house of cards – season four trailer

House Of Cards 4 Vid

Frank and Claire continue their pursuit for power, battling everyone in their way, including each other in the new season of House of Cards.

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16 shows to look forward to in 2016

16 Shows 2016

With 2015 soon to be a distant memory, I’ve picked out the 16 most exciting shows you can expect to see on the telly in 2016…

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better call saul – season two trailer

Better Call Saul 2 Vid

The first season found Jimmy stumble upon a large class-action lawsuit, which led to a promising job opportunity at a large firm. Having arrived at a fork in the road, will Jimmy take the straight and narrow path with a safe corporate job or will he fall back into his “Slippin’ Jimmy” con-artist ways?

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brand new black mirror coming to netflix

Black Mirror

Twelve brand-new episodes of Charlie Brooker’s critically acclaimed Channel 4 series Black Mirror are coming to Netflix.

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narcos – trailer

New Netflix series Narcos, chronicles the gripping real-life stories of the infamous drug kingpins of the late 1980s and the corroborative efforts of law enforcement to meet them head on in brutal, bloody conflict.

The series details the many, often-conflicting forces – legal, political, police, military and civilian – that clash in the effort to control cocaine, one of the world’s most valuable commodities.

Narcos lands Friday 28th August on Netflix

orange is the new black – season 3 featurette

The women of Litchfield unapologetically return for the third coming, and with a crisis of faith and their beliefs and loyalties being tested, each character must decide what and who to believe in. Watch Laura Prepon and Taylor Schilling talk about the new season of Orange Is The New Black.

Orange Is The New Black returns Friday 12th June on Netflix

orange is the new black – season 3 trailer

A crime she committed in her youthful past sends Piper Chapman to a women’s prison, where she trades her comfortable New York life for one of unexpected camaraderie and conflict in an eccentric group of fellow inmates.

Orange Is The New Black returns Friday 12th June on Netflix

orange is the new black – season 3 first look

Suzanne has some Vee feelings to deal with in the brand new season of Orange Is The New Black. Catch a first look at the new season here…

Orange Is The New Black returns Friday 12th June on Netflix

orange is the new black – season 3 trailer

The women of Litchfield unapologetically return for the third coming. With a crisis of faith and their beliefs and loyalties being tested, each character must decide what and who to believe in.

Orange Is The New Black returns Friday 12th June on Netflix

i talk: unbreakable kimmy schmidt

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

For me, watching an entire series in a day is rare, especially an American series.

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i talk: better call saul

Better Call Saul

I may have only got into Breaking Bad a few weeks before the final episode but that didn’t stop me binging on the entire lot in just two weeks and when it ended a massive Breaking Bad shaped hole was left in my TV viewing.

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better call saul – trailer

Meet Jimmy McGill, the man before he became Saul Goodman. From the creators of Breaking Bad comes a much-anticipated Netflix Original Series, Better Call Saul.

Better Call Saul arrives Monday 9th February, then every Tuesday on Netflix

unbreakable kimmy schmidt – trailer

From 30 Rock executive producers, Tina Fey and Robert Carlock comes a new comedy series starring Ellie Kemper as a woman who is rescued from a doomsday cult and starts life over as a nanny for an Upper East Side socialite in New York City. Armed with just a backpack, light-up sneakers and a couple way-past-due library books, she takes on a world she didn’t think even existed anymore.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt premieres Friday 6th March at 12:01am PT exclusively on Netflix

i talk telly awards 2014

Awards 2014 Logo

What a year 2014 has been for television…

It was a year of goodbyes as we said bye to Hayley Cropper in Corrie, Lucy Beale in EastEnders, Bruce Forsyth quit Strictly Come Dancing, Jeremy Paxman left Newsnight, Nick Hewer fired himself from The Apprentice, Dapper Laughs left as soon as he arrived.

And who could forget the very saddest of goodbyes, to those who sadly passed away in 2014 including the incredible comedy genius that was Rik Mayall, Only Fools & Horses legend Roger Lloyd Pack, loose woman and star of the OXO ads Lynda Bellingham, John Bardon aka Jim Branning in EastEnders and host of Fashion Police, Joan Rivers.

