Wednesday Trivia Question

Ben Cross starred as an idealistic young doctor in what 1980s MASTERPIECE THEATRE series? 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

Sounds Familiar

“This is my first go at teaching – teaching schoolboys, that is. Up till now, the only teaching I’ve done is trying to teach recruits to look after themselves and not get shot their first week out. There wasn’t time to be patient, see, and I never had to learn to suffer fools gladly. That might take me a bit of time, Mr. Dobson. Until I do, maybe you’d better keep your head down, eh?” – David Powlett-Jones (John Duttine), TO SERVE THEM ALL MY DAYS on MASTERPIECE THEATRE

Where Do I Know That Actor? (Mamma Mia! Edition)

Every now and then, I like to veer slightly away from the small screen to make a big screen connection and, right now, there seems only one film deserving of such a look. The ABBA-inspired sequel Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again took in around $34 million in its opening weekend, placing it number two at the box office. Although I’ve not seen it myself I couldn’t help but be taken by all the familiar names and faces I spied viewing the trailer during a recent cinematic outing. Some may be obvious, but let’s take note of them all as best we can.

The hit movie stars Lilly James in the role of Young Donna in 1979. James may not be the biggest name in the cast but she should be among the best well-known of PBS-related stars since she played Lady Rose on Downton Abbey.

Meryl Streep, of course, plays Donna, reprising her role from the first film. Offhand, you might think Streep hasn’t been a presence on public broadcasting and, for the most part, you’d be right. However, credits her with two roles on Great Performances – Edith Varney on Secret Service (1977) and Leilah on Uncommon Women… and Others (1979). Moreover, the acclaimed actress had appeared on American Masters, Live From Lincoln Center, the documentary series Freedom: A History of Us and the Ken Burns’ series The Roosevelts: An Intimate History, among others. So I think it’s safe to say Meryl Streep has a long and healthy PBS association. Continue reading

Where Do I Know That Actor?

Another week, another MIDSOMER MURDERS. This time, the episode in question (“Not In My Back Yard” Part One – in which members of the Midsomer Conservation Society are hunted by a mysterious killer) saw no less than nine special guest stars. Let’s get to them, shall we?

Peter Egan played retired accountant Norman Swanscombe. Going back to the late 1970s, Egan portrayed Oscar Wilde on Lillie, a Masterpiece Theatre presentation. In the 80s, he was Fothergill on Reilly: Ace Of Spies, Henry Simcox on Paradise Postponed, Magnus Pym on A Perfect Spy and David Braithwaite on Ever Decreasing Circles. There were some guest spots here and there (My Family, Grantchester, Inspector Lynley) but, more recently, Egan has been seen as Martin Hughes on Unforgotten and Hugh “Shrimpie” MacClare, Marquess of Flintshire on Downton Abbey. Continue reading

Where Do I Know That Actor?

Fans of ENDEAVOUR on MASTERPIECE MYSTERY may have noticed a few familiar faces while watching this week’s episode – “Cartouche” (in which the investigation of a poisoning leads Morse and Thursday to a local cinema). Let’s see if you noticed them all.

We’ll start with the regulars.  Some have a heftier public television presence than others but let’s see where you may have spotted them all.

Shaun Evans stars as DS Endeavour Morse. He played the Earl of Southampton on The Virgin Queen, a Masterpiece Theatre presentation circa 2006.

Roger Allam is Morse’s superior DCI Fred Thursday. Allam has appeared in guest roles a-plenty over the years on programs like The Old Guys, MI-5, Inspector Lynley, Midsomer Murders and Foyle’s War. He even had one on the original Inspector Morse. However, I found it most interesting that he played Javert from the 1985 cast on a Les Miserables in Concert 25th Anniversary Special. Continue reading

My Top Five: Masterpiece Theatre Shows

The series now known as Masterpiece started in 1971 as Masterpiece Theatre. Originally presented by Alistair Cooke, the program offered an incredibly diverse selection of British programming for American audiences. Over the years, Masterpiece has adapted classic literature and featured exceptional original series. I’ve been a fan since I discovered the series in college and have seen quite a few in my time with UNC-TV. But what are my favorites – MY TOP FIVE?

I’m limiting this to the original run of Masterpiece Theatre (the program splintered into Classic, Contemporary and Mystery! around 2008), otherwise you can bet Downton Abbey would make the list. I’ve also eschewed series that started on Mystery! and moved to Masterpiece Theatre (like Prime Suspect). That still leaves over 35 seasons from which to choose.

Lastly, keep in mind, I’m not suggesting these series are the “best” because such superlatives are subjective. These are simply my personal faves – MY TOP FIVE MASTERPIECE THEATRE SHOWS.

5) CASANOVA. Russell T. Davies’ story of the legendary Italian adventurer featured Peter O’Toole as the elderly Casanova recalling his younger exploits. David Tennant starred as the young Casanova in what was, essentially, a proto-Doctor Who. (Davies would go on to resurrect the classic science fiction series and Tennant would play the tenth Doctor.) Continue reading