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2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010

1-20 of 64 items from 2010   « Prev | Next »


Downton Abbey v Upstairs Downstairs – who won?

29 December 2010 8:06 AM, PST | The Guardian - TV News | See recent The Guardian - TV News news »

Downton Abbey, of course. What it did in a deliciously melodramatic thespian whisper, Upstairs Downstairs did with a cartoon sledgehammer

Champagne corks must have been popping in Julian Fellowes' house last night. After months of speculation and anticipation, finally it's official: Upstairs Downstairs is nowhere near as good as Fellowes' baby, Downton Abbey.

Poor Upstairs Downstairs. If only they had aired it six months ago, everyone would be saying how wonderful it is. Instead it has had to endure the curse of comparison. And next to Fellowes' glittering showpiece (with an audience of 10.8 million and one of the top 10 ratings winners of 2010), the BBC's revival of its 1970s classic looked as limp as the shammy leather wielded by Spargo, the spurned fascist chauffeur.

Here's the problem. Downton Abbey completely changed the way we watch period drama. Fellowes brought all the tight, witty scripting of a Hollywood adaptation to an original story, »

- Viv Groskop

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The new Upstairs, Downstairs is more period than drama | Steven Fielding

27 December 2010 4:00 AM, PST | The Guardian - TV News | See recent The Guardian - TV News news »

Period dramas from the 1970s often explored class politics from a leftish perspective. Today's versions are escapist fantasy

The BBC's Christmas revival of Upstairs, Downstairs, taken together with the popularity of ITV's Downton Abbey, suggests that a new wave of period dramas is about to hit the small screen.

The 1970s was the last time schedules were dominated by dramas like The Onedin Line, Poldark and When the Boat Comes In. Critics complained that producers were obsessed with an anachronistic past – but audiences lapped them up. The 1970s was also a decade of recession, government cuts and falling living standards. Some believed it was this miserable context that explained why period dramas were so popular: they helped viewers retreat into a comforting nostalgia for a past that never was. Given the similarities between the 1970s and our own times, can we learn anything from the first wave of period dramas? »

- Steven Fielding

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TV review: Whistle and I'll Come to You | Doctor Who | Murder on the Orient Express | Upstairs Downstairs | When Harvey Met Bob

26 December 2010 11:59 PM, PST | The Guardian - TV News | See recent The Guardian - TV News news »

Mr James's classic ghost story has been much tampered with. But it's still utterly terrifying

It was a Christmas of ghosts and of the past. Shhh, what's that noise? It's Mr James, the great ghost story writer, turning in his grave at Whistle and I'll Come to You (BBC2, Christmas Eve). His terrifying short story has been much tampered with. The whistle, the one that Parkins blows, unwittingly awakening the dead, is missing mysteriously. Many other things are gone or altered. Even the shoreline is wrong; it should be the east coast: dunes, windswept. This looks like Dorset.

What survives though is the spirit of the story – a man, alone by the sea, haunted, pursued by something. It is terrifying. And John Hurt's performance as that man is mesmerising, a masterclass in how to captivate. Hurt really fills a screen.

As does Michael Gambon in Doctor Who (BBC1, Christmas »

- Sam Wollaston

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Downton Abbey creator praises Upstairs Downstairs

24 December 2010 4:57 AM, PST | The Guardian - TV News | See recent The Guardian - TV News news »

Julian Fellowes says BBC's rival costume drama has 'tip-top' cast, and could be a success

"Tip-top" actors will help ensure the success of the BBC's Upstairs Downstairs this Christmas, according to the creator of ITV's rival costume drama Downton Abbey.

Julian Fellowes said that he thought that both programmes could be hits even though they are broadly based on the same formula of upper-class characters and servants.

"Maybe it's marvellous, I don't see why it shouldn't be marvellous, they have Eileen Atkins, Keeley Hawes, she is terribly good," Fellowes said, adding: "It sounds like a tip-top cast to me."

The Downton creator believes that the British public remain fascinated by what he calls the "servanted house" and argues that the format is a form of workplace drama, where people from different social backgrounds mix – a successful construct shared with police and hospital shows.

He added: "There hasn't exactly been a lot of [costume drama] on offer recently, »

- Maggie Brown

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Upstairs Downstairs is back

24 December 2010 12:00 AM, PST | The Guardian - TV News | See recent The Guardian - TV News news »

The 1970s 'costume soap' returns – in a far more status-conscious world

When Upstairs, Downstairs was first broadcast on Sunday 10 October 1971, Britain was struggling with decimalisation and that new-fangled trumpery of a gaudy Satan, colour telly. Its first episodes were shot in black and white because of an industrial dispute by cameramen seeking more money for operating colour cameras.

