Saturday, 27 February 2010


[14.40 - French Time] The remake of The Rockford Files has its star: Dermot Mulroney (My Best Friend's Wedding) will be Jim Rockford in the pilot for the NBC 2010 version of the iconic TV series.

The original Rockford Files, aired on NBC from 1974 to 1980, starred the great James Garner as private investigator Jim Rockford. Wrongfully jailed but pardoned, Rockford lived in a mobile home - which doubled as his office - on a Malibu beach. The ultimate anti-hero was a creation of Roy Huggins and Stephen J. Cannell and the memorable theme of the show (preceded by a message on Rockford's answering machine) was composed by Mike Post and Pete Carpenter. James Garner came back as the character in the nineties for some TV movies for CBS.

This pilot is from Universal Media Studios and Steve Carell's Carousel Productions and it is written by House creator David Shore, who is exec producing with Steve Carell. The choice of Mulroney comes the week NBC announced they would wait a few months for their remake of British cult series Prime Suspect because of the difficulties to find the perfect actress for the role.

Meanwhile, NBC Universal considers giving the Law & Order international treatment (Law & Order: UK, Paris Section Criminelle, etc...) to classic "brands" of its library like Columbo and Murder She Wrote. For a British remake of Columbo your humble servant's favourite is Peter Davison (because of The Last Detective).

Now which US net will dare to try a Mannix remake? Anyone? Anyone?

See also:

Friday, 26 February 2010


[10.20 - French Time] The newly created Working Title Television, a joint venture between Brititish-based Working Title Films (owned by NBC Universal) and NBC Universal International, plans TV adaptations of the Brit company's movie hits.

These TV shows would be aimed at American audiences but potentially exportable or remade in a range of countries, reports Maggie Brown on The Guardian website. Bridget Jones, Billy Elliot and Nanny McPhee are among the possibilities considered.

NBC Universal is encouraged by its local versions of the Law & Order franchise existing in France, Russia and in the UK. Maggie Brown writes that a new series of Law & Order UK is in production and that the media conglomerate could possibly remake classics like Columbo and Murder She Wrote the same way.

A British remake of Murder She Wrote? Er, ever heard of Miss Marple?

See also:

Thursday, 25 February 2010


[10.30 - French Time] Read on Broadcast. Bal Samra, BBC director of rights and business affairs and BBC Vision director of operations, has denied the BBC is experiencing cash flow problems.

The comments of the BBC business chief came after some indie producers told Broadcast they were suffering because the Beeb could not release cash for commissioned shows to go into production, until new money is released in April 2010 or April 2011 (

A source told the magazine and website that the second series of Psychoville would not air until 2011 for this reason, but Bal Samra said it was a commissioning decision rather than a cash flow issue (

Besides, Stephen Garrett - boss of Kudos (Spooks, Hustle, Life on Mars...) - told recently to The Guardian why he believes that independent production sector suffers from BBC budget cuts and therefore why "high-quality homegrown dramas such as Spooks could be an endangered species" ( And series six of BBC hit Hustle, relocated to Birmingham to contain production costs and get local co-financing, is certainly an illustration of the current situation.

The question now is too see if the BBC drama budget cuts impact in some way or another the awaited series five of Doctor Who, one of the Corporation's most lucrative franchises. This series, starring Matt Smith as The Doctor, premieres in the UK on April 3.


[5.10 - French Time] Read on The Hollywood Reporter. Pilot for the US remake of British classic series Prime Suspect is delayed by NBC... because of casting difficulties for the main character!

The original Prime Suspect, created by Lynda La Plante (Widows), ran from 1991 to 2006 on ITV and starred Helen Mirren as Detective Chief Inspector Jane Tennison. Tennison was a no-nonsense uncompromising cop working on the hardest cases in a male-dominated professional environment.

The pilot, from Universal Media Studios and ITV, was written by Without a Trace creator Hank Steinberg. "After a long search, NBC execs felt they couldn't find the right actress for the role and opted to shelve the project until June", writes THR .

Does this mean that it's not easy to remake one of the best British shows ever made and replace one of the best British actresses ever? You might well think that, but I couldn't possibly comment.

Oh, some studio is remaking that one too...

Wednesday, 24 February 2010


[16.50 - French Time] BBC One has axed its circus sitcom Big Top, starring Amanda Holden. A BBC spokeswoman confirmed to Chortle that the show, which also stars Ruth Madoc (Little Britain) John Thomson (Cold Feet) and Tony Robinson (Blackadder), will not return.

BBC One Controller Jay Hunt said about Big Top ahead of its launch: « Big Top is a heart-warming family comedy with real potential to capture the imagination of the BBC One audience. I am delighted it will be part of the new raft of comedies on the channel » ( But neither the critics nor the public agreed and the most intriguing with Big Top is why the BBC commissioned it in the first place.

After the cold reception of new shows like Paradox or Material Girl and this cancellation, the Beeb will find solace in the recent Showcase organized in Brighton by BBC Worldwide. On Monday, the Corporation's commercial arm and US Public service PBS announced a co-production deal for three incoming series: the revival of Upstairs, Downstairs (1971-1975), Aurelio Zen and Sherlock. The 3 X 90-minute "reimagining" of Sherlock Holmes by Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat has just secured its first international sale with Australia’s Nine Network.

