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Anglofile Plus
Although it's been a while since we've posted to this Anglofile Plus blog, we've still been chronicling British entertainment via the Anglofile Facebook page, which can be found at https://www.facebook.com/anglofileplus.

We also wanted to alert you to an upcoming post on Bill King's Quick Cuts blog, which can be found at https://billking.livejournal.com. In it, he is going to rank ALL the James Bond movies, from worst to best. Which film will rank No. 1? Check it out!
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ON TELLY HERE: Coming in 2014 to “Masterpiece Classic” is "Death Comes to Pemberley," a new adaptation of mystery writer P.D. James' novel that continues the story of Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice." The production stars Matthew Rhys (FX's "The Americans," "Brothers and Sisters") as Fitzwilliam Darcy; Anna Maxwell Martin ("Bleak House") as Elizabeth Bennett; Matthew Goode ("Birdsong," 2008's "Brideshead Revisited") as George Wickham; and Jenna-Louise Coleman ("Doctor Who") as Lydia Wickham.

Get ready for the Jan. 5 premiere on PBS of Season 4 of "Downton Abbey." The Huffington Post has a good summary of the Television Critics Association press tour in which the “DA” executive producer and cast members gave some hints without spoilers. Among the more developed and interesting tidbits: Timeframe of February 1922 to spring/summer 1923, designed to put some distance from the loss of Matthew for both audience and characters, and, my opinion, move Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) on to the next stage of her life, as Mary's suitors figure large in her storyline. Also, an "exciting and active storyline" is promised for the love-hapless Edith (Laura Carmichael). And Lady Rose (Lily James) will put in a racy appearance with Gary Carr cast as jazz singer Jack Ross and potential love interest. Also, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa is guest-appearing.

The producers have no plans to end the series, they say. In the meantime, the British press is reporting that the producers have signed the main actors to contracts committing them through Season 5 of the series, preventing them from "doing a Matthew" and leaving via shock death. Apparently, writer Julian Fellowes was very disappointed at Dan Stevens' desire to leave and tried numerous offers and plot arrangements to get him to stay, to no avail. Read more about the upcoming season and the downstairs characters at Downton, too:

On BBC-America, "Luther" returns for a four-night stint Sept. 3-6 at 10 p.m. ET/PT. Detective John Luther (Idris Elba) may find love and happiness when Sienna Guillory ("Love Actually," "Resident Evil") joins the cast. Still plenty of action and drama as he investigates conflicting crimes and battles an ex-cop determined to bring him down.

Looking ahead, on Oct. 20 BBC-A airs "Burton and Taylor" about the famous volatile, on-again-off-again Hollywood couple, with Dominic West ("The Hour," "The Wire") as Richard Burton and Helena Bonham Carter ("Lone Ranger," "The King’s Speech") as Elizabeth Taylor. The 90-minute drama follows their private and public relationship played out against their ill-fated appearance in a 1983 revival of Noel Coward’s stage play, "Private Lives."

"Torchwood: Miracle Day," the series’ follow-up to "Children of Earth," begins Sept. 14 on BBC-A. Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) and former Torchwood agent Gwen Cooper are joined by CIA analyst Esther Drummond (Alexa Havins) and her partner Rex Matheson (Mekhi Phifer) as they team up to figure what happened on a day when people simply stopped dying. Bill Pullman plays Oswald Danes, a convicted murderer who escapes death by lethal injection due to Miracle Day’s events. The 10-part miniseries originally aired on pay-channel Starz in 2011.

Since early August, "Broadchurch," starring ex-Doctor Who David Tennant as a detective, has been running on BBC-A as part of Wednesday's Dramaville. Here's an interview from NPR with Tennant about the show:

Coming in 2014, Season 3 of "Sherlock," with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. Masterpiece is circulating a video preview:

ON TELLY THERE: David Harewood ("Homeland," "Robin Hood"), Honor Blackman ("Goldfinger") and Harriet Walter ("Law & Order U.K.," "Little Dorrit") will guest on "By Any Means," a new BBC drama that began filming in April. The show was created by a team of writers led by Tony Jordan ("Hustle," "Life on Mars") and follows a clandestine police department living on the edge and beating the criminal elite at their own game. In addition to Jordan, the team includes writers from "Strike Back," "New Tricks," "This Life," "Silent Witness," "EastEnders" and "Ashes to Ashes." The series is set to air on BBC 1 sometime this fall.

ON THE BIG SCREEN: Two British actors are tapped for Guy Ritche's film version of the 1960s TV show "The Man from U.N.C.L.E." Henry Cavill ("Man of Steel," "The Tudors") will play Napoleon Solo and Hugh Grant will play the head of Britain’s Naval Intelligence. Ritchie is co-writing the script with Lionel Wigram, who wrote both of Ritchie's Robert Downey Jr.-starring "Sherlock" movies. "U.N.C.L.E." is set for a 2014 release.

Jude Law has been filming two movies in Kent: "Dom Hemingway" with "Game of Thrones" star Emilia Clark, in which Law plays an infamous safecracker, and "Black Sea," in which he is a submarine captain searching for a vessel rumored to be loaded with gold.

Opening Oct. 11 in the U.S. is "The Fifth Estate," in which Benedict Cumberbatch (as a bleached blonde!) plays WikiLeaker Julian Assange. Other Brits in the film include Dan Stevens ("Downton Abbey"); David Thewlis, who plays Guardian reporter Nick Davies, who instigated the publishing of Assange's leaks; and Peter Capaldi ("The Thick of It").

Cumberbatch is also in director Steve McQueen's "12 Years a Slave," scheduled to debut in September at the Toronto Film Festival. The cast includes Chiwetel Ejiofor ("Dirty Pretty Things," "Salt").

Irish actress Saoirse Ronan's latest film is the post-apocalypse tale "How I Live Now," directed by "The Last King of Scotland's" Kevin Macdonald and based on Meg Rosoff's novel. The 19-year-old Ronan ("Atonement," "Hanna") stars opposite Anna Chancellor ("MI-5," "The Hour") and George MacKay ("Tsunami: The Aftermath," "Birdsong"). The film will also be shown at the Toronto Film Festival.

Variety reports there is a Warner Bros film being developed focusing on the stories surrounding the wizard Merlin, with the script to be written by "Game of Thrones" writer Dave Hill and David Farr, writer for "Hanna" and "MI-5." Warner's interest was sparked by the popularity of "Game of Thrones" and current sci-fi fare.

Judi Dench stars as a mother looking for her long-lost son she was forced to give up in "Philomena," coming in November.

ONSTAGE: Hayley Atwell ("Captain America") is starring in "The Pride," which is getting rave reviews at Trafalgar Studios I. Other stars onstage in London include Felicity Kendal ("Rosemary & Thyme") in "Relatively Speaking"; Adrian Lester ("Hustle") and Rory Kinnear ("Skyfall") in "Othello"; Ann-Marie Duff ("Nowhere Boy") in "Strange Interlude"; Vanessa Redgrave in "Much Ado About Nothing"; Daniel Radcliffe ("Harry Potter") in "The Cripple of Inishmaan"; Rupert Grint ("Harry Potter"), Ben Whishaw ("Skyfall," "The Hour") and Brendan Coyle ("Downton Abbey") in "Mojo"; Jude Law ("Sherlock Holmes") in "Henry V"; Matthew Macfadyen ("MI-5," "Pride and Prejudice," "Three Musketeers." “Ripper Street”) in "Jeeves and Wooster"; and David Tennant in "Richard III."

ON SITE: The Hammersmith Apollo, an iconic performance venue for British and international rock musicians, opens again in full Art Deco glory after a multi-million pound refurbishment with a Sept. 7 Selena Gomez concert. The celebrated music venue debuted in 1932 as the Gaumont Palace cinema. It has had several names, including the Hammersmith Odeon (during the mid-1960s when The Beatles performed 38 shows over 21 nights there and the venue also featured the original Yardbirds with Eric Clapton) and the London Apollo. Like similar worthy venues, it has a celebrated pipe organ. The Telegraph has some photographs of the old and new:

The BBC plans to hold a three-day “Doctor Who” celebration in November 2013 for the show’s 50th anniversary. And the city of Swansea, Wales, has added a Who Day as part of its annual Dylan Thomas Festival celebrating the works of the Welsh poet.
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"Upstairs Downstairs" Season 2 premiered Oct. 7 on PBS’ “Masterpiece.” In the new episodes, the threat of Nazi Germany hangs over 165 Eaton Place as upstairs and downstairs deal with the absence of maid Rose. Figuring prominently this season are Lady Persie, American multi-millionaire Casper Landry, Dr. Blanche Mottershead. Returning to the cast for Season 2 are Keeley Hawes (“MI-5”), Ed Stoppard (“Zen”), and Claire Foy (“Little Dorrit),” with guest stars Alex Kingston (“ER”) and Emilia Fox (“David Copperfield”).

Coming in January: The highly anticipated “Downton Abbey 3” premieres Jan. 6. Until then, “Masterpiece” has an "all things Downton" microsite with a countdown clock and photos, video, background, interviews and everything about the show so far.Check it out here:

“Downton Abbey 2” is reprised beginning Dec. 2, following the Nov. 11 conclusion of “Upstairs Downstairs.” That will be it for “Upstairs,” which was canceled by the BBC after two series.

On BBC America, Supernatural Saturday continues with Season 2 of “Bedlam.” It’s airing at 9 p.m. ET/PT. Bedlam Heights has been newly renamed Brightmoor and suspended paramedic Ellie (Lacey Turner) learns from resident bartender Max (Jack Roth, “Great Expectations”) that the patient she’s looking for died at the same time her visions began. And Bedlam Heights owner Warren (Hugo Speer, “The Full Monty”) hires a sexy and self-assured new sales manager, Dan (Nikesh Patel), to change the image of the place. Charlotte Salt (“The Tudors”) plays Dan’s daughter Kate.

As part of its Halloween package, BBC America is airing “The Secret of Crickley Hall” Oct. 28. It’s described as a “bone-chilling haunted house thriller.” The three-hour show is based on a novel by British author James Herbert. When their son disappears, Gabe Caliegh (Tom Ellis in “The Fades”) and Eve Caleigh (Suranne Jones in “Doctor Who”) and their two daughters attempt to start anew at countryside house Crickley Hall — with voices, strange happenings, and even a spectre. They’re about to bolt when Eve hears their missing son’s voice.

Also running on BBC America is an encore of “Hex,” the supernatural drama with Michael Fassbender. The six-episode series is the story of one girl’s exploration of the supernatural at a remote English boarding school.

BBC Worldwide Americas is touting its co-production with Ovation network of a TV movie, "Doors Open," starring Douglas Henshall and Stephen Fry. The story revolves around an art heist by a self-made millionaire, a banker and an art professor. It’s based on a 2008 novel by crime writer Ian Rankin, one of Rankin’s non-“Rebus” novels. Henshall (“Collision,” “Primeval”) plays the millionaire; Fry the art professor; and Kenneth Collard (“Anna Karenina,” “Skins”) is the banker. The action is set in Scotland. Fry’s Sprout Pictures is also involved in the production. The U.S. premiere is said to be sometime in the second quarter of 2013.

BBC America says that “coming soon” is “Ripper Street” a violent new crime drama set during the aftermath of Jack the Ripper killing spree in London’s Whitechapel district. Matthew Macfadyen (“Pride and Prejudice,” “MI-5”) is upstanding Inspector Edmund Reid. Jerome Flynn (Bronn on “Game of Thrones”) is his gruff colleague DS Bennett Drake. Each week the pair, along with American surgeon Capt. Homer Jackson, played by Adam Rothenberg (“Alcatraz,” “Law & Order”), solve a different violent crime on the streets of Whitechapel.

“Copper,” BBC-A’s first original scripted series, has been gold for the channel, which earned its highest ratings ever in total viewers for September and the third quarter 2012 in both prime and total day. Celebrating its best month and quarter ever, BBC-A says the continued success of “Doctor Who” joined “Copper” in fueling the ratings surge. Perry Simon of BBC Worldwide America said “Copper” is on track to be “our highest-rated drama ever” as it heads into an explosive season finale later this month, while television’s longest running sci-fi series, “Doctor Who,” continues to set ratings records “as we prepare for an epic 50th Anniversary ‘Doctor Who’ celebration next year.”

ON TV OVER THERE: In the works says “Downton Abbey” writer Julian Fellowes, is a prequel based on the courtship of Lord (Hugh Bonneville) and Lady (Elizabeth McGovern) Grantham. The characters will be played by a pair of young actors. ITV is expected to pick up the show. Fellowes has also indicated the possibility of a “Downton” play or feature-length film.

Channel 4 has commissioned a sequel to “The Devil's Whore,” its 2008 BAFTA-nominated historical drama series. To be called “New World,” it will be set in the 1680s during the English Civil War and events will take place on both sides of the Atlantic. Michael Fassbender, John Simm, Dominic West, Andrea Riseborough and Peter Capaldi will star.

Channel 4 also has commissioned “Home Before Dark,” described as a contemporary international thriller set in Italy, America and London, that follows the hunt for a killer. It explores the way the Internet can corrupt, and be corrupted by those who use it.

Premium U.K. entertainment channel Sky1 has commissioned a Christmas comedy directed by and starring Joanna Lumley. “The Little Crackers” is 66-year-old Lumley’s first project for the channel and is considered something of a coup for Sky1 as it aims to go upmarket.

The channel also will have a new two-part adaptation of J. Meade Falkner’s literary children’s classic “Moonfleet” and an eight-part firefighting drama called “The Smoke,” from Kudos, the production company behind “Spooks”/”MI5” and “Life on Mars.”

ITV is preparing a new three-film series of “A Caribbean Mystery,” an Agatha Christie Miss Marple mystery. It will star Julia McKenzie as the spinster sleuth. Charlie Higson, writer and star of “The Fast Show,” has written the series and given himself a small role as an American ornithologist named Bond.

007 BEAT: Oct. 5 kicked off an full-blown 50th anniversary celebration for the James Bond film franchise. It was 50 years ago on that date that the first 007 film, “Dr. No,” hit the big screen. Now, coming Nov. 12 in the U.S., is the latest, “Skyfall.” Here's a trailer for the forthcoming film:

The movie has its big premiere in London Oct. 23 and opens there Oct. 26.
A new feature documentary from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures, Columbia Pictures, Passion Pictures and Red Box Films, “Everything or Nothing: The Untold Story of 007,” has been airing on the Epix premium cable channel, featuring insights on the inspiration behind the franchise from Ian Fleming to Bond producers Albert R. Broccoli, Harry Saltzman to the Bond men themselves commenting on the role.

Elsewhere, NPR ran a weeklong series on aspects of Bond, including how realistic were the gadgets. … Bond fans can own all 22 films in the franchise on Blu-ray Disc in one comprehensive collection, “Bond 50.” … There also has been a charity auction organized by Christie’s, a film retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, a Music of Bond night in Los Angeles hosted by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and an exhibition, "Designing 007: 50 Years of Bond Style," at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Singer Adele joins a list of well-known singers, including Paul McCartney, Tom Jones, Alicia Keyes and Duran Duran, who have provided theme songs to various Bond films over the years. Adele’s “Skyfall” was released Oct. 7. Here’s a review and a video of her singing against a backdrop of scenes from the film:

ON THE BIG SCREEN: Twenty-year-old Freddie Highmore, who has been in “Finding Neverland” and “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” will play the young Norman Bates in A&E's upcoming Psycho prequel “Bates Motel.” Verma Farmiga (“Up in the Air”) plays mom. Anthony Perkins was the original Norman.

Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre has begun offering its performances on high-definition movie screens, like the Metropolitan Opera does. On offer first are "All's Well That Ends Well" starring Janie Dee, "Much Ado About Nothing" with Eve Best, and "Doctor Faustus" with Paul Hilton in cinemas across the U.S., Australia, New Zealand and Britain. All three shows were taped in 2011.

“Hitchcock,” a Fox Searchlight movie about the filmmaker and his wife Alma Reville, will be in limited release Nov. 23. Based on Stephen Rebello’s book, “Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho,” the film stars Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren, Scarlett Johansson and Danny Huston with Toni Collette and Jessica Biel.

ONSTAGE: A new play, “The Audience,” will have Helen Mirren playing Queen Elizabeth II again. The play by Peter Morgan opens at the Gielgud Theatre on March 5, 2013, following previews from Feb. 15.

Dan Stevens (Matthew Crawley in “Downton Abbey”) debuts on Broadway playing suspected golddigger Morris Townsend in a revival of “The Heiress,” expected to begin this month.

Simon Callow is currently reprising a role from 2000 when he stars in a one-man show, “The Mystery of Charles Dickens,” at London’s Playhouse Theatre, in which he re-creates 49 of the Victorian author’s characters.

Philip Glenister (“Life on Mars,” younger brother of “Hustle’s” Robert Glenister) and Julian Wadham (“Downton Abbey,” “The Madness of King George”) are in the cast of “This House,” opening at the Cottesloe Theatre, running through Dec. 1. The plot is described as the behind-the-scenes reality of politics and is set in the “engine rooms of Westminster” during a political and economic time of crisis.

Tickets go on sale this month for a new West End musical based on Roald Dahl's novel “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” to premiere June 23 at the London Palladium. “Skyfall” director Sam Mendes will direct this show. No word on who will play Willy Wonka, played by Gene Wilder in 1971 and Johnny Depp in 2005.

Stephen Fry is making his stage comeback, playing Malvolio in “Twelfth Night,” at the Globe Theatre. The all-male production transfers Nov. 2 to the Apollo.

Rufus Sewell (“Zen”) and Kristin Scott Thomas (“I Have Loved You for so Long”) are reportedly going to star in “Old Times” by Harold Pinter at the eponymous theater in January.

“Viva Forever!” is a new comedy musical by comedic actor Jennifer Saunders (“Absolutely Fabulous”), featuring the songs of the Spice Girls. It’s set to open at the Piccadilly Theatre Dec. 11

Anthony Andrews (“Brideshead Revisited” 1981; “The King’s Speech;” “Birdsong”) got rave reviews from the Financial Times for his role in "Bully Boy" at the St. James Theatre, in which he plays a wheelchair-bound officer prosecuting another soldier for murder. The theater is a new 312-seat venue built on the site of the former Westminster Theatre.

Rowan Atkinson is to star in “Quartermaine's Terms” by Simon Gray, which opens at the Wyndham's Theatre on Jan. 29. The tragicomic play is set in the 1960s in an English language school for foreigners and is about the lives of seven teachers.

Dominic West (Jimmy McNulty in the “The Wire”) is to take the lead role in Jez Butterworth's new stage play, “The River,” also starring Miranda Raison (“MI-5”). The play will run at London's Royal Court beginning Oct. 18. Butterworth's last play, “Jerusalem,” enjoyed sell-out runs in the West End and on Broadway.

The Rose Theatre, built in 1587 and predating Shakespeare’s Globe in Elizabethan England, is set to be restored and turned into a museum and performance/education space. The Rose Trust is working to get funds to explore it archaeologically and build a new building by 2016. The theatre was rediscovered in 1988 during work on an office building and remains in an old room, said to be dark and dank-smelling, underneath the structure. Historical sources say Christopher Marlowe's “Dr. Faustus,” “The Jew of Malta” and Shakespeare's “Henry VI Part” 1 and “Titus Andronicus” were all performed on its stage while the playwrights were still alive.

British director/actor Michael Grandage has launched a new company, the Michael Grandage Company, to produce theatre, film and television mainly in London and New York, with the stated aim of appealing to new audiences through lower ticket prices. Jude Law, Judi Dench and Daniel Radcliffe will be among the stars appearing in the upcoming theatrical season, will comprise five plays, including a new work by John Logan, "Peter and Alice", starring Dench and Ben Whishaw (2008’s “Brideshead Revisited,” “The Hour”). More than 100,000 tickets have been set aside at the price of £10 ($15.50) over the course of the season, or more than 200 per performance. Every production will also have at least one free performance for schools and colleges from London focusing on first-time theatergoers.
The season opens at the Noel Coward Theatre with “Privates on Parade” on Dec.1.

Eileen Atkins and Michael Gambon are starring in “All That Fall,” a radio play by Samuel Beckett, directed by Trevor Nunn, at the Jermyn Street Theatre, a small 70-seat Off West End venue in Piccadilly, central London, through Nov 3. The work, which has never been seen in London before, charts the journey of old and unwieldy Mrs. Rooney as she drags herself towards a railway station on a Saturday lunchtime to meet her blind husband on his way back from the office to guide him home.

HONORS: Daniel Craig will receive the Britannia Award for British Artist of the Year from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts Los Angeles at the 2012 BAFTA Los Angeles Britannia Awards on Nov. 7. The awards will have their first ever broadcast on BBC America, airing in primetime Nov. 11 at 8 p.m. ET as a two-hour special, preceded by the Britannia Awards Pre-show Special at 7:30 p.m. ET.

PUBLISHED: A long-lost essay by Agatha Christie that was commissioned by the government in 1945 to sing the praises of British crime fiction has been published for the first time in the U.K. as the preface to the reissued 1933 collaborative crime novel “Ask a Policeman.”

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BBC America has declared 2012 the Summer of London, with the Queen’s Jubilee and the Olympics. Live coverage of events celebrating Her Majesty’s 60 years on the throne will have marathon coverage on the U.S. channel: “Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant” on Sunday, June 3, 9 a.m. ET — this is a river procession with decked out boats filling London’s artery; “Jubilee Day, including the Service of Thanksgiving at St. Paul’s Cathedral;” the documentary “The Diamond Queen” Tuesday, June 5, 8 p.m. ET/PT. On Wednesday, July 25, at 9 p.m. the channel will premiere “Going for Gold — the ’48 Games” with “Doctor Who” star Matt Smith. On Saturday, June 30 at midnight comes the docu-style comedy “Twenty Twelve,” with Hugh Bonneville in a departure from the lord of Downton Abbey role. This summer will also see the premiere of an Olympic-themed “Absolutely Fabulous” with Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley.

BBC-A is giving a nod to the last big British (culture) invasion with a slate of Beatles programming in honor of Sir Paul McCartney’s 70th birthday, including the premiere of documentary “Discovering Lennon” at 9 p.m. on June 19. Plus, the channel airs “Beatles Biggest Secrets” and “The Beatles: From Liverpool to San Francisco” during June.

BBC-A on-air host Asha Leo is hosting a three-part series that I guess you’d call a magazine show, “The Brit List,” with each installment taking a look at what she considers the “sexiest,” then “coolest” and finally “baddest” British celebrities. It begins June 12, 10 p.m. ET.

BBC-A debuts “Copper,” its first original scripted series, Sunday, Aug. 19 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. Set in 1860s New York City, the 10-part drama centers on Kevin Corcoran (Tom Weston-Jones, “MI-5″) as an Irish-American cop working the notorious Five Points neighborhood. The plot revolves around Corcoran’s quest to learn the truth about the disappearance of his wife and the death of his daughter. Two cohorts from the Civil War have him moving between the worlds of Fifth Avenue elegance and an emerging African-American community in rural northern Manhattan. Also, the three men share a secret from their experience on the battlefield that links their lives forever.

On PBS, “Call the Midwife,” a six-part series set in 1950s London that was a hit in Britain, will kick off the new fall season of “Masterpiece Classic” on Sunday, Sept. 30; it will air at 8 p.m. Eastern. Jenny Agutter, Pam Ferris and Miranda Hart are in the cast.

“Midwife” will be followed by Season 2 of “Upstairs Downstairs,” running Oct. 7 to Nov. 11.

The new season of “Downton Abbey,” to be shown in the fall in the U.K., is expected to air in America in January 2013, but PBS hasn’t announced a date yet. Word is that the setting will be the 1920s, a liberating, liberal, carefree era. Being added to the cast is Shirley MacLaine as Lady Cora’s mother. According to reports, producer Rebecca Eaton has said Matthew and Mary do marry and that a key character will die.

The “Inspector Morse” prequel “Endeavour” will be shown on PBS’ “Masterpiece Mystery!” at 9 p.m. on July 1. Set in 1965, it stars Shaun Evans (“The Take,” “The Virgin Queen”) as the young Morse. Word is that the prequel was so popular in the U.K., the concept will become a series. Abigail Thaw, the original “Morse” star John Thaw’s daughter, is in it. Meanwhile, the “Morse” sequel, “Inspector Lewis,” returns to “Mystery!” for four new episodes, airing Sundays July 8-29 at 9 p.m.

In the meantime, now that the latest “Sherlock” series is over, PBS fills in June’s slot with encore episodes of “Zen,” starring Rufus Sewell June 10, 17 and 24.

Also this summer on PBS: "Queen & Country" airs Sundays July 1-22 at 8 p.m. Eastern, Michael Woods' "Story of England" airs Tuesdays July 3-17 at 8 p.m. and there'll be a couple of repeats: "Queen Victoria's Empire airs Tuesdays, June 19-26 at 6 p.m., and "Monarchy: The Royal Family at Work" airs Mondays, showing at 9 p.m. June 11 and 10 p.m. June 18-July 9.

BAKER STREET UPDATE: Our friend Peter Blau checks in with Sherlock Holmes news. Fans of the BBC/PBS miniseries "Sherlock," starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, will need to wait until 2013 to see the next three programs. Filming will start early next year, with broadcast scheduled in the U.K. and the U.S. later in the year. Some footage for the first program of Series 3 has already been shot, because they needed sets and actors from the end of the cliffhanger at the end of Season 2. If you don't know how the season finale ended, there's plenty of discussion on the Internet, one excellent website being Sherlockology at www.sherlockology.com. There also are some interesting blogs by Lyndsay Faye and others at www.criminalelement.com. Andrew Scott (who played Moriarty) just won an award from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts as best supporting actor on television, beating out Martin Freeman (Watson); and co-creator Stephen Moffat won a special award for his work on "Sherlock" and "Doctor Who."

The debut of the second set of the Cumberbatch-Freeman “Sherlock” more than doubled the average PBS primetime rating, prompting PBS officials to gush over the show’s “perfect combination of IQ and GQ.”

Meanwhile, CBS-TV will air its "Elementary" series this fall, with Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu as Holmes and. The series is set in modern New York and they've announced it's quite different from the “Sherlock” series, despite both being modernizations of Holmes. The show is scheduled for Thursdays at 10 p.m. Reportedly, CBS had asked the BBC for permission to make an American version of “Sherlock” and the BBC refused. There's a trailer for "Elementary" at:

It's not the first time that Jonny Lee Miller and Benedict Cumberbatch have played the same role: they alternated as Frankenstein and the monster in the National Theatre's production last year of "Frankenstein." There’s a spectacular trailer for the play at:

National Theatre Live is broadcasting both versions of the play to theaters in the U.S. this summer.

There's a new book by Arthur Conan Doyle coming out this year, published by the British Library. “Dangerous Work" will offer for the first time the journal he kept on the whaling ship "Hope," on which he served as ship's doctor and turned 21 years old. There are echoes of his voyage in later stories, Sherlockian and otherwise, and the book will have annotations and commentary. Randall Stock offers an excellent discussion of the book at:

The Mystery Writers of America presented Edgar Awards to Michael Dirda for his "Conan Doyle, or the Whole Art of Storytelling" (best critical/biographical) and to Ken Ludwig for his comedy "The Game's Afoot, or Holmes for the Holidays" (best play). And the script for the hilarious parody of "The Hound of the Baskervilles," written by John Nicholson and Steven Canny and performed by Peepolykus in 2007, has been published by Nick Hern Books, www.nickhernbooks.co.uk, and can be licensed by amateur companies. Peepolykus have recorded a one-hour radio-theater version that will air on BBC Radio 4 on July 7.

Thanks, Peter!

Speaking of the proliferation of Holmes adaptations, Steven Moffatt, writer of the Cumberbath-Freeman series, was quoted at the BAFTA awards as saying, “I want there to be lots of them [Sherlock interpretations]. I love the Robert Downey Jr. films. I love ‘House,’ which is actually a modernization of Sherlock Holmes. He’s been around for over 100 years, there will never be one definitive version.”

Meanwhile, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s home, Undershaw, near Haslemere in Surrey, has been at the crux of a court battle over its future. Developers wanted to convert the house into eight flats (apartments). But fans want it turned into a study center supported by authors such as Ian Rankin and Mark Gatiss. Doyle lived there for a decade between 1897 and 1907 and wrote among other famous works, “The Hound of the Baskervilles,” there. Undershaw became a hotel from the 1920s to 2005. Since then, it has been vacant and decaying. The latest news is that the house will not be broken up into flats. Check out a report here:

Peter Blau also reports that WETA-TV, the Washington, D.C.-area PBS station, is launching an all-British channel WETA UK, with a long list of series from the U.K. It will be broadcast over the air in the greater Washington area and on cable systems there, too. Among the series the channel will be showing are “Doctor Who,” “Fawlty Towers,” “Hustle,” “Waking the Dead,” “All Creatures Great and Small,” “Ballykissangel,” “To the Manor Born,” “Robin Hood,” “Last of the Summer Wine” and “The Vicar of Dibley.”

