See the amazing new trailer for Brian Cox’s Wonders Of Life

As BBC2 prepares to roll out their new series Wonders Of Life, it has released an amazing trailer for the show.

The 5-part programme will follow Professor Brian Cox as he travels the globe exploring the story of life on Earth through physics. The programme is a remarkable co-production with Chinese broadcaster CCTV-9, the first time the BBC science unit has teamed up with the state-run channel.

The trailer runs for 3½ minutes and features clips from the programme soundtracked by an updated version of ‘The Universe Song’ from Monty Python’s film The Meaning Of Life. It features Python Eric Idle (who wrote the song) singing new lyrics about the history of the universe.

Wonders Of Life starts in January 2013, you can see the trailer below.

The Thick Of It is back! Here’s the trailer

After a couple of years off TV, during which time the creative team made a film (In The Loop) and a major US series (Veep), The Thick of it is back for its fourth series.

The magnificent political satire has not been on our screens since before the election of the coalition government so this new 7-part series covers just that and the new trailer, which you can see below is call ‘Coalition’.

All the major characters – Peter Mannion (Roger Allam), Nicola Murray (Rebecca Front) and TV’s greatest swearer Malcolm Tucker (Peter Capaldi) – return and this time the humour looks set to be derived from the major parties struggling with being forced to work together. Should be great stuff.

The series starts on BBC2 on September the 8th. Here’s the trailer.

BBC2 announces 2 new sitcoms and the return of Bottom

BBC2 are planning to strengthen their comedy out put by reprising Rik Mayall and Adrian Edmondson’s classic sitcom Bottom as well as producing new efforts by Mitchell and Webb and stand up/ conductor/ bake show host Sue Perkins.

There hasn’t been a new series of Bottom since 1995 but now Richard Richard and Edward Hitler will return in a 6-part adaptation of their vintage stage show ‘Hooligan’s Island.

David Mitchell and Robert Webb will appear in Our Men, about a pair of British embassy officials in Tazbekistan and Sue Perkins’ show will be about a gay vet who is struggling to come out to her parents so her friends give her an ultimatum.

The new (and old) shows were announced by BBC2 controller Janice Hadlow at the Edinburgh TV Festival.

Celebrity Masterchef is back: Here’s who’s cooking

‘Cooking does not get tougher than this!’ – Yes, it’s back. Celebrity Masterchef starts a new run this coming Monday on BBC2 at 6:30.

Every year a new set of unlikely would-be chefs have a crack at impressing judges John ‘jowl’ Torode and Greg ‘ingredients expert’ Wallace by cooking dishes of their own invention in a big TV kitchen or on various random locations.

This year, the famous faces we’ll be seeing conjure up barely edible food will be:

Former Neighbours star Anne Charleston, Lanky TV presenter Jamie Theakston, Pop singer Javine Hylton, Former Olympic swimmer Stephen ‘Steve’ Parry, Comedian/ actress/ writer Emma ‘no, we’ve not heard of her either’ Kennedy, Presumably ex pop star Gareth Gates, Footballer’s Wives actress Laila Rouass, Actor George Layton, who’ll probably recognise from 70’s sitcoms, Telly gardener Diarmud Gavin, Grumpy Old Woman Jenny Eclair, Michael ‘jobbing TV presenter’ Underwood, Olympic cyclist Rebecca Romero, Former Bucks Fizzer Cheryl Baker, Ex footballer Danny Mills, Richard ‘Dick not Dom’ McCourt, And former Blue Peter presenter Zoe Salmon.

We really can’t pick a winner from that lot. Three have food-related surnames so that might help, the sports stars know all about nutrition and Cheryl Baker did a diet advert so she should know her stuff. It really is impossible to predict.

BBC2 axes Shooting Stars – for the second time

Reeves and Mortimer’s Shooting Stars: axed by BBC2

BBC Two has pulled the plug on the quiz show – presented by Bob Mortimer and Vic Reeves – for the second time after it first aired from 1995-1997, followed by a second run from 2008.

A BBC spokeswoman said: “In future there will be less space on BBC Two for comedy and entertainment panel shows so sadly Shooting Stars won’t be returning.

“We’d like to thank Vic and Bob for everything they’ve brought to the channel over the years.”

Shooting Stars’ boss Lisa Clark added: “There isn’t enough money. It’s a real shame because Vic and Bob are unique.”

Bob wrote on his twitter page: “BBC have just cancelled shooting stars.”

Fans reacted angrily to the news on twitter with The Times critic Caitlin Moran writing: “A genuine outrage. I hope some other channel snaps up Shooting Stars immediately: it’s one of the best comedy shows of the last 20 years.”

