Tag: BBC One

Gold Digger (BBC One/Acorn TV 2019 Mini-Series)

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It’s every single woman’s dream at sixty years of age is to meet a handsome man half their age, who falls head-over-heels in love with you. The sex must be great.

Wait!  You say he must have ulterior motives?  What good-looking man would fall in love with a slightly wrinkled, slightly plump woman with three grown children and grandchildren? What could he possibly have in common with her, being twenty-six years younger?  Surely, he must be a gold digger.  Although Julia isn’t that rich, she is comfortable thanks to her recent divorce.  After all, she received the lovely country home.

Naturally, such a scenario doesn’t sit well with three grown children and an ex-husband who quickly judge Benjamin to be unworthy. He had a secret past, lives in a flat about to be evicted, occasionally gets caught in little white lies, and movies into the family home with mum as if he owns the place.

Well, the series leads you to believe that he is a gold digger like everyone concludes that he is.  Although all may not be as it seems, it isn’t until the last episode that you discover his motives.  Is he really a gold digger or a broken man, looking for a substitute mother figure and security?  That’s even creepier, in my books. Be ready for a on-again, off-again, on-again ride.

Staring Jula Ormand as “Julia” and Ben Barnes as “Benjamin,” you wonder why their names weren’t something different in the series. Jemima Rooper (our Lost in Auten gal), Archie Renaux, Sebastian Armesto play the suspicious and angry children, brooding over their mother’s obvious bad decision. The entire dysfunctional family can’t seem to come with terms with Julia’s ex-husband Ted, played by the talented Alex Jennings (who is the most talented in the series), that their father is a wife beater. Although he attempts to come across as a love-crossed reformed man, he eventually shows himself to be true to his own character rather than his new.

The series does tend to drag a bit here and there. Unfortunately, I didn’t find it as suspenseful as I would have liked but it’s also not predictable. From what I’ve read, the fans in the U.K. were a bit miffed the so-called bad boy didn’t turn out bad enough for everyone’s taste.

Well, it’s Acorn TV and British showmanship.  Give it a shot.  I could go for a guy in his mid-30s at my age. But since I’m not wealthy or good-looking enough to attract one to my bed, I’ll just write about it. Of course, if the story were flipped, let’s be honest.  Sixty-year-old man marries a thirty-four-year-old woman?  There isn’t anything wrong with that scenario.

 

Small Island (Series BBC One 2009)

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Streaming on Britbox and available elsewhere is Small Island, adapted from a novel by Andrea Levy.  It apparently streamed on PBS Masterpiece in 2010, which I obviously missed.  If it hadn’t been for the Period Drama Facebook Group, I probably would have missed this one altogether. I watched the two-part series (90-minute episodes) in its entirety last night, staying up past my bedtime.  It was well worth the lack of sleep.

The story, in the beginning, flashes back and forth between the lives of two young Jamaicans – Hortense (Naomie Harris) and Michael (Ashley Walters) – pre-World War 2. On the other side of the world, it’s Bernard (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Queenie (Ruth Wilson). Each has their own dreams – Hortense of marrying Michael; Michael rebellious in his upbringing; Queenie escaping her childhood and the pig farm; and Bernard a shy man, living with his father.

Eventually, life splits Hortense and Michael.  Queenie marries Bernard to escape returning home to her parents, and then the war breaks out.  War, as you know, throws everyone’s lives in various directions with new challenges.

The main focus of the story is the character of Queenie, who doesn’t have a prejudice bone in her body when it comes to black people.  When Benedict leaves for war and she’s left alone in the house, she offers three airmen housing. One of the young men is the charismatic Michael, a handsome and alluring man in uniform.  Queenie willingly succumbs to his seduction and the next day he’s off on another mission.

As the story continues, she meets Gilbert, also from Jamaica and they form a friendship.  He marries Hortense, and the two of them eventually live in Queenie’s home because Benedict never returned after the war. I could continue the remainder of the series but will spare you spoilers.

The story, of course, shows the bias against the black Jamaicans among the English. Jamaican children under English rule were taught to love the “motherland” and obviously Gilbert did as a child and adult. Unfortunately, when he’s in the country who he believes supports and accepts him as an Englishman too, he finds the stark reality that prejudice against his skin color is no different than it is in the United States.

I enjoyed this two-part series and recommend it to those looking for another pre-WW2 or WW2 storyline that delves into a different aspect of human behavior during those years. It’s well acted and packaged to please.

