Saturday, 29 January 2011


How to put it... My throat, my nose and my head are enjoying the charms of winter in Upton Abbey. Me, well, I don't.

My reviews of last night's Hustle and today's Primeval will be available next week if my now exploded schedule can allow me so.

Thank you for your fidelity, your trust, your interest and your indulgence.

Friday, 28 January 2011


[18.59 - French Time] Website Beans On Toast, the first French-speaking information source about the Whoniverse, has announced that the fourth series of Doctor Who will finally get a French DVD release after almost two years in limbo.

Until the modern day version of Doctor Who, France had a very complicated relationship with our favourite Time lord. French viewers knew only a small portion of the classic series: some Tom Baker episodes aired at the end of the 1980s by French private network TF1 on sunday mornings. "Doctor, who?" almost became a recurring joke in one of the countries in the world which has not its permanent local Sesame Street version. Until the 2005 revival aired by DTT channel France 4 - operated by pubcaster group France Télévisions.

Nevertheless, Doctor Who's notoriety is now quite established in France, thanks to the internet and the effective activism of French-speaking fans - particularly the Beans on Toast team. And it's BOT which announced in Fall 2009 the decision of France Télévisions Distribution, the France Télévisions subsidiary holding Doctor Who's DVD rights here, to suspend the release of series four DVDs in France. The impact of the French language only series three DVD release on the sales was at the time definitely a parameter in FTD's evaluation of its title.

Beans on Toast noted then that the sale number of the first three series went from 700 to a little more than 1000 copies. The economic argument would have been fully acceptable if the treatment of Doctor Who by FTD had not been so minimalist those last years: no extra features, which would be understandable regarding the ratio between costs engaged and the market segment targeted, and no special episodes. Not to mention the fact that the series was on a DTT channel in a territory not fully covered by DTT.

In August 2010 the website launched an online petition to get a DVD release of the fourth series of Doctor Who. Today, France Télévisions Distribution has confirmed to Beans on Toast that there will be a French DVD release of series four including the original English dialogue track, preceded by a re-release of series one to three. And series three will also have the original English dialogue track.

Doctor Who's fifth series arrives on France 4 in Primetime on Saturday, 12 February, with the first three episodes. (In French) (In French)

Thursday, 27 January 2011


Last night Dermot O'Leary hosted the National Television Awards 2011 live from London's O2 Arena, revealing on ITV1 the results of a massive public poll.

The show opened with O'Leary missing the ceremony and repairing his mistake with a little help of the Doctor (Matt Smith) and the TARDIS. Through a series of blue box bloopers we learned that our favourite time lord was responsible of Ant & Dec, that Bruce "Brucie" Forsyth would still be there in the future, or that BGT judge Amanda Holden will become Prime minister someday (brr, terrifying!) Too bad the TARDIS didn't appear on stage only after the number of I'm a celeb's Stacie Solomon and Shaun Ryder.

Benidorm won the Gong of the Best Comedy programme over Michael McIntyre's Comedy Roadshow, Harry Hill's TV Burp and Outnumbered. I'm a Celebrity... got the Best Entertainment Programme versus QI, Big Brother and Mock the Week. Matt di Angelo (Hustle) presented the Best newcomer category and Ricky Norwood from EastEnders received the Gong.

Then came what will certainly be the most commented segment of the evening: Doctor Who, Shameless, comprehensive school drama Waterloo Road and Sherlock were nominated for the Best Drama, which went to... Waterloo Road. Well, Doctor Who already has several Gongs but who could expect that Sherlock, which was the darling of viewers and critics (except on this blog) last summer, would lose against Waterloo.

Lacey Turner (EastEnders) won the Best Serial Drama performance. Ant and Dec won the Best Entertainment presenter Gong - presented by Jonathan "This is not the BBC" Ross - for the tenth year in a row, against Dermot O'Leary, Paul O'Grady and Davina McCall. The duo was live from Cardiff on BGT duty so Simon Cowell picked up the award for them.

ITV1's This Morning won Best Topical Magazine. Former MP turned Strictly Come Dancing contestant Ann Widecombe presented the Best Factual Programme, which went to Top Gear over Celebrity MasterChef, Junior Apprentice and celeb genealogy programme Who do you think you are? Best Talent show went to... (what else?) The X Factor. And television legend David Jason won a much deserved Best Drama Performance against Matt Smith, Philip "Gene Genie" Glenister and Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock). This Gong was given by Jim Carter, one of the ensemble cast who enchanted us in the wonderful Downton Abbey last year.

Talking about TV legends, Brucie received the Special Recognition Award from Stephen Fry (who got it in the previous edition). Watching those retrospective clips made us feel much older than the man. Best Serial Drama went to EastEnders versus the usual suspects. And the Digital Choice award went to E4's The Inbetweeners.

As for all award ceremonies, the relevance of both the nominations and the votes can and will be discussed but as usual the NTA were convivial, entertaining and popular in the good meaning of this word. The programme is a better celebration of the British TV industry than the awards themselves and puts a ton of dust on other award shows.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011


[17.52 - French Time] BBC Worldwide's format Dancing with the Stars arrives in France on Saturday, 12 February as Danse avec les Stars.

Called Strictly come Dancing in the UK (on BBC One since 2004) and Dancing with the Stars in the US (on ABC since 2005), the format features celebrities with professional dance partners competing in Ballroom and Latin dances in front of three judges. Danse avec les Stars arrives in France on TF1 on February 12, six years after the private network tried a similar concept/format called Celebrity Dancing.

The contestants are former model Adriana Karembeu, former football player David Ginola, stage actress Marthe Mercadier, singer M Pokora, Spanish actress Rossy de Palma, composer, jazz pianist and former reality TV judge André Manoukian, singer Sofia Essaïdi (who was a contestant in Celebrity Dancing), and comedian Jean-Marie Bigard.

