Where Do I Know That Actor?

Saturday’s MIDSOMER MURDERS featured a very familiar face to viewers of UNC-TV’s programming. In “Shot At Dawn” (part one), Samantha Bond played Arabella “Bella” Hammond, daughter of a military family engaged in a longtime feud over a WWI incident.

Samantha Bond might be best known for playing Moneypenny in the James Bond films (featuring Pierce Brosnan in the 007 role) but her public television presence goes back to the 1980s. While she may not be the household name Helen Mirren or Judi Dench is, you’d have to be a poor public television viewer to not to have seen her in something. Certainly there have been guest roles aplenty in shows such as Poirot, Marple, Inspector Lynley and Inspector Morse (Bond has also been featured in three separate roles on MIDSOMER MURDERS over the years) but the actress has been seen in several series UNC-TV has aired. Bond played Liz Probert in Rumpole Of The Bailey on Mystery and Mary MacKenzie in The Ginger Tree on Masterpiece Theatre. She was Peter Davison’s wife, Lisa, on Distant Shores and Aunt Angela on the Britcom Outnumbered. On Downton Abbey, Samantha Bond was Lord Grantham’s sister, Lady Rosamund Painswick, and she played Great Paxford Women’s Institute leader Frances Barden on Home Fires.

MIDSOMER MURDERS continues with part two of “Shot At Dawn” Saturday night at 8 on UNC-TV.

Got a face you can’t place from one of the plethora of programs UNC-TV airs from the UK? Email me at sparkymac@unctv.org and I’ll try to help out.

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My Top Five: Couples

It’s Valentines’ Day week so it seemed fitting I should turn my thoughts to romance. Of all the show we’ve aired on UNC-TV, many have featured loving couples. Some were for laughs while others ended in tears. So here they are -MY TOP FIVE COUPLES.

5) FREDDIE & STUART, VICIOUS. These two elderly gents might seem to the casual viewer as vicious as the series name suggests but throughout all the bitchiness and barbs there is never a single doubt that Freddie and Stuart do truly love one another.

4) JAMES & HELEN, ALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL. The classic TV series is probably one of the best adaptations ever. The books are marvelous but Robert Hardy, Peter Davison and Christopher Timothy bring the vets of Skeldale House to vivid life, elevating the program over the source material. However, James and Helen Herriot were the heart of that series, affectionate and loyal and devoted to the end.

3) SUSAN & GORDON, SESAME STREET. They were two of the original human characters on the show and they have remained together as a couple, as part of a family, for five decades. Plus, it’s important to note that for many kids Susan and Gordon were the only example of a stable, loving relationship they had in their lives.

2) MARY & MATTHEW, DOWNTON ABBEY. Not every couple gets a happy ending but it’s the time together that counts. Yet for many episodes, this will-they-won’t-they twosome felt doomed from the start. So when Lady Mary and her beloved Matthew finally, amazingly, came together in that second season Christmas Special, oh the tears … pure tears of joy.

1) TOM & BARBARA, GOOD NEIGHBORS. Sure, it could be said they were doing nothing more than confirming the myth that everyone in Britain is a lovable, middle-class eccentric but they did it so well who would complain? The premise of a self-sufficiency experiment in the suburbs works so well because of these two main characters, Tom and Barbara Good (Richard Briers and Felicity Kendal). If only Tom could contrive the idea to turn their back garden into a real garden, complete with livestock, then only Barbara could have the vision and support and love to allow Tom to fulfill his dream. It works because we completely buy them as a 100% committed couple.

So there it is: MY TOP FIVE COUPLES. As always, this is my list, my personal selection. I stuck with loving couples, as seen on the many programs we’ve aired over the years on UNC-TV, and not just friends or colleagues (so no Holmes & Watson or Mathnet’s Monday & Frankly). I offer them up not as the best or greatest in any fashion. The list is simply that – a list. And it’s completely subjective. Feel free to make your own.

Where Do I Know That Actor?

If you caught the most recent MIDSOMER MURDERS, you may have spied a trio of familiar faces from elsewhere on UNC-TV. The episode in question (“Blood Wedding” – part one) saw Barnaby investigating the death of a bridesmaid while getting caught up in the drama of his own daughter’s impending nuptials.

We’ll start with Charles Edwards, who portrayed newlywed Sir Edward “Ned” Fitzroy, and Mark Umbers, who was his younger brother Henry “Harry” Fitzroy.

Edwards most recently was seen as Alfred Wood in the Masterpiece presentation Arthur & George where he played a pal of Sherlock Holmes creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. (Interestingly enough, Edwards also played Doyle in a 2001 series called Murder Rooms: Mysteries Of The Real Sherlock Holmes.) He also played Lady Edith’s love interest Michael Gregson on Downton Abbey. Continue reading

Monday Montage

What’s happening, what’s on and what’s interesting this week …

Explore the story of Florida’s Everglades, America’s greatest wetland, as AMERICAN EXPERIENCE enters THE SWAMP – Tuesday night at 9 on UNC-TV.

Historian Lucy Worsley (Tales from the Royal Bedchamber) talks about history, Queen Victoria and her new book. Continue reading

Monday Montage

What’s happening, what’s on and what’s interesting this week …

Explore the internal mechanics of the human body through pioneering graphics and captivating scientific case studies. Don’t miss THE AMAZING HUMAN BODY – a three-part event – Wednesday at 8pm on UNC-TV.

The DOWNTON ABBEY movie is officially filming! Need proof? Michelle Dockery shared a behind the scenes snap on her Instagram account as proof. Continue reading

Where Do I Know That Actor?

I hope you watched Saturday’s MIDSOMER MURDERS (Ring Out Your Dead, Part One) because we have a veritable who’s who of guest stars you’ve seen before from other programs aired on UNC-TV. I was practically giddy with all the familiar faces. See if you spotted them.

Let’s start with Reggie Barton, played by Graham Crowden. You know him best as Tom Ballard on Waiting for God but longtime Doctor Who fans may remember him as Soldeed from the classic Tom Baker serial The Horns of Nimon. (Now that’s going way back.) Crowden also portrayed Marquis of Auld Reekie on The Way We Live Now and Lord Chancellor on a 1985 Bleak House (both on Masterpiece). Continue reading