Thursday, 30 June 2016


Goodnight Mister Tom (1998) is a wonderful film for television based on a children's novel by English author Michelle Magorian first published in 1981. Starring the great John Thaw (Kavanagh QC, Inspector Morse), it is available on DVD in France since the end of last year thanks to Koba Films and L'atelier d'images.
At the beginning of World War II, children from London are evacuated to the countryside. Tom Oakley, a lonely and grumpy old man who lives in an English village, is forced to look after one of the evacuees: a 9-year old shy boy named William Beech. Tom finds out that William is beaten by his mother, an extremely religious woman. He provides him with new clothes and teaches him how to read and write when the village schoolteacher, Mrs Hartridge, learns the child's illiteracy.

Willie befriends a Jewish boy, Zacharias "Zach" Wrench, while Tom accepts to play organ at the church. Both are transformed by each other's presence. But soon after William's birthday, Mrs Beech requests that her son returns to her in London as she claims to be ill. Left without news of the boy after one month, Oakley decides to travel to London. Produced by Carlton Television for ITV, Goodnight Mister Tom is a truly heartwarming adaptation of Michelle Magorian's classic written by Brian Finch (Coronation Street) and directed by Jack Gold (Escape from Sobibor, The Medusa Touch).

The 101-minute TV movie is blessed with an absolutely magnificent performance by John Thaw as Tom Oakley. Goodnight Mister Tom is another collaboration of the revered English actor with executive producer Ted Childs (Kavanagh QC, Inspector Morse, The Sweeney) (1) and producer Chris Burt (Inspector Morse). William Beech is played by Nick Robinson. Annabelle Apsion plays the quite frightening Mrs Beech. The music was composed by Carl Davis (Coming Home, Pride and Prejudice). Translated in 13 languages, the book was also adapted as a play and a musical.  

The DVD from Koba Films contains the original dialogue track (subtitled or not) and the French dubbing.

(1) The other executive producer of Goodnight Mister Tom is Children's TV producer Lewis Rudd.

Friday, 24 June 2016


We're accustomed to working on this blog under unfavorable circumstances but since a few months it's getting more and more complicated (really). Ironically it coincides with its relaunch last december.

Maybe we infuriated a deity with a negative review, or we're cursed, or we're the kind of person who gets a piano on his/her head when in the street. Or two pianos...

Anyway, pianos or not, we will go on with this little blog because your interest never declined. Thank you for this interest, your trust and your comprehension. Never give up, etc.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016


[Spoiler-Free] The chairman of the Ancombe parish council is found dead near the local wellspring. 

He was about to cast his vote over whether to allow the lorries of the Ancombe Water company an access to the water through the village.

Agatha Raisin is back on track after last week's lacklustre and quite worrying Hell's Bells. Directed by Paul Harrison (Trollied), The Wellspring of Death is adapted from M.C. Beaton's novel Agatha Raisin and the Wellspring of Death (1998) by Stewart Harcourt. Agatha Raisin (Ashley Jensen) is ready to attend the pub quiz when Roy Silver (Mathew Horne) offers her a well-paid freelance PR gig... for Ancombe Water. She refuses but changes her mind when James Lacey and his new girlfriend Mary Fortune decide to investigate the death of the parish council chairman.

Aggie displays her PR magic to the Ancombe villagers and Ancombe Water boss Guy Freemont is under her spell. Jealous of Mary Fortune, she decides to find the killer before James and Mary, with the assistance of Gemma (Katy Wix). DCI Wilkes is inspired by Inspector Morse, which would be reassuring in some respects but his main suspect is a persian cat. James doesn't like to be Mary's "Watson". Agatha's product launch is ruined by a demonstration and another murder.

Everything you expect from the TV version of the Agatha Raisin books is in this excellent episode: Agatha and her London PR queen manners in the Cotswold equivalent of Midsomer County, her complicated love life, some rural comedy à la Doc Martin, the totally clueless cops, etc. The only one who truly believes he's in your average detective drama is DCI Wilkes (the fantastic Jason Barnett). English actor and singer Jules Knight (Holby City) is very good as Guy Freemont. Let's hope the rest of the series is like this episode.

Also with Jamie Glover (James Lacey), Matt McCooey (DC Bill Wong), June Watson (Mrs Josephs), Daisy Beaumont (Mary Fortune) and Ron Donachie, Elizabeth Hopper, etc. Produced by Mammoth Screen and Free@Last TV for Sky. Michelle Buck and Stewart Harcourt are the executive producers for Mammoth Screen. Barry Ryan and David Walton exec produce for Free@Last TV. Produced by Matthew Mulot. Music by Rupert Gregson-Williams and Christopher Willis. Titles by Light Creative. Distributed by Sky Vision.

Sunday, 19 June 2016


Felicity Ford, a forest ranger, is blinded by mysterious lights while driving by night between Midsomer Stanton and... Well, not this week.

Midsomer Murders, the venerable ITV detective drama, usually returns in France in April (since a few years) but series 18 started last week on France 3. Except that this sunday the public broadcaster aired episode 2... of series 16, Let Us Prey. And not The Incident at Cooper Hill (1).

Habeas Corpus, the eighteenth series premiere, impressively caught 3.307.000 viewers (13%) vs an Euro 2016 football match (Germany/Ukraine) on TF1 and France 3 was ranked #2. Tonight the match was Switzerland/France (on M6) so maybe the channel didn't want to hurt the rating numbers of a brand new episode against a match of the national football team.

What is less understandable is the choice of Let Us Prey for this repeat as there's a village facing a flood in it. So soon after the similar events which hit several parts of France.

(1) The Incident at Cooper Hill is announced for next sunday.

Friday, 17 June 2016


Following the success of Maigret Sets a Trap earlier this year, ITV has announced the commission of two further single films of Maigret with Rowan Atkinson as the detective created by Belgian author Georges Simenon.

The two new films will be adapted from the novels Maigret At The Crossroads (La nuit du carrefour) and Maigret in Montmartre (Maigret au Picratt's). They'll go into production in November 2016 until February 2017. Maigret started to raise interest worldwide even before ITV aired Maigret Sets a Trap, the first of its two 2016 TV movies, thanks to the choice of English comedian and actor Rowan Atkinson (famous globally for Mr Bean).

Maigret Sets a Trap, adapted from the novel Maigret tend un piège, caught 5.7m viewers (28%) in March. Maigret's Dead Man, based on Maigret et son mort, will air on ITV later this year. Stewart Harcourt (Agatha Raisin, Agatha Christie's Marple) adapted both and will also adapt Maigret At The Crossroads. Maigret is produced by Ealing Studios with Maigret Productions Ltd (a Peters Fraser Dunlop Group company) and distributed by BBC Worldwide. Pubcaster France 3 will air it in France. It's the French home of Midsomer Murders, Endeavour, Vera, etc. 

You can read our (unenthusiastic) review of Maigret Sets a Trap here:

See also: