Friday, 28 February 2014


Last year ITV aired the final case of Hercule Poirot, the beloved creation of crime writer Agatha Christie, and David Suchet bowed out as the detective after 25 years. At Christmas, ITV showed Endless Night, an episode of Agatha Christie's Marple starring Julia McKenzie.
But now the BBC announces they have struck a deal with the author's estate making the corporation the new home of Agatha Christie in the UK for the 125th anniversary of her birth.

The first two commissions of this new era for Christie on British telly are an adaptation of And Then There Were None by Sarah Phelps (Great Expectations), and Partners in Crime. Based on the Partners in Crime collection of short stories featuring crime-fighting duo Tommy and Tuppence Beresford, this new six-part series will be set in the 1950s and will star comedian and actor David Walliams as Tommy. The new Tuppence is still to be confirmed.

Francesca Annis and James Warwick played the Beresfords in Agatha Christie's Partners in Crime, a 1983-1984 series for LWT. In France, the sleuth couple has its comedy movie franchise starring André Dussollier and Catherine Frot as Bélisaire and Prudence Beresford. The French are particularly fond of Agatha Christie's work with pubcaster France 2's Les petits meurtres d'Agatha Christie, a TV series adaptation of her books set in France in the 1930s and later in the 1950s.

Saturday, 22 February 2014


England, towards the end of World War II. 13 year-old Tolly is sent by his mother to the countryside to spend Christmas with his grandmother, Mrs Oldknow, at Green Knowe, the family's ancestral home. There, he finds that he is able to travel back in time to 1805.
In the past Tolly quickly gets involved in the adventures of Susan, the young blind daughter of Captain Oldknow, and her friend Jacob. The boy unravels a mystery which has bewildered his family for almost  two centuries.

From Time to Time is a 2009 British film adapted from The Chimneys of Green Knowe (1958), the second book in the Green Knowe children's novel series by Lucy M. Boston (1892-1990). It is written and directed by Julian Fellowes, Academy Award winner for Gosford Park (2001) and creator of the popular ITV period drama Downton Abbey (2010). From Time to Time (Le secret de Green Knowe in French) is now available on DVD in France thanks to Koba Films.

Julian Fellowes fell in love with the books as a child and wanted to make a Green Knowe film for several years. His Oscar gave him freedom to develop the project and he chose to adapt The Chimneys of Green Knowe, his favourite book of the series. Producer Liz Trubridge, who later produced Downton Abbey, and Julian Fellowes took the script to Ealing Studios.

Fellowes wrote the part of the grandmother specifically for Maggie Smith to bring nuance to Mrs Oldknow and her relationship with Tolly, played convincingly by Alex Etel (Cranford, Millions). Eliza Hope Bennett (Susan) and Kwayedsa Kureya (Jacob) are very good too. The three young actors are amongst a great cast including Timothy Spall (Boggis), Pauline Collins (Mrs Tweedle), Hugh Bonneville (Captain Oldknow) and Dominic West (Caxton).

Koba Films releases From Time to Time with its French dubbing and the original dialogue track (with optional French subtitles). Bonus material consists of a trailer and a conversation with Julian Fellowes. Green Knowe is actually a 15th century Tudor manor house called Athelhampton House in Dorchester, Dorset.

From Time to Time is a very enjoyable family film. French fans of Hugh Bonneville now can also watch him in Ed Blum's brilliant film Scenes of a Sexual Nature (2006), recently released on DVD by Koba.

See also:

Monday, 17 February 2014


Scenes of a Sexual Nature is a British ensemble comedy drama film from 2006 released this month in France on DVD by Koba Films.

It is the first feature of director Ed Blum. He devised it with his friend screenwriter Aschlin Ditta (The Catherine Tate Show) around the idea of seven short stories filmed entirely on north London's Hampstead Heath in two or three days.

Blum produced Scenes of a Sexual Nature through his own company, Tin Pan  Films, with entrepreneur Suran Goonatilake as main investor and executive producer, and director/producer Vadim Jean as executive producer. He managed to attract an impressive cast with a minimal budget (estimated at £260,000) for a movie without props, stunts or big set builds. The actors were offered Equity minimum and a percentage of future profits as their salary.

Hampstead Heath on a sunny afternoon. Molly (Holly Aird) notices her husband Jamie (Andrew Lincoln) is staring a young woman (French actress Églantine Rembauville) lying in the grass. He pretends he was looking at the book she was reading: L'Étranger by Albert Camus. Iris (Eileen Atkins) sits on a park bench every wednesday for 50 years. A gentleman named Eddie (Ben Whitlow) asks her if he can sit on that bench too.

