Tag Archive | Broadchurch

Top Television to watch in 2017!

I can’t believe it’s the end of the year already, which means it’s time to look ahead to the top television choices for 2017. Personally, I think 2016 was a superb year for television, whether returning shows or new ones (my look back at 2016’s excellent television will be posted in the next few days) and the new year is already looking rather promising.

So, here are the 17 programmes that I’m most excited about tuning in to in 2017 (well it’s 18 actually, but I’m sure you’ll let me off). As I’m in the UK, air dates and channels are those for the UK.

Sherlock (series 4, BBC One, starts 1st January)

Sherlock S4 - GenericWell, Sherlock was always going to be on my list of hotly anticipated television for the new year! After last Christmas’s slightly bizarre special, series four arrives and from the trailers promises to be a much darker affair. With Toby Jones on board to play this year’s baddie and Andrew Scott making an appearance (in flashback? still alive? who knows), I have high hopes. Sherlock deserves its hype thanks to its strong cast, direction, writing and music and I hope the next three episodes will only leave us wanting more!

Broadchurch  (series 3, ITV, expected Spring 2017)

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Returning in early 2017 for its third and final series is one of ITV’s strongest dramas for years. I know I’m in a minority when I say I really did enjoy the second series of Broadchurch (it really does benefit from a rewatch), but even if you preferred series one, the partnership of David Tennant and Olivia Colman is always a joy and I’m intrigued to see what drama awaits the residents of this Dorset community.

Suits (Dave, series 6B returns 29th January)

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I’ve recently started watching Suits again and had forgotten how much I loved it. Now up to date, I’m looking forward to seeing the continuation of series 6 when the series returns in 2017. One of the show’s biggest strengths is how it continues to adapt the focus of the series as it goes along and after quite a few changes over the last couple of years, it will be very interesting to see what’s next for the gang. I’d quite like to see Harvey’s mother make an appearance, to see how he copes with that emotional hurdle, but we’ll have to see. Oh, and more hand holding with Donna please Harvey!

Taboo (BBC One, starts 7th January)

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A new eight part drama for BBC One is Taboo, created by Peaky Blinders’ Steven Knight, British actor Tom Hardy (whose international reputation continues to grow following his Oscar nominated performance in The Revenant) and his father, writer Chips Hardy. Set in 1814, Hardy plays James Keziah Delaney, a man believed to be dead who returns to London from Africa to inherit his father’s business and avenge his death.  With a supporting cast including Mark Gatiss, Tom Hollander and Jonathan Pryce and with Ridley Scott on board as an executive producer, this will certainly be an epic start to BBC One’s year.

24: Legacy (FOX, starts 15th February)

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I admit I struggled with the idea of 24 without Jack Bauer and I’m still sceptical, but I’m willing to give this reboot of one of my favourite series a go. Yes, there’s no Kiefer Sutherland, but if the storylines continue to grab my attention and interest with the help of 24’s signature real-time format and if the acting is up to scratch, this could be very enjoyable indeed. I really do hope it proves to be worthy successor to the original run.

Making A Murderer (Netflix, date TBC)

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The first series of this documentary in to the case of convicted murderer Steven Avery and his nephew Brendan Dassey both shocked and infuriated me and millions of other viewers. I’ve continued to follow the events online and it will be fascinating to get under the skin of this continuing case, as those representing Avery and Dassey continue to fight to unearth the truth behind the tragic murder of Teresa Halbach.

Guerilla (Sky Atlantic, date TBC)

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Written by John Ridley (who won an Oscar for the 12 Years A Slave screenplay), this drama set in the 1970s London revolves around black activism, when a young couple liberate a political prisoner from an underground cell. The couple’s ultimate target becomes the Black Power Desk, a secret counter-intelligence unit within Special Branch dedicated to eradicating such activism. Starring Idris Elba, together with a very strong cast for theatre lovers like me, including Rory Kinnear, Daniel Mays and Denise Gough this powerful series is near the top of my list for 2017.

Stranger Things (Netflix, date TBC)

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Stranger Things’s mix of spooky, supernatural and classic 80s nostalgia was a real highlight of television this year and I’m already looking forward to seeing where the characters are a year on, when series two returns in 2017. We don’t know much yet, but set in 1984, it’ll be lovely to see what nods to the films of that era make it in to the series (it has already been said that Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom will be an influence). With all the wonderful kids returning (including Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven), as well as the other regulars from series one, this is sure to be as addictive as series one.

Prison Break (series 5, channel and date TBC)

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It’s time to break out of yet another prison! I’m still surprised about the return of this series, which did get rather bonkers by the fourth series. However, as we left the show with Michael supposedly dead, it will be interesting to see how they explain away his reappearance back behind bars! Those behind the show have said that this is a one-off event series, which will conclude the Prison Break story and as most of the original cast are back, I’m very curious to see it. Hurry up UK and announce how I can watch this!

Big Little Lies (Sky Atlantic, date TBC)

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Remember when people were shocked at the idea of a successful film actor choosing to do a TV series? Thankfully this is now commonplace and 2017 sees the arrival of HBO’s new series based on Liane Moriarty’s novel, starring Reese Witherspoon, Nicola Kidman and Shailene Woodley, as mothers of children at the same kindergarten. As their children become friends, their lives are apparently turned upside down as secrets are revealed. HBO and Sky Atlantic (who are airing it here in the UK) are doing a great job of not giving too much away as yet!

Game of Thrones (series 7, Sky Atlantic, summer 2017)

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Let’s face it, Game of Thrones will be on this list for the next two years before the series ends! After moving past the books, the thrill now when tuning in to Game of Thrones is that anything really could happen and whether you’ve read them or not, all of its fans are now in the same boat. As Daenerys makes her way across the sea with her army and her dragons, it’ll be fantastic to see some of our favourite characters hopefully come together at long last. Will Jaime have to kill Cersei? Will Jon and Sansa finally reunite with Arya? Will the game of thrones really matter if the White Walkers breach the Wall? I can’t wait to find out!

