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Friday’s best TV: Celebrity Carry on Barging; Birds of Paradise – The Ultimate Quest

  • The Guardian - TV News
Debbie McGee, Simon Callow, Lorraine Chase and Nigel Havers try out canal boating; a wheelchair-using journalist ventures into the wilds of Papua New Guinea. Plus: Arena – Alone With Chrissie Hynde

If you can get past the slap-and-tickle title, this is a slice of gentle telly inhabited by charming celebrities. Debbie McGee, Simon Callow, Lorraine Chase and Nigel Havers are flung together to try out canal boating. They’re a likable bunch and watching them take in the scenery is the perfect antidote to Celeb Big Brother fighting. As they begin their journey, they giggle when a man called John Inman tells them how to operate the locks. Hannah Verdier

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See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Nicholas Smith, Star of British Sitcom ‘Are You Being Served?,’ Dies at 81

Nicholas Smith, Star of British Sitcom ‘Are You Being Served?,’ Dies at 81
Nicholas Smith, one of the stars of the key British sitcom “Are You Being Served?,” which was set in a department store, died on Sunday. He was 81 and had been in hospitalized for seven weeks following a fall at home.

The long-running show, which aired on BBC1 from 1972-85, followed the misadventures of the staff and customers (the latter portrayed by popular British actors in guest appearances, such as Joanna Lumley), of the clothing floor departments of the fictional London department store Grace Brothers.

The jug-eared Smith played department store manager Cuthbert Rumbold in the hit sitcom, which also starred John Inman, Molly Sugden, Frank Thornton and Wendy Richard, and frequently drew audiences of more than 20 million. The show aired in the U.S. on PBS and BBC America.

More recently, he voiced the eccentric Reverend Clement Hedges in the 2005 Wallace & Gromit film “The Curse of the Were-Rabbit.”

His TV credits also included “Doctor Who,
See full article at Variety - TV News »

Nicholas Smith, Star of British Sitcom ‘Are You Being Served?,’ Dies at 81

Nicholas Smith, Star of British Sitcom ‘Are You Being Served?,’ Dies at 81
Nicholas Smith, one of the stars of the key British sitcom “Are You Being Served?,” which was set in a department store, died on Sunday. He was 81 and had been in hospitalized for seven weeks following a fall at home.

The long-running show, which aired on BBC1 from 1972-85, followed the misadventures of the staff and customers (the latter portrayed by popular British actors in guest appearances, such as Joanna Lumley), of the clothing floor departments of the fictional London department store Grace Brothers.

The jug-eared Smith played department store manager Cuthbert Rumbold in the hit sitcom, which also starred John Inman, Molly Sugden, Frank Thornton and Wendy Richard, and frequently drew audiences of more than 20 million. The show aired in the U.S. on PBS and BBC America.

More recently, he voiced the eccentric Reverend Clement Hedges in the 2005 Wallace & Gromit film “The Curse of the Were-Rabbit.”

His TV credits also included “Doctor Who,
See full article at Variety - Film News »

The 1978 Radio Times: Christmas TV, before Thatcherism ruined it

Highbrow lectures, arthouse films and a spot of Steptoe and Son – the Christmas TV and radio schedules of the 1970s were smarter, kinder and more varied than today's

"The holiday starts here. And to put you in party mood some of your favourite comedians bring the spirit of pantomime to these pages. Mike Yarwood, on our cover, opens the festivities, followed by a host of BBC TV comedians – Michael Crawford, Ronnies Corbett and Barker, John Inman, Larry Grayson (with Isla St Clair, of course), Little and Large, and last, but not least, a villainous Peter Cook."

And so begins the bumper 118-page edition of the Christmas and New Year Radio Times for 1978. The 26-page guide to BBC television and radio for 23 December 1978 to 5 January 1979 is more than just a list of programmes: it's a fascinating historical document, revealing much about the country we were that last Christmas before Thatcherism arrived and changed everything.
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Revelation that gay audiences like Vicious, Bake Off and Splash! risks perpetuating gay stereotypes

Categorising shows by viewers' sexuality is potentially divisive; after all, Coronation Street and EastEnders were the most popular overall

How attractive is Jeremy Clarkson to lesbian, gay and bisexual TV viewers? This question was indirectly raised by a just-published BBC survey, which set out to find the favourite shows of 1,000 members of the Corporation's audience research who identified themselves as (in a definition of the target group that is the BBC's, not the Guardian's) "Lgb".

The discoveries included the revelation that 36.6% of the 16-34-year-old males who watched Vicious, the ITV sitcom about two ageing gay men, identified themselves as gay. This was well ahead of interest in the show among the general population, but may be about as surprising as the revelation that the Pope had been caught watching tapes of Songs Of Praise. Other Lgb favourites were The Great British Bake-Off and Splash!, although the overall winners exactly
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

'Vicious' is "positively homophobic", says comedian Barry Cryer

ITV sitcom Vicious has been branded "homophobic" by comedian Barry Cryer.

78-year-old Cryer criticised the comedy series - which stars Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi - in a piece written for the Radio Times.

"A sitcom with two old gays could be really good and moving," the comic wrote. "With two great actors in Sir Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi it should be fantastic.

"But it was insult, insult, insult every other line. You don't believe in them. You don't like them, for a start."

Cryer went on to call Vicious "positively homophobic", adding: "It made [Are You Being Served? star] John Inman look restrained."

Vicious is yet to be recommissioned by ITV, though a Christmas special will follow the first series, which concluded its run on June 10.

> Vicious review: McKellen, Jacobi can't save ITV's tired, lazy sitcom

Watch a clip from Vicious below:
See full article at Digital Spy - TV news »

ITV sitcom Vicious is cliched and outdated, says Barry Cryer

Veteran comedy writer says show about an ageing gay couple would make John Inman look restrained

ITV sitcom Vicious, featuring Sir Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi as an ageing gay couple, has been accused of peddling homosexual cliches that would make "John Inman look restrained".

Barry Cryer, the veteran comedy writer and performer, said Vicious had fallen into the trap of trying to be funny all the time rather than developing characters people could identify with.

"A sitcom with two old gays could be really good and moving. With two great actors in Sir Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi it should be fantastic," Cryer writes in the latest Radio Times. "But it was insult, insult, insult every other line. You don't believe in them … it made John Inman look restrained."

Cryer, 78, whose credits include The Two Ronnies and The Morecambe & Wise Show, said Vicious was part of an era of
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Does Vicious mark the end of gay TV characters being invisible?

New sitcom Vicious features a camp gay couple as leads. It may feel like a throwback, but it shows how far TV has come, from John Inman's flouncing character in Are You Being Served? and presenters using 'gay' as an insult

"Ground floor: perfumery, stationery, leather goods, wigs and haberdashery …" The one reason a gay man growing up in the 1970s remembers that mouthful is that it was the curtain-raiser to the only regular TV appearance of a male homosexual – the flouncing Mr Humphries in Are You Being Served?

John Inman, who played Humphries, insisted at the time that he wasn't gay. It was a triumph for method acting, then. But Jeremy Lloyd and David Croft's creation highlighted almost every historic prejudice about homosexual men – Humphries was predatory, vain and lived with his mother.

Forty years on, ITV1 has served up Vicious. We're invited to conclude that the world has changed.
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Frank Thornton obituary

Actor best known as the haughty department store supervisor Captain Peacock in the TV comedy Are You Being Served?

The actor Frank Thornton, who has died aged 92, had a flair for comedy derived from the subtle craftsmanship of classical stage work. However, he will be best remembered for his longstanding characters in two popular BBC television comedy series – the sniffily priggish Captain Peacock in Are You Being Served? and the pompous retired policeman Herbert "Truly" Truelove, in Roy Clarke's Last of the Summer Wine.

Robertson Hare, the great Whitehall farceur, told him: "You'll never do any good until you're 40." And, said Thornton, "he was quite right." In the event, he was 51 when David Croft, producer of another long-running British staple, Dad's Army, remembered the tall, long-faced actor from another engagement and decided to cast him as the dapper floor-walker in charge of shop assistants played by Mollie Sugden, Wendy Richard,
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Frank Thornton obituary

Actor best known as the haughty department store supervisor Captain Peacock in the TV comedy Are You Being Served?

The actor Frank Thornton, who has died aged 92, had a flair for comedy derived from the subtle craftsmanship of classical stage work. However, he will be best remembered for his longstanding characters in two popular BBC television comedy series – the sniffily priggish Captain Peacock in Are You Being Served? and the pompous retired policeman Herbert "Truly" Truelove, in Roy Clarke's Last of the Summer Wine.

Robertson Hare, the great Whitehall farceur, told him: "You'll never do any good until you're 40." And, said Thornton, "he was quite right." In the event, he was 51 when David Croft, producer of another long-running British staple, Dad's Army, remembered the tall, long-faced actor from another engagement and decided to cast him as the dapper floor-walker in charge of shop assistants played by Mollie Sugden, Wendy Richard,
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

Q: What do Skyfall, The Dark Knight Rises and a hamburger have in common? A: See below | Charlie Brooker

If the year's two biggest blockbusters strive to be meatier than Transformers, hooray. But great pop shouldn't be too po-faced

As 2012's bum end approaches, I've been getting up to speed with some of the thrilling cultural phenomena that somehow passed me by, months after everyone else got bored of them. My life's been one big catch-up channel. It's not just idle curiosity: I'm preparing an end-of-the-year TV show, so I have to digest this stuff quickly: Homeland. Gangnam Style. The dog that won Britain's Got Talent. Brand new items in my mental trolley.

Some patterns emerge. Recently I watched The Dark Knight Rises and Skyfall and realised they're essentially the same. In both films a screen icon gets the shit knocked out of him early on and spends much of the second act intermittently clutching his back and complaining. You might as well be watching a $200m advert for Voltarol.
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

Ronald Wolfe obituary

Co-writer of TV sitcoms On the Buses and The Rag Trade

At the height of his writing partnership with Ronald Chesney, Ronald Wolfe, who has died aged 89 after a fall, enjoyed huge success with the sitcom On the Buses; its bawdy humour was panned by the critics but lapped up by the viewing public. Originally turned down by the BBC, the idea for a comedy based around the antics of a driver and conductor giving their inspector the runaround at the Luxton Bus Company appealed to Frank Muir, head of entertainment at the newly launched ITV company London Weekend Television.

