Keeley Hawes and Identity

26 Jun

Keeley Hawes and Philip Glenister

It’s never a good idea to schedule the launch of a new drama on the day of the Queen’s Speech. So it was with ITV’s new series, Identity. No celebrity worth their equity card ever takes the Tube in London, and to be fair, the broadcasters lay on cars anyway. Central London is brought to a standstill while the Queen takes a coach to the Palace of Westminster, which meant that Keeley Hawes, star of Identity, and undoubtedly the turn of the day, would be late. She was indeed very late. So much so that the writer of the series, Ed Whitmore, became a stand-in attraction for half an hour. He was in fact terribly interesting, about how he formed the drama and how it has already been picked up in America. Whitmore also has a project with the BBC but was having much less to say about that as you will hear.

Aidan Gillen Courtesy of ITV

After Whitmore exited, Keeley Hawes made her entrance together with the other leads, Aidan Gillen and Holly Aird.
There was another issue with the timing of the launch. It was only four days after the end of Ashes to Ashes, in which Hawes got a farewell kiss from Philip Glenister. How long would it be before she was asked about the end of such a fine series? One insider admitted: “Why do you think we launched when we did?”
For those interested in how these events come together, ITV, for the first time conducted a simultaneous press conference over Ready To Air, the online preview service for journalists who write about TV. It worked rather well but could interrupt proceedings, too. One suspects more journalists will attend these press conferences “remotely” in the future. Monday 5th July ITV

David Stephenson\’s TV blog

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Doctor who and the Pandorica

19 Jun

Matt Smith

Every time I think the fuss around Doctor Who is waning, I’m proved very wrong. Like no other series, it has a wonderful ability to re-invent itself. The penultimate episode in the series tonight was a wonderful “best of” smorgasbord of monsters which will delight fans. Last week I went to a great q&a session at Bafta on Piccadilly in which series runner, Steven Moffat (the bloke who okays the scripts etc), Karen Gillan, Arthur Darvill and yes, Matt Smith explained what the series has been like for them. When I last saw this lot, the new Doctor and his assistant were like nervous teenagers  when the new show launched  in Wales, where the show is made. Now seeing them on the stage at Bafta, there’s a great deal more confidence from the leading players in this iconic drama. The thing about these q&as from my point of view is that it’s not like a round table with journalists. This is a night for fans, children, and industry types. The questions, as you will hear are more fanzine than magazine. At the end of the screening when Matt and Karen left the building they were mobbed by fans who chased them down the middle of Piccadilly, then started knocking on the windows of their car when it got caught in traffic. It’s the stuff of popstars. These guys are big, even if Stephen Fry thinks it’s a “children’s show”. Here’s the audio from the q&a, for which you will need to wind up the volume a little.

Series finale trailer from the BBC Series finale trailer

doctor who’s hat?

16 Jun

karen gillan

When was the last time Doctor Who wore a hat? Well, this adornment could be set for a return in the next series. At a preview tonight for the first of the final two-parter in the latest series of Doctor Who, Matt Smith, the Doctor, gave his biggest hint yet that headgear of some sort is being considered. A great episode, too.

Full Q&A to be posted on Saturday after the episode.

David Stephenson\’s TV blog

And the trailer for the ep

The Pandorica Opens trailer

Lennon Naked and Christopher Eccleston

15 Jun

You’ve got to give it to actor Christopher Eccleston, he really does know how to speak his mind. The former Doctor Who – seems centuries ago now – is playing John Lennon in a new single film, for BBC4, Lennon Naked. First off, he’s terribly good as Lennon. Eccleston does conviction performance, and does it particularly well here. But during this Q&A he’s asked, given another new film on Lennon, and new books, what is it that this new project has taught us about this great artist? “Probably nothing,” he says, truthfully. You’ve got to love him for this. Many other actors would have simply gone into PR speak, but not our Chris. Marvellous. Eccleston is not PRable. There’s a term.

BBC is going through its “biopics’ period”. This follows on from a Boy George film, too, but Lennon Naked is at the quality end of the spectrum. Enjoy. On the podium with Eccleston are writer Robert Jones and producer Edmun Coulthard.

