Set in 1933, the movie will chart how celebrated playwright, George Bernard Shaw, visited Hollywood with his formidable wife, Charlotte. The idea of turning Shaw’s most successful play, Pygmalion, into a film was a hot topic of conversation as the great and the good of Hollywood vied for his attention, desperate to be part of the next big motion picture. How would the Irish-born writer and social reformer rub along with the Hollywood elite and, perhaps more importantly, did he have any intention of selling the rights to his beloved story to a film studio in the first place? Mr. Shaw Goes to Hollywood tells the story of what might have happened before the world came to know the play in its guise as a musical, My Fair Lady.
For two weeks a year Ilkley, an idyllic Yorkshire spa town, plays host to thousands of avid book-lovers as well as some of the most celebrated names in academia for its annual Literary Festival. Orphaned brothers and Christian radicals, Tim and Vic, arrive in Ilkley on its final weekend with the relatively straightforward task of assassinating keynote speaker John Huxley, the world’s most controversial secularist. However, after a classic case of mistaken identity, they find themselves having murdered the wrong man. Now stuck in the town during Ilkley’s busiest weekend, they wait for the arrival of a foreboding mentor to give them instruction. The mission must still be completed – that’s providing Vic’s rage, Tim’s doubts, or the efforts of foul-mouthed Detective Inspector Brough don’t get in the way first.
Roger Allam – Professor John Huxley
Derek Jacobi – Father Enoch
Anna Maxwell-Martin – DCI Brough
Tom Brooke – Vic
Harry Melling – Tim
Vinette Robinson – Imelda
Flora Spencer-Longhurst – TI Hodge
Directed by: Harry Michell
Written by: Harry Michell and Jamie Fraser
Filming starts end of February 2018. Released on video on the following demand platforms on 28 September 2020 : Virgin Media, Sky Store, Apple/ iTunes, Amazon, Google Play and Rakuten.
When Mari, a forty-year-old autistic cleaner, finds out that her best friend Sanjay is getting married, she decides that the time has come for her to find a boyfriend. Mari already has a pin-up – a sexy dark-haired catalogue model that she calls Clive – and she wants her new boyfriend to be just like him. Wanting Mari to find happiness, Sanjay signs Mari up to a dating website: “Catalogue model required – must be called Clive.”
As potential Clives respond, Mari embarks on a series of dates, each of them disastrous in its own special way – mostly because Mari always tells the truth, which is never a good policy on a first date. Sanjay, feeling protective towards Mari, turns up to keep an eye out, in case anything goes wrong.
Things become complicated when Mari’s boss Philip makes a pass at her, and Mari records the whole encounter on the digital camera which she carries everywhere. Philip has to get that footage back and keep Mari quiet before Mari’s truth-telling ruins his marriage.
Roger Allam – Philip
Shirley Henderson – Mari
Gemma Jones – Molly
Directed and written by: Deva Palmier
Deva Palmer made Finding Clive as a teaser trailer while she was at Bath Spa University as part of an MA in Feature Filmmaking. A success, Finding Clive is now on its way to become her first feature film, shooting starts in 2020.
The Hippopotamus is a based on a book by Stephen Fry. It is written, in part, as an epistolary novel.
Edward “Ted” Wallace is an aging, lecherous, one-time hell-raising poet, who is reduced by diminishing poetic talent to working as a theatre critic. On request of his sick goddaughter, Jane, he goes to to stay at the Norfolk country house of old friend and Army colleague, Lord Michael Logan and his wife Lady Anne, to investigate unspecified mysterious goings-on.
Over the course of his stay it gradually becomes apparent that other house guests are ascribing healing powers to one of Logan’s children, Ted’s other godchild, David…
A hand-drawn animated feature film based on the award-winning graphic novel by Raymond Briggs. The story is about the artist’s own parents parents, lady’s maid Ethel and milkman Ernest, and the four decades of their marriage from the late 1920s to the early 70s, as they live through tumultuous events in British history including the Depression, World War II and the dawn of television.
Raymond Briggs is a much loved illustrator, book designer and writer, praised for his timeliness and originality. His comics include Gentleman Jim and When the Wind Blows, but he is best known for children’s’ books such as The Snowman and Fungus the Bogeyman. Several of his graphic novels have been adapted successfully to film and stage.