ON TELLY IN THE U.K.: Daniel Radcliffe (“Harry Potter”) and Jon Hamm (“Mad Men”) will star in a new four-part series about a Russian doctor in a small village on the eve of the Russian revolution. The two play the same doctor, with Radcliffe the younger version, of course. Hamm will also narrate the Sky Arts drama. It’s described as a comedy-drama, based on short stories by Russian writer and playwright Mikhail Bulgakov.

A film is in the works about the rise and fall of Rebekah Brooks, the former Rupert Murdoch British tabloid editor at the heart of the phone hacking scandal. However, the producers say they have to wait until the scandal has reached its conclusion before starting filming.

“Derek,” a comedy in which Ricky Gervais is writer and title character, which started off as a one-off show, will run as a full series on Channel 4 in 2013. Gervais has apparently won over critics and audience who roundly criticized the concept of the show as being insensitive. Gervais plays a learning-disabled man. The 49-year-old Derek works in a nursing home, loves autograph hunting, Rolf Harris, Jesus, “Deal or No Deal” and has a crush on one of the nurses. The pilot episode was Channel 4’s highest rated scripted comedy in two years.

The latest version of “Upstairs Downstairs” has been canceled, a victim of too-weak ratings. A BBC spokesperson said: "From ‘Call the Midwife’ to ‘Bird Song’ and ‘The Syndicate,’ 2012 has been a great year for original British drama on BBC1 but at this stage there are no plans for ‘Upstairs Downstairs’ to return."

ON THE BIG SCREEN: Hayley Atwell (“Captain America: The First Avenger,” “Brideshead Revisited” 2008) will star in “10 Things I Hate About Life,” to be written and directed by Gil Junger for release in 2014. Junger directed 1999’s “10 Things I Hate About You” with Heath Ledger, Julia Stiles and Josh Gordon-Levitt. Atwell’s recent TV work has included “Any Human Heart” and “Pillars of the Earth.”

Rachel McAdams (“Sherlock Holmes”) will star in Working Title’s “About Time,” described as a fantastical feel-good movie about a man and his ability to travel back in time who "eventually meets the girl of his dreams." Domhnall Gleeson (“Never Let Me Go”) also stars. It’s expected to be out in 2014.

Paddington Bear, that marmalade-lover from Darkest Peru, will star in a big-screen film to be produced by David Heyman, who produced “Harry Potter.” Information is so sketchy that the only thing found is a projected release date of 2014.

Inspired by the 2012 Olympics, a digital remastering of “Chariots of Fire” will be re-released in movie theatres July 13.

Saoirse Ronan (“Atonement,” “Hanna”) will play Vera Brittain, whose “Testament of Youth,” about the horrors of World War I, made her a leading feminist and pacifist campaigner. No word yet on a release date for this one.

More sketchy info on a coming film: Fugitive director Roman Polanski and British author Robert Harris of “Fatherland” fame are teaming for a film on the Alfred Dreyfus affair, a news sensation at a turn of the 20th century in which military officer Dreyfus was convicted of giving French military secrets to the German embassy. Though another officer was found to be the culprit, Dreyfus didn’t get off the hook until 12 years later, becoming a cause celebre for anti-semitism. No release date.

Cate Blanchett will play a leading role in a film version of Patricia Highsmith's lesbian classic “Carol,” to be released in 2014.

Colin Firth will play Eric Lomax, a survivor of the Burma railway (“The Bridge Over the River Kwai”), in “The Railway Man,” a film based on Lomax’s book of the same name. Lomax, who was a young Scottish POW on the Burma railway, later traveled back to Asia to meet one of his torturers in an attempt let go of a lifetime of bitterness and hate. He was aided by his wife, to be played by Nicole Kidman. Firth will also play Noel Coward in “Mad Dogs and Englishmen.” And he’ll play journalist Ron Lax in a film based on the true-life story of the West Memphis Three. The film, “Devil’s Knot,” will dramatize the case of Jessie Misskelley, Jason Baldwin and Damien Echols, who were convicted as teenagers of murdering three eight-year-old boys in 1993. “Railway” and “Devil” are scheduled to come out in 2013; no word yet on “Mad Dogs.”

Pierce Brosnan will be in a film version of Nick Hornby’s novel “A Long Way Down,” described as a dark comedy about depression, suicide, angst and promiscuity, to be out in 2013.

“Invisible Woman,” a period drama based on the affair between Charles Dickens and his mistress, Nelly Ternan, will feature Felicity Jones, Kristin Scott Thomas, Tom Hollander and Ralph Fiennes. Fiennes will also direct. It’s to be released in 2013.

BOND UPDATE: The Ian Fleming estate has signed a deal with Random House to republish in print and ebook format his back catalog. The 14 James Bond books, including two short story collections, will be relaunched by Vintage Books this summer everywhere except for the United States and Canada. Meanwhile, also beginning this summer, Thomas & Mercer, an imprint of Amazon Publishing, will republish all 14 of Fleming’s Bond books in North America, as well as his two works of nonfiction, “Thrilling Cities” and “The Diamond Smugglers.”

"Dr. No" is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, and the latest Bond film, "Skyfall," is coming in October. Here’s the “Skyfall” trailer:

A new James Bond novel has been commissioned by the Fleming estate from Booker Prize nominee William Boyd. The so-far untitled book is set to come out in 2013, the 60th anniversary of “Casino Royale,” Fleming's first Bond novel. Boyd has said his story will mark a return to "classic Bond" and will be set in the late 1960s.

The current film Bond, Daniel Craig, and Danny Boyle, artistic director for the opening ceremony of the London Olympics, have created a skit titled “The Arrival,” in which 007 travels to Buckingham Palace to be informed that his latest mission is to launch the 2012 games. He is then taken by helicopter to the Olympic stadium in Stratford, east London, where he parachutes into the arena. The Queen personally sanctioned the move, giving the pair unprecedented access to the palace. The short film will be shown during the BBC's coverage of the opening ceremony.

A biopic of Ian Fleming, based on Andrew Lycett's biography “The Man Behind James Bond,” is set to go into production this year to be directed by Duncan Jones. The film reportedly has the support of the Fleming estate. A statement from Jones describes the coming film as a "period action movie about the life of Fleming and the origins of Bond", indicating it will start at what is described as Fleming’s exciting experiences during his World War II service. Jones’ previous films have involved science fiction, notably “Moon” and “Source Code.” Jones is the son of David Bowie. Also said to be in production is another Fleming biopic with James McAvoy and Leonardo DiCaprio each at one point reportedly set to play the writer, announced in 2008 by DiCaprio's Appian Way production company.

ONSTAGE: A new stage version of “Steptoe and Son” will open in July with Mike Shepherd (Albert) and Dean Nolan (Harold) playing the roles made famous by Wilfrid Brambell and Harry H. Corbett. The play’s run starts in Cornwall, then moves to the West Yorkshire Playhouse in mid-September then tours the U.K. The popular BBC television show ran from 1962 to 1974 and was the inspiration for “Sanford and Son” in the United States. Corbett died in 1982 and Brambell (known for playing the grandfather in “A Hard Day’s Night”) in 1985.

Sadie Frost, known over here for her former marriage to Jude Law, is starring in a one-woman, Madonna song-inspired play “Touched...Like A Virgin,” running into early June.

Imelda Staunton continues her role in “Sweeney Todd,” expected to run through Sept. 22 at London’s Adelphi Theatre.

A musical stage version of long-running, popular soap opera, “Coronation Street,” has been postponed because co-producer John Ward told cast and crew month he was "far from happy with the show artistically." “Street of Dreams” was billed as a "live musical tribute to Britain's best-loved soap" on air since 1960 featuring stars of the show past and present.

In August at the Royal Court, Tamsin Greig (Miss Bates in BBC’s “Emma” in 2009) resumes her starring role in “Jumpy,” which first ran last year. This run goes through November 2012.

David Suchet stars in Eugene O’Neill’s “Long Days’ Journey Into Night,” running through Aug. 18 at the Apollo Theatre in London. The Guardian used the word “glowing” to describe the performances by him and Laurie Metcalf (“Rosanne”).

“Enquirer,” the National Theatre of Scotland’s investigation into "the crisis in newspaper journalism," using real testimony, will be performed in London in association with the Barbican Oct. 3-20 at an as yet unannounced location. “Enquirer,” produced with the London Review of Books, was performed in April on the top floor of a media office block in Glasgow. Three journalists and 60 hours of interviews look at the “bad behavior,” uncertain future, declining print revenues and changes wrought by digital media to newspapers.

“Chariots of Fire” will become a stage play this summer. The inspirational story of British runners in the 1924 Olympics hits the Hampstead Theatre for previews in early June. Greek composer Vangelis, whose memorable theme remains ubiquitous, is on board for the music. Director Ed Hall says he was tapped for the job by “Bond” producer Barbara Broccoli, who owns the stage rights, and original COF film director Hugh Hudson.

ON THE SHELF: Former Monty Pythonite Michael Palin has written a novel, “The Truth,” to be published July 5. It’s about a journey to India by a man at a crossroads in his life and is described as “heartwarming.”

Subscribers of Amazon Prime will be able to borrow the electronic versions of the Harry Potter books in English, French, Italian, German and Spanish in a deal Amazon made with J.K. Rowling's Pottermore website. While the titles are available to Amazon customers on the Kindle e-reader, Pottermore will still be the only place to buy the electronic versions.

In the meantime, a book by Rowling aimed at adults will be published Sept. 27. “The Casual Vacancy” is said to be a black comedy about a town at war over political and social issues.

Expected later this year are two new fantasy books for children from a collaboration by a grandson of JRR Tolkien and a descendant of Charles Dickens. Poet Michael Tolkien, the eldest grandson of “The Hobbit” author, will write two novels based on stories his grandfather read to him as a child. Gerald Dickens, the great-great grandson of Charles, will narrate the audiobook versions.

Cotchford Farm in East Sussex is on the market for £2 million. It is an address linking Winnie the Pooh and the Rolling Stones. The house belonged to A.A. Milne, the bear’s creator, and was where his son, Christopher Robin, grew up. Four decades later, guitarist Brian Jones was found dead in the swimming pool. Jones had been fired by the Rolling Stones for being out of control shortly before his death.

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The "Masterpiece" sensation ''Downton Abbey” (4.2 million viewers for the premiere of Season 2) has been described as “the darling of American public television.”

The show has sparked a run on books dealing with Edwardian and wartime England, the Titanic, British aristocracy and World War I, such as Nancy Mitford's "Love in a Cold Climate." The Times quotes a Penguin Books publisher who says he started planning releases for Season 2 while watching Season 1. St. Martin’s Press published recently “The World of Downton Abbey” by Jessica Fellowes, niece of "DA" creator Julian Fellowes. According to the Times, it has made Amazon’s Top 100 titles. Another very popular title: "What the Butler Winked At," reissued by Westholme Publishing, a small press in Yardley, Pa. The memoir is by Eric Horne, who worked as a butler for more than 50 years, beginning in the 1860s. "Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle" by the Countess of Carnarvon; the real maid memoirs "Rose: My Life in Service to Lady Astor" by Rosina Harrison and “Below Stairs”; “Into the Silence" by Wade Davis about the end days of the elite; "The Decline and Fall of the British Aristocracy" by David Cannadine; and "A Bitter Truth" by Charles Todd about World War I. And another one related to the Great War as it is called over there, Ford Madox Ford's “Parade's End.” It will be adapted into a BBC TV series by Tom Stoppard, due for screening later this year and starring TV's "Sherlock," Benedict Cumberbatch.

ALSO ON TV OVER HERE: “Great Expectations” will run April 1 and 8 on PBS' "Masterpiece Classic. It features Gillian Anderson (“The X-Files,” “Bleak House”), Ray Winstone (“King Arthur,” “Robin Hood”), David Suchet (“Poirot”) and newcomer Douglas Booth as Pip.

Starting May 6 on "Masterpiece" is the next set of Benedict Cumberbatch “Sherlock” episodes with “A Scandal in Belgravia.” “The Hounds of Baskerville” follows on May 13, then “The Reichenbach Fall” on May 20. Lara Pulver (“True Blood”) features in “Scandal” as Irene Adler and Andrew Scott (“Lennon”) is Jim Moriarity in “Fall.” Martin Freeman is, of course, Watson.

Sometime this summer, "Masterpiece" will air “Endeavour,” the prequel to “Inspector Morse” with Shaun Evans as the young Morse.

As of now, nothing available on the schedule for "Masterpiece Contemporary."

On BBC America: “Katy Brand’s Big Ass Show,” in which the comedian of said title does take-offs of various entertainers like Kate Winslett, Angelina Jolie and creates some characters of her own, is now showing under the flag of BBC-A’s Ministry of Laughs. It’s on Saturdays at 11:30 p.m. Assuming it’s not a joke, Brand went to Oxford and attained a degree in theology.

Just starting up is Season 4 of “Being Human,” also on Saturdays but at the much more civil hour of 9 p.m. This is the one about a vampire, a ghost and a werewolf who bunk in together. It picks up from the Season 3 finale when Mitchell, the vampire, fell victim to a wolf-shaped bullet so apparently Annie, the ghost, is looking for new roommates. Recent guest appearances, including one by Robson Green (“Wire in the Blood,” “Touching Evil”), have been deemed a success, so more are to come and the show’s creator and executive producer says he was wowed by response to Season 3.

The next three-episode series of “Whitechapel” starts Wednesday, March 28, as part of “Dramaville.” It stars Rupert Penry-Jones (“MI-5” whose producers are the same for “Whitechapel”), Steve Pemberton and Phil Davis. The team has rescued a big crime archive, described as a vast but chaotic collection of files and papers beneath the incident room. Chandler (Penry-Jones) thinks information in it holds the key to solve crimes of the past. Ed Buchan (Pemberton) becomes part of the unit as their historical adviser to help sort it all out. This time their investigations spread beyond the boundaries of East London’s Whitechapel.

BBC America will develop two new distinctive series, “Wired,” a sci-fi program, and “The Dead Beat,” a paranormal crime show, with U.K. indie Clerkenwell Films, producers of the sci-fi series “Misfits.” “Wired” takes place in a world that looks exactly like today, except that it has “Syns” (synthetic organisms’), exact replicas of human beings, exploring the relationships between humans and technology and the boundaries of values and morals. Two cops, one dead and one alive, become a reluctant team in “The Dead Beat.” One works leads from the world of the dead to track down killers in the world of the living.

Dominic Monaghan (“Lost,” “Lord of the Rings”) will have a travel-adventure series, “Wild Things With Dominic Monaghan,” produced by BBC-A, Canadian specialty channel OLN and Channel 5. To premiere later this year, the series will feature Monaghan searching out the weirdest insects on the planet.  

