DVDs in the Works is a sneak peek at highlights in BBC Video's future schedule as well as relevant entertainment news. However, as the Scottish poet once said, "the best laid schemes o' mice an' men gang aft a-gley." That's our (and Robbie Burns') way of saying that the titles discussed here may or may not eventually see the light of day, due to circumstances beyond our control.
We understand that some fans may have received in error their Blu-ray edition of Series 7.2 early. We respectfully ask those fans not to divulge information or post content publicly so that fellow fans who have yet to see the episodes do not have their viewing pleasure ruined. If everyone keeps the secrets safe until next Saturday we will release a special new clip featuring material of the 10th and 11th Doctor.
The ten-year anniversaries of Doctor Who have been marked in various ways. The 10th Anniversary brought us The Three Doctors, the first multi-Doctor story, in which all three of the first Doctors were able to participate. For the 20th anniversary, The Five Doctors reunited companions, monsters and Doctors in an ambitious romp, but the late William Hartnell had to be replaced Richard Hurndall, and Tom Baker was represented only by footage lifted from the then-unseen Shada story. The next two anniversaries were marked during the wilderness years when the series was on hiatus. Stalwart fans at a Chicago Doctor Who convention considered themselves lucky to watch their series favorites in a live feed of Dimensions in Time from the 1993 BBC Children in Need telethon. While the series was still inactive in 2003, fans celebrating Doctor Who’s 40th anniversary were happily anticipating the series revival announced for 2005. Now the series is stronger than ever as its 50th Anniversary approaches.
To commemorate the occasion, BBC America Shop has commissioned an exclusive, limited edition pair of sterling silver dog tags. One bears the popular TARDIS-shaped “DW” logo on one side, and on the reverse “November 23, 1963,” the date that the BBC broadcast “An Unearthly Child,” the first Doctor Who episode. The other tag is a TARDIS, whose reverse side as the engraved names of the actors who played the eleven Doctors we have seen so far. Only 2,000 dog tags will ever be produced, and they may be pre-ordered now for delivery after June 20, 2013.
Fan Alert: April is Fourth Doctor Month on Doctor Who Revisited, and that means the ever-popular Tom Baker! On Sunday night, April 28th, at 8ET/7CT BBC America will revisit Tom Baker followed by Pyramids of Mars, an unforgettable story of ancient Egypt and outer space that regularly figures in the top ten in fan polls. Doctor Who Revisited (profiles and representative stories) will also be available on DVD later this year, and the first volume, devoted to the First – Fourth Doctors, may be pre-ordered now.
For Earth Day this year our natural history offerings include the feature film One Life, narrated by Daniel Craig, and The Blue Planet for the first time on Blu-ray. Has it already been ten years since we were first spellbound by the luminescent deep sea creatures and astonishing behaviors revealed in that series?
Entirely new to DVD and Blu-ray is the stunningly beautiful series Great Barrier Reef. Having recently revisited Age of Consent, filmed with a very young Helen Mirren on the Great Barrier Reef in the late Sixties, we wondered how well this natural wonder has fared in the ensuing decades. Thanks to the latest film and visual techniques, the beauty and wonders of the reef are more accessible than ever before.
Merlin fan alert: We are sorry to note that the Merlin series has come to an end with the last episode airing on SyFy last Friday, but we have good news for fans who won’t have to wait to own the last season. Merlin: Season Fiveis available on DVD and Blu-ray now.
Glenda Jackson with Alan Bates, Oliver Reed, and Jenny Linden. Admittedly, that was a gorgeous and memorable film, and hard to top. On the other hand, attitudes about human relationships have changed enough in the past four decades to revisit the novel in a 21st century adaptation. This time around, the back story of the two sisters, Gudrun (Rosamund Pike, An Education, Die Another Day) and Ursula (Rachel Stirling, The Young Victoria), is incorporated from Lawrence’s earlier novel, The Rainbow. We learn quite a bit more about the sisters themselves before they meet Rupert (Rory Kinnear, The Mystery of Edwin Drood) and Gerald (Joseph Mawle, Birdsong). Despite philosophical differences Rupert and Gerald are best friends, and the four are thrown together as Ursula and Rupert fall in love. Gudrun, a free-spirited artist, is a less likely match for Gerald, a willful industrialist. Lawrence’s frank depiction of love and desire, couplings and rejections, and the conflicting expectations of men and women make for a heady mix of drama. Women in Love will be available on DVD April 16th and may be preordered now.
