Friday, 28 August 2009


The presence of a new Jane Austen's Emma on the BBC One 2009 Autumn lineup has raised mixed feelings from viewers and critics bored by the idea of another "Braustens" (Brontë/Austen/Dickens) adaptation. After all it is tempting to ask who needs one more costume/period drama at a time when British television can deliver Torchwood: Children of Earth or The Fixer.

Nowadays you need something more to attract interest with another look at these fond masterpieces from the great British litterature. And ITV1's Wuthering Heights (30-31 August, 9pm British Time) undeniably has this element of interest: Tom Hardy as Heathcliff. Hardy is one of the best British contemporary actors. Praised for his portrayal of Michael Gordon Peterson a.k.a. prisoner Charles Bronson in the movie Bronson (2008), and acclaimed for his work on the brilliant adaptation of Martina Cole's The Take, he's a natural choice for the mysterious, dark and tormented Heathcliff.

This new recreation of Emily Brontë's classic is directed by Coky Giedroyc (Blackpool), adapted by Peter Bowker (Blackpool, Desperate Romantics) and produced by Mammoth Screen (Lost in Austen). After Martina Cole's The Take, Charlotte Riley is again in a Tom Hardy starrer, as Cathy, and the cast includes Kevin McNally (Mr Earnshaw) and Burn Gorman - Owen Harper in Torchwood - as Hindley.

We'll observe how this Wuthering Heights fares on ITV1, right after Peter Bowker's Desperate Romantics on BBC2 (unfortunately not a successor to RTD's Casanova) and before the Emma starring Romalo Garai. And we're eager to see if Tom Hardy's Heathcliff matches the great Timothy Dalton's interpretation in the wonderful movie directed by Robert Fuest in 1970 (your humble servant's favourite adaptation). But honestly: Giedroyc, Boker, Emily Brontë and Hardy... These are the ingredients for a future classic.

Radford Neville, producer of Wuthering Heights 2009 for ITV gives us an interesting account of the shooting and composer Ruth Barrett talks about her work on the Broadcast website ( You'll also find a tremendous amount of information on the magnificent BrontëBlog (, an indispensable reference about the life and work of the Brontë family.

Wuthering Heights Promo:

See also:

Thursday, 27 August 2009


The Fixer, the best British show of 2008, returns on Tuesday 1 September at 9pm - British Time (ITV1).

John Mercer (Andrew Buchan), ex-Special forces is arrested by the police after he killed his aunt and uncle because of what they have done to his sister Jess (Liz White). He's recruited in prison by the mysterious Lenny Douglas (Peter Mullan) to become an assassin for the government. His job: to kill criminals the law cannot apprehend.

Thanks to The Guardian, have a look to a clip from awaited series two of the hit (no pun intended) series produced by Kudos (Spooks, Hustle). A nice way to begin the day.

See also: (Series two Promo)

Wednesday, 26 August 2009


[19.23 - French Time] Launched in 2008 on German channel RTL, multi-awarded medical "Dramedy" Doctor's Diary - Männer sind die beste Medizin arrives in France.

France's leader channel TF1 unveiled today its 2009-2010 lineup, which includes the German hit series. Often described as a mix between Grey's Anatomy and Bridget Jones, the show is about the sentimental and professional tribulations of a young doctor, Margarethe "Gretchen" Haase (Diana Amft). Adolf Grimme Award winner Bora Dagtekin (Türkisch für Anfänger/Turkish for Beginners) is responsible for the concept and headwriting.

There's no doubt that TF1 has been inspired its rating success with the first season of Verliebt in Berlin (2005-2007) the German adaptation of Columbian’s worldwide phenom format Yo soy Betty la fea. French viewers made a triumph to the romance between Lisa Plenske and David Seidel and rival private channel M6 bought Alles was zählt (Le rêve de Diana in French), a German soap from Grundy UFA, for its highest satisfaction as the show is a cult favourite amongst teenagers and young adults.

Doctor's Diary - Männer sind die beste Medizin is produced for RTL by Polyphon and Austrian ORF. The show is distributed by Telepool and dubbed by the excellent Belgian dubbing company Agent Double (responsible of the dubbing of Cobra 11). Doctor's Diary is called in Le journal de Meg, so we can suppose that Gretchen becomes Meg through the "magic" of French dubbing.

(C) Thierry Attard

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)

Thursday, 6 August 2009


Good news about Hustle from Digital Spy (1) coming with the shooting of series 6: the team of series 5 is back.

Series 5 brought Hustle back on tracks after two forgettable series, a pause of almost two years, and a pathetic Italian Job cliffhanger. The fourth series, without the supremely charismatic and talented Adrian Lester as Mickey "Bricks" Stone (gone on other projects), focused on Marc Warren as Danny Blue in the shoes of the team leader. The iconic if not venerable Mr Robert Vaughn became de facto star of the show as Albert Stroller (for the satisfaction of US then co-funder, AMC) and Hustle went close to become the BBC's equivalent of Midsomer Murders: a postcard cliché customized for North American market. But American viewers have their own Hustle, Leverage, on TNT.