Twin Peaks (series 3, Sky Atlantic, date TBC)

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I remember dipping in and out of Twin Peaks when I was younger so that I could see David Duchovny playing Denise. To my shame I’ve always intended to revisit it and give this cult classic the attention everyone tells me it deserves. I now have the boxset and what better time to watch it than now, before David Lynch and Mark Frost’s series returns after 25 years?! With Kyle MacLachlan back as Dale Cooper and many others returning (including, I hear, Mr Duchovny!), together with actors such as Jim Belushi and Laura Dern said to be making appearances, this is sure to be one of the most talked about series on television in 2017.

Riviera (Sky Atlantic, date TBC)

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Another film actress leading a new television drama is Julia Stiles in Riviera. Created by writer and director Neil Jordan (based on an idea by Paul McGuinness and co-written by Booker Prize-winning author John Banville), this thriller is set on the French Riviera. When her husband is killed in a yacht explosion, Stiles’s character sets out to uncover the truth of what happened to him, only to discover the truth about the activities he was really involved in. It sounds as if this could be this year’s The Night Manager (pity there is no Tom Hiddleston though)!

Death In Paradise (series 6, BBC One, starts 5th January)

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I do love Death In Paradise! What better winter pick me up is there than the glorious island life of Saint Marie (actually Guadeloupe) and the lovely Humphrey Goodman played by Kris Marshall? Yes it can be a bit silly, but that’s part of its charm and these murder mysteries are always great fun. Also, series six apparently includes a two-part story set in London. It’ll be brilliant if we get to see the rest of the gang trying to adapt to Humphrey’s world for a change!

Doctor Who (series 10, BBC One, date TBC)

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After no new series of Doctor Who during 2016, I’m looking forward to the return of Peter Capaldi aboard the TARDIS during 2017. With a new companion Bill Potts (played by Pearl Mackie) who we’ll meet on Christmas Day, it will be interesting to see a new duo flying through time and space having adventures. Rumours are circling that Capaldi may call it a day after this series to make way for a new Doctor when Chris Chibnall takes the helm. I hope he doesn’t leave, but either way, I intend to enjoy a new set of episodes of this BBC classic.

Fearless (ITV, date TBC)

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We still know very little about this new ITV drama. However, the simple fact it stars Helen McCrory is enough for me. Also starring Sir Michael Gambon, all we know at the moment is that it is a six part legal conspiracy thriller in which McCrory plays a solicitor determined to free a man she believes was wrongly convicted of the murder of a child. However, it seems forces in the police and intelligence community are just as determined to stop her. Written by one of the writers of Homeland, I have high hopes for this series.

The Crown (series 2, Netflix, hopefully late 2017)

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After all the hype, it was thrilling to discover that Netflix’s drama documenting the early years of the reign of Queen Elizabeth II was utterly superb. The writing, direction, costumes, realistic sets, stirring score and excellent acting from the whole cast means that series two can’t come quickly enough. We don’t yet know how many years the series will cover, but it’s already been confirmed that it’ll be the last series with the current actors, before older actors move the decades forward as the Queen’s reign unfolds.

Line of Duty (series 4, BBC One, date TBC)

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Okay, so this makes 18, but on hearing that the new series of Line of Duty will likely air in 2017, I really couldn’t leave it out. Without a doubt, this has been one of the greatest dramas of recent years, with each series building on the success of the first. After the nail-biting end to series three, it’ll be interesting to see what’s in store for the team of AC-12 when the show moves from BBC Two to BBC One. If you haven’t watched it, then get catching up fast!

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So those are my picks for 2017 and that’s only based on what has already been announced, so who knows what other shows we’ll be enjoying over the next twelve months! For now though, enjoy the Christmas television offerings!

My Top Television of 2015

The year is almost over so it’s time for another annual television review. How time flies! It’s been a mixed year, however, there were still some brilliant programmes during 2015 and these are the ones that stood out for me, which I couldn’t wait to rewatch and will no doubt tune in to again in the future.

Wolf Hall (BBC)

Wolf Hall was a truly superb achievement, highlighting the quality that the BBC produces effortlessly. As someone who had only recently seen the RSC stage productions and started reading the books after watching a BFI preview of this series, it met every expectation I had for it. The screenplay was a perfect adaptation of the books, the locations and costumes were gorgeous and the direction and choice of lighting was inspired. The scenes lit purely by candlelight truly captured the sense of England in another time. Then of course was the acting, with a strong ensemble bringing these famous characters to life, all led by Mark Rylance, one of my favourite actors. His Cromwell manages to capture all the internal thinking of the man. You can see that so much is going on in his head, even when no word is spoken and it’s lovely more people have become aware of his brilliance through this drama. I certainly hope that the third book will also be adapted once it’s released.

Broadchurch (ITV)

I’m aware that a lot of people were disappointed by the second series of Broadchurch, but I wasn’t one of them and actually think the series was underrated and very worthy of a revisit for those who only watched it on transmission. Yes, series one was superb, partly due to the unexpected quality of the story and the way it captured the nation’s interest. It was always going to be difficult to repeat. However, series two has a lot of brilliant elements that the first didn’t (and couldn’t) have. The bond and relationship between Hardy and Miller was stronger and gave David Tennant and Olivia Colman more scope to build on what had gone before. They are friends here and able to be a team in a way they couldn’t be in those early episodes before the trust had been built. On top of that you had two stories at once. Perhaps the weakness of this series was too many little plots (the barrister’s son as an example), but the mix of the court case with, for me, the more interesting plot of Sandbrook always kept me guessing. It also gave us one of the most interesting characters on television this year – Eve Myles’s Claire Ripley. One minute you liked her, then you suspected her, then you worried for her. She was a whirlwind of emotions and personalities and was always wonderful to watch. I’m a little worried a third series may be unnecessary, but I’m intrigued to see what Chris Chibnall has in mind.