The show stars Benedict Cumberbatch (The Last Enemy) as Sherlock Holmes. Martin Freeman (The Office UK) as Doctor John Watson, and Rupert Graves (V for Vendetta) is Inspector Lestrade. Set in modern day London, Sherlock presents the detective as an analytical deduction fanatic who helps the police for fun and thrill.

The British answer to Monk and The Mentalist with a zest of Doctor Who? The TV series is produced by Hartswood Films (Jekyll), founded by Beryl Vertue. Steven Moffat is one of the execs of the company ( and the name of the new Doctor Who showrunner is the main excitement factor since the announcement of the project in 2008.


[9.50 - French Time] Curious experience for The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson on CBS yesterday, with host Craig Ferguson breaking his format for a very special guest.

No cold open, no puppets (we have discussed of the puppets here), no intro song, no monologue and no "audience machine" with members of his "Robot skeleton army" (as Ferguson calls his followers on Twitter). Instead, Craig Ferguson on the Charlie Rose territory in a taped interview of one of the most illustrious British citizens: comedian, actor, presenter and Renaissance man Stephen Fry.

Maybe The Tonight Show on NBC could do a one-on-one with Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien. And Jimmy Kimmel could lend Guillermo, the security guard of his ABC show, for the event.


[7.00 - French Time] Roland Emmerich, the director/producer of the disaster movie 2012, told MovieWeb that 2013 - the television spinoff of the blockbuster - has been put on hold because of budget constraints.

The only thing truly fascinating with the idea was that, according to a piece from Entertainment Weekly, the show would have been on... ABC - the network behind FlashForward and V ( « After the six-month flashforward and the giant spaceships, now the world after its end. If it is true that ABC picks up the show they'll have to rebrand the network "FEMABC" », wrote your humble servant in November.

But with FlashForward being a disaster of its own kind and the misfortunes of NBC's "survivoresque" Day One (about the residents of a Southern California apartment complex following a mysterious catastrophe) (1), no wonder why Emmerich's end of the world could be "definitive".

The Mayans didn't predict recession and the end of heavily serialized dramas.

(1) The project went from a 13-episode series to a four-part miniseries before melting down to a TV movie! (

Tuesday, 23 February 2010


[18.06 - French Time] Israel will have its own adaptation of Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant's The Office this spring.

Israeli actor Dvir Benedek (A matter of Size) will play Avi Meshulam, the local counterpart of David Brent (Ricky Gervais) or Michael Scott (Steve Carell in the NBC version) in Super Office, a 15 X 25 minute series (1).

This adaptation of the BBC show - set in Yahud, near Tel Aviv - will be directed by Eitan Tzur and written by Uzi Weill, director of the hit series Be Tipul (In Therapy, 2005 and 2008) (2).

If TV formats from Israel raise a lot of interest on international markets, the country's television shows are virtually unknown. In France, Franco-German channel Arte aired some years ago an excellent but short-lived Israeli sitcom called Sh'henim (Neighbours, 1989), with Gadi Yagil, Ofra Weingarten and Bassam Zo'amat. Sh'henim was about Jewish and Arab neighbours co-existing in an apartment building.

(2) Remade in the US by HBO as In Treatment.

Sunday, 21 February 2010


The Prisoner 2009 arrived in France this week on Pay TV Canal Plus.

Co-created and produced in 1967 by Patrick McGoohan, who also starred in it, The Prisoner was about a secret agent who awakes in a strange place named The Village after resigning. Every resident of The Village is called by a number, the leader is Number Two and our man becomes Number Six against his will. Number Two wants to know why Number Six resigned and Number Six wants to escape.

The 17 episodes of McGoohan's work, though not equally perfect, have acquired a cult status through the years and the idea of a remake was certainly inevitable. In november 2005, Granada announced that the company was planning a new version of The Prisoner with Sky One plus European and US networks as possible partners ( Christopher Eccleston was initially rumoured to star in it.

In 2006, The Hollywood Reporter revealed that American cable network AMC was attached to the project but in 2007 Sky One decided to pull out due to creative differences with the US partner (1). ITV, owner of The Prisoner, held on as only British producer with AMC as co-producer.

Written by Bill Gallagher (Conviction), directed by Nick Hurran (Bonekickers) and shot in South Africa and Namibia, the new six-part miniseries of The Prisoner aired first on AMC in November 2009 as a three-day event. In the UK ITV1 should show it this spring but it was announced in the ITV1 Winter/Spring 2008-2009 season brochure.

An American citizen (Jim Caviezel) wakes up in the desert where he sees an old man being chased. The old man comes from a strange place called The Village where everyone is a number. The leader is Two (Ian McKellen) and our American becomes Six. Remakes allow new generations to discover concepts, stories and characters and without them the only Batman would still be Lewis Wilson in the 1943 serial. Call them "reinventions", "reinterpretations", "reboots" or whatever, the idea is still to do again something already done but with new elements. In the case of our concern, "remake" will do.