BBC-A is also co-producing the next installments of “Luther.” The Idris Elba-starrer will premiere sometime this year as part of "Dramaville." The police team is back, including Detective Sgt. Justin Ripley (“Shameless”), DSU Martin Schenk (“Bleak House”), Detective Sgt. Erin Gray (“Small Island”) and Benny Silver (“Wire in the Blood”) in the four-part miniseries.   

Coming this summer is "Copper," an immigrant drama about an Irish cop working in 19th century New York City, though it’s being filmed in Canada, partly because it’s a joint Canadian production. Star is Tom Weston-Jones, who was a regular for at least a portion of “MI-5” as Sasha Gavrik. While it is set in the immigrant neighborhood, apparently there’s action in the Upper East Side and Fifth Avenue areas as well as then-emerging Harlem.

HOLMES UPDATE: Warner Bros has grossed more than $1 billion worldwide with its first two films starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law, and (of course) has scriptwriters at work on a third film in the franchise, with no details yet available.  

The previously mentioned second BBC "Sherlock" series with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman won massive television audiences in Britain, and a flood of favorable reviews, and it is likely that many Americans have already seen the new programs, thanks to bootleg downloads and the British DVD set that can be viewed by anyone who has a multi-region DVR or a computer that will play region 2 DVDs. There will be a third series from the BBC, and they have already shot some scenes for the seventh installment (since they need to explain what really happened at the end of the sixth program).

The BBC series also obviously impressed executives at CBS, where work has begun on a pilot, "Elementary" that will star Jonny Lee Miller (Jordan Chase in the Showtime series "Dexter") as a modern-day Sherlock Holmes who lives in New York City. He's an eccentric former consultant to Scotland Yard whose addiction problems led him to an rehab center in New York, and just out of rehab, he now lives in Brooklyn with "sober companion" Joan Watson, a former surgeon who lost her license after a patient died, while consulting for the NYPD. Watson will be played by Lucy Liu (currently Officer Jessica Tang in TNT's "Southland"). She's not going to be the first female Watson on screen (Joanne Woodward leads the list, with George C. Scott in "They Might Be Giants" in 1971), and there have been three others, including Gina Ryder (Dr. Emma Watson in the porno film "The Secret of Harlot Hill" in 2001). Latest word is that Aidan Quinn (Lt. Kevin Sweeney in the NBC-TV series "Prime Suspect") will join the cast of "Elementary" as NYPD Captain Gregson, who worked with Holmes at Scotland Yard and has invited him to work with the police in New York.

And now it gets slightly complicated: This isn't the first time that Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller have played the same role. They starred onstage in London last year in "Frankenstein," alternating as Frankenstein and the monster, and you can see them (briefly) in a one-minute promotion for the play here:

You may also enjoy a somewhat different mash-up (after an ad) at:

It's described by its creator daasgrrl as "And from Holmes was brought forth House, played by Hugh Laurie. Who in Fortysomething as Peter Slippery was father to Rory Slippery, played by Benedict Cumberbatch. Who grew up to play Sherlock. And then my head exploded."

New books of interest include a new edition of Alan Barnes' "Sherlock Holmes on Screen: The Complete Film and Television History" (Titan Books); it's a valuable reference book, up to date through "Tom and Jerry Meet Sherlock Holmes" and the first three "Sherlock" programs from the BBC (the book has an enthusiastic foreword by series co-creator Steven Moffat). And from last year there's Michael Dirda's "On Conan Doyle, or The Whole Art of Storytelling" (Princeton University Press); it's a delightful introduction to Conan Doyle and his work, and to The Baker Street Irregulars (described by Dirda as a "mysterious literary society"), and it has been nominated for an Edgar from the Mystery Writers of America. The Baker Street Irregulars have published "The Grand Game: A Celebration of Sherlockian Scholarship" in two volumes (1902-1959 and 1960-2010); the anthologies were edited by Laurie R. King and Leslie S. Klinger, and are available at www.bakerstreetjournal.com.

And for a bit of history, try this idiosyncratic look at some of the actors who have played the Great Detective:

(Special thanks to Peter E. Blau for his contributions.)

ON THE BIG SCREEN: Hugh Grant is confirmed for the next installment of the “Bridget Jones” movies. This is the third BJ film and apparently problems with the script have roiled the production, causing Grant initially to say he wouldn’t do it. Colin Firth and Renee Zellweger will also reprise their roles.

The aforementioned Jonny Lee Miller has just finished, along with Saoirse Ronan and Gemma Arterton, the film “Byzantium.” It’s a vampire film with Ronan and Arterton as mother-daughter bloodsuckers and something evil called “The Brotherhood.” No release date yet, just “later this year.” No one else listed in the cast had a name I’d ever heard of.

“The Woman in Black,” starring “Harry Potter’s” Daniel Radcliffe, has become the most successful British horror at the U.K. box office. It is based on Susan Hill's novel about a widower who travels to a remote mansion said to be haunted by spirits in Edwardian England. The film has received mostly positive reviews.

Speaking of HP, Emma Watson has signed up for Sofia Coppola's new film, “The Bling Ring.” Coppola is planning to adapt the real-life story of a group of fame-obsessed teen burglars who broke into celebrities' homes in Los Angeles. Since finishing the Potter films, Watson has been seen in a small role as a costume assistant in “My Week With Marilyn,” and is currently working on the college-life U.S. indie, “The Perks of Being a Wallflower.” She is also due to act in “Your Voice in My Head,” based on the memoir by journalist Emma Forrest, to be directed by regular Potter director David Yates.

Britain's Twickenham Film Studios is expected to close by June, a year shy of its centennial, because it is losing money. Site of filming for The Beatles’ “A Hard Day’s Night,” “Alfie” and “Blade Runner,” it opened in 1913 as St. Margaret’s Studios and was renamed in 1929. Twickenham was built on the site of a former ice rink and is still considered one of the U.K.'s pre-eminent film-making facilities along with Pinewood and Shepperton studios. Recent films “My Week With Marilyn,” “War Horse” and “The Iron Lady” used Twickenham facilities for some or all of their production.

JAMES BOND UPDATE: MGM and 20th Century Fox’s home entertainment division announced that they are planning to sell a boxed set called “Bond 50,” celebrating 50 years of the spy-movie franchise and containing Blu-ray versions of the 22 official James Bond films that have so far been released, starting with “Dr. No” (1962). Included are nine movies that have not previously received a Blu-ray release (like “You Only Live Twice”). Not expected to be included: “Never Say Never Again,” the 1983 James Connery film that was not made by Eon Productions, the studio responsible for the Bond series, nor the 1967 comedy “Casino Royale,” that starred David Niven as James Bond, or the upcoming “Skyfall.” No official release date or price was given by MGM/Fox, though amazon.co.uk said the “Bond 50″ boxed set would be available on Oct. 1 at a price of £89.99 (about $140).

“Skyfall," with Daniel Craig returning as 007, has a release date of Nov. 9. In it Bond must track down the threat when MI6 comes under attack.

Also for the 50th anniversary, “Designing 007: 50 Years of Bond Style” is planned for London's Barbican Centre in July to showcase five decades of gadgets, sets, costumes and cars, along with the blueprints, drawings and models that went into creating them.

ON TV OVER THERE: “Walking the Dogs,” a TV drama based on intruder Michael Fagan’s foray into Buckingham Palace 30 years ago, will feature Emma Thompson as the Queen. This is the first of a new series called “Playhouse Arts” for Sky TV. Also for that series will be “King of The Teds,” with Alison Steadman, Brenda Blethyn and 71-year-old Welsh singer Tom Jones making his TV acting debut as Ron, a former bottle factory worker who was once his area’s top Teddy Boy when he was young. He and his wife find their lives turned upside down when they once again meet a friend from their early days. Other planned shows in this series: “The Other Woman” with Geraldine James, Richard Grant and Trevor Eve; “Nellie and Melba” with Paul O’Grady as writer and star plus Sheila Hancock; and an unnamed work for former “Doctor Who” David Tennant.

Three new episodes of “Foyle’s War” coming will have the detective investigating government corruption and uncovering spies trading in atomic secrets in the Cold War era now. Michael Kitchen, who plays Christopher Foyle, will return and co-star Honeysuckle Weeks is expected to return as Samantha Stewart.

ONSTAGE: The London theater scene is active, as usual, so if you’re over there or going, you can take advantage of: “Bingo,” at Young Vic Theatre (until March 31) starring Patrick Stewart as William Shakespeare in his post-glory years, facing a King Lear-like dilemma of what to do with his land and power. A more cynical view of the Bard is interpreted by Simon Callow in “Being Shakespeare” at the Trafalgar Studios. The one-man show mingles biographical bits with historical snapshots to say that while Shakespeare may have been unrivalled as an observer of the human condition, the truth might be that he wasn't especially humane himself.

The stage production of “The King's Speech” transfers to the West End's Wyndham's Theatre, opening March 27, booked through July 21. The award-winning movie was a stage play in its original form.

Stephen Fry has beeen cast as Malvolio in Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” at Shakespeare's Globe from Sept. 22 to Oct. 14.

“People,” a new play by Alan Bennett and directed by Nicholas Hytner (“The Madness of King George,” “The Crucible”) opens at the National Theatre in October.

Getting five-star reviews, “Noises Off,” starring Robert Glenister (“Hustle”) and Celia Imrie (“Bridget Jones’ Diary”), moves from the Old Vic theatre March 10 to the Novello Theatre March 24 through June 30. The play-within-a-play original cast includes Jonathan Coy (“Downton Abbey” “The Pillars of the Earth”) and Jamie Glover (son of Julian).

Natalie Dormer (“Game of Thrones,” “The Tudors”) has been cast in the title role for “After Miss Julie” to open at the Young Vic Maria Studio March 21 through April 14.

Susannah Harker (“Pride and Prejudice”) has been cast in “Abigail’s Party” to open March 2 at the Menier Chocolate Factory in Southwark.

“Chariots of Fire” is expected to open at the Hampstead Theatre in North London on May 9.

British-Iranian actor-comedian Omid Djalili will play Dr. Rance in a new production of Joe Orton’s “What the Butler Saw,” opening May 15 at the Vaudeville Theatre. Djalili has appeared in “Spy Game” and “Pirates of the Caribbean” among others and has his own comedy show.

Next year is the 50th anniversary of the Profumo Affair, in which the then secretary of state for war, John Profumo, had an affair with alleged showgirl Christine Keeler, the reputed mistress of an alleged Russian spy. His lying about the affair before the House of Commons and the affair itself led to Profumo’s resignation from the government and severely damaged Prime Minister Harold MacMillan’s government. Now, Andrew Lloyd-Webber is considering a musical about the Profumo affair, with a possible focus on Stephen Ward, a pivotal figure in the scandal, whose story Lloyd-Webber said has caught his interest. John Hurt played Ward in the 1989 film, “Scandal,” also starring Joanne Whalley and Ian McKellen as Profumo with Bridget Fonda and Britt Ekland.

Lloyd-Webber, in the meantime, is casting his lead for a revival of “Jesus Christ Superstar” via a search on ITV1.
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A new roundup of British entertainment news from Leslie King ...

ON TV HERE: “Endeavor,” the prequel to the “Inspector Morse” series, will air on “Masterpiece Mystery!” this year, marking the 25th anniversary of the original “Morse” series' 1987 premiere. Broadcast Jan. 2 on ITV, the prequel garnered impressive audience share to show there’s life yet in the old franchise. Shaun Evans (“Ashes to Ashes”) plays the young Endeavor Morse. The story is set in 1965, with the hunt for a missing schoolgirl. Morse creator Colin Dexter, who approved Liverpool-born Evans to play the character, had a hand in “Endeavour,” though the script was written by Russell Lewis, who had written episodes of “Morse” and its spinoff, “Inspector Lewis.” Look for a reference to the original Morse, John Thaw, who died in 2002, via his actor daughter, Abigail, who plays a journalist.

“Downton Abbey, Season II” has kicked off, running through Feb. 19. To watch episodes and interviews with writer Julian Fellowes, Lady Carnarvon, the real Countess who lives there, and others who create and produce the series, you can go here:

BAKER STREET UPDATE: A lot of news from Sherlock Holmes expert Peter Blau:

Sherlockians and Holmesians have much to be thankful for, or to complain about. "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows" (with Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law) has grossed more than $250 million at the box office worldwide so far, and while it is running behind the first film in the franchise, the year was one in which movie-going audiences were down overall. Aptly described as "the first film on steroids," the movie made some more traditional viewers unhappy, but thrilled the younger audience at which it's aimed; Jared Harris does extremely well as a thoroughly evil Professor Moriarty, and Stephen Fry (who once was the youngest member of The Sherlock Holmes Society of London) is delightful as Mycroft Holmes. Warner Bros. has commissioned a script for a third film.

The BBC's second "Sherlock" miniseries (with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman) has debuted with three new episodes, "A Scandal in Belgravia", The Baskerville Hound", and "The Reichenbach Fall", to great acclaim in the U.K., with Lara Pulver attracting considerable attention as a (tastefully) nude dominatrix blackmailer in the first episode; she has said it was an interesting experience spending eight hours on set wearing nothing but a pair of Louboutins. Americans who do not have access to bootleg Internet downloads, or won't be able to view the set of region-2 DVDs due in March, will need to wait until May 6, when PBS-TV will air the series on "Masterpiece Mystery".

As for books, Anthony Horowitz's new pastiche "The House of Silk" was authorized by the Conan Doyle Estate Ltd. (the heirs of Dame Jean Conan Doyle) and has been widely reviewed on both sides of the Atlantic, and admirers of Sir Arthur will enjoy "On Conan Doyle; or, The Whole Art of Storytelling", written by the Pulitzer prize-winning book critic Michael Dirda and published by the Princeton University Press in its "writers on writers" series.

And Conan Doyle's long-lost non-Sherlockian first novel, "The Narrative of John Smith," has been published for the first time. He once explained that the manuscript was lost in the post, and that he would be horrified if it were suddenly to appear again, so it was a surprise when it was found in the family papers that were sold at auction at Christie's in 2004. It was a second version, rewritten from memory a few years later, and it was purchased by the British Library, which has now published a first edition, edited and annotated by Jon Lellenberg, Daniel Stashower and Rachel Foss, offering an interesting look at an author's early work.

Thanks, Peter!

ON THE BIG SCREEN: The late November announcement that Ben Whishaw (“Brideshead Revisited,” “The Hour”) will take over the Desmond Llewellyn role of gadget-maker Q is the latest big news about the next James Bond film. The 31-year-old Whishaw is 12 years younger than 007 Daniel Craig, making the Q character younger than the spy. The Daily Mail reported in early December that Craig was seen on a London rooftop filming scenes for “Skyfall,” expected to be released Nov. 7. According to the paper, joining Craig in the filming was Naomie Harris, who will play a junior agent, Eve, not the latest Miss Moneypenny as some had speculated. Speaking of Bond’s original groupie, did you notice how Whishaw, who played Freddie Lyon in “The Hour,” kept calling his editor/colleague/friend Bel (Romolai Garai) “Moneypenny” in that series? The paper also says M, again played by Dame Judi Dench, “sees her past come back to haunt her in this movie, which results in Bond's loyalty with her being put to the test.”

