The Great War is here! Jon’s doom laden voice confirms all fears as Cersei acknowledges she’s surrounded and Daenerys hits Dragonstone with fighting talk. “We’re the last Lannisters left” intones Cersei to Jaime, and in a slight at Tyrion: “The last ones who count”. With Jon to the north, Euron to the west, Dany to the east and what’s left of the Tyrells and Martells in the south, Cersei’s giant map must be looking smaller to her every day.
The chilling series based on Margaret Atwood’s award-winning novel featuring female subjugation is set to debut on Channel 4 later this month. In an America faced with environmental disasters and plunging birth rate, Gilead is a dystopia where a twisted fundamentalist regime treats women as property of the state. “Kathy, you are just a woman, the only thing you know is laying on your back with your legs in the air splayed.” Republican Mark Germaud to fellow member of Perry County School Board, Kathy Carron.
Strictly Come Dancing has finally announced Len’s replacement – and fans are ecstatic with the choice of the ‘Queen of Latin’ Shirley Ballas.
The BFI Radio Times Festival hosted key members of The Night Manager’s cast and crew last month, with Oscar-winning director Susanne Bier, executive producer Simon Cornwell and cast members Alistair Petrie and Tom Hiddleston sharing backstage secrets on this magnificent edge-of-the-seat spy thriller.
A unique documentary celebrating the life and work of Diana, Princess of Wales, will be broadcast by ITV later this year. The two people who knew her best will talk openly about their mother and the influence she had on shaping their lives, showing us Diana as never before. Princess Diana became the nation’s sweetheart following her marriage to Prince Charles in 1981.
At the BFI/Radio Times festival recently, Call the Midwife (which won the Best Period Drama category in the opening vote) was voted Best Drama of the 21st Century, beating The Night Manager (Contemporary), Merlin (Sci-fi), The Bridge (Foreign Language), The West Wing (US) and Happy Valley (Crime). Sent the memoirs by author Jennifer Worth, Pippa, Ann and Heidi batted a few ideas about, eventually deciding against a film and heading for television, and the BBC.
On June 1, 1967, The Beatles released their seminal 8th studio album, Sgt.Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. As the 50th anniversary approaches, the BBC will celebrate with programmes across TV and radio. BBC Two will present Sgt.Pepper’s Musical Revolution, written and presented by Howard Goodall, the EMMY, BRIT and BAFTA award winning composer, best known to TV fans for his work on The Vicar of Dibley, Red Dwarf and Blackadder.
Stephen Mangan hosted the awards, held at The Brewery in London, and opened proceedings with a speech celebrating our re-aquaintance in 2016 of a few old favourites, from The X Files and Cold Feet to rampant xenophobia and the threat of nuclear armageddon. Anything fronted by David Attenborough is quality assured, so there’s no surprise to find that his must-see programmes scooped three awards: Sound, Factual for Planet Earth II, The Great Barrier Reef Dive winning Digital Creativity and Planet Earth II taking Photography, Factual – a somewhat foregone conclusion since all four nominees were from the series! ‘Cities’ was the most acclaimed episode. The Night Manager – with all parties involved up for doing a series 2 – was the first double winner of the evening, taking the Editing, Fiction Award along with Sound, Fiction.
It happened at the BFI/Radio Times Festival, where not only did we get to watch the opening episode of Series 2, we sat in on the conversation between screenwriter Simon Nye, star Keeley Hawes and executive producers Lee Morris and Sally Woodward Gentle, hosted by Radio 4’s Kirsty Lang. In the books, Louisa was more in the background, but the show puts her centre stage (“Well done, Simon,” quips Keeley) as they wanted to tell a fuller picture – four kids were a handful, like herding cats.
With Episode 3’s ending even more shocking than Episode 1’s and both in contention to upstage “Urgent Exit Required” – currently in the running for a BAFTA (go vote) – who could say what Jed Mercurio’s scheming brain has in store for us? A tense episode sees the investigation closing in on Huntley – both of them, since hubby Nick (Lee Ingleby) is now up to his eyes in it too. Because since when has Lee Ingleby ever been just a bit player?
BAFTA has released the nominations for its Virgin sponsored TV awards on May 14 – and there’s a chance for us to choose the top must-see moment of 2016.
