THE fifth floor of ITV’s Gray’s Inn Road HQ in central London has a lofty view of the local Royal Mail sorting office.
I reckon it’ll soon be busy with letters of praise for the performance of Martin Clunes in a bittersweet new drama called Losing It.
Earlier this week I caught the lift to the fifth floor – venue for ITV board meetings – to talk to Martin about his latest project, and why he thinks the sitcom might be dead.
The first TV feature about the drama is in today’s MEN. You can also read it online here.
Doc Martin star Martin plays Phil, an advertising copywriter on the wrong side of 40 who fears for his job. Then he discovers he has testicular cancer.
Don’t let the C word put you off. As Martin, 44, says: “The drama is not maudlin or gloomy. It is filled with hope and light.”
At one time it seemed Clunes would never shake off the role of lager-swilling Gary in BBC1 sitcom Men Behaving Badly. Every year, with one eye on an easy headline, he’d be asked about a possible return. And every year he’d give a polite answer, as if he’d never heard the question before.
(Apologies – the original Movable Type layout of the below has been mashed and pics lost by the MEN’s move to WordPress)
HARD to believe, but Queen singer and legendary showman Freddie Mercury would have turned 60 next month.
To mark the date, ITV1 will screen A King Of Magic, a documentary celebrating the life of the man who helped define popular culture in the 1970s and 1980s.
It will include interviews with Mercury’s mother Jer Bulsara and sister Kashmira Cooke – and never before heard audio interviews with Freddie, who died in 1991.
ITV say that after long negotiations they have also obtained “unparalleled and exclusive access” to Freddie’s close friends, including boyfriend Jim Hutton, who I interviewed three years after Freddie’s death.
CHARLIE Stubbs was up to no good again in Coronation Street last night, tampering with the fuses in the flat he’s let to Maria.
Sarah and Jason made last gasp appeals to their mums, asking them to attend their big day. The young lovers are pictured heading for their wedding in tonight’s two visits to Weatherfield. But will it all end happily ever after?
Perhaps you stayed on your sofa to watch Where The Heart Is, featuring former Corrie star Shobna Gulati as a district nurse? A good piece of casting in what is a Sunday night favourite for millions.
Both programmes have come under the scrutiny of former ITV and Granada boss David Liddiment today.
ABI Finley was in tears after winning through last night to the next round of How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?
The Prestwich student’s performance was criticised by the judges after she had sung Nobody Does It Better in the first live BBC1 show, having shone in rehearsals.
But Abi, 23, now one of nine girls hoping to land the role of Maria von Trapp in a new London Palladium production of The Sound of Music, had an explanation. She couldn’t hear the music.
“Vocally, you were so tight tonight,” said vocal coach Zoe Tyler. “Nobody does it better? Unfortunately, they do. You had some bum notes, which I was really shocked to hear, quite frankly. You’ve got to do better.”
Abi responded: “It gives me something to work towards next week, doesn’t it?”
Co-producer David Ian, who like Andrew Lloyd Webber, has put £2m into the West End musical, said: “For Abi to be in the abbey – we can’t have bum notes in the abbey.”
IF you’re wondering where Cat Deeley has got to, wonder no longer.
The former host of Manchester-based Stars In Their Eyes is presenting a second series of American TV hit So You Think You Can Dance.
Screened on the Fox network, the search for America’s No 1 dancer is now down to the last four, with a two-hour final next Wednesday night.
Some doubted the wisdom of importing an English presenter. But award-winning Brummie-born Cat has proved them wrong.
Her revealing exclusive TV interview with Kylie Minogue – shown on Sky One last month – showed just what an expert TV performer Cat is.
Even allowing for the fact that Cat and Kylie are friends, the ex-Fame Academy and CD:UK presenter ensured she obtained the answers the world had been waiting for about the Aussie singer’s cancer battle.
AND talking of Life on Mars guest star Marc Warren…
Get the garlic, crosses and stakes ready, Hustle actor Marc is about to get his teeth into a new TV adaptation of Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel Dracula.
He takes the lead in the BBC1 production which begins filming this month in and around the West Country.
Lined up as a possible Christmas or New Year treat, the 90-minute film co-stars Line of Beauty’s Dan Stevens as Lord Holmwood and Thunderbirds actress Sophia Myles as his fiance Lucy.
THE bottles of Old Spice and Hai Karate aftershave are still in Gene’s office and a jar of pickled eggs sits behind the bar of The Railway Arms.
Earlier this week I spent a day on set in Manchester during filming for the second series of BBC1’s Life on Mars – the best drama on TV last year by some distance. And that includes Bleak House.
The main interviews with cast and crew have to be held back until nearer transmission. But from what I saw and heard, fans of the show won’t be disappointed when it returns early next year. Even the most avid student of Life on Mars should be satisfied.
It’s been hot in the city for the TV team this summer. The heatwave has caused problems for Philip Glenister, who plays Det Chief Insp Gene Hunt in a big camel coat. “It’s been pretty nightmarish,” he told me.
But there’s another reason why the Gene Genie has been getting hot under the collar while making the second series of the hit drama set in 1973.
IT looks like the end of the road for hit ITV1 drama Life Begins.
Caroline Quentin returns soon as Maggie Thornhill for a third and almost certainly last series of the show.
Created by Bramhall-born Mike Bullen and first screened in 2004, the final six episodes again co-star Alexander Armstrong as Maggie’s husband Phil.
He says: “This is probably the last series as Caroline is pretty insistent that we should stop while we’re ahead, even though ITV wanted us to do a fourth series. I think she talked to everyone on the show about her decision.”
ABI Finley aims to be one of your favourite things after winning through to the final ten in a TV search for a new West End star.
You may have seen the Prestwich student impress producer Andrew Lloyd Webber on Saturday’s edition of BBC1’s How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?
Now Abi, 23, could be in line to take the starring role in a new production of The Sound of Music, which opens at the London Palladium in November.
Her ambition is “to be the first Jewish nun”. That will be tested when we get to vote for our favourites in a six-part series of live shows, hosted by Graham Norton, starting this coming Saturday. And there’s already been a twist in the tale.
DAWN French spent four weeks talking to some of the funniest women in Britain and America.
The result is Dawn French’s Girls Who Do Comedy, a three-part series which starts on BBC1 at 10.15pm a week tomorrow.
It begins with a dazzling number of talking heads but develops into something rather interesting and, at times, revealing.
The series is dedicated to comedienne and broadcaster Linda Smith, who was interviewed before her death from ovarian cancer in February at the age of 48.