 

 

 

Death in Paradise Star Kris Marshall is Leaving – But Why? | Star Reveals Reasons

The winds of change are blowing through Saint Marie. Here, Kris Marshall talks through his journey with the show.

Source: Death in Paradise star Kris Marshall is leaving – but why? | Star reveals reasons for leaving the BBC1 series

It appears Series 6 in 2017 has six episodes.  Then, to top if off, Kris is leaving the series!  I don’t blame him, though, because just like the first star of the show, he’s leaving for family reasons since it requires him to live six months a year in the Caribbean.

Wishing him the best for new and great roles in the future!

Lilies (2007 BBC One TV Series)

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It was a dark and stormy night, so I binged watched Lilies streaming on Netflix. This is an older BBC One eight-episode series regarding three young girls growing into womanhood in Liverpool after the Great War (that’s WWI in case you need to know).  The series was not renewed, and as a result, the last episode leaves you with many unanswered questions regarding where do their lives go from here.

The story focuses on six main characters:

  • The widowed father who is a grumpy, angry man, yelling at everyone in the household.  When he drinks, he becomes violent.  He is called “Dadda.”
  • Billy the son, who is a closet homosexual.
  • Iris the eldest daughter who takes care of the household.
  • May the middle daughter who gets in “trouble” (the pregnant kind of trouble), having an affair with her married employer.
  • Ruby the younger and outspoken lass of the group, who frankly I had a difficult time understanding due to her heavy accent. However, she gives you a wonderful education on corsets.
  • A Catholic priest, Father Melia, who falls in love with Iris and is sent away.

The story follows each of their lives during eight episodes focusing on their various jobs that come and go, as well as love interests for the three girls.  The series is not the best, and since it was not renewed, obviously it didn’t do well overseas.  If you’re looking for a period drama, it does have entertainment value even though it won’t be at the top of your absolutely love-it list.  Apparently, it’s loosely based on Heidi Thomas’ mother’s story about life in Liverpool after the war.

The last episode leaves a huge number of questions about where their lives end up afterward.  Does Billy finally come out?  Probably not due to the times and the fact it was a crime.  Does the priest return as a priest?  Does he tell Iris he loves her and leaves his calling to marry her?  Does May’s lover finally return to marry her and be a father to the baby?  Does Ruby end up marrying the German butcher she first hated and move to Russia?  Does Dadda finally get to find happiness?  Alas, we shall never know.

 

Upstairs Downstairs (TV Series 2010-2012)

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I watched this series this past weekend, and though some of it seemed familiar, I’m not sure I’ve seen all of the episodes before.  Nevertheless, I was able to enjoy it through fresh eyes unaware of much of the storyline.

Having not seen the original Upstairs Downstairs (the 1971 series set in the years 1903-1930), this version picks up in the mid-1930’s and continues pre-WW2 at the same location of 165 Eaton Place in the Belgravia neighborhood.  The master of the estate is Sir Hallam Holland (as I take a moment to relish the last name) and Lady Agnes who purchases the “ghastly old mausoleum” by cleaning and renovating the run-down interior.

Lady Agnes hires a new staff and Rose Buck (Jean Marsh who played in the 1971 series) returns as the housekeeper.  Much like Downton Abbey, including an opening scene during the credits of the shiny chandelier, the story follows life upstairs and downstairs.  Sir Hallam is a diplomat, and his wife lives to run the household and be a hostess to high society on London’s scene.  As the years go by such famous people as the Duke of Kent, Wallis Simpson, the Kennedys from the U.S., and other royalty eat at their table.  Upstairs has its problems, of course, mostly centered around an out-of-control Lady Persephone, who is Lady Agnes’ sister.

Downstairs is the usual love/hate relationship between the staff.  The main focus is on the butler, housekeeper, cook, housemaid, footman, parlormaid, and chauffeur. Their secrets from the past often irritate and cause friction, much like Downton Abbey, while they live to serve the somewhat dysfunctional family upstairs.

The story is set pre-war and includes King Edward VIII’s abdication, and the numerous attempts to avoid war with Germany.  The first two seasons lead the audience through the years with interest, along with heart-wrenching scenes as England steps up to help the Jewish children fleeing the rising persecution of Jews. A little family scandal of an aunt being a lesbian causes a stir, as well as Persephone’s attraction and affair with a German officer.  Watching London prepare for a war they hope to avoid, helps to underscore the wounds that still abide from WWI and the fear of another looming on the horizon.