Roger Allam – the doctor
Brenda Blethyn – Ethel
Jim Broadbent – Ernest
Luke Treadaway – Raymond Briggs
Harry Collet – young Raymond
Pam Ferris (Mrs. Bennett / Aunty Betty)
Virginia McKenna (Lady of the House)
June Brown (Ernest’s Step Mother)
Peter Wight (Detective Sergeant Burnley)
Simon Day (Alf)
Director: Roger Mainwood
Artist: Raymond Briggs (novel)
Artists: Cloth Cat Animation (film)
To learn more about the animations and the work behind the film, please follow the animators’ official blog Ethel and Ernest Movie.
Poltical thriller The Truth Commissioner is based on the 2008 novel of the same name by David Park.
Roger Allam plays Henry Stanfield, a career diplomat who has just been appointed ‘Truth Commissioner’ to Northern Ireland, a position modelled on South Africa’s ‘Truth and Reconciliation Commission’.
Set after The Troubles- the Northern Ireland conflict which was deemed to have ended with the 1998 Good Friday Agreement- Stanfield is charged with leading an inquiry into the disappearance, 20 years earlier, of 15-year-old Connor Roche.
His investigations uncover a tangled web of lies, and truths which none of those in power are prepared to reveal…
The Lady in the Van is an daptation of Alan Bennett’s West End play. It is based on a true story: Bennett befriended a homeless woman and invited her to -temporarily- park her Bedford van on his driveway… she stayed for 15 years.
The film will be released in UK cinemas on 13 November 2015, begin 2016 worldwide.
Alan Bennett said:
“Most of the actors have been in stuff of mine before but not Roger Allam, who has been in practically every play Michael Frayn has written. And I can see why as he’s subtle and funny and as good offscreen as on.” Allan Bennett’s on-set Diaries
Freely adapted from Mitch Cullin’s 2005 novel, A Slight Trick of the Mind, the famous detective Sherlock Holmes must detangle latent hang-ups regarding an unsolved case from his younger years at 221B Baker Street.
Holmes, now aged 93, is suffering the fears and anxieties that come with Alzheimer’s disease, and so – with the help of a young protégé – must do all he can to find a sense of purpose and completion in this late period of his life.
‘…the always-reliable Roger Allam brings warmth to his scenes as Holmes’ concerned medic.’ (The Hollywood Reporter)
‘McKellen must show a man at multiple stages of elderliness. He does so with much conviction — particularly touching here are those scenes in which he demonstrates a real vulnerability (including great on-screen chemistry with his doctor, played by criminally underused Roger Allam). It’s in these same moments that “Mr. Holmes” stands apart from earlier versions that propagate the character as the sui generis of invincible intellectuals.’ (Indiewire)
On VE Day – Victory in Europe day, 8th of May – 1945, London celebrates the end of Word War Two. Princess Margaret and her sister Elizabeth are eager to join the national celebrations and are allowed out incognito from Buckingham Palace for the night, where they encounter romance and danger.
Later, Queen Elizabeth said about the event in her diary that it had been “great fun” but that she and her sister had also been terrified that someone would recognise them.
‘The cast is first-rate, with Emily Watson also on hand as the princesses’ mother and Roger Allam hilarious as a royalist spiv. Tender, funny and occasionally raucous, it’s what the tabloids might call a right royal knees-up.’ The List
‘Thank heavens for the older pros. There is an entire film to be drawn around Roger Allam’s portrayal of a spiv who, though handy with his fists, loves the royal family unreservedly. Such men still exist.’ The Irish Times
‘Shot in the U.K. and in Belgium, the pic conjures a flavorful sense of period from a none-too-exorbitant budget: The crowd scenes, in particular, carry an authentic sense of clamor and chaos. (It’s the morning-after carnage, if anything, that looks a little too sparsely tidy onscreen.) Laurence Dorman’s textured production design and Claire Anderson’s spiffy, personality-rich costumes convince all the way across the class ladder; both are given an antiqued glow by the characteristically sumptuous, deep-hued lensing of Christophe Beaucarne (“Mood Indigo,” “Coco Before Chanel”). The film’s soundtrack covers the expected range of Glenn Miller-style brass and Lindy Hop bounce, situating proceedings as surely and squarely in 1945 as the endearingly outdated colloquialisms (“Wizard!” “I’m completely cheesed off!”) that pepper the script.’ Variety
Based on the bestselling book, The Book Thief tells the story of Liesel, a young girl sent to live with a foster family in World War II Germany.
