mon 20/08/2018

tv

Warren Mitchell - ‘If you could be Welsh and Jewish you really couldn’t miss’

Jasper Rees

“He has been in poor health for some time, but was cracking jokes to the last,” read the statement from Warren Mitchell’s family following news of his death today, at the age of 89. That will come as no surprise for those who remember the actor primarily as Alf Garnett, first in Till Death Do Us Part (on the BBC, 1965-75), and later In Sickness and In Health (1985-1992).

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Listed: The 100 Funniest Things about Downton Abbey

theartsdesk

It began with the sinking of Titanic and the loss of not one but two heirs to the title. James Cameron having already filmed this disaster, the producers of Downton Abbey were spared the expense of re-enacting it. Last week another Hollywood blockbuster was in viewers' thoughts as the most iconic scene from Alien was re-enacted at the Downton dining table. His Grace’s ulcer burst on scene in a lurid shade suggesting Crawley blood is less blue than previously supposed.

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Hugh Scully: From Antiques to Downing Street

Jasper Rees

"I walked into her office and started the usual small talk about what a charming room it was and what a lovely view and I do like your curtains. She didn't know me from Adam - she didn't watch Antiques Roadshow, and she wasn't interested in my small talk about furnishings. She said, 'Yes, yes, come and sit down. Now tell me, what do you know about the Franco-Prussian war?'"

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Cilla Black, 1943-2015

Adam Sweeting

The term "beloved entertainer" might have been coined with Cilla Black in mind. Her career trajectory, from a working-class Irish Catholic background in Liverpool's Scotland Road through pop stardom under the auspices of Beatles manager Brian Epstein, and thence to mainstream TV and nearly 20 years as hostess of LWT's Blind Date and Surprise Surprise, was a classic fable of determined self-betterment.

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Dennis Marks, 1948-2015

mark Kidel

Dennis Marks, who has passed away at the young age of 66, was in every way larger than life. A talented and prolific music and arts documentary filmmaker, an inspired head of music for BBC Television, and artistic director of the ENO, he latterly reinvented himself as a consummately erudite and warm-voiced broadcaster who took his listeners on fascinating journeys down the Danube and along the Appian Way.

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Best of 2014: TV

Adam Sweeting

Apologies in advance to fans of The Missing, The Honourable Woman, The Fall, Game of Thrones or House of Cards, none of which feature in the list below, but might well have done. So might The Good Wife, Ripper Street and Peaky Blinders.

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Wolf Hall comes to BBC Two

Adam Sweeting

You read the book, you saw the play, and in January you can see the BBC's new six-part dramatisation of Wolf Hall. Cunningly adapted by screenwriter Peter Straughan and directed by Peter Kosminsky, the series promises to be both a faithful translation of Hilary Mantel's novel and an absorbingly fresh approach to the telly-isation of history.

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Sci-Fi Week: Out of the Unknown

tim Cumming

The lightning speed of the past, Raymond Carver once wrote. There’s no epic distance of space larger than that between the imagined futures of decades past and the way things are now. It’s the Jet-Pack conundrum: it should be here but what have we got? Drones and jogging apps.

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Opinion: The docusoap must die, again

Jasper Rees

Television is all about borrowing. One clever new format – a mock doc, a makeover show, a clever-clever quiz – spawns a stack of near-identical clones. Most of them do their time until the format starts to tire, eventually to die a natural death. The only exception is the indestructible talent show. Say what you like about Simon Cowell, but in taking reality ever deeper into the realm of fabrication, he killed off the docusoap.

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American TV not always better, claims BBC boss Danny Cohen

Adam Sweeting

Here at theartsdesk we still receive the occasional missive from readers on several continents incensed at the BBC's axing of Zen in February 2011, a decision taken by then-controller of BBC One Danny Cohen.

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