Thursday, August 05, 2010

The Naked & The Dead

Secret Britain is a new four-part series for BBC1, essentially a spin-off from Countryfile, which will be going into the Sherlock slot on Sunday nights from mid August. Over the summer - or, what's left of it, anyway - one of TV's best double-acts, Matt Baker and Julia Bradbury, will explore some of the hidden corners of the UK in search of the best what our countryside has to offer; from deserted beaches to tumbling waterfalls, remote mountain hideaways and mysterious forests. This, the BBC suggests, is 'a voyage of exploration; Britain as an undiscovered country. It's about unlocking those secrets that have built us and our countryside. It's about finding the very best of British and sharing it.' Sounds very worthwhile and suitably gentle and 'Sunday night.' Quite looking forward to that one.

It appears as though ITV's long-awaited one-off psychological drama U Be Dead will finally be broadcast shortly, probably on the Monday night after Identity has concluded next week. First announced over two years ago and completed in early 2009, U Be Dead is based on the real life story of a disturbed serial stalker, Maria Marchese, and concerns a psychiatrist and his wife being menaced via sinister text messages. It stars David Morrissey, Alex Lowe, Tara Fitzgerald and Lucy Griffiths and looks, from the few clips I've seen of it, be to proper excellent. The film was produced by Darlow Smithson (Touching the Void, Clapham Junction, The Diary of Anne Frank). Quite why it's taken this long for ITV to find a place for it is unknown.

Sky1 has cancelled previously announced plans to bring back the cult science fiction series Blake's 7. The BSkyB-owned pay-TV channel had announced plans for a remake of the series, which was created by Terry Nation and ran on BBC1 between 1978 and 1981, in 2008 at a time when 'reimaginations' were all the rage. Battlestar Galactica and Russell Davies' take on Doctor Who had both made successful comebacks as, to a lesser extent, had another of Nation's 1970s BBC creations Survivors. 'Following the development process we have decided not to produce Blake's 7. However, Sky continues to invest heavily in original drama and it remains at the heart of our plans,' said a spokeswoman. Just, not that one. 'We have just announced an extended run for the second series of Chris Ryan's Strike Back and we'll soon be unveiling a new long-running series for prime time,' she continued. At the time of the Blake's 7 announcement in 2008, the Sky1 head of drama, Elaine Pyke, said: 'The time is ripe for a revival of a show that represents the best traditions of the genre, not to mention one of the best-loved and most successful dramas of all time.' Blake's 7 was announced when former Sky1 controller, Richard Woolfe, was running the channel. Under his successor, Stuart Murphy, Sky1 is shifting its programming focus. Last week Sky signed a one hundred and fifty million pound deal for exclusive UK rights to all new HBO shows and much of the US cable channel's back catalogue. Murphy also unveiled a slate of comedy commissions including Stella, produced by and starring Ruth Jones - which sounds utter shite, frankly. Sky1 has also ended discussions about a spy drama with Gillian Anderson, which was reportedly talked about as a one million pounds-per-episode project, although this had, apparently, never got past the development stage. 'Putting a project into development by no means guarantees a commission but our ratio of projects that do make it to the screen is very strong indeed at one in four,' said the spokeswoman. 'Development is an essential part of commissioning. However, we never prolong this process unnecessarily and we always return to programme-makers with a prompt decision.' A spokesman for B7 Productions, the company which was developing the Blake's 7 revival, said: 'Sky's deciding to not proceed with the planned TV revival of Blake's 7 is obviously disappointing, but the development process has resulted in the dynamic reinvention of this "branded" series.' Whatever the hell that means. 'There is a huge opportunity for investment in a TV series that is fully developed, has genuine global appeal and has exciting three hundred and sixty-degree exploitation opportunities.' So, in other words, psst, anybody want to buy a used-TV format. Only one, less than careful, previous owner... 'With much praised scripts from lead writers Richard Kurti and Bev Doyle and sixty per cent of the finance already in place, by anyone's standard we have pulled together a compelling package. We are confident that this reboot of Blake's 7 has the creative and commercial credentials that will enable us to find a partner with the vision to recognise the strength and enduring appeal of the show and the opportunity it represents to produce a bold new drama series with significant international appeal.' I'll leave it up to you, dear blog reader, as to whether you reckon you should be holding your breath for that one to show up on a TV channel near you.

Glee creator Ryan Murphy has revealed that he is currently writing a new show for Kristin Chenoweth. Chenoweth appeared as April Rhodes in two episodes of Glee's first season and will return for the second run. Murphy has now announced that he is writing a new project for Chenoweth but claimed that it is not a spin-off, reports. 'I've always wanted to do something for Kristin, and Kristin is a good, close friend of mine obviously,' he said. 'So I'm writing a half-hour musical comedy specifically for Kristin, because if you can sing like that, I want her to be the star of her own show where she sings.' He added: 'I can't say too much about it yet. Kristin is so funny. I want it to be adult.' Chenoweth has previously starred in a number of Broadway shows and had memorable roles in several series, including most notably Pushing Daisies and The West Wing.

