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Michael Wearing obituary

Television producer whose work included landmark dramas such as Boys from the Blackstuff and Edge of Darkness

Michael Wearing, who has died aged 78, was a television producer and executive behind some of the most socially and politically charged dramas of the late 20th century. He successfully steered the medium through a period when single plays were dropped in favour of series. It was his work as script editor on The Black Stuff, the writer Alan Bleasdale’s 1980 Play for Today, that led him two years later to produce the landmark five-part drama Boys from the Blackstuff, which became a battle cry for the unemployed in Thatcher’s Britain after their numbers soared to more than three million. Bernard Hill’s cry of “Gissa job” in his role as Yosser Hughes became a national catchphrase.

However, Wearing continued to use the single-play format by presenting each episode as the story of
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Michael Wearing, producer of iconic TV dramas, dies at 78

Michael Wearing, producer of iconic TV dramas, dies at 78
Wearing produced Boys from the Blackstuff, Pride and Prejudice, Edge of Darkness and many more.

Michael Wearing, producer of iconic television dramas including Boys from the Blackstuff and Edge of Darkness, has died aged 78 (reports Broadcast).

Wearing (right), who held a number of senior positions across drama at the BBC, died on Friday 5 May following a stroke. Wearing is survived by his three children, Sadie, Ella and Ben.

After studying anthropology at Newcastle University and a short career in the theatre, Wearing joined the BBC’s English regions drama department as a script editor in 1976.

Reporting to David Rose, who went on to become founder of Film 4, at the BBC’s Pebble Mill base in Birmingham, Wearing worked with writers including Alan Bleasdale and Ron Hutchinson on a number of Play for Today scripts.

He also worked on series including Stephen Davis’ Trouble With Gregory, which aired as part of BBC2’s Playhouse strand, Hutchinson’s six-part
See full article at ScreenDaily »

Michael Tuchner obituary

TV and film director who won a Bafta award for the BBC play Bar Mitzvah Boy

The British television and film director Michael Tuchner, who has died aged 84, left a body of work that vividly reflected life in the UK and Us during the 1970s and 80s. As Tuchner was an unshowy man who allowed the performances and narrative to dominate a film, his contribution often went unsung, even though he made more than 40 television and big screen movies. Nevertheless, after his debut feature, Villain (1971), starring Richard Burton, he was always considered a safe pair of hands by producers and was nominated for four Bafta awards, winning one for the acclaimed BBC Play for Today production of Jack Rosenthal’s Bar Mitzvah Boy (1976).

Tuchner was born in Berlin, the son of Martin, a tailor, and his wife, Rosa (nee Wolochwiansky). When he was seven, the family moved to the UK,
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Inside No. 9 series 3: “We’re not sadists!”

Louisa Mellor Feb 14, 2017

Ace anthology series Inside No. 9 returns next week for its third run. Here’s what its creators had to say at the press launch…

Having made audiences wince at characters put through all manner of horrors—murder, suicide, demonic possession—sadism would seem a fair accusation to level at Inside No. 9’s creators. It doesn’t stand of course, because the show’s so good that it’s all pleasure and no pain. Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith don’t seek to make people suffer in writing the series. “I wouldn’t say that’s what we enjoy, we’re not sadists!” Pemberton laughs at the series three press launch. “For us, it’s all about the narrative and taking that half-hour we have for each episode and weaving the story that takes you on the biggest journey.”

See related Tom Hiddleston interview: The Avengers,
See full article at Den of Geek »

Inside No. 9 series 3: Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith interview

Louisa Mellor Feb 21, 2017

Anthology series Inside No. 9 returns for its third series tonight at 10pm on BBC Two. We chatted to creators Pemberton and Shearsmith...

Anthology strand Inside No. 9 is an ingenious antidote to bloated TV storytelling and convuluted multi-series arcs. Created by The League Of Gentlemen and Psychoville's Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith, who write and appear in each episode, it tells original half-hour tales that surprise, delight and unsettle.

See related Alien: Covenant - its new title's meaning & other questions

Thankfully, BBC Two appears to know what a gem it has in the show and is treating it with the care it deserves. Five new episodes following the 2016 Christmas special start airing tonight, and filming is about to get underway on a fourth series.

We spoke to creators Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith about the necessity of keeping Inside No. 9's secrets, the joys of the half-hour format,
See full article at Den of Geek »

Enduring legacy of BBC’s Play for Today | Letters

Deborah Orr laments the loss of Play for Today (Opinion, 14 January). The effect that it had in exploring social issues is illustrated by the charity Action against Medical Accidents, which celebrates its 35th anniversary this year. My Play for Today, Minor Complications (which was directed by Moira Armstrong), exposed the way medical negligence was covered up in the health service. It was based on a real story of a woman fighting her own case. The response was so great my wife and I set up the charity to help people with claims: an uphill task because the opinion of medical experts was essential and (with honourable exceptions) the profession closed ranks. It is now more open and legal awareness much greater thanks to AvMA. Hospital trusts paid out just over £1bn in medical negligence claims in 2013-14, compared to £287m in 2003-4. According to AvMA’s chief executive Peter Walsh,
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Women who worked on Play for Today | Letters

Deborah Orr (Why can’t TV make new plays for today?, 14 January) correctly points out that British playwrights are tackling many of the major social issues today in the theatre instead of using the more democratic medium of television. She laments the loss of Play for Today, saying it “fostered such talents as Mike Leigh, Alan Bleasdale, Dennis Potter and Jack Rosenthal (though this was the 70s, so no women.)” There was at least one – me. I wrote a play for that series which was directed by the late Alan Clarke. It was called Nina, based on the lives of two Russian dissidents, and it starred Eleanor Bron and Jack Shepherd.

Jehane Markham

London

• Over the 14 years (1970-84) that Play for Today ran, at least 21 female dramatists (including Julia Jones, Beryl Bainbridge, Caryl Churchill and Paula Milne) had plays produced for it. Play for Today also employed four female producers (Irene Shubik,
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Why can’t TV tap into these plays for today’s marginalised? | Deborah Orr

While theatre embraces dramas such as Love, Wish List or Boy, it seems sinister that television balks at reflecting austerity Britain

Ten years in, and the metropolitan elite is at last receiving regular tuition in austerity, at the theatre. Often the plays make their way to the capital from other urban centres. Love, currently at the National Theatre, was created using a devising process by Alexander Zeldin, associate director at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre. It starts playing there at the end of January.

Set in a hostel for homeless people, it features a disparate group of the desperate: a father of two whose new wife is 33 weeks pregnant, all four of them sharing one room; an adult son and his ailing, incontinent mother, sharing the room next door; plus a female refugee from Sudan and a male refugee from Syria who drift in and out of the claustrophobic lives of the central group.
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Interview: Ridley Scott & Tom Hardy take us inside the world of Taboo, their new BBC TV series

Author: Jon Lyus

“I feel least qualified to go and do a period drama for the BBC,” says Tom Hardy during our interview sessions early last December for his new eight part drama Taboo.

The show airs its first episode tomorrow night on BBC One and charts the return of James Delaney, described by the actor as a “perverse renaissance man”, to London from his adventures in Africa upon the death of his Father.

He is a man with guilty secrets, and one who gives no quarter to the hostility he encounters from his family and the institutions which seek to hold him to order. As viewers will see tonight the dawn of the Industrial Revolution has been recreated in all its gory, dirty glory. This is a bleak beginning to a story that has an even darker path to tread in future weeks.

We sat down with Hardy and
See full article at HeyUGuys »

Liz Smith dies at 95 by Amber Wilkinson - 2016-12-27 10:05:15

Liz Smith as Grandma Georgina with the cast of Charlie And The Chocolate Factory Photo: Warner Bros Fellow stars paid tribute to actress Liz Smith yesterday, after her family announced the 95-year-old had died on Christmas Eve.

Smith, who became a household name for her small-screen role as Nana in BBC's The Royle Family, was a veteran of both television and film - even though she didn't land her first role until she was almost 50.

Recalling her role in Mike Leigh's Play For Today later, she said: “The moment that my life transformed was when I was standing in Hamley’s one Christmas, flogging toys and I got a message from this young director named Mike Leigh.

“I was nearly 50 at the time, but he wanted a middle-aged woman to do improvisations. I went to an audition and I got the job of the mother in this improvised film – Bleak Moments,
See full article at eyeforfilm.co.uk »

Dark Season and Century Falls: looking back at Russell T Davies' children's dramas

Alex Westthorp Jan 23, 2017

We revisit Dark Season and Century Falls, two children's dramas that established Russell T. Davies' early screenwriting career...