Bernie Lomax (see Weekend at Bernie's) is patron saint of the modern Entertainment industry, where originality is a hazard and where every company or media conglomerate is digging deep into its back catalogue to find an old show, classic or not, to transform an old "brand" into a bonanza. The BBC has the Doctor Who franchise, ITV has a myriad of cult shows inherited from the ITC Entertainment era.

But the original Prisoner was and should have remained unique: The Village, part Portmeirion - an architectural smorgasbord in Wales - and part studios, the sets, the costumes, the original and stock tracks of the score, the ambiance, the actors, etc. McGoohan's brainchild is a televisual, philosophical and esthetical work of art. Its influence is palpable in a a lot of movies or television series: Nowhere Man, The Truman Show, Meadowlands... In many respects they have already "reinvented" The Prisoner, and sometimes better than the new miniseries.

The first of the many weaknesses of this Prisoner is definitely its star. Jim Caviezel's Six is so tern that he's overshadowed by Ian McKellen's Two. McKellen is great... Of course, he is! It's Ian McKellen, he could mesmerize an audience by reading his shopping list. In the original version, the Number Two function had an exponential turnover rate but not here (of course, remember it's Ian McKellen) as the new Two has a son, a seemingly sick wife, and a curious taste for pineapples. Hand grenades, I mean.

In the 1967 series The Village was so distinctive that it was almost a character in its own right. The new Village, the Namibian resort of Swakopmund, is visually a mix between Meadowlands and Disneyland. A dream (?) of colonial architecture crossed by these anonymous cars and buses you see in so many adverts because a lot of adverts are shot in South Africa. Whereas the Mini Moke of the original show was so emblematic of the Swinging sixties.

Superb views of the Namibian desert compensate the bland anonymity of the location and of the vehicles but cannot compensate a certain lack of strong personalities among the cast, besides Ian McKellen (of course, it's...) Another weakness is the americanization of the story, Six is from New York, he asks Two for an American consul, a drawing of the Statue of Liberty is one of the clues of the reality of the world he comes from, the two glass towers standing in the desert evoke the World Trade Center. And the soundtrack is the generic score you can hear in every Hollywood blockbuster, since it's from Brit composer Rupert Gregson-Williams, ex-Media Ventures alumnus (Hans Zimmer and his pals).

The themes of the 1967 Prisoner, such as the individual vs society, can be considered as universal but, even if its co-creator and lead was American, the show itself was intrinsincly British. Like Richard Woolfe, then boss of Sky One, said in his interview for Digital Spy in 2007: « It's a very quintessentially British drama and there were too many creative differences trying to share it with an American partner. I didn't want to be responsible for taking something that is quintessentially British and adapting it in a way that I didn't feel was reflective of the way people would remember it and the way people would want it to be » (2).

There are many good ideas in The Prisoner 2009: the old man in the pre-credit sequence of the premiere looks like an aged McGoohan as Number Six with the original costume (there's no "uniform" in the new Village), the Wonkers soap opera, 70 - the twin psychiatrists. And the hilarious nod to the map scene of the 1967 version of Arrival. But there are also too many terrible ideas, like the inelegant intro credit sequence and all the Summakor thing, or the subplot with Two's son.

Unfortunately, this forgettable remake of The Prisoner will rejoin the unnecessary US remake of Life on Mars and its likes. Six is not a free man, he's not even really a "number" - curiously the French dubbing brings back the old "Number Six".

Sorry, wrong number...

(1) (2)

See also:

Friday, 19 February 2010


[19.30 - French Time] Since November we note the TV show casualties of the US Network season 2009-2010 in our Countdown to Oblivion feature (The list is updated when necessary):

- The Beautiful Life (CW)
- Southland (NBC)
- Eastwick (ABC)
- Hank (ABC)
- Dollhouse (Fox)
- Ugly Betty (ABC)

- Past Life (Fox) (

Another "Life" bites the dust. Life, Life On Mars US, The Beautiful Life... It's the Curse of Life.


[18.32 - French Time] David Tennant's big break (or not) in the US being apparently delayed to the Autumn, the former Doctor has been cast in a new BBC dramedy called Single Father.

Tennant will play a man struggling to raise his four kids after his wife passes away in this four-part drama set in Glasgow. The shooting begins begins next month, reports Digital Spy (

Rex is not your lawyer is not even mentioned in NBC's pilot list by Lynette Rice, of Entertainment Weekly (

See also:


[15.20 - French Time] BBC Worldwide, the BBC's commercial arm, is working on strategies to create drama franchises of the scale of 24 and Heroes, reports Broadcast.

Steve Macallister, MD sales and distribution, wants to provide an alternative to the dominance of US studios as BBC Worldwide prepares to welcome 500 buyers from around the world for the four day BBC Showcase. The event begins on Sunday 21 February in Brighton.