Bond producer Michael G. Wilson says “Skyfall” has a distinctive 1960s feel. Wilson also wants Craig to become the longest-playing Bond, meaning Craig would have to sign on for another five films in order to beat Roger Moore, who is currently the star in the most Bond films – seven between 1973 and 1985. Moore was also the oldest, filming his first Bond at 45 and his last at 58. Craig is 43.

Whishaw, in the meantime, is due to play Richard II opposite Rory Kinnear in a new BBC Shakespeare adaptation, part of this year's cultural programming to coincide with the London Olympics.

Henry Cavill, the British actor who will be seen as Superman in “Man of Steel,” starred in “Immortals,” a recent 3-D action movie based on Greek mythology. It was about the search by a peasant, Theseus (Cavill), for a powerful weapon to stop King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke) from awakening the Titans. Helping him out are oracle Phaedra (Freida Pinto) and thief Stavros (Stephen Dorff). The 28-year-old British actor, who grew up on the Channel Island of Jersey, has been filming “Man of Steel” in Vancouver. All of which suggests his career is getting some traction after his profile-raising appearance as the Duke of Suffolk on “The Tudors.”

Reuters reports that "Harry Potter" director David Yates has told Variety he wants to make “Doctor Who” into a movie franchise similar apparently to “Batman” or “Superman” or even “Harry Potter.” Yates and his partner are looking at writers, expecting to take “two to three years” to make the “quite radical” transition from small screen to big screen. Yates plans to go original for a storyline instead of following one from the TV series. Previously, in 1965 and 1966, there were two movie adaptations of the Time Lord: "Doctor Who and the Daleks" and "Daleks' Invasion Earth: 2150 A.D.", both starring Peter Cushing as the Doctor.

ONSTAGE (Sort of): Liam Neeson (“Taken,” “The Grey”) will appear as a 3-D hologram, interacting with live actors in sci-fi stage musical “The War of the Worlds.” He will be journalist George Herbert, a role originally voiced in the 1970s by the late Richard Burton, who only got a holographic head while Neeson is getting a full body hologram, with producers claiming this is a technological first. Neeson steps in when the show returns from hiatus in December 2012 and supposedly special effects will include a 100-foot wide “CGI animation wall” and a Martian fighting machine that fires real flames at the audience.

“Downton Abbey” creator Julian Fellowes has signed on to write a West End musical based on Kenneth Grahame’s 1908 children's classic “The Wind in the Willows.” Fellowes will reunite with composer and lyricist duo George Stiles and Anthony Drewe almost 10 years after they wrote the “Mary Poppins” musical.

A musical version of “Finding Neverland,” the 2004 Johnny Depp film, is being developed by the Weinstein Co., its first foray into this genre as a developer, though Harvey Weinstein has invested in a number of musicals. The New York Times reports director Rob Ashford (“How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying”) is looking to stage a tryout production in Britain this fall before moving to London by the end of 2012.

ON THE BOOKSHELF: Author Hilary Mantel plans to give “Wolf Hall,” her award-winning novel about the fictional life of Thomas Cromwell, two sequels. The first sequel will be “Bring Up the Bodies” and will tell the story of the downfall of Anne Boleyn. Fourth Estate, the publisher, sets a May release date. The third sequel, “The Mirror and the Light,” will continue the statesman's story until his execution in 1540.

ON TELLY OVER THERE: Coming in 2013, “Top of the Lake,” a six-part drama to air on BBC2, will reunite actor Holly Hunter with director Jane Campion. The pair worked together in “The Piano” in 1993, for which Hunter won a Best Actress award. “Top of the Lake” will feature Elizabeth Moss (“Mad Men”) as a detective searching for a pregnant 12-year-old. Hunter will play a local women’s camp guru. Others in the series are Peter Mullan (“Trainspotting”) and David Wenham (“The Lord of the Rings”).

Karen Gillan and her screen husband Arthur Darvill, who play Amy and Rory Pond on “Doctor Who,” are leaving the show. They are being written out in a storyline described as "heartbreaking" in the next series. Gillan will next appear as ’60s supermodel Jean Shrimpton in a BBC drama.

“Young James Herriot,” a two-hour prequel to “All Creatures Great and Small,” aired on BBC1 in December. “All Creatures” was based on the semi-autobiographical books of country veterinarian James “Alf” Wight. This prequel was about the young Herriot’s early adventures at Glasgow Veterinary College in the 1930s. Glaswegian actor Iain de Caestecker (“The Take”), 23, had the role originally played by Simon Ward in the 1975 TV movie and Christopher Timothy in the well known and loved TV series. De Caestecker was in the supernatural drama “The Fades.” No word on if the prequel will air in the U.S. A quick look at what the actors in the original TV series are up to: The remarkable 86-year-old Robert Hardy (“Siegfried”) continues his long and varied career with a role in “Snapshot,” a film in pre-production, expected release date 2013. He played Sir Arnold Raeburn in a 2010 episode of “Inspector Lewis” entitled “Dark Matter.” Welsh-born Christopher Timothy (“Herriot”), now 71, was in a 2011 “Inspector Lewis” episode, “Wild Justice,” as Barry Winter. Peter Davison (“Tristan”), 60, also known for his time in “Doctor Who,” has had a recurring role in “Law and Order, U.K.” And Carol Drinkwater (“Helen”) presses on with her olive farm in Provence, France, writing memoirs about that. She has been invited to work with UNESCO to help found an Olive Heritage Trail around the Mediterranean Basin. She’s no longer acting — or, as Variety would say, she’s non-pro.

The bicentennial of Charles Dickens' birth has prompted two big Dickens adaptations from the BBC: “Great Expectations” and “The Mystery of Edwin Drood.” “Expectations,” with Gillian Anderson, Ray Winstone and Douglas Booth, aired at Christmas and will undoubtedly be compared with the feature film version coming in fall 2012, though apparently the latter has yet to secure a U.S. distributor. That one features Helena Bonham Carter, Ralph Fiennes, Jeremy Irvine and Robbie Coltrane. The two-part “Drood,” described as a psychological thriller about an opium-addicted, erotically obsessed choirmaster, features Rory Kinnear, Ian McNeice, Matthew Rhys, Julia McKenzie among others. The story of “Drood” was left half-finished at the time of Dickens’ death in 1870 and has been polished off by crime writer and hired BBC gun Gwyneth Hughes. It’s expected to air there in mid-January.

Award-winning filmmaker Stephen Poliakoff will write his first series for the BBC. The five-part drama, “Dancing on the Edge,” will follow a black jazz band in 1930s London. It’s expected to air on BBC2 in 2013. Chiwetel Ejiofor (“Salt,” “Dirty Pretty Things”) and Matthew Goode (“Match Point,” “A Single Man”) will star along with Anthony Head, Caroline Quentin, Jacqueline Bisset and Jane Asher. Poliakoff is considered one of the top television writers currently. Asher worked with him on the first film he wrote, “Runners,” in 1983. That film was directed by Charles Sturridge, who directed Asher in “Brideshead Revisited.” File that under small world.

While some of what’s showing on British TV probably won’t ever cross the Atlantic, Series 2 of “The Hour” is highly likely to be seen here since the original was on BBC America. Filming started in December on the second set of episodes, said to be set 10 months after the first. Romola Garai, Dominic West and Ben Whishaw return to be joined by Peter Capaldi, who will play what is described the eccentric head of news in the 1950s newsroom drama. Capaldi won a BAFTA for his work in “The Thick of It,” a BBC2 comedy.

David Suchet is bidding adieu to Hercule Poirot. Five new films, based on a mixture of novels and short stories about the Belgian detective, will go into production this year and they will be the last of the long-running detective series. Suchet has played Poirot for 22 years in 65 films. “Clocks” was shown on ITV at Christmas and included Phil Daniels, Jaime Winstone and Lesley Sharp in the cast. Also in it was Anna Massey in one of her last performances before her death earlier in 2011. Included in the new films is “Curtain,” Poirot's last case. In it, he is hobbled with arthritis and he and Captain Hastings return to the scene of their first ever case to try to prevent another murder. In an interview with the Belfast Telegraph, Suchet expressed his love and gratitude for his good fortune in playing Agatha Christie’s popular detective.

Speaking of Christie sleuths, ITV has also commissioned three new Miss Marple films starring Julia McKenzie.

RIP: A public memorial for John Neville, who starred in “The Adventures of Baron Munchausen” and “The First Churchills,” is expected some time early this year. The Shakespearean actor, who was also in “The X Files” movie, died of Alzheimer's in November at the age of 86. The British-born actor died in Toronto, having emigrated to Canada in 1972.
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A new roundup of British entertainment news from Leslie King ...

ON TV: BBC America has two original series in development. “Would You Rather With Graham Norton” is an all new original comedy game show that tests the wits of the best U.S. comics. “Hard Drive With Richard Hammond” features “Top Gear’s” Hammond traveling the U.S. and competing with local experts driving what are described as some of America’s toughest and most extraordinary vehicles.

Other series coming are “James May's Man Lab U.S.,” based on the successful British format of the same name. The “Top gear” presenter comes to America and teams up with an American sidekick to interpret what "being a man" means.

“AUTO Biography” will track down the lost history of an exceptional vintage car and reunite the vehicle with a former owner.

“Battlemodo” is supposed to take recommendations on products from a tech website, Gizmodo.com and produce “epic battles” between two cutting edge products to find out which is the best.
“No Kitchen Required” drops chefs into remote locations around the globe and challenges them to create a meal for the local community.

If you think BBC-A could do a lot better in the programming department, your complaints may fall on deaf ears — the highest ratings ever were recorded in the second quarter of 2011 when the channel beat all previous records and was up 30 percent year-on-year in prime and 31 percent in total day.

BBC-A’s broadcast of the “The Tudors, Season 3” premieres Nov. 16. This series starts with the marriage of Henry VIII and Jane Seymour.

“Da Vinci’s Demons” is a new series in production by Starz and BBC Worldwide Productions. It’s being written by David S. Goyer, who co-wrote “Batman Begins” and “The Dark Knight.” Expected to air in 2013, it’s a historical fantasy, the "untold" story of the Da Vinci at 25 during a raucous youth in Renaissance Florence.

BACK IN THE USA: “Upstairs Downstairs” returns in either 2012 or 2013.The next six episodes of “Upstairs Downstairs” started filming in October but without Dame Eileen Atkins, who played Lady Holland and is reportedly unhappy with the direction the new scripts are taking. Atkins and Jean Marsh had the idea for the original series, which ran from 1971-75. Marsh, of course, was Rose the maid in the original while Atkins wasn’t in that series but both were in last year’s BBC revived version.
“Downton Abbey” is back Jan. 8. with Season 2 taking place mostly between 1916 (two years after the end of Season 1) and the Armistice, with the final two episodes exploring what happens after. During the war, the Abbey becomes a convalescent home. Looks like most are returning: Hugh Bonneville, Elizabeth McGovern, Michelle Dockery, Dan Stevens and Maggie Smith, though the housemaid-turned-secretary Gwen, played by Rose Leslie, will not return. Ten million viewers tuned in each week and the box set has sold more copies on the online book retailer Amazon than any other series of all time. In the meantime, a third series of “Abbey,” to be set in 1920-21, is being written, it has been confirmed.                                            

MASTERPIECE THEATRE: Spy thriller “Page Eight” is now under way on "Masterpiece Contemporary." Aging spy Bill Nighy stumbles on a scandal that could bring down the British government and his career.
And “Sherlock Holmes” is scheduled to return next May.

ON TV OVER THERE: We have BBC America so we return the favor with PBS in Britain at pbs.co.uk. PBS television launched in the U.K. on Nov. 1.

“Spooks,” known over here as “MI-5,” will end at the conclusion of its current season.
It’s been on air for a decade. Stars of the series have included Matthew Macfadyen, Keeley Hawes, Rupert Penry-Jones and Hermione Norris, with guests over the years including Hugh Laurie, Lindsey Duncan and Benedict Cumberbatch. In the final and10th series, Alice Krige and Jonathan Hyde join the cast, with Simon Russell Beale returning as home secretary. The focus is on the only remaining original lead character, head of counter-terrorism Harry Pearce, played by Peter Firth.

ITV is planning a one-off show to air next year about the early career of Inspector Morse. Entitled, “Endeavour” after Morse’s first name, it will be filmed in Oxford and will star Shaun Evans (“The Take”) in the role made famous by John Thaw. Set in 1965, the story revolves around a hunt for a missing schoolgirl. The first Morse was broadcast in 1987 with a total of 33 films made over the next 13 years. John Thaw died of cancer in 2002 at the age of 60. Evans has also been in “Being Julia” and played Nirvana lead singer Kurt Cobain in a stage play.

Sky TV reports the BBC production of a five-part drama, “Parade's End,” a drama set from the Edwardian era to the end of the First World War. Tom Stoppard is adapting the story for the script. The Sky story made it sound like a salvo by the BBC against ITV1's “Downton Abbey,” which had won four Emmy awards just as the BBC was announcing its plans. However, despite the way the two series sound very alike, the BBC insisted to Sky that it commissioned the adaptation of Ford Madox Ford's quartet of novels before “Downton Abbey” was even broadcast. “Parade's End” is also being made for HBO as well as the BBC. The cast will include Rupert Everett, Miranda Richardson, Benedict Cumberbatch and Anne-Marie Duff.

“Downton Abbey” writer Julian Fellowes has created a miniseries about the Titanic to be screened on ITV next year. Reports say the ABC network picked up the U.S. rights. The Titanic’s sinking was a key in the original plot of “Abbey.” The BBC has ordered its own 12-part drama about the doomed liner for 2012, “Titanic: Blood and Steel.”

Reuters reports the BBC is bringing back "Absolutely Fabulous" for three new specials celebrating the show's 20th anniversary. Stars Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley will reprise their roles as raucous, fashion and champagne-addicted PR guru Edina and magazine editor Patsy, along with the other original stars of the 1990s series. These specials are expected to broadcast on BBC television in the U.K. toward the end of 2011, and on BBC America and cable/satellite channel Logo in the United States in early 2012.
The BBC said the third of the specials would feature the 2012 London Olympics in the storyline.

Actor James Bolam is leaving BBC 1's crime dramedy “New Tricks” after eight series. Bolam has been with the series, which features ex-police officers who have come out of retirement to investigate unsolved crimes, since 2004. In the U.S., “New Tricks” airs in syndication on public TV stations.

