Dracula is returning to TV in a major new series; here are some famous portrayals

It has been announced that Count Dracula is to return to the small screen in a major new 10-part adaptation, the NBC/ Sky Living production will star Jonathan Rhys Meyers as the famous vampire.

Created by author Bram Stoker in 1897, Dracula has been the subject of hundreds of film and TV adaptations over the years, let’s have a look at some of the most famous:

Bela Lugosi stars as what was, for many years, Hollywood’s defining Dracula.

Hammer Horror made dozens of Dracula films in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, many with Christopher lee in the role.

Godfather director Francis Ford Coppola directed Gary Oldman as the count in this 1992 film adaptation.

After spoofing westerns and Frankenstein, Mel Brooks has a go at Dracula.

A famous and creepy BBC TV adaptation from 1977.

And a recent BBC update from 2006

Channel 4 goes mad with a week of programmes on mental health

Tonight sees the start of Mad Week on Channel 4, when it shows a series of programmes looking at attitudes to mental health. This being Channel 4, though, the shows are generally celeb-fronted and appear light-hearted.

First up tonight at 10PM, depression-sufferer Ruby Wax follows a number of successful business people as they reveal their illness to employers, family and friends in Ruby Wax’s Mad Confessions.

Then on Tuesday at 10, sand up comic Jon Richardson presents A Little Bit OCD, where he meets numerous OCD sufferers and discovers more about the condition.

Wednesday at 10 brings the World’s Maddest Job Interview, which finds 8 people with serious mental health issues interviewed and assessed by a panel of business experts (including Apprentice job interview hatchet man Claude Littner) to try and see if their condition affects their work ability.

And finally, on Thursday at 10 is Obsessive Compulsive Hoarder: The Big Clear Out. Here, OCD sufferer and extreme hoarder Richard Wallace tries to rid himself of as many of his pointless possessions as possible.

All the programmes sound great, interesting and (worryingly) a little like the sort of thing Chris Morris would have been lampooning a mad TV of the future a few years ago. Here’s hoping the gimmickier-sounding of these shows are handled sensitively.

Stephen Mulhern is to be the new host of Catchphrase (any excuse to show this classic clip

It’s been announced that Britain’s Got More Talent host Stephen Mulhern will front a revived version of classic 80’s & 90’s quiz show Catchphrase.

The show was originally hosted by Irish comic Roy Walker but Mulhern will take presenting duties on the new pilot, which will be shot in August.

To be honest we’re not really that interested in this story, we just wanted an excuse to show this hilarious classic clip.



Irony overload: Rogue Traders presenter jailed for fraud

Former Rogue Traders presenter Dan Penteado has been sentenced to 12 weeks in jail after being found guilty of benefit fraud.

Penteado fronted the consumer interest show from 2008 and 2012 and was paid over £56,000 for his efforts. During that time, though, he continued to claim housing and council tax benefits amounting to over £24,000.

His solicitor stated that Penteado was trying to ‘not interrupt the flow of housing benefit’. Not a great defence, is it?

The cabinet member for planning and environment, Councillor David Smith, said: “The amount of money stolen in this case is truly shocking. We are pleased that Mr Penteado has now been successfully prosecuted and brought to justice. The council will not tolerate benefit fraud and will always take action to ensure public funds are protected from abuse and available to support the most vulnerable in society. Anyone committing benefit fraud should expect to be investigated and action to be taken.”

Karen Gillan ‘cried for two weeks’ after leaving Doctor Who

Outgoing Doctor Who companion Karen Gillan has told fans at San Diego’s Comic-Con that she cried for two weeks after shooting her final scenes on the show.

Karen, who has played ‘Tardis Totty’ Amy Pond for the last 2 series, will leave the show during the next run, as will co-star Arthur Darville who plays Amy’s boyfriend Rory. She said: “I cried for two weeks. Everything set me off, I couldn’t hold it together at all. (The show) has changed my life in so many ways. And even thought I don’t want to say it, I’ve made two really good friends.”

When asked about Karen and Arthur’s departure Matt Smith, who plays the Doctor, said: “I will miss them. I miss these cats. It’s been three years on set. You develop a language with these people. It’s like two older brothers who bully their sister and I miss being able to bully Karen.”

The Proms start on Friday, here’s our beginner’s guide

If you’re one of those people that turns the TV over whenever the Proms are on, maybe this year you should give it a go; it’s one of the most extraordinary celebrations of music in the world and a uniquely British event.

‘Promenade’ concerts (where musicians play in parks and open spaces while listeners walk by) had been popular for many years but in the mid 18th Century, under the stewardship of renowned orchestra leader Sir Henry Wood, they became a more formal, organised series of events.

When the BBC took over the Proms in 1927 they began broadcasting them to the nation, first on the radio and then on the TV as well. There are now over 70 concerts during the 8 weeks of events, most held at the Royal Albert Hall but many in other venues and parks.

