The Thick of It’s Peter Capaldi to play 12th Doctor Who – he’s a bit of a sweary man isn’t he Mummy?

I can’t work out whether this is the most inspired choices for Doctor Who in the world ever. Or one of the worst? Certainly it’s been pretty darned effective generating publicity.

Already on Twitter most people are fed up with swearing Doctor Who tweets like the one below because, as we all know kids, Peter Capaldi played a sweary man in a political comedy (note to self – Peter Capaldi is an actor and therefore capable of playing a role where presumably swearing is less of an essential requirement).

“Knock knock” “Who’s there?” “Doctor” “Doctor who?” “Come the fuck in, or fuck the fuck off”

Or perhaps this more visual joke from Time Out (amusing nonetheless):

Peter Capaldi as doctor doctor

But my first thought was isn’t he a bit old to play the 12th Doctor at 55. Like policeman and, er, real Doctors it seems that the Doctors Who are getting younger and younger. And although I seem to remember John Pertwee being quite old when I was a kid, he was probably only 27 or something – people just looked older back then.

Anyway here’s a clip of Peter Capaldi swearing an awful lot in The Thick of It. Probably not great to watch in front of your 8 year old Doctor Who loving son.

The 11 Doctors

1. William Hartnell (1963-1966)

2. Patrick Troughton (1966-1969)

3. Jon Pertwee (1970-1974)

4. Tom Baker (1974-1981)

5. Peter Davison – pictured (1982-1984)

6. Colin Baker (1984-1986)

7. Sylvester McCoy (1987-1996)

8. Paul McGann (1996)

9. Christopher Eccleston (2005)

10. David Tennant (2005-2010)

11. Matt Smith (2010 – 2013)

RIP James Gandolfini. The giant actor who played Tony Soprano dies of heart attack at 51

Simon Poulter of WWDB pays tribute to James Gandolfini, a great actor best known for his role as Tony Soprano in The Sopranos.

Talk to any actor famous for a particular part and they will, more than anything else, do their level best to divorce fiction from reality. Star Trek’s Leonard Nimoy even named his first autobiography I Am Not Spock to get some distance from fans who found it hard not to think of him as the pointy-eared Vulcan.

James Gandolfini – who died today at the age of 51 while on holiday in Italy – was a serious actor, with the Broadway chops to prove it. But when The Sopranos came along in 1999, and effectively rewrote series television drama as anyone had known it,

Gandolfini’s casting as the show’s central character – a New Jersey mob boss balancing suburban family life with the complex politics of his business – appeared to be an uncannily perfect fit. And as the series progressed, through six seasons, it became clear that creator David Chase had produced something extraordinary. I would even argue that The Sopranos was television’s greatest ever series. And Anthony John Soprano its greatest ever character.

Gandolfini was born in 1961 to Italian-American parents in Westwood, a town in north-eastern New Jersey and close to where he was living up until his death. After graduating in communications from New Jersey’s Rutgers University, Gandolfini moved to New York and working as a bartender, amongst other jobs, until his acting career took off with a Broadway production of A Streetcar Named Desire in 1992. The following year he appeared in Tony Scott’s True Romance as Virgil, an enforcer working for Christopher Walken’s mobster Vincent Coccotti. It was a part that drew attention to Gandolfini when The Sopranos began casting.

There was, of course, far more to Gandolfini’s canon than just Tony Soprano: at 6’1″ and a substantial frame, Gandolfini filled the screen with presence in films like Get Shorty, The Mexican and most recently in Zero Dark Thirty as a Pentagon general.

This was a role he’d played before, in Armando Iannucci’s big screen version of The Thick Of It, in which Gandolfini stole the show as a thunderously profane, Norman Schwarzkopf-style general who puts the equally potty-mouthed Malcolm Tucker firmly in his place for possibly the first time ever.

