Britwatch

Britwatch: Benedict Cumberbatch, Also Taking Over Your Radio Apparently

Not content with merely dominating the feature film market in 2013, Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch basically wants to ensure that you are incapable of avoiding him on any entertainment platform for the next year. (This is totally okay with most of us, I assume? Thought so.)

Anyway, not content to merely star in Sherlock and make several blockbusters (Star Trek: Into the Darkness, The Hobbit) and likely award-winners (August: Osage County, Twelve Years a Slave, that WikiLeaks movie that doesn’t have a name yet) all set for release next year, Cumberbatch is also busily lending his distinctive voice to multiple radio/audio projects this winter.

The best part? Unlike television shows, American audiences can generally listen in to BBC radio programs with no problems, either on the BBC sites themselves or with an online app such as Tunein Radio.

Britwatch: Benedict Cumberbatch to Star in Biopic of Beatles Manager

A mini-Sherlock reunion is coming soon to multiplexes around the world, as star Benedict Cumberbatch is set to team up with the series' main director Paul McGuigan on a biography of iconic Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein.

Epstein, who managed the band from 1961-1967 had a colorful personal life. He was a closet homosexual, suffered from a gambling addiction and died from a drug overdose. (So, you know, if anyone was concerned about Cumberbatch possibly playing an upbeat or happy role ever then, hey, crisis averted.) According to The Hollywood Reporter, producers describe the film as the story of a “man who threw the biggest party of the 1960s but ultimately forgot to invite himself.”

Cumberbatch seems to have a knack for playing real people - he’s already done Stephen Hawking and William Pitt and is rumored to be lined up for a crack at Julian Assange – so I expect this, as everything else he generally does, will be pretty flawless. If Sherlock is the only directorial work of McGuigan’s you’ve seen, I’d recommend at least checking out Gangster No. 1 – which, incidentally, is also set in the 1960s and shows off how skillful McGuigan is at both creating an atmosphere and just generally being interesting in the way he frames his shots.

Awkwardly, this particular Epstein film doesn’t have the rights to actually use any Beatles songs. (There’s another similarly themed biopic in the works, only that one’s being produced by Sony, which owns the Lenon/McCartney catalogue.) But, hey, in my opinion, Cumberbatch in the lead role makes up for a lot of shortcomings and if the movie isn’t actually about the band, do we really need to hear She Loves You for the millionth time? Surely not.

Britwatch: Torchwood’s John Barrowman Joins the Cast of the CW’s Arrow

Shame on me for not sharing this particular bit of news last week! The one and only John Barrowman – most famous for playing the amazing Captain Jack Harkness on both Doctor Who and Torchwood – will be joining the cast of upcoming CW superhero drama Arrow.

While I am somewhat ashamed (alarmed?) to find myself encouraging others to watch programming on the CW (which, total hypocrite alert, because I do love some Supernatural), I’ve heard lots of good things about Arrow. I skipped this particular panel at Comic Con back in July, but my roommate went and raved about this show for two days afterward. So, that seems promising, at least.

Arrow is an adaptation of DC Comics character Green Arrow, and apparently this particular version is supposed to be short on camp and heavy on actual seriousness and drama. Barrowman has signed on for a recurring guest role in the freshman drama’s first season, and, per Entertainment Weekly, producers are keeping pretty mum about who is character is supposed to be. Word on the street is that Barrowman will play a “well dressed,” “mysterious” and “wealthy” man who is “an acquaintance of the Queen family and a prominent figure in Starling City.” I know next to nothing about Green Arrow, as apparently I am more of a Marvel girl these days, but that description certainly screams villain to me. Anyone with more knowledge of this universe care to take a guess?

Truthfully, I would be more excited if this news were that Torchwood were coming back for another season (and that Miracle Day had somehow never existed because it was terrible), it’s still great to see Barrowman getting more work in the US because he’s fantastic and deserves to be a big star here. So, here’s hoping “recurring” becomes “regular” pretty quickly.

Britwatch: You're Probably Going to Like the Guest Star in Tonight's Miss Marple Mystery

One of the best things about British actors is their tendency to just pop up everywhere: in any sort of role, seemingly at random, as part of a show you never would have expected.

So, with that in mind, let me encourage you to tune-in tonight for the WETA Mystery at 10pm. We're airing Miss Marple's "Murder is Easy" and I think a lot of you - especially if you're Sherlock fans - are probably going to get a kick out of the guest star. (I didn't even know he was in a Miss Marple mystery? I am such a bad fan!)

Britwatch: Sherlock’s Benedict Cumberbatch and Doctor Who’s Noel Clarke Join Cast of Star Trek 2

J.J. Abrams’ upcoming Star Trek sequel just got a lot more interesting for Anglophiles. According to industry mag Variety, Benedict Cumberbatch and Noel Clarke have been cast in two significant roles, joining fellow Brits Simon Pegg and Alice Eve.

Fresh off his recent film appearances in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and War Horse, Cumberbatch is apparently trading in his Sherlock coat for a black hat, as he will be playing the sequel’s main villain. Nothing further on who or what that villain may be (and how entertaniing is it that we actually have to add in the “what” here, as he could be playing any variety of alien, I suppose?), though if you’re interested in a good bit of incredibly detailed speculation, the internet is more than happy to provide that sort of thing for you.

Clarke is probably best known for his role as Mickey Smith, the boyfriend to Billie Piper's Rose Tyler on Doctor Who, though he has written, directed and starteseveral films (Kidulthood and Adulthood) since his time in the TARDIS. No word yet on what character he will be playing for Abrams’ film, though Variety reports the role is a “family man.” (I don’t know enough about the Star Trek world to hazard a guess, unfortunately!)

The Trek sequel is slated for release on May 17, 2013. And writing it out like that makes it seem very far away indeed, doesn’t it?

Britwatch: Catherine Tate to Return to The Office

Doctor Who alum and fantastic funny lady Catherine Tate is set to return to NBC’sThe Office this season.

Tate, who appeared briefly on the series last May, will return as Nellie Bertram, one of the candidates who interviewed to replace Michael Scott. If you didn’t catch her original appearance back when it aired, click through and watch the video below, because Tate’s performance is quite hilarious. (Apparently, she so impressed The Office producers that she was one of their top choices to permanently replace the departing Steve Carrell, though obviously that didn’t work out at the time.)

Britwatch: Karen Gillan to Make West End Debut

Doctor Who Companion Karen Gillan will make her theater debut this month in London’s West End, starring opposite Douglas Hodge in a revival of John Osborne’s 1964 play Inadmissable Evidence.

Dame Eileen Atkins (most recently of Upstairs Downstairs) played Gillan’s role in the original production, proving once and for all that there are way less than six degrees of separation between basically every British actor/actress you like.

Unfortunately, if you’re going to happen to be in the UK during the play’s run and would like to check it out, you’re out of luck. Tickets sold out in a record-breaking fashion, thanks to what the Telegraph calls “the Doctor Who effect.” (This production actually sold out faster than their last effort starring Jude Law. Well done, Karen!)