Mackenzie Crook and Kelly Reilly in Sky Atlantic's Britannia
UK TV

Boxset Monday: Britannia (UK: Sky Atlantic; US: Amazon)

In the UK: Available from Thursday on Sky Atlantic
In the US: Will be available on Amazon

What is Sky Atlantic’s new show Britannia all about? The obvious answer is that it’s about the second Roman invasion of the British Isles (aka Britannia), way back in AD43. David Morrissey (State of Play, The Walking Dead) is the Roman general in charge of the invading legions who thinks that he can do better than Caesar did 90 years earlier. The tribes of native Celts who once lined the shores to repel Caesar’s invasion are now led by Ian McDiarmid and Zoe Wanamaker, who are at each other’s throats thanks to a wedding ceremony gone wrong as the results of a bit of treachery, so seemingly no obstacle to Morrissey. Around them are other Celts vying for power, including McDiarmid’s son Julian Rhind-Tutt (Green Wing, Hippies); meanwhile, McDiarmid’s warrior princess daughter Kelly Reilly (Sherlock Holmes, Black Box, Above Suspicion) wants nothing but peace and her father’s approval.

However, it wasn’t just the Celts that helped repulse that first invasion. It was the druids and their genuine magic that sent Caesar running back to Rome in a tizzy. And it’s that magic that’s the real reason for Morrissey’s desire to lead Claudius’ legions to victory – he wants to visit the underworld to meet the dead and he needs the help of the druids, including their chief the 10,000-year-old Mackenzie Crook (The Office, The Detectorists). That’s something ‘outcast’ druid Nikolaj Lie Kaas wants to stop as he thinks Morrissey might be a demon from the equally demonic Rome.

But underneath that literal explanation of the plot, there is as the title suggests a deeper introspection of the nature of Britain, Britishness, change and immigration fit for our post-Brexit world. Plus a little bit of ultra-violence.

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Kelly Reilly in Sky Atlantic's Britannia
BAFTA events

What TV’s on at BAFTA in January 2018? Including Requiem and Britannia

Every couple of weeks, TMINE flags up what new TV events BAFTA is holding around the UK

We’ve already done January, but BAFTA is being its usual helpful self and not telling me about things until they have already sold out (Meet the Controllers – thanks, BAFTA!). So I’ve had a look and it turns out that they had some secret Welsh events they hadn’t told me about as well. Better still, they’re not sold out.

Continue reading “What TV’s on at BAFTA in January 2018? Including Requiem and Britannia”

News: Tales of the City revival; ITV/Amazon’s Vanity Fair; Drifters cancelled; White Gold renewed; + more

Internet TV

  • Ne-Yo, Naya Rivera and Faizon Love to star in YouTube Red’s Step Up: High Water
  • Netflix developing: revival of PBS/Showtime’s Tales of the City, with Laura Linney and Olympia Dukakis

International TV

UK TV

UK TV show casting

New UK TV show casting

  • Nicola Walker, Meera Syal, Stephen Mangan, Stephen Tompkinson et al to star in BBC One’s The Split

US TV

US TV show casting

New US TV show casting

News

News: Natalie Portman leaves Thor; Musketeers, Episodes cancelled; young Hyacinth Bucket cast; + more

Film casting

Internet TV

UK TV

New UK TV shows

  • Playground developing: adaptations of Fiona Barton’s The Widow and Thomas Grant’s Jeremy Hutchinson’s Case Histories

New UK TV show casting

  • Kelly Reilly to star in Sky’s Britannia
  • Kerry Howard to star in BBC One’s Keeping Up Appearances prequel Young Hyacinth

US TV

US TV show casting

US TV

What have you been watching? Including Rules For Living, True Detective, The Last Ship and Suits

It’s “What have you been watching?”, my chance to tell you what movies and TV I’ve been watching recently that I haven’t already reviewed and your chance to recommend things to everyone else (and me) in case I’ve missed them.

The usual “TMINE recommends” page features links to reviews of all the shows I’ve ever recommended, and there’s also the Reviews A-Z, for when you want to check more or less anything I’ve reviewed ever. And if you want to know when any of these shows are on in your area, there’s Locate TV – they’ll even email you a weekly schedule.

Last week, I had the bright idea to shift ‘What have you been watching?’ to Mondays, as several Sunday shows were finishing and Thursdays were starting to fill up with new shows.

Stupid idea. Very stupid idea. A quick glance through the schedules revealed that I should leave things as they were, as as well as replacements for the existing Sunday shows and a couple of returning shows, there was a whole bunch of new Friday shows to deal with, too.

Thankfully, I’ve just about made it through this week’s viewing selection, with only Sunday’s Humans to work my way through still. Elsewhere, I’ve reviewed the first episodes (and sometimes more) of:

That means that after the jump, I’ll be looking at the latest episodes of the usual regulars: Halt and Catch Fire, Hannibal, Humans, Stitchers, Tyrant, Westside and The Whispers. We’ve also got the return of The Last Ship, Suits and True Detective to consider, as well as the second episodes of Clipped and Proof. Some of these are getting the chop. Can you guess which, Tigers?

But first, some theatre!

Rules For Living (National Theatre)
A dark comedy starring that Stephen Mangan (Episodes, Dirk Gently, Green Wing), Miles Jupp (Rev, Neville’s Island), Claudie Blakley, Maggie Service and Deborah Findlay from off the tele, as a family getting together for Christmas. Jupp and Mangan are brothers, Findlay the mum, Service Jupp’s actress girlfriend and Blakley Mangan’s wife whom Jupp has pined for ever since they were kids.

The play’s focus, oddly enough, is cognitive behavioural therapy and the idea that we acquire ‘rules for living’ over time that while initially helpful, can eventually lead us to fixed behaviours that only make us unhappy. Only by learning what our rules are and breaking out of them can we become happy.

The play’s conceit is to put each character’s rule on a scoreboard at each end of the stage, so that the audience knows the rule, when the character has to obey it and what the exceptions to the rule might be. At the end, everyone’s score gets tallied up and the winner ‘rewarded’.

Rules For Living is both very funny and uncomfortable; it’s also uneven and occasionally forced, with elements of plausibility being stretched very far at some points. But it’s still very enjoyable, occasionally saddening, occasionally raw and by the end of it, you’ll be wondering what your own rules might be.

Another quirk of the the play is that it’s staged ‘in traverse’ – that is, the play is in the middle of the theatre almost like a pit, with the audience mostly on either side of the stage.

In traverse

We were in the front row, which meant that we were as little as a couple of feet away from the cast (and some nice looking cake) at some points. However, if you want to avoid (spoiler alert) being hit by food during the food fight I’d recommend sitting a couple of rows further back or wearing something that can be washed clean easily.

Continue reading “What have you been watching? Including Rules For Living, True Detective, The Last Ship and Suits”