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12 items from 2010


A golden age for acting grande dames

31 December 2010 4:30 AM, PST | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

The likes of Helen Mirren, Imelda Staunton and Julia McKenzie show skills rather than surgery are the way to success

Botox and surgical artifice are not the way for a woman to prolong a career on stage and screen. While it may still be true in Hollywood that a frozen face will keep you in the running for female lead roles, actor Helena Bonham Carter and producer Lili Fini Zanuck roundly decried the practice on Sam Taylor-Wood's edition of The Today Programme on Wednesday. It might be a bit of a niche issue, but it did make me think that Hbc could well be right when she says she is sure she would get less work if she tried to stop her face from changing.

Female British actors of a certain age – oh, let's not be coy, say, above 50 – really are enjoying a golden era. Not only are they »

- Vanessa Thorpe

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'Rock & Chips' special tops 'Marple'

30 December 2010 2:30 AM, PST | Digital Spy | See recent Digital Spy - Movie News news »

Rock & Chips finished just ahead of Marple in last night's 9pm slot, despite being down 2.3m on its January premiere. BBC One's Only Fools and Horses prequel, starring James Buckley and Nicholas Lyndhurst, logged 5.15m (20.3%) in the 9pm hour. Agatha Christie's Marple took 5.29m (20.7%) for ITV1 between 8pm and 10pm, averaging 4.97m (19.6%) versus Rock & Chips. Prior to Marple, The Lakes interested 3.84m (16.4%), pipping Dig 40's 3.73m (15.9%) for BBC One. At 7pm, Celebrity Mastermind quizzed 4.77m (19.6%), then an hour later Polar Bear: Spy on the Ice managed an impressive 5.39m (21%). Over on BBC Two, Matt Lucas-fronted documentary Les Mis at 25 appealed to 1.48m (5.7%) at 8pm, (more) »

- By Paul Millar

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Last night's TV: Agatha Christie's Marple: The Secrets of Chimneys

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

Miss Marple and her country-house set sleepwalk through an Agatha Christie travesty

The action had been brought forward from the mid-20s to the mid-50s. Most of the characters had been either renamed or invented. The plot had been largely reworked, with both motive and murderer entirely different. Even the detective was not the same, with Miss Marple being helicoptered in to solve a case in which she had never appeared. But apart from all this, Agatha Christie's Marple: The Secrets of Chimneys (ITV1) was a faithful interpretation of the original story.

I know that country-house dramas are this year's big TV must-have and that the producers are running out of stories with which to keep the lucrative Marple franchise on the road, but quite why they felt the need to alter everything so dramatically wasn't clear. The original story – about the intrigues concerning the Herzoslovakian succession – was »

- John Crace

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TV highlights 27 December

19 December 2010 7:35 PM, PST | The Guardian - TV News | See recent The Guardian - TV News news »

Three Men Go To Scotland | Agatha Christie's Marple | Charlie Brooker's 2010 Wipe | Jesus: The Missing Years | Gates of Hell | Italian Noir

Three Men Go To Scotland

8pm, BBC2

It took Johnson and Boswell 83 days to explore Scotland's Highlands and Islands in the 18th century. This being the age of instant gratification, Rory McGrath, Dara O Briain and Griff Rhys Jones are going to do it in 10 – sheep-shearing, hammer-throwing and going commando (yes, like that) en route to Amhuinnsuidhe Castle, to participate in the final week of fly fishing. However, with a rowing race called "Beat the Griff" also on the itinerary, can they possibly avoid winding up the "highly excitable" Welshman again? Ajc

Agatha Christie's Marple

9pm, ITV1

Julia McKenzie returns as the wily old buffer with a mind like a Gillette Sensor Excel. Jane Marple and her young friend Virginia go to Virginia's crumbling ancestral pile, Chimneys, for the weekend. »

- Ali Catterall, Julia Raeside, Will Dean

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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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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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November DVD Playhouse

5 November 2010 7:15 PM, PDT | The Hollywood Interview | See recent The Hollywood Interview news »

DVD Playhouse—November 2010

By Allen Gardner

Paths Of Glory (Criterion) Stanley Kubrick’s 1957 antiwar classic put him on the map as a major filmmaker. Kirk Douglas stars in a true story about a French officer in Ww I who locks horns with the military’s top brass after his men are court-martialed for failing to carry out an obvious suicide mission. A perfect film, across the board, with fine support from George Macready as one of the most despicable martinet’s ever captured on film, Ralph Meeker, and Adolphe Menjou, all oily charm as a conniving General. Also available on Blu-ray disc. Bonuses: Audio commentary by critic Gary Giddins; Excerpt from 1966 audio interview with Kubrick; 1979 interview with Douglas; New interviews with Jan Harlan, Christiane Kubrick, and producer James B. Harris; French television documentary on real-life case which inspired the film; Trailer. Widescreen. Dolby 1.0 mono.