And yet, in some respects, Britain then was a happier place than it is today. It was arguably less class-stratified than now. As a result, we would settle back on Sunday evenings to watch this drama of Edwardian-era masters and servants as if it were ancient history.

We, in socially immobile 21st-century Britain, have no such luxury. In 1971 we weren't led as we are now by Etonian toffs whose educations were bankrolled by Daddy. Conservative prime minister Edward Heath and his successor, Labour's Harold Wilson, were both clever grammar-school boys whose Oxford »

- Stuart Jeffries

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Froggatt 'nervous about Royle role'

22 December 2010 9:37 AM, PST | Digital Spy | See recent Digital Spy - Movie News news »

Joanne Froggatt has admitted that she was nervous about joining the cast of The Royle Family. The Downton Abbey star will play Saskia, the girlfriend of Anthony (Ralf Little), in the show's Christmas special. "I was nervous, because my family always watches it, so I'm a bit of a fan," she told What's On TV. "But everyone has been so lovely. It's funny [because] I'm playing the newcomer to the family and that's what it felt like for me. But I feel (more) »

- By Morgan Jeffery

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ITV1 proves it has The X Factor in ratings war

22 December 2010 1:32 AM, PST | The Guardian - TV News | See recent The Guardian - TV News news »

Final of hit series tops list of most-watched programmes, with England's World Cup defeat to Germamy in second place

The X Factor's domination of television ratings continued this year, with last weekend's final topping the list of most-watched programmes of 2010.

ITV1's hit series, now in its seventh year and showing no signs of flagging, even beat this year's football World Cup. An average of 17.7 million watched Matt Cardle win The X Factor final, compared with 17.4 million who saw England crash to a 4-1 defeat against Germany in June.

Drama also fared well on ITV1 in 2010. Downton Abbey pulled in 10.7 million viewers, making it the highest-rated new drama of the year and the tenth most-watched show. Written by Oscar winner Julian Fellowes, Downton was ITV's most successful drama series launch for almost seven years, perhaps marking a renaissance for scripted drama, which has been sidelined by reality programming over the past decade. »

- Tara Conlan

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Hugh Bonneville: escape from Downton

19 December 2010 4:00 PM, PST | The Guardian - TV News | See recent The Guardian - TV News news »

Hugh Bonneville stars in this Christmas's Poirot. How did he become the poster-boy of period drama?

Down at the ITV offices, Hugh Bonneville thinks he is giving a press conference about his role as a butler in the new Poirot, Murder On the Orient Express, to be shown on Christmas Day. Yet all anyone wants to talk about is Downton Abbey. In his role as Robert Crawley, the Earl of Grantham, who presides over a house and family on the brink of ruin, Bonneville was a pivotal part of the Edwardian costume drama that pulled in 11.6m viewers and became the TV sensation of the year. In the next room, David Suchet (Poirot) is being interviewed and can be heard through the wall murmuring about Downton – and he wasn't even in it.

"I've had people come up to me in the past and say they enjoyed whatever show I've been in, »

- Emine Saner

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'Hollywood never suited me': Elizabeth McGovern on fleeing La and Downton Abbey’s Lady Cora

17 December 2010 4:00 PM, PST | The Independent | See recent The Independent news »

To morning coffee with Lady Cora, chatelaine of Downton Abbey. Or rather, because I'm not one of those sad sacks who confuses an actor with their TV character (happens to soap stars all the time, I'm reliably informed), it's one cappuccino (for her) and one latte (for me) with Elizabeth McGovern, the La-raised actress who plays the American heiress wife of Hugh Bonneville's the Earl of Grantham in ITV1's recent hit Sunday night costume drama. She's looking very fetching this snow-swirling slushy morn in a grey beanie hat and carmine lipstick that accentuates the almost vampire-like pallor of her skin. In fact, McGovern looks altogether très chic in a snug, layered woollen way – although she wouldn't get past the tradesmen's entrance at Downton. »

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War declared as Upstairs, Downstairs creator fires volley at Downton Abbey

16 December 2010 4:02 PM, PST | The Guardian - TV News | See recent The Guardian - TV News news »

Trouble began when Jean Marsh suggested Downton Abbey was a thinly-disguised facsimile of original Upstairs, Downstairs

In the genteel world of TV costume drama, any tensions are usually scripted – and fictional. But an unlikely spat has broken out between Jean Marsh, actor and co-creator of Upstairs, Downstairs – which will return to BBC1 this Christmas – and Hugh Bonneville, star of rival ITV Edwardian drama Downton Abbey.

Hackles were raised when Marsh suggested that Downton Abbey, one of the unexpected hits of the year, was a thinly-disguised facsimile of the original Upstairs, Downstairs, which ran from 1971 to 1975 and has been watched by an estimated 1 billion people worldwide.

