11 items from 2013
He may be heading up cinema's two biggest spacefaring franchises now, but Star Trek Into Darkness helmer Jj Abrams got his start in television - with the likes of Lost, Alias and Fringe all under his belt...
It's perhaps no surprise then that many of the sci-fi blockbuster's cast members also got their start on the small screen - this week's Friday Fiver explores the TV roots of Benedict Cumberbatch, Zachary Quinto and more...
> Friday Fiver - Two Pints, 'Orrible and more: The UK's 5 Worst Sitcoms
> Friday Fiver - Glee, Grey's Anatomy: Five TV shows that should end
Before he donned the most famous prosthetic ears in Hollywood, 35-year-old Quinto played a shifty CTU analyst in the third season of Fox's 24 and later took on the role of one of TV's most hissable villains - sinister Sylar in Heroes.
He hasn't abandoned television in the wake of »
It's a tough ol' time for the UK sitcom right now - even TV veterans can't seem to crack the genre of late. Ben Elton - he of Blackadder and The Young Ones fame - just spewed out the critically-mauled The Wright Way for BBC One, while over on ITV, luminaries of stage and screen Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Derek Jacobi are about to indulge in the dubious pleasures of Vicious - a catty comedy that feels like it was heading for 1974 and somehow got lost along the way.
The sitcom has always been a tough nut to crack, of course - this country has produced some absolute classics, but also some absolute stinkers. This week's Friday Fiver is all about the misfires, the failures, the disasters.
Heard the phrase "So bad it's good"? Well, this bunch of 'comedies' were just plain bad.
All About Me - aired on BBC One, »
Tesco has signed a deal with BBC Worldwide to show various cookery, comedy and drama programmes on its ad-supported Clubcard TV service.
Shows covered by the deal include Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps, Goodness Gracious Me, Stig of the Dump, The Secret Garden and cookery programmes featuring Antonio Carluccio, Ken Hom and Gary Rhodes.
MD of Clubcard TV Scott Deutrom said: "With this deal we're adding a raft of new TV titles to our expanding catalogue, providing access to even more great digital entertainment in a way that's easy and accessible for customers."
Head of UK, Ireland and Pan European Television Sales at BBC Worldwide Lisa Rousseau added: "We're thrilled to have concluded such an extensive deal with Clubcard TV which will offer their customers a rich range of fantastic British content."
Clubcard TV has previously signed deals with Aardman, Endemol and Warner Bros.
The service »
The Gavin & Stacey star defies stereotypes with her range of award-winning roles on stage and screen
Sheridan Smith used to flog burgers to bikers from a van off the motorway up north. It was, so far, the only job for which she wasn't paid to perform, but that didn't stop her. "Do you want sauce with that, love?" she'd ask. It's easy to imagine Smith delivering that line, one eyebrow rising to a circumflex, lips pursing, more than a hint of cleavage and loads of cheek.
But those who suspected that the 31-year-old actor was a kind of northern Barbara Windsor capable of only blonde sass, and could cite as evidence a decade of knockabout performances in TV sitcoms (including Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps, Love Soup and Gavin & Stacey) and her award-winning turn as jilted-bimbo-turned-Harvard-hotshot in the stage musical Legally Blonde, have spent the past »
- Stuart Jeffries
The tower block, once a symbol of a growing, healthy populace, has become a blot on the landscape of cities across the country with many now bordering on slum-like living… Serenity House is one such tower block.
Following the news that their tower block is scheduled for demolition and awaiting news of their “re-housing”, the top floor residents of Serenity House go about their daily lives unaware of the repercussions of their inaction during the beating and murder of a young man in the halls of the tower block. And repercussions there are, as the tenants of the top floor of Serenity House discover one morning when a sniper starts picking them off one by one! With all the lifts booby-trapped, every entrance and exit obstructed, the mysterious »
The producers of this series promised 'real reality TV'. What we get is more working-class stereotypes and crass caricatures
There's been a lot of "poverty porn" on TV recently, with varying degrees of quality. The BBC's latest offering People Like Us is filmed in the Manchester district of Harpurhey, one of the most deprived areas in the UK and only 10 minutes up the road from where Shameless was filmed. Fittingly, People Like Us wasn't dissimilar from Shameless's working-class pantomime, but this time the showmakers promised "real reality TV".