Hustle started practically from scratch with the brilliant series 5. Lester came back after the terribly embarassing Bonekickers. Exit Marc Warren and Jaime Murray, idem for the poor Ashley Walters (added as Billy Bond in series 4). And two new cast members, Kelly Adams and Matt Di Angelo, entered as brother-sister duo Emma and Sean Kennedy. The "reset" of Hustle in a credit crunched London - and in a post-Madoff world - allowed the return of the social subtext of the beginning of the show. « I love thinking of new twists and turns for the Hustle crew and fortunately real life continues to provide great inspiration! » says show creator Tony Jordan to Neil Wilkes of Digital Spy. Hustle is probably the only show which took the current recession as a blessing in disguise.

For the six episodes of the sixth series, Hustle relocates to Birmingham ( instead of London. As long as there's no more silly occasional escapades in the US (absent of previous series, thank God) this move could be very interesting. Kelly Adams and Matt Di Angelo are fortunately returning alongside Lester, Vaughn and Robert Glenister. Let's hope that Rob Jarvis will be in Birmingham too, as Eddie - the "sixth musketeer" of the Hustle family - and that we'll have more of the great Bill Bailey (Cyclops) and of Patrick Bergin (as Toby Baxter).

The real Hustle, the con is on more than ever. Ask for the real deal, and like our Canadian friend Furious D ( would say: accept no imitations.

Update (August 7): Thanks to the vigilance of the great folks commenting one one of the Digital Spy forums ( here is a picture gallery about Hustle filmed in Birmingham:


See also:

Sunday, 2 August 2009


Minuit, le soir, a Quebecer TV series shown from 2005 to 2007 in the Canadian province on Radio-Canada, is one of the best dramas ever produced. Quebecers speak French, but certainly not the French language talked in France, and probably not the French talked by French television execs. So in France Minuit, le soir is dubbed... from French to French.

Quebec produces top notch shows, like the hilarious sitcom Catherine (1998-2003), the cult Dans une Galaxie près de chez vous (1998-2001) - a spoof of Star Trek (1) which spawn two feature films, Les hauts et les bas de Sophie Paquin - shown since 2006 and remade as Sophie with Canadian English-speaking actors. Or even the effective Haute Surveillance (2000), which unfortunately bombed locally but which can be considered as a kind of prototype of Spooks in many respects.

Created by screenwriter Pierre-Yves Bernard and actor/screenwriter Claude Legault, creators of Dans une Galaxie près de chez vous, Minuit, le soir is about three bar bouncers - doormen, as they're called in Joual (2) - at The Manhattan, a bar in downtown Montreal: Marc Forest (Claude Legault), Gaétan Langlois (popular comedian and actor Julien Poulin, known in Quebec for his character of Bob "Elvis" Gratton) and Louis Bergeron (Louis Champagne). When Fanny Campagnolo (Julie Perreault), an ambitious young woman of Italian origins, buys the bar and transforms it as Le Sas, the cultural clash begins for the three men.

Critically acclaimed and very popular amongst viewers, Minuit, le soir won 17 Gémeaux awards (3) during its two-year run (37 22-minute episodes) - including one for its soundtrack, as music is very important on the show because many sequences are without dialogues. Preceded by a prestigious reputation earned in festivals, Minuit, le soir caught the attention of French public channel France 2 in 2007 (when F2 also bought Les hauts et les bas de Sophie Paquin).

But the Minuit, le soir shown since July 5 by France 2 at 11.55 pm (!) is not the series shown on Radio-Canada. Because the channel shows a version dubbed in what is called International French, a French meant to be understandable in all the Francophone zone but which is practically a "Parisian French". In France even people from some provinces are subtitled on news bulletins, imagine Susan Boyle subtitled for Londoners during her audition of Britain's Got Talent.

With its indeniable quality and a common language (even with local differences) you could believe that there's a lot of television series from Quebec on mainstream French channels and that France is a major export territory for the Quebecer television industry, but it would be a mistake. Until recently many productions from Quebec - like Haute surveillance, Catherine, or Rumeurs (2002-2008) - were only shown on TV5, the cable and satellite global network broadcasting French-speaking programmes. TV5 shows the funny Un gars, une fille (1997-2003), but it's the French adaptation (1999-2003) which became a rating hit on France 2.

Cable and digital channel TMC regularly (re)runs Fortier a drama from Quebec about a female profiler psychologist (2000-2004) but the stars of the show have been asked to dub their parts in Parisian French, which is a pity. And in the case of Minuit, le soir, a French dubbing with French dubbing actors is more than a pity, it's an heresy. Culture and language are consubstantial elements of the characterization and plots, we're watching the tribulations of three Doormen in Montreal and not three videurs de la rive gauche.

Actually France 2 is not the first channel to show Minuit, le soir in France, as cable and satellite channel CinéCinéma Culte presented the series with subtitles in 2007. Subtitles are a common practice for Quebecer series on TV5 and the choice of CinéCinéma had at least the merit to be more clever and respectful than a dubbing. The argument of a necessary dubbing would perhaps be conceivable for primetime but Minuit, le soir is not precisely a show suitable for French primetime on a mainstream channel, regarding its 22-minute format and its content. Not to mention the fact that its Montreal setting is the calling card of the show.

Quebecer hit Buddy movie Bon Cop, Bad Cop (2006) was a brilliant bilingual film about the relationships between Quebec and English-Speaking Canada. But when it comes to Quebec shows on mainstream French channels, it's Bon flic, Bon flic... Parisian style.

(1) Read The Romano Fafard vs. the Enterprise or How Québec Beat Star Trek, an excellent article by Caroline-Isabelle Caron (
(2) Popular French from Quebec.
(3) The local equivalent of the Emmys.