Posts by Carmen Croghan

Back To School – British Telly Style

It’s hard to believe another school year is about to begin. I reckon just like their American counterparts, British children are busily loading up their backpacks and rucksacks with new biros and pencils with fresh pink rubbers (a.k.a erasers) on the ends. No doubt they’re looking forward to donning their smart school uniforms for the first day of school.

During the year ahead, these students may be worried about passing maths or revising for their GCSEs. But more likely, they’re probably just hoping that their regular instructor will fall ill and be replaced by an unseasoned, unsuspecting supply teacher. Or is he?

The task of challenging young minds has been a subject often tackled in wonderful British films such as Goodbye Mr. Chips, To Sir with Love, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and The History Boys which all featured dedicated, passionate pedagogues.

But if we’re talking telly, far more often it’s the comic side of the teaching profession that we see. Let’s look at a few examples of less than perfect sitcom educators:

Missing 'Doc Martin'? Here's What You Should Watch Instead

Welcome to another new series here at Telly Visions where we try and ease the (occasionally absurdly long) hiatus-es of some of our favorite British shows by offering alternative suggestions of things you should watch while you're waiting for new episodes to return. Carmen’s up first, but you guys just wait till I get to the Sherlock section….

Being a British telly addict in the States can be difficult at times. Never mind there are fewer episodes per series than Americans are used to – I’ve learned to accept the fact and concede that I prefer quality over quantity. But we also have to wait our turn until all our eagerly anticipated programs debut in their homeland first. Fair enough maybe, but it is hard to be patient so much of the time. (I’m sure you heard the whine in your head as you read the preceding sentences.)

Take for example, the newest series of the fan favorite, Doc Martin. It’s set to air in the UK sometime during ITV’s autumn schedule - which probably means no Doctor Ellingham for the Yanks until the spring of 2014 at least. So rather than whinge about it, I’m here to offer some alternative viewing suggestions, just to hold you over until the real Doc Martin comes along.

British Actors You Should Know: Peter Capaldi

We figured: You get cast to play the Doctor, you get bumped up our British Actors You Should Know List. It seemed fair.

After much speculation and trepidation on the part of Doctor Who fans worldwide, the announcement has been made that Scottish actor Peter Capaldi will take on the 12th regeneration of the Doctor. I, for one, am quite chuffed about this choice as I have been an admirer of Mr. Capaldi’s work for some time.

Also, I’m interested to see how Steven Moffat and company will handle the necessary changes as they transition from Matt Smith, the youngest actor to play the Time Lord, to Capaldi who, at 55 years of age, ties with First Doctor William Hartnell for oldest actor to inhabit the part. Come to that, how will his companion Clara take the news?

Anyhow, it’s very exciting times indeed.

Now, if at this point you’re saying “Who is this Capaldi chap?” I’m willing to bet you’ve seen at least one of his wonderful performances over the past 30 years. But if you actually don’t know Peter Capaldi, whether you’re Whovian or not, I’m here to say he really is a British actor you should know and here are some reasons why.

Meet 'Moone Boy'

Martin Paul Kenny Dalglish Moone is a twelve year old boy who lives in Boyle, Ireland with his parents and a trio of older sisters. He has many of the same problems as most boys his age – the inevitable confusion of puberty, bullies at school, sibling tiffs. He also has a youthful naivety, a love of drawing and a vivid imagination.

This is the premise of Moone Boy, a sitcom I just finished watching this weekend. Originally broadcast in the UK on Sky1 last fall, the entire series is currently available in the States on Hulu – new episodes go up every Wednesday, or if you have Hulu Plus, you can stream the full series right now.

If you’re a fan of Chris O’Dowd, he is not only the co-writer and co-star but his childhood is the subject of this delightful semi-autobiographical series. If you’re partial to slightly surreal, coming of age comedy, you don’t need my encouragement. You’ve probably already watched it anyway.

But if you’re not sure if Moone Boy is for you, allow me to illustrate some if its more unique points.

Why You Should Still Be Watching Being Human

The end is nigh. The fifth and final series of Being Human is currently being broadcast on BBC America and only four episodes remain in this saga which tells the story of a unique threesome of housemates.

In the beginning there was George, a bewildered werewolf; Mitchell, the tortured vampire who befriends him; and Annie, the lonely ghost whose house in Bristol George and Mitchell find to let. After a bit of adjustment, these three paranormal black sheep learned to support and encourage one another in their attempts to “be (more) human.” However, at the end of Series 3 the trio starts to fall apart quickly. First we see the departure of desperate, defeated vampire John Mitchell. Actor Aidan Turner had to go off to Middle Earth to play a dwarf for a few years so his exit came as no surprise. Then, right on the heels of Mitchell’s sad end, besieged werewolf George sacrificed his life in the first episode of Series 4 because Russell Tovey had decided to explore other options as an actor. Fans were left wondering whether Annie’s (Leonora Critchlow) ghostly antics alone would be enough of a reason to continue watching the show.

If this was the case for you, I’d like to take this opportunity to convince you to stick with the series because I feel it accomplishes one of the best cast turn-overs I’ve ever seen. While it’s very clear the trinity of a werewolf, ghost and vampire is fundamental to the show, the writers didn’t just substitute impersonators - the same supernatural with a different face. They created characters that were unique and interesting in their own right and, I felt, worthy of my time. Let’s compare and contrast, shall we?

British Actresses You Should Know: Olivia Colman

Welcome to a new series we’ll be doing here at Telly Visions – introductions to some of our favorite British actors and actresses and their work. (Yes, this means a Cumberbatch post along these lines is absolutely going to show up at some point in the future. But you probably already knew that.) This also marks Carmen’s first Telly Visions post, so stop in and say hello!

As a binge watcher of British television I’ve come to appreciate many fine actors who are unfamiliar to most American TV viewers. As a person who writes about British television, I’m eager to share my “discoveries” with like-minded Anglophiles. I have always been, first and foremost, a fan. Be warned! I have a tendency to gush, sometimes to an embarrassing degree, when discussing my favorites.

So for my very first Telly Visions post ever, I’d like to highlight a most brilliant and delightful actress, one I think every telly fanatic should know - Olivia Colman. If her name sounds familiar, you may have read about her recent double win at the 2013 BAFTA Television awards where she picked up one statuette for a comedic role and the other for a dramatic one.

If she hasn’t made an impression on you yet, no doubt she will she will very soon. Colman’s most recent project, the popular ITV crime drama Broadchurch, aired this spring in the UK and will be coming to BBC America in August. She co-stars with David Tennant, Arthur Darvill (Doctor Who’s Rory Williams) and Andrew Buchan (Garrow’s Law). I can’t wait!

But I digress…

If I’ve piqued your curiosity, you might want to watch some of the television shows and film clips provided below. They serve as my introduction to the talented and versatile, Olivia Colman.

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