Monday, 10 August 2009


Last month, a discussion about the state of BBC drama initiated by producer Tony Garnett, and the concerns of some leading writers and producers over the commissioning process at the Beeb, echoed the unveil of the BBC One 2009 Autumn lineup. No doubts that the arguments provided by each of the protagonists in this interesting and raging debate will be tested in vivo when the shows announced will begin to arrive on screens.

From Carnival Film And Television (Poirot, The Philanthropist) comes Material Girl. Lenora Crichlow (Sugar Rush, Being Human) is Ali Redcliffe, a young fashion designer, facing « her evil ex-boss, a sexy but devilish business partner and snobby fashionistas » - dixit The BBC Press Office. Was it commisioned for BBC Three first? Maybe viewers of the revamped Strictly come dancing will love... Note the presence of American actor Michael Landes (Special Unit 2, Love Soup) in the cast, should someone remake Dempsey & Makepeace he would be a nice choice for Dempsey - and Landes was recently in a New Tricks episode also starring Glynis Barber and Michael Brandon.

Alun Armstrong, so good in New Tricks as Brian "Memory" Lane, co-stars with Andrew Buchan (The Fixer) in Garrow's Law. The four-part courtroom/period drama is based on real legal cases from the late 18th century and inspired by the life of barrister William Garrow, played by Buchan. Garrow's Law seems very academic in spite of its outstanding stars. Talking about academism, Jane Austen is back with a four-part serial adaptation of Emma. This one star Romola Garai as Emma, Jonny Lee Miller, Michael Gambon, Tamsin Greig, Robert Bathhurst and Jodhi May.

Andrew Buchan's co-star in The Fixer, Tamzin Outhwaite, stars in a five-episode sci-fi/investigative show produced by Clerkenwell Films (Afterlife) and called Paradox. Detective Inspector Rebecca Flint (Outhwaite) and astrophysicist Dr Christian King - played by Emun Elliott - have 18 hours to prevent a major tragedy hinted by a series of rogue images transmitted to the scientist's laboratory from space. The premise looks awful but it's written by Lizzie Mickery (Messiah, The State Within, The 39 Steps with Rupert Penry-Jones) so it worths a try on this sole name. And kudos to the BBC for casting Outhwaite in the lead role and not Freema Agyeman or Billie Piper.

Trevor Eve (Waking the Dead) and Eve Myles (Torchwood) star in Framed, a one-off 90-minute drama adapted by Frank Cottrell Boyce from his best-selling children's novel. Trevor Eve is Lester, a National Gallery curator who travels from London to a remote Welsh village to oversee the safe storage of a priceless art collection in nearby mountains after a flood. To commission an adaptation of a book of Frank Cottrell Boyce by the author himself is a an excellent idea.

Spooks, always effective and never deceptive (though they should, they're spies...) returns, Peter Moffat's Criminal Justice opens a new chapter and the Russell T. Davies/David Tennant Farewell tour goes on with The Waters of Mars. If you believe that there can be nothing more terrible in Doctor Who than a flying double decker driven by Michelle Ryan, well, think again. And according to the BBC, The Doctor is joined in this special « by his cleverest and most strong-minded companion yet, Adelaide, played by acclaimed British actress Lindsay Duncan ». Ouch! Sounds harsh for the others...

See also: (Including a Showreel of the Autumn 2009 lineup)

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