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The BBC’s new Victorian bonnet horror is a sort of Downton Spooky. But how does it compare to TV’s greatest ghost stories?
At a time when news bulletins feel supernaturally strange, period dramas are expected to bring escapist pleasures to the schedules. But, although set in 1894, The Living and the Dead, starting in the slot before whatever frights are revealed in tonight’s 10pm BBC News, won’t provide much relief to viewers feeling haunted. The six-parter revives one of TV’s least-seen genres: the ghost story.
Writer Ashley Pharoah has raised spectres before. In Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes (co-written with Matthew Graham), the cast was filled with the living dead, although this did not become clear for several series. While those shows brought ghost stories into the contemporary world, The Living and the Dead is in the tradition of classic English Victorian chillers, although »
- Mark Lawson
This review contains episode 1 spoilers.
Ashley Pharoah, the creator of The Living And The Dead, made his name writing genre TV with a twist. He and Matthew Graham added a time travel mystery to the police procedural in Life On Mars and Ashes To Ashes, then spliced the supernatural with court drama in Eternal Law.
Pharoah’s new series The Living And The Dead plays the same game. It’s a traditional Victorian ghost story with Something Else Going On. Two events in the first episode alert viewers to this fact – the vapour trail of a modern airplane in the 1894 Somerset sky and the closing sight of a twenty-first century woman, iPad in hand, walking around the nineteenth-century farmhouse in which the story is set. »
The BBC has appointed Piers Wenger, Channel 4’s head of drama, as controller of BBC drama commissioning, responsible for more than 450 hours of drama a year, including global hits like “Doctor Who” and “Sherlock.” Beth Willis replaces him at Channel 4, where she is his deputy.
Wenger’s new role is one of the most prestigious jobs in the world of TV drama, greenlighting shows that are then exported to the U.S. and around the world. BBC commissions include “Peaky Blinders,” “War and Peace” and “Call the Midwife.”
Wenger, who starts at the BBC in the fall, has been Channel 4’s drama chief since 2012, commissioning original scripted drama across both Channel 4 and its youth-skewed channel, E4. He has broadened the range of drama on the main channel and shifted the emphasis to include more returning series.
- Leo Barraclough
The UK drama followed Sam Tyler (John Simm), a Manchester policeman who is hit by a car in 2006 and wakes up in 1973. The series also starred Philip Glenister and Liz White. A sequel series, Ashes to Ashes, aired from 2008 to 2010.
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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. »
Never say never. Philip Glenister who starred as Dci Gene Hunt on the BBC's Life on Mars TV show would be happy to resurrect the character. He reprised the role in the Life on Mars sequel series, Ashes to Ashes.
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A new lyric music video for David Bowie's new song "I Can't Give Everything Away" will surely tug at the heartstrings of the late rock icon's devoted fans. The trippy, animated clip, created by artist Jonathan Barnbrook, is mostly black and white until the last quarter. It then transforms into a colorful kaleidoscope and also projects a nostalgic image—an astronaut, or rather, a "starman," one of the singer's nicknames and the title of his iconic 1972 song. The man could also be Major Tom, the name of the astronaut referenced in Bowie's songs "Space Oddity", "Ashes to Ashes", "Hallo Spaceboy" and "Blackstar." Sample lyrics »
Two months ago a concert of David Bowie's music was announced - Famous fans would sing Bowie's songs at Carnegie Hall in New York City in March. Club owner Michael Dorf had intended the show - the tickets for which would raise money for arts education - as a tribute to a living legend. But the day of the announcement, Bowie died at age 69 and the concert was quickly recast as a celebration of a musical life cut short. The timing, said Dorf, of City Winery, led to an outpouring of "fellow artists wanting to show their respect and »
- Allison Adato
Daniel Mays, 37, grew up in Epping, Essex, and trained at the Italia Conti Academy and Rada. Not long after graduating, he was cast by Mike Leigh in All Or Nothing and later as Imelda Staunton’s cocky son, Sid, in Vera Drake. His impressive list of screen credits, including roles in Atonement and Made in Dagenham, Red Riding and Ashes to Ashes, is matched by an equally weighty stage CV – Mays has appeared in six productions at the Royal Court. He stars alongside Timothy Spall in Harold Pinter’s The Caretaker at the Old Vic from Tuesday 29 March.
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- Killian Fox
The Horror Channel has an Easter treat for fans of Hammer films, as their UK-only Hammer-thon will air March 26th and 27th. Also in this round-up: release details for The Ones Below, a trailer for The Cleansing Hour short film, eight preview pages from Monster World #3, and information on The Last American Horror Show.
Some of Hammer’s most popular films, including The Revenge Of Frankenstein, The Devil Rides Out and The Brides Of Dracula will be broadcast across the weekend from 3pm – 10pm on Saturday 26th and Sunday 27th March.
- Tamika Jones
Daniel Mays, who also starred in ITV’s Mrs Biggs and BBC1’s Ashes to Ashes, and as Private Walker in the new film version of Dad’s Army, said the industry was awash with actors and writers educated at public school.
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- John Plunkett
British thesps David Morrissey ("The Walking Dead," "State of Play") and Keeley Hawes ("Ashes to Ashes") will team with the returning Tcheky Karyo for the second season of Starz and BBC One's mystery drama "The Missing".
The anthology series thriller will return for eight episodes with a new case, a new location, and new characters aside from Karyo's Julien Baptiste. Harry and Jack Williams return as scribes while Ben Chanan ("The Last Kingdom") is slated to direct all eight episodes.
Morrissey and Hawes play a couple whose daughter Alice went missing in 2003. Eleven years later, a young British woman stumbles through the streets of her German hometown and collapses. Told in dual timelines, unfolding between 2014 and the present day, we see how her family are thrown back into a turmoil that threatens to tear them apart at the seams.