« We are the biggest distributor of finished TV shows outside of the Hollywood studios - a genuine alternative - and our intention is to grow and rival those studios more, competing for market share », said Macallister, naming 24, Lost and Heroes as examples he would like BBC Worldwide to match in terms of international success (

The declarations of Steve Macallister come after indie producers like Stephen Garrett, boss of Kudos (Spooks, Hustle), expressed their worries about the future of British drama in an economic climate weighed down by the BBC budget cuts (

The BBC likes franchises, Doctor Who is one of its most lucratives. And Matt Smith, the new Doctor, will be at Showcase like Benedict Cumberbatch - Sherlock Holmes in the new Steven Moffat series. And those who argue that the Beeb should take example on HBO's The Wire will appreciate Luther, a new crime drama series starring Idris Elba, and which will be making its international debut at Showcase.

See also:

Thursday, 18 February 2010


[9.50 - French Time] Broadcast reports that the long-running Scottish crime drama Taggart will finally continue in spite of the current pressure on drama budgets and past rocky relationships between STV and ITV.

The Scottish network will make a new 6 x 60-minute series and will air it exclusively in the autumn, before ITV1 gets the show in 2011. Digital cable and satellite network UKTV has also put money in it for the secondary broadcast rights, and its crime channel Alibi will air the series from 2013. The shooting of the latest series will begin in the spring (

Created in 1983 by Scottish screenwriter, playwright and novelist Glenn Chandler, Taggart survived the death of its star Mark McManus (DCI Jim Taggart) in 1994 and went on with other DCIs. The show, sold in more than 40 countries, celebrated its 100th episode last Christmas (

This deal for a new series of Taggart recalls, on another scale, the multi-partnership which resurrected Primeval for two more seasons last fall and which also involves UKTV. ITV director of TV, channels and online Peter Fincham said about the resurrection of the costly sci-fi show: « I don’t think all drama will be funded this way, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see more of it. It’s a reality of a world in which it’s challenging for broadcasters to fully fund drama » (

See also:

Wednesday, 17 February 2010


[18.50 - French Time] She Who Must Be Read aka our dear Nikki Finke, founder and editor in chief of, reports that the Oscars are planning a special tribute to John Hughes for this year's telecast.

Writer, director and producer John Hughes died in August 2009. His legacy includes Vacation (1983), Weird Science (1985), Ferris Bueller's Days Off (1986) or Planes, Trains & Automobiles (1987).

« The death of John Hughes last year touched Hollywood in a way that only a very small number of talent can », writes Nikki ( But his death touched not only Hollywood, it also touched everyone who was a teenager in the 1980s. Because this master of comedy left us an important work about the passage to adulthood, family, America and so many other essential themes.

Bernie Lomax is patron saint of modern Hollywoodland, that's why a sequel/remake of Vacation is in preparation. When John Hughes died your humble servant felt the need to watch Ferris Bueller's Day Off for the 450th time and told his wonderful wife: « Now we can bet they'll remake Ferris ASAP ».

See also:

Tuesday, 16 February 2010


[21.00 - French Time] Read on The Hollywood Reporter. Working Title Films, the UK production company behind the Bridget Jones movies, Johnny English or Frost/Nixon and owned by NBC Universal, is launching a TV division.

The company, Working Title Television, is a joint venture between Working Title and NBC Universal International and will have offices in London and Los Angeles. The first project of the new TV unit is a pilot for a dramedy, Love Bites, greenlit by NBC last month.

Interestingly NBC Universal owns British company Carnival Films (Hotel Babylon), co-producer of The Philanthropist - aired last summer on NBC. Carnival is also the producer of Material Girl, recently aired on BBC One. Part of the job of newly appointed NBC Universal VP of international television production Mike Beale is precisely to build on the acquisition of Carnival, bought in 2008 (

Note that NBC Universal Television co-produces Law & Order UK, British version of the Law & Order franchise, with Kudos (Spooks, Hustle).

See also:

Monday, 15 February 2010


[10.20 - French Time] Interesting interview of Stephen Garrett, the head of Kudos Film and Television, by Maggie Brown on the website of The Guardian. Kudos is of course the indie behind Spooks, Life on Mars, Hustle, etc.

Former exec at Channel 4, Stephen Garrett founded Kudos in 1992. Spooks, launched on BBC One in 2002, paved the way to a string of innovative hits which made the company one of the UK's most valuable independent drama producers. Garrett sold Kudos in 2006 to Elisabeth Murdoch's Shine Group for £35m. Funnily enough, both Spooks and Life on Mars were rejected by Channel 4!

Stephen Garrett explains why he believes that independent production sector suffers from BBC budget cuts and therefore why "high-quality homegrown dramas such as Spooks could be an endangered species". We learn in Maggie Brown's piece that this show costs just under £900,000 an episode, partly because of the action shots, special effects and stunts.

The current economic climate certainly favours international co-productions like the BBC version of Wallander or the next two seasons of the resurrected Primeval - in which BBC Worldwide is strongly involved. But Primeval is a genre franchise, originally devised to duplicate the success of Doctor Who, and sold in more than 40 countries.