Vicky McClure and “Sweet Sixteen” star Martin Compston will play anti-corruption officers in BBC2's “Line of Fire,” a thriller in which Compston’s character is transferred from an anti-terrorist operation after an armed operation goes wrong. Others in the cast include “Men Behaving Badly” star Neil Morrissey along with Gina McKee, Adrian Dunbar and Lennie James.

Helena Bonham Carter and Liam Neeson have joined the cast of comedian Ricky Gervais's new series, "Life's Too Short," according to the BBC. The comedy and fake documentary is about a dwarf actor, played by Warwick Davis, who runs a talent agency for fellow dwarves but tends to take the best roles for himself. It will reportedly air on BBC 2 later this year and on HBO in 2012.

The BBC's biggest and latest new drama commission is an eight-part Jack the Ripper drama, which goes into production spring 2012. "Ripper Street" is set in London's Whitechapel, where the unidentified brutal killer of women terrorised locals in 1888 — the twist is that the action starts six months after the last attributed Ripper murder, though no one knows for sure that he will not return.

“Top of the Lake,” a six-hour miniseries from BBC2, may star “Mad Men’s” Elisabeth Moss as Robin Griffin, a detective, investigating the disappearance of a 12-year-old pregnant girl, who is the daughter of a local drug lord. Moss is in final negotiations for the lead. Filming is tentatively slated to begin in New Zealand in January. No U.S. network connection yet, but Sundance Channel is rumored.

American actor Robert Vaughn will have a role in “Coronation Street.” He will play Milton, a wealthy American who meets Street regular Sylvia Goodwin (Stephanie Cole) on a cruise. The 78-year-old Vaughn is known for playing Napoleon Solo in “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.,” Albert Stroller in “Hustle” and being a spokesman for various personal injury law firms.

“A Touch of Cloth,” described as "an all-encompassing parody of every police procedural ever written," is being prepared for Sky1 HDTV. John Hannah, best known for the "Mummy" movies, the “Spartacus” series on satellite/cable and his widely panned portrayal of Scottish detective “Rebus,” stars along with “Coronation Street’s” Suranne Jones. Julian Rhind-Tutt (“Pride and Prejudice,” “The Madness of King George”) plays their boss.

ON THE BIG SCREEN: We’re awaiting the much-heralded “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy." The remake of John Le Carre’s 1974 spy novel, hitting U.S. theaters Dec. 9, has a first-rate cast including “Gary Oldman, Tom Hardy, Benedict Cumberbatch, Simon McBurney, Mark Strong, Colin Firth, Toby Jones, Ciaran Hinds.

Coming NOv. 23 to the United States is “My Week with Marilyn,” based on the book by Colin Clark, who worked as an assistant on the set of “The Prince and the Showgirl.” It's about the making of that movie with Marilyn Monroe and Laurence Olivier. The cast is outstanding: Michelle Williams as Marilyn; Kenneth Branagh as Olivier; Emma Watson (“Harry Potter”) as the wardrobe girl; Eddie Redmayne as Clark, plus Dame Judi Dench, Zoey Wanamaker, Dougray Scott, Julia Ormond, Derek Jacobi and more.

The word about “Bond 23” is out. “Skyfall,” as it is now titled, has overcome bureaucracy in India to film on locations, including Delhi’s Daryaganj, Goa and the area around Ahmedabad. And it has snared Spanish actor Javier Bardem as its villain. Bardem has been quoted as being excited because he’s seen all the Bond films and been a fan since childhood. Its 2012 release will mark the 50th anniversary of the successful secret agent series. It’s set to be released Oct. 26, 2012, in Britain and Nov. 9, 2012, in the United States. Little about the movie beyond release dates and cast, is being revealed. The cast looks good: Judi Dench as M, Ralph Fiennes, Albert Finney, Ben Whishaw and Rory Kinnear, in addition to Bardem and of course, Daniel Craig.

Speaking of Craig and spy films, his wife, Rachel Weisz, is in the spy game, too, as she will be in “The Bourne Legacy,” due out in 2012. He’ll also be seen in “The Adventures of Tintin” out Dec. 23 in the U.S. and the English-language Hollywood version of “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” released Dec. 21, which has quite a cast with Christopher Plummer, Embeth Davidtz (“Fracture,” “Mad Men”), Robin Wright (“The Conspirator”), Geraldine James, Joely Richardson and Julian Sands.

Stephen Mangan, “Harry Potter" star Rupert Grint, David Tennant and Jim Broadbent will be the voices of a new animated 3-D film version of "Postman Pat." Pat, created by children's author John Cunliffe, first appeared on television in 1981 and has since sold millions of books and DVDs. The film will be titled “You Know You’re the One.”

“Shameless,” a film that got rave reviews at the Venice Film Festival, will be out in December and stars Carey Mulligan. The description raises some eyebrows and Mulligan's character sounds like a far cry from the appealing school girl she played so perfectly in “An Education.” Here’s what the Guardian says: “[Director] Steve McQueen's second feature of sex-addiction, self-harm and cheap thrills in New York is fluid, rigorous, serious cinema.”

“Johnny English Reborn,” released in October, is a spoof on the James Bond films with Rowan Atkinson, Dominic West and Rosamund Pike. Though the Guardian describes it as “tepid spy spoof sequel, with the occasional blast of amusement and much slapstick,” the reviewer praises Pike. Her next role will take her to Pittsburgh to star opposite Tom Cruise in a film of Lee Child's novel “One Shot.” "I play a pro-bono defence lawyer," she says. "There's a homicide, which looks like a cut-and-dried case but …"

Coming in February 2012: “The Woman in Black,” starring Daniel Radcliffe in his first post-wizard role on the big screen. Based on the popular novel by Susan Hill, the story puts Radcliffe as a Victorian lawyer sent to manage the affairs of a deceased client in a remote house haunted by spirit seeking revenge for some unspecified wrong.

Also in February: “The Great Gatsby” with Carey Mulligan as Daisy, Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby and Tobey Maguire as narrator Nick Carraway.

Crispian Mills, son of Hayley and director Roy Boulting, will write and co-direct his first feature film, “A Fantastic Fear of Everything.” The Brit flick is a comedy about a crime writer who becomes obsessed with murder. It stars Simon Pegg (“Star Trek”). The 38-year-old Mills is a former frontman for rock band Kula Shaker. Other actors in the film are Sheridan Smith (“Two Pints of Lager”), Amara Karan (“The Darjeeling Limited”) and Clare Higgins (“Hellraiser”).

SHERLOCK HOLMES: Eighty-one years after his death, Holmes author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, continues to inspired an industry. Just out or coming out soon are:
• The film “Sherlock Holmes 2: A Game of Shadows,” a sequel to 2009’s “Sherlock Holmes” starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law, opens Dec. 16.

• The book “The House of Silk,” the first "new Sherlock Holmes novel" authorized by Doyle's estate, written by Anthony Horowitz, and recently released. In the book, Holmes is dead. An elderly Watson recounts one of their early adventures together, a case which he describes as “monstrous and shocking.”

• “A Study in Sherlock: Stories Inspired by the Holmes Canon,” also recently released.
• “On Conan Doyle: Or, the Whole Art of Storytelling” by Washington Post critic Michael Dirda, out Nov. 16.  
• “The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes” and “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes,” two collections of Doyle's stories, were reissued in October.

ON THE SHELF: Out early this month is “Death Comes to Pemberly” in which P.D. James meets Jane Austen in a new novel by the 91-year-old detective author. It's set six years after the events of “Pride and “Prejudice," published in 1813, as Lydia Bennett Wickham arrives unannounced at sister Elizabeth’s estate and declares her husband has been murdered, throwing Elizabeth’s and Darcy’s marriage into disarray. "Austenesque" novels are their own industry, with more than 40 published just in 2010, including “Darcy's Story” by Janet Aylmer, which retells “Pride And Prejudice” from his point of view and Seth Grahame-Smith's parody “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies,” which is currently being turned into a Hollywood movie and video game.

“The Pursued,” a crime novel by C.S. Forester and thought to be lost, is expected to be published this month. The 1935 work was discovered at a London auction in 2002. Forester wrote 11 books about his fictional creation Royal Navy officer Captain Horatio Hornblower as well as “The African Queen.”

Michael Dunn is 42 and like le Carré and Fleming before him he is the real thing, a former member of SIS turned fictional chronicler of the secret world. His setting, though, is a more muscular creation than Smiley or even Bond. His Will Cochrane is a one-man weapon of mass destruction.

“My experience does help enormously,” says Dunn of his new career. “Obviously, I know all the technicalities of espionage. I chose to write about a field operative because that was my speciality. As a field officer you are on your own, you make your own decisions. What is authentic in the book? Certain trade craft techniques, the isolation, the decision making. Of course, I have intensified it in the book.”

You can say that again. Dunn’s first book is called "Spartan," Cochrane’s codename, and its opening pages are littered with the bodies of Iranian (and British) heavies gunned down during a spat in New York’s Central Park. Cochrane takes a few slugs but is soon up and about, on the tail of an Iranian master-spy bent on Armageddon.

Six feet four inches tall, Dunn was involved in some 70 clandestine operations, receiving a personal commendation from the then foreign secretary, Robin Cook

ONSTAGE: Oscar-winner “The King’s Speech” will be a stage play next year, headed for both the West End and Broadway. Reports suggest the stage version will open at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in Guildford for a three to five week run before transferring to the West End in March 2012. The plan is for it to arrive on Broadway around September or October. Casting is currently under way.

“Three Days in May,” a new play by Ben Brown that asks the question — did Winston Churchill consider suing for peace? — is playing in the West End. The setting is late spring 1940 when Churchill had only been prime minister for a few days. Warren Clarke as the PM gets good reviews. Jeremy Clyde is also in the play.
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A new roundup of British entertainment news from Leslie King ...

BBC-America likes to organize the genres of its shows around time slots — the Ministry of Laughs comedy block on Saturdays, Supernatural Saturdays. Coming Aug. 17 is Dramaville, a weekly, hour-long slot at 10 p.m. Wednesdays. Idris Elba (“Luther,” “The Wire”) hosts. First up, “The Hour,” a six-part espionage thriller set in the 1950s that is currently airing in the U.K., billed as sort of the British equivalent of "Mad Men." It involves some TV journalists who get caught up in a dark, dangerous conspiracy. Dominic West (also “The Wire), Romola Garai (latest version of “Emma,” “Atonement”) and Ben Whishaw (“Criminal Justice,” Sebastian in “Brideshead Revisited”) are also locked in a highly competitive passionate love triangle. For more on the program, check out this preview in the Telegraph:

Following the six-week run of “The Hour” will be a sequel to the excellent “Luther,” in which Elba stars as the disturbed and disturbing police detective in a drama full of drama. After that, the six-part crime thriller “Whitechapel” will air, with echoes of Jack the Ripper and the infamous Kray Twins of the 1960s. "Whitechapel" stars Rupert Penry-Jones and Phil Davis as detectives challenged by the bizarre increase in murders in East London. Steve Pemberton co-stars. (By the way, if you’re looking for something good to rent on DVD, try “The Krays,” a 1990 film about those twins, played by brothers Martin and Gary Kemp.)

For more on Dramaville, go here:

“Free Agents” is set to debut Oct. 1 on BBC-A. The channel is either hedging its bets on the show’s success or the network is time-slot constrained as the viewing time is 11:30 p.m. for the romantic comedy set in the office of a London talent agency. It stars Anthony Head (Giles the Watcher in “Buffy,” Taster’s Choice commercials, “The Invisibles”), Stephen Mangan (“Green Wing,” Dirk Gently in “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency”) and Sharon Horgan (“Pulling,” a comedy about three single people she wrote and starred in). NBC has also decided to make an American version of “Free Agents,” with Head in his same role. The U.S. version debuts this fall at 8:30 p.m. on Wednesdays starting Sept. 21 (after a preview at 10:30 p.m. Sept. 14).

Premiering on BBC-A in January 2012 is "The Fades," a new supernatural drama coproduced by the BBC. It stars Lily Loveless and Daniel Kaluuya (who both starred in the original U.K. “Skins”) and features a plotline about a boy who sees spirits. Jack Thorne, who wrote “Skins,” is to be the writer for “The Fades.”

"Doctor Who" update: Riding high on record ratings last year, Matt Smith and Karen Gillan, who currently play the Doctor and his sidekick Amy Pond, make their first Comic-Con International appearance July 24 in San Diego, for a panel and Q&A with “Doctor Who” writer Toby Whithouse (“Being Human” creator) and executive producers Piers Wenger and Beth Willis. They’re said to be bringing with them exclusive new footage from the new episodes airing later this summer on BBC-A, as well, of course, as merchandise both classic and new, and some exclusive to Comic-Con. 

Joining the Doctor at Comic-Con are Theo James (“Downton Abbey”) and David Allison, the creator of “Bedlam,” a new series BBC-A is premiering Oct. 8. A stylish new apartment building hides a hideous past and unspeakable horrors behind designer doors. See a synopsis here to decide if you want to watch:

Speaking of “Doctor Who,” a past star and the father-in-law of the current Doctor comes to “Law & Order: U.K.” Peter Davison (also of “Unforgiven,” “The Last Detective” and “All Creatures Great and Small”) is Henry Sharpe, taking over the job of director of the Crown Prosecution Service. Dominic Rowan (“Catwalk Dogs,” “The Family Man”) also joins as Senior Crown Prosecutor Jake Thorne. “L&O UK” returns to BBC-A for its 13-part third season Aug. 17 at 9 p.m. ET/PT Wednesdays.

Elsewhere, a deal between BBC Worldwide and Internet streaming TV service Hulu makes available sci-fi drama series “Misfits,” not seen in the U.S., on Hulu.com and the Hulu Plus subscription. ...

HBO is planning a miniseries in conjunction with the BBC based on Robert Graves’ “I, Claudius” novels, a significant distinction being made that the mini will draw directly from those books instead of the 1976 Emmy Award-winning, much stuttered about version with 
Derek Jacobi as Claudius and a stupendous British cast including Patrick Stewart, Sian Phillips, John Hurt, Brian Blessed and more. Jane Tranter and Anne Thomopoulos who produced the “Rome” miniseries for HBO, will be doing the same for this new “I, Claudius.” ...

To mark the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, a new TV miniseries is currently filming in Hungary, to be shown on ITV in April 2012 and on ABC in the U.S. Among the cast are Timothy West, Geraldine Somerville and Maria Doyle Kennedy (“The Tudors”). The story lines of mystery and romance are said to revolve around the lives of the cast and crew, based on fictional and real people. Julian Fellowes, who created “Downton Abbey,” is the writer and the set features the largest indoor tank in mainland Europe. One article noted that Fellowes opened “Abbey” with a reference to the Titanic’s sinking. 