"I think we were all surprised," Marsh told BBC1's The One Show. "The new Upstairs, Downstairs had been in the works for about three years. We were trying to sort out … 40 years of rights and then it also started – Downton Abbey – in the Edwardian era, »

- John Plunkett

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In Our Name review

9 December 2010 8:16 AM, PST | Shadowlocked | See recent Shadowlocked news »

Newcomer Scottish director Brian Welsh's second feature, In Our Name, is a brave and moving exploration of what it's like for soldiers returning from war to suddenly adjust to the relative peace of civilian life.

Having undergone gunner training in North-West Iraq, Suzy returns home fourteen months later to a welcome party and Union Jack flags. At first she's seems unaffected by her “tough but rewarding” tour; but as the days pass, her husband, Mark, notices she's emotionally and sexually withdrawn, and fellow officer Paul describes her as “out of it”.

Haunted by the memory of a young Iraqi girl's death, for which Suzy feels responsible, having given the reluctant child sweets only to later see her gunned down for communicating with soldiers. Her own daughter, Cass, acts as a constant reminder of the event for Suzy, and she soon becomes unhealthily obsessed with protecting her - the gang »

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In Our Name review

9 December 2010 8:16 AM, PST | Shadowlocked | See recent Shadowlocked news »

Newcomer Scottish director Brian Welsh's second feature, In Our Name, is a brave and moving exploration of what it's like for soldiers returning from war to suddenly adjust to the relative peace of civilian life.

Having undergone gunner training in North-West Iraq, Suzy returns home fourteen months later to a welcome party and Union Jack flags. At first she's seems unaffected by her “tough but rewarding” tour; but as the days pass, her husband, Mark, notices she's emotionally and sexually withdrawn and fellow officer, Paul, describes her as “out of it”.

Haunted by the memory of a young Iraqi girl's death, for which Suzy feels responsible, having given the reluctant child sweets only to later see her gunned down for communicating with soldiers. Her own daughter, Cass, acts as a constant reminder of the event for Suzy, and she soon becomes unhealthily obsessed with protecting her - the gang »

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In Our Name review

9 December 2010 8:16 AM, PST | Shadowlocked | See recent Shadowlocked news »

Newcomer Scottish director Brian Welsh's second feature, In Our Name, is a brave and moving exploration of what it's like for soldiers returning from war to suddenly adjust to the relative peace of civilian life.

Having undergone gunner training in North-West Iraq, Suzy returns home fourteen months later to a welcome party and Union Jack flags. At first she's seems unaffected by her “tough but rewarding” tour; but as the days pass, her husband, Mark, notices she's emotionally and sexually withdrawn and fellow officer, Paul, describes her as “out of it”.

Haunted by the memory of a young Iraqi girl's death, for which Suzy feels responsible, having given the reluctant child sweets only to later see her gunned down for communicating with soldiers. Her own daughter, Cass, acts as a constant reminder of the event for Suzy, and she soon becomes unhealthily obsessed with protecting her - the gang »

Permalink | Report a problem


In Our Name review

9 December 2010 8:16 AM, PST | Shadowlocked | See recent Shadowlocked news »

Newcomer Scottish director Brian Welsh's second feature, In Our Name, is a brave and moving exploration of what it's like for soldiers returning from war to suddenly adjust to the relative peace of civilian life.

Having undergone gunner training in North-West Iraq, Suzy returns home fourteen months later to a welcome party and Union Jack flags. At first she's seems unaffected by her “tough but rewarding” tour; but as the days pass, her husband, Mark, notices she's emotionally and sexually withdrawn and fellow officer, Paul, describes her as “out of it”.

Haunted by the memory of a young Iraqi girl's death, for which Suzy feels responsible, having given the reluctant child sweets only to later see her gunned down for communicating with soldiers. Her own daughter, Cass, acts as a constant reminder of the event for Suzy, and she soon becomes unhealthily obsessed with protecting her - the gang »

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A House Divided: An Advance Review of Masterpiece's Extraordinary Downton Abbey

8 December 2010 9:02 AM, PST | Televisionary | See recent Televisionary news »

“Death is not the end. There remains the litigation over the estate.” - Ambrose Bierce A house might be a home, but it can also serve as an apt metaphor for an entire country. Numerous writers have offered portraits of the changing face of their nation in such condition-of-England novels as Charles Dickens' "Bleak House," Evelyn Waugh's "Brideshead Revisited," and Elizabeth Gaskell's "Cranford" and "North and South." In the case of Julian Fellowes' extraordinary period drama Downton Abbey, launching January 9th on PBS' Masterpiece Classic, the titular country estate, home to the well-heeled Crawley family, is in turmoil. Great houses such as these are both relics of bygone eras as well as living, breathing organisms of their own right, humming along as they employ a staff of hundreds. Everyone--from the lord and lady to the humblest footman and scullery maid--has their function and their duty to maintain. »

- Jace

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The King's Speech takes top prize at British independent film awards

6 December 2010 12:43 AM, PST | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

Story of George VI's battle to overcome his chronic stammer tipped for more success during awards season

On paper, it sounds less than thrilling – one man, one stammer, one speech therapist. But big things are being predicted for The King's Speech and its expected awards season success began last night when it won the top prize at the British independent film awards.

