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Downton Abbey takes advantage of the loss of two familiar characters

Recasting or writing out popular characters in long-running series was once considered unthinkable. But as Taggart showed in the 90s, it can bring new energy to a show

This blog contains minor spoilers for episode one, season four of Downton Abbey.

In American television, where repeats and syndication are a more regular feature of the schedules than in Britain, the formula "all new episode" was developed to help viewers negotiate between the reruns. In the current UK season, there's another helpful clue that this is fresh material: familiar characters have vanished.

Except for the presence of Dennis Waterman, next week's edition of New Tricks (Tuesday, 9pm, BBC1) could even carry the tagline "all new cast". With Nicholas Lyndhust and Denis Lawson having already replaced Alun Armstrong and James Bolam, Amanda Redman left this week, to be succeeded by Tamsin Outhwaite, with the result that only 25% of the original acting quartet remains.
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Taggart at 30: the original Nordic noir

Taggart, the world's longest-running cop show, was decades ahead of its time. If only it was still around to bear witness to Glasgow's continuing regeneration

If you'd tuned in to ITV on 6 September 1983, you would have seen the first episode of Taggart. It wasn't called Taggart then; it was "Killer". In the opening shots, the camera swoops past a stony, snowy landscape before hovering over the smog-choked sprawl of Glasgow. Soon, there is another imposingly craggy sight: the face of Mark McManus, starring as a local cop called up to investigate a body dumped by the river Kelvin.

"Strangulation by ligature," offers his university-educated sidekick. "We don't have ligatures in Maryhill," barks McManus, setting a no-nonsense tone that would endure for 109 episodes. A former miner and a proficient amateur boxer, McManus was entirely plausible as a hard-bitten detective unafraid to get up in suspects' faces. The Killer pilot was commissioned for a full series,
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

The Bourne Legacy, Tony Gilroy, 135 mins (12A) Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, Alison Klayman, 90 mins, (15)

When the actor Mark McManus died, no one thought his TV show Taggart could possibly continue, since there wasn't a Taggart any more. In fact, the series continued for years, on the understanding that any gritty-faced Scottish copper who could growl, "there's been a mrrdrrr" was essentially Taggarting, in a generic way. The same has happened with the Bourne series. Instead of recasting Jason Bourne after Matt Damon's departure, the producers have kept the title and put a new hero into the Bourne position. It's now Jeremy Renner Taggarting away like crazy.
See full article at The Independent »

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

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.
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

True Justice: Street Wars DVD review

True Justice: Street Wars sees the Aikido 7th dan and musical actor extravaganza return to the screen. This is a return from real life drama Steven Seagal: Lawman back to the fictitious world of the undercover drugs cop. If you are fan of Steven Seagal you will be delighted to see that he's working at developing a thirteen-part series for True Justice. Street Wars is another two-part film and actually follows on from the opening two episodes of Deadly Crossing. This is the first time Seagal fans get to see him within a TV series, a successful move made by other movie martial artist actors such as Chuck Norris in Walker Texas Ranger (which I remember to be okay for its time.) Last year Chuck turned seventy and was actually made an honorary Ranger in real life. Seagal also has real police experience, having been a reserve deputy chief for Jefferson Parish in Louisina.
See full article at Shadowlocked »

Taggart axed by ITV after 27 years

Broadcaster decides not to commission 28th series of Scottish detective drama, but it could continue in some form on Stv

ITV has closed the casebook on long-running detective drama Taggart, although the Glasgow-based series could live on in Scotland.

The series began on ITV in 1983 and starred Mark McManus in the title role until his death in 1994.

ITV has decided not to commission a 28th series of the show for its flagship channel ITV1 after its last run averaged fewer than 4 million viewers. The broadcaster axed another long-running police drama, The Bill, last year.

But Scottish broadcaster Stv, which makes the show, is investigating ways of keeping the show on screen in Scotland.

An ITV spokesman said: "Taggart has been one of ITV's most enduring dramas but, reflecting the demands of our audience and as part of the ongoing creative renewal of the ITV1 schedule, our priority is to invest
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Waking the Dead: which other TV crime shows should be killed off?

The BBC procedural has been axed, but plenty of other shows are still getting away with murder. Could it be time to put Taggart, Midsomer Murders or New Tricks out of their misery?

After 11 years, 92 episodes and an estimated 4m shots of Trevor Eve looking alarmingly pleased with himself, Waking the Dead will finally bow out tonight. Not that anyone should be too distraught – partly because Tara Fitzgerald's character will soon get her own Joey-style spin-off series, and partly because Waking the Dead has been around for such a long time that it's almost impossible to imagine anyone still having the energy to enjoy it.

It's not the fault of Waking the Dead specifically – although lord knows it will be a blessed relief not to have to witness any more of Eves's blind stabs at Caruso-esque charisma – as much as detective shows in general. Televisually speaking, they're a safe pair of hands.
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Can Misfits survive without Nathan?

Robert Sheehan is to leave the E4 superhero drama. So will the show be damaged by losing its 'fittest' star, or could it emerge healthier than ever, like Doctor Who?

Farewell Nathan, leading light of E4's Asbo superheroes drama Misfits. Robert Sheehan, who plays the cocky motormouth (in life as well as on screen, judging by his limelight-hogging at the many recent awards ceremonies) has decided to call it a day, and will leave the show in a web-only episode that will be released later this year ahead of series three. Nathan's departure after an-as-yet unspecified incident in Las Vegas will see alpha male Rudy join the gang of Kelly (Lauren Socha), Curtis (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett), Alisha (Antonia Thomas) and Simon (Iwan Rheon).

So what will Sheehan's decision mean for Misfits? When I told my 13-year-old twin nieces that a character was leaving their favourite TV show, they were praying
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Tonight's TV highlights: No Ordinary Family | The Cleveland Show | True Stories: The Nurture Room | The Year Britain Froze | Taggart | Big Fat Gypsy Weddings

  • The Guardian - TV News
No Ordinary Family | The Cleveland Show | True Stories: The Nurture Room | The Year Britain Froze | Taggart | Big Fat Gypsy Weddings

No Ordinary Family

8pm, Watch

The super family are still going through teething problems adapting to their powers. This week a wedding not only shows that Jim's super strength doesn't help his poor dancing – "You dance like you're trying to get away from angry villagers!" – but it also gives them a little crime to fight when thieves target the event. The teenagers seem a little more practical as Jj gets his telepathic sister to read the mind of a girl he fancies to see if he's in with a shot. So far, the show is keeping things low-key, exploring how these powers affect everyday family events, but we also get a few more hints at who this show's big villain will be. Po'n

The Cleveland Show

10pm, E4

After
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Review – Taggart: Set 3

  • TVovermind.com
I thought Law & Order had been on forever, but that’s nothing compared to the UK’s Taggart, which bowed in 1983 (a full six years before L&O). The world’s longest-running police drama releases a third set of eight episodes on September 21, and I have a look at the Acorn Media release for you before it does.

The Show

As a self-professed crime show junkie, I’m almost embarrassed to admit that I haven’t seen Taggart before this. It’s been on since before I was born! The series is set in Glasgow, Scotland, and spotlights a team of four detectives: Detective Chief Inspector Matt Burke (Alex Norton), Detective Inspector Robbie Ross (John Michie), Detective Sergeant Jackie Reid (Blythe Duff), and Detective Constable Stuart Fraser (Colin McCredie).

If you’re wondering how the show gets its title, it takes it from the original protagonist, Detective Chief Inspector Jim Taggart,
See full article at TVovermind.com »

News: David Tennant in Taggart?

  • Kasterborous
"I've been encouraging our producer to offer him a part as a doctor." David Tennant has, it seems, auditioned for Socttish detective drama Taggart a massive 16 times without landing a part - something that doesn't seem likely to happen again... Apparently the show's star Colin McCredie has been campaigning for Tennant to be cast in the long-running series which first aired in 1983 and has survived the sudden death of the original star Mark McManus. Whatever transpires, it...
See full article at Kasterborous »

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