Yes, Prime Minister Revival Start DateBookmark and Share

Saturday, 29 December 2012 - Reported by John Bowman
The revived and updated political sitcom Yes, Prime Minister will start airing on Gold on Tuesday 15th January at 9pm.

The six episodes have been made by the BBC, which also made the show's antecedents, and star David Haig as the premier Jim Hacker, Henry Goodman as Permanent Secretary Sir Humphrey Appleby, Chris Larkin as Principal Private Secretary Bernard Woolley, and Zoe Telford as political adviser Claire Sutton.

The titles for the first three episodes have been given as Crisis At The Summit, The Poisoned Chalice, and Gentlemen's Agreement, with the remaining three unknown as yet. All six have been written by the TV series' original authors, Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn.

It's the present day and the Rt Hon Jim Hacker is back in office as Prime Minister, leading a coalition government confronting the greatest economic crisis in a generation.

European economies are going down the toilet, there's a tempting energy deal on the table from an unusual source, a leadership crisis with his coalition partners, a Scottish independence referendum, and the greatest moral dilemma Hacker has ever faced.

Following the broadcast of the first episode, Gold will be showing a documentary called Yes, Prime Minister: Re-Elected celebrating the phenomenon of the show and revealing how influential it was in its 1980s heyday.

It will feature the thoughts of John Sergeant, Rufus Hound, Richard Wilson, Andrew Neil, Nigel Lawson, and Roy Hattersley, while former cast members Diana Hoddinott (who played Jim Hacker's wife, Annie) and Deborah Norton (political adviser Dorothy Wainwright) will reveal what life was like on the set of the original series and what they thought of their most famous fan, Margaret Thatcher.

An excerpt from the documentary, narrated by Tamsin Greig, can be seen below.


Gold is available on Sky 110, Virgin Media 126, and Top Up TV 20.





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.





Sherlock Tops Critics' TV PollBookmark and Share

Friday, 28 December 2012 - Reported by John Bowman
The BBC One series Sherlock has topped the Radio Times critics' poll of the 40 best TV shows this year.

The listings publication has been gradually revealing the results since Christmas Day, with the final ten announced today. The BBC took six of the top ten places, including Twenty Twelve, starring Hugh Bonneville, Olivia Colman, and Jessica Hynes, at number three and The Thick Of It, starring Peter Capaldi, at number four. Doctor Who came in at 15, Being Human, starring Lenora Crichlow and Russell Tovey, at 36, and Episodes, starring Tamsin Greig, at 39.

A delighted Steven Moffat, who co-created Sherlock with Mark Gatiss, told Radio Times:

Mark and I always thought this was our vanity project. The one we could get away with, because of everything else. For it to become such a massive hit, with all the reviews and awards you could wish for, has been the best and the biggest surprise.

Of course, it's all down to the astonishing cast led by those mighty film stars, Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch.

The full list is as follows:
  • 1: Sherlock (BBC One)
  • 2: Homeland (C4)
  • 3: Twenty Twelve (BBC Two)
  • 4: The Thick Of It (BBC Two)
  • 5: Fresh Meat (C4)
  • 6: Borgen (BBC Four)
  • 7: The Great British Bake Off (BBC Two)
  • 8: Downton Abbey (ITV1)
  • 9: The Bridge (BBC Four)
  • 10: Girls (Sky Atlantic)
  • 11: Line of Duty (BBC Two)
  • 12: 56 Up (ITV1)
  • 13: The Hollow Crown (BBC Two)
  • 14: The Cricklewood Greats (BBC Four)
  • 15: Doctor Who (BBC One)
  • 16: Alan Partridge: Welcome To The Places Of My Life (Sky Atlantic)
  • 17: Grandma's House (BBC Two)
  • 18: The Secret History Of Our Streets (BBC Two)
  • 19: Murder (BBC Two)
  • 20: Veep (Sky Atlantic)
  • 21: Peep Show (C4)
  • 22: Call The Midwife (BBC One)
  • 23: Parade's End (BBC Two)
  • 24: Stella (Sky1)
  • 25: Tales Of Television Centre (BBC Four)
  • 26: Exposure: The Other Side Of Jimmy Savile (ITV1)
  • 27: Moone Boy (Sky1)
  • 28: Roger and Val Have Just Got In (BBC Two)
  • 29: 24 Hours In A&E (C4)
  • 30: Getting On (BBC Four)
  • 31: Toast Of London (C4)
  • 32: MasterChef: The Professionals (BBC Two)
  • 33: She-Wolves: England's Early Queens (BBC Four)
  • 34: Accused (BBC One)
  • 35: A Mother's Son (ITV1)
  • 36: Being Human (BBC Three)
  • 37: Mad Men (BBC Four)
  • 38: The Killing (BBC Four)
  • 39: Episodes (BBC Two)
  • 40: A Touch Of Cloth (Sky1)
The votes were cast by the magazine's print and online critics: Alison Graham, David Butcher, Tim Glanfield, Paul Jones, Jack Seale, Patrick Mulkern, Mark Braxton, Gill Crawford, James Gill, Claire Webb, David Crawford, Tom Cole, Susanna Lazarus, Ellie Walker-Arnott, David Brown, and Emma Sturgess.