The show is hosted by Sandrine Quétier and Vincent Cerutti. And the Gaullic counterparts of judges Craig Revel Horwood, Len Goodman and Bruno Tonioli (1) will be Salsa world champion Chris Marques, dancer and actress Alessandra Martines, and dancer and choreographer Jean-Marc Généreux. Remember that in Reality TV it's the judges who make the programme strictly worth watching.

(1) Goodman and Tonioli are in both Strictly and Dancing.

Update (February 13) - Premiere Review: (In French) (In French)!/tf1etvous (In French)

Tuesday, 25 January 2011


[9.26 - French Time] Private network TF1 aired yesterday the last two episodes of the French Doc Martin's first series, starring Thierry Lhermitte (The Dinner Game) as Dr Martin Le Foll.

The fifth episode of this French version was adapted from episode four of the first series of ITV1's Doc Martin and was the weakest of the six in terms of writing. It was watched by around 6.7 million viewers (24.5%) (1) and the sixth and final episode was watched by 6.6 million (27.3%) (2).

Produced by Pascale Breugnot's Ego Productions, Doc Martin is adapted by scriptwriter Eric Kristy from the original dramedy sold by DRG and starring Martin Clunes. TF1 ordered eight new scripts before the end of the initial six-episode run (3), so we'll see now if the ratings of the first series satisfy them enough to confirm the commission of a second series.

Anyway, the production team, the writers, the directors and the cast have succeeded in making the French version an enjoyable transplant. This Doc Martin is as engaging as Doctor Mateo, its Spanish counterpart. And Martin Le Foll's Port-Garrec (actually Clohars-Carnoët and the Port of Doëlan) is magnificent.

« En vous souhaitant! »

(1) (In French)
(2 ) (In French)
(3) (In French)

See also:

Saturday, 22 January 2011


[21.35 - French Time] Primeval - Series Four, Episode Five. Connor (Andrew-Lee Potts) and Abby (Hannah Spearitt) investigate an odd anomaly signal in a small coastal village.

Until now the new series was definitely a major improvement from the calamitous previous one. Some fortunate changes in the regular cast (unlike series three) and the Irish locations brought some fresh air, the scripts were good and built a promising story arc. Written by John Fay (Torchwood: Children of Earth) and Primeval co-creator Adrian Hodges, this episode opened with a Blair Witch Project pre-credits sequence which honestly didn't bode well for the rest.

And the rest looked like an episode of The Saint starring Roger Moore, with the pub or the hostile locals of the seaside village, except that the price tag of the CGI creature of course exceeded a multi-gazillion time what ITC could afford in the sixties. Thank God for Connor and Abby it was not the village of Torchwood's Countrycide episode or Lester (Ben Miller) would have to find replacements. There was even a surreal nod to the sponsor of the show on ITV1 and a Weeping Angel (hope you didn't blink).

Ben Miller really stole the episode. Only his talent, some new elements of the intriguing story arc and the direction of Robert Quinn saved the show from a total relapse of the third series. Fortunately the Primeval character who comes back next week cannot be Sarah Page.


Hustle - Series Seven, Episode Three. Marcus Wendell (Michael Brandon), an American casino owner and notorious grifter-buster, is in London to open a new establishment. Marcus claims that Charlie Stroller, the great-grandfather of Albert (Robert Vaughn) was the first ever cheater caught by his ancestors.

Albert wants to clear Charlie's name with the help of Mickey (Adrian Lester). But Marcus knows everything about them and the rest of the team.

The BBC One con artist drama is back into brilliance territory after last week's mildly interesting episode. Hustle is basically a modern-day Mission: Impossible and, like Chris Bucknall on the previous series, writer James Payne gets the essence of that. Payne creates the worthiest adversary of Mickey and the gang since Toby Baxter (Patrick Bergin) in series five: Marcus Wendell, played by the legendary Michael Brandon (Dempsey and Makepeace). Marcus is a clever but arrogant casino owner who ignores nothing about Mickey and the gang. He also prides himself that the founders of his casino empire covered Albert Stroller's "great granddaddy" with shame.

Mickey considers him as their equal as the man knows every tricks in the book. Will Clive Ban, a genius but grouchy forger (Roger Lloyd-Pack at the summit of his art), a 19th century roulette wheel, a sat nav and a fake auction be enough to avoid our favourite grifters to finish their careers on Wendell's wall of indignity (the photos of all the cheaters or grifters caught by the family). Typical Hustle at its best, with Matt Di Angelo's Sean fortunately less discrete than in the last couple of weeks and a great Ash. How come Robert Glenister has not already the main role in a new BBC or ITV drama series?

It's nice to see Robert Vaughn in top shape, almost as the Napoleon Solo of Return of The Man from UNCLE. Director Roger Goldby avoids the Birmingham as London "Monty Berman/ITC" feeling of some episodes with good visual ideas and a decent amount of effects and CGI. The twist is as often one inch to far-fetched but it doesn't ruin the pleasure, and there's even a beautiful conversation scene between Mickey and Albert ("The humiliation of the father") with some superb incidental music.

Next week: Will writer Chris Bucknall amazes us like last year?

Thursday, 20 January 2011


[15.50 - French Time] Media website reports that Chris Ryan's Strike Back will be aired in Germany at the end of this month by private channel RTL II.

Based on the best-selling book by former SAS man Chris Ryan, Strike Back is a 6 x 60-minute series starring Richard Armitage (Spooks) as John Porter and Andrew Lincoln (This Life) as Hugh Collinson. On the eve of the invasion of Iraq in 2003, a Special Forces unit lead by John Porter is on a daring hostage rescue mission into the heart of Basra. But the operation turns into a disaster for Porter and Collinson and haunts Porter for years, until the discharged veteran finds an occasion to return to Iraq and redeem himself.