Hard recession times are definitely weighing on BBC hits. Series six of Hustle, moved to Birmingham for production cost purpose (and local co-financing), and in some respects series eight of Spooks, are the latest illustrations of the situation. Last month Maggie Brown reported that several long-running BBC dramas will soon get the axe in order to make room for new projects (

A ninth series of Spooks is anyway in the pipeline and the BBC has commissioned to Kudos an eight-part drama series called Outcasts, set in 2040, and already much talked about. "Endangered species"? Torchwood apparently moves to the US and we are at the end of a quality cycle initiated with the modern version of Doctor Who in 2005. We'll see how the BBC drama budget cuts impact the upcoming series five of one of the Corporation's most lucrative franchises.

See also:

Sunday, 14 February 2010

SERGE SAUVION (1929-2010)

[12.30 - French Time] Read on the blog of La Gazette du doublage, the website of my friend François Justamand (1). French actor Serge Sauvion has died at the age of 80.

Serge Sauvion was particularly popular in France for his contribution to the dubbing of many US television series. Especially one which made him literally an iconic part of French popular culture: Columbo.

The savorous rendition by Sauvion of Peter Falk's lines as the lieutenant marked generations in France, becoming a favourite among impersonators, in numerous skits, TV variety shows, or in diners. Even around coffee vending machines at work.

Actually the huge success and popularity of Columbo in France (even in reruns) owes a lot to Serge Sauvion, who certainly made him more French than American without betraying him a single second. His voice perfectly matched Falk's own voice.

For TV Sauvion was also the French-speaking voice of Peter Lupus in Mission: Impossible, of Robert Blake in Baretta, or of Stacy Keach in Mike Hammer and its sequel shows.

He was also the voice Burt Reynolds in his greatest movie hits.

(1) La Gazette du doublage is both a website and a blog. (In French)

Saturday, 13 February 2010


[19.00 - French Time] Network releases this month Callan - The Monochrome Years. And Frank Collins reviews this DVD on Cathode Ray Tube, his quintessential blog.

In Callan (1967-1972), created by James Mitchell, Edward Woodward was the ultimate incarnation of the realistic, cynical and sometimes melancholic spy with a conscience. Employed by a shadowy government security service, always questioning his superior, David Callan was more close to the job description by John le Carré or Len Deighton than to the image of James Bond - whose popularity was at its peak then.

Woodward's magnificent interpretation of the reluctant hitman brought him stardom and a prestigious BAFTA of Best Actor. Aired on ABC/Thames Television, Callan ended with a three-parter called The Richmond File in 1972 but the character returned later in a 1974 feature film (Callan) and in Wet Job, a 1981 television movie.

This four-disc set contains: the original Armchair Theatre pilot play (A Magnum for Schneider) and the surviving black and white episodes from Series One and Two unseen in nearly forty years and available for the first time in any format. There's also a 1969 episode, The Worst Soldier I Ever Saw, restored in its proper transmission format from a raw studio footage for this DVD release.


Review of the French Region 2 DVD of the cult 1986 CBS miniseries (starring Madolyn Smith and Tom Berenger) on the French version of this blog.

Thursday, 11 February 2010


[6.50 - French Time] Midsomer Murders Series 13 Episode 2. When DCI Tom Barnaby (John Nettles) is suspicious about a property deal between mayor Hicks (Brian Capron) and the Brighton council, he gives the keys of police HQ to DS Jones (Jason Hughes) and joins Causton's annual trip to the delicious seaside resort. He asks for the assistance of his cousin, DCI John Barnaby (Neil Dudgeon), of the local police.

Launched in 1997 with the one-off episode The Killings At Badger's Drift, Midsomer Murders is based on the books by Caroline Graham and transposed to the small screen by talented screenwriter and novelist Anthony Horowitz. The show, produced by Bentley Productions for ITV, is already considered as a classic and is a global hit sold in more than 200 countries. Detective Chief Inspector Tom Barnaby is the second important TV role of John Nettles after the character of DS Jim Bergerac in the BBC Jersey-set crime drama Bergerac (1981-1991).

John Nettles will leave Midsomer Murders at the end of series 13 with episode 82. His successor has been announced this week: it's Neil Dudgeon as Tom's cousin DCI John Barnaby - who appears for the first time in this episode, The sword of Guillaume, in a phone call scene. Tom teams up with his cousin when one of Causton's finest citizens decides to export to the seaside town the only product Midsomer County is known for: murder most horrid.

The episode has a stellar cast: Lucy Cohu (Cape Wrath, Torchwood and recently the sublime Murderland), Mark Gatiss, Tim McInnerny, etc. The pantomime crime routine of the show is brought to Brighton and the character played by McInnerny - typecast as an obnoxious chap - is the first to die. But it's Midsomer Murders, so he's beheaded with a valuable historical sword in the Brighton ghost train! - What's the problem with Tim McInnerny's head? First an Ood facelift now this...

Quickenings go on in Causton and Tom finally gets the murderer (whose ID is no surprise at all) after a mud walk with Hughes. Then he gives the usual poirotesque explanation of the mystery. But the only reason which could explain the propension of Midsomer County residents to kill each other is that Midsomer must be an open-air penitentiary, like Absolom in the movie No Escape (1994).

