Last Tango In Halifax dancing back on to screensBookmark and Share

Wednesday, 30 October 2013 - Reported by John Bowman
The second series of BAFTA-winning BBC One romantic drama Last Tango In Halifax will be back on TV screens next month.

Made by Red Production Company and once again comprising six episodes written by Sally Wainwright, it will see Derek Jacobi and Anne Reid returning as the love-struck septuagenarians Alan Buttershaw and Celia Dawson, who rediscover their love for each other 60 years after they first met.

Series one, which aired between 20th November and 19th December 2012, was the BBC's highest-rating new mid-week drama of 2012, regularly attracting more than seven million viewers.

Also starring in it are Sarah Lancashire as Celia's daughter Caroline Elliot and Nicola Walker as Alan's daughter Gillian Greenwood, plus Nina Sosanya as Caroline's lover Kate and Tony Gardner and Ronnie Ancona as, respectively, Caroline's husband John and John's lover Judith.

The first episode of the new series is currently unplaced in the BBC One schedule for Saturday 16th to Friday 22nd November.
We pick up from where we left off with Alan regaining consciousness from his heart scare, much to Celia's relief and delight. She promises to never fall out with him again and, reflecting that life's too short, they decide to get married - in just a fortnight's time.

Things between Caroline and John become fractious when Caroline returns home to find John and Judith drunk and in her bed. To retaliate, she invites Kate to move in - she won't be made a gooseberry in her own home. And finding out that he slept with Gillian adds to her disdain.

Gillian and Alan's relationship takes a hit when he finds out she's slept with John. It's one disappointment after another. In the heat of the moment he reveals to Celia that Gillian had an abortion when she was 15. Two weeks later, Gillian finds the register office card with a reminder of the wedding date and it's today! Why hasn't she been invited? Gillian grabs her keys, but can she get there in time?
Directed by Euros Lyn, filming took place over the summer across the north of England, and Wainwright said:
The inspiration for Last Tango in Halifax was deeply personal so I am delighted that it also resonated with so many viewers – both young and old. The second series will bring even more dramatic twists, trials, and tribulations for the characters, with Alan and Celia's love story continuing to be the beating heart of the series.
Nicola Shindler, the executive producer and founder of Red Production Company, commented;
When we started developing Last Tango in Halifax we wanted to make a love story first and foremost. The audience instantly warmed to the simple and sincere affection between Alan and Celia, which endured despite the dramatic events that transpired around them. Series two promises even more ups and downs, putting even the strongest bonds to the test.
The first series won the Best Drama Series award at this year's TV BAFTAs, and Wainwright was named Best Drama Writer at the 2013 British Academy Television Craft Awards.


UPDATE - 11th NOVEMBER: The new series will start on Tuesday 19th November at 9pm, the BBC has confirmed.





New Drama Atlantis Announced And Death In Paradise RecommissionedBookmark and Share

Monday, 11 February 2013 - Reported by John Bowman
The BBC announced a host of new drama commissions tonight - including a series set during ancient times: Atlantis.

Created and written by Howard Overman, the show will occupy the autumn Saturday teatime slot on BBC One left vacant by Merlin when it ended its five-series run last December. However, two names familiar to Merlin viewers will be involved in the 13-parter about the mythical city: Johnny Capps and Julian Murphy, who were part of the quartet of Merlin's creators, will executive-produce the show with Overman for the trio's new production company.

The city of Atlantis is a mysterious, ancient place; a world of bull-leaping, of snake-haired goddesses, and of palaces so vast it was said they were built by giants.

It's into this strange, compelling realm that the young Jason arrives and an amazing adventure begins, bringing to life the vast store of Greek myths and legends, re-imagined for a new generation.

Shooting begins in Wales and Morocco next month. The 45-minute episodes will be executive-produced for BBC Cymru Wales by Bethan Jones.

In addition, during the event this evening at which BBC drama controller Ben Stephenson set out his vision for BBC Drama, it was revealed that the BBC One crime-drama Death In Paradise - currently averaging almost 8 million consolidated viewers per episode in its second run on Tuesday nights - would be recommissioned for a third series of eight 60-minute episodes, to be shown next year.

Stephenson said:
Drama and the BBC are inseparable – it is written through the BBC like a stick of rock. No other broadcaster in the world has drama so firmly in its DNA. I want to make BBC drama a cultural institution – a touchstone for quality and modernity with all the excitement and glamour of a curtain going up.

My aim is to build a BBC drama department that has an enormous international reputation. That means making us more British than ever - it is about applying the Danny Boyle vision to our work - a bold, adventurous, authorial approach that exports because of its Britishness not despite it. A BBC that feels inspiringly creative - where there is a buzz and creativity and anything goes optimism.

Ultimately, I can boil this down to one thing – I want to make the BBC the hallmark of quality drama and the automatic home for the best talent in the world.

The full list and details of commissions and recommissions is given here.