Doctor Strange & Mr Norrell (BBC)

Another quality BBC drama was this adaptation of Susannah Clarke’s fantasy novel and I still think it received much less fuss than it deserved, being a brave and exciting choice of drama for the BBC to make. The cast were wonderful, with Bertie Carvel and Eddie Marsan doing fantastically as the title characters, with Marc Warren truly creepy as The Gentleman. Beautifully shot and with some impressive special effects (that sand horse scene in episode two was truly fantastic on first viewing for a television show). If you didn’t watch it, I’d encourage you to give it a try. It really is magical.

Game of Thrones (HBO)

I imagine Game of Thrones will make this list every year unless it does something spectacularly wrong before it ends! Series five also marked the year in which those of us who’d read the books finally moved on to new material! Anything is possible now! Ayra Stark’s development continues in fascinating ways and Maisie Williams only gets better each year, but let’s face it the pinnacle of series five was Hardhome. It felt like a scene from The Lord of the Rings and I’d love to see it on a cinema screen. The vast, epic and powerful scope of those 20 minutes were incredible. I’m very excited to see what will be coming next.

Jessica Jones (Netflix)

I admit that I came to Jessica Jones as a David Tennant fan rather than a Marvel fan, but I’m very pleased indeed that I did, with Jessica Jones being one of the one most fascinating characters on television this year, wonderfully played by Krysten Ritter. It may be part of a comic universe, but this is not what you’d normally expect from a superhero series, with that aspect of the show seeming secondary to the dark, adult themes that it contains. Tennant’s Killgrave is also a truly chilling villain, his ability to make anyone do anything, frightening in its possibilities. With strong writing and an excellent supporting cast, this was one of the strongest first series of a show I’ve seen in a long time. Read my full review here.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix)

I admit I tend to watch more dramas than comedies, but this new Netflix series was recommended by so many of my friends I had to try it. What a brilliant series it is and series two cannot come quickly enough! The premise may seem bonkers, but the writing is sharp and funny and the characters immediately likeable. Kimmy Schmidt is so full of naive, innocence and Ellie Kemper is wonderful in the role. Not many characters have made me laugh as much as Titus Andromedon (played by Tituss Burgess) did this year and it’s always lovely to see Jane  Krakowski on screen. You couldn’t fail to be cheered up, no matter how naff you felt when you watched this series and that’s a rare achievement.

Arrow / The Flash (Sky)

I may be cheating a little counting two shows as one, but due to the crossover nature of the worlds of Arrow and The Flash it seems justified (look at the great promos they can do for them both now)! I’ll always love Arrow, as the characters have bedded in and let’s face it, it has Felicity Smoak (and yes, Stephen Ammell…), but The Flash really did a  brilliant job in its first year of settling in so quickly. After only a few episodes the characters felt developed and were people you were genuinely interested in watching. I’ve not enjoyed series two of The Flash so far as much as the first, but together these two shows do a brilliant job of combining the fantasy/superhero elements with interesting, well-rounded characters and stories.

The Blacklist (Sky Living)

In my view, series three of The Blacklist is its best yet. Initially the plots felt a bit silly and the FBI characters laughable in their ineptness, but it was the brilliance of James Spader’s performance as Raymond “Red” Reddington that hooked me. He was enigmatic, charming, funny and with an edge that made you know you wouldn’t want to be on the wrong side of him! Series three has seen him and Agent Keen work even more as a team, as she continues to be on the run from the very colleagues she used to work with. It has given the series an interesting new angle and given Megan Boone as Keen some much more interesting material to work with.

Doctor Foster (BBC)

Mike Bartlett is one of my favourite playwrights, currently on a role with his stage successes both here and on Broadway and with Doctor Foster he has brought his ability to write human emotions and behaviour to the small screen as well. Over the course of this series, the tension that developed as the truths of the characters unravelled was brilliant. Bertie Carvel was very good as the cheating husband who you couldn’t completely despise (well not initially anyway!), Adam James was on fine form as the sleezy neighbour, but Suranne Jones is utterly superb as Doctor Foster. Her performance is magnetic, as we watched her move ever closer to confronting her husband and the final episode was certainly nail-biting. It’ll be interesting to see where series two finds her.

Peter Kay’s Car Share (BBC)

It was actually my parents who told me how good this series was. This recommendation was quite unusual, as I wouldn’t have expected them to be watching this type of comedy and so curiosity meant I had to tune in. It’s such a gem of a series and so brilliantly written by Peter Kay. How he comes up with some of these ideas I do not know, but it made me laugh more than most series have this year. The central chemistry between him and Sian Gibson, as his colleague and friend Kayleigh Kitson is perfect and has so much potential. I’m very much looking forward to a second series, which surely must be coming soon.

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So those are my television highlights of 2015. There has certainly been a lot to see this year and I have a list of things to catch up on that I couldn’t fit in. I hope 2016 proves to be just as entertaining (well it already has The X-Files so will be off to a spectacular start!). My top picks for 2016 will follow soon.

Broadchurch Finale Celebrations – Olafur Arnalds in Bridport!

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A few weeks ago in February, Broadchurch fans were getting ready to find out the answers to so many questions – Would justice be done and Joe Miller be found guilty? and What did happen in Sandbrook? to name just two. My friend and I had discovered the perfect way to enjoy the finale night – by spending it in Broadchurch itself, Bridport to be specific, enjoying a concert by series composer Olafur Arnalds, followed by a screening of the finale! It’s taken me a while to post this review, but as the Broadchurch DVD is now out to buy I thought why not post it now.

