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6 items from 2012


Looking after Les Dawson's legacy

28 September 2012 4:04 PM, PDT | The Guardian - TV News | See recent The Guardian - TV News news »

When Les Dawson died, his daughter was eight months old. His wife, Tracy, was determined to keep the comic's presence alive as little Charlotte grew up – there was even a cardboard cutout of her dad next to the cot

With her false eye-lashes, minuscule frame and windswept mane of curly hair, the tiny 19-year-old shivering on the seafront at Lytham St Annes bears scant resemblance to the thick-set brass statue of Les Dawson she's hugging with her mother, Tracy. But when she curls her bottom lip, rolls her eyes into a familiar cartoonish gurn and bursts into a spontaneous guffaw there's no mistaking her genetic heritage.

"I can see Les so strongly all the time in Charlotte," says Tracy, who spent six years – four of them married – with Dawson, the Manchester-born national treasure, before his sudden death, aged 62, in June 1993. "I see him in her mannerisms, the things she says, »

- Nick McGrath

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ITV's Jeff Pope: 'Crime was my entree into drama'

2 September 2012 4:05 PM, PDT | The Guardian - TV News | See recent The Guardian - TV News news »

The executive producer of Mrs Biggs reveals the inspiration behind TV drama hits such as Mo and Appropriate Adult

Jeff Pope, the writer of Mrs Biggs, the Ronnie Biggs drama that starts on ITV on Wednesday, is clear about what gets him up in the morning. "My thrill comes from a true story. That is my drug."

As the head of ITV factual drama, Pope has overseen a string of outstanding shows: most recently Appropriate Adult, about Fred West and his manipulative relationship with the prison visitor Janet Leach, which won Bafta and Royal Television Society acting awards this year for Dominic West, Emily Watson and Monica Dolan.

He was also the executive producer of Mo, a docudrama about Mo Mowlam from 1997 to her early death from cancer in 2005, which was made for Channel 4 in 2010 after ITV turned it down. Yet although he's among television's most respected and successful writer/producers, »

- Maggie Brown

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Can a change of presenter ever improve a show?

26 June 2012 6:00 AM, PDT | The Guardian - TV News | See recent The Guardian - TV News news »

Losing a host can make a series wither – after Jimmy Doherty left Food Factory to plough a new furrow, will the show flourish under Stefan Gates?

Last night, Jimmy's Food Factory became plain old Food Factory. Jimmy Doherty has abandoned the show in order to shout at supermarkets on Channel 4. And, even though Food Factory remains a pop science show about mass-produced food, Jimmy's absence has changed the feel of the show entirely.

Food Factory was much more downbeat under Doherty's watch – the whole idea of mass-produced food seemed to disgust and repel him. But new host Stefan Gates, formerly of kid's shows Gastronauts and Incredible Edibles, has changed all that. He practically cartwheels through episodes, fizzing with so much enthusiasm for orange squash and Cup-a-Soups that you end up spending the entire episode worrying about him. At one point during a trip to a salt factory, his exuberance »

- Stuart Heritage

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What happens when successful TV shows outlive their creators and stars?

10 May 2012 5:05 AM, PDT | The Guardian - TV News | See recent The Guardian - TV News news »

As 56 Up director Michael Apted prepares to hand over the baton, which shows have outshone their original formats

There's a tradition in sport known as "retiring the shirt", in which the squad number worn by a particularly influential player is taken out of circulation: in American basketball, the vest in question will sometimes be symbolically raised into the rafters above the court. A similar issue arises in TV when a format becomes connected with particular personnel and the dilemma is represented twice in next week's schedules.

While promoting the return of 56 Up (Monday, 9pm, ITV1), director Michael Apted showed commendable lack of ego and squeamishness, in addressing a sensitive technical question.

As the now almost 50-year-old project was intended to follow a group of children through their lives and Apted was three times the age of his subjects at the beginning, a majority of the participants are likely to outlive him. »

- Mark Lawson

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Simon Mayo To Host Return of Blockbusters on Challenge TV

6 February 2012 2:03 AM, PST | Obsessed with Film | See recent Obsessed with Film news »

BBC Radio 2 DJ Simon Mayo is to host a brand new series of cult hexagon based quiz show Blockbusters, Challenge TV have announced.

Produced by Thames and filmed at Sky’s new production facility Sky Studios, Blockbusters will return to our screens later this spring.

The move comes just a few weeks after the sad death of Bob Holness, the long running host who was synonymous with the UK favourite program that actually debuted in the Us in 1980, but enjoyed its best run between 1983 and 1994 in this country. Less notable hosts Michael Aspel and Liza Tarbuck have hosted revived versions of Blockbusters in the years since Holness left.

Blockbusters is the ultimate cult TV quiz, and we think that Simon Mayo is the perfect host to bring it back to our screens,” commented Barbara Gibbon, director of Challenge TV. “We hope that it will be popular not only with those »

- Matt Holmes

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Bob Holness obituary

6 January 2012 4:08 PM, PST | The Guardian - TV News | See recent The Guardian - TV News news »

Modest quizmaster who achieved cult status at the helm of Blockbusters

Before television and radio quizmasters became increasingly raucous, clever-clever and sarcastic, Bob Holness, who has died aged 83, saw the role as that of a rewarder of knowledge rather than the ringmaster of a hysterical circus. Indeed, one of the worst mistakes one could make with Holness was to refer to any of the many quizzes he conducted as gameshows. In his unostentatious clothes, he resembled a jovial and thoughtful golfing companion rather than a smirking media man, and he always made a point of sympathising with contestants who lost.

Blockbusters, the TV quiz for 16- to 18-year-old contestants but aimed at a much wider audience, consolidated Holness's popularity and also gained him cult status. In the programme, he posed questions, the answers to which began with a letter of the alphabet that had been chosen by contestants from a honeycomb grid. »

- Dennis Barker

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6 items from 2012


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