Loyal readers of this blog know your humble servant's opinion about Midsomer Murders but the transition between the two Barnabys is handled in a clever and elegant way. Neil Dudgeon is a very good choice and there's a great scene where someone asks if Detective Chief Inspector Barnaby is here and the cousins make a step forward simultaneously. Actually Dudgeon wins his legitimacy with a brilliant moment where John confronts the mayor of Brighton. When she says (about Hicks) « He wanted to take me to Marbella » he replies « He's all class » in a typical Barnaby style.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010


[15.00 - French Time] Oh God, another Barnaby! The Guardian reveals that Neil Dudgeon (Life of Riley) will replace John Nettles, DCI Tom Barnaby in Midsomer Murders, as his cousin DCI John Barnaby!

Neil Dudgeon appears for the first time in this week's episode of Midsomer Murders on ITV1 and he will take over when series 14 of the long-running drama begins shooting at the end of July ( John Nettles is giving up his role at the end of series 13. His last episode is episode 82 and he will shoot his final scene in August.

The list of of potential replacements included Nat Parker, Rupert Penry-Jones (Whitechapel), Jason Isaacs, Bradley Walsh, Jason Durr, Alastair MacKenzie, Philip Glenister ( and the very talented Michael Kitchen (Foyle's War) - who would have been absolutely perfect.

The wish to keep a Barnaby in charge is probably justified by international sales, the show's title bears the name of its character in many countries (in France it's called Inspecteur Barnaby).

See also:


[7.00 - French Time] Hustle Series 6 Episode 6. The team finishes an insider trading con but one of the marks is an undercover police officer. Mickey Stone (Adrian Lester) and his friends are nicked but the police must leave them to Jennifer Hughes (Anna Madeley) and Nigel Chambers (Tom Beard) of the MI6.

The spies want the hustlers to steal a security box in the National Bank of Syria (!) and if they succeed not only they'll be free but they'll keep as much cash as they can carry from the vault. Their "recruitment" is a suggestion of DCI Lucy "Bitchface" Britford (Indira Varma), a good friend of Hughes. In a recent past Lucy tried to trap Mickey and the gang but lost at her own game.

Emma (Kelly Adams) charms a young employee of the bank spotted through the "Find My Mates" website (the equivalent of Facebook in Hustleverse), Ash (Robert Glenister) does his electronic wizardry tricks, Albert (Robert Vaughn) manages a power cut at a most strategic moment and Sean (Matt Di Angelo) goes Syrian! Meanwhile Mickey deals with Jennifer Hughes... The things he'd do for England.

It seems that the Kudos team in charge of Hustle had some hard times with this series 6, moved to Birmingham to contain production costs and get some local financing complement. The action is absurdly still set in London and if there is a show whose concept is the absolute antithesis to the idea of budget shortage it's Hustle.

The episode itself was less exciting than the high standards you can expect from a Tony Jordan script. It's the traditional team in peril season finale and this time the danger is a venomous MI6 female agent and her colleague named Nigel (every British spy is called Nigel). There's a computer screen cameo of Indira Varma, probably busy elsewhere, as Lucy "Bitchface" - the nickname is cult on the internet.

With three hits, two misses and an average finale, Hustle Series 6 is like Spooks Series 8: not good, not bad, entertaining but not up to its glory days. And BBC hits have clearly budget issues this year, should Hustle series 7 be shot in South Africa that would even not surprise in these recession times.

The good points: Anna Madeley, great lines (« We are not thieves »), the score (great Get Carter touch).

Monday, 8 February 2010


[10.00 - French Time] Read on The Guardian website. Trevor Eve, Peter Boyd in Waking the Dead for the BBC, will star in the three-part drama Kidnap and Ransom for ITV1.

Eve will be Dominic King, an international hostage negotiator, alongside John Hannah, Helen Baxendale and Emma Fielding. Kidnap and Ransom is co-produced by Projector Pictures - Trevor Eve's production company - and Talkback Thames ( It will be shot in South Africa, like the recent remake of The Prisoner for AMC/ITV or Outcasts, the Kudos drama project for BBC One.

There are rumors that Waking the Dead is among the long-running dramas to be axed soon by the BBC. The show exists since 2000.


[7.49 - French Time] It's Pilotfest these days for the networks, as they're trying to find the shows they will put on air for the 2010-2011 season. And as usual there's nothing to get particularly excited about.

THR reports that Michael Chiklis (The Shield) will star in a drama pilot for ABC called No Ordinary Family. He will be the father of a family whose members have special abilities. The project is from Greg Berlanti and Jon Feldman (Dirty Sexy Money). A live-action The Incredibles or Parenthood meets Heroes? We'll see.

Talking about ABC, Nikki Finke has an interesting piece about David Goyer leaving FlashForward, seen through the prism of the development at ABC and their need for a breakout hour-long drama (

Unless a miracle that will certainly not be FlashForward and maybe the nets should consider the relevance of spending fortunes on drama projects designed to convince our friend Lee Goldberg to write another opus of his Unsold Television Pilots classic book, or which should not go beyond the pilot.

At least NBC tried, with Jay Leno in Primetime, to consider the problem. The impact of Leno's underperformance on the local news made NBC's affiliates ask for a premature stop of the experiment ( The perspective of the Comcast/NBC Uni merger must certainly have weighed too as NBC has a lot to discuss with its affiliates (,0,7577841.story).