Vexed, which starts on BBC2 on Sunday 15 August, is a comedy drama by Misfits' Howard Overman. It follows Kate and Jack, a police detective duo with real chemistry. Bright, sexy and funny, their personal lives are as complicated as the crimes they investigate. They may be cops but Jack and Kate suffer the same frustrations, pre-occupations and insecurities as the rest of us. Always on the move or in their unofficial office, the local cafe opposite the police station where the coffee and gossip are better, their cases say something about modern life in an entertaining way. Vexed stars Toby Stephens and Lucy Punch.

Coronation Street star Nigel Havers has revealed that fans of the soap send him racy letters and items of underwear. The sixty-year-old admitted that he is stunned by the attention he has received since he took on the role of charmer Lewis Archer last year. Speaking to the Mirror, Havers explained: 'I have been getting sackfuls of fan-mail - and some of it is very bizarre. I've had lots of women saying they want me to take them out for dinner and then do, well, I don't know what! I've had lots of racy underwear sent to me, which I've had to hide from my missus, and I've received some explicit drawings. There was one of me and this woman together in bed. Can you imagine what was going through her mind when she drew that? I haven't had that sort of mail for a long time - twenty years ago, in fact. It is extraordinary.'

Anne Dudek has revealed that she likes the 'tension' on Covert Affairs. Speaking to the Boston Herald, the former House actress admitted that she doesn't know whether her character, Danielle, will discover that her sister Annie (Piper Perabo) works for the CIA. 'I think that tension is really interesting to the viewers,' she said. 'Whether suspicion is going to enter the air and if it does, how is it going to happen? I don't want to ruin that surprise for people when it comes, if it comes.' Dudek, who has also appeared in Big Love and Mad Men, also suggested that the character is different from her usual roles. '[My family's] main reaction was, "Oh, you look kind of normal,"' she joked. '"They haven't given you a terrible haircut or put you in crazy clothes or not put any makeup on you." That's a strange thing, for people to see me looking more like I might look if I was going out to dinner.'

Barbara Winsdor has been give the freedom of the City of London. The EastEnders actress and national treasure celebrated sixty years in showbusiness with the honour at a ceremony yesterday. 'This is be a wonderful moment; the freedom to the best city in the world, and the one I was born in and love and adore,' she said. Deputy Robin Sherlock, chief commoner of the City of London Corporation, said: 'Whether making us laugh in the Carry On films or playing tense scenes in EastEnders, Barbara has won her way into our hearts and is one of this country's best loved actresses.' Becoming a freeman has no privileges but is given to celebrate a significant achievement or contribution to London life. The seventy two-year-old actress recently filmed her final scenes as Peggy Mitchell, after it was announced that she had quit the BBC soap so that she could spend more time with her husband.

The wonderful Felicia Day's web-series The Guild has recently started its fourth season. Check it out, it's really rather charming. And, thanks to Nick Burgoyne for reminding me about its existence. If you haven't come across it before, the show revolves around the lives of an 'online guild' - The Knights of Good - who play countless hours of an unspecified video game. The story focuses on Codex, the Priestess (played by Day herself) who attempts to lead a normal life after one of her guild-mates, Warlock Zaboo (Sandeep Parikh), shows up on her doorstep. The Guild was originally intended to be a pilot episode for a TV series, but Felicia was advised that it would be much more suited for a web series. And, it's got something of cult following.

Model Kelly Brook said she was having 'a naked month' as she unveiled a nude billboard of herself. The thirty-year-old launched the daring advert for Reebok EasyTone trainers outside Battersea Power Station in south London. The huge billboard shows her lying down wearing nothing but a pair of trainers. She said: 'It's a bit scary having yourself up on a billboard but I suppose I've got to get used to it because I just did a shoot for Playboy. It seems this month is my naked month.' Brook recently returned from the USA where she was promoting her new film, Piranha 3D. She said: 'It's a big popcorn movie. It was fun to work on and it seems to have got a good response. The fans seem to love it. If you like horror and you like fish, then go and see it.' And if you don't, then ... don't. The country's biggest girls' group, Girlguiding UK, is currently campaigning for airbrushed celebrity photos to be labelled but Brook said she was not completely against the process. She said: 'Airbrushing has been around since the fifties.' And bear baiting has been around since the Sixteenth Century, love, that doesn't make it right. 'It's what Hollywood was built on and I'm a big fan of Hollywood and that whole era.' But she added: 'If people are being slimmed down in photographs, then I think that should definitely be pointed out because you don't want to portray something that is unrealistic and unachievable to young teenage girls.'