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!
Regular viewers ofTop Gear would have seen the 50 Years of Bond Cars special this week, but if you’re a more casual follower of Top Gear than of the James Bond franchise, then you may have missed it. Not to worry, BBC Canada will re-run the special Saturday, November 17, at 9pm ET, and BBC America will re-run it this Monday, November 19, at 7pm ET/PT. With a generous allotment of footage from past films and Skyfall, Richard Hammond presents his favorite Bond cars and interviews Daniel Craig and Roger Moore about their favorites. Both are surprising choices. Goldfinger director Guy Hamilton and a former Stig who trains Bond stunt drivers add their insights as well. But it wouldn’t be Top Gear without those don’t-try-this-at-home stunts. One is a marginally successful attempt to bring an invisible car into the real world, and the other puts the Lotus Excel to the submarine test. We’re pursuing a bit more of the star interview footage for the DVD, planned for March 2013.
We especially want to call At Home with the Georgians to your attention because we don’t believe it has aired in North America. It deserves a better fate than to fall into oblivion in the large and variant array of documentaries on offer. Presented with infectious enthusiasm by historian Amanda Vickery, the series is nothing less than a window into the souls of the real life contemporaries of Jane Austen’s characters. Long-forgotten letters and dusty diaries come to life in interpretations by costumed actors, as Ms. Vickery visits stately homes and decorative arts archives in a truly sumptuous examination of how an Englishman’s home became his castle.
On this special day for London, we turn our thoughts briefly to the much anticipated DVD release of Kingdom Season One. This delightful comedy drama stars Stephen Fry as a Peter Kingdom, a small town lawyer in the Norfolk countryside. Cast regulars include Hermione Norris (MI-5), Celia Imrie (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel), Karl Davies (Game of Thrones) and Emma Thompson’s mother, Phyllida Law (Albert Nobbs). The DVD is expected to street in the fall.
Viewer alert: We can’t wait to see what Danny Boyle, director of Slumdog Millionaire and Trainspotting, has cooked up for tonight’s Opening Ceremonies of the London 2012 Olympics, what with rumors of Mary Poppins, Voldemort and sheep. NBC’s coverage begins at 7:30pm ET.
Twenty Twelve finale: For those night owls who have followed this mockumentary on the foibles of the London 2012 deliverance team, the final two episodes on BBC America air Saturday night beginning at midnight ET. If you already know who shot Ian Fletcher (Hugh Bonneville), these are not to be missed. The complete series is slated for DVD, but the release date is still to be announced.
Michael Wood (whose In Search of the Trojan War is always must-see viewing before our trips to Greece) returns in a series that combines history and hands-on archaeology in the charming village setting of Kibworth, Leicestershire. The concept is to trace the Story of England – from Roman times through World War II – through the lost history of a single village. The local people soon get into the act as well, as their local stories and discoveries bring the national story to life. Michael Wood’s Story of England will premiere on PBS on July 3rd, and the DVD (containing scenes not broadcast on TV) will follow the series finale.
Diamond Jubilee weekend alert: BBC Americawill broadcast live BBC feeds of Sunday’s River Pageant (which promises to be the largest flotilla on the Thames in 350 years) and of Tuesday’s Day of Thanksgiving celebration from St. Paul’s Cathedral. Sunday’s schedule also affords an excellent opportunity to see The Diamond Queen, now available on DVD. For full details and further updates, BBC America has created a special Diamond Jubileewebpage.
For our own eyewitness impressions of London and the Diamond Jubilee celebrations, follow us on the BBC America Shop’sfacebook and twitter feeds.
On Tuesday, an email from The Really Useful Group brought us the news that Andrew Lloyd Webber had collaborated with Gary Barlow on a new anthem for the Queen’s Jubilee Concert on Monday, and you can download the free sheet music here. Gareth Malone (of BBC America’s The Choir) will direct the Military Wives Choir in the premiere performance.
Before Matt Smith returns in Doctor Who this summer, he will test his mettle in an inspiring true story from the 1948 London Olympics. As Bert Bushnell, Matt Smith portrays a humble clerk with an enthusiasm for sculling. (While sculling looks like rowing to most of us, but we have learned that, for sporting purposes, rowing involves one oar per person, while sculling involves two.) Six weeks before the games, Bert is offered a chance to compete, but only in tandem with Oxford man Richard “Dickie” Burnell (Sam Hoare, Jane Eyre [Masterpiece 2006]). World class teams aren’t built overnight, and Bert and Dickie’s prickly first efforts don’t inspire much optimism. Much of the water action was filmed along the placid riverbanks at Henley-on-Thames, which is roughly the same area that inspired Kenneth Graham’s The Wind in the Willows. Geoffrey Palmer (As Time Goes By), Douglas Hodge (Middlemarch) and James Frain (The Tudors) are also in the cast.
BBC America will air Going for Gold this summer shortly before the London Olympics begin. Canadian broadcast information is not yet known. The DVD should follow soon after.
As Queen Elizabeth II began her Diamond Jubilee tour of the UK today in Leicester, it’s perfect time to introduce two special DVDs in the works. The Diamond Queen is a 3-hour television profile that aired last month. Our British colleagues, who have witnessed a number of jubilees and television retrospectives over the years, were impressed by this series’ unprecedented access to the Queen, and to members of the Royal family, who speak quite candidly in interviews. The Diamond Queen premieres in Canada on CBC News this Saturday, March 10th, at 7pm ET/PT. Broadcast information for the US has not been announced.