Now NBC is in the development game more than ever. The question is: do Rex is not your lawyer or the US version of Prime Suspect worth the much publicized exit of Conan O'Brien and Leno on Oprah?

Lee, we know you're busy... but write that book.

Sunday, 7 February 2010


[18.35 - French Time] According to Digital Spy, actor Shane Richie will reprise his famous Alfie Moon character in EastEnders, five years after his final appearance in the BBC soap.

Since his departure, Richie starred in the short-lived but wonderful reinvention of classic comedy/drama Minder as Archie Daley (Arthur Daley's nephew) for Five. He also starred in Whatever it takes, an excellent one-off ITV1 drama.

BBC One will celebrate the 25th anniversary of EastEstenders with its first ever live episode on February 19. Matt Di Angelo (Hustle), Don Gilet (55 Degrees North), Nitin Ganatra (Mumbai Calling) or Glynis Barber (Blakes 7, Dempsey and Makepeace) are among the many talents who played or play in the soap.

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Saturday, 6 February 2010


[22.00 - French Time] Oscar-winning writer/director Bill Condon (Gods and Monsters, Dreamgirls) and Cynthia Mort (Tell me you love me) must be very satisfied.

The news by The Hollywood Reporter that they are developing a half-hour comedy series for HBO about "a powerful female online showbiz journalist with a no-holds-barred style", has raised enough attention to help the pay cable channel evaluate the interest for the project. Or maybe HBO, Mort and Condon believed the idea of Tilda - that's their title - is anyway a safe bet.

Of course the THR article gave other online journo names ( but we all know there can be only one person who can match to the "powerful female online showbiz journalist" type: our dear She Who Must Be Read, aka Nikki Finke, founder and Editor in Chief of

The excellent THR, Esq. blog asks if Nikki can sue HBO over this new sitcom ( Nellie Andreeva, who wrote the THR piece, points out to her THR, Esq. colleagues, that Nikki Finke isn't the only female "Hollywood blogger", so the character could be a composite.

Actually there's nothing new under the sun. Remember Murphy Brown (1988-1998), a sitcom starring Candice Bergen as a strong, uncompromising reporter based on several star female journalists of the time. The worst Nikki, and us, could fear about Tilda (Tilda?! Hedda Hopper subliminal reference alert) is a bad show.

If it's well handled this sitcom could be the Murphy Brown of the 21st century, and if it's bloody awful we'll get something like "Veronica's Closet meets Entourage". Can we sue for that? I guess we can't, otherwise the courts would be filled with half of the Hollywoodland showrunners.

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[9.00 - French Time] Variety reports that FlashForward showrunner/co-creator David Goyer is leaving his role as showrunner on the ABC series. He will continue as an exec producer.

Goyer is the second showrunner to leave the "high-concept" drama after Marc Guggenheim in the fall. David Goyer wants to focus on his film career - his feature writing credits include Batman Begins and The Dark Knight (

Overhyped as the next Lost, FlashForward struggled in the ratings before a pre-scheduled hiatus (the show returns on March 18). Like ABC's other high-concept genre show, V, which lost 35% of its audience (14.3 million to 9.3 million) over just four airings last fall (

The troubles of V and FlashForward will certainly nail the coffin of heavily serialized dramas ( after the finale of Lost on ABC. Anyway they are not a surprise for the readers of this blog.

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Friday, 5 February 2010


[5.30 - French Time] It had to happen. Since the time your humble servant jokes that someday someone will make a movie with Meryl Streep as our dear She Who Must Be Read, aka Nikki Finke of Well, I read on the Hollywood Reporter website that pay cable channel HBO will give her the sitcom treatment!

According to THR, HBO is developing Tilda, a pilot for a half-hour comedy series from Oscar-winning writer/director Bill Condon (Gods and Monsters, Dreamgirls) and Cynthia Mort. The project is centered on "a powerful female online showbiz journalist with a no-holds-barred style" ( Of course the THR piece gives other names but there can be only one She Who Must Be Read (maybe I should trademark this...)

If it becomes a success I'm looking forward to watch the crossover between this and Entourage, a show you can't really enjoy if you live ten miles beyond Los Angeles.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010


[21.40 - French Time] Virginia Madsen will be the lead in ABC's dramedy Scoundrels, an eight-episode show due to be aired this summer.

Scoundrels is the US version of Outrageous Fortune, a comedy/drama from New Zealand with a more than prestigious reputation. Shown in its country on commercial TV station TV3 since 2005, it is the longest-running local drama and a cult favourite in New Zealand. Created by James Griffin and Rachel Lang, Outrageous Fortune is about Cheryl West (Robyn Malcolm), wife of a criminal sentenced to four years, who decides to move out her family of the crime business.

In the UK ITV remade the Kiwi show as Honest (2008), with Amanda Redman - star of BBC's New Tricks. And Scoundrels is the second attempt by ABC to adapt Outrageous Fortune in the US after a pilot called Good Behavior (2008), with Catherine O'Hara.