Gerry Anderson Dies At 83Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, 26 December 2012 - Reported by John Bowman
Gerry AndersonGerry Anderson - the legendary creator of iconic TV shows such as Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet, Space: 1999 and UFO - died today at the age of 83.

The announcement was made on son Jamie's website, who said his father died in his sleep at midday.

Paying tribute, Nick Williams, chairman of the fan club Fanderson, said:
To those who met him, Gerry was a quiet, unassuming but determined man. His desire to make the best films he could drove him and his talented teams to innovate, take risks, and do everything necessary to produce quite inspirational works. Gerry's legacy is that he inspired so many people and continues to bring so much joy to so many millions of people around the world.

Born Gerald Alexander Abrahams, with the family name being changed by deed poll in 1939, Anderson started his career in photography, landing a traineeship with the British Colonial Film Unit, where he became interested in film editing and got further experience after moving to Gainsborough Pictures. National Service with the RAF put that burgeoning career on hold but he returned to Gainsborough afterwards, staying there until it closed down in 1950 and moving on to freelance on a number of feature films.

In the middle of the 1950s, Anderson became a director at the TV production company Polytechnic Studios, and after the collapse of the firm, he, together with Polytechnic cameraman Arthur Provis, Reg Hill, and John Read, set up Pentagon Films in 1957. However, that was wound up shortly after, and Anderson and Provis set up AP Films. Its first TV venture was the puppet series The Adventures of Twizzle, created by Roberta Leigh, which centred on a doll that could extend - or "twizzle" - its arms and legs. It marked the start of Anderson's long association with puppets (although Anderson always hankered after creating live-action TV and film drama), as well as hugely successful collaborations with puppeteer Christine Glanville, special effects technician Derek Meddings, and composer/arranger Barry Gray.

This series for Granada, which ran from 1957 to 1958, was followed by another TV puppet show with Leigh - Torchy The Battery Boy (1958-59) - and then the western fantasy adventure Four Feather Falls (1959-60), which was created by Anderson and Gray and used an early version of a puppetry process that would become known as Supermarionation. The lead character of Tex Tucker was voiced by Nicholas Parsons, with other voices provided by David Graham.

Despite its success with Four Feather Falls, AP Films hit financial problems when no further series were commissioned, but a meeting with Lew Grade saw the boss of ATV buy the new puppet show Supercar (1960-61), created by Anderson and Hill. With voices provided by, among others, Cyril Shaps, it marked the first official debut of Supermarionation - with the puppets' lips moving in synchronisation with the pre-recorded voices, thanks to electric sensors in the puppets' heads picking up the signal of the taped dialogue - and ran to two series. This was followed by the space adventure Fireball XL5 (1962), which became the first Anderson series to be sold to the USA. Grade then bought AP Films and with Grade as managing director and Anderson and his wife Sylvia (whom he married in November 1960), Hill, and Read as directors (Provis having left the partnership), the stage was set for new marionette series Stingray (1964), which had the vocal talents of Ray Barrett among the cast and had the distinction of being the first British children's TV series filmed in colour.

AP Films was now truly on a roll, and what came next was the series that Anderson will probably forever be best known for: Thunderbirds. Its title was inspired by a US Air Force base called Thunderbird Field, which Anderson's brother Lionel had written to him about during the Second World War, and it centred on the exploits of the organisation International Rescue, which helped people in great peril by using technically advanced equipment and machinery launched from its secret base on Tracy Island, getting there in the iconic Thunderbirds craft. Grade was so thrilled with what he saw of it in production that he increased the budget and ordered the episodes' running length to be doubled to 50 minutes. Voices were provided by, among others, Shane Rimmer and Jeremy Wilkin. The TV series spawned two feature films - Thunderbirds Are GO and Thunderbird 6 - but neither fared well at the box office.