UK Start Date For Primeval: New WorldBookmark and Share

Saturday, 29 December 2012 - Reported by John Bowman
Television viewers in the United Kingdom will be able to see Primeval: New World from Tuesday 8th January.

The Canadian-produced spin-off from the ITV1 series Primeval is to air on the general entertainment satellite and cable channel Watch in the 9pm slot.

As with the original British series, it features a team of people dealing with predators that emerge from time anomalies, except the spin-off sees the action taking place in Vancouver. The show stars Niall Matter as visionary inventor Evan Cross heading up the Special Projects Group team that also comprises predator control expert Dylan Weir (Sara Canning), security specialist Mac Rendell (Danny Rahim), and physics prodigy Toby Nance (Crystal Lowe), operating out of a secret base called "The Tank", which is a repurposed lab at Cross's company, Cross Photonics.

Cross's oldest friend and business partner Angelika - or Ange - Finch (Miranda Frigon) keeps Cross Photonics afloat while the team track the dinosaurs that have come through the anomalies. The team are also helped in their task by Lieutenant Ken Leeds (Geoff Gustafson), who heads the government's decommissioned department for investigating alien life and other mysteries, including anomalies.

Andrew-Lee Potts crosses over from Primeval to guest-star as Connor Temple in the first episode of the 13-part series. The episode titles are as follows:
  • 1: The New World
  • 2: Sisiutl
  • 3: Fear Of Flying
  • 4: Angry Birds
  • 5: Undone
  • 6: Clean Up On Aisle Three
  • 7: Babes In The Woods
  • 8: Truth
  • 9: Breakthrough
  • 10: The Great Escape
  • 11: The Inquisition
  • 12: The Sound Of Thunder - Part One
  • 13: The Sound Of Thunder - Part Two
Talking about the spin-off, Matter said:
It's definitely darker than the original, but we have enough parallels to keep the existing fans of the show interested.
And of his character's working relationship with Weir he said:
There's a lot of humour between the two of them and the sexual tension is obvious in some parts. But they respect each other, because they've both had to save the other's life.
Watch can be seen on Sky 109 and Virgin Media 124.





Last Tango In Halifax RecommissionedBookmark and Share

Wednesday, 12 December 2012 - Reported by John Bowman
The BBC One drama Last Tango In Halifax has been commissioned for a second series while the first one is still airing.

Written and created by Sally Wainwright and made by Red Production Company, the series - which sees would-be childhood sweethearts Alan Buttershaw, played by Derek Jacobi, and Celia Dawson (Anne Reid) reunited after 60 years - has been the biggest new mid-week drama on any channel this year, with the programme attracting an average consolidated audience of 7.1 million.

With episodes directed by Euros Lyn and with music by Murray Gold, it also stars Sarah Lancashire as Caroline Elliot, Nicola Walker as Gillian Greenwood, and Nina Sosanya as Kate McKenzie.

As with the first series, the second one is understood to be of six episodes, and a Red Production Company spokeswoman told News In Time And Space that filming was likely to start next June. The transmission date is yet to be fixed.

This recommission becomes the fifth successful new returning drama series to be launched on BBC One this year, with the others being The Syndicate, Prisoners' Wives, The Paradise, and Call The Midwife.

BBC One Controller Danny Cohen said:
Last Tango In Halifax tops off a fantastic year for new returning drama series on BBC One, making it five hits to celebrate. Sally Wainwright's scripts and the outstanding cast have unearthed an absolute gem that is captivating audiences of all ages, making it the biggest mid-week drama launch on any channel in 2012.
Sally Wainwright said:
I'm thrilled by the amazing response we've had to Last Tango. People seem to have really engaged with it, and with the wonderful performances of the actors, and I couldn't be happier about being given the chance to take the story further.
Ben Stephenson, Controller of BBC Drama Commissioning, said:
The brilliant scripts, characters, and stories told in Last Tango In Halifax have been so affectionately received by the British public that we couldn't resist a second series. The wonderful cast bring Sally's extraordinary evocation of family life together with real originality and warmth, and I for one can't wait to see what happens in series two!
Co-executive producer Nicola Shindler added:
We're simply delighted! I've been overwhelmed by the audience's reaction to Last Tango In Halifax. With such great characters and fantastic scripts there are so many stories still to tell and we can't wait to get started in series two.
The final two episodes of the current series will air on Tuesday 18th December and Wednesday 19th December on BBC One at 9pm on both days.




A Pertwee In ParadiseBookmark and Share

Tuesday, 9 October 2012 - Reported by John Bowman
Sean Pertwee is among the latest guest stars announced for the second series of Death In Paradise.

Also to appear in the BBC One crime drama/comedy, currently being filmed on Guadeloupe, are Hannah Spearritt and James Murray, reunited with their Primeval co-star Ben Miller, who plays the fish-out-of-water Detective Inspector Richard Poole.