David Stephenson\’s TV blog

trailer Lennon Naked trailer Courtesy of Christopher Eccleston’s blog

BBC4 , Wed 23 June

Coleen Nolan

9 Jun

Coleen Nolan, singer, TV presenter, now novelist, is as breezy and likeable as her appearances on Loose Women. She dropped the innuendo, rather disappointingly when we meet at London’s South Bank. “I’m Ms Innuendo in seat 2,” she tells me, referring to the Loose Women panel. “But you never know what might happen after another two glasses of water!”
But she’s much more than that it seems. Over the past 10 years she has written a novel, with some help from the Macmillan editors, and it’s rather accurate portrait of the ruthless and unforgiving world of television. (No sympathy, mind.) Ok the book is fiction and it’s heightened, but there is some of it that rings true.
Nolan wrote the book while sitting in a hotel room in London each week. She spends a night in London during her stint on Loose Women on ITV1.
The singer claims to be the “quiet one” among her famous sisters but there’s little doubt the girl can talk, and with some fascinating insights into the world of television. It’s all here, drugs, Botox, sexism, ageism, cuthroat TV execs. There’s also some wonderful stuff on how she was sacked from This Morning, hired you may recall to replace Richard & Judy. Remember them?

Here’s the interview, in Canteen on the South Bank: coleennolan

Peter andre

8 Jun

There’s nothing like finding yourself in the middle of a reality tv show. Okay, it’s not like finding yourself in the middle of an earthquake, but it definitely makes a run-of-the-mill TV launch far more interesting. Singer and ex husband of Katie Price (Jordan), Peter Andre turned out for the start of his new series on ITV2, Peter Andre: The Next Chapter. It starts Thursday night. As it transpired, quite a lot had happened. He launched a tour (first date in an Essex holiday park) and did an album.
But far more fascinating is the media whirl that surrounds Andre. There were PRs and agents everywhere at the launch in London’s Soho Hotel. The first inkling that this was quite a different affair is when you arrived. You are asked to sign an agreement to be filmed on that day. Okay.
You take your seat in the screening room, then Andre sweeps into the room cameraman trailing him. “Hi everyone, enjoying your coffee, mate?” You’re asking me? “Ah, yeah,” I reply. After the screening, he walks past me again, commenting on my iTouch and microphone. I wonder if that’s part of a product placement deal!! Later, during the Q&A the camera is trained upon you when you ask a question. You realise in the middle of a TV programme, not a press conference. Perhaps we need to get more accustomed to this. The show itself… strangely engaging, and Andre himself is a very likeable chap and has a very forthright view on Sky News presenter Kay Burley, who features in the film and Q&A.  I was also interested why his children play such a central role in the films. You will hear the answer.

Here’s the Q&A: peter andre

Terry Pratchett, Going Postal interview Sky

4 Jun

This is a marvellous opportunity to listen to a great man. In my piece for the Sunday Express, I wrote the headline – “A Beautiful Mind”, and that’s exactly what you come away thinking after spending a good amount of time in this man’s company. It wasn’t intended – as far as I’m aware – that I would have two hours with Sir Terence, to give him his correct title, but that’s what happened. It was wonderful. I do think he’s one of the most impressive people I have ever interviewed, and quite the opposite to what I was expecting. It goes to prove you shouldn’t make up your mind before an interview.

One interesting aspect about Pratchett, a former local newspaper journalist, is that there are very few print interviews so I had little to read about him on my way to Salisbury, near to his home village in England. In those I did read, some journalists alluded to his temperament, suggesting that he could be a little irascible. He was nothing of the sort. He was polite, funny and quick. You will hear for yourself.

On arrival at his local pub, with his PA Rob, he ordered a brandy and sat down in a very relaxed mood. During the interview, you will I’m afraid hear us munching away on our lunch (listen out for the moment when, all having ordered ham & eggs, we all received fish and chips by mistake!). For the lunch noises I apologise, but the interview continues with Pratchett on great form. Shame to interrupt.

He starts off in the audio talking about the Going Postal production, by Mob, and how fans were again allowed on to the set and as extras. They prove a valuable addition to the production as he points out. Then we discuss television in general before moving on to more serious matters, such as his Alzheimers condition. He believes he may have had it for at least 20 years.

Pratchett, as you may know, wants a law to allow “assisted dying” via a local tribunal. He speaks very frankly and movingly about this. He was absolutely determined to get across his point, which he did very lucidly. It was a privilege to spend time in his company, a truly great British author.

Here’s the interview:David Stephenson\’s TV blog

Sunday Express print interview:

Pratchett sunday express