The Casual Vacancy: BAFTA Q&A

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“OVER my dead body, Andrew…”

Rory Kinnear as Barry Fairbrother in BBC1’s new three-part adaptation of JK Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy.

Jo Rowling’s first novel for an adult audience, published in 2012, became a global best-seller with over six million copies sold to date.

The 3 x 60 minute television adaptation, written by Sarah Phelps and directed by Jonny Campbell, begins on BBC1 at 9pm on Sunday Feb 15.

Set in what appears to be the idyllic English village of Pagford.

Those who have read the 500-page book will know that it deals with how we live today, including issues of community and responsibility. Continue reading

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Foyle’s War 2015: Interviews

FOYLES WAR, EPISODE 1, HIGH CASTLE

Jan 12 2015 update: Foyle’s War to end. Scroll down for the full announcement.

“I’M a huge Foyle’s War fan.

“I’ve seen every episode and have given dozens of box sets of it away at Christmas to various relatives and friends.

“Now they’re all just dying to see the new series because they’re big fans too and they know I’m going to be in it. It’s a special thing.”

Frasier star John Mahoney talking to me in the car park of Nantwich Town Football Club in Cheshire on a chilly day in January 2014.

‘The Dabbers’ play in the Evo Stik Premier League. But that’s not why we’re here today.

FOYLES WAR, EPISODE 1, HIGH CASTLE

John and I are sitting in his location base trailer during a break from filming Foyle’s War in a very grand house not far away.

In truth, it’s a special thing for me to finally meet the actor who played Marty Crane in one of the greatest sitcoms of all time.

And astonishing to realise that – at 74 – this is his very first role in a British TV drama.

“It is amazing,” he agrees. “I’ve just never been asked.”

Chicago-­based John plays Andrew Del Mar, a retired Texas oil tycoon and former chairman of Global American Oil.

Now ailing and bedbound in the London home of his son Clayton (Nigel Lindsay).

He appears in High Castle, the first of three new Foyle’s War films – series eight – on ITV at 8pm this Sunday (January 4 2015).

Continue reading

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That Day We Sang: Q&A

Enid and Tubby (Imelda Staunton and Michael Ball)

Enid and Tubby (Imelda Staunton and Michael Ball)

“IT’S letting your dreams literally come true. Which is rather beautiful.

“Ordinary people being extraordinary.”

Imelda Staunton talking about the truly glorious That Day We Sang, written and directed by Victoria Wood.

A TV musical drama destined to become an instant classic.

Screened on BBC2 at 9pm on Boxing Day – Friday Dec 26.

It stars Imelda as “PA not secretary” Enid and Michael Ball as insurance salesman Tubby, two lonely middle-aged people who grab a second chance of life via the power of music.

These fictional characters meet in 1969 at a reunion of the Manchester Children’s Choir which made the iconic million selling recording of Nymphs and Shepherds with the Halle Orchestra 40 years before.

The film moving between events in the late 1960s and the story of a young Tubby, whose real name is Jimmy Baker, and his difficult home life in 1929.

With Harvey Chaisty as the young Jimmy and the always engaging Daniel Rigby as Mr Kirkby, the war veteran who helps him through.

Victoria Wood is also responsible for writing all of the music – Purcell’s Nymphs and Shepherds aside – in the 90-minute film. Continue reading

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Esio Trot: Q&A

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“WHAT’S the point of getting old if you can’t break the rules?”

I have been lucky enough to experience many magical moments in my career.

Discussing Tootsie over a Soho lunch with Dustin Hoffman in 1982 is one of thousands.

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Another was just a few streets and 32 years away from there earlier this month.

The press premiere screening of a 90-minute adaptation of Roald Dahl’s Esio Trot.

A heartwarming and joyous film to be screened on BBC1 on New Year’s Day – 6:30pm Thursday Jan 1.

Starring Dustin Hoffman as Mr Hoppy, Judi Dench as Mrs Silver and James Corden as the (in-vision) narrator.

With a screenplay by Richard Curtis and Paul Mayhew-Archer, reunited for the first time since The Vicar of Dibley.

Resulting in a classic film to charm both adults and children. Continue reading

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Moving On 6

Graeme Hawley as Ken and Lisa Riley as Moira.

Graeme Hawley as Ken and Lisa Riley as Moira.

“WE always hear, ‘Golden age of British drama.’

“It’s not. It’s a golden age of British acting talent.

“We have never been so blessed in this country. It is incredible.”

Jimmy McGovern speaking at the London BAFTA launch of Moving On series six last month.

Five new stand alone dramas by up and coming writers starting on BBC1 at 2:15pm tomorrow (Monday Nov 10). Continue reading

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Downton Abbey: 5.5

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THE naked truth about the changing world around Downton Abbey is revealed in tonight’s episode. (Sunday October 19)
  
There are racy headlines in the library as Lady Rose (Lily James) reads out a magazine article about the opening of a “nudist colony” in Essex.
  
With writer Julian Fellowes making reference to the real life Moonella Group in Wickford, which in 1924 became the first naturist club in Britain with an established home. Continue reading

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The Fall 2: Q&A

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“DON’T wake mummy…”

The chilling, disturbing and fascinating series two of The Fall is due to begin on BBC2 next month (November).

As many fans of the drama will know, the premiere screening – hosted by BAFTA – was held at London’s Mayfair Hotel on September 23.

Below is the story I wrote for a national newspaper a few hours after that launch which was used the day after in the hard copy edition and online – the latter behind a paywall.

So for those who were unable to access at the time, here’s that report.

Followed by my transcript of the post-screening Q&A that night involving Jamie Dornan, Gillian Anderson and Allan Cubitt. Continue reading

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