The Queen’s Palaces is currently making the rounds of PBS stations, and an episode aired on British Columbia’s Knowledge last night. The series devotes episodes to Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, and The Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, and relates their fascinating history in relation to the various monarchs who hand a hand in their development. Both DVDs should be available shortly before the Jubilee celebrations, which begin Saturday, June 2nd.
Behind that tinted windshield is Richard Hammond, testing the durability of the 10-ton Marauder in conditions typical to South Africa. Meanwhile Clarkson celebrates the 50th anniversary of the legendary Jaguar E-type, with a party checklist that includes live music, classic fighter planes and a group of Royal Marines. In James May’s challenge (evocative of the minis-in-the-ice-rink sequence famously cut from The Italian Job), the latest Mini rally car pits its reputation in a downhill race with gold medal winning British Olympian Amy Williams on her skeleton sled. And that’s just Episode One of Top Gear 17. Stars in a Reasonably Priced Car include rock legend Alice Cooper, LiveAid’s Bob Geldof, Formula 1 world champion Sebastian Vettel and Rowan Atkinson (Blackadder,Mr. Bean), who is very much a racing enthusiast in private life. Special Features include extra chats and laps plus a sample episode from the American version of Top Gear. Look for Top Gear 17 to arrive on DVD and Blu-ray before Spring 2012.
Doctor Who fan alert! BBC America is looking for talking heads to appear in its next Doctor Who Special, The Best of the Christmas Specials, set to premiere on December 24th. This is an exclusive, can’t-miss chance to be featured on-air in the program alongside the musings of celebrity Whovians.
First, check out this video:
Then, grab your camera and record your wittiest, most festive answers to the any of the Christmassy questions listed below – and submit it as a response video on YouTube! Your video might just appear in the “Doctor Who: Best of the Christmas Specials” show on BBC America, or online.
Would you rather go sleigh riding with a Dalek or make snow angels with an Ood?
Would you rather ride with Santa in his sleigh or The Doctor in his TARDIS?
Would you rather find yourself under mistletoe with a Weeping Angel or The Silence?
Would you rather spend Christmas traveling with the Doctor or relaxing at home with Amy and Rory?
Would you rather eat fish fingers and custard or a traditional Christmas dinner?
Would you rather see Santa Claus come down your chimney or the Doctor land in your yard?
Would you rather find a Sonic Screwdriver in your stocking or a TARDIS under your Christmas tree?
The deadline is November 23rd. Click here for full instructions on how to submit a video response on YouTube.
Avid royal watchers will be setting their alarm clocks to catch some, or all five and half hours, of the BBC’s live, commercial-free coverage of the Royal Wedding on BBC America, but we know some of you are already wondering: will there be a DVD? We are happy to announce that on May 24th we are releasing The Royal Wedding – William & Catherine, the official BBC DVD of the full wedding ceremony at Westminster Abbey, plus an hour of outdoor highlights. These will certainly include Catherine’s arrival at the Abbey, the post-wedding carriage procession along Whitehall and the Mall, and William and Catherine’s appearance on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, when the Mall fills up with well-wishers as far as the eye can see. The BBC has staked out 70 camera positions along the route, and 30 cameras in the Abbey. The DVD will also include William & Kate – A Royal Engagement, the 48-minute documentary which was broadcast last November on the BBC and NBC Dateline.
BBC Worldwide will donate all proceeds of the distribution rights (after deduction of its own acquisition and distribution costs) from TV, DVD and download-to-own sales of The Royal Wedding to The Foundation of Prince William and Prince Harry (charity registration number 1132048). This is expected to be in the region of £150,000.
Choosing a period piece like Christopher and His Kind for his first high-profile role after Doctor Who may sound like a busman’s holiday for Matt Smith. Indeed, he acknowledges a parallel between the Time Lord and Isherwood (the Christopher of the title). Isherwood is best known for Berlin Stories, which inspired the hit play I Am a Camera, which in turn spawned the megahit musical Cabaret. “He left 1930s England and arrived in Berlin, a place that in comparison was an alien planet,” Matt Smith said in the cover-story in next week’s Radio Times. In Christopher and His Kind, written in 1976 (over 30 years after Berlin Stories), Isherwood was able to present pre-war Berlin with greater historical perspective and to portray much more frankly its unprecedented gay scene. Our appetite wetted by A Single Man (also based on an Isherwood novel), we’ve been looking forward to this film since it was announced.
Joining Matt are Pip Carter as poet W.H. Auden and Imogen Poots as Jean Moss, the inspiration for Sally Bowles. We haven’t seen much of their work, but both are in current films, as Placidus in The Eagle and as Blanche Ingram in Jane Eyre, respectively. Rounding out the cast are Lindsay Duncan (Shooting the Past, The Waters of Mars) as Christopher’s mother, and Toby Jones (the Dream Lord in Doctor Who Series 5, The Old Curiosity Shop) as journalist Gerald Hamilton. While we usually have to wait months between a UK broadcast and a North American DVD release, we’re happy to announce that Christopher and His Kind will be available later this spring.