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SS-gb viewers listen up! Actors should be allowed to mutter as well as shout

1 hour ago

The BBC’s Nazi drama has drawn complaints about mumbling, but TV shows would lack realism if every line was delivered for maximum audibility

On a crowded commuter train the morning after SS-gb was transmitted, I noted that more than half of everything anyone said – either person to person or on a phone – had to be repeated at least once. The reasons for these failures to hear will include: not listening, obduracy, background distraction, attempts at discretion, or a decline in the auditory canals.

Yet, when those same ears are listening to a TV drama, they are expected to catch first-time lines likely to be more data-packed, enigmatic or epigrammatic than everyday conversation. So it is unsurprising that one of the sounds most often heard from TV viewers these days is complaints that they haven’t heard the sound.

Related: 'I will mumble this only once': BBC's Nazi drama SS-gb »

- Mark Lawson

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Flatscreen TVs, actors or realism: what’s to blame for SS-gb’s mumbling problem?

3 hours ago

The BBC’s Nazi thriller is the latest primetime drama to be beset by hard-to-hear dialogue. We asked a sound recordist to explain what’s going on

You may suspect that Det Supt Douglas Archer might just get one past the Nazis who are now running London in the drama SS-gb, which started on BBC1 on Sunday night. After all, who can understand a word he’s saying? Our reviewer said he used subtitles, while viewers took to Twitter to complain they couldn’t hear it. Inaudibility seems to dog many dramas these days – Taboo and Rillington Place were difficult to decipher in parts, while Happy Valley, Shetland, Southcliffe and Broadchurch have all been criticised for sound quality. The 2014 BBC drama Jamaica Inn was not only muffled – the picture quality was so dark, it was hard to see what was happening.

Who can we blame? “What is recorded by myself »

- Emine Saner

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Sir David Attenborough to return for BBC's Blue Planet II

4 hours ago

Seven-episode series to air this year will include footage of newly discovered and never-before filmed creatures

The new series of Blue Planet will feature Sir David Attenborough’s familiar narration, as the BBC aims to repeat the success of Planet Earth II.

The voice of the UK’s most-loved naturalist will accompany footage filmed over four years when the series airs across seven episodes on BBC1 this year.

Related: Planet Earth II’s most mindblowing moments

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- Jasper Jackson

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When good TV goes bad: how Popworld's bubble burst

4 hours ago

In a new column pinpointing the moments great TV shows jumped the shark, we remember Simon Amstell and Miquita Oliver’s irrepressible double act – and the ship that sank without them

Back in the halcyon days of 2001, when people still bought CDs and pop music TV didn’t exist purely online presented by two quiffs from YouTube, there was Channel 4’s Popworld. Hosted by gangly geek Simon Amstell and the apparently perpetually hungover Miquita Oliver, its aim was to crawl under the veneer of pop stardom and poke it until it said something interesting. Sometimes interviews were delivered by two horses, Richard & Trudy; or they’d be framed as police interrogations (Ronan Keating being challenged as to whether life really is a rollercoaster); while recurring segment The Big Ones, asked the sort of questions – Rachel Stevens being put on the spot with: “Have you got any power tools?” – that »

- Michael Cragg

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Homeland recap: season six, episode five – Casus Belli

6 hours ago

In a frantic episode, Quinn goes full Die Hard, Keane gets sidelined – and Carrie realises how deep the rabbit hole goes

Spoiler alert: this blog is published after Homeland airs in the Us. Only read on if you’ve watched series six episode five, which airs in the UK on Sundays.

I don’t think anybody was expecting a siege situation tonight but that’s what we got. It led indirectly to Carrie discovering that Sekou Bah was victim not perpetrator. With her legal advocacy likely shut down for the time being, we can look forward to Carrie back where she does her best work – out on a limb, flouting authority and seeing who the real enemy is.

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- James Donaghy

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'I will mumble this only once': BBC's Nazi drama SS-gb hit by dialogue complaints

6 hours ago

Viewers say even English-speaking sections need subtitles and corporation has failed to act after Jamaica Inn debacle

SS-gb, the BBC’s new alternative history miniseries, has become the corporation’s latest primetime costume drama to be marred by complaints about mumbling.

The five-episode adaptation of a Len Deighton novel about a detective in a Nazi-controlled London had already faced some scathing reviews from TV critics. But when the first episode aired on Sunday night many viewers complained they could not follow the drama because they were unable to hear the dialogue.

Related: SS-gb viewers listen up! Actors should be allowed to mutter as well as shout

#ss-gb just watched that, thought it would have been good. It might have been but I couldn't hear a bloody word. Whispering an mumbling

"Listen very carefully I shall mumble this only once!" #Ssgb

#ssgb Subtitle department should have kept it up for all the dialogue. »

- Matthew Weaver

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The Walking Dead: season seven, episode 10 – New Best Friends

7 hours ago

Rick makes like Russell Crowe in Gladiator by fighting for his life in a fetid arena. What does this portend? That we’ll see no more zombies or action for weeks, I bet

• Spoiler alert: this blog is published after The Walking Dead airs in the Us on Sundays. Do not read unless you have watched season seven episode 10, which airs in the UK on Fox on Mondays at 9pm.