The Guardian ran an interesting interview recently with David Frost, now 72. Check it out here:

Currently airing on PBS through July 31 is "Zen," starring Rufus Sewell as Aurelio Zen, modern-day Italian detective, based on the books by Michael Dibdin. Here’s a good overview from The New York Times:

"Masterpiece" will air a revival of "Great Expectations" as a three episode miniseries starring Gillian Anderson ("The X-Files") as Miss Havisham, David Suchet as Jaggers and Ray Winstone as Magwitch. The Dickens novel comes to the big screen, too, in 2012 in a version directed by Nike Newell and starring Helena Bonham Carter and Ralph Fiennes. 

We noted in the last post (sorry about being away so long!) that “Page Eight,” a spy thriller by David Hare, was coming to BBC2. Well, this fall, it’s crossing the pond to be part of the "Masterpiece Contemporary" offerings. No air date has been announced yet. It debuted in June at the Edinburgh Film Festival to very good reviews. To recap, it stars Bill Nighy as a longtime MI-5 officer forced out of his job and into an elaborate conspiracy after the death of his best friend played by Michael Gambon. Hare’s prestige is responsible for the high-level cast including Rachel Weisz, Ralph Fiennes, Ewen Bremner and Saskia Reeves (“Luther”). 

Also, this fall on "Masterpiece Contemporary," “The Song of Lunch” stars Alan Rickman and Emma Thompson. It's about a book editor and his former lover who reconnect over lunch, of course, 15 years after their original affair. Unusual in that it’s based on a narrative poem by Christopher Reid, it was described as “quietly moving, clever, beautiful, sad and true” in a review of the Telegraph. “The Song of Lunch” aired last fall in the U.K.

On "Masterpiece Mystery!" Kevin Whately and Laurence Fox return Inspector Lewis and DS Hathaway in “Inspector Lewis: Series IV.” The four new Oxford University-based episodes will be Sundays, Sept. 4, 18, 25 and Oct. 9.

Kate Burton, daughter of Richard Burton, will be featured in “Grimm,” described as a fantastical cop drama in which characters from Grimm’s Fairy Tales exist. It will air at 9 p.m. Fridays starting Oct. 21.

Sherlock Holmes update: Here's some news from our Holmes expert Peter Blau ... 

"Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows" (the sequel to Guy Ritchie's "Sherlock Holmes") will open in theaters in the U.S. on Dec. 16. Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law return as Holmes and Watson, and Rachel McAdams as Irene Adler (although in a minor role); Noomi Rapace (Lisbeth Salander in the original "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo") is the female lead, as the gypsy Sim, Jared Harris (Lane Pryce in the television series "Mad Men") will play Professor Moriarty, and Stephen Fry (who needs no introduction) will be Mycroft Holmes. Warner Bros. has already launched its publicity campaign on the Internet, and of course hopes "A Game of Shadows" will do as well as the first film, which has grossed more than $524 million worldwide (not bad for a film with a reported production budget of $90 million).

Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman also will return as Holmes and Watson in the BBC's new "Sherlock" miniseries, which will air later this year in Britain, and presumably also in the U.S. on PBS. The three new episodes will be "A Scandal in Belgravia," "The Hound of Baskervilles" and "The Reichenbach Fall" (needless to say, it ought to be easy to figure out which Sherlock Holmes stories inspired the new episodes). And even though it hasn't yet been broadcast, the new miniseries already has had an impact: the next season of "Doctor Who"will be shorter than planned, because Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss have been working on "Sherlock." It's well worth buying the DVD of the first series, because it includes the never-broadcast 60-minute pilot, which thoroughly impressed the BBC and was entirely remade for the miniseries; it is interesting to compare both versions, and to see how Moffat and Gatiss improved the episode.

Thanks, Peter!

ON THE BIG SCREEN: A Nov. 4 date is set for the release of “My Week With Marilyn.” It’s the story of “the tense interaction” between Laurence Olivier and Marilyn Monroe in the making of “The Prince and the Showgirl.” The 1957 movie was directed by Olivier, who also starred in it. Talented actors playing famous people include Kenneth Branagh as Olivier; American Michelle Williams playing Monroe; Julia Ormond as Vivien Leigh; and Dougray Scott (“Enigma”) as Arthur Miller. Also in it are Dame Judi Dench (does that woman ever take a break?!), Zoe Wanamaker; Simon Russell Beale; Emma Watson (“Harry Potter”) and Eddie Redmayne (“The Pillars of the Earth”) as Colin Clark, whose narrative of events forms the story. 

Coming in September in Britain and Nov. 16 here in the U.S., “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,” based on the 1974 John Le Carre novel. Backing up star Gary Oldman, who plays lead character George Smiley, is a very strong British cast, including Benedict Cumberbatch, Mark Strong, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy and Simon McBurney. The novel was adapted into a TV series starring Alec Guinness in 1979.

I spy a few tidbits on Bond 23: The lovely Naomie Harris (“Pirates of the Caribbean”) will play Miss Moneypenny, a role used since 2002’s “Die Another Day,” when Samantha Bond played her. Lois Maxwell was the longtime actor in the role of unrequited lover of James Bond. Harris’ high profile has opened speculation that director Sam Mendes intends to enhance the role beyond flirtatious administrative assistant as set-up for puns. Javier Bardem (“No Country for Old Men,” Biutiful”) and Ralph Fiennes are also confirmed in the cast. No title yet but filming is expected to start later this year for an opening Nov. 9, 2012.

Colin Firth and Alan Rickman are in "Gambit," a remake of the 1966 British caper that starred Michael Caine and Shirley MacLaine. Brothers Joel and Ethan Coen are writing the script for the film, to be released in the U.S. sometime in 2012.

Emily Blunt is filming “Looper” for release in 2012. It's about a killer who works for the mob of the future who recognizes one of his targets as his future self. 

ONSTAGE: Tracey Ullman returns to the London stage after 20 years in Stephen Poliakoff's “My City,” officially opening Sept. 15 at London's Almeida Theatre running through Nov. 5.

 ... Dame Diana Rigg is in the middle of a run of “Pygmalion” at the Garrick Theatre in London with Rupert Everett.

ON THE SHELF: Learn about the “lost” catacombes under London in “London Under” by Peter Ackroyd. 

Due out Nov. 4 is the first of three new novels about the magical car Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. As Ian Fleming’s other famous creation, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang will be relaunched with new adventures by children's author Frank Cottrell Boyce. Authorized by the Fleming estate, the books will be published in Britain by Macmillan Children's Books and set in the present day.

ON DVD AND BLU-RAY: “Diana Rigg at the BBC,” 5-disc box set, in August at about $50. Over 13 hours include “Three Piece Suite,” “Mrs. Bradley Mysteries,” “Little Eyolf,” “Genghis Cohn.” ... “Doctor Who: Series 6, Part 1,” 2-disc set, July 19. ... “Zen: Vendetta, Cabal, Ratking,” 2-disc set with these three feature-length episodes on Aug. 2. ... “Deep End,” 1971 British classic starring Jane Asher (right after her break-up with Paul McCartney) and John Moudler Brown. Re-released in the U.K. in May.

OVER THERE: A 90-minute BBC production of “The Borrowers,” due to air this Christmas, will feature Stephen Fry, Victoria Wood and Christopher Eccleston. The series of novels by Mary Norton is about "little people" who live under the floorboards.

The religious controversy that engulfed the Monty Python film “Life of Brian” on its 1979 release is to be the subject of a BBC drama. “Holy Flying Circus” will air this fall on BBC4 and aims to use the controversy to explore the subject of free speech. In the 90-minutes BBC4 drama, John Cleese will be played by Darren Boyd, Charles Edwards stars as Michael Palin, Steve Punt as Eric Idle, Rufus Jones as Terry Jones, Tom Fisher as the late Graham Chapman and Phil Nichol as Terry Gilliam, the only American Python. None of the original members of the Monty Python troupe is involved.

A new BBC1 drama, “Inside Men,” is the story of three security company employees who pull off a multimillion pound heist. Steven Mackintosh (“Luther,” first series) and Warren Brown star in the four-part series.

On BBC2, the fourth novel of Sarah Waters (“Tipping the Velvet”) to be adapted for TV is currently airing in Britain. “The Night Watch” is set in the bomb-damaged streets of wartime London. Inspired by Harold Pinter’s “Betrayal,” the story moves backwards from its 1947 opening, going through 1944, then 1941 to reveal the links that connect its about four main characters played by Anna Maxwell Martin, Jodie Whittaker, Claire Foy and Harry Treadaway.

In an article back in the March, the Guardian dubbed the next generation of British stars as YBAs, the Young British Actors, including Jack Huston, who is descended on one side of his family from the American Huston film dynasty of Angelica, Danny and John, and on the other from English aristocracy going back to prime minister Robert Walpole. Also mentioned are Max Irons, son of Jeremy Irons and Sinead Cusak; and Eddie Redmayne. The Guardian reckons there’s a “golden age” at hand with these actors plus Andrew Garfield in “The Social Network,” Robert Pattinson in the “Twilight” series; Jamie Bell in the latest screen version of “Jane Eyre;” and Sam Clafin, who played the young Long Mountstuart in “Any Human Heart” and is in the latest installment of “Pirates of the Caribbean.”

Joanna Lumley told Hello! magazine: “In late August I start filming on three episodes of 'Absolutely Fabulous,' which we are all ecstatic about.” Supposedly, the BBC is bringing back the sitcom not seen on British TV since 2005. 

MUSIC: Roger Daltry is coming to America mid-September with his own band to perform the Who’s rock opera “Tommy” in its entirety. “The Who never played all the songs, but I’m going to be singing all of them,” he says. “The only thing I’ll leave out is the instrumental, 'Underture,' which was just a lot of bits we joined together to fill a big gap on the original vinyl album,” Daltrey told the Sunday Telegraph. 


Sir Anthony Hopkins will be onstage at St. David’s Hall in Cardiff with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra on July 24 to present a concert of movie themes — his movies, of course — and a conversation about the creative process. On the bill are themes from “Shadowlands,” “Remains of the Day” and “Silence of the Lambs” as well as music Hopkins wrote for two independent films he directed, “August” in 1996, based on a Chekov play, and “Slipstream” in 2007. Hopkins was in Vienna in early July for the premiere of a waltz he composed for the Dutch violinist André Rieu.

GOODBYES: Anna Massey, dubbed the “mainstay of the British costume drama,” died at 73 of cancer. The daughter of Raymond Massey had a long and outstanding career, remembered especially for her roles in “Bunny Lake Is MIssing,” “Peeping Tom” and “Frenzy.” She is survived by her son, David, from her an earlier marriage to the late actor Jeremy Brett. I recall her as the desperate and ultimate doomed character of Laura Kennedy in “The Pallisers.”
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Fresh British entertainment news from Leslie King ...

The 23rd James Bond film is set for a worldwide release Nov. 9, 2012. Production begins late this year with Daniel Craig as 007 and Sam Mendes directing. So far, in addition to Craig, Judi Dench has confirmed her return as “M” and Simon Russell Beale, who’s been seen in “MI-5” as the Home Secretary, is rumored by credible sources. And Javier Bardem reportedly is in talks with Bond producers about a role. And there also have been rumors Rachel Weisz might join the cast. This will be Dench’s seventh time as “M,” having debuted in 1995 with then-Bond Pierce Brosnan. The production announcement comes from producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael Wilson. It was noted that this will make four years between Bond films, the last one, “Quantum of Solace,” released in 2008. Peter Morgan, whose film work includes “The Queen” and “Frost/Nixon,” will co-author the script with “Casino Royale” and “Quantum of Solace” writers Neal Purvis and Robert Wade.

Also coming in 2012, an audio set of all 20 original Bond novels by Ian Fleming. Rosamund Pike (“An Education,” “Pride and Prejudice,” “Fracture”) made Bond history by being the first woman to narrate one of the stories for the audiobook series, “The Spy Who Loved Me.” The Fleming story was a departure in that it was narrated in the first person by a woman involved with Bond, and Fleming reportedly was unhappy with it. Thus the film producers were allowed to use only the title for the film of the same name that starred Roger Moore and featured Mrs. Ringo Starr, Barbara Bach, as the Bond girl.   

If you're interested in visiting sites in James Bond’s London, that was the subject of a recent BBC article. Here’s the link:

Ian Fleming’s estate has continued the James Bond franchise, sanctioning writers such as Sebastian Faulks and John Gardner to write new stories. The latest will be “Carte Blanche,” written by Jeffery Deaver, with a publicaton date of May 26 (U.K.) and June 14 (U.S.). The book is partially set in Dubai, in the present day and will feature Fleming’s favorite car, a Bentley. Deaver wrote “The Bone Collector,” turned into a movie with Denzel Washington. 

ON TV HERE: April 10 is the date for the new “Upstairs Downstairs” airing in the U.S. PBS will show the continuation of the classic 1971 drama on "Masterpiece Classic." 

BBC America airs season three of “Being Human” starting Saturday, Feb. 19, 9 p.m. ET/PT. The supernatural show about two werewolves, a ghost and a vampire trying to blend in with their ordinary human neighbors stars Russell Tovey, Sinead Keenan, Lenora Crichlow and Aidan Turner. The gang is moving to Wales, or at least three of them are as the fourth one is stuck, probably temporarily, in purgatory. Guest stars in the new season include Robson Green (“Wire in the Blood”), James Fleet (“Four Weddings and a Funeral”) and Nicola Walker (“MI-5”). 

An online spinoff of “Being Human,” with 10-minute webisodes debuted at the end of January. More info is on the show’s BBC U.K. website:

BBC-A is airing five matches of the RBS 6 Nations Rugby Championship, one of Europe's biggest annual sporting events. The coverage, which began Feb. 5, includes 30-minute live pre- and post-game shows. The shows will focus on key elements of the matches and feature interviews with celebrity guests including actor and avid rugby fan Billy Campbell (“The 4400,” “Once and Again”) and experts, field pieces and weekly awards — in other words, more entertainment than sport. 
The matches are between the national rugby teams of England, France, Ireland, Scotland, Italy and Wales as they vie for the championship over seven weeks.

Season 16 of “Top Gear” starts Feb. 7. The show is running a “My First Car” contest with a prize of a trip for two to London and tickets to a “Top Gear” live event. 

