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Papanasam review: cable TV could help Kamal Hassan get away with murder

4 hours ago

There’s an abrupt tonal shift from dom-com to tough-thriller a third of a way through this intriguing meta-murder drama, ripe for English language remake

In last week’s Sardarji review, I mentioned how Indian directors and stars frequently move between the country’s regional industries. The new release Papanasam arrives as a fine demonstration of how ideas can likewise cross those same borders.

Jeethu Joseph’s thriller Drishyam was one of Malayalam cinema’s biggest hits in 2013; Joseph has now remade it in Tamil, porting over a compelling (and very contemporary) idea about images, and what we do with them. Perhaps it’s the proximity of these cinemas, but little appears to have been lost in transit: the central conceit travels more comfortably than those sustaining many recent remakes.

Related: ABCD2 review: Any Body Can Dance but what about if you also have Bo and TB?

Related: Sardarji review »

- Mike McCahill

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Frank McGuinness on BBC1's 7/7 drama A Song for Jenny: 'I broke down'

8 hours ago

BBC1 marks the 10th anniversary of the 7 July London attacks with a powerful drama written by Frank McGuinness and starring Emily Watson, based on the real-life account by Julie Nicholson of her daughter’s death

There is a scene at the dramatic heart of A Song for Jenny, in which Julie Nicholson, played by Emily Watson, stands beside her daughter’s coffin. An arm is all that lies above the sheet, so she takes Jenny’s one hand in her two hands. How short Jenny kept her nails, she thinks, as a mother would. On her own fingertips, the anointment oil glistens: she is a priest as well as a parent. And while she must have held Jenny’s hand countless times over the 24 years of her daughter’s life, all those moments of habitual intimacy have culminated in this ritual. Motherhood and priestly duty are intercut, brutally spliced – both »

- Paula Cocozza

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The week in TV: Wimbledon; Odyssey; Not Safe for Work; David Attenborough Meets President Obama

9 hours ago

Tennis at Homebase anyone? Plus Anna Friel in a malfunctioning veil, a great new C4 comedy and a pair of colliding megastars

Wimbledon (BBC1 and BBC2) | iPlayer

Odyssey (BBC2) | iPlayer

Not Safe for Work (C4) | All 4

David Attenborough Meets President Obama (BBC1) | iPlayer

The BBC has come in for a fat slice of disproportionately vicious online ragging (as if there’s any other kind), for its Wimbledon 2Day nightly roundup. True, the set fully resembled one of those insultingly cheap lash-ups done in 40 panicky minutes as the backdrop to a (somehow) gin-soaked summer church tombola for drunk and hallucinating children. Plastic hedge-effect Formica, already apparently peeling on day two, Clare Balding perching uncomfortably on what appears to be a unicycle, lairy and orangified geezers in Abercrombie & Fitch “tennis outfits”, that cheap white garden plastic that attracts scuff-marks like hot oomska attracts flies, someone’s idea of class with a nasty filigreed Gatsby Club logo. »

- Euan Ferguson

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Escape from the vicarage as Agatha Christie brand gets TV makeover

16 hours ago

David Walliams and Jessica Raine up the pace as writer’s estate takes charge of the scripts

• Detective duos in fiction - quiz

Forget Poirot’s “little grey cells” and the gently clicking knitting needles of Miss Marple, the future of Agatha Christie on television is action-packed and scary, complete with fistfights, chases, international espionage and realistic violence.

The Christie estate has taken back control of TV rights and aims to create a new era of dynamic mysteries before copyright on one of the UK’s most potentially lucrative literary franchises runs out in 32 years.

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- Maggie Brown and Vanessa Thorpe

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The new Wonga advert: ‘its name is worse than mud'

4 July 2015 1:00 AM, PDT

‘Having ditched those baffling ads featuring latex pensioners, it’s now rebranding itself as the lender of choice for the sort of people David Cameron successfully wooed at the last election’

Pity Wonga. Go on, try. Clobbered for £2.6m by the Financial Conduct Authority for sending out fake legal letters, faced with losses of £37.3m in 2014, considered so morally inferior for its exorbitant interest rates that even MPs and archbishops feel able to have a go at it, and all the while suffering the stigma of association with Newcastle United Fc. Its name is worse than mud. It is Wonga.

