Sunday, 27 December 2015


With Doctor Who!

- From Andy Pandy To Zebedee: The Golden Age of Children’s TV (BBC Four). A marvellous, heartfelt and informative documentary narrated by Nigel Planner, with nice clips and interesting interviews. Produced and directed by Verity Maidlow for BBC Entertainment Production London. Caroline Wright is the executive producer.

- Stick Man (BBC One). « I'm Stick Man, I'm Stick Man, I'm STICK MAN, that's me! » Adapted from the children's book written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler. Produced by Magic Light Pictures and Orange Eyes Productions. Made by the creative forces who wonderfully adapted The Gruffalo (2009), The Gruffalo's Child (2011) and Room on the Broom (2012). Superb but it couldn't be otherwise given the outstanding quality of the previous adaptations.

With the voices of Martin Freeman (Stick Man), Rob Brydon (Snail and others), Russell Tovey (Dog), Sally Hawkins (Stick Lady and others), Hugh Bonneville (Santa) and Jennifer Saunders (The narrator). Directed by Jeroen Jaspaert and Daniel Snaddon. Michael Rose and Martin Pope produce. Music composed by René Aubry. Produced in association with BBC and ZDF.

- Doctor Who: The Husbands of River Song (BBC One). « One day, I shall come back. Yes, I shall come back. » You didn't expect me on that one, did you? Considering that I "left" a while ago. Well, strictly on the basis that it was a Christmas treat right after Stick Man I actually loved it (except for a propension to recycling and the ending but never mind). Full of fabulous lines such as « I don't like being sure about things. One minute you're sure the next everybody turns into lizards and a piano falls on you. » or « Still digesting their mother. Thank you for asking. »

Peter Capaldi is, of course, extraordinary as The Doctor. Alex Kingston returns as River Song. Written by Steven Moffat and directed by Douglas Mackinnon. Matt Lucas (Nardole), Greg Davies (King Hydroflax) and Phillip Rhys (Ramone) guest star. Produced by Nikki Wilson. Exec produced by Steven Moffat and Brian Minchin. Music composed by Murray Gold, conducted and orchestrated by Alastair King. Doctor Who is a BBC Cymru Wales production.

- Shaun the Sheep: The Farmer's Llamas (BBC One). The first ever half-hour special for Aardman Animations's beloved Shaun the Sheep. With the typical but always irresistible Aardman antics for children and grown-ups plus llama thugs. Produced by Aardman in association with WDR. Written by Nick Vincent Murphy, Lee Pressman and Richard Starzak. Created by Richard Starzak. Based on a character created by Nick Park. Directed by Jay Grace.

- Dickensian (BBC One). This 20 x 30-minute drama (?!) brings together some of Charles Dickens's most iconic characters in 19th century London. Created and written by Tony Jordan ("inspired by the works of Charles Dickens"). Directed by Harry Bradbeer. Produced by David Boulter. Exec produced by Tony Jordan and Belinda Campbell for Jordan's Red Planet Pictures (Death in Paradise). Huge cast including Pauline Collins, Peter Firth, Pauline Collins, Anton Lesser, Caroline Quentin, Omid Djalili, Stephen Rea...

Judging from the first couple of episodes it's Midsomer Dickens as a soap opera with the classic literature equivalent of MCU cameos. Not as enjoyable as Lost in Austen (2008) but global markets adore period dramas and detective dramas. For my part, I'll stick to An Inspector Calls (2015) and Death Comes to Pemberley (2013) and I'll not go beyond episode 2. The "Sherlockian" music was composed by Debbie Wiseman.

- And Then There Were None (BBC One). « Conventions, Miss Claythorne, is what keeps us together in the face of impending chaos. »  In 2014 the BBC announced it would be the new TV home of Agatha Christie in the UK for the 125th anniversary of her birth, thanks to a major deal with her estate. Their first commissions were the excellent Partners in Crime (starring David Walliams and Jessica Raine) and this adaptation of Christie's classic.

The three-part serial, co-produced by Mammoth Screen, Agatha Christie Productions and A+E Television Networks for the BBC, is written by Sarah Phelps (Great Expectations) and directed by Craig Viveiros. And Then There Were None stars Douglas Booth, Charles Dance, Maeve Dermody, Burn Gorman, Anna Maxwell Martin, Sam Neill, Miranda Richardson, Toby Stephens, Noah Taylor and Aidan Turner. This new take on one of Agatha Christie's most famous books is brilliantly thrilling and scary. A must see, effective even if you know the story. The locations are truly incredible.

Produced by Abi Bach. Exec produced by Sarah Phelps, Hilary Strong, Karen Thrussell and Damien Timmer. Titles by Ben Hanbury and Paul McDonnell. Music composed by Stuart Earl. John Pardue is the director of photography. Part 2 aired today, Part 3 tomorrow.

- Harry Price: Ghost Hunter (ITV). A TV movie about real-life "ghost hunter" and skeptic Harry Price, who investigated tales of the paranormal and supernatural. Adapted from Neil Spring's novel The Ghost Hunters by Jack Lothian (Doc Martin) for Bentley Productions, the prodco behind Midsomer Murders. Midsomer regular helmer Alex Pillai directs and Rafe Spall plays the title role. Regrettably, beneath the paranormal thing there's a forgettable period detective drama.

No comments: