Saturday, 19 January 2013


Went from almost 40° (celcius) yesterday to 38.7° today. Now at least I feel my head, my legs and my arms. Call that an improvement.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013


London, 1908. Agnes Towler, a young shop girl at Gamages department store loses her job for being helpful to a colourful American customer who said he was "just looking". This client is the flamboyant Chicago entrepreneur Harry Gordon Selfridge

One year later, Harry announces that he wants to open "the biggest and the best department store in the whole world" right at the dead end of Oxford Street. But his English partner suddenly pulls out of the project. Fortunately Selfridge meets journalist Frank Edwards, who introduces him to the alluring socialite Lady Mae Moxley and her connections.

ITV1, home of Downton Abbey, aired last sunday the premiere of its new big-budget period drama Mr Selfridge. This 10-episode series started a couple of months after the end of the similarly themed The Paradise on BBC One It was created by multi-award winning British writer Andrew Davies (Pride and Prejudice, House of Cards, etc.) based on the book Shopping, Seduction and Mr Selfridge by Lindy Woodhead - about the founder of the London-based Selfridges department store.

« We're giving them style, glamour, razzmatazz. Once they see what we have done here, there'll be no turning back. »

This 60-minute opener (minus adverts) is penned by Davies himself and directed by Jon Jones, who helmed Julian Fellowes's Titanic and Going Postal. It's an introduction to a Downton Abbey-esque ensemble of characters lead by the amazing Mr Selfridge, played by Jeremy Piven (Entourage). The American actor perfectly brings the required amount of exuberance and energy to the character without losing its complexity. Aisling Loftus (The Borrowers) plays Agnes Towler. Ron Cook is irresistible as Mr Crabb, Harry's loyal but anxious chief accountant. French actor Grégory Fitoussi (Spiral) is excellent as the creative director  Henri Leclair. Katherine Kelly (Coronation Street) is very good as Lady Mae. Amanda Abbington, Tom Goodman-Hill, Trystan Gravelle and Zoë Tapper (Survivors) are also amongst a great cast.

The lavish and epic grand opening has everything promised and promises even more. Although with 9 episodes left, writers Andrew Davies (also exec producer), Kate Brooke and Kate O'Riordan should better have good material as clients already visited the rival department store. Mr Selfridge is produced by ITV Studios and Masterpiece for ITV1 and distributed internationally by ITV Studios Global Entertainment. Chrissy Skinns (Marchlands) is the producer and Kate Lewis exec produces for ITV Studios. Charlie Mole is the composer (the theme music is brilliant). The superb title sequence was designed and directed by Hugo Moss for Huge Designs.

Saturday, 5 January 2013


Midsomer Murders - Series 15, Episode 4. «  Oh, you frightened the life out of me! » Eve Lomax is murdered while watching a cult 1960s horror movie starring Midsomer Langley's own Stella Harris, guest of honour of a festival organised at the village hall. She was writing a book about Stella and her sister, Hollywood royalty Diana Davenport.

« Looks like someone threw a party and didn't invite me.
- It happens all the time, Jones. »

It turns out as a case of death imitating art for Causton CID sleuths DCI John Barnaby (Neil Dudgeon) and DS Ben Jones (Jason Hughes), when two puncture wounds are found in the victim's neck, as if she was killed by a vampire, just like the film. Fortunately John happens to be a classic horror movie fan and an admirer of Stella Harris too.

«  A Thirst For Blood. Ah! This is the film Kate and I saw tonight.
- Sounds like some trashy vampire film.
- Less of the trashy, please, Jones. »

Writers Rachel Cuperman & Sally Griffiths and director Nick Laughland pay an affectionate tribute to the legendary Hammer Films and the horror films of the 60s with this delightful Death and the Divas. Brilliantly crafted sequences from the (fictional) filmography of Stella Harris, played by Sinéad Cusack, feature John Carson (Captain Kronos - Vampire Hunter) and cult movie goddess Caroline Munro. Harriet Walter, who plays Stella's sister Diana Davenport, is the niece of the great Christopher Lee. And the den of local film buff Colin Yule (Pearce Quigley) is packed with memorabilia including posters of The Curse of Frankenstein, Quatermass and the Pit and The Mummy - but also the one of Stella Harris's Death and the Diva!

« Not a vampire bite, then? You must be disappointed. »

The episode stands far above the couple of previous entries (the average Written in the Stars and the terrible Murder of Innocence) with an excellent plot, the trademark humour and some punchy lines (« Less than 24 hours and you've made the place look like a bordello. ») Henry GoodmanAnna Wilson-Jones and Joseph Beattie are amongst the guest cast of this instant classic. Midsomer Murders is produced by Bentley Productions, part of the All3Media Group, for ITV1. Jo Wright is the producer. Note that the DVD box set of Series 13 arrives next week in France thanks to Koba Films.

« Oh, you're a genius, Jones.
- Well, yes, sir, obviously. »