John Simm – set to rejoin Dr Who as The Master in the new series starting this month – stars alongside a trio of Britain’s top female actors in Collateral, a gripping, high-octane thriller set in present day London, from pre-eminent playwright David Hare. A multi-talented playwright, screenwriter, director and producer, Hare wrote Oscar winning films The Hours and The Reader, and widely-acclaimed plays including Plenty and Skylight. The cast includes a second time collaborator with Hare, Carey Mulligan (The Great Gatsby, Suffragette) following her role in the revival of Skylight.
The Holby City wards will fill with irrepressible charm just in time for Christmas, as 8th Doctor Paul McGann flies in to spread the cheer. It won’t be a case of Dr Who though, as McGann will take on the role of Professor John Gaskell, arriving on site with a programme of surgical innovations set to rescue Holby from crisis and lead it into an exciting but unknown future. Having made his breakthrough as Percy Toplis in the 1986 mini series The Monocled Mutineer, McGann has been much in demand, featuring in Withnail and I, Our Mutual Friend, Luther and of course, reprising his Dr Who role in The Night of the Doctor in 2013.
It seems most of us were distracted by the outfits though: Will.i.am fresh off the set of A Clockwork Orange, Tom as Colonel Sanders and Jennifer as the coconut Quality Street. Money can’t buy you everything it seems, including a decent stylist.
Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) has landed and is taking the throne at the Targaryen’s ancient seat, Dragonstone, while Jon (Kit Harington) heads for the equivalent in Winterfell. Current incumbent of the Iron Throne, Cersei (Lena Headey) takes her place but that’s no sigh of relief slipping through her lips. The air she breathes signifies tells us she’s soon to find out the one thing that Jon Snow has known all along: Winter, by way of the White Walkers, is definitely here.
Douglas Henshall and Alison O’Donnell will be back to fight crime again in the close knit community of Shetland. When Islander Thomas Malone has his conviction overturned after serving 23 years in jail, Henshall’s DI Jimmy Perez has to review the 1994 death of local teenager, Lizzie Kilmuir, and continue the investigation. Series regulars returning include Alison O’Donnell as Alison (Tosh) McIntosh, who suffered that horrible life changing event in Series 3 and relocated to the mainland, while Steven Robertson reprises his role as DC Sandy Wilson.
Firstly, John was shot – with a tranquilizer. Which you would have known if you were paying attention at 6 minutes 36 seconds into the episode, when he advises Mycroft that Eurus shot him, and Sherlock dismisses it as “only with a tranquilizer”.
Jonny and Chrissy pull away from the rest with a dynamic version of Cheryl Cole’s Parachute, as the couples improve on Week 1. First up though, JB and Chloe with NSync’s Bye Bye Bye, and if learning the dance wasn’t enough to cope with, they’ve strings attached. Chloe was loving every second, that was obvious, and their timing was great.
Chic told us to Dance Dance Dance. We’re trying, we really are but if we struggle, we can just watch ITV’s new Sunday night teatime special.
Tom Hiddleston won Best Actor as superspy Jonathan Pine in The Night Manager. Taut, stylish spy thriller The Night Manager gave star Tom Hiddleston his first Golden Globe for Leading Actor in a TV Film or MiniSeries, playing protagonist Jonathan Pine. Being the nice guy and Unicef advocate that he is, Hiddleston highlighted the valuable work of aid workers helping children in Sudan, dedicating his win to them.
Tom Jones is fine with it but I’m not alone in feeling distraught on the rejected constestants’ behalf. Rachel Rose – a versatile vocal in a good performance but maybe not original enough – and Jamie Greer, who bravely covered an All Saints song, which I thought would see him through, both earned standing ovations from the audience – not a bad response to take away, but how much more valuable would it have been if the judges had told them to their faces what their opinions were: great singers but not what they’re looking for. Jason Jones, a mild mannered, nice family man who works in a customer service call centre, knocked us all out with unexpected vocal greatness, a passionate and musical rocky-ish but contemporary one.
The BBC’s new Saturday night entertainment show received mixed reactions – as did ITV’s slightly tweaked format of The Voice. Gary Barlow was in West End musical mode, opening the show with a full stage production that may have flummoxed X-Factor viewers, but set the stall out nicely for those of us who previously enjoyed the hunt for Maria, Dorothy, Joseph and Nancy.
In no order at all, because these were all fabulous in their own right: the shocking, romantic, electrifying, joyous, hilarious or downright soppy favourite moments as seen on TV in 2016. Pull up a chair, there were a lot …