Strike Back is adapted by Jed Mercurio (Bodies) and is directed by Daniel Percival (The State Within) for the first four hours, and Edward Hall (Spooks) for the last two. It is produced by Left Bank Pictures (Zen, Wallander) for Sky1 HD and Sky1 and internationally distributed by BBC Worldwide. The cast includes Toby Stephens, Jodhi May, Orla Brady, and Colin Salmon.

The Sky1 drama was filmed in South Africa, like ITV1's Kidnap and Ransom (produced by and starring Trevor Eve) or Kudos's Outcasts, due to be aired by BBC One next month. Sky aired Chris Ryan's Strike Back in May 2010 and commisioned a second series in August. German channel RTL II will air the initial series in a 3 X 90-minute version, starting Wednesday, 26 January 2011.

We hear that a French channel has bought Strike Back too. (In German) (In German) (In German)


« I'm too old for this shit. » (Roger Murtaugh)

[6.12 - French Time] Deadline's Mike Fleming reports that Warner Brothers and producer Joel Silver have hired ex-LA cop, novelist and scriptwriter Will Beall for a "reboot" the Lethal Weapon franchise with a new cast.

Initially the plan was to bring the original team back with original scribe Shane Black aboard but, as Mike Fleming explains, schedules didn't match up and "Mel Gibson's image has taken a self-inflicted beating".

Well this "reboot", "reinvention" or "reimagining", or whatever you call remakes these days, is a terrible idea. Mel Gibson and Danny Glover ARE Riggs and Murtaugh. Period.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011


Law & Order: Los Angeles (aka LOLA), Dick Wolf’s most recent extension of the L & O franchise, is going on an indefinite hiatus.

NBC's Law & Order: Los Angeles, which was scheduled to return on February 8, will now be held back, with its return date and slot to be determined. Earlier this month, Deadline broke the news that three actors of the show where leaving: Regina Hall, Megan Boone and Skeet Ulrich (1). D.D.A. Ricardo Morales, the character played by Brit thespian Alfred Molina will become a detective. Let's hope for Morales that they have better hairdressers at the LAPD.

Meanwhile, on Monday, NBC's new midseason superhero drama The Cape attracted just 6.2 million viewers and was down 31% from its two-hour premiere on Sunday, January 9. With The Cape, the Peacock channels the spirit of 90s syndication shows (NightMan, anyone?) (2) on what we can presume a bigger budget scale. The same night the network launched David E. Kelley's new (what else?) legal drama Harry's Law, starring Kathy Bates. Which almost gives regrets that NBC didn't pick up Rex is not your Lawyer - as bad as this pilot starring David Tennant looked (3).

And Fox picks up a drama pilot project from Tim Kring (Heroes). Touch is centered on a father who discovers that his autistic, mute son can actually predict events before they happen. Since a 2008 deal with ITV Studios, Fox has a British "second market" for that sort of things: on February starts Marchlands, the ITV1 remake of Fox's 2008 unpicked pilot The Oaks.


See also:

Tuesday, 18 January 2011


[14.12 - French Time] John Nettles is DCI Tom Barnaby in ITV's Midsomer Murders since 1997. In 2009 he announced that he would give up his role at the end of the 13th series. His last episode, episode 82, is titled Fit for Murder and will be aired by ITV1 on Wednesday, 2 February 2011.

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 crime drama, produced by Bentley Productions for ITV, is a global hit sold in more than 200 countries. And 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).

During 14 years, DCI Barnaby and his deputy investigated an endless series of (unrelated) murders most horrid in the fictional county of Midsomer - where they now probably have to hire inhabitants in order to keep practicing this local passtime that is assassination. Last year, after an intense suspense, it was announced that the successor of DCI Barnaby would be another DCI Barnaby... John, Tom Barnaby's cousin, played by Neil Dudgeon.

The wish to keep a Barnaby in charge is probably motivated by the importance of international sales, as the show's title bears the name of its character in many countries: in France it's called Inspecteur Barnaby and, incidentally, pubcaster France 3 aired last sunday The Sword of Guillaume - the episode brilliantly introducing Tom's cousin.

John Barnaby moves to Midsomer to team up with DI Ben Jones, played by Jason Hughes. Four new episodes of series 14 starring Neil Dudgeon and Jason Hugues have already been filmed, with another four in production during 2011. The new Midsomer Murders team, also featuring Fiona Dolman (Heartbeat) as John’s wife Sarah, will make their debut on ITV1 this spring.

Producer Brian True-May has revealed that two separate endings were filmed for Fit for Murder: one for the first UK transmission with Tom Barnaby's retirement party, and one for repeats (when episodes are shown in different orders) and for international use, with a birthday party.

See also:


[13.35 - French Time] ITV has just announced that the first episode of Marchlands (formerly The Oaks), a five-part series from ITV Studios,will be aired by ITV1 on Thursday, 3 February 2011.

Marchlands is the British remake of The Oaks, a 2008 unpicked pilot developed for American network Fox and which followed three different families living in the same house in the 1960’s, 1980’s and present day. These families were linked by the spirit of the 1960’s family’s daughter, who died in mysterious circumstances.

The new drama is the fruit of a 2008 deal between ITV Studios and Fox to identify properties on their respective slates that could be developed for the other’s home market. The original pilot, written by David Schulner, featured British actress Sienna Guillory and a pre-Glee Matthew Morrison. Marchlands is the first commission to come from the collaboration between ITV Studios and Fox and is written by Stephen Greenhorn.

Alex Kingston (Doctor Who, ER) and Jodie Whittaker star alongside Dean Andrews (Ashes to Ashes), Shelley Conn, Elliot Cowan, Denis Lawson, etc. Kate Bartlett, Kate Lewis and Stephen Greenhorn exec produce and Chrissy Skinns produces. The 5 x 60-minute series is directed by James Kent and filmed on location around London.