Returning alongside Miller as regulars are Danny John-Jules (Red Dwarf) as police officer Dwayne Myers, Don Warrington as Commissioner Selwyn Patterson, Sara Martins as Detective Sergeant Camille Bordey, and Gary Carr as police officer Fidel Best.

Singer-songwriter Jamelia has been signed up for a cameo in her first TV role, it was revealed in July. Other guest stars lined up for the eight-part series are Shaun Parkes, Cherie Lunghi, Lucy Davis, Mathew Horne, James Fleet, Neil Pearson, Ralf Little, and Lucien Lavisount, as well as Michael Brandon, Bryan Dick, Dexter Fletcher, Kelly Adams, Kenneth Cranham, Stephanie Beacham, Amanda Mealing, Tom Ward, Patrick Baladi, and Gemma Jones.

The series returns early next year.




Kenny Everett Drama To Air On BBC FourBookmark and Share

Thursday, 20 September 2012 - Reported by John Bowman
A drama celebrating the life and work of pioneering radio DJ, TV star, comedian, and record producer Kenny Everett is to be shown on BBC Four next month.

Best Possible Taste: The Kenny Everett Story stars Oliver Lansley as Everett and Katherine Kelly as his wife, Lee, in a production written by Tim Whitnall. It is billed as the story of Everett's against-the-odds struggle to achieve both personal and professional fulfilment, as seen through the prism of his marriage - Everett wed Lee Middleton in 1966 but by 1979 they had separated, divorcing in 1984 - and is told with the help of some of Everett's most famous comic characters, including Sid Snot, Cupid Stunt (pictured below), and Quentin Pose.

It charts how he became one of Britain's best-loved, most rebellious, and truly innovative broadcasters and comedians.

Also appearing in the 90-minute drama, which has been directed by James Strong, are Simon Callow as Dickie Attenborough, Jonathan Kerrigan as John Alkin, and James Floyd as Freddie Mercury.

Everett, who courted controversy throughout his broadcasting career, started out as a DJ for pirate station Radio London. He later moved to presenting shows on Radio Luxembourg, Radio 1, Radio 2, and Capital Radio. In 1968 and 1969, Everett produced the Christmas records made by The Beatles for members of their fan club.

His TV CV included The Kenny Everett Video Show and The Kenny Everett Video Cassette for ITV between 1978 and 1981. After a fall-out with the commercial broadcaster, though, he took The Kenny Everett Video Show to the BBC, where it ran from 1981 to 1988.

In 1984, he starred in the Hammer horror spoof Bloodbath At The House of Death, in which Don Warrington, Gareth Hunt, and Sheila Steafel also appeared.

Everett died in April 1995 aged 50.

Describing the ambition behind the BBC Four drama, associate producer Luke Franklin said:
The task of distilling the multiple, often chaotic strands of Kenny Everett's remarkable and eventful life into 90 minutes of drama felt like an ambitious one, right from the off. Luckily, the desire to see the project made generated endless enthusiasm in its key creative team – writer Tim Whitnall, and director James Strong, who was on board for much of the development process – as well as the consultants, who knew Kenny and advised on every detail of the production.

From the start of the development process, authenticity was always a central aim. It soon became clear that the script was likely to focus upon Kenny's relationship with Lee Middleton (now Lee Everett-Alkin) – to whom Kenny was married for almost a decade and a half. It was through the prism of this defining relationship that Tim Whitnall felt Kenny's story could best be told. The period of Kenny and Lee's relationship encompassed Kenny's rise to fame in the UK and his coming to terms with his sexuality – but also worked as an unconventional love story in its own right.

Together with her husband, John Alkin, Lee was the first consultant to come on board the project, to which she gave invaluable support and access to her archives – as well as notes on the accuracy of the script at each draft stage. Given the script dealt with the gradual breakdown of the marriage, as well as its many happier periods, Lee's involvement as a first-hand source was essential.

Lee met with Oliver Lansley and Katherine Kelly early in pre-production, sharing with both actors details and insights from her life with Kenny which could inform the events dealt with in the script.

Kenny's long-time manager and friend Jo Gurnett was the other major consultant on the project, advising and providing detail and perspective on the whole script, but especially on those elements which dealt with Kenny's professional life and his personal life outside of his marriage to Lee.

Barry Cryer - Kenny's colleague and co-writer on Kenny's television series for both Thames and the BBC – was also a script consultant, as was journalist David Lister, the author of Kenny's biography In The Best Possible Taste.
Richard Klein, the controller of BBC Four, said:
Kenny Everett was a genuine original: wild and unfocused maybe but also deliciously anarchic and always entertaining.

In many ways Kenny was a very modern celebrity, wearing his heart on his sleeve while coping with a complex life. Re-evaluating this talented and exuberant personality, enabling audiences to reconsider Kenny's undoubted impact and legacy, makes this a very BBC Four drama.
Best Possible Taste: The Kenny Everett Story, which has been made by Mammoth Screen for BBC Wales, will air on Wednesday 3rd October at 9pm.