Having ditched those baffling ads featuring latex pensioners, it’s now rebranding itself as the lender of choice for the sort of people David Cameron successfully wooed at the last election. Hence this latest ad. “What are you responsible for?” asks a sensible lady voiceover, as we meet a dinner lady, »

- David Stubbs

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Artsnight with Lily Cole review – do kids get in the way of creativity?

3 July 2015 10:59 PM, PDT

The actor-model interviews figures from Lionel Shriver to Gavin Turk in a bid to find out whether there’s truth in the old warning about the pram in the hall

“There is no more sombre enemy of good art than the pram in the hall,” said the critic Cyril Connolly. In this Artsnight (BBC2), Lily Cole – model, actor, entrepreneur – sets out to find out whether he was right. With a personal interest, and an impartiality. She already has the pram, though it won’t be filled for another month or so (at time of filming). She’s very much hoping that her baby won’t sound the death knell for her own creativity.

Barbara Hepworth did it with four, including three at the same time. But then, when the triplets were toddlers, they were sent away to a residential nursery. A what? What an excellent idea. Why don’t these places still exist, »

- Sam Wollaston

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Hannibal recap: season three, episode five – Contorno

3 July 2015 8:41 AM, PDT

Jack Crawford catches up with our antihero in an episode that shows what happens to big beasts when they forget that young cubs grow up

Spoiler alert: this blog is published after Hannibal airs on NBC in the Us on Thursdays. Do not read on unless you have watched season three, episode five, which airs in the UK on Sky Living on Wednesdays at 10pm.

It seems that every week of Hannibal now is cursed to be attached to bad news. If it weren’t bad enough that the show was already cancelled before last week’s Aperitivo, this week’s episode, Contorno, comes with the news that Hannibal stars Mads Mikkelson and Hugh Dancy’s contracts have expired. The optimistic part of that is that the stars love the show so much that they would be willing to sign new contracts, should the opportunity arise, but optimism means a »

- LaToya Ferguson

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Cordon: BBC4 brings a bonkers slice of Belgian apocalypse to Saturday nights

3 July 2015 2:47 AM, PDT

The premise of a city facing a deadly epidemic is familiar, the acting is often schlocky and little seems to make sense, but this is an oddly compelling drama

There are so many things that don’t make sense in Cordon, BBC4’s latest Saturday-night subtitled import, that I barely blinked at the idea the authorities would be able to barricade Antwerp’s citizens into their own streets, completely unnoticed, by stacking shipping containers at the ends of their roads. And yet this is where we ended up last weekend, after two hours of the Belgian drama in which the unexplained death of a man who had helpfully already been to visit the National Institute of Infectious Diseases (Niid) somehow escalated in the shutdown of part of a city.

So Cordon is clearly nonsense. But it’s fairly enjoyable nonsense, in part because of the Flemish, an interesting language to listen to if, »

- Vicky Frost

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BBC2 news show goes gonzo opting for Skype coverage of Tunisia attack

3 July 2015 2:44 AM, PDT

Victoria Derbyshire programme ditches on-site camera crew for ‘edgier’ down-the-line video interview

Shaky camerawork and dodgy sound quality used to be the speciality of websites like Vice News. How times have changed. Desperate to boost their dismal ratings, it seems producers on Victoria Derbyshire’s BBC2 news show also want a piece of the gonzo action. When they needed a report from Tunisia in the wake of last week’s beach terrorist attack the BBC’s phalanx of experienced camera crews on site were happy to oblige with a high-quality package. They were astonished to be told their services were not required ... because the Derbyshire team preferred a down-the-line Skype interview. Apparently they thought it would look “edgier”.

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- Monkey

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Rock’n’Roll America: behind the music that changed everything

3 July 2015 1:00 AM, PDT

Another winner from the BBC4 music doc machine shows the real roots of the genre that bestrode the world for decades

Was I the only child of my generation who watched the broad, laugh-tracked 1950s-set family sitcom Happy Days and assumed it to be a portrait of contemporary American life? The Milwaukee teenagers in baseball jackets genuflecting to a greaser called The Fonz in a milk bar while the catchy theme tune sang of “rockin’ and rollin’ all week long”? I thought America was still like that in the 1970s.

Such is the abiding mythic iconography of the birthplace of rock’n’roll. A new three-part doc Rock’n’Roll America plots how this image of hot rods and pompadours conquered the world under Eisenhower and refused to go home. Forged on the well-worn BBC Music docs anvil, archive footage of jitterbugging delinquents saying “Cool, daddy!” illuminates bronchial testimony from »

- Andrew Collins

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Wet Hot American Summer is back – but did it typecast its comedy all-stars?