2014 was also a year for telly comebacks. Only Fools & Horses returned for a one-off sketch, Monty Python reunited for a stage show which was broadcast live on TV, Birds of a Feather flew to ITV for a brand new series, The Voice UK returned with new coaches Kylie and Ricky Wilson, The Fall returned for another gripping series, Nasty Nick returned to his ma in EastEnders, William Roache returned to play Barlow in Corrie after clearing his name and of course Simon Cowell and Cheryl Cole returned to The X Factor in a bid to boost ratings.

2014 also brought us White Dee from Benefits Street but the least said about that the better I think. So, now it’s time for the I Talk Telly Awards 2014. This is where I pick my favourite actors, actresses and TV shows from the past year. There was a shorter list to choose from compared to last year which means that whilst 2013 had quantity, 2014 had quality. And I think you’d agree, quality is better than quantity.

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i talk telly at: edinburgh television festival 2014

TV Festival 2014 Menu

There’s only one place to be in August, and that’s Edinburgh. Yes that’s right, the capital of Scotland is THE place to be thanks to two things; the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the Edinburgh International Television Festival.

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i talk: orange is the new black

Up until last weekend, I hadn’t seen a single episode of Orange Is The New Black, but thanks to an early exit for England and Spain in the World Cup, and not much else on telly, I’ve now seen the entire lot. 26 episodes (both seasons) in just over a week. The exact definition of binge watching. A phenomena that has really come about with the invention of Netlfix, an online streaming service which allows you to watch as many films and TV programmes as you like for a monthly subscription.
Along with House Of Cards, Hemlock Grove and the fourth season of Arrested Development, Orange Is The New Black is an original series made by and for Netflix. The first season launched last July (2013) and after proving a massive streaming success, the second season launched just under a month ago (6th June 2014).
Probably the best thing about the likes of Netflix making original programmes, is the fact that once a series launches, it doesn’t just launch with one or two episodes, it launches with the entire lot – normally, and in this case, 13 episodes. If Netflix released their programmes in the same way as ITV or BBC or Sky, then we’d only be up to episode four of the second season right now.
So, what’s Orange Is The New Black all about? Is it a comedy? Is it a drama? Is it any good? Well the series is based on Piper Kerman’s memoir, Orange Is the New Black, which follows the Brooklynite as her wild past comes back to haunt her, resulting in her arrest and detention in a federal penitentiary. The series kicks off as Piper gets ready to trade her comfortable New York life for an orange prison jumpsuit. What she finds when she gets there is unexpected conflict and camaraderie amidst an eccentric group of inmates. More on them later.

Now onto whether the show is a comedy or a drama… Well, I’d be more inclined to describe the show as a drama rather than a comedy, although there are parts that are funny, and as for whether the show is any good – yes, it’s excellent. It’s easily one of the best dramas I’ve seen all year, and despite spending most of my time watch television programmes from the UK, Orange Is The New Black made me sit up and pay attention and 26 episodes later I’m very pleased I did.If you were to compare Orange Is The New Black to any UK shows, I guess you could compare it to Prisoners’ Wives or Bad Girls, although (in my opinion) this is much better than both of those.

If there’s one thing America do really well in television, it’s making you care for the characters. For example, in Breaking Bad, love him or loathe him, you care for Walter White and get to know every side of his character. In Friends for example, your favourite friend chafes depending on which episode you watch because we are able to see all dies to a persons character and what their character grow right in front of us.

The way in which Orange Is The New Black is structured, each episode take a look back at what life was like before prison for one of the inmates, so we get to learn what led them to Litchfield Prison in the first place, and we begin to see them less as criminals (in some cases) and more as people.

I think the main reason that characters are better developed and explored in America (not always mind) is because of the difference between series and season length. In the UK, series are often no longer than 6 episodes, and a second series is almost never a guarantee. This means that writers tend to write characters who can be explored in 6 episodes and when the second series does come around, there’s little left to learn about your main protagonist.