Former Fast Show star Simon Day added: “Shooting Stars: funniest show on telly. Great idea to drop it, from people who care.”

Earlier this year Bob admitted he was thrilled with how the show was being received, claiming the public needed a show that was a “bit stupid”.

He explained: “It’s had the best critical acclaim in years so maybe the time’s come round again. There’s a feeling in the air that maybe things have got a bit dreary again. There’s a need for something a bit stupid – a bit Milligan, a bit Cooper.”

BBC plans TV Movie about Dame Shirley Bassey’s life as part of Mixed Britain series

Dame Shirley Bassey – subject of a BBC2 TV movie

The 74-year-old Welsh singing legend’s life is to be explored by BBC2, with the factual drama chronicling her poverty-stricken upbringing in Cardiff as the youngest of seven children.

Bassey, whose Nigerian father abandoned the family before she was two, rose to fame shortly after falling pregnant at 16, and went on to sell millions of hit records in a career spanning over 50 years.

The Goldfinger hitmaker’s biographer John Williams thinks the film will be fascinating. He told the BBC: “In 1954 she’s a mixed race pregnant teenager, waiting tables and heading down the same road as her mother. By 1964, she’s singing the theme tune to Goldfinger and is a glamourpuss who’s number one on both sides of the Atlantic.

“If that’s not worthy of a film, I don’t know what is.”

The singer’s story will be aired as part of a BBC2 season about mixed-race life in Britain, with other programmes including a three-part series called Mixed Britain fronted by newsreader George Alagiah, and a documentary about twins with different skin colours.

Shirley has sold 135 million records – more than any other woman in chart history.

Johnny Depp to star in Ricky Gervais sitcom Life’s Too Short

Johnny Depp is to star in new Ricky Gervais sitcom, Life’s Too Short

Johnny Depp is set to star in Ricky Gervais’ new sitcom. The 47-year-old actor – who was the butt of one of The Office star’s jibes at this year’s Golden Globes, when he described Johnny’s acting in ‘The Tourist as one-dimensional – is reportedly being lined up for a role in Ricky and partner Stephen Merchant’s new BBC Two sitcom Life’s Too Short.

However, it would appear Johnny took Golden Globes host Ricky’s jokes on the chin, as he has a “great sense of humour”. An insider told The Sun newspaper: “Johnny will guest star in Ricky’s new BBC Two show. He’s trying to work out his schedule but it will definitely go ahead.

“Johnny is a huge fan of Ricky’s and has a great sense of humour. He has wanted to work with Ricky for ages and this is it.”

Filming for the show, which will also be screened on the HBO channel in the US, begins in May and will document the tale of an ego-maniac dwarf (Warwick Davis) who runs a talent agency for other vertically-challenged actors and singers.

Life’s Too Short has been described as a cross between Ricky Gervais’ Extras and American cult comedy series Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Weekend television: Got to Dance, Made in England and Treme

This weekend we kick of with Channel 4′s one off documentary Made in England, which starts at 7:30pm. The mini film focuses on the future of Brit manufacturing and ignores the recession to concentrate on the positives, especially in the clothing industry.

It focuses on a coat-making factory in Salford, and follows its staff as they push themselves to complete big orders in the run-up to Christmas. One cheery machinist tells the camera, “We moan a bit but we love it here.” Another worker, who’s 73, laughs off any suggestion of retirement: “What’s the point? I’d be sitting in the house on me own. I’d go mad.”

After the positivity of the night its time to get a little bit melancholy with Children’s Hospital, which rushes into ITV at 8pm.  If you don’t know by now, the long running series focuses on the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, and gives an insight into the sick children there. While you’ll need your tissues at the ready, there are some smile moments, especially when the children recover.

If your lucky enough to have Sky’s new Atlantic channel then new series Treme, which starts at 10:15pm is definitely one to watch. Bought to the screen by the Wire’s David Simon the drama is set in New Orleans a few months after Hurricane Katrina.

It focuses on a group of people who survived and refused to leave. As this is the first in the series expect lots of character introductions and building.

Over to Saturday night and we get some light relief with BBC 1′s Let’s Dance for Comic Relief

Based on the US show, this charity special sees celebs vying for a charity prize to give to their chosen causes. But they will be voted out each week.

At 9:15 flick over to E4 for the Idiot Awards – they might not be new but if you haven’t seen these you’re in for a treat. Comedian Russell Kane presents a spoof awards ceremony that honours moments of stupidity, with categories including most idiotic reality show moment and idiotic airport meltdown.