Russell T. Davies, a man synonymous with the successful revival of Doctor Who, was initially a graphic artist for Why Don't You? but he did several jobs on the show, eventually writing, directing and producing the programme. He showed his versatility when he presented an edition of Play School in its final year. Saturday morning summer filler On The Waterfront made its reputation in part due to Davies' own unique take on the classic serial The Flashing Blade. Next came Breakfast Serials, which Davies both wrote and produced. When Tony Robinson decided to take a break from making Maid Marian And Her Merry Men, an afternoon drama slot opened up and Rtd's first major breakthrough in Children's television drama began with the 1991 science fiction thriller Dark Season.

See
See full article at Den of Geek »

Spooky and magical 80s kids' TV dramas: 1980-84

Alex Westthorp Sep 14, 2016

Did fantasy dramas Chocky, The Box Of Delights and Dramarama leave an impression on you as a kid? Revisit those nightmares here...

Spooky, always magical and occasionally downright scary dramas are the bedrock of kids' television. For me, the pinnacle of this sort of programme was reached in the 1980s. The decade saw a new approach to both traditional and contemporary drama by both UK broadcasters: ITV committed itself to regular seasons of children's plays with Dramarama (1983-89), a kind of youth version of the venerable BBC Play For Today (1970-84), which saw the 1988 television debut of one David Tennant. The BBC, building upon an impressive body of work from the early 70s onwards, produced some of its very best family drama in this era, embracing cutting edge technology to bring treats like The Box Of Delights (1984) and The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe (1988) to the screen.
See full article at Den of Geek »

The Living And The Dead: the BBC's new supernatural drama

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We chatted to the writer and cast of new BBC supernatural period drama starring Colin Morgan, by the co-creator of Life On Mars...

On the wall of Ashley Pharoah’s office hangs the bullet-riddled driver-side door of a red 1983 Audi Quattro. It’s a set-souvenir from Ashes To Ashes, the time-travel police drama he co-created to follow Life On Mars. Somewhere nearby is a sepia photograph of a young man looking justifiably disturbed by the sack-headed, creepily masked figures who surround him. That’s Pharoah’s souvenir from the set of The Living And The Dead, an eerie period supernatural drama launching in 'box-set' form on BBC iPlayer tomorrow.

Set in 1894 Somerset, The Living And The Dead is in the tradition of the dark English pastoral. It pits the rural customs and rites of an ancient way of life against the modern ingress of industry and technology.
See full article at Den of Geek »

Letters: Colin Welland’s films gave a voice to those without one

Roy Battersby writes: Auditioning in a grim Salford secondary modern school for boys to play parts in Roll on Four O’Clock in 1970, Colin Welland, Ken Trodd and I also talked about the big strike of mostly women clothing workers in Leeds that same year. The result was the epic BBC Play for Today film Leeds United!, written by Colin, produced by Ken, directed by me, transmitted in 1974, repeated once in 1975, praised, admired and traduced, and since seen only at festivals, academic film gatherings and the National Film Theatre – but always to great appreciation. By heck, it’s a wonderful script and film, and should be included in Colin’s bio as one of his finest works. He always had such a wonderful way of giving a voice to those without one, but who have so much to tell us.

W Stephen Gilbert writes: Outstanding among Colin Welland’s achievements
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Letters: Colin Welland’s films gave a voice to those without one

Roy Battersby writes: Auditioning in a grim Salford secondary modern school for boys to play parts in Roll on Four O’Clock in 1970, Colin Welland, Ken Trodd and I also talked about the big strike of mostly women clothing workers in Leeds that same year. The result was the epic BBC Play for Today film Leeds United!, written by Colin, produced by Ken, directed by me, transmitted in 1974, repeated once in 1975, praised, admired and traduced, and since seen only at festivals, academic film gatherings and the National Film Theatre – but always to great appreciation. By heck, it’s a wonderful script and film, and should be included in Colin’s bio as one of his finest works. He always had such a wonderful way of giving a voice to those without one, but who have so much to tell us.

W Stephen Gilbert writes: Outstanding among Colin Welland’s achievements
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

Julia Jones obituary

Prolific and talented writer of dialogue for television dramas and sitcoms

Julia Jones, who has died aged 92, was a prominent and versatile television writer for more than 40 years, contributing one-off dramas to both the BBC’s Play for Today series and ITV’s Armchair Theatre, making adaptations of Our Mutual Friend and Anne of Green Gables, and writing episodes of The Duchess of Duke Street and sharply turned sitcoms such as Take Three Girls and Moody and Pegg in the 1970s.