- Garth Franklin
Tilda Swinton told personal stories of her teenage Bowie obsessions while introducing The Man To Fell To Earth at a Berlinale Special screening on Friday night.
She said she took the stage “on behalf of all of us fanboys” and thanked Berlinale director Dieter Kosslick for planning this tribute to Bowie, who died on January 10. “Dieter has done what we’ve wanted someone to do for a month, which is to give an opportunity for us all to be together and sit in the dark and look at the leader of our tribe.” Swinton appeared in Bowie’s The Stars (Are Out Tonight) video in 2013.
She added, “It’s only the Berlinale that would be doing this, it’s a cultural moment. “
- email@example.com (Wendy Mitchell)
London — A collection of Neil Gaiman’s short stories are set to be produced in a new four-part adaptation for Sky Arts, the channel has confirmed.
“Likely Stories” is produced by Sid Gentle Films and will be directed by Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard, the duo behind Nick Cave docu “20,000 Days on Earth.” Jarvis Cocker will score the four 30-minute stories, which will topline George MacKay (“Pride”), Tom Hughes (“The Game”), Johnny Vegas (“Moone Boy”), Kenneth Cranham (“Maleficent”) and Rita Tushingham (“Doctor Zhivago”).
The “dark and strange” London-set tales will center on the act of storytelling in a world that moves seamlessly between reality and fantasy. Gaiman will appear in each story in an “unusual way,” with subtle nods to his wider work that will appeal to his fanbase.
The four adaptations are titled “Foreign Parts,” a story of identity, ghostly tales “Feeders & Eaters” and “Closing Time” and the life-spanning story “Looking for the Girl. »
- Diana Lodderhose
Sound Shock re-reads Bowie’s classic video “Ashes to Ashes” as a surrealist horror film. ‘Strung Out in Heaven’s High’ – David Bowie’s Ashes to Ashes As we continue to reflect on the vast legacy of this extraordinary artist, come with me back to one of David Bowie’s most memorable videos – ‘Ashes to Ashes’ from 1980.…
- Chris Alexander
The late David Bowie brought something down to earth (literally, in one case) to his film acting roles. We look at his film acting roles.
Editor's note: we don't like to run material to generate clicks off the death of someone. We did, however, want to talk about the wonderful film and TV work that the late, great David Bowie has left behind. Hence, we've thus held this piece back to now. If it still feels too soon, then do give it a miss.
David Bowie's state of existence at the time of performing influenced his musical ‘personas’ enormously. Though such characters as Diamond Dogs’ Halloween Jack or Ashes To Ashes’ Pierrot seem superficially too outré and theatrical to be based in anything real, retrospectively we can see a private life exposed: Bowie’s exposure to fame and feelings of being an outsider informed the Ziggy »
Eric Lavallee: Name me three of your favorite “2015 discoveries”.
I go the cinema all the time, I think one movie that really impressed me was Foxcatcher. The script is incredible, the ideas, the atmosphere.
I want to buy the dvd. The last thing that comes to mind right now is David Bowie. All his songs. I can’t stop listening to him. Ashes to ashes. Heroes. Woew. He was wonderful. I also can’t stop listening to a Pink Floyd song at the moment, Paintbox. I love the melody. I want it in my next short film but I’ll never have the money for it. It must be so expensive to have Pink Floyd in a movie. Oh, I must say »
- Eric Lavallee
London — Jane Featherstone, former chief executive of Kudos, co-chairman of Shine U.K. and executive producer of dramas including “Spooks,” “Humans,” “River” and “Broadchurch,” has launched independent production company Sister Pictures.
Sister Pictures will produce drama for both U.K. and international buyers, and has a number of projects in development. Among the initial slate of projects, Featherstone today revealed the development of a drama series based in the world of divorce lawyers, called “The Split,” from Abi Morgan, creator of TV series “The Hour” and “River,” and writer of films including “The Iron Lady” and “Suffragette.”
Katie Carpenter joins the company as head of development from Kudos, where she was a development executive.
Featherstone, who left Kudos last year after 15 years with the company, has produced dramas for the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Sky, AMC, HBO, Netflix, Fox and Canal Plus. She was the executive producer of “Hustle” and »
- Leo Barraclough
Michael Stipe, the longtime lead singer of Rem until its breakup in 2011, posted a message about David Bowie to the band's Facebook account. It recalls the starry-eyed wonder of his tribute to Andy Kaufman in "Man on the Moon." Stipe has long been an established fan of Bowie's. Commenting once on Bowie's "Ashes to Ashes," he said, "It’s so audacious as a piece of writing. You can go into any bar in the world, and if they play that song, watch people around the room. Each will sing along to a separate part. There’s about seven parts people sing along to. It's the audacity of not only writing about Major Tom, but then making it this flawless mess." Can't argue with that. »
- Louis Virtel
David Bowie’s relationship to cinema and acting was characteristically complex and knotty even before he started: He famously had to change his name from Davy Jones because there was already a British actor with that name making major waves in music as part of the mega-hit TV manufactured band, the Monkees.
For an artist who transformed rock and roll music to great acclaim and financial rewards, David Bowie’s work as an actor never matched the notoriety and success of his recordings and concerts. But Bowie accomplished a feat that eluded Elvis and many other pantheon rockers who attempted to crossover from rock stardom to films and starred in a movie that has endured as a legitimate work of art: Nicolas Roeg’s 1976 sci-fi masterwork, “The Man Who Fell To Earth.” (The other contender for that distinction is Mick Jagger, whose “Performance” is ranked as a masterwork of British »
- Steven Gaydos
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