She learns to read with encouragement from her new family and Max, a Jewish refugee who they are hiding under the stairs. For Liesel and Max, the power of words and imagination become the only escape from the tumultuous events happening around them.
The narrator, Death, is a constant companion of all of the characters in the film and he begins by telling his audience that young Liesel has piqued his interest. Despite the obvious connotations ‘Death’ has, he is not presented as a malevolent figure in The Book Thief but rather an observer who is forced to conclude that the only truth he knows is true is that he is “haunted by humans.”
‘The Book Thief weaves a consistent thread of humanity through its narrative via the commonality of Death, storytelling and the concept of free will. The disturbing sight of children in Hitler Youth uniforms and Allied blanket bombing, when shown through the innocence of a child, humanises the German generation just living their lives without the hindsight of history. A blurring of vision due to tears is to be expected, but that effect is delivered with respect and dignity to the audience.’ (New Empress Magazine)
To say that Ken Loach ‘isn’t generally known for his feel-good films’ is rather akin to saying ‘it doesn’t generally snow in Australia.’ However, this really is a film that guaranteed to leave a smile on your face. Though there are all the hallmarks of Loach’s usual grit and realism, there are also healthy doses of humour and heart.
Young Glaswegian father-to-be, Robbie, comes very close to serving a jail sentence for assault. Instead, he is sentenced along with others to hours of ‘community payback’ under the watchful eye of kind-hearted whisky lover, Harry.
After the birth of his son, Robbie vows to turn over a new leaf; he agrees to meet a victim of his former crimes along with his girlfriend, Leonie, who afterwards informs Robbie in no uncertain terms that she does not want their son growing up in the shadow of the violence and uncertainty that Robbie had known in his past.
As a reward for good behaviour, Harry takes the community payback group to a whisky distillery. At the end of the tour, the guide gives them each a dram of whisky and asks them to smell it, a task that Robbie appears to have a particular talent for.
A few weeks later, the group makes a second trip- this time to a whisky tasting session in Edinburgh. Here they learn about the forthcoming auction of a priceless cask of whisky, and Robbie’s talents catch the eye of a collector, Thaddeus. He gives Robbie his card, and, later, the offer of a whole lot more when the young man and his companions light upon a slightly-less-than-legal, but undoubtedly ingenious money-making scheme…
The majority of the actors in The Angels’ Share were talent spotted on the streets of Glasgow and had spent the majority of their lives up until that point living lives similar to that of their characters. (source)
Roger Allam on his ‘gruelling’ preparation for the role:
“I had a serious and rather drunken research session with the great Charles MacLean, who took me through the history of whisky and malts. I can’t remember a thing about it now. In fact I don’t think I remembered a thing about it the following morning. Very, very entertaining.” (source)
The film’s title comes from ‘the angels’ share,’ a term for the portion (share) of a whisky’s volume that is lost to evaporation during aging in oak barrels.
‘So there is politics underlying every aspect of this funny, warm-hearted, deftly plotted film, and we fervently wish for the caper planned by this endearing quartet to succeed.’ (The Guardian)
‘This is British comedy at its warmest and most pleasurable; cask strength, unfiltered and neat.’ (The Telegraph)
Awards and nominations
The Angels’ Share won the Jury Prize at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, and was nominated for a BAFTA Scotland Award for ‘Best Feature Film.’
Set against an Edwardian backdrop of progress and industrialism, a recently bereaved young lawyer is tasked with a duty which will take him away from London and his young (and newly motherless) son.
The senior partner of Arthur Kipps’s law firm, Mr Bentley, gives him instructions to travel to the remote village of Crythin Gifford to arrange the sale of ‘Eel Marsh House’, formerly the property of their client, the late Alice Drablow. While he is there, he must also take the time to sort through her papers.