Jones, who hailed from a modest Liverpool background, trained as an actor and toured with Joan Littlewood’s Theatre Workshop immediately after the second world war. She took up writing as an economic imperative: while raising a young family, her husband, the actor Edmond “Benny” Bennett, was afflicted with facial cancer which, in the days when the effects of radiotherapy were more haphazard, developed into bone necrosis; he was unable to carry on working.
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Colin Callender Praises Anthony Hopkins and Ian McKellen at ‘The Dresser’ Premiere

Colin Callender Praises Anthony Hopkins and Ian McKellen at ‘The Dresser’ Premiere
From “Game of Thrones” to “Downton Abbey,” TV schedules around the world are awash with drama – but the single play is virtually ignored.

Veteran British producer Colin Callender hopes this situation may change on the back of “The Dresser,” the new Anthony Hopkins-Ian McKellen collaboration commissioned by the BBC and part-funded by Starz.

“I hope the BBC takes courage from this,” said Callender speaking following the show’s premier at London’s Nft attended by cast members including McKellen and Emily Watson. “There is a lack of one-off plays on TV. Plays adapt better on TV than in film … but the single drama on TV is an endangered species.”

Callender explained that in the U.K. TV drama’s roots are in the single play. He cited strands like the BBC’s “Play for Today” and “The Wednesday Play” celebrated for seminal shows like “Cathy Come Home.”

In the U.
See full article at Variety - TV News »

Johnny Vegas wants more TV one-offs: "Now it's all about returning audiences"

Johnny Vegas has called for more "brilliant, self-contained pieces" on television - and less of a focus on "returning audiences".

Vegas stars in one-off comedy Brilliantman! - airing tonight at 9pm on Sky Arts.

"I mourn the bygone days of Play for Today and these self-contained pieces, and the fact that within TV now it's all about returning audiences," the comic told DS.

"It's a real dumbing down or a presumption of the audience. It's almost a broadcast-induced attention deficit syndrome - where they don't trust that people can watch something that is self-contained for 30 minutes.

"And it's a shame that everything is about competing with something in the same time-slot on another channel, rather than putting something on for its creative and artistic validity."

Vegas previously worked with Sky Arts on the Playhouse Presents episode 'Ragged' - based on the early life of actor Ricky Tomlinson.

"I think when we did 'Ragged',
See full article at Digital Spy - TV news »

Inside No. 9 series 2: Pemberton & Shearsmith's twisted genius

Here's a spoiler-free look at what to expect from the second series of Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith's glorious Inside No. 9...

Inside No. 9 returns to BBC Two on Thursday the 26th of March for six more ingenious genre slices of horror, suspense and psychology. Those who were rattled and gripped by the first round of half-hour plays from Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith know to expect to be skilfully sucker-punched with sharp, tricksy writing and well-drawn characters.

Viewers engrossed by the psychological character focus of series one’s Tom & Gerri, the jump scares of series finale The Harrowing, and the unexpected emotional sting of opener Sardines have lots to look forward to from the second series’ first brace of episodes. La Couchette and The 12 Days Of Christine tell the respective stories of a fraught overnight train journey and a woman plagued by a mysterious visitor, featuring guest roles from Mark Benton,
See full article at Den of Geek »

From Murder She Wrote to Arthur & George: the tricky job of showing writers on TV

Writing is not particularly interesting to watch. So television has to do some fancy footwork to keep it visual – such as by having writers never do any work

The novelist Robert Harris recently criticised broadcasters – and especially the BBC – for not doing enough to cover books. This recurrent debate, though, depends on your definition of coverage​.​ Harris seemed to mean publicity, calling for television chat shows dedicated to literature. ​But for viewers who remember when Play for Today and other strands regularly screened scripts originally written for the medium, TV can sometimes seem too dependent on books.

The big winter dramas on the BBC’s main channels​ were The Casual Vacancy and Wolf Hall​, derived from bestsellers by Jk Rowling and Hilary Mantel respectively, while even ITV, which has no public service remit to support reading, ​is currently airing a three-part version of Julian Barnes’ 2005 novel Man Booker prize-shortlisted novel Arthur & George.
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »
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