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It was my first trip to Dorset and I wasn’t disappointed as the scenery was beautiful, despite the blustery weather on the Monday! First things first was to visit all the locations in West Bay, which was a short walk (or bus ride) from Bridport. My friend had been to some of the filming of series two, so she was able (and more than willing) to show me all the sights – the newsagents exterior and the sea brigade HQ from series one, the police station, Jocelyn Knight’s house, DI Hardy’s waterside home and the iconic cliffside, which is now so intrinsically linked to this brilliant ITV drama series. It was lovely to be in the very place that would be on ITV that evening and I’ll certainly be back in sunnier weather.

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The iconic Broadchurch cliff!

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Who lives in a hut like this?…Alec Hardy!

It was soon time to make our way to the Electric Palace in Bridport for the evening’s celebrations. It was a lovely old-fashioned venue, which was packed with crew and locals, clearly very proud of the show that has brought worldwide attention to their little town. Creator and writer Chris Chibnall and Jodie Whittaker (Beth Latimer) were also in the audience. The night before, Olafur Arnalds had sold out the Barbican Hall in London and yet he’d specifically requested the addition of Bridport to his current tour, as he wanted to finally visit the place that he’d spent so much time composing for. He jokingly said it would have been so much easier trying to know the tone for the music if he’d come sooner!

It was soon time to make our way to the Electric Palace in Bridport for the evening’s celebrations. It was a lovely old-fashioned venue, which was packed with crew and locals, clearly very proud of the show that has brought worldwide attention to their little town. Creator and writer Chris Chibnall and Jodie Whittaker (Beth Latimer) were also in the audience. The night before, Olafur Arnalds had sold out the Barbican Hall in London and yet he’d specifically requested the addition of Bridport to his current tour, as he wanted to finally visit the place that he’d spent so much time composing for. He jokingly said it would have been so much easier trying to know the tone for the music if he’d come sooner!

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Olafur Arnalds (far left) & musicians on stage

We were then treated to 80 minutes of Olafur’s unique music, which uses synth alongside string instruments amongst others to create incredibly haunting and powerful music. His music is perfect for Broadchurch once you hear it, as it’s so atmospheric and the concert had been conceived in such a way as to maximise the effect of his music on an audience, through the added use of light and smoke effects. It was certainly unlike any musical concert I’d experienced before.

During the set, we heard musical pieces that have become so iconic to the series, including Beth’s Theme (renamed Jodie’s theme for the evening), and the hauntingly beautiful opening theme, which sounds so much like waves crashing against the sand and hearing it not far from that location was brilliant. In addition, Olafur was also joined by Arnor Dan, who is the voice behind Broadchurch’s two theme songs So Close and So Far, who it was joked really doesn’t like the ITV lady who talks over his 30 seconds of fame at the end of each episode!

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Olafur Arnalds & Jodie Whittaker on stage before the screening of the finale

As well as music from the series, Olafur and the musicians also played music from his previous album For Now I Am Winter, of which I particularly enjoyed the haunting Old Skin. He ended the concert with a song from an earlier album (Living Room Songs) called Lag fyrir ömmu, which in English means “Song for Grandma”, as he explained his grandmother had been his biggest supporter and he wanted to write a song in her memory. As someone who has recently lost my grandma, I found this a particularly moving piece and the staging choice for it was perfect – the other musicians left the stage, leaving him alone to play the piano, even when the string section of the music begins, lending a beautiful atmosphere of being able to hear them somewhere in the distance accompanying him, before they fade away leaving him to end the piece and for the lights to dim. It brought a tear to my eye and is something I won’t forget.

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Broadchurch on the big screen!

It was then time for the episode to begin after a short break. I always think it adds something extra to watch something for the first time with a group of people who are fans of it too and the room was certainly excited to see how the mysteries would be resolved. We were quite a behaved audience, as I thought there may be a few more vocal reactions to the episode, but other than some shocked gasps at the verdict everyone was fairly quiet. The episode ended to a round of applause and cheers to the news that Broadchurch would indeed return for a third series. This can only be good news for the residents of Bridport and West Bay, who no doubt are benefitting from people like us coming to visit their little seaside town.

Olafur was more than happy to sign CDs afterwards and pose for photographs. He seemed to be a genuinely friendly, funny, lovely guy. I’m so pleased I was there to enjoy this one off evening, as well as to finally see that now iconic cliffside. It’s definitely somewhere every Broadchurch fan should try and visit!

Broadchurch series 2 is now available to buy on DVD and Bluray. Olafur Arnalds music, including the Broadchurch soundtrack, can be purchased via all the usual music retailers.

Defining Roles – David Tennant

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As it’s the last day of the year, I thought I should write something for this blog, which has truly been one of the most enjoyable parts of 2014, especially when cooped up inside for weeks recently. So, to end the year I’ve chosen to post my next Defining Roles article about the actor who, in 2008, reignited my love of theatre and helped me see that Shakespeare could be accessible and wonderful when the production is right. His film career may not, as yet, have brought him a great role, however through his extensive television and stage work David Tennant proves time and again what a fantastic actor he is and I’ll certainly continue to follow his career with great interest.

So, here are my top ten defining roles of his career to date.

1. Hamlet (Hamlet – RSC, 2008/2009)

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Nothing else could be number one besides his stunning performance as the Prince of Denmark, in what most people class as Shakespeare’s most challenging role. This production had an incredible impact on me. I’d almost certainly not have met some of my closest friends and perhaps would not have become such a passionate theatregoer had I not travelled to Stratford-Upon-Avon in August 2008 to see this for the first time. As Hamlet, he is vulnerable, playful, funny, dark and commanded the stage in a production with an already strong ensemble. I was mesmerised every time. I hope the upcoming Cumberbatch Hamlet has a similar effect on a new generation.