Anna (Sophie Okonedo) is upset after a dispute with her boyfriend Ludo (Nick Sidi) when Noel (Tom Hardy), a young man, approaches her. Gay life partners Billy (Ewan McGregor) and Brian (Douglas Hodge) talk about adopting children. Peter (Adrian Lester) and Sara (Catherine Tate) are happy to divorce but are they really? Louis (Mark Strong) and Esther (Polly Walker) discuss in the park but things are not what they seem. Gerry (Hugh Bonneville) and Julia (Gina McKee) have a blind date picnic.

Koba Films releases the film, called Amour & conséquences in French, with its French-speaking dubbing and the original dialogue track (with optional French subtitles). Bonus material consists of a trailer and an instructive 38-minute Making of about the amazing adventure of the movie from its genesis to its self-distribution. Witty and subtly touching, Scenes of a Sexual Nature truly deserves to be called a gem. The music was composed by the talented Dominik Scherrer.

Saturday, 1 February 2014


Series 15 of British detective drama Midsomer Murders is available on DVD in France since last month thanks to Koba Films.

Detective Chief Inspector John Barnaby and Detective Sergeant Ben Jones, of the Causton CID, investigate bizarre and imaginative murders in the picturesque Midsomer County.

« That is a sense of community, Jones. One goes mad, they all go mad. It's a wonderful little world out here. »

Based initially on the novels by Caroline Graham, Midsomer Murders was launched in 1997 on ITV. Produced by Bentley Productions, an All3Media company, it is sold in more than 200 countries and aired in France since 2001 by France 3 (as Inspecteur Barnaby). John Nettles played DCI Tom Barnaby until 2011. Neil Dudgeon plays Tom's cousin and replacement DCI John Barnaby. Series 15 is the last of Jason Hughes as DS Ben Jones. Sarah Barnaby, John's wife, is played by Fiona Dolman. The music is composed by Jim Parker (House of Cards).

Koba Films releases the six 90-minute episodes of this series in a 3-disc DVD set with the French dubbing and, fortunately, the original dialogue track (available with optional French subtitles).

- The Dark Rider: A headless horseman pointing victims to their doom brings terror to Quitewell Hall, home of the aristocratic DeQuetteville family. Barnaby and Jones investigate the secrets of the ancestral family house while its occupants prepare a Civil War battle reenactment, much to the annoyance of their wealthy neighbours.

« Witness said the horse rider had no head.
- Drunk or stoned?
- I was on duty, sir. »

James Callis (Battlestar Galactica) guest stars as twin brothers. Eleanor Bron plays the local Violet Crawley alongside William Gaunt (No Place Like Home, The Champions). The battle reenactment, which quickly turns into a scene of the 1967 Casino Royale, was filmed with four cameras. Historical association The Sealed Knot helped and 200 of their members were used as extras.

An excellent opener written by Michael Aitkens and directed by Alex Pillai. Full review here:

- Murder of Innocence: Convicted killer Grady Felton comes back to his childhood home after 18 years, which infuriates the family of his victim. His defence barrister is murdered that same night but Grady has a solid alibi. An endless and weak episode written by Elizabeth-Anne Wheal and directed by Renny Rye (

« Is anyone here stupid enough to commit arson with their own fuel, sir? »

- Death and the Divas: 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 instant classic.

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

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 (

- Written in the Stars: An amateur astronomer is killed by a blow to the head with a meteorite during a total eclipse over Midsomer Stanton. Penned by Steve Trafford and directed by Renny Rye, this episode meets the requirements of Midsomer's more than proven formula (

- The Sicilian Defence: Richard Lumsden (Sugar Rush) and Julie Graham (Survivors) are amongst the guest stars of this laboured episode written by Paul Logue and directed by Alex Pillai.

« A rambler found him this morning.
- Where is our rambler?
- Still throwing up.
- Lovely. »

- Schooled in Murder: A young woman is crushed to death with a large wheel of cheese at the home of the world-famous Midsomer Blue. Scriptwriter Lisa Holdsworth (New Tricks) displays a joyful ingenuity for her first Midsomer, right from the pre-credit sequence. Directed by Andy Hay.

« Have we got a murder weapon?
- You're standing in it. »

This fifteenth series is the first produced is by Jo Wright (55 Degrees North, the Doctor Who 1996 TV movie, Lovejoy). The Dark Rider and Death and the Divas alone justify buying the DVD set of an overall good series. (Lisa Holdsworth)