See also:


[9.35 - French Time] French private network TF1 aired yesterday episodes two and three of its excellent adaptation of Doc Martin, which stars Thierry Lhermitte (The Dinner Game) as Dr Martin Le Foll.

The second episode of this French version was actually adapted from episode five of the first series of ITV1's Doc Martin, whose third episode became episode four here. The giant squirrel storyline of the original fourth episode (The Portwenn Effect), which guest-starred Ben Miller in a wonderful performance, is in fact source material for the French fifth.

TF1's Doc Martin started last week with 8.9 million viewers for the first episode and 8.2 million for the second (1). This week 7.3 million viewers watched episode two and 7 million episode three (2), versus pubcaster France 2's US hit Cold Case and private rival M6's rerun of Die Hard.

Produced by Pascale Breugnot's Ego Productions, Doc Martin is adapted by scriptwriter Eric Kristy from the original format sold by DRG. Thierry Lhermitte succeeds in creating his "own" Doc, surrounded by a great supporting cast. And the writers (Eric Kristy, Stéphane Kazandjian, Mathieu Missoffe, Alexis Le Sec & Raphaëlle Roudaut) (3) bring a nice French flavour to the original stories.

See also:

(1) (In French)
(2) (In French)
(3) (In French)

Sunday, 16 January 2011


Primeval - Series Four, Episode Four. Saturday morning detention at McKinnon School turns unforgettable for three kids... as their teacher is killed by a prehistoric creature.

Meanwhile, anomaly traveler Emily (Ruth Bradley) is with Matt (Ciarán McMenamin) at his appartment and, at the ARC, Philip (Alexander Siddig) announces to Abby (Hannah Spearitt) that all the creatures of the menagerie should be destroyed. Which puts Connor (Andrew-Lee Potts) in an awkward position.

Axed by ITV but resurrected by a funding deal involving UKTV's channel Watch and BBC America, Primeval is back for 13 new episodes split into "series four" and "series five" and filmed in Dublin with incentives from the Government of Ireland. It cannot be denied that the fourth series often shouts "cost containment" and that in it the good city of "London" looks as empty as in an episode of The Avengers. But for now this new series is definitely a MAJOR improvement from the calamitous previous one.

Screenwriter Paul Gerstenberger (note that name) delivers a pleasant "The Breakfast Club meets The Lost World: Jurassic Park", an episode starting like a John Hughes movie with three teenage kids in detention - two boys and a girl (« Im' going on X Factor and then I'll be famous. ») Then the script toys with what you may fear from a vending machine. And the one who gets the food at the end of the pre-credits sequence is not the kids'teacher.

Apparently Philip Burton holds a grudge against Rex since the previous episode and wants to put down all the creatures of the ARC's menagerie. Which complicates Burton fanboy Connor's relationship with Abby but he must go a huntin' with Becker (Ben Mansfield) and Matt Anderson - who doesn't want to talk about his school days. Lester (Ben Miller) is back after a one-episode absence and has a great scene with Philip (« Burton the dinosaur killer »). We'll see if Burton is another Christine Johnson or if his company is not named "Prospero Industries" by chance.

Young actress Lauren Coe, who plays Beth, has her Molly Ringwald/Mia Sara moment (« Outside of a Seth Rogen film is a girl as hot as me really going to fall for a tragic geek like you. ») and who could believe her character would... [Awmygod alert] Ethan (Jonathan Byrne) surfaces again and thank you to the "Next Time" trailer for ruining the effect of the last scene of the episode (« Please Ethan. »)

A very enjoyable variation on the "Monster-of-the-week" chase from writer Paul Gerstenberger, directed by Cilla Ware. Great score by Stephen McKeon. And Brendan McCormack plays the unfortunate teacher, "Mr George". Shopping mall security personnel must have a break sometimes.

Saturday, 15 January 2011


Hustle - Series Seven, Episode Two. A con of the gang backfires when Emma Kennedy (Kelly Adams) meets her ex-boyfriend Joe Ryan (Joe Armstrong). Joe is facing eviction because of Birmingham loan shark Georgina Althorp (Angela Griffin), and the team goes there to lure her with a castle and a title. Meanwhile, it seems that Emma is falling in love again with her ex.

BBC One's hit con artist drama is relocated in Birmingham since its previous series in order to contain production costs and receive subventions thanks to a deal with Screen West Midlands. At the time of the relocation some local taxpayers considered that the £400,000 invested for the move did not contribute to the promotion of Birmingham and West Midlands (1). Indeed Mickey Stone and his team's playground remains set in London.

A spokeswoman of Screen WM answered to the critics that Hustle would bring £1.2m into the region’s economy and in 2010 Suzie Norton, CEO of Screen West Midlands, explained that Hustle's return meant further employment opportunities for local crew and an extra boost for the local economy (2). This series, one episode - this one actually - is mostly set where it is filmed much to the satisfaction of the show's star Adrian Lester (Mickey), who was born in Birmingham.

Past the very talkative pre-credits sequence, scriptwriter Chris Lang manages a pretext to take the gang to the glorious city as their new mark is based in Birmingham : the Scrooge-like but not redeemable at all Georgina Althorp, boss of secured loan company Do$h4You! Not all the gang, as Albert (Robert Vaughn) chooses to "coordinate" things from London (« This is Birmingham. No decent hotels, no restaurants. I'm not entirely sure they even have electricity. »)

And Birmingham looks really beautiful in this episode directed by John McKay. It will also certainly bring visitors to Arbury Estate, the castle used as a bait by Mickey and Ash (Robert Glenister) for Georgina. Hustle writers should really stay off personal lives of the Kennedy siblings (remember the fourth episode of series six) as the revival of Emma's love story and her interrogation about grifters's way of life are unconvincing.