In America, seasons are anything between 13 and 26 episodes long, with a second series almost always considered and thought about. This means the writer has a much longer time to develop a character and means that loose ends don’t always need to be tied up in the episode, or even the season, that you’re watching, which is most certainly the case in Orange Is The New Black.

Although this is very much an ensemble piece, Piper Chapman (played by Taylor Schilling, Mercy) is on paper, the lead character, because as I mentioned earlier, the series is based on the book by the real Piper, Piper Kerman.

Despite being engaged to Larry Bloom (Jason Biggs, American Pie), Piper once had a relationship with another woman called Alex Vause (Laura Prepon, That ’70s Show‘). Alex Vause was part of a drug smuggling ring, and influenced Piper to join, which led to her entering prison.She may not be the strongest character, but Taylor Schilling gives playing Piper Chapman a very good go and I really enjoy the way she plays her. On the surface, she’s a sweet girl but her life is one big mess, as she battle her sexuality – Is she or isn’t she a lesbian? Her marriage – Will Larry be waiting for her when she gets out? And her violent temper – She’s quick to make enemies in Litchfield but how much of it will she take on the chin, and how far will she go to get her revenge?

One of my favourite characters in Orange Is The New Black has to be Crazy Eyes, aka Suzanne Warren, who is played brilliantly by Uzo Aduba.

One minute she’s the funniest person in prison and you’d love to have her as a friend. The next, she’s switched into crazy mode and you would most definitely not want to cross her.

It may be a bit of a cliche thing to say, but I honestly could not see anyone else playing the role of Crazy Eyes, the way Uzo is able to encapsulate such a complex character who’s happy one minute and psychotic the next.

Other characters in the series include; Tasha “Taystee” Jefferson, played by Danielle Brooks, who after some time out on parole, re-offends as she prefers life in prison rather then out of it, Italian American Lorna Morello (Yael Stone), whose NYC accent I adore, Poussey Washington (Samira Wiley) is definitely the joker of the group and prefers cracking jokes to confrontation, Dayanara “Daya” Diaz (Dascha Polanco) who’s in there with her mother Aleida Diaz, played by Elizabeth Rodriguez.
Then there’s Nicolette “Nicky” Nichols (Natasha Lyonne) is a former junkie with a rather large sexual appetite. There are very few women who have escaped her lesbian advances. And who could forget Sophia Burset played brilliantly by Laverne Cox, and was formerly known as firefighter Marcus Burset, and after  credit-card fraud, now works as the prison’s hairdresser.

In charge of the prison kitchen is Red, aka Galina Reznikov who is played by Kate Mulgrew (Star Trek), and sharing a cubical with Piper is Miss Claudette, who has some very strict rules about the appearance of her cubicle. I have to admit I didn’t like Claudette when I first saw her, but the more I got to know about her and her back story, the more I got to like her, and it’s a shame that she doesn’t appear in season two.

In a piece with so many characters, such as Orange Is The New Black, there are always going to be one or two characters who you just can’t grow to like, and for me that’s Pennsatucky aka Tiffany Doggett (Taryn Manning) who has been sent to prison for shooting an abortion clinic worker in broad daylight. She dislikes Piper, and it’s perhaps for that reason that I dislike her – that and her constant religious and racist rants.

Then in season two we meet Yvonne “Vee” Parker, played by Lorraine Toussaint, and there’s no other way to describe her other than as a psychopath. We get to learn a lot about her back story in season two and just when you think you’ve learnt it all, she does something else to shock you.

And finally there are the people who work in the prison; Sam Healy (Michael Harney), who is a corrections officer and inmate counselor at Litchfield Penitentiary, Joe Caputo (Nick Sandow), who’s the assistant to the Warden, then there are the Correctional Officers John Bennett (Matt McGorry) who is widely liked by the inmates, and George “Pornstache” Mendez (Pablo Schreiber.) who is not, as well as Susan Fischer who is the most lenient of the Correction Officers, and finally Wanda Bell (Catherine Curtin).