Winter’S Bone (Lionsgate) After her deadbeat father disappears, »

- The Hollywood Interview.com

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[TV] The Great Detectives Anthology

25 October 2010 4:00 AM, PDT | JustPressPlay.net | See recent JustPressPlay news »

In July of 2009, A&E released the Hercule Poirot and Jane Marple DVD set that included all of those included in this new Great Detectives Anthology. The difference between this set and that 2009 release is the addition of 5 Sherlock Holmes mysteries (featuring Peter Cushing), the omission of 7 Poirot mysteries one Marple mystery. Exactly why this change in the old set was made is hard to say, but the set definitely benefits from the addition of Sherlock Holmes to the mix, it immediately makes the set more palatable to a wider audience who may not have foreknowledge of the two comparatively lesser known detectives who headlined the first set.

The Sherlock Holmes mysteries included in the set are “The Hound of the Baskervilles”, “A Study in Scarlet”, “The Boscombe Valley Mystery”, “The Sign of Four” and “The Blue Carbuncle”.

Just like with the original Poirot & Marple set, they’re oddly out of order, »

- Lex Walker

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Agatha Christie: little grey cells and red herrings galore

1 October 2010 12:16 AM, PDT | The Guardian - TV News | See recent The Guardian - TV News news »

There's much to enjoy in Agatha Christie. Here's a selection of five of her best moments

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (1926)

Although it's widely viewed as her masterpiece, the critics initially accused Christie of not playing fair. Breaking previous rules of detective fiction, the novel sees Hercule Poirot investigate Ackroyd's murder and slowly and spectacularly unravelling the mystery of the suicide of the woman Ackroyd loved. We won't spoil the twist for you.

The Body in the Library (1942)

"You've been dreaming, Dolly," Colonel Bantry tells his wife. "Bodies are always being found in libraries in books. I've never known a case in real life." Christie wrote in her foreword to this Miss Marple mystery that she wanted to do a variation on a well-known theme, with "a highly orthodox and conventional library" but "a wildly improbable and highly sensational body". She provides the reader with red herrings galore before Marple works out whodunnit. »

- Alison Flood

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Agatha Christie: little grey cells and red herrings galore

1 October 2010 12:16 AM, PDT | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

There's much to enjoy in Agatha Christie. Here's a selection of five of her best moments

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (1926)

Although it's widely viewed as her masterpiece, the critics initially accused Christie of not playing fair. Breaking previous rules of detective fiction, the novel sees Hercule Poirot investigate Ackroyd's murder and slowly and spectacularly unravelling the mystery of the suicide of the woman Ackroyd loved. We won't spoil the twist for you.

The Body in the Library (1942)

"You've been dreaming, Dolly," Colonel Bantry tells his wife. "Bodies are always being found in libraries in books. I've never known a case in real life." Christie wrote in her foreword to this Miss Marple mystery that she wanted to do a variation on a well-known theme, with "a highly orthodox and conventional library" but "a wildly improbable and highly sensational body". She provides the reader with red herrings galore before Marple works out whodunnit. »

- Alison Flood

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Agatha Christie: getting away with murder

1 October 2010 12:16 AM, PDT | The Guardian - TV News | See recent The Guardian - TV News news »

More than 4m copies of Agatha Christie's 80 whodunnits are bought around the world every year. But is she really as good as her fans say, or have they just lost the plot?

To me, they're not so much whodunnits as idontgeddits. I have tried many times over the years to get into Agatha Christie's books. It should be easy. I'm an omnivorous (if you're being polite; undiscriminating if you're not) reader. I am no fan of the modern world and particularly not of the gore that increasingly besplatters it whenever the words "murder mystery" or "crime fiction" heave into view.

But I have always found Christie unreadable. Frank Skinner in his autobiography explains that he can't enjoy fiction – any fiction – because the minute he opens a book to read "Alan walked into the room", he thinks, "No, he didn't. There was no Alan. There is no room. You »

- Lucy Mangan

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Agatha Christie: getting away with murder

1 October 2010 12:16 AM, PDT | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

More than 4m copies of Agatha Christie's 80 whodunnits are bought around the world every year. But is she really as good as her fans say, or have they just lost the plot?

To me, they're not so much whodunnits as idontgeddits. I have tried many times over the years to get into Agatha Christie's books. It should be easy. I'm an omnivorous (if you're being polite; undiscriminating if you're not) reader. I am no fan of the modern world and particularly not of the gore that increasingly besplatters it whenever the words "murder mystery" or "crime fiction" heave into view.

But I have always found Christie unreadable. Frank Skinner in his autobiography explains that he can't enjoy fiction – any fiction – because the minute he opens a book to read "Alan walked into the room", he thinks, "No, he didn't. There was no Alan. There is no room. You »

- Lucy Mangan

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12 items from 2010


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