The twist sounds really artificial to the point that it looks that there was a stock of hazmat suits from the defunct Survivors (filmed in Birmingham too) available somewhere. But it would be nice to see Angela Griffin as Georgina "Is it Red Nose Day?" Althorp again. And Ash looks more and more like the Home Secretary of Spooks, the former we mean. His "Dawlish" was great fun.


Friday, 14 January 2011


Kidnap and Ransom - Episode One. Dominic King is an expert hostage negotiator for a company specialised in hostage release situations on an international corporate level. His latest mission has gone wrong to the dismay of his boss Angela, and his marriage and family are in trouble.

When pharmaceutical botanist Naomi Schaffer is kidnapped in South Africa, King goes to Cape Town.

Kidnap and Ransom, a 3 X 60-minute primetime thriller whose first part was aired on ITV1 yesterday, is the first project from UK's leading TV actor Trevor Eve’s production company, Projector Pictures, whilst in partnership with Talkback Thames. It is written by scriptwriter Patrick Harbinson (24, Law and Order, ER) and directed by Andy Wilson. Trevor Eve, Rachel Gesua and Jonathan Young exec produce and Trevor Hopkins (Poirot, The Prisoner 2009) is the producer.

Last year ITV1 enchanted viewers with Downton Abbey and now they start this new year with a very effective, well-researched and captivating by-the-book thriller. Kidnap and Ransom is the TV equivalent of a good Frederick Forsyth novel. The excellent Trevor Eve stars as negotiator Dom King and happily escapes from BBC One's Waking the Dead. He's surrounded by a fine cast: Helen Baxendale as King's boss, Amara Karan, Emma Fielding, Patrick Baladi, etc. The always reliable John Hannah plays Alexander Willard (who does not appear in Part one) and the interesting South African actor Tumisho Masha is Cape Town cop Inspector Lanning.

Of course to film in South Africa is cheaper than in the UK but there's a really great use of Cape Town locations and cinematographer Mike Spragg (Waking the Dead, Bouquet of Barb Wire and the incoming Monroe) does a superb job. Like production designer Michael Pickwoad (The Prisoner 2009, Doctor Who). And Christian Henson provides a haunting score of the kind that suits perfectly to the thriller genre.

Well-packed and riveting.

See also:

Thursday, 13 January 2011


[23.24 - French Time] ITV1 aired tonight the first part of Kidnap and Ransom, a very effective 3 X 60-minute thriller from scriptwriter Patrick Harbinson (24).

Trevor Eve (Waking the Dead) stars as expert hostage negotiator Dominic King in this drama produced by his production company Projector Pictures with Talkback Thames.

Directed by Andy Wilson and filmed in South Africa, Kidnap and Ransom brings all you can wish and expect from the thriller genre as an excellent TV equivalent of a good Frederick Forsyth book.

Update - Review:


[21.35 - French Time] EW reports that Jane Espenson and Drew Z. Greenberg have been hired to write SyFy's pilot for a remake of Brit TV classic Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased).

Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), known in America as My Partner the Ghost, was an ITC production and ran on the ITV network for 26 episodes from 1969 to 1970. Created by Dennis Spooner it was about Jeff Randall (Mike Pratt), a private eye who teamed up with the ghost of his murdered partner Marty Hopkirk (Kenneth Cope). Only Jeff could see and hear Marty, not Marty's widow Jeannie (Annette Andre) - their secretary.

The series was first (brilliantly) remade in 2000 by Working Title as Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) and ran for two series. It starred British comedy duo Bob Mortimer and Vic Reeves, Emilia Fox as Jeannie, and the great Tom Baker as Wyvern. Incidental music was composed by future Doctor Who maestro Murray Gold and the theme by 007 resident composer David Arnold.

Syfy acquired the rights to Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) last May from ITV Studios. The US remake project was then announced to be written and executive produced by Josh Bycel (Scrubs) and Jonathan Fener (American Dad) (1). In spite of Espenson and Greenberg's resumes it would still be greatly exaggerated to say that your humble servant is looking forward for this second remake. Sorry, just being human...


See also:


[16.04 - French Time] Based on the children books by Genevieve Webster and Michael De Souza, Rastamouse arrives on CBeebies at the end of the month with a 52 X 10-minute series.

Rastamouse, Scratchy and Zoomer are a "crime-fighting, mystery-solving, special agent reggae band" (wow!) called The Easy Crew. "Redemption not retribution" is their motto, as they set about helping the baddy rebuild their life "making a bad ting good".

Rastamouse is developed with the original authors and animator Derek Mogford. It is produced by Three Stones Media in association with publisher Little Roots (which publishes the books since 2003), DHX Media and Dinamo Productions. The main character, Rastamouse, is voiced by BBC Radio 1's Reggie Yates.

The photos available evoke classics like The Wombles or Paddington, which is already a very good thing.

From Monday 31 January on CBeebies.


[11.53 - French Time] BBC One has commissioned five new dramas for 2011 and 2012: a 3 X 60-minute adaptation of Charles Dickens's Great Expectations by Sarah Phelps, One Night, Bound, Call the Midwife and Morton.

- One Night is a 4 x 60-minute "event drama" (Beeb dixit) written by Paul Smith and made by BBC Drama Production. "A gripping event drama set over one blistering hot summer night when nerves are frayed and tensions ride high. An original authored drama about four very ordinary but different people whose fates are linked by a seemingly inconsequential event." Is it BBC One's answer to Collision?

- Bound (working title) is a 6 x 60-minute drama based around a group of women whose husbands are in jail. It is written by Julie Geary and made by Tiger Aspect Productions.