BBC-A will broadcast live the Orange British Academy Film Awards (BAFTAs) on Sunday, Feb. 13. Hosted by Jonathan Ross, the 2011 Awards will broadcast from London’s Royal Opera House. While I’m not a big one for awards shows, if readers of this blog want more on that, I’m happy to oblige; just let me know. In the meantime, here’s a link to the full listing of nominees for the BAFTAs:

“Torchwood” has a new season starting on Starz later this year, date to be determined. In “Torchwood: Miracle Day,” immortality infects the world like a virus, creating a population crisis that the Torchwood team must resolve.The new 10-episode season will be set mostly in the U.S. and a little in Britain. The series is a spin-off of “Doctor Who,” involving a crack team of alien hunters who handle all extraterrestrial matter of crises. The group’s leader, the immortal Captain Jack (John Barrowman), ran away at the end of the last season, “Torchwood: Children of Earth,” but will return. Executive producer Russell T. Davies is quoted as saying the reason for the show’s high body count — “Torchwood” doesn’t hesitate to off characters — “makes the story stronger and more dangerous and more frightening."

Speaking of “Torchwood,” one of its cast, Benjamin Walker, will play the title role in "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter." The 16th president fighting the undead during the Civil War is the plot. Walker has been performing on Broadway and his film credits include "Flags of our Fathers" and "Golden Compass.”

An addition to last post’s roundup of shows coming on the Public Broadcasting Service’s "Masterpiece Classic": A three-parter, “South Riding,” runs May 1-15 and is based on the love story by the same name, set in 1930s Yorkshire. Anna Maxwell Martin (“Bleak House”) and David Morrissey (“Sense & Sensibility”) star in Winifred Holtby’s story adapted by Andrew Davies who did the same for “Bleak House,” “Little Dorrit.”  

In the meantime, still waiting on what’s coming on "Masterpiece Mystery" and "Masterpiece Contemporary." The only thing mentioned anywhere I can find is a tentative note that “Zen,” about the fictional Italian detective Aurelio Zen, created by British writer Michael Dibdin, is on the schedule. But that’s sketchy and unconfirmed.

SHERLOCK HOLMES NEWS: Sherlock Holmes expert Peter Blau reports: There's plenty of news from the U.K. about Sherlock Holmes. Filming continues on "Sherlock Holmes 2" (the working title for the sequel to Robert Downey Jr.'s "Sherlock Holmes"), and producer Joel Silver was quoted as saying that "I'd like to believe we could keep going with these stories as long as we can. I know that my 9-year-old has started reading the books now, and he would not have done that had he not seen the movies."

Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat are working on scripts for three more programs for the BBC-PBS mini-series "Sherlock", and in an interview on National Public Radio in October Moffat offered some hints: "The critical words, I'd say, would be — Adler, Hound, Reichenbach.”

[That's Irene Adler, a woman thought by some to be Holmes’ lover. from the short story “A Scandal in Bohemia.” Hound for “The Hound of the Baskervilles.” And Reichenbach is the waterfall by which Sherlock and Moriarty do battle for the last time.]

Back to Peter: David Itzkoff, who blogs for the New York Times, asked Moffat about the possibility of Sherlock Holmes meeting the Doctor [Who, Moffat writes that show as well] and Moffat responded, "I think everyone who's passing me in the streets is suggesting that at the moment. I think there are problems of doing that, because then you would say that Sherlock Holmes lives in the same world as the Doctor, and there are Daleks and all sorts of things. If a Sherlock Holmes story depends on time travel being impossible, it's quite hard if he's a personal friend of the Doctor, isn't it?"

Anthony Horowitz, who has been commissioned by the Conan Doyle Estate to write a new Sherlock Holmes novel, was the guest speaker at the annual dinner of the Sherlock Holmes Society of London on Jan. 15, and offered his 10 rules, the last of which is "never, under any circumstances, be photographed for publicity purposes wearing a deerstalkert hat or smoking a pipe." Horowitz created the television series "Foyle's War" and is the author of the best-selling "Alex Rider" children's series; his new book (the title's still a secret) is due from Orion in September.

The Conan Doyle Estate also has approved a "Young Sherlock Holmes" series of children's books written by Andrew Lane. "Death Cloud" has been published by Macmillan, and the next book with be "Red Leech".

 The Conan Doyle Estate is a British-registered company run by descendants of the Doyle family, and beneficiaries of the estate of daughter, the late Dame Jean Conan Doyle. There's more information about the company at:

Thanks, Peter!

Meanwhile, here’s YouTube video — very brief! — of current writers Moffat and Gatiss teasing — just barely — the 2011 season of their creation with Benedict Cumberbatch:

To celebrate its 40th anniversary, "Masterpiece Classic" just kicked off a contest for a four-day, three-night trip to Britain for two to tour locations of great British dramas. On the tour are Highclere Castle (“Downton Abbey”), Greenway (Agatha Christie’s home) and Blenheim Palace (“The Lost Prince” and ancestral home of the Churchill family). Included are accommodations in Bath (“Persuasion”) and Oxford (“Inspector Lewis”). The contest ends April 26 and the prize-winner must travel to the UK between Sept. 11 and 15. To enter, go to the website:

ON TELLY OVER THERE: Britons were treated to an ITV adaptation of “Murder on the Orient Express” on Christmas Day. This makes 21 years and 64 Poirot stories for David Suchet, 64. This version is described as “one of the most uncomfortable Agatha Christie adaptations ever.” Director Philip Martin and writer Stewart Harcourt shifted the setting to the winter of 1938, on the eve of World War II. Martin says, “It’s a story about vigilante justice." Said Suchet: "We’re confronting the story in very exciting, disturbing, harrowing terms.” This version features Dame Eileen Atkins, Toby Jones, David Morrissey and “Downton Abbey’s” Hugh Bonneville. The train’s sleepers, the bar and restaurant car were said to have been painstakingly created, from the resin reproductions of Lalique glass panels in the restaurant car to layers of varnish applied to achieve the desired patina on the woodwork. The rights to film the story again only became available in 2008, the previous being a 2001 modern-day version starring Alfred Molina that, despite the talented Molina, was poorly received. Before starting filming, Suchet said he always sits down with his wife and watches “12, 15 hours” of previous Poirots.

There are just six books left to be filmed, including Christie’s 1975 novel “Curtain,” which includes Poirot’s death. Scripts are being developed for further adaptations, the first of which will be “Dead Man’s Folly.”   

“Page Eight” is a spy thriller said to be coming to BBC 2 later this year, starring Bill Nighy and Rachel Weisz,with Ralph Fiennes, Michael Gambon and Ewen Bremner. It was written by Oscar nominee and award-winning playwright Sir David Hare, his first original screenplay in 20 years. Nighy will play a longtime MI-5 officer forced out of his job to find the truth about a mystery file that threatens his job. Hare was nominated for an Oscar twice for his screen adaptations of “The Hours” in 2002 and “The Reader” in 2008.

Helen Baxendale (“Unsuitable Job for a Woman,” “Cold Feet”) says ITV wants to resurrect “Cold Feet,” the highly successful comedy-drama that ran from November 1998 to March 2003, with new episodes. According to Baxendale, they want her to be in it though she was killed off at series end. Set in Greater Manchester, the story followed three 30-something couples coping with the ups and downs of courtship, marriage, parenthood. James Nesbitt and Helen Baxendale were the leads but also featured were Hermione Norris (“MI-5”, Robert Bathurst (“Downton Abbey”), John Thompson, Fay Ripley and Kimberly Joseph. One idea supposedly being floated is a prequel to step around the death of Rachel.

The BBC is planning a major adaptation of Charles Dickens' unfinished work “The Mystery Of Edwin Drood.” Dickens gave his biographer, John Forster, a brief oultine of the story before the writer died following a stroke in 1870. Now writer Gwyneth Hughes has provided an ending for the BBC4 drama, to be screened later this year. This is part of a season of programs to celebrate the printed word for BBC’s Year of Books. 

Also, BBC1 will mark the 200th anniversary of Dickens’ birth with an adaption of “Great Expectations” on Christmas.

BBC4 recently aired a documentary in January on that sultan of swing, Mark Knopfler. “A Life in Songs” looked at the career of the former Dire Straits frontman, from his northeast England beginning to global superstardom in the mid-1980s.

DO YOU AGREE? Comic actor John Cleese says modern British television was once the best in the world but is now so bad he cannot bear to watch it. Despite financial problems from a recent divorce, Cleese says he turned down £200,000 to appear on a reality TV show because it would mean the “collapse of Western civilization.” The star of “Fawlty Towers” and Monty Python's Flying Circus is bringing his one-man show, the “Alimony Tour,” to the U.K. this year for a series of stage appearances in an effort to fund his £12.5 million divorce from his third wife. Having sold off a beach house, an office and 15-acre ranch in Montecito, California, a New York apartment and a mews house in Holland Park, London, the 71-year-old is living with his current girlfriend, who is 32 years his junior.

“Thunderbirds,” the 1960s children’s classic, may get a remake and an update. Creator Gerry Anderson is talking a re-do with today’s CGI technology, dropping the puppets from the original series. Anderson has hinted that things are in the works with ITV, which currently holds the series rights. “Thunderbirds” was made into a live action film in 2004 but got poor reviews and reception.

COMING TO THE BIG SCREEN: British actor Henry Cavill, who got wide notice as Charles Brandon in “The Tudors,” will be the next Superman in the Hollywood film franchise. The 27-year-old stars in the new film, to be directed by Zack Snyder and released in December 2012. That’s 34 years after the first Superman film with the late Christopher Reeve. Brandon Routh last played the superhero in the 2006 film "Superman Returns."

The Hollywood Reporter says Gemma Arterton of James Bond fame (“Quantum of Solace”) will join the cast of "Hansel and Gretel Witch Hunters,” a dark action movie that depicts the fairy-tale pair as bounty hunters. Tommy Wirkola ("Dead Snow") of Norwegian horror films will direct and filming is set to begin in March in Berlin. 

A movie inspired by media magnate Rupert Murdoch is supposed to be released this year from British independent Gateway Films. “Weighed In: The Story of the Mumper” is about seven friends involved in the turbulence of a printers’ strike, like the one that happened when Murdoch moved his printing presses to East London in the 1980s. The friends bet all their money on a race. It’s based on a novel by Mark Baxter and Paolo Hewitt and directed by Sacha Bennett who helmed gangster thriller “Bonded by Blood.” Bob Hoskins and Jenny Agutter are in it.

Released in the U.K. in November: “London Boulevard,” described as “the story of a man newly released from prison who falls in love with a reclusive young movie star and finds himself in a duel with a vicious gangster.” Reviews are good and the cast stellar: Keira Knightley, Ray Winstone, Jamie Campbell Bower, Colin Farrell, Anna Friel and David Thewlis. 

The release date for “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” is Sept. 16. Espionage veteran and Cold War-rior George Smiley is forced from semi-retirement to uncover a Soviet agent within MI-6.  Gary Oldman is Smiley; also in the film are Colin Firth, Stephen Graham, Mark Strong, Benedict Cumberbatch, Simon McBurney.

Peter Davison (Tristan in “All Creatures Great and Small”) played the fifth Doctor in "Doctor Who" in the 1980s. David Tennant, who recently vacated the role, played the tenth. Now they are to be “united in marriage” as Georgia Moffett, Davison’s daughter, and Tennant will marry New Year’s Day 2012. Moffett, 26, is also expecting Tennant’s first child. They met when she had a guest role as his daughter in “The Doctor’s Daughter” in 2008 when Tennant, 39, played the Doctor. Tennant, who has been praised for his stage work as Hamlet, is rumored to have a role in the upcoming "The Hobbit" movie. Tennant and his assistant in "Who," Catherine Tate, will play Beatrice and Benedick in a new production of “Much Ado About Nothing.” It will open June 1 at Wyndham's Theatre in London. 

As we reported in the last post, Keira Knightley is continuing her stage work with “The Children’s Hour.” She also has two more films: “Last Night,” in which her married character encounters a past love, not yet released in the U.S., and David Cronenberg’s “A Dangerous Method,” about the relationship between Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, due out this year. Knightley will not be in the next installment of “The Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise. Here’s a Q&A from The Guardian with her on working with Carey Mulligan again, getting paid and feeling stupid, among other things:

ONSTAGE: Jude Law will appear in Eugene O'Neill's "Anna Christie" at the Donmar Warehouse in August. He will play Mat Burke, a sailor who falls in love with the title character, a former prostitute, in what is a farewell season for Donmar artistic director Michael Grandage.

A lost Shakespeare play will be produced. “Double Falsehood” is described as a tragi-comedy based on Cervantes’ “Don Quixote.” It enjoyed a run from its debut in 1727, 150 years after the death of Shakespeare, to its last staging in 1793. Simon Callow, currently in a National Theatre production of “Twelfth Night,” calls it “well-crafted” and “strongly-written” but not one of the Bard’s masterpieces like “King Lear” or “Macbeth.” The Royal Shakespeare Company is expected to do a production of “Double Falsehood” this summer. 

Sienna Miller will star in World War II stage drama "Flare Path," written by Terence Rattigan and based on his experiences as a gunner in Bomber Command. Trevor Nunn will direct at the Theater Royal Haymarket. “Flare Path” The production chosen to coincide with the centenary of Rattigan's birth in 1911. The playwright later adapted “Flare Path,” which was first performed in London during the war in 1942, into a screenplay resulting in the 1945 movie "The Way to the Stars," featuring Michael Redgrave and John Mills. The plot of the stage version centers around a love triangle that develops between Teddy, a young bomber pilot, his actress wife Patricia and a heartthrob movie star Peter.

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s version of “The Wizard of Oz” opens March 1 at the London Palladium with Michael Crawford. See our Nov. 1 post for a little more on that.

On April 13, “Betty Blue Eyes,” Cameron Mackintosh’s new musical version of Alan Bennett's rationing and royal-wedding movie, “A Private Function,” opens at the Novello Theatre. Bennett's 1984 film, directed by Malcolm Mowbray, is set on the eve of the royal wedding of 1947 between Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip. And, of course, the Prince William-Kate Middleton affair is coming up that month, too. 

GOOD-BYES: Oscar-nominated British actor Pete Postlethwaite has died at the age of 64. He had been treated for cancer. He has received a posthumous supporting actor nomination for his performance in "The Town." Postlethwaite was made an OBE in 2004. In 1994, he was nominated for an Oscar for “In The Name of the Father.” He is also well-known for his role in “Brassed Off.” 

And the man who composed a number of memorable James Bond themes, including “Goldfinger,” has died. The 77-year-old John Barry died of a reported heart attack at his home in Oyster Bay, N.Y. Besides “Goldfinger,” Barry composed “From Russia with Love," ''Thunderball," ''You Only Live Twice," ''On Her Majesty's Secret Service," ''Diamonds are Forever," ''The Man with the Golden Gun," ''Moonraker," ''Octopussy," ''A View to a Kill" and "The Living Daylights." Born in York. He also wrote the score for and won an Oscar for “Born Free.” Some of his other scores included "The Lion in Winter," "Out of Africa" and "Dances With Wolves." Born in York, England, Barry won five Oscars for his musical work.
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