The cast is strong, the costumes well done, and the flavor of the 1930’s resonates throughout. Keeley Hawes who plays Lady Agnes is beautiful, as well as Claire Foy, her sister. Red lipstick, silk dresses, and wavy hair make them both stunningly gorgeous. Ed Stoppard, who plays Sir Hallam Holland, has the right uppity air for an aristocrat who is too busy to keep his marriage afloat. Downstairs you’ll quickly recognize Anne Reid as the cook, who plays in Last Tango in Halifax. She has the usual rough snippy edges about her personality. All in all, I found no complaint in the acting.

Season two, unfortunately, quickly ends in family tragedy for the Hollands.  War is declared, and everyone takes their part to do their duty.  Sir Holland is in uniform at the closing scene heading off probably to the war office, as well as his wife is in uniform telling her children she is off to help in the ambulance corps.  Unfortunately, the story ends here, but your interedownstairsst in each of their lives is not satisfied or brought to a happy ending especially when you know of the horrors that lie ahead for London.  As they march off to war, the audience is left with the uncertainty of what it will bring to each of the characters and leaves a very unsatisfying taste with no closure. From what I read, Season One had a booming audience, while Season Two slowly dwindled probably leading to its death.

You will see many similarities with Downton Abbey in this up and down tale of life for the upper and lower class.  It’s definitely not as good as others but, nevertheless, it’s worth the watch if you’re looking for the similar scenario filmed prior to the infamous Julian Fellowes’ soap opera regarding the Crawley family.  It’s now streaming on Hulu and available on Amazon Prime for free with the first episode The Fledgling

And Then There Was None (2015 BBC One)

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Streaming on Amazon is Agatha Christie’s creepy mystery – And Then There Was None.  The book, originally published in November of 1939, possessed what would be considered today an offensive title.  When released in 1939 in the United States, the title was changed to “And Then There Was None.”  Apparently, this is Christie’s best-selling novel and considered her masterpiece. Her talent in mystery storytelling is unsurpassed.

Of course, it is one of those tales that has been adapted multiple times on stage, film, and television.  As usual, I am way behind the times having never read the book or seen any of the adaptations.  Perhaps this is what makes this particular version astound me because of the great production and a fantastic lineup of actors – Charles Dance, Toby Stephens, Burn Goldman, Aidan Turner, Miranda Richardson, Maeve Dermody, Sam Neill, and others. From the opening scenes of the story, the mystery and foreboding of what lies ahead is expertly unfolded. Instantly, if you are unfamiliar with the story, you are drawn into the tale like those drawn to an island to meet their fate — you are hooked and can’t escape.

The story is about a variety of individuals who are invited to Soldier Island under various pretenses. Each invitation is sufficiently enticing to bring the group together consisting of eight men and two females. They arrive at a remote island off the coast of Devon, where they eventually discover they are stranded and unable to leave. Perched on a hill is a mansion owned by the mysterious Mr. Owen who invited each of the guests.  However, upon their arrival, Mr. Owen is absent and apparently will not arrive until the following morning. To add to the oddity of the situation, in each room of the house, there is a nursery rhyme of Ten Little Indians is framed and hanging on the wall.

The guests settle into their rooms and meet for dinner.  After dessert, a gramophone plays and loud speakers blare throughout the house the crimes that these ten individuals have committed by overtly killing or accidentally causing the death of another. They have arrived at their location to pay their due since their actions were unpunishable in the court of law. Of course, everyone denies their culpability except for one character, Philip Lombard.

The story is played out in two episodes filled with excellent performances.  By the end of the first, three individuaAidanls have met their fate, which naturally panics the remaining guests. They begin to suspect each other or the mysterious Mr. Owen who they believe is hiding in the mansion. Sitting as a centerpiece upon the dining room table are ten figures in a circle. Each time a guest dies, one disappears, leaving the number remaining in the house.

And Then There is None is now available on Amazon Video And Then There Were None [Blu-ray] or can be stream at this LINK.

I highly recommend this fantastic adaptation of a most intriguing story.  Agatha Christie is indeed the queen of mystery and crime. There are advantages in not having read the original work before seeing this version. I’ve seen some complaints it wasn’t true to the book in the end.

Nevertheless, it left a lasting impression upon my unsuspecting mind – especially Aidan Turner wrapped in a towel.  How do they expect the female audience to concentrate? We were all thinking, “and then there was no towel.”

 

 

 

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