- Call The Midwife, a 6 x 60-minute series, is adapted by Heidi Thomas (Upstairs Downstairs, Cranford) from Jennifer Worth's best selling memoir. It is about a new young midwife, Jenny, who joins "an eccentric, loveable community of nursing nuns" in the 1950s. It is made by Neal Street Productions.

- Morton, is a 8 x 60-minute spy series from Kudos Film and Television - the makers of Spooks - written by American screenwriter Frank Spotnitz (The X-Files). Spotnitz's sole name will make this project the must talked-about of the list. The main character is Sam, a spy hunted "by an enemy more ruthless and determined than any she's ever known" She returns to Mobius (Mobius!), the organisation that employs her, and begins to pursue her hunter. And she discovers she can trust no one, even the man she loves. Well, er... Can someone bring The Fixer back?

And Broadcast reports that Spooks has just been commissioned for a 10th series. Is it truly reasonable?

Tuesday, 11 January 2011


Filmed in Brittany for private network TF1, the French adaptation of ITV1's hit Doc Martin arrived yesterday with the first two episodes of a 6 x 52-minute series. Thierry Lhermitte (The Dinner Game) stars as Dr Martin Le Foll, a misanthropist surgeon from Lyon whose hemophobia forces him to become a GP in a Breton village called Port-Garrec.

Martin spent his childhood holidays there with his aunt Jeanne (Dominique Mac Avoy) but his total absence of social skills and bedside manner quickly become a problem with the local population. At first he doesn't get along with neither Julie Derville, the schooteacher (Natalia Dontcheva), nor with zany cop Mario Gratsky (Doudi). He inherits of Clementine Vincenti (Justine Bruneau de la Salle), an incompetent receptionist. His surgery is in total disarray but Bernard Groslay (Joël Lefrançois) and his son Romaric (Bruno Gouery), plumbers and handymen, will not be of any help.

Produced by Pascale Breugnot's Ego Productions, Doc Martin is adapted by scriptwriter Eric Kristy from ITV's dramedy Doc Martin starring Martin Clunes. "Doc Martin" originated in the 2000 comedy Saving Grace (written by Craig Ferguson and Mark Crowdy), as jolly marijuana smoker Dr Martin Bamford. Bamford was spun off into two "prequel" 2003 TV movies for Sky: Doc Martin and Doc Martin and the Legend of the Cloutie, where Martin was an obstetrician who left London for the village of Port Isaac in Cornwall after learning that his wife has been unfaithful to him with three of his best friends.

Martin Clunes's Buffalo Pictures had a deal with Sky for two television films per year. But when Sky Pictures folded Clunes took the concept to ITV, which asked for some changes in Martin's backstory and brought writer Dominic Minghella on the project. Dr Martin Bamford then became the less social Dr Martin Ellingham, a London surgeon whose career collapses when he develops a blood phobia. The grumpy Ellingham decides to become a GP in the picturesque Cornish village of Portwenn.

Launched in 2004 on ITV1, Doc Martin is a huge hit and its French adaptation is the third foreign version of the format sold by DRG (distributor of the original). Doktor Martin, starring Axel Milberg as Dr Martin Helling, ran in 2007 and 2009 on German pubcaster ZDF. In Spain the talented Gonzalo de Castro is Dr Mateo Sancristóbal in the excellent Doctor Mateo since 2009 (on Antena 3). French network TF1, which has some experience in rural dramedies (Père et Maire) airs Doc Martin in its successful primetime Monday night comedy slot.

Like its German and Spanish counterparts, the French adaptation sticks to the original storylines. Le Foll's first patient is Capitaine Delalande (Pierre-Marie Mosconi), who's embarassed by a pair of growing breasts like before him Colonel Spencer (played by Richard Johnson in Going Bodmin). There are some variations - Martin's car is a wreck with a mad sat nav, not a Lexus, some short cuts and advanced character situations but the tribulations of the iconic GP are astutely and funnily transposed, helped by great dialogues and the charm of the South Finistère locations (Clohars-Carnoët and the Port of Doëlan).

The Cornouaille française is the perfect match for the fictional town of Portwenn - but Collioure in the Pyrénées orientales was also considered (1) - and once the original show aptly adapted in the ideal setting it's the casting which makes the difference. Movie and stage actor Thierry Lhermitte nicely succeeds in giving Doc Martin a French cultural identity, surrounded by an aptly chosen supporting cast. With a very special mention for the irresistible David Strajmayster - aka Doudi (revealed by the shortcom Samantha Oups! ) - as head of the Municipal Police Mario.

8.9 million viewers watched the first episode and 8.2 million the second (2). The hotels and restaurants in the area of the locations will certainly adore the series and maybe somewhere, in an office, someone will consider the idea of morphing Stephen Fry's Peter Kingdom (ITV's Kingdom) into "Pierre Leroy". Oh, and a face off between the two Martins, Le Foll and Ellingham, would be pretty cool someday. Because after all Port-Garrec is twinned with Portwenn - like Doctor Mateo's San Martin del Sella in Spain.

« En vous souhaitant! »

(1) (In French)
(2) (In French)

Monday, 10 January 2011


[22.42 - French Time] French private network TF1 aired tonight the first two episodes of the local adaptation of ITV1's Doc Martin, with Thierry Lhermitte (The Dinner Game) as Dr Martin Le Foll.

Doc Martin, a 6 x 52-minute series, will be during three weeks in TF1's usual primetime Monday night comedy slot and we'll see tomorrow how it translates in terms of ratings. But judging from the couple of episodes shown today, the atmosphere of Brittany suits rather well to the iconic character.

This third adaptation of the format sold by Digital Rights Group (distributor of the original show, starring Martin Clunes) is produced by Ego Productions. A German version, Doktor Martin, ran in 2007 and 2009 on pubcaster ZDF. And Spanish viewers have their own version, the excellent Doctor Mateo, since 2009 (on Antena 3).