Around this time, AP Films was renamed Century 21 Productions, and Thunderbirds (1964-66) was followed by Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons (1967), which saw the use of more sophisicated puppetry and more realistic puppets. Both these series marked a genre high for Anderson, with the following two series - Joe 90 (1968) and The Secret Service (which aired in 1969 and also featured live action) - not being well-received at the time.

Undaunted, Century 21 produced a third feature film - the live-action sci-fi drama Doppelgänger (1969), known outside Europe as Journey to the Far Side of the Sun, which was nominated for an Oscar for its special effects that had been supervised by Meddings.

In 1969, Gerry and Sylvia Anderson made Century 21's first full live-action TV series, UFO. This sci-fi action-adventure - which included George Sewell and Wanda Ventham in its cast - aired from 1970 to 1971 but was set in 1980 and was decidedly adult in tone. A second series was shelved but elements of it went on to be used in Space: 1999, whose two series first aired between 1975 and 1977. Before that, though, Anderson created and co-produced two series of the live-action thriller The Protectors (1972-74).

In the early 1980s, Anderson - who by now had split from Sylvia - formed Anderson Burr Pictures Ltd with businessman Christopher Burr, which saw Anderson's return to puppets with Terrahawks, whose three series ran from 1983 to 1986. The sci-fi show was filmed with latex hand puppets in a process Anderson called Supermacromation.

This was followed by stop-motion animated series Dick Spanner, created by Terry Adlam but produced by Anderson (1986-87), which featured a robotic private detective, and Space Precinct (1994-95), the latter of which mixed sci-fi and police procedural.

In 1993, Anderson took part in the Doctor Who celebratory documentary Thirty Years In The TARDIS, in which he joked about the irony of son Jamie being more of a Doctor Who enthusiast! The documentary is to be released on DVD next month in an extended form as More Than Thirty Years In The TARDIS as part of the Doctor Who: The Legacy Collection box set.

Stop-motion/CGI children's adventure fantasy series Lavender Castle (1999-2000) and Firestorm (2002-03), a Japanese animé series, were additional Anderson contributions to TV. He was made an MBE - a Member of the Order of the British Empire - in the 2001 Queen's Birthday Honours for services to animation.

In January 2011, Royal Mail honoured Anderson's achievements with a special issue of stamps entitled The Genius of Gerry Anderson.

Anderson - who was married three times and had four children - was diagnosed with mixed dementia in 2010, and although his condition had worsened rapidly over the past few months, necessitating a move to a care home, he had until recently still taken an interest and been involved in the film industry. His last credit as producer was for the 2005 CGI re-imagining of Captain Scarlet, and he was recently involved as a consultant with the planned Hollywood remake of UFO.

Jamie Anderson has asked for donations in his father's memory to be made to the Alzheimer's Society via this JustGiving link.

UPDATE - 3rd January 2013: Episodes from Thunderbirds, Stingray, and Captain Scarlet are currently available free on ITV Player (one per series). NB: May not be available outside the UK.

UPDATE - 12th January: Gerry Anderson's funeral was held yesterday at Reading Crematorium, with hundreds of people attending. Among the floral tributes on his coffin was one of Thunderbird 2, and arrangements of the theme tune from Thunderbirds as well as the closing theme from Stingray - Aqua Marina - were played at the service. In his eulogy, son Jamie Anderson said: "I have never been more proud of my father than the day he faced up to his battle with Alzheimer's. He battled it head-on." [BBC News, 11 Jan 2013]





ITV To Mark 30 Years Of Children's ProgrammesBookmark and Share

Friday, 21 December 2012 - Reported by John Bowman
The 30th anniversary of the Children's ITV brand is to be marked with a special documentary and an "Old Skool Weekend" of iconic programmes from the '80s and '90s.

Children's ITV launched on 3rd January 1983, and in the early days guest presenters - including Roland Rat, Timmy Mallet, and Basil Brush - pre-recorded the intros to children's programming every month. In 1987, Children's ITV went live, with output presented by Gary Terzza and Debbie Shore. The CITV channel arrived on 11th March 2006 and, with its mix of programming aimed primarily at four-to-nine-year-olds, now broadcasts approximately a third of original content.

