“Upstairs Downstairs” Remake Won’t Get a Third Series

The BBC has decided to close the doors at 165 Eaton Place for good, as it’s been officially announced that Upstairs Downstairs will not return for a third series. The period drama, which aired the final episode of its second series in the UK last month, struggled with low ratings and behind-the scenes setbacks.

Unfortunately, despite the popularity of the original Upstairs Downstairs series, the new residents of Eaton Place never really made it out of the shadow of ITV ratings behemoth Downton Abbey, which more than doubled the BBC drama’s numbers. The shows aired close to one another and their similar settings and lovely Edwardian dress made it nearly impossible for viewers (and critics) to avoid comparing the two. In fact, the British press seemed to have something of a field day comparing the series’ ratings – in the UK, the two air on different networks. Audience numbers for Upstairs Downstairs declined steadily during its six week run, despite the addition of Doctor Who star Alex Kingston to the cast and several attempts to spice up the plot with more “controversial” storylines.

Upstairs Downstairs’ first series – though only three episodes long – was generally deemed a success. But then Dame Eileen Atkins quit the series last summer, citing her dissatisfaction with the scripts, and co-creator Jean Marsh suffered a stroke that forced her to scale back her involvement in the production. It could be argued that the series likely never recovered its footing after these events and may have lost its way a bit.

It’s a shame – while if I had to choose a side in the Period Drama Wars, I would have to say that I generally preferred the Crawleys, but I would also argue that Upstairs Downstairs had quite a lot to recommend it, including more balanced pacing. It’s unfortunate that apparently there can only be one left standing in this costume drama fight to the death, because I would have happily continued to make room for them both on my viewing schedule.

Americans will still get the chance to see Upstairs Downstairs Series 2 for themselves; its final set of six episodes is slated to premiere on Masterpiece this Fall.

Coming Soon to WETA UK: Doctor Who

Continuing along with our series of little mini-introductions to some of the great programming you can expect to see on WETA UK, let’s talk about my all-time personal favorite television series of anything that has ever aired, ever. Which we are airing. Which I plan to campaign extensively to convince you all to try. (Fair warning. Just so you know.)

It’s a little science fiction program you might have heard of at some point or other. It's a show about an alien, some humans, a blue police box and their adventures in time and space called Doctor Who.

Click through for a brief (I promise) intro and a fantastic fan-made trailer that will help give those of you who’ve never seen this show a better idea of what it’s about.

BAFTA TV Nominations Announced: Is This Bizarre To Anyone Else?

Nominations for the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTAs) TV Awards were announced this morning and, quite frankly, the list features some truly bizarre omissions that slightly mar what was, otherwise, a stunningly good year for British TV.

Leading the field with four nominations is Appropriate Adult, the ITV mini-series based on the life of serial killer Fred West, starring Dominic West and Emily Watson. The drama received nods in the Best Mini-Series, Leading Actor (West), Leading Actress (Watson) and Supporting Actress (the fabulous Monica Dolan) categories.

The second series of Sherlock was close behind, with three nominations – Benedict Cumberbatch will compete in the Leading Actor category, while Martin Freeman and Andrew Scott face off against each other in the Supporting Actor arena. This is England '88 also received three nods - tying Sherlock for the second most nominations this year.

But, perhaps the biggest surprises of the morning are the nominations that didn’t happen. Sherlock, the winner of last year’s Best Drama Series prize, snagged multiple acting nods this time out, but is conspicuously absent from the Best Mini-Series competition, in a move that seems, well, crazy. This likely had something to do with the ridiculous internal reorganization the BAFTAs underwent this year, creating Golden Globes-esque separate categories for Best “Mini-Series” (2-5 episodes) and Best “Series” (6-19 episodes). Yet, whatever the reason, the omission is jarring, given the overall superb quality of Sherlock’s second series.

In other surprise non-nominations, international smash Downton Abbey received exactly one nod for its second series, for Dame Maggie Smith in the Supporting Actress category. While I’m as willing as anyone to admit that perhaps Downton’s sophomore effort did not quite live up to the brilliance of its first series, even sub-par Downton is as entertaining and generally moving as anything on television and, judging by the chatter online, has to have been better than the final series of Spooks/MI-5.

Click through for a look at the full list of nominations, and leave us your thoughts on all this in the comments. The awards ceremony is scheduled for May 27.

Coming Soon to WETA UK: Life on Mars

The most fantastic part about WETA UK coming to a TV near you very soon is that fact that there’s so much great programming in the line-up, I’m actually a bit spoiled for choice in terms of what to talk about first.

There’ll be many series-specific posts about WETA UK programs coming up here at Telly Visions over the next few weeks, mini series introductions like this one, as well as general why-you-should-watch-this campaigns for some of my personal favorites. Some of these programs have aired on WETA at some point in the past, some have not, but they're all great television and I hope everyone will find something to get excited about as we go along.

In the meantime, click through for our first series mini-introduction – get the basic details and take look at some footage from the fantastic drama Life on Mars!

Watch a Scene from “Birdsong,” Airing Tonight on Masterpiece!

Premiering tonight on Masterpiece Classic, watch Part One of Birdsong, an adaptation of Sebastian Faulkes’ best-selling novel of the same name.

Eddie Redmayne (My Week with Maryiln, The Pillars of the Earth) and Clémence Poésy (Harry Potter, In Bruges) star in this World War I drama, which tells the story of Stephen Wraysford's all-consuming love affair with Isabelle Azaire and the enduring effect their relationship has on him as he fights in the trenches.

Click through for a sneak peek at a scene from Birdsong and get a feel for the film before you tune in tonight!

The Great Doc Martin (Re)Watch Continues – Series 4, Episodes 5 and 6!