Update - Review: (Trailer)

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Primeval - Series Four, Episode Three. Three strange individuals arrive in an old theatre through an anomaly, quickly followed by a creature. Meanwhile, Matt (Ciarán McMenamin) has another meeting with Gideon (Anton Lesser). At the ARC, Connor (Andrew-Lee Potts) would like to step into action and follow Abby (Hannah Spearitt) and Becker (Ben Mansfield) on field. But Philip (Alexander Siddig) wants him to check a new security protocol.

Axed by ITV after its third series for financial motives Primeval was resurrected under an unexpected funding deal for 13 new episodes (split into "series four" and "series five") filmed in Dublin. Some fortunate changes in the regular cast and Irish locations brought some fresh air and the series premiere showed a real potential. The second episode was classic but effective, with shades of Primeval's first couple of years and a welcome touch of humour.

Written by Debbie Oates and directed by Cilla Ware, this third episode of a 7-episode block has "cost containment" stamped all over it. But the development of the new story arc remains interesting, thanks to two words dropped by Philip and the arrival of anomaly travelers from the 19th century Emily (Ruth Bradley) and mentally damaged Ethan (Jonathan Byrne).

Aired on January the 1st by ITV1, the premiere was watched by 4.4 million viewers but the second episode aired the night after with just 3.2 million. 3.7 million viewers tuned in for the third (1). If at least the next four episodes manage to stay as watchable, this fourth series could serve as a proper word of apologies for the terrible series three. For now that's all we can hope rather than an hypothetic "series six".


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Saturday, 8 January 2011


« ... Best notify my next of kin, this wheel shall explode. »

Hustle - Series Seven, Episode One. After convincing Japanese investors that they could help to reduce the UK's deficit, Mickey Stone and his team are ready to choose another mark among a dreamy line-up. But the niece of their friend Eddie is scammed by Wendy Stanton, a vile modelling agent now put top of the gang's list.

Our favourite ethical con men are back for a seventh series of Hustle. Original cast members Adrian Lester (Mickey 'Bricks' Stone), Robert Glenister (Ash Morgan), Robert Vaughn (Albert Stroller) and Rob Jarvis (Eddie) return. Matt Di Angelo and Kelly Adams, aboard since series five as brother/sister duo Sean and Emma Kennedy, are there too. Hustle creator and supremo Tony Jordan writes this premiere episode, a classic payback story masterfully enhanced by a subtle dose of social satire and an unexpected twist.

Social satire and political subtext are clearly Jordan's forte: in the delightfully cruel pre-credit sequence Mickey and Ash, on the behalf of "David and Nick", tour some Japanese businessmen in a bus and convince them that the UK's government must get rid of "hefty" assets, as growth and austerity cuts will not suffice to alleviate the deficit issue (« We may well have another Greece on our hands. ») And they sell them the Houses of Parliament!

Far from the so-called "innocuous escapism" image of the show, Tony Jordan goes on in the same mood, with a blatant sadistic glee, when he introduces the team's possible marks: Jeremy Garrett MP ("Running the country"), Judge Stanley Mead ("Court in the act") and Viscount Manley ("Complete arse"). But the Hustlers drop these glorious representatives of the "elite" in favour of the equally sinister and stupid Wendy Stanton, the CEO of a modelling scam (ironically called Model Devotion), whose latest victim is Eddie's niece.

Brilliantly portrayed by Anna Chancellor, failed model turned failed agent Wendy could be the dark triplet sister of Ab Fab's Edina and Patsy - with lines such as « Tell her to come back when she's got an eating disorder, » or « I don't care if she's an hemophiliac. Either she has her tits done or she doesn't get the job. » Mickey is appalled by the woman and arranges a business meeting between her and emerging fashion guru Hilary King - i.e. Mickey himself, with Sean posing as his "fashionable" personal assistant.

Both also impersonate two US officials in order to impress a receptionist of the "Diplomatic Office of America" (with a priceless « Susan, how much do you love your country? ») The regular cast seems to have great fun playing their "characters's characters", particularly Robert Glenister's Ash as "Nick Parker" and "Humps"- whose fictional brother "Piers" (Piers!) is the nail in the coffin of Wendy's cupidity. Two years after their arrival, Matt DiAngelo and Kelly Adams have succeeded in erasing the memories of their predecessors and have contributed to rebuild Hustle.

Except for Wendy's surreal scene with Tchaikovsky's 1812 and some irritating camera effects, this episode (directed by John McKay) is the perfect series opener. The simultaneous twist near the end is nicely executed ("Jeremy Garrett MP - Remember him?")

« What's with the hanky?
- You don't wanna know. »

Wednesday, 5 January 2011


ATV reports today that the BBC has "no plans at the moment" for a second series of Single Father.

The four-part drama starred former Doctor Who star David Tennant as Dave, a photographer facing the task of bringing up four kids alone after the sudden death of his wife, Rita (Laura Fraser). And things get more complicated when he falls in love with his wife's best friend, Sarah (Suranne Jones).

BBC One aired Single Father in October 2010 on Sunday nights opposite ITV1's triumphant costume drama series Downton Abbey. This obviously didn't help the ratings of Mick Ford's wonderful relationship drama, directed by Sam Miller (1). Particularly with Simon Cowell's juggernaut The X Factor preceding Oscar-winning writer Julian Fellowes's creation.

(1) + +

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Monday, 3 January 2011


The TV legion of literary cops has now a new member and he's Italian... sort of. From the producer of the British version of Wallander, and of DCI Banks, comes Zen. Adapted from the Aurelio Zen series of books by Michael Dibdin, this new crime drama premiered yesterday night on BBC One.