Presumably what they mean is it's not the semi-scripted fare of The Only Way is Essex or Made in Chelsea but something with another level to it. People Like Us silently draws a dividing line – there's people like them, in Harpurhey, then there's you and me.
I lived in Harpurhey last year, and while I acknowledge it is a very deprived area, »
- Fern Brady
Russell Howard's Good News has been voted by Digital Spy users as the best ever BBC Three show.
Over 10,000 readers voted in our poll, which was held to celebrate the channel turning 10 years old today (February 9).
Comedian Howard's topical news show beat off stiff competition to take 23.6% of the overall vote.
In second place was runaway sitcom success Gavin & Stacey, which took 19.1%.
Further back were Being Human (7.6%), Little Britain (7%) and Torchwood (6.7%).
Speaking to Digital Spy last year, Howard admitted that he feels tremendous pressure when working on Good News.
"My personal life suffers," he said of filming the show. "If you do something that has your name on it, it has to be good.
"It's like an extension of your dissertation. I've not worked as hard on anything since being at university. »
BBC Three turns 10 on Saturday (February 9) and to celebrate we want to find out what Digital Spy's distinguished readers think is its best ever show.
Our final list of shows is made up of your suggestions, our writers' favourites and some shows that were so popular we couldn't leave them out.
Family Guy and other Us imports were excluded on the grounds that the Beeb can't really take credit for them (although we are grateful they show them). Meanwhile, we were willing to include shows such as Liquid News and Two Pints of Lager, because they are so entwined in the channel's history, even if they did actually start off elsewhere (BBC Choice and BBC Two).
What do you think is the channel's greatest ever show? Vote in our poll:
It's time to get out Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps, head down Barry Island and party Mighty Boosh style - BBC Three turns 10 on Saturday night (February 9).
The channel has created huge comedy hits, stunning cult dramas and plenty of controversial documentaries over the last decade. It's also given us some genuinely stinking TV, but hey, none of us are perfect.
To celebrate the channel's upcoming birthday, take a look back at some of its best (and worst) shows in our gallery below:
[BBC Three's Best & Worst - In Pictures] »
The critics loathe it, calling it 'crass', and 'lazy trash'. But Brendan O'Carroll's sitcom has attracted an enormous, loyal following. Where did it come from and why is it so loved?
Where do TV comedy hits come from? Nobody knows, of course. If telly's top brass knew the answer to that, we'd have been spared David Jason in The Royal Bodyguard, or Amanda Holden under her Big Top. But, until recently, some things were taken for granted: the networks' next big hit was unlikely to be discovered playing to an audience of elderly women at the Glasgow Pavilion. It was unlikely to feature a 57-year-old man in a frock making jokes about rectal thermometers, and – in the event that it did – the cast surely wouldn't solely comprise that man's extended family and close friends. Oh, and its star wouldn't cite as his main influence the 70s double-act Cannon and Ball. »
- Brian Logan
Two-part special pulls 11.7m and 10.7m using consolidated figures, eclipsed over Christmas only by Strictly Come Dancing
Unloved by the critics it may be, but BBC1 sitcom Mrs Brown's Boys proved the unsung star attraction in the Christmas TV ratings war, watched by more viewers than tuned into Miranda, EastEnders or Downton Abbey when consolidated viewing figures are taken into account.
An unlikely festive hit, not least because of creator Irish comedian Brendan O'Carroll's fondness for four-letter words, the first of a two-part seasonal special had more than 11 million viewers on Christmas Eve, eclipsed over the festive period only by Strictly Come Dancing.
Like My Family before it Mrs Brown's Boys pulls in big audiences for BBC1 despite being a turnoff with many critics.
The sitcom, born out of a character created by O'Carroll 20 years ago for Irish radio, began with fewer than 3 million viewers when it »
- John Plunkett
11 items from 2013
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