However, it was the role of Anthony John Soprano, crew boss in the fictional DiMeo crime family (said to be based on the real DeCavalcante family of New Jersey), who grew up in Newark’s tough Ironbound neighbourhood the son of Johnny Boy Soprano before enjoying the comforts of life at 633 Stag Trail Road, North Caldwell in Jersey’s considerably more upmarket Essex County…….

The Sopranos was more than just another crime show. Part Shakespearian drama, part Greek tragedy, like The Godfather’s depiction of the American dream, it depicted the American dream as suburban life.

Yes, it riled some Italian-Americans for being yet another portrayal of crime in their community, but it also held a mirror to modern day America, of modern American family life.

And that was the premise of Tony Soprano: a modern American dad balancing family life and ‘family life’, with random violence and moral ambiguity ever-present throughout.

“The Sopranos was ambiguous to the point where, to this day, I’m not really sure whether it was a drama or a comedy,” it’s creator told Vanity Fair last year.

If it was a comedy – and there were numerous funny moments (the best being the episode Pine Barrens, with Paulie Walnuts and Christopher Moltisanti lost in the New Jersey woods) – it was certainly humour of the darkest shade.

Gandolfini’s portrayal of Tony Soprano drove that darkness to its core. Through all six seasons it’s there, played out in the Soprano kitchen, at the ‘Bing or Satrale’s, at Vesuvio, and most critically in Dr. Melfi’s counselling room.

“We lost a giant today. I am utterly heartbroken,” Lorraine Bracco – who played Melfi – said today at news of Gandolfini’s death. It’s a sentiment that has been shared by many.

“We’re all in shock and feeling immeasurable sadness at the loss of a beloved member of our family,” a statement on the HBO website for The Sopranos said. [James] was a special man, a great talent, but more importantly a gentle and loving person who treated everyone no matter their title or position with equal respect. He touched so many of us over the years with his humor, his warmth and his humility. Our hearts go out to his wife and children during this terrible time. He will be deeply missed by all of us.”

Since The Sopranos ended Gandolfini tried to put a little distance between him and his best known alter-ego. Acting, however, and particularly roles like Tony, had been useful. Last year he told the Associated Press that acting had become a means to deal with an inner rage.

“I don’t know what exactly I was angry about,” he said. “I try to avoid certain things and certain kinds of violence at this point,” he added. “I’m getting older, too. I don’t want to be beating people up as much.”

Sopranos creator David Chase said today: “[James] was a genius. Anyone who saw him even in the smallest of his performances knows that. He is one of the greatest actors of this or any time. A great deal of that genius resided in those sad eyes.”

Those sad eyes. In Tony Soprano, truly the window of the soul. And in James Gandolfini, a brilliant actor whose life has been cut so short. RIP. The Guardian: James Gandolfini – Remembered by Mike Figgis

In the Loop – Don’t Call Me English

Post originally appeared here.

Tablets overtake smart phones for TV and radio catch up on BBC iPlayer

It’s not exactly surprising, but for the first time the BBC iPlayer TV and radio catch-up app has received more streaming requests from tablets than from smartphones.

Revealed during the BBC’s monthly BBC iPlayer performance review, March 2013 saw 200,000 more requests come in tablets than from smartphones, echoing the rise in tablet adoption and the given that watching TV on a device 7-inches and above is always going to be preferable to squinting at a smartphone screen. Unless you have one of those Samsung Mega beasts anyway.

The iPlayer continues to be one of the most popular catch-up services in town, taking in 272 million streaming requests over March. 81 million requests (or 30% overall) came from mobile and tablet devices.

Top shows included the Top Gear: Africa Special and and Comic Relief 2013, while the radio adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere became one of the rare shows that wasn’t a Radio 4 comedy to top the radio playback lists.

Click here for more iPlayer stats.

Via Tech Digest

Get points on your Tesco Clubcard – watch ClubcardTV for free (with personalised adverts)

Is this the future of TV? Tesco has announced a deal with BBC Worldwide which will enable its Clubcard customers to watch programmes such as Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps, Goodness Gracious Me and Alistair McGowan’s Big Impression for free.

The agreement, which also includes shows featuring star chefs Antonio Carluccio, Ken Hom and Gary Rhodes, will see hours of BBC Worldwide content made available to its 16 million Clubcard members via the ad supported service. As well as comedies and cookery shows the service will also features dramas such as Carrie’s War and Blackpool and children’s classics Stig of the Dump and The Secret Garden.

Clubcard TV has been developed by the team behind the Tesco movie and TV service blinkbox and, rather cleverly, is supported by targeted advertising based on users’ shopping habits. Wow – that’s clever, if a little sinister.

Says Scott Deutrom, MD Clubcard TV, said: “With this deal we’re adding a raft of new TV titles to our expanding catalogue, providing access to even more great digital entertainment in a way that’s easy and accessible for customers.”

Lisa Rousseau, Head of UK, Ireland and Pan European Television Sales, BBC Worldwide, said: “We’re thrilled to have concluded such an extensive deal with Clubcard TV which will offer their customers a rich range of fantastic British content.”

Tesco is the first retailer in the UK to reward its customers with their own online movie and TV service. Content spanning comedy, drama, kids TV, romance, thrillers and documentaries is on offer with no charges, contracts or subscriptions.

Channel 4OD comes to Samsung’s range of Smart TVs

Samsung have added Channel 4’s 4oD catch-up TV service to their range of connected Smart TVs.

Available through Samsung Apps, the company’s Smart TV service portal, 4oD offers thirty days worth of recently-broadcast content from the likes of Channel 4 and More 4, alongside archive content.

Shows like BrassEye and Peep Show are all available to be viewed on demand.

“We’re pleased to be able to extend the availability of 4oD, our successful video on demand service, to Samsung’s Smart TVs as we continue to widen the reach of Channel 4 content onto key platforms,” said Sarah Milton, head of video on demand at Channel 4.

“Smart TV owners will now be able to catch up with recent popular Channel 4 programmes and access many shows from Channel 4’s vast archive spanning 30 years of broadcasting – on demand via their television.”

The app is available to all Samsung Smart TVs released in 2012, or newer.

The announcement follows a similar move by Sky, who also recently added 4oD to their catch-up TV offering.

 

Peter Kay’s Car Share first series to air on BBC iPlayer before BBC 1

TV programmes that premier online before TV look set to become a real trend this year. For in the wake of the Netflix House Of Cards exclusive the BBC has just announced that that a new sitcom from Peter Kay called Car Share  will premiere on BBC iPlayer.

You will be able to see it online before it makes its way to BBC One. This makes it the first  first-ever series to premiere on BBC iPlayer in its entirety before a linear transmission.

The series, which has been created by Tim Reid and Paul Coleman, Car Share is directed by and stars Peter and Sian Gibson, who play John and Kayleigh who have been thrown together in a company car share scheme, as they journey to their respective jobs at a major out-of-town supermarket.

Just like Kay’s classic C4 Phoenix Nights series Car Share is set and will be filmed in the north-west.

Peter Kay says about the series: “To be finally working with the BBC on a new comedy is a great opportunity. And the idea of two people car sharing to work each day really appealed to me, as it highlights the comedy in the minutiae of the daily trek and allows the spiralling conversations of life to unwind in all of their glory.”

Channel 4 OD joins Sky TV On Demand from Monday March 18th

Sky have announced the arrival of Channel 4’s 4oD service as part of Sky TV’s On Demand hub.

Landing next Monday, Sky subscribers with their boxes hooked up to the internet will be able to access on demand content from Channel 4 and More 4, with E4 and Film 4 content set to launch a little later.

As well as recently televised shows, the 4oD service also offers top-notch archival content, including great comedy shows like Peep Show, Brass Eye and The Inbetweeners.

“The way people enjoy TV is changing as customers embrace technology to take control over their viewing. We know customers have busier lives than ever, which is why we’ve created the most comprehensive catch-up service in the UK,” said Luke Bradley-Jones, Sky’s Director of TV Products.

“Offering great TV from Channel 4 on demand on Sky+ and on Sky Go at no extra charge is all part of our continued commitment to offer our customers the best combination of content and innovation.”

Sarah Rose, Channel 4’s Director of Commercial & Business Development, added:

“The launch of our successful VOD service, 4oD, on the Sky on demand and Sky Go platforms this month will extend the reach of our content to enable even more viewers to enjoy our wide range of programmes. And through the recent arrival of More4 HD and much anticipated launch of Film4 HD in September, we’re delighted to complete the roll out of our HD portfolio.”

The the free app should go live on Monday, so check back in your Sky On Demand portal then to view the new content.

Via Tech Digest

Windows Phone users to get BBC iPlayer. Over 600 mobile devices can now receive Beeb content.

The BBC iPlayer app will soon be available to Windows Phone 8 and Windows Phone 7.5 users.

The app will act as shortcut application available through the Windows Phone Store, making iPlayer available as a Live Tile, wrapping both the iPlayer website and dedicated Media Player software needed to run it together.

Windows Phone users will still be missing out on features available to Apple’s iOS devices however. Not only have iOS users had a dedicated iPlayer app since 2011, they now also have the option of saving shows for offline playback – something that will be missing from the Windows Phone versions upon release.

“We will be releasing a shortcut to BBC iPlayer in the near future which will be available in the Windows Phone Store, enabling the BBC iPlayer website to work on Windows Phone 7.5 and 8 via a live tile,” said Cyrus Saihan, head of Business Development, BBC Future Media.

“Working with the industry in ways like this helps our digital services reach more of the UK’s online population and gives our audiences ever increasing ways to access BBC services.”

The move will bring the number of devices that the BBC iPlayer app is available to to well over 650.

Via Tech Digest

King Richard III: The King in the Car Park. How the last Plantagenet king ended up in a Leicester car park

It’s probably the most hyped archaeological dig since dinosaur fossils were first unearthed, but the long-lost remains of King Richard III have been identified by archaeologists at the University of Leicester “beyond reasonable doubt” – much to Channel 4’s delight as they plan to screen a documentary about it tonight.

The remains were found last year exhumed from under a car park near where the king’s body was thought to be lost. Suspicions over the identity of the skeletal remains were initially raised based on the curvature of the skeleton’s spine and battle wounds consistent with historical accounts of Richard III’s death way back in 1485, as well as the nature of the burial.richard-iii-grave.png

Now a team led by Richard Buckley has used extensive radio carbon dating and DNA analysis comparisons with the king’s living descendants to confirm that the remains are in fact those of Richard III, ending a 500-year mystery as to the location of his final resting place.

Descendants used in the DNA testing included four living males, as well as a sample from Michael Ibsen, a Canadian-born carpenter and 17th generation descendent of the king’s sister.

The team were also able to ascertain that the late king was killed between his late 20s and early 30s, further details that correlate with historical accounts, as well as signs of scoliosis and the ten points of battle-inflicted trauma that was said to have caused his death.

Richard III’s death occurred at the conclusion of two years reign over Britain from 1483 to 1485 at the Battle of Bosworth. It marked the end of the War of the Roses and, for many academics, the closure of the medieval period. However, in modern times Richard III has become best known as depicted by William Shakespeare, one of the Renaissance playwright’s most vile historical villains.

The remains will now be re-interred at Leicester Cathedral, close to the Greyfriars site where he was first discovered. The cathedral will also house a new monument to the king, and is expected to become a tourist hotspot.

Richard III: The King in the Car Park, Channel 4 tonight (February 4th), 9pm 

Via Tech Digest

 

Can animals talk to each other? Top 10 Natural History questions revealed by Eden HD

Can animals understand and use language? What actually happened to the dinosaurs and why do cats purr? These intriguing questions  top a list of natural science mysteries which the British public would most like to see answered according to a new study released today. The survey of 2,000 British adults was commissioned to celebrate the launch of new TV show David Attenborough’s Natural Curiosities, screening every Tuesday 8pm on Eden HD.

The perennial conundrum of whether animals have a language proved the most popular mystery of natural science, with almost a third (31%) of those polled choosing this question as one of the questions they would most like to see answered. In second place was the answer to the age-old question  – why did dinosaurs become extinct (29%)? The top three is rounded off by the public’s desire to know why our feline friends purr (22%) – a question which remains unanswered despite the fact that Britain houses 10.3 million domestic cats!

Here is that Top Ten list in full.

1.       Do animals have language? – 31%

Scientists are still unsure. Animals can certainly communicate in sounds and gestures and trained to follow commands, but in terms of using this language between them there is no final answer. The vervet monkey alarm call in particular has led people to question ‘language’ in animals. It is thought that prairie dogs can in one chirp, distinguish the identity of the predator, its size and its direction of travel.

2.       How did dinosaurs die out? – 29% 

No one knows conclusively, but it’s suggested that the decline was due to volcanic eruptions affecting the world’s climate, combined with drastic falls in sea level. A huge asteroid struck the seabed near Mexico 65 million years ago which may have finally wiped out dinosaurs.

3.       Why do cats purr? – 22%

This is still up for debate. Although it is tempting to state that cats purr because they are happy, research suggests that for a cat purring is a means of communication and a potential source of self-healing

4.       Why does the zebra have stripes? – 19%

There are several theories, but no conclusive answers. Theories include: to confuse predators when they’re in a group; to keep away blood-sucking flies because the striped patterns reflect light; and that zebras use the stripes to recognize each other.

5.       How do animals navigate? – 17%

It’s been suggested that carrier pigeons and migrating birds all navigate using magnetic fields, in addition to visual references. This has been proved as a pigeon with a magnet strapped to itself will get completely and utterly lost! No one knows how the brain is able to sense magnetic fields, and as such no one knows whether humans also may be sensitive.

6.       How can dogs predict epileptic seizures in humans? – 16%david attenborough

There’s no conclusive answer to this remarkable ability. One popular theory is that a dog’s superior sense of smell helps to make a prediction, whilst others believe that dogs are more sensitive to body language so they can pick up on tiny changes in behaviour that occur prior to an epileptic seizure.

7.       Why did the giraffe develop such a long neck? – 14%

No one really knows – they don’t necessarily need it for eating food, so it’s been suggested that it’s used in males to club other males during the mating season or a combination of both.

8.       How do creatures survive at the bottom of the ocean? – 12%

Different animals that live deep in the oceans have come up with their own solutions to solve the problem of living in a dark, cold and high pressured environment.  Some of these adaptations are well understood others less so. One sea creature with amazing abilities still baffling scientists is the tardigrade which can reversibly suspend its metabolism enabling it to withstand the vacuum of space and temperatures from -273°C to 151°C.  As of yet, no one fully understands how these animals can reverse the suspension of their metabolism and come back to life

9.       How are oysters able to change sex?– 12%

Oyster’s reproductive organs contain both eggs and sperm- a successful reproductive strategy evolved to ensure the survival of the species; one oyster can produce an egg and then fertilise it or, change sex. The question of how however, is still not certain and further research is required to fully understand the process

10.   How does a bee buzz? – 8%

It used to be thought that the movement of the wings caused the sound. However the bees can buzz even when the wings are at rest. So it may be that the vibration of the muscles in the thorax that causes the buzzing sound, but this isn’t conclusive – and it may be a combination of both.

David Attenborough’s Natural Curiosities, Tuesdays at 8pm on Eden.