That only really touches the surface of regular characters that we see in Orange Is The Black. There are definitely more characters in this than in anything I have seen before, and what’s great is that each of them have a story and over time, their story is told. I haven’t wanted to give away any spoilers. The first series is brilliant and left on a brilliant cliffhanger, but then the second season comes along and ups its game and the ending is nothing short of sensational… plenty to kick start a third season with.

There’s no denying how well written, and well performed Orange Is The New Black is, especially when you consider that for the majority of the cast, this is their first major role. So whether you’re into binge watching – or even if you’re not, this should definitely be the next series you watch, and I’m sure that like me, the brilliant final episode in season two has left me more than ever wanting more. And there’s good news, because a month ahead of season two, the series was recommissioned for another 13 episodes. The bad news is that we’ll probably have to wait at least a year to see the new series.

Orange Is The New Black is now available on Netflix, where subscriptions start from £5.99 a month.

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i talk to: ricky gervais

Ricky Gervais
One of the very first pieces I wrote for this site was about Ricky Gervais’ pilot for Derek, a comedy about Derek Noakes (played by Gervais), a sincere, sweet natured individual who loves animals, has a heart of gold and works in a Retirement Home. The piece remains my most read review yet, so when almost two years to the day of writing that piece I was asked to interview the man himself, Mr Ricky Gervais, I couldn’t quite believe my luck.
Last week I was invited down to a Central London hotel to preview episodes three and four of the new series of Derek and straight afterwards was given the chance to ask Ricky Gervais a few questions about the new series, as well as getting to the bottom of that David Brent playing Glastonbury rumour that’s doing the rounds.
It’s always nerve-wracking when you meet someone whose work you admire so much, but within seconds Ricky put me at ease and was exactly how I’d hoped he would be… friendly, funny and an all-around nice guy. There were moments during the interview where the famous Gervais laugh made an appearance as he spoke so passionately about Derek, a project you can sense he’s really proud of. And rightly so as the new series is every inch as good, if not better, as the first series. Here’s what Ricky Gervais had to say…
Q First of all, what can we expect from series 2 of Derek?

Well we’ve got all the old faces and a few new ones. We get to meet Derek’s dad who moves in and is not quite the lovely old man Derek assumed he would be. It’s always been that the outside world is bad and they’re the threat for this lovely little nest of kindness and loveliness, and they often get infected by kindness if they enter. Whereas I wanted some evil within, so there’s Geoff, played by Colin Hoult. I suppose before if the outside world was an irritant, Geoff’s a bit of tooth decay. So we have to deal with that.

Again, it’s not anything political, it just sits with the stories you hear about bad care homes. But I’ve tried to make this a bit more fairytale. I’ve tried to make this the best care home in the world – for my own purposes. You still see little bits and pieces of nastiness here and there, because you have to, because it’s a fake documentary. It can’t quite be The Waltons.

You see a bit into Vicky’s love life. Her bad man choices, and obviously Hannah and Tom – that storyline. The second series is always my favourite, certainly as a writer/director, because you can hit the ground running.

The first series, there’s a lot of ground work, a lot of admin. You don’t need the admin, you can just go, right you know what these people are like, now let’s see them do this. Let’s see Derek on a date. So that’s fun.

Also technically it’s a lot more exciting, because a lot of people probably don’t realise this, but when you write the first series you write it blind. You don’t know what actors are going to play the parts – then you find them, and then suddenly you’re writing for Mackenzie Crook (Gareth in The Office) with all his physicality. It’s so much fun writing for the people you know are going to act it out.

Q What was it like filming outside of the care home and taking those characters to the zoo for episode four?

Well, it’s always exciting. It’s nice visually and I didn’t want to just do it in a Bingo hall or something. One of the big themes is animals – not just that Derek likes them – but… and this going to sound very pretentious and no-one will notice it apart from me, but there’s this whole thing about animal husbandry. Most of Derek’s morality has come from how animals treat each other as opposed to how humans treat each other.