Aurelio Zen, played by English actor Rufus Sewell, is an upright maverick detective working at the Questura di Roma of the Italian State Police. He's the epitome of cool: his name is cool ("It's Venetian"), he wears cool sunglasses and a cool suit, he drinks an espresso before going to his job and he pays it. Like John Luther, another maverick Beeb cop, his TV show has a (truly) visually super cool intro - with a beautiful theme composed by Adrian Johnston. Zen's love interest is played by Casino Royale's Caterina Murino - which is cool if you liked the movie. And like Luther he's a walking cliché but, unlike him, he's cool.

The three-part feature length drama is produced by Left Bank Pictures (Wallander) for the BBC (BBC Scotland) and co-produced by the Italians of RTI (Mediaset), the Americans of Masterpiece, German pubcaster ZDF and Ingenious Broadcasting, in association with LipSync Productions. The cast of the first episode is top-notch, starting with Sewell of course: Peter Guiness, Ed Stoppard, the legendary Anthony Higgins, etc. Even the great Catherine Spaak as Zen's Mamma.

Except for the Italian location Zen brings nothing to the genre. Of course both artistic license and suspension of disbelief are meant to allow the viewer to accept the fact that most of the Italian characters talk with diverse Brit accents. If "atmospheric" sleuths are not new on British telly (remember Maigret or Van der Valk) when it comes to Italian TV crimes your humble servant prefers Inspector Montalbano or even a classic like La Piovra.

Anyway people around the world like detective and crime dramas and the British television fiction industry tends to rival with its French counterpart these days for the title of biggest European TV police station. Maybe someday we'll have Damian Lewis as Aurélien Nez, a Parisian detective. Or a Moscow cop, French private network TF1 tried that in the nineties.

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Primeval - Series Four, Episode Two. A woman hears some suspect noise in her home by night and find a small weird looking lizard-like creature. She drops the thing into the toilet and five years later, workmen in an old warehouse must deal with the consequences.

[Spoiler-Free review]

The second of the 13 new episodes of Primeval happily captures the spirit of the first series of the ITV1 sci-fi/adventure show. When it seems that Connor Temple (Andrew-Lee Potts) will not fit within the Anomaly Research Centre as it is now operated, the young man - who spent one year in the Cretaceous with Abby Maitland (Hannah Spearitt), wants to go on from outside the centre with the help of his conspirationist "lone gunman" type friend Duncan (James Bradshaw).

« Oh, Connor. Please stay out of trouble. » (James Lester)

Connor follows Duncan on the trail of trouble in a disused warehouse and ask Abby, now assigned to the ARC's menagerie, for help. The trio and some unwise workmen (« Seriously, you don't want to do that. ») meet an all grown-up version of the creature first found by a woman five years ago and it's back to business for the ARC field team.

Steve Bailie's script is classic but effective, with shades of Primeval's first couple of years. And the return of Duncan (first seen in series one) is a good idea brilliantly handled, thanks to the help of James Bradshaw's performance (« Well, there's hope for us all. ») It looks like a story-arc is developing with Matt (Ciarán McMenamin), his motives and his ties with the mysterious Gideon (Anton Lesser). « It could be anyone of them, » says the man to the ARC team leader. What and who is he talking about and "could" it be the inquisitive Ruth (Jess Kearney)?

Director Mark Everest cleverly takes advantage of the locations and composer Stephen McKeon does a superb job. At this stage we hope that the 7 episodes of "series four" will erase the memory of the preposterous series three.

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Saturday, 1 January 2011


[21.35 - French Time] Axed by ITV after its third series for financial motives Primeval was resurrected by an unexpected funding deal in september 2009, for 13 new episodes split into "series four" and "series five". ITV1 aired tonight the first episode of the revived show.

[Spoiler-Free review]

The new Primeval started filming in Ireland in March 2010 and the 13 episodes (series four is a 7-episode block) are co-produced by Impossible Pictures, German private channel Prosieben, Ingenious Broadcasting, UKTV's channel Watch and BBC America for ITV/BBC Worldwide. The show is produced in association with Irish film and TV producer Treasure Entertainment with the support of investment incentives for the Irish film industry provided by the Government of Ireland.

Primeval clearly sank with a third series affected by the departure of its star (Douglas Henshall as Nick Cutter), unfortunate cast changes, terrible stories, the total waste of the "mythology" and a poor cliffhanger ending. This fourth series practically starts from scratch with new locations, some new faces and a first episode introduced by a Ben Miller voice over. Miller is one of the remaining Primeval original cast members as James Lester, until now boss of the Anomaly Research Centre (ARC).

Andrew-Lee Potts (Connor Temple), Hannah Spearitt (Abby Maitland) and Ben Mansfield (Becker) are back too but Primeval has a new lead: Irish actor Ciarán McMenamin as Matt Anderson. The character is definitely a far better team leader replacement than Jason Flemyng as Danny Quinn in the previous series. Irish actress Ruth Kearney joins the cast as Jess Parker and should do wonders provided that her character doesn't ask the ARC field team to bow down before an Egyptian croco.

No stranger to popular genre television, the charismatic Alexander Siddig (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) brings his class as wealthy scientist and industrialist Philip Burton. Prospero, Burton's company, is involved with the Anomaly Research Centre in a public/private partnership - much for the annoyance of Lester. Time will tell if the charming but tough businessman reveals himself as a perfect corporate villain, but when Connor and Abby exit from a one-year Cretaceous trap they discover that their workplace is not the old ARC anymore.

And indeed it isn't. The Irish locations brings some fresh air and this series premiere shows a real potential. As long as it can be properly developed past this spectacular exposition episode written by Paul Mousley (with welcome touches of humour) and directed by Mark Everest. There's a revamped intro and nice incidental music by composer Stephen McKeon. Another interesting element is the mysterious Gideon, played by Anton Lesser, who has ties with Matt Anderson.

ITV1 will show Episode 2 tomorrow.

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