The great Doc Martin viewing marathon continues here at Telly Visions – and we’re just one week from the Series 5 premiere! One week! And I’m so close to being all caught up! I feel all sorts of accomplished, you guys.

Anyway, we continue on with Series 4 this week, with “The Departed” and “Midwife Crisis.” These two episodes, while problematic in ways mostly pertaining to Martin and Louisa and the general feeling that their storyline just seems to have stalled emotionally, were actually very entertaining. And, while one did (once again) feature some more obnoxious and uncomfortable presentations of gender issues, it wasn’t nearly so rage inducing as “Driving Mr. McLynn” from last week. Maybe I’m just feeling kinder because I’m so close to completely the rewatch, I don’t know. But at least these episodes felt fun for the most part, even when heavier plots were featured.

Anyway, onward! Click through and come chat with me about the next two episodes in our rewatch, and feel free to leave your thoughts, favorite moments, funny lines, general rants, whatever, in the comments.

Sherlock Series 2 is Almost Here – So Watch Another New Masterpiece Promo!

FYI, the Friday News Roundup will return next week with a special double edition. With all this WETA UK excitement around here, it’s…possible that I am completely the tiniest bit behind on my news reading. Thanks for understanding, folks!

We’re just 16 days away from the Series 2 premiere of Sherlock on Masterpiece Mystery! That's like two weeks! Practically nothing! (You can all expect the use of exclamation points and all caps around here to increase in direct proportion to how close we are to these epiosodes airing. You have been warned.)

Anyone want to see another new promo for the upcoming (amazing) episodes? Obviously. So, click through and have a look at the second official Masterpiece trailer, just released last week.

Announcing WETA UK: Bringing You The Best in British Programming 24 Hours a Day

We’re very proud to share some extremely exciting news here today– starting June 2, WETA Television will be launching WETA UK, an innovative channel devoted to presenting British television programming at its best, around the clock, seven days a week. The new, local channel will feature classics, new favorites, and contemporary series currently airing in Britain.

“British programming has long proven popular with our audience on our principal channel, WETA TV 26,” said Kevin Harris, vice president and television station manager of WETA. “WETA UK will offer television viewers throughout Greater Washington the opportunity to watch even more of the British drama and comedy that they enjoy. The channel will be a nice complement to our existing television services: WETA TV 26, WETA Kids and WETA HD.”

WETA UK will present a full schedule of great British programming options – from dramas, to comedies, to mysteries, to science fiction series. The channel will be a top destination for viewers seeking the finest television offerings — from an array of major U.K. producers — including classics from the BBC.

WETA UK will be available free over the air on Channel 26.2 in Greater Washington. On subscription services, the channel can be found on Comcast 265, Cox 800, FiOS 474 and RCN 39. There will be reminders about all this technical stuff when we get a bit closer to launch. :)

I can barely express how excited I am for the launch of this new channel and all the amazing programs we’ll get to watch together. My personal all-time favorite television series ever – the sci-fi hit Doctor Who – will be among the programs in our initial line-up, alongside other television gems, both classic and contemporary.

Settle in for the next few weeks – we’ll be featuring regular updates and profiles of shows you can expect to see on WETA UK, along with a few long-winded diatribes from me about my particular favorites among this lot.

Today, just celebrate with us and our big news! But let us know - are you excited about the upcoming WETA UK channel? What would you most like to see on it, program-wise, in the future?

David Tennant to Star in BBC America’s World War II Mini-Series “The Spies of Warsaw”

It’s David Tennant’s birthday today, so this post seems particularly appropriate. Happy Birthday, Doctor!

Former Doctor Who star David Tennant is set to star in BBC America’s newest co-production, The Spies of Warsaw. Based on the Alan Furst novel of the same name, the four-part miniseries is set in Poland, Paris, London and Berlin in the years leading up to World War II, as German and French intelligence officers are locked in a life and death struggle in the espionage arena.

The former Tenth Doctor will play Col. Jean-Francois Mercier, a decorated hero of the first World War who is “drawn into a world of betrayal and intrigue in the diplomatic salons and back alleys of Warsaw" while serving as a military attaché at the French embassy. Janet Montgomery (Entourage, Black Swan) will co-star as Anna, a Parisian lawyer for the League of Nations, with whom Mercier has a passionate affair.

Other members of the frankly stellar-looking ensemble cast include Torchwood’s Burn Gorman, The Hour’s Anton Lesser and The Bourne Ultimatum’s Dan Fredenburgh and White Heat’s Richard Lintern among many others.

Filming is slated to begin in Poland next month. No word yet on an airdate either in the UK or here in the States, but the miniseries is slated to premiere as part of BBC America’s Wednesday night Dramaville block when it arrives.

I’m tremendously fond of Tennant (loved loved loved his Doctor) and have missed seeing him on my television screen the past couple of years. So, I’m extra pleased that this latest project of his will be airing here in America, as I don’t think his last one (Single Father) ever did. Very exciting news! Anyone else out there big Tennant fans? Are you looking forward to seeing him in a different sort of role?

Source: BBC America

Watch the First Masterpiece Promo for “Birdsong,” Premiering April 22!

Coming this weekend to Masterpiece Classic, watch the BBC’s adaptation of Sebastian Faulkes’ best-selling novel Birdsong.

Eddie Redmayne (My Week with Maryiln, The Pillars of the Earth) and Clémence Poésy (Harry Potter, In Bruges) star in this World War I drama, which tells the story of Stephen Wraysford's all-consuming love affair with Isabelle Azaire and the enduring effect their relationship has on him as he fights in the trenches.

The film is written by Abi Morgan, who also penned the recent critically acclaimed cinematic hits The Iron Lady and Shame. Birdsong premieres on April 22nd at 9pm.

Click through and take a look at the first Masterpiece promo for yourself. Get ready for angst and longing looks!

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