There’s one moment where he says “How powerful a gorilla is, but it only kills if he’s protecting his young” – so he takes his morality from animals as opposed to humans – (puts on Derek’s voice) – “They kill humans for the sake of it.” There’s that theme going on, and also I wanted a nice day out because that’s what happens in life. You have a laugh and then you find a lump. It’s how you deal with it you know.

Q You’re right that is life, and that’s reflected very well in Derek. What’s it like writing those funny moments with those very emotional moments?

Well, it’s what you fear you know? You’re having a great day and then the phone rings. That’s what happens. So you sort of embrace it. It’s sort of tough because you have to learn how to deal with it, and you have to earn it as well. It’s not a backdrop for war, or tyranny, or famine – it’s just a group of people and some of them are getting old.

It’s like, we don’t fear famine or war – but we’re all going to die. And we’re all going to have our grandparents die, and we’re all going to have our parents die. So you don’t have to do much for people to feel that. You explore what each person does to each other.

So I like the fact that Kev put his hand on Hannah (during an emotional scene at the end of episode four) – I think that happens all the time. Even awful people are nice to you when awful stuff happens because suddenly the thing you’re arguing about becomes irrelevant.

For example, if we were having a terrible argument over something you’d said and one of us finds out one of our family has just dropped dead it’s irrelevant. So that’s for pure drama. That’s to explore how these players act in certain situations. And you want to explore everything, because how well do you know someone after three hours of television?

This is already like half an episode we’ve known each other and we don’t know each other at all. So after three hours you don’t know someone at all. Three years you don’t know someone… maybe. So you can always go deeper, and you don’t have to take them to war, or the moon, or defeat aliens (laughs) – you can just have a bad phone call.
My job I think is to make the ordinary, extraordinary. Without changing the laws of reality or the universe too much.

Q What’s the feedback been like from members of your family who have worked in nursing homes?

I think they probably recognise where a lot of it came from and they like it. It might be the favourite thing of theirs that I’ve done …I probably shouldn’t have said that. I think they like the reality – the characters are so flawed, but then they’re not. Because their flaws are things that don’t matter really.

Whereas things like The Office and Extras, the flaws were sort of in their personality? It was about ego, and ambition where here the flaws here are say stupid things, get drunk, bad haircuts. So what? What’s your heart like when it comes to it?

The whole thing was that kindness trumps everything and again everyone sort of knows that and some people don’t even think of it until, as I said, something bad happens, or Red Nose Day or Christmas. But it is there, it’s there and I think that most people think they’re good but wish they were better. And that sounds an odd thing to say because if you think you should be better you could. But it’s difficult. It’s difficult to be the best person you can. Everyone knows it would be best if I gave all my money away, I’m not going to do that because I want it. So you compromise – you give some of it away.

Q Has playing Derek changed you in any way?

Sort of. I do think about kindness all the time, and I do sort of look up to Derek and worship him even though he’s sort of perfect. But it doesn’t make me feel bad, because he’s better than everyone.

I’ve just created a superhero! I’ve created the nicest person in the world, so I can’t compete with Derek. I could try, but I’d fail.

Q Is that one of the reasons why you’re thinking about taking it to the third series?

I want to see what I can do with it. There’s still people just getting it. Just like it took me three goes at the Golden Globes for people to get in the room that I was telling jokes as opposed to trying to ruin their career! (Laughs)

It is an acquired taste, but then everything I’ve done is – The Office at the beginning, nobody liked The Office, it got terrible reviews and then it just grew and a few people went “Oh, it’s alright” or “I quite like it” to “It’s my favourite show” so you know everyone’s a bit Statler and Waldorf with TV (laughs).

Q What percentage of the population would you like to ‘get’ Derek before you feel it’s ‘mission accomplished’?

Oh I don’t care about that. As I say, I don’t want to change the world. It’s not a popularity contest, it doesn’t bother me. But I’d like people to see it before they judge it… which is odd because the criticism of Derek happened before they’d seen it! (Laughs) It even gave me time to add things into the show that they were criticising! Which I don’t think has ever happened before.