Reg Varney played Stan Butler, at the wheel of the No 11, and Bob Grant was his lothario conductor, Jack. The pair made life hell for the miserable Inspector Blake (Stephen Lewis). Blakey's "Get that bus out" and "I 'ate you, Butler" were two of the most frequent lines that flowed
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

Ronald Wolfe obituary

Co-writer of TV sitcoms On the Buses and The Rag Trade

At the height of his writing partnership with Ronald Chesney, Ronald Wolfe, who has died aged 89 after a fall, enjoyed huge success with the sitcom On the Buses; its bawdy humour was panned by the critics but lapped up by the viewing public. Originally turned down by the BBC, the idea for a comedy based around the antics of a driver and conductor giving their inspector the runaround at the Luxton Bus Company appealed to Frank Muir, head of entertainment at the newly launched ITV company London Weekend Television.

Reg Varney played Stan Butler, at the wheel of the No 11, and Bob Grant was his lothario conductor, Jack. The pair made life hell for the miserable Inspector Blake (Stephen Lewis). Blakey's "Get that bus out" and "I 'ate you, Butler" were two of the most frequent lines that flowed
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

David Croft obituary

Comedy writer behind TV hits such as Dad's Army, Hi-de-Hi! and Are You Being Served?

David Croft, who has died aged 89, was a survivor of an almost extinct breed in British television: a comedy producer and writer who did not need a marketing survey to tell him what would make audiences laugh. If he found a comedy idea or script funny, he reckoned that it might well amuse others. The axiom came to seem old-fashioned among television executives hungry for ratings, but during a period of more than 30 years, the shows he and his co-writers created – Dad's Army, It Ain't Half Hot Mum, Are You Being Served?, 'Allo 'Allo and Hi-de-Hi! – confirmed his view that, for a writer or producer of comedy, it helped to have a sense of humour.

Croft once said with pride that he had never been commissioned to continue an existing comedy series. Specific ideas or scripts were always submitted,
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Trevor Bannister obituary

Actor known for his role as Mr Lucas in Are You Being Served?

The actor Trevor Bannister, who has died of a heart attack aged 76, was best known to television viewers from his role in Are You Being Served? as Mr Lucas, the menswear assistant at the Grace Brothers department store. The character was conceived by the sitcom's creators, David Croft and Jeremy Lloyd, as one of the linchpins in the ensemble cast, creating a link between the menswear and ladieswear departments through his constant chasing of the stereotypical dollybird Miss Brahms (Wendy Richard).

Bannister was also adept at portraying Mr Lucas as a rebel who frequently questioned the store's management policies – such as requiring staff to smile more – and made fun of the pecking order, in which he stood at the bottom. He served as a mouthpiece for Lloyd, who had himself sold menswear at Simpson Piccadilly, in central London,
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

New On DVD This Week

Here’s a list of some of the new DVD and Blu-ray releases this week we’re particularly interested in. Plus, some old favorites (and not so favorites) coming out this week for the first time on Blu-ray.

Movies

About Last Night… ~ Rob Lowe, Demi Moore, James Belushi (Blu-ray)

Alien Trespass ~ Eric McCormack, Dan Lauria, Robert Patrick, and Jenni Baird (DVD and Blu-ray)

Blue Thunder ~ Roy Scheider, Warren Oates, Candy Clark, and Daniel Stern (Blu-ray)

Chaos ~ Jason Statham (Blu-ray)

The Class (Entre Les Murs) ~ François Bégaudeau, Agame Malembo-Emene, and Angélica Sancio (DVD)

Cutthroat Island ~ Geena Davis, Frank Langella, Matthew Modine (Blu-ray)

Eagles Over London ~ Van Johnson, Frederick Stafford, Francisco Rabal, and Luigi Pistilli (Blu-ray)

Gigantic ~ Zooey Deschanel, Paul Dano, John Goodman, and Ed Asner (DVD)

I Love You, Man ~ Paul Rudd, Jason Segal (DVD and Blu-ray)

Katyn ~ Artur Amijewski, Maja Ostaszewska, and Andrzej Chyra (DVD)

Michael Jackson: Moonwalking – The
See full article at The Flickcast »

DS Icon: Mollie Sugden

Sitcom legend Mollie Sugden passed away yesterday, following a long battle with illness. The Yorkshire-born star first found fame in Liverpool-based comedy The Liver Birds as Mrs Hutchinson, but it wasn't until she took the role of snooty purple-rinsed Mrs Slocombe in 1972 that she really captured the public's imagination. Thanks to a seemingly never-ending list of double entendre gags about her "pussy" Tiddles, she provided comedy gold for millions of viewers of Are You Being Served? for 13 years. Double-teaming with camp co-star John Inman, she turned a dreary '70s British sitcom into a saucy delight. During her pomp, Sugden starred in pretty (more)
See full article at Digital Spy - Movie News »

See also

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