2. The Tenth Doctor (Doctor Who – BBC, 2005-2010, 2013)

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The Tenth Doctor remains one of the roles David is most known for and with such a brilliant portrayal of a British television icon, that’s not a surprise. I’d loved Chris Eccleston and was very sad to hear he was leaving, but The Christmas Invasion made it clear from the outset that the TARDIS was in the best hands. Some perhaps find his Doctor too human due to his more emotional personality traits, but I loved Russell T Davies’ more emotional era and its sense of fun. Doctor number ten is intelligent, boyish, witty, fun, but is still capable of moments of darkness (The Family of Blood and Waters of Mars for example). More importantly, David’s performance drew a new set of fans to the series and although some may have left with him, many have remained and that’s something he should be congratulated for.

3. Alan Hamilton (Recovery – ITV, 2007)

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It still frustrates me seven years on that David Tennant’s performance in ITV’s drama Recovery did not win him a BAFTA. It remains for me, one of the finest performances of any actor on television and deserved far more attention and praise than it received at the time. Bringing the subject of brain injury and the difficulties faced not just by the person in recovery, but also their family, faced with living with a new person, was truly moving and both David and Sarah Parish are incredible. Sadly for reasons that have never been publicly explained it has also never been released on DVD. Hopefully some day this will change, but if you are able to watch it somehow, I strongly urge you to do so.

4. DI Peter Carlisle (Blackpool – BBC, 2004)

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Blackpool was such a brave concept for a BBC drama and could so easily not have worked. Set in Blackpool, it revolves around the murder investigation of a young man found dead in an amusement arcade owned by Ripley Holden (played by the wonderful David Morrissey), headed by DI Peter Carlisle (Tennant), who begins to suspect Ripley’s involvement in the crime, while also falling for his wife Natalie (Sarah Parish). What sets it apart though, is the addition of singing, as at key moments the characters start singing along to pop songs, such as “These Boots Are Made For Walking.” It sounds bonkers I know, but it actually works, not to mention there are some excellent performances from Morrissey, Parish and Tennant (in what is still, for me, his sexiest role!). Give it a watch if you missed it ten years ago.

5. Jimmy Porter (Look Back In Anger – Theatre Royal Bath/Royal Lyceum Theatre, 2005)

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I missed this stage production live, but thanks to the V&A theatre archive I’ve been able to catch up by viewing their high quality, multi-camera recording. His performance of Jimmy Porter deservedly won him the Critics’ Award for Theatre in Scotland for best male performance and it’s great to see him in a darker, more angry role. However he is also able to maintain the balance between Porter’s angry, violent side and his flawed, vulnerable side, resulting in a powerful ending. I’m confident I’ll revisit this production some time in the future.

6. Brendan Block (Secret Smile – ITV, 2005)

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Secret Smile also allowed Tennant the chance to display his ability to play a darker role in this ITV adaptation of Nicci French’s book. I may find some of the choices made for television a little annoying as someone who’s read the book, but that doesn’t take away from Tennant’s performance as the deeply disturbed and menacing Brendan Block. He appears to be the ideal man, until you start to see his darker nature. It was also amusing that this aired only months before he became the lead in the most popular family programme on British television, demonstrating his ability to play a variety of characters and genres.

7. DI Alec Hardy (Broadchurch – BBC, since 2013)

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Broadchurch was the television hit of 2013, proving that with quality and a great marketing strategy, event television can still happen in the age of the box set. Finding out who killed Danny Latimer gripped the nation and as well as it’s superb script, this was due to such a strong ensemble cast, led by Olivia Colman and David Tennant. Their partnership and chemistry are a huge part of the show’s success. Hardy is not an easy role, as he tends to be quite still and a man of few words, but David still conveys all the emotions running through his head even when saying nothing at all and I’m looking forward to delving more in to his character in series two, which starts on Monday. If you have yet to watch series one, now is the time!

8. Berowne (Love’s Labour’s Lost – RSC, 2008)

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Hamlet may have been the production that grabbed the headlines and media attention in 2008. However it was not the only RSC role David took on that season. Love’s Labour’s Lost was a Shakespeare play I was not familiar with at all and I think Greg Doran’s fun and charming production was a wonderful one to start with. Berowne does not really believe in love and spends the majority of the play mocking the  other men as they each fall in love, from his vantage point in the tree above which they each pour out their hearts. David is superb at comedy and his expressions to the audience as he watched them below was hilarious and it was easy to imagine him one day playing Benedick in Much Ado (or Love’s Labour’s Won as it is sometimes called). If only we’d been treated to this on DVD as well as Hamlet.

9. Dave Tiler (Single Father – BBC, 2010)

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After leaving Doctor Who you wondered what roles David would be taking and one of my favourites remains 2010’s Dave from Single Father. There are flaws to this BBC drama (none more so than the end for me, which annoys me every time), but David conveys the struggle of a man facing a life bringing up his children alone beautifully. His chemistry with Suranne Jones works well, but for me the most moving and impressive scenes are those between him and Natasha Watson, who plays his wife’s teenage daughter Lucy. Both actors are fantastic and their relationship feels genuinely believable.

10. Benedick (Much Ado About Nothing – Wyndams Theatre, 2011)

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The last of my top ten is another Shakespeare stage performance as, in 2011, David paired up with Catherine Tate to play two of the most fun characters in Shakespeare. Some theatregoers may have sneered at the production, but I loved it for its fun, colourful, vibrant and happy sparkle. Yet again David enabled a fresh audience to come to Shakespeare and enjoy it. He made the play accessible and clear and it’s one of his great strengths. With a fantastic ensemble, the production also contains my favourite stage interpretation of Don Pedro by Adam James, whose friendship with Tennant adds an extra layer of believability to their relationship. Thanks to Digital Theatre, this production can continue to be enjoyed by people worldwide, so if you are looking for something to cheer you up, this might do the trick.

****

Other notable mentions have to be given to Campbell (Takin’ Over The Asylum – BBC, 1994), Richard II (RII, RSC 2013-2014), Casanova (Casanova – BBC 2005), as well as some fantastic work for audio books in Quite Ugly One Morning (Time Warner, 2004) and two utterly brilliant and hilarious stints at Celebrity Autobiography (Leicester Square Theatre, 2010).