3 July 2015 12:16 AM, PDT

Amy Poehler, Bradley Cooper, Paul Rudd, Janeane Garofalo … Netflix’s new show reunites the cast of the 2001 sleeper hit – not everyone has moved on

How did a movie starring Amy Poehler and Bradley Cooper take just $300,000 at the box office? Hard to believe now, but when Wet Hot American Summer landed in cinemas in the dead days of 2001, it tanked. Or not so hard to believe...

Related: Wet Hot American Summer: a cult classic reborn on Netflix

Related: Michael Ian Black: 'I don’t have a very good sense of humor'

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- Alan Evans and Nancy Groves

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Britain Beneath Your Feet review – ‘it really needed to dig deeper’

2 July 2015 11:09 PM, PDT

What links a fatberg, the Shard’s foundations, an old oak’s roots and a potash mine? After watching this I’m none the wiser

I’m not sure where to begin with a review of Britain Beneath Your Feet (BBC1). It hopped around all over the place. One minute we were looking under the Shard and asking a structural engineer to confirm that the 300m building really did need foundations 53 metres deep to keep it standing (yes, it does, because it’s standing in clay. Presenter Dallas Campbell threw a clay pot on a wheel to show us how soft clay is. Clay!). The next we were haring off to Yorkshire to look at an underground waterfall. Really, really deep underground! Waterfall! Then it was down to Bristol, then across to London to look at the rivers the cities have covered over to facilitate their sprawl. Rivers! Covered! Sprawl! »

- Lucy Mangan

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Friday’s best TV

2 July 2015 10:10 PM, PDT

Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and Kate Adie together at last; another Big Brother inmate is booted back into obscurity; Lily Cole investigates how artists deal with having children. Plus: Anne Frank’s stepsister

Before a live audience at the Wales Millennium Centre, veteran BBC journalist Kate Adie interviews the contest’s patron, Kiwi soprano Dame Kiri Te Kanawa. The focus is properly on Te Kanawa’s extraordinary career, from talent-show winner in New Zealand to performing in the great opera houses of the world, but the two women discover that they have more in common than you might think. Previously shown on BBC2 Wales as part of the coverage of the competition. Andrew Mueller

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- Andrew Mueller, Ben Arnold, Ali Catterall, Hannah Verdier, David Stubbs, Phil Harrison, Jonathan Wright

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Observer Ethical Awards 2015 winners: Coronation Street

2 July 2015 2:00 PM, PDT

The popular soap opera, winner of the Film and Television Award in partnership with Bafta, on becoming the cleanest show on TV

“I don’t think we could have got greener cobbles,” says Kieran Roberts, executive producer of Coronation Street, surveying the hallowed ground. When the whole production moved across town to Media City two years ago, 54,000 cobblestones were acquired from derelict Salford streets and upcycled into service on the world’s longest-running soap. And it is that kind of detail that has won the programme the inaugural Ethical Award for Film and Television (with Bafta and the Bafta Albert Consortium, the production industry’s leader on sustainability).

“Relocating to Trafford gave us so many opportunities to look at the way we make our programme,” he says. He’s standing in front of the façade of the Rovers Return – the interior is housed in Studio One, now illuminated by Led lighting, »

- Lucy Siegle

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What to do this Fourth of July: a complete cultural guide

2 July 2015 12:02 PM, PDT

From TV-loving agoraphobes to those looking for brazen shirtless male strippers, this holiday weekend offers plenty for the culturally curious to explore

Yoko Ono: One Woman Show, 1960–1971

It goes a long way to revalorising one of the most misunderstood artists of the last 60 years. Her massive fame, and maybe her heal-the-world rhetoric too, has obscured the groundbreaking contributions she made to the art of the 1960s and beyond. At last, the art world has come round. This show is no guerrilla occupation. It is a belated and jubilant rectification of the historical record, and a victory lap for an artist laughed at for too long.