The film, telling the true story of George VI's battle to overcome his chronic stammer and make the speech of his life, was named best film at the 13th Bifas.

It won the biggest share of prizes – five awards in total at the London ceremony, also hoovering up most of the acting honours.

Colin Firth won best actor for his moving performance as the reluctant king who was forced on to the throne by his brother's abdication in December 1936 – a portrayal that is also putting him on most Oscar tip-lists. »

- Mark Brown

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'Misfits', 'Sherlock' get 'South Bank' nods

1 December 2010 6:30 AM, PST | Digital Spy | See recent Digital Spy - Movie News news »

Sky Arts has announced the nominees in the television categories at this year's South Bank Awards. E4 drama Misfits, which recently picked up three nominations for the Broadcast Awards, was shortlisted for 'Best TV Drama'. The show will compete against BBC One's Sherlock and Channel 4's This Is England 86. Meanwhile, the 'Best Comedy' category recognises Alan Partridge's recent online series, the BBC Four show Getting On, and BBC Two's sitcom Rev. The awards also include a 'Breakthrough' category, with one person from each field represented in the shortlist. Michelle Dockery, who recently played Mary in Downton Abbey, is the 'TV Drama' (more) »

- By Catriona Wightman

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Julian Fellowes Becomes A Tory Lord

19 November 2010 9:48 AM, PST | Deadline London | See recent Deadline London news »

Talk about life imitating art. Julian Fellowes, Oscar-winning screenwriter and creator of ITV snob drama Downton Abbey, which PBS will show in January, has been made a Tory peer. Fellowes, who's complained that the problem with success is that it's very time-consuming, will now have even less time to pen the 2nd series of Downton if he's to be fulfilling his duties in the House of Lords, the Brit equivalent of the Senate. At least he’ll be at home. Fellowes is utterly posh -- his wife was lady-in-waiting to Princess Michael of Kent. He once remarked that she was the only woman at the 2002 Oscars who didn’t need to borrow her jewels. Michael Grade, the ex-chairman of the BBC and ITV, is joining Fellowes as a Conservative peer. Grade is currently chairman of Pinewood Shepperton and of management company James Grant Management, whose clients include Piers Morgan. »

- TIM ADLER in London

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Giles and Sue Live the Good Life, Misfits, Stephen Fry and the Great American Oil Spill, Bp: $30 Billion Blowout, Downton Abbey – TV review

16 November 2010 5:42 AM, PST | The Guardian - TV News | See recent The Guardian - TV News news »

Giles Coren and Sue Perkins prove rather more semi-detached than self-sufficient as they revisit the classic 70s comedy The Good Life

Giles and Sue Live the Good Life | iPlayer

Misfits | 4Od

Stephen Fry and the Great American Oil Spill | iPlayer

Bp: $30 Billion Blowout | iPlayer

Downton Abbey | ITV Player I don't know if foodie double act Giles Coren and Sue Perkins have finished eating a tunnel through the history of dinner in their amusing Supersizers Go… series, but what a wheeze it must have seemed to have the pair togged out as a spoof Tom and Barbara in the 1970s sitcom The Good Life – what jollier way to exploit the current key trends of enforced poverty and modern allotment living!

But did Giles and Sue Live the Good Life do what it said on the tin or (in the understandable absence of tins) in the retro opening titles, rendered with wonkily »

- Phil Hogan

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ITV Revenue Lifts 11% In First 9 Months

16 November 2010 4:31 AM, PST | Deadline London | See recent Deadline London news »

With 30-second primetime TV ads during next month’s The X Factor final now selling for £250,000 ($400,000), no wonder ITV expects 4th quarter ad revenue to rise by 10%. ITV’s revenue over the first 9 months has risen to £1.46 billion compared with £1.31 billion last year. Ad revenue rose by 16% between July and September. Booming ratings for The X Factor and Julian Fellowes’ Downtown Abbey – hurriedly re-commissioned for a 2nd series – have been key revenue drivers. Downton Abbey’s final episode drew an audience of more than 10 million. PBS is due to start showing Downton as part of Masterpiece Theatre in January. Indeed, the figures are expected to be so good ITV is thinking about reinstating its shareholder dividend. ITV has not made a payout to shareholders for almost 2 years. ITV Studios, the broadcaster’s in-house production arm, dragged down Q3 figures though. Its earnings fell 10% to £205 million as ITV struggles to create hit new shows in-house. »

- TIM ADLER in London

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