****

That’s my list. What would have made your top ten?

Thanks for reading over the last 12 months. See you in 2015.

My Top Television Choices for 2015!

As 2014 draws to a close, it seemed to be the perfect time to look at what television treats we can expect in 2015. There are certainly lots of exciting dramas returning to the screen, as well as some new offerings which I’m curious to try. So, here are my top choices of programmes to tune in to next year. As I’m in the UK, this list refers to dates and channels on which the shows will be aired here.

1. Broadchurch 2 (ITV, starts 5th January 9:00 p.m.)

uktv-broadchurch-2-generics-5 Series one of Broadchurch was a television highlight in 2013 and now series two is almost here. Starting on 5th January, I truly hope that our return to this little community meets the expectations that we all have. With the plot still much of a mystery, which is certainly a good thing, it seems a safe bet that the cast will be just as brilliant as before, with David Tennant, Olivia Colman and many of the cast returning, together with new additions including Eve Myles. From the trailer, will this revolve around Carver’s old case Sandbrook, is one of the new cast his ex wife (Eve Myles maybe?) and will we meet the character mentioned in the tie-novel, Jocelyn Knight, which I thought was the clue teased at. All will soon be revealed, but in case you missed it, here’s the trailer!

2. Wolf Hall (BBC Two, air date TBC)

24-wolf-hall-bbc I’ve owned Hilary Mantel’s pair of Booker Prize-winning novels for years and have never quite had time to start them. However after a February trip to the RSC in Stratford-Upon-Avon to see the adaptations by Mike Poulton and Mantel herself, led by the superb Ben Miles, I am now very much looking forward to this BBC dramatisation. It’s an impressive cast, including the fantastic Mark Rylance as Cromwell and Damian Lewis as Henry VIII and no one quite pulls off a period drama like the BBC do. Maybe I’ll try and read those books at long last before it starts!

3. The Hollow Crown: The War of the Roses (BBC Two, air date TBC)

624 More period drama coming to the BBC next year is the second series of the excellent Hollow Crown. After the success of Ben Whishaw’s award-winning Richard II and Tom Hiddleston’s Hal in Henry IV and Henry V, 2015 will bring us Henry VI and Richard III, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Richard and a starry ensemble cast including Dame Judi Dench. As with Wolf Hall, the cast and directors attached to the project are very exciting for a Shakespeare fan and hopefully these television dramatisations will continue to bring a whole new audience to some of the finest plays ever written.

4. The Good Wife (More 4, UK air date TBC) thegoodwife

It’s incredibly refreshing that a drama entering its sixth year only seems to get stronger. I’m currently avoiding all spoilers as this new series has already started in the US, but hopefully a UK air date on More 4 will be announced soon. After the tragic loss of Will last year, I’m excited to see if Diane will now indeed join forces with Alicia and what exactly will happen between her and Peter, not to mention seeing more of Matthew Goode’s Finn Polmar, as well as a return by Michael J Fox and the superb Alan Cumming.

5. House of Cards (Netflix, available 27th February)

Kevin-Spacey-in-House-of-Cards-Season-2-Chapter-26 Netflix certainly did well to bring this brilliant series to the screen. Based on the UK original, Kevin Spacey has become an iconic television character as Frank Underwood, who by the end of series two has successfully schemed and manipulated his way to the very top. I still see echoes of his Richard III when I watch the show and its twists and turns will no doubt keep us gripped yet again when the drama returns in February.

6. Game of Thrones (Sky Atlantic, likely air date in April) Teaser-Game-of-Thrones-Saison-5-720x365

Another highly anticipated return is to the glorious world of Westeros as the series makes its way further through George R.R Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. Books four and five split the narratives of the characters up, with some only appearing in four and some only in five. However, the television producers have sensibly decided to merge these for the screen, meaning we’ll get to follow all our favourite characters throughout. Whether like me you’ve read the books and are looking forward to seeing certain moments brought to life, or are simply enjoying the series as it unfolds each year, no doubt the production quality and cast for series 5 will be as high as ever. Winter is indeed coming (probably in April).

7. The Blacklist (series one returns to Sky Living in 2015)

THE BLACKLIST

I was a little late to the party watching The Blacklist, but after having caught up this year, I’m certainly looking forward to the rest of series two, when Red Reddington returns in 2015. If you haven’t yet watched it, The Blacklist centres on Raymond “Red” Reddington, a former government agent, turned master criminal, who voluntarily surrenders to the FBI. He offers to help them catch dangerous criminals (some of whom they aren’t even aware of!), with the agreement that he will only talk to a rookie, young profiler Agent Elizabeth Keene. James Spader is superb as Red and it’s his mysterious link to Keene that really grabs your interest and attention. Catch up if you can.

8. Fortitude (Sky Atlantic, January)

Fortitude-Specials-02-16x9-1 Set in the Arctic town of Fortitude, a shocking murder rocks this usually safe, close-knit community. Sky Atlantic’s new drama has an incredibly impressive cast, including Richard Dormer as the local Sheriff, partnered with Stanley Tucci’s out-of-town DCI Morton, as well as The Killing’s Sophie Grabol, Michael Gambon, Christopher Eccleston and two of my favourite young actors Luke Treadaway and Jessica Raine. The plot reminds me of both Broadchurch and nordic hit The Killing and I’m truly hoping this will be as good as it sounds. You can watch the trailer here.