One of the most alluring parts of Purifoy’s work is the richness of its meaning. Much of it is playful and humorous. He handles social issues with a deft touch – perhaps in the Langston Hughes spirit of “laughing to keep from crying”. And »

- Alex Needham and Lanre Bakare in New York

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Rectify: Sundance's soulful contribution to the real-crime TV wave

2 July 2015 10:53 AM, PDT

Rectify doesn’t feel like anything else on television – ‘you have to do work to watch the show, like reading a book or doing a puzzle.’ But it is worth it

True crime has never been as popular: the podcast Serial broke all records, drawing more than 5 million listeners into re-examining the case of Adnan Syed, and listening to the journey presenter Sarah Koenig took with the case and her mission to find the shadow of a doubt.

Quick on Serial’s heels, HBO premiered The Jinx, an interview series with New York real estate scion Robert Durst, which became a must-watch as documentarian Andrew Jarecki found new evidence in murders long linked to Durst. The inevitable confrontation was riveting television, Durst’s body burping in response to the possible validation of his crimes, and then topping that moment, The Jinx team got his possible confession on audio.

Continue reading. »

- Elisabeth Donnelly

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Hollywood's fatal attraction to TV: why studios are turning to the small screen

2 July 2015 10:33 AM, PDT

Paramount is the latest major studio to reboot its movies as TV series, with the likes of American Gigolo and Shutter Island to get the treatment along with Fatal Attraction

Like Glenn Close rearing out of the bath when you think she can’t possibly have any life left, old movies are increasingly being reanimated in the entertainment industry’s desperate search for content across other platforms. Three months ago Disney’s plans to reboot its venerable animations as live-action films was under the spotlight; now it is the turn of fellow Hollywood studio Paramount to flex its muscles as it ransacks its archive for recyclable properties.

Related: Disney transforms animated classics into live-action films

Related: Todd Haynes's Mildred Pierce: the crystal meth of quality television

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- Andrew Pulver

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A part in W1A would be Knockout, theatrical Prince Edward decrees

2 July 2015 10:14 AM, PDT

It feels like only 28 years since the prince’s Grand Knockout Tournament. Surely the BBC show could do with a lift from his comic genius?

An intriguing rumour raises one of the last great questions of British broadcasting: how soon after Knockout is too soon for Prince Edward to be contemplating a return to the media landscape?

According to reports, His Royal Whoness is a fan of the show W1A, and is keen on the idea of a cameo. In some ways this would be an ideal fit – it feels like only 28 years yesterday that his Grand Knockout Tournament showcased the prince’s enduring gift for comedy. It was all there: Meat Loaf grappling with Chris de Burgh, Sheena Easton being pelted with rubber hams by George Lazenby, John Travolta dressed as a giant leek. John Travolta kissing Viv Richards (deal with it, cricket; it happened).

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- Marina Hyde

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Val Doonican obituary

2 July 2015 8:16 AM, PDT

Singer who entertained viewers for many years as the easygoing host of his own TV show

The entertainer Val Doonican, who has died aged 88, had a string of middle-of-the-road hits and was at the heart of family weekend television viewing in the 1960s and 70s. With an easygoing, homely charm that enchanted middle England, he sang and played through two decades of his own TV show and more than 60 years in show business.

Behind the scenes a perfectionist who knew his limitations but always aimed to be “the best Val Doonican possible”, he radiated ease and relaxation. His most famous prop, the rocking chair in which he swayed almost sleepily as he accompanied himself on the guitar, was not a calculated gimmick, but came about by accident. On a show in which he was due to sing early in his career was a young singing/guitar-playing nun. The producer suggested »

- Dennis Barker

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Clocking Off box set review – ‘shocking tales of ordinary people with dark secrets’

2 July 2015 8:05 AM, PDT

Set in a Manchester bed linen factory, Paul Abbott’s dramas deal with infidelity, rape and racism – and there’s no guarantee of a happy ending

When Clocking Off started its run on the BBC back in 2000, it quickly established itself as not just your bog-standard 9pm drama. Paul Abbott, who had paid his dues on Coronation Street and Cracker, created an ensemble cast of characters whose stories became more twisted with every scene.

Theirs are tales of ordinary people with complicated lives and dark secrets, set against the mundane backdrop of a Manchester bed linen factory, Mackintosh Textiles. It’s a place where real life is more shocking than the participants of any gossip-hungry tea break could ever imagine. Although the story arc unfolds week by week, each episode stands alone with stars such as Sarah Lancashire, Philip Glenister and Lesley Sharp taking it in turns to inhabit centre stage. »

- Hannah Verdier

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