The first thing you learn in Fighting Zombies 101 is to avoid their teeth. If you don’t, you risk being bitten and so inducted into their club with its limited lifestyle parameters. But what they don’t teach you is how to fight a walker in helmet and body armour covered with spiky blades. This was Rick’s difficulty after the woman with the unfortunate fringe pushed him into a junkyard pit and encouraged him to make like Russell Crowe in Gladiator. »

- Stuart Jeffries

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Twisted spine-chiller Inside No 9: ‘A laugh is the same as a scream’

8 hours ago

As the darkly funny anthology series returns, creators Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith explain why comedy and horror is a marriage made in hell

Related: Inside No 9: The Devil of Christmas review – macabre merriment all round

Like all the most exciting TV shows of the moment, Inside No 9 is a comedy that doesn’t try very hard to be funny. Instead, Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith’s series – filed under the genre seemingly for admin purposes (the BBC don’t have an irreverently spooky anthology department) – is all about pushing buttons. Each episode, which tells a standalone story about pretty much anything at all, yields intrigue, amusement and – most notably – a torrent of goosebump-inducing horror.

Related: Intrigue, unease and emotional intensity: have you been watching Inside No 9?

Related: How we made The League of Gentlemen

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- Rachel Aroesti

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SS-gb review – Britain is under Nazi rule and I can’t help laughing at the oppression

10 hours ago

The jackboot is on the other foot in this thriller, but why are the women all sex workers or mysterious sirens?

It is November 1941 and Standartenführer Dr Oskar Huth is surveying the disappointing British capital that has fallen under the Nazi jackboot. “In some ways, it’s a shame the battle spared such dreary areas,” he says, as he and Scotland Yard detective Douglas Archer drive through east London. Fair enough if he means Canning Town, but I won’t hear a word against Plaistow.

“I’m sorry your wife was killed in one such action,” he adds to Archer with the slimeball politesse that TV Nazis use when trying to ingratiate themselves with defeated foes. “I’m afraid the blame is Winston Churchill’s.” Which, even if true, is scant consolation.

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- Stuart Jeffries

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Morven Christie: 'Am I the go-to actress to play a bitch?'

10 hours ago

The star of BBC1’s new cuckoo-in-the-nest thriller The Replacement on how she went from being a kid on a council estate to roles in some of TV’s finest dramas – and why her years in the theatre were so painful

Morven Christie is quietly becoming the go-to actor for top notch British TV. She’s Amanda in ITV’s retro detective drama Grantchester, Fi Healey in Twenty Twelve, starred in award-magnet BBC dramas Murder (directed by The Killing’s Birger Larsen) last year and is Alison in The A Word, Peter Bowker’s acclaimed miniseries about autism. Alison is a tough woman who makes complicated decisions about the care of her son, and she isn’t a particularly fluffy character. So when Christie first heard about The Replacement, BBC1’s new cuckoo-in-the-nest thriller, written and directed by Joe Ahearne, she started to wonder if she was being typecast. “I thought, »

- Rebecca Nicholson

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Monday’s best TV: The Halcyon; The Trouble With Dad; Storyville: Life, Animated

11 hours ago

Downton-style drama ends on a high, David Baddiel documents his father’s dementia, and how Disney classics helped an autistic child to speak again

The Downton-esque hotel drama wraps up with a final shot of wartime glamour. It’s the Halcyon’s 50th anniversary and, as celebrations are planned, even toffee-nosed Lady Hamilton is getting into the spirit of things. Receptionist Emma is still juggling chaps, and swing band members Betsey and Sonny start the party. But with sirens blaring, who’s in danger? It’s sad to see this romp go: its period costumes, strong ensemble cast and pithy one-liners have been a treat. Hannah Verdier

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- Hannah Verdier, Jack Seale, Ali Catterall, Luke Holland, David Stubbs, Mark Gibbings-Jones, Ben Arnold and Paul Howlett

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My Year 12 Life: teens document their final school year in insightful new series

16 hours ago

The ABC is pushing the innovation of handing cameras to teens in year 12 but the series’ real strength is the talent itself

“Vlogumentary” (vlog + documentary) is a peculiarly repellant neologism for video blog, but don’t let the ABC’s descriptor put you off its new series. My Year 12 Life, which premieres on Monday night, is a candid, even touching insight into the secret, stressful lives of teenagers.

At the start of last year, filmmaker Laura Waters gave cameras to a group of 18-year-olds to document their final year of high school – a time when, they’re all at pains to stress, shit gets real.

Related: How do we help kids cope with exam pressure? That is absolutely the wrong question | Lucy Clark

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- Elle Hunt

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