9. Sherlock (BBC One, Christmas 2015 Special)

fe817b86-1ba2-472b-b9ff-f1c473bcf4f8-bestSizeAvailable Although we won’t be getting a full series until at least 2016 (something I try not to think about!) due to the crazy schedules of those involved, we can at least look forward to a Sherlock Christmas special a year from now! With filming due to start in January, no doubt more information will start to be revealed (and I hope to at least see a bit of filming if I can!). So far we have the above photo of Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, suggesting some nod will be made to a period-style Holmes and Watson. I do however hope that not everything is revealed as for me Sherlock is a series that is so much better the less you know before you watch it. I’m confident enough to say already that this will be a television highlight of next year’s festive season!

10. Crisis (Watch, 2nd January 9:00 p.m.) CRISIS-TV-Series

I was disappointed to hear that this series has already been cancelled in the US after 13 episodes. Created by Rand Ravich (who also created one of my favourite shows Life starring Damian Lewis), Crisis revolves around the kidnapping of a number of students at an elite Washington D.C school, whose parents include some of the most powerful and influential people in the country. However, as a Gillian Anderson fan, I’m thrilled that it’s at least being shown over here on Watch and I’m still looking forward to watching it. The trailer is here.

11. Doctor Who (BBC One, air date TBC) peter_capaldi_who

After a strong first series (see my thoughts here), Peter Capaldi will be back in 2015 for series 9 of New Who. With filming to start in the new year, not much is known as yet. The opening episode is to be called The Magician’s Apprentice and the good news is that series nine will also be aired as one block, rather than split in two (which I think is much better for the show). Whether Jenna Coleman will be back will no doubt become clear after Christmas Day’s special Last Christmas, the trailer for which you can watch here.

12. Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell (BBC) jonathan_strange_and_mr_norrell

I have never read Susannah Clarke’s fantasy historical novel, but I’ll certainly be tuning in to this new BBC adaptation. It tells the story of an early nineteenth-century England at the time of the Napoleonic Wars, in which magic exists but has been largely forgotten. That is, until a young recluse (Norrell) displays some remarkable magical skills, kick-starting an expansive period tale of a society in flux, which includes fairies, war, and magic. I’ve always heard great things about these books and I’m definitely looking forward to this seven-part series starring Bertie Carvel and Eddie Marsan, to air some time in 2015. So far all we have is this teaser clip to whet the appetite!

13. Grantchester (ITV, air date TBC) uktv-grantchester-james-norton-episode-one-2

I thoroughly enjoyed the first series of ITV’s Grantchester, based on the books by James Runcie and was thrilled to hear that it’s been renewed for a second series. For anyone yet to catch up, the series stars the brilliant James Norton as Sydney Chambers, the clergyman of the sleepy village of Grantchester, who seems to spend more time solving crimes with Inspector Keating (Robson Green) than working on his sermons. Hopefully series 2 will appear some time next year.

14. RIVER (BBC One, air date TBC) Stellan-Skarsgård-198x300

This new drama by Kudos has been written by the brilliant Abi Morgan (The Hour) and stars Stellan Skarsgard as John River, a brilliant police officer whose genius and fault-line is the fragility of his mind. He is haunted by the murder victims whose cases he must lay to rest. As stated by the BBC he is “a man who must walk a professional tightrope between a pathology so extreme he risks permanent dismissal, and a healthy state of mind that would cure him of his gift.” Also starring Nicola Walker, Eddie Marsan and Lesley Manville, this sounds very interesting indeed.

15. The Game (BBC One, air date TBC)

the-gameOddly this BBC drama has debuted in America first and as yet has no UK air date! It is a Cold War spy thriller set in London in the 1970s, in which the head of MI5 sets up a secret committee to investigate the existence of a Soviet plot code-named Operation Glass, whose existence was revealed by a KGB officer seeking to defect. Written by Toby Whithouse (Doctor Who, Being Human) and with a great cast including Brian Cox, Tom Hughes and Jonathan Aris, this six-part drama sounds very promising. Here’s the BBC America trailer.

…And here are a couple that better reach the UK in 2015!

Aquarius (UK channel and air date TBC)

article-2736404-20DCB86300000578-475_634x291 After the success of Californication, David Duchovny is returning to television with Aquarius. Set in 1967, LA Police Sergeant Sam Hodiak is investigating the disappearance of the teenage daughter of a respected lawyer. Needing help, he partners with an undercover cop and along the way they encounter a small-time cult leader, who will go on to become Charles Manson and the series will delve in to his cat-and-mouse game with the police. As yet there is no UK channel or air date, but I’m keeping all my fingers crossed that we will get to see this some time in 2015.

Heroes: Reborn (UK channel and air date TBC) Heroes-Reborn-2015

I still maintain that series one of Heroes is an excellent season of television. It had a fresh and interesting premise, great characters and lots of drama and tension to engage the audience. Yes, the show did become a bit ridiculous and although I’m glad I watched all four seasons, it did become weaker by the end. I’m therefore intrigued as to what to expect from this new 13-part miniseries. It has the potential to be brilliant. All fingers are crossed!

…….With all this to look forward to, 2015 looks to be a fantastic year for high quality television!

Book Review – Broadchurch tie-in novel by Erin Kelly

FINALBroadchurchIt’s been quite a while since I attended a BAFTA preview screening of episode one of ITV’s new drama Broadchurch starring David Tennant and Olivia Colman in February 2013. It was clear then that this was something special, but the incredible success it went on to achieve over its eight week run was a rarity on television these days, with millions of people tuning in weekly to see the mystery of who killed Danny Latimer unfold.

Filming on series two continues in West Bay, Dorset and the surrounding area. However as the wait for that new series (due next year) continues, last month saw the publication of the official tie-in novel. Written by bestselling thriller author Erin Kelly, the novel is based on series creator Chris Chibnall’s story. I admit to being a little sceptical about such a release. What was the point of a novel of a series we’d already watched? Who would really buy it? I was therefore curious enough to pick up a copy to take with me on my recent holiday.