Coming to BBC America and Space next week, Orphan Black is a thriller with a twist. Tatiana Maslany (The Nativity) stars as Sarah, a women who grew up in the foster home system. Her life changes when she witnesses the suicide of a woman who looks just like her. Upon examining the dead woman’s effects, she assumes the woman’s identity, her more desirable apartment, her surprisingly full bank account… and unwittingly lands herself into the predicament of a law officer under department scrutiny. It appears that her new persona had a reckless streak of her own. As Sarah struggles to pass in her new identity, she discovers yet another look-alike, this one from Germany, who also loses her life shortly after Sarah lays eyes on her. It’s anybody’s guess how many clones Sarah will encounter (and Tatiana Maslany will portray) over ten episodes as she unravels the conspiracy, but it promises to combine intense psychological depth with the pace of a crime thriller.
Orphan Black premieres simultaneously in the US and Canada on Saturday, March 30, at 9pm ET/8pm CT, following the return of Doctor Who. The US DVD and Blu-ray will follow later in the year. The status of the Canadian release is not yet known.
We are looking forward to the return Call the Midwife on PBS March 31st. Jessica Raine, Helen George and Bryony Hannah (left to right) will be back with more lovely babies, and so will Pam Ferris (Rosemary & Thyme), Miranda Hart (Miranda), Judy Parfitt (Little Dorrit) and Jenny Agutter (MI-5). This time around, the season has been extended to eight episodes.
Call the Midwife Season Two will be available on Blu-ray and DVD later this year, including the incredible Christmas Special that aired last December.
Coming this November, Jessica Raine will play the coveted role of TV pioneer Verity Lambert in An Adventure in Space and Time. Written by Mark Gattiss (Sherlock), the drama will tell the story behind the creation of the Doctor Who series in 1963. David Bradley (Harry Potter films) will co-star as First Doctor William Hartnell.
Doctor Who fan alert: Check out these excerpts from three upcoming Doctor Who tie-in novels here. These new adventures go on sale April 2nd!
Last Sunday Daniel Day-Lewis won the Best Actor Academy Award for his performance in Lincoln, becoming the first triple-winner in this category. As with so many British stars of today, we at the BBC can say we knew them when. Day-Lewis made his TV debut in 1980 on the BBC’sShoestring series, in which Trevor Eve (Waking the Dead) starred as a West Country detective.
Just two years later, Day-Lewis had landed the lead in the BBC film How Many Miles to Babylon?, the story of a friendship that weathered class and religious differences in Ireland only to be fully tested at the front in World War I. How Many Miles to Babylon? will make its DVD debut in our new Daniel Day-Lewis Triple Feature DVD. The two-disc DVD also includes The Insurance Man, which follows author Franz Kafka on his day job, and J. B. Priestley’s first play, Dangerous Corner, in which a cascade of dark secrets are exposed following a county house guest’s casual remark.We are also releasing My Brother Jonathan, a 1985 miniseries based on the Francis Brett Young’s novel. Day-Lewis plays the title role in a bittersweet tale of two brothers, told by the one who always overshadowed the other.
All of these works were made by the BBC before the actor turned 30, and before he won his first Oscar for My Left Foot in 1989. Both DVDs will be available March 19th and may be preordered now.
Last summer we wrote to give you a heads-up about the new 5-part miniseries of Parade’s End. Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock), Rebecca Hall (Frost/Nixon), Adelaide Clemens (The Great Gatsby, 2013) and Roger Allam (Endeavour) star in this portrait of English society in the years up to during World War I.
Tom Stoppard (Anna Karenina, 2012) has made brilliant narrative sense of the four novels by Ford Madox Ford. The novelist hailed from London’s Bloomsbury group and practiced a stream-of-consciousness approach that valued psychological insight more than getting on with the story. But the insights are well worth the 900-page (or five-hour) journey.