A one-hour documentary entitled 30 Years Of CITV will be shown on ITV1 on Saturday 29th December at 6.30pm, while between 9.25am and 6pm on Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th January, CITV will be showing a selection of its iconic shows, including the first and last episodes of Press Gang - Steven Moffat's first TV work - and episodes from Children's Ward, which was produced by Russell T Davies, who also wrote for it, as well as an episode of Button Moon, whose theme music was co-composed by Peter Davison.

The "Old Skool Weekend" schedule is as follows:

    SATURDAY 5th JANUARY
  • 9.25am: Mike and Angelo (1990)
  • 9.50am: Super Gran (second episode, 1985)
  • 10.15am: Wizadora (last episode, 1998)
  • 10.30am: T-Bag (1987)
  • 10.50am: Engie Benjy (series 3, episode 1, 2004)
  • 11.05am: The Raggy Dolls (1994)
  • 11.15am: Puddle Lane (1986)
  • 11.35am: Count Duckula (1991)
  • 12pm: The Sooty Show (1986)
  • 12.25pm: Art Attack (1992)
  • 12.40pm: The Big Bang (1997)
  • 1pm: Finders Keepers (1991)
  • 1.30pm: Fun House (1994)
  • 2pm: Knightmare (1993)
  • 2.30pm: Fraggle Rock (1983)
  • 3pm: The Worst Witch (1998)
  • 3.30pm: Woof! (Eric, first episode, 1989)
  • 4pm: Dramarama (Blackbird Singing In The Dead of Night, 1988)
  • 4.30pm: Press Gang (first episode, 1989)
  • 5pm: The Tomorrow People (1992)
  • 5.30pm: Children's Ward (2000)

    SUNDAY 6th JANUARY
  • 9.25am: Mike and Angelo
  • 9.50am: Spatz (1992)
  • 10.10am: Huxley Pig
  • 10.30am: Rainbow (1984)
  • 10.50am: Button Moon (1985)
  • 11.05am: The Riddlers
  • 11.15am: Rosie and Jim (first episode, 1990)
  • 11.35am: Dangermouse (1986)
  • 12pm: Sooty & Co (1993)
  • 12.25pm: How 2 (1995)
  • 12.40pm: Fingertips (2002)
  • 1pm: Jungle Run (2001)
  • 1.30pm: Fun House (1995)
  • 2pm: Knightmare (1993)
  • 2.30pm: Fraggle Rock (1983)
  • 3pm: My Parents Are Aliens (2005)
  • 3.30pm: Woof! (Rex, 1993)
  • 4pm: Dramarama (Back To Front, 1989)
  • 4.30pm: Press Gang (last episode, 1993)
  • 5pm: The Tomorrow People (1992)
  • 5.30pm: Children's Ward (unknown)




Institut Francais To Hold TV FestivalBookmark and Share

Wednesday, 19 December 2012 - Reported by John Bowman
The Institut Francais in London is to hold a festival showcasing the best of new productions from both sides of the Channel as well as European TV shows.

The cross-cultural organisation's second Totally Serialized season runs from 16th to 20th January, featuring big-screen showings, premières, and screenwriters, directors, and actors attending, including Hugh Bonneville and Jean Reno.

    FESTIVAL PROGRAMME OVERVIEW
  • Première of the first episode of series 4 of the French murder investigation drama Spiral, introduced by actor Grégory Fitoussi who plays Deputy Prosecutor Pierre Clément in the show, which airs on BBC Four
  • Conversation with Downton Abbey star Hugh Bonneville
  • A night of Doctor Who fun with scary episodes, a masterclass with writer Toby Whithouse, fancy dress, music, a quiz, and mystery guests
  • Screening of the first episode of the mini-series Labyrinth, based on the multi-million-selling novel by Kate Mosse, followed by a panel Q&A with key creatives
  • World première of the crime series Jo attended by the show's star, Jean Reno
  • UK premières of the Scandinavian TV series Real Humans and French shows Rebound, Spin, and The Church Men
  • World première of the action thriller mini-series Flight of the Storks, directed by Jan Kounen
  • A panel on TV screenwriting with Jack Thorne (The Fades, This Is England), Ashley Pharoah (Life on Mars), and French screenwriters
  • Comedy marathon of French and British sitcoms (The Thick of It, Peep Show, Kaboul Kitchen, Workingirls)
  • A screening of the first episode of Skins followed by a Q&A with the show's creator, Bryan Elsley