Erin Kelly & Chris Chibnall

Erin Kelly & Chris Chibnall

Reading, rather than watching Broadchurch proved to be very enjoyable and provided a different perspective on the story. The plot of course is the same, but in written form, Erin Kelly is able to flesh out the characters in a way only a novel can. She successfully gives the reader access in to the minds of the various characters in a deeper, interesting way. This is especially effective for certain characters in particular – DI Alec Hardy, as we learn more about Sandbrook and its effect on his psyche as well as his sadness at the absence of a relationship with his daughter, Beth Latimer, as she struggles to come to terms with her loss, her marriage difficulties and her pregnancy and DS Ellie Miller, as she struggles with her relationship with her boss and her growing distrust of her community.

The novel is also able to include scenes not in the television series, which, although short, add another layer of detail to the characters and tragedy of Danny’s death. I also found it incredibly interesting that, although I knew the outcome from the outset, it didn’t mean I was any less engrossed in Erin Kelly’s book and was as eager to reach its conclusion as I am when reading any other novel. The last few chapters of the book still provide the same tension and emotion as you would find reading any brilliant thriller. We may know which house Hardy is heading to as he follows the tracker on Danny’s phone, but that doesn’t make it any less tense to read (or didn’t for me) and the chapter in which we are taken back to the terrible night of Danny’s death is very effective in giving us an uncomfortable glimpse in to the actions and thoughts of his killer.

Suspicion swirls around the community of Broadchurch

Suspicion swirls around the community of Broadchurch

The novel may also bring a new audience to Broadchurch. Despite its huge viewing figures, there are bound to be some who may not have watched it and who may find the novel a great way to be introduced to the community of Broadchurch prior to the second series starting next year. As a standalone thriller, it is a well written, tense, layered thriller, whose characters are interesting and engaging and which moves at a pace that will keep the reader turning the pages frantically until the end.

So what can we expect from series two? Reading the book reminded me about SOCO Brian asking Ellie out. I’d certainly like to see if that’s become something (plus any excuse to have more of Peter De Jersey on my television screen). There has also been the tantalising hint from Erin Kelly that Chris Chibnall provided a short sentence, added quite early in the book, which apparently won’t make sense to anybody and which is a hint as to the direction of series two. That is another reason to read the book – can you spot it? On first reading, the only thing I can point to is one of the locations flagged on the map at the front of the book. Number 14 is Jocelyn Knight’s house – this is also briefly referred to on page 78 when Jack recounts seeing Danny arguing with the postman up past Jocelyn Knight’s house. She wasn’t a character in series one so who is she? This could be it possibly? I’ll no doubt see if I can spot any other clues on a second read before next year! If anyone does think they have solved this little riddle, I’d be interested to hear your other theories in the comments section.

Whether you watched Broadchurch or not, this novel is an exciting and enjoyable read that I’d certainly recommend.

Broadchurch by Erin Kelly is available through all the usual book stockists. 

BAFTA Television Nominations 2014 – surprising omissions?

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Today saw the announcement of the nominations for this year’s television BAFTAs and they certainly contain (as usual) some surprising omissions that will no doubt create discussion and debate until the ceremony takes place on 18th May. For what it’s worth here are my thoughts on the categories I am most interested in.

  • Best Actor (Drama)– I’m thrilled to see Jamie Dornan nominated for The Fall and he’d probably be my choice. However where is David Tennant’s nomination for Broadchurch?! His performance in the ITV drama was filled with nuanced emotions that had millions hooked for weeks. Although not quite as ridiculous as his lack of recognition for Recovery in 2007, the fact neither performance has been recognised seems unfair for one of the UK’s strongest acting talents. Mind you I shouldn’t be surprised – the lack of awards for Parade’s End, one of the finest period pieces ever made, still frustrates me!
  • Best Actress (Drama) – An incredibly strong line up here, but if Olivia Colman misses out on a BAFTA for her emotionally powerful portrayal of Ellie Miller it’ll be a crime. I am however surprised and disappointed not to see recognition for Gillian Anderson in The Fall, as Stella Gibson was one of the most interesting characters on television last year. I also thought Elizabeth Moss was very good in the few episodes of Top of the Lake I managed to watch before bailing out so I’m surprised she didn’t make the shortlist.
  • Drama Series – My vote would have to go to Broadchurch, as it was the one drama that pulled me in completely and held my attention and interest from beginning to end, although I won’t be surprised if it goes to Top of the Lake, a series I tried to get in to but which ultimately left me cold.
  • International TV – Quite a tough choice here I think, although I’ve only seen House of Cards so that would get my vote. I’m about to finally start Breaking Bad though, so maybe my view will have changed by the ceremony in May!
  • Radio Times Audience Award – It’s usually entertaining to see the victor here (TOWIE anyone?!) and although I’m a Great British Bake Off addict and thought the Doctor Who 50th special was truly wonderful, it has to be Broadchurch. I was lucky enough to see episode one at a preview screening and from the reaction it received then you could sense it would do very well due to its superb writing, direction and performances. I’m apprehensive about a second series, as I’m not sure the first can be bettered.
  • Single Drama – I’m thrilled to see An Adventure in Time & Space nominated. The dramatisation of the creation of Doctor Who was a superb programme – funny, enlightening and deeply moving, with an end that made me shed a tear or two. I hope that it is successful when the winners are announced.
  • Supporting Actor (Drama) – There’s an interesting mix here and I hear from friends that Rory Kinnear was great in Southcliffe so perhaps he will win. However I’m rooting for David Bradley. I’m sorry he isn’t nominated as Best Actor for An Adventure in Time & Space (in which he was utterly superb) and so I hope he takes this award for Broadchurch.
  • Supporting Actress (Drama) – I didn’t see any of the programmes for which the women in this category are nominated so I can’t say who I hope wins. I am however disappointed that Jodie Whittaker is not included for Broadchurch, as she was one of the most powerful aspects of the entire programme.

So who do you think has been omitted and who do you hope wins? I’m interested to hear your thoughts!

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