Now the Parade’s End premiere is nearly at hand. HBO will air the series from Tuesday through Thursday next week. Parts 1 and 2 will premiere at 9pm ET on February 26, with Parts 3 and 4 following in the same time slot on February 27 and Part 5 on February 28. DVD and Blu-ray release dates have not been announced.
Looking back into the BBC Archive, we found a 1964 adaptation of Parade’s End in which Judi Dench plays suffragette/pacifist Valentine Wannop opposite Ronald Hines (Middlemarch) as Tietjens. We haven’t been able to screen this 3-part version yet, but we are convinced that Valentine was a role Judi Dench was born to play. Pictured here is an unforgettable scene that revolves around a telephone call Valentine receives on Armistice Day. Parade’s End (1964) will be available April 16th on DVD and may be pre-ordered now.
To those who are missing Dan Stevens: Besides revisiting happier moments in past seasons of Downton Abbey, may we recommend the BBC’s 2008 version of Sense & Sensibility? Stevens imbues the too-good-to-be-true vicar Edward Ferrars with a trustworthiness that Hugh Grant couldn’t quite deliver in the movie version.
To those who are missing Richard Briers even more: We are saddened to learn of the death at age 79 of this legendary Britcom actor last Sunday, February 17th. Most famous as the exasperating but lovable Tom Good in Good Neighbors, he went on to appear in many of Kenneth Branagh’s films, including a fine turn as Polonius in Hamlet. Monarch of the Glen fans will remember Briers as Hector MacDonald. He left that series after three seasons to take it easier, but remained a willing guest star in television series ranging from Kingdom and Marple to New Tricks, even Torchwood. One particularly memorable guest performance was as Sir Clixby Bream in Inspector Morse: “Death Is Now My Neighbour.” We will miss him.
You may have first learned ofSpies of Warsawfrom the sizzle reel that ran at the BBC America booth at Comic-Con, or you may have seen the trailer that was greeted with roars of delight at the Doctor Who Season 7 Episode One screening in New York last summer.
We are happy to see that BBC America has set air dates on Wednesday, April 3rd and 10th in the Dramaville slot at 9ET/8CT. (Canadian broadcast information is not yet known.)
Spies of Warsaw is adapted from the novel by Alan Furst, who draws his spy heroes from the peripheral nations caught up in the treacherous years before and during World War II. David Tennant stars as Jean-Francois Mercier, a French military attaché stationed in Warsaw. Decorated in World War I by Poland as well as France, Mercier holds the unpopular view that another war is imminent. Between night missions to the German border, Mercier meets and falls in love with Anna (Janet Montgomery) a French-Polish lawyer for the League of Nations. Supporting cast includes: Burn Gorman (Torchwood) as Mercier’s jealous colleague, Linda Bassett (Queenie in Lark Rise to Candleford), Julian Glover (Wish Me Luck), Anton Lesser (The Hour), and Andrew Sachs (Fawlty Towers) as a refugee violinist with unexpected skills.
Brimming with period atmosphere, danger and romance, Spies of Warsaw is available April 16th on DVD and Blu-ray may be pre-ordered now.
We’re so excited to be bringing the extraordinary BBC Earth feature One Life to theaters nationwide on February 21! It’s narrated by one of my favorite actors Daniel Craig and is unlike any natural history documentary I’ve seen before. From intimate scenes of a mother teaching her seal to swim to the first time the Jesus Christ lizard “walking on water” has been captured on film, One Life demonstrates the diversity and tenacity required for life on earth. Directed by Michael Gunton (Earth: The Movie, Madagascar andAfrica) and Martha Holmes (Blue Planet), the film is a celebration of some of the most brilliant and imaginative stories of survival.
Even more exciting is that the feature is packed with filming firsts and almost every story featured in the film contains either an animal filmed for the first time, a behavior that has been captured for the first time, or a new filming technique which has been applied to give a familiar scene an unfamiliar look.
One Life is magical on the small screen, but I’m so excited we’re getting the opportunity to see these beautiful and dramatic animals that fill our world on the big screen this February!