But every programme I’ve ever done I’m landing at Normandy and the bullets are hitting me and I’m going – “Go on. Open it.” (Laughs) – it’s just the bigger you get, the worse it gets, but it shouldn’t bother you. Just more people are aware of you.

You mustn’t worry about it, but as I said, it’s nice when people do get it, of course! But you can’t tailor it or second guess people – because you’ll fail.

The things that are made that are so homogenised to please everyone – they do please a lot of people – but not for long, and they don’t travel well. You’ve tailored it so much that you might as well be doing a corporate gig talking about people specifically. And something you make that’s a cult, like The Office or Extras or Derek, it goes worldwide. Because there’s 7 billion people on this planet and it doesn’t even take 1% of people to go “Oh I haven’t seen that before” for it to go massive.

Q You touched on it there, a comedy being able to travel well. How do you feel about the worldwide feedback Derek is getting because it’s available on Netflix? Especially the big social media following the show seems to have…

I love that. I love the fact that there’s a globality to things now. Not just my stuff but in general. Social networks are global. Netflix is the biggest broadcaster in the world now. (Realises) I’m on the biggest broadcaster in the world. But I didn’t have to compromise or water it down, or take out the c-word because it’s not like being on a network. It’s the best of both worlds. You want as many people to see your work as possible without changing one thing. And that’s what I’ve got with Netflix.

And that’s because of The Office maybe. When I launched the podcasts, the reason they went huge was because The Office was in 90 countries but it doesn’t matter why you’ve got a platform, it’s what you do with it that counts. They don’t just like it because they liked the last thing. They make their mind up. It is nice to know that whatever it gets here, it’s going to get 50 million views worldwide which is a privilege. That is amazing. That excites me.

Q And I have to ask – Have you thought any more about playing Glastonbury and how would that interfere with your next David Brent project?

Oh well there you go you see. All it was was someone said – “Would he be interested in Glastonbury?” We’re not signing contracts. I don’t know… I’m torn. I’ll tell you why I’m torn, because as much fun as it is – Why is David Brent, the office manager from Slough playing Glastonbury? Do you know what I mean? It’s a bit odd. He’s doing gigs that are selling out faster than The Rolling Stones and it’s a bit odd.

I’ve got to work that into the narrative, so if I ever do a thing about it… point one, I’m going to film him in smaller venues, and point two I think I’m going to make the band rip him off so he’s still not making any money. David Brent can’t be a big successful popstar! (Laughs).

So it’s going to be ironic. It’s going to be that people saw The Office go out and they’re going along to see him, like they do. So I’m going to have to justify that. I don’t think it’s going to happen. I mean it’s amazing that there’s a demand for David Brent live, but I have to be careful (laughs) to protect the integrity of David Brent.

Something can’t work, but I think people have grown up. It’s like Mr Bean doing the Olympics, nobody was saying – “What’s Mr Bean doing there?” – it’s Rowan Atkinson having a laugh. I can do what I want with him. But when it comes to the narrative of filming the thing he won’t be allowed to be at Glastonbury or Wembley. That’s the fun. (Laughs)

Q And finally, who do you prefer playing? David or Derek?

Derek. I love being Derek. I wish I was Derek. I love playing David Brent, I love being the twat, but I love being Derek. Do you know what I mean? It’s odd, I could be Derek all my life.

You can also read my interview with Kerry Godliman and Holli Dempsey here.

Derek is on Wednesday nights at 10pm on Channel 4 and available on Netflix from May 30th.

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i talk telly: awards 2013

Instead of the usual ‘My Favourite Shows of the Year’ type of post you’ve probably seen a thousand times over, I’ve decided to do things a little differently this year.  Move over BAFTA’s, the National Television Awards and even the British Comedy Awards, because I’ve created the  I Talk Telly Awards. This is my chance to celebrate my favourite actors, actresses and shows of the past year.

So without further adieu the votes, have been counted and verified, (basically I spoke to myself and agreed on the winners) and I can now reveal who I think deserve to win one extra award before the year is over…

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