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Tuesday, 2 February 2010


Broadcast reports that Eddie Berg, artistic director of the British Film Institute (BFI), urged the BBC to follow the example set by US pay-per-view channel HBO by taking bigger risks with its drama and comedy output.

Mr Berg was speaking in advance of a special HBO tribute weekend to be held at the BFI in April and names The Wire (2002-2008) as an example of HBO's risk-taking drama model. When it comes to the evaluation of the state of British television fiction, particularly the state of BBC drama, The Wire is systematically praised as the zenith of American drama. And it is systematically and amazingly compared to programmes completely different by their nature and their format (

Recently, some voices came in defense of Troy Kennedy Martin's Edge of Darkness (1985) after an article of The Guardian TV Club (, where the eco-thriller masterpiece was dismissed for its "slow pace" and because it was "less involving" than the Law & Order UK episode of the week on ITV1. Respected blogger Frank Collins, invited by The Thumbcast, responded with his usual flamboyance - we can't deny we like Frank and his blog, it's written not far under the name of his noble house (

« Edge Of Darkness is now, without a doubt, preserved within that catch all descriptor of ‘archive television’, which these days seems to denote anything not made in the last five years. Well, at least nothing that matches up to The Wire, which The Guardian seems to believe is the ultimate television text in front of which all other television drama must prostrate itself and deem itself not worthy » writes Frank (

Well, British television fiction is facing many issues these days. We are certainly at the end of a cycle which started with the modern version of Doctor Who (2005). And BBC dramas or comedies have their share of problems, your humble servant often points them out in this blog. The Beeb tends to rely too heavily on "names" (both for writers and actors) and franchisable genre concepts. But duplicating a US pay-cable show like The Wire would not help the Corporation, imitating US networks neither.

Look at Material Girl, BBC One's Ugly Betty. Where is Ugly Betty now anyway? Even with the current economic climate weighing on budgets, the BBC continues to deliver quality fictions and have some interesting material in its drama lineup for Winter/Spring 2010. Idris Elba stars in Luther, fans of The Wire should love it.

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[6.58 - French Time] Hustle Series 6 Episode 5. Mickey "Bricks" Stone (Adrian Lester) has been conned! He has been sold a useless mobile phone and according to the age-old laws of grifting, when a grifter is conned he's cursed.

Mickey Stone has lost his "Mojo". Well, it's not quite lost actually because it seems that Eddie (Rob Jarvis) has it. His bar is heaving with customers and he has a blonde girlfriend. The gang does some research on the company that conned Mickey, leading them to Mervyn Lloyd (Daniel Mays). Lloyd is a petty businessman who sells the latest techno-fad online regardless it's working or not and he sees himself as an entrepreneur. The Hustle team has a plan to settle the score but Mickey is forced to step aside because of his bad luck.

Theoretically, there are three things that Hustle should do for next series: move the intrigue to Birmingham as they are already shooting most of the show there, try to find a little more extra funding (hard in recession times) and manage to make Chris Bucknall and Hustle supremo Tony Jordan write half of the episodes each. Last night's episode, written by Jordan, is excellent - but what else could we expect from him.

The main idea of the script is preposterous: Mickey, icy cool grandmaster of last minute Plans B, is almost panicked because of an ancient curse from the grifters mythology. But Tony Jordan's execution, balancing comedy with social satire, is brilliantly paced. The comedy is provided by the "Mojo switch" from Mickey to Eddie. Once again Rob Jarvis gives the best of his talent.

The social satire is characterized by Mervyn Lloyd. The wannabe entrepreneur could be the dumb cousin of Shane Richie's Archie Daley (the modern version of Minder). Lloyd speaks exclusively in clichés to the point of absolute absurdity (« To get my business you have to get my business ») and his wildest dream is to pitch a project to the entrepreneurial team of Dragon's Den - Peter Jones, Deborah Meaden and Duncan Bannatyne parodying themselves with style in this fantasy sequence .

Mervyn Lloyd is hilariously portrayed by Daniel Mays, who illuminates the episode. The Hustlers convince him to invest in a revolutionary device (well, sort of...) which can kill all type of insects, by making him believe that Sir Alan Sugar and Richard Branson are interested (well... sort of). Mickey has his mojo back in the end, and plays a little trick to Eddie. Ash (Robert Glenister ) gets the best line of the episode: « Bond, James Bond. No relation ».


[9.00 - French Time] Read on The Guardian website. David Tennant plays rebel UK diplomat Craig Murray in a radio play adaptation of Murray's book Murder in Samarkand.

Craig Murray is a former British ambassador who exposed torture in Uzbekistan. He was sacked by the Foreign Office in 2004. The adaptation is from playwright David Hare and was originally for the big screen with Michael Winterbottom as director and Steve Coogan starring as Murray But the movie project floundered and Hare offered to adapt his script for radio (

In 2006, Craig Murray and his story inspired the character of disgraced ambassador James Sinclair (played with great subtlety by Alex Jennings) in the BBC series The State Within. The radio adaptation of Murder in Samarkand with David Tennant will air February 20 on Radio 4.

See also: (In French)