nor Martin Freeman will be in attendance, what with both of them working on other projects during the ten week break from filming on Sherlock Series 3.

While we’ll all obviously miss seeing Cumberbatch and Freeman (you can already hear the fangirl wails from San Diego), it should be still be very exciting to (finally) hear a bit about Series 3 straight from the proverbial horses’ mouths. And, if we’re very lucky, maybe we’ll get a peek at some new footage? Two of the three new episodes are finished filming after all.

First Look at Fleming: The Man Who Would Be Bond with Dominic Cooper and Sherlock's Lara Pulver!

The first teaser snippet for upcoming drama Fleming: The Man Who Would Be Bond has officially arrived – and offers a tantalizing, but incredibly brief look at the upcoming miniseries focused on the life of James Bond author Ian Fleming.

The four-part series, which is a co-production from Sky Atlantic and BBC America, is set to explore the life of the 007 scribe, which was as dramatic as any Bond film. Before he was an author Fleming himself was a spy and notorious playboy, and these experiences provided much of his inspiration for Bond. Get more details and watch the teaser trailer below.

British Actor Rhys Ifans to Play Elementary’s Mycroft Holmes

CBS’s Sherlock Holmes adaptation Elementary continues its streak of making incredibly interesting casting choices for secondary roles – decisions that are just intriguing enough to make you come back to the show again and again even its actual stories are maybe not everything you might wish. (This is at least where I am with the series – I know many people love it and many can’t stand it. So clearly, your mileage may vary greatly with this particular crime drama.)

They really are pretty good at pulling you back in right when think you’re out though. Well done, show.

Elementary, which stars Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu as Holmes and Watson, also seems to pride itself on its non-traditional casting and character decisions. Besides making Watson a woman, the show features a transgender Mrs. Hudson and cast Game of Thrones star Natalie Dormer as Irene Adler at the end of last season only to turn around and make her Moriarty by the finale. Now another British actor will be joining the mix – Rhys Ifans is set to play Sherlock’s older brother Mycroft Holmes when the show returns for its second season this Fall. And what kind of twist we might expect on this particular canon character is anyone’s guess.