And Sunday sees more dancing with Got to Dance over on Sky One at 6pm. We’re now in the last semi final in the show judged by Ashley Banjo, Adam Garcia and Pussy Cat Doll Kimberley Wyatt and this time it’s Bolly-Flex, Liquid Metallic, Mystic Force, Razzle Dazzle, Synergy, Tamara and Trinity Warriors chance to perform.

TV Review: Masterchef, BBC Two, Tuesday 24 February, 8.30pm

They finally pulled a great task out of the bag! About time too. This is the second part of the final so we’ve only got two more days before someone is crowned King of Masterchef and big big flavours. It’s all getting very exciting. But what did they have to do?

To read all our Masterchef news, reviews and interviews, go here.

Well, the first half of the show was a bit dull, frankly. It was standard Masterchef, and I’m not sure why they reverted back to the same old formula they’ve been banging out for the last couple of months. All they had to do was find two different ways of cooking salmon. That was it. This was to ‘help them practise’ for their main task ahead. It’s worth noting that none of them cook salmon in the main task so this was just pointless filling.

Everyone turned out lovely looking plates of food. Mat made things look pretty, which shocked everyone, and the others did good grub that wasn’t going to win any creativity prizes. Christopher still doesn’t season things properly. Yawn.

The best bit of the show? The voiceover woman who managed to say without a hint of irony, “They’ll be going where no other amateur cook has gone before”, which made me think they were going to go cooking in space or something. That would be the best episode of Masterchef ever. But alas, they were just off the Buckingham Palace. Hang on a minute, that’s a swanky task isn’t it?

And they almost did a right royal job of messing it up. Everything needed prepping. And everything they decided to cook needed lots and lots of peeling and chopping. Mat with his Thai veggie curry, Andy with his fresh fruit salad and Christopher with his ratatouille. Chop chop chop. That’s pretty much all they did for ten minutes of the show. It was getting quite dull.

Until the Buckingham Palace Royal chef (now that’s a decent job title) admitted that he’d hidden his sous chefs in another kitchen preparing fish and chips, just in case our boys messed up! Brilliant.

They didn’t though. It all worked out just fine. Mat turned his unset cheesecake into a fruity cheesy fool of sorts and saved the day. It looked nicer after he’d messed it up. Christopher had a great round and even got his sea bream out on time, and Andy? Well, he did lamb shanks but I’m forgetting him to be honest. He’s doing nothing exciting. Bit bored of him now so if he wins I’ll be very annoyed.

Things are certainly heating up. Mat’s still favourite as far as I’m concerned, but that might change to Christopher after tonight. Andy’s out of the game for me, but tell me what you think of these guys. I’ll be liveblogging the final on Thursday too so make sure you come back for that. There will be cooking puns-a-plenty.

TV Review: Masterchef, BBC Two, Monday 23 February, 9pm

Last night was the first part of the Masterchef final. Does that strike anyone else as weird? Is there any other show that has four parts to their final? They really do like milking this show, don’t they? Luckily though, it’s always pretty good. Although the challenges they think up are always a tad strange when they get to this point in the show. I think it’s known as clutching at straws.

Those wacky TV producers clearly thought “let’s send them to the army. That’ll be tough.” And well, that’s exactly what they did. Whisked off to the Scottish Highlands were Christopher (the good looking one), Mat (the favourite to win, the one with sinister eyebrows) and Andy (the comeback contestant). They had to cook with rations! Oh no! How difficult.

This isn’t WW1 anymore, so rations managed to dish up some very tasty food – chilli con carne from Mat, Shepherd’s pie from Christopher (which no one wanted to eat) and Beef Stew from Andy (and he faffed about so much that almost no one got to eat it). This whole episode gave Gregg the opportunity to talk about ‘big big flavours’ and John could moan about how angry the soldiers would be if they didn’t get their feed on time. This timing thing has always been an issue in Masterchef. Now, in real life (that is, not the one that Jay Rayner lives in), if you’re having a few glasses of wine, and chatting away, do you ever get angry about your food being two minutes late? No, Masterchef, you do not.

They were then shooed off to the barracks and had to cook a posh dinner for some very important army bigwigs. And well, the only challenge they could devise involved having to cook in two kitchens and run across a forecourt. Hardly mesmerising stuff if I’m honest. Christopher was meant to be in charge, but he messed it up. Andy did really well after his rubbish morning.

This always happens in Masterchef. You think you know how it’s going to go, and then they change it about. There’s always a lot of devil’s advocate in this show and for me, it’s starting to wear a bit thin. Hopefully they pick it up in the last couple of episodes or this whole series is in danger of falling a bit flat.

Mat’s still my favourite, but tell me who you think is going to win in the comments. I’ll be reviewing each episode this week, leading up to live blogging the (final) final so make sure you tune in for that.