While the Proms consist almost exclusively of classical concerts occasionally there are unique non-classical events, such as last year’s Comedy Prom, where humorous songs were performed and celebrated.

The most famous event of the calendar is the Last Night of the Proms, where popular and patriotic pieces are played and the audience take the opportunity to sing loudly along while waving flags and looking posh.

The Proms may appear elitist and anachronistic but they can be tremendous fun and genuinely moving. Give ‘em a try this year, they may just surprise you.

Is the BBC planning to bring back Eldorado? Let’s hope not

There are rumours circulating the internet that the new BBC director general George Entwistle my be considering returning 90’s super-flop soap to our screens.

In what may be either be a bad joke, a malicious rumour or a genuine piece of crazy thinking, a former member of the show’s crew, Paul Davies, has written in the BBC’s in-house magazine Aerial of the need for Eldorado’s ‘triumphant return’.

He goes on: “Critics would argue it was hubristic, too excessive and the axe deserved to fall prematurely, I would argue it was ambitious, ahead of its time and an example of the BBC machine working at its very best. I just hope a channel controller sees the potential and commissions a revisit to Eldorado in the future.”

Whether this bizarre plea has reached the ears of the new DG is unknown but bringing the show back to the channel would certainly be one of the strangest things he could do. The programme was filmed on a purpose-built set in Spain but was derided by critics and disliked by viewers, it ran for just a year before being scrapped. The set has reportedly been used to shoot porn films since.

Our guess is that this whole story is just a gag designed as a welcome present from the BBC to their new leader.

Superstar: ITV get their chance to plug Lloyd Webber ‘s new musical

After the BBC shows ‘I’d Do Anything’, ‘How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria’ and ‘Any Dream Will Do’ showed how TV companies could make hugely popular shows by creating extended plugs for Andrew Lloyd Webber stage productions, ITV have finally got their own addition to the canon starting this weekend.

Superstar will find ALW, Jason Donovan, Mel C and (for no obvious reason) Dawn French sitting in judgement over a string of stage school kids all competing to win the role of the son of God in the upcoming stage revival of Jesus Christ Superstar.

The competing prospective Christs will have to undergo a series of physical and mental tests in the course of the series, including an assault course, novel writing and a ‘who-can-make-the-crispiest-Yorkshire-pudding’ contest.

Not really, they just sing songs from the show and eventually, after weeks of free publicity for Lloyd Webber and his hippy twaddle shout-fest, someone will be crowned No.1 Jesus.

At least winter won’t feel as long.

Comedian Eric Sykes RIP. 1923-2012

Eric Sykes, who had died today (4/7/2012), collecting his CBE from the Queen in 2005

Eric Sykes died today aged 89 after a short illness, his manager Norma Farnes said.

One of the most endearing and popular comic actors of his generation, Sykes was still appearing on the West End stage into his 80s, even though he became almost totally deaf and nearly blind.

Sykes found fame in a series of TV sitcoms from the 1950s, including Sykes And A… alongside Carry On star Hattie Jacques.

Sir Bruce Forsyth paid tribute to the star, calling him “one of the greats of comedy in this country”.

“He was universally loved here,” the entertainer continued. “He was just one of the funniest men ever.”

Comedian Stephen Fry wrote on Twitter: “Oh no! Eric Sykes gone? An adorable, brilliant, modest, hilarious, innovative and irreplaceable comic master. Farewell, dear, dear man.”

Actor Bernard Cribbins, who starred in two of Sykes’ comedy shorts, The Plank (1979) and It’s Your Move (1969), also paid tribute: “I just wish him a lot of rest up there with all the other comics, Spike Milligan and Harry Secombe. They will all be up there, having a laugh together.”

Sykes’ film credits include Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire (2005) and Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines (1965). He was also a novelist, director and producer.

Here he is being interviewed by Des O’Connor:

Image: Andrew Parsons/PA Wire

Eric Sykes has passed away: For anyone under 40, here’s who he was.

Eric Sykes, who has died age 89, was one of the most respected figures in radio, TV and film comedy. A writer, performer and director he worked with almost every significant comic in post-war Britain. He appeared with, wrote for or directed (among many other) Tommy Cooper, Tony Hancock, Peter Sellers and Spike Milligan and Leonard Rossiter.

Sykes was one of a generation of script writers and performers who were responsible for making the nation laugh from the 1950’s until the 1980’s, he has his own hit sitcom (called Sykes) and made all-star silent film The Plank.

He also worked uncredited on literally hundreds of productions and you will almost certainly have laughed at least one of his jokes without knowing its provenance. In an age when most TV comics write their own material (or like to pretend they do), people with the comic skills of Eric Sykes are becoming increasingly rare, perhaps the modern world would benefit from a new generation of old-fashioned, all-round gagsmiths of his ilk.

RIP Eric Sykes – a fine, funny man.