Though the world as a whole might be moving on a-pace, it soon becomes apparent to Kipps that the rumours he had heard from the hostile villagers were all too true: there is a presence in the house that is far too keen on lingering and leaving its vengeful mark.
The film is based on a 1983 horror novella by Susan Hill. A couple of years after it was published, Hill’s story was adapted for the stage. To date, this adaptation is is the second longest-running play in the history of West End theatre.
In her twilight years, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher reflects on her life and career as she finally prepares to dispose of the belongings of her late husband, Denis, whose presence still haunts her. Memories of the past are pushed to the forefront as the (now sadly degraded) ‘Iron Lady’ struggles to cope with the present.
Daughter of a Grantham grocer, she successfully broke through a double-paned glass ceiling of gender and class. Thatcher became the first female Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and remained as such for 11 consecutive years, until declining popularity forced her to resign.
As we watch her story unfold in a series of flashbacks, we are introduced to those who assisted (and, in some case, hindered) her progress. Among these remembered faces is that of Gordon Reece, a journalist and television producer who acted as a political strategist for Thatcher.
Reece worked to ‘soften’ her public image. He hired a coach to teach her to lower and deepen her voice, advised on clothing, accompanied her to her television and radio interviews, and made sure that she avoided combative interviewers who would make her strident.
On Stranger Tides introduces the character of Blackbeard and his daughter Angelica to Disney’s popular Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.
Following on from the end of the previous film, Captain Jack Sparrow is continuing his quest to find the legendary Fountain of Youth. However, as the Spanish are also in search of this treasure, Sparrow finds himself recruited by none other than King George himself to find the fountain first and claim it for Great Britain.
Sensing that Sparrow might well lack the appropriate respect for King George’s authority, however, Prime Minister Henry Pelham is quick to reel off his credentials: “You are in the presence of George Augustus, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg. Arch Treasurer and Prince Elector of the Holy Roman Empire and King of Great Britain and Ireland. And of you.”
Unfortunately, the Spanish represent the least of Captain Jack’s concerns. He is ordered to work alongside his old arch enemy, Captain Hector Barbossa – now a privateer in the employ of the English government – and is further hindered by the involvement of the notorious pirate Blackbeard and his long-lost daughter – with whom Sparrow seems a little too familiar.
Roger Allam – Prime Minister Henry Pelham
Johnny Depp – Captain Jack Sparrow
Geoffrey Rush – Hector Barbosa
Penélope Cruz – Angelica
Ian McShane – Blackbeard
Director: Rob Marshall
Writing Credits: Ted Elliot, Terry Rossio, Stuart Beattie and Jay Wolpert
After suffering crippling stage fright moments before a gig, once legendary guitarist Quentin Ball has shut himself away in his home, refusing to play again. This is all much to the dismay of his wife, Shona, who is all too aware of the bills that are mounting up around them. And their toilet is blocked.
When the plumber, Johnno, arrives, Quentin is alarmed to discover that the man is a obsessive fan, determined to make the most out of his time with his hero despite the offhand dismissals he receives.
It soon becomes clear just how determined Johnno is in his quest to get Quentin to play again- but will his persistence light the path to tragedy or to salvation?
Nothing much ever seems to happen in the fictitious Dorset village of Ewedown- much to the dismay of local teenage busybodies, Jody and Casey. This is all set to change, however, as Tamara Drewe- now a journalist- returns home with the intention of selling the house she has inherited from her deceased mother.Locals are amazed at the improvement in her appearance after she had a nose job while away. Local handyman, Andy, who had taken an interest in Tamara when they were younger, is now enamoured at first sight. This time, however, it’s clear he’s going to have competition.
Across the valley live the Hardiments, whose house doubles as an ‘authors’ retreat’ for aspiring writers seeking some peace and quiet. The owner, Nicholas, is a prolific crime novelist and a serial philanderer; his wife, Beth, provides encouragement to their patrons and, suspecting her husband’s exploits, is an expert at passive-aggressive cake decoration.
Another new arrival appears in the form of rock-band drummer, Ben, and his cow-bothering dog, Boss. Jody and Casey are delighted, and immediately jealous when Tamara embarks on a relationