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2 items from 2013

Downton Abbey takes advantage of the loss of two familiar characters

20 September 2013 3:18 AM, PDT | The Guardian - TV News | See recent The Guardian - TV News news »

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. »

- Mark Lawson

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Taggart at 30: the original Nordic noir

6 September 2013 4:18 AM, PDT | The Guardian - TV News | See recent The Guardian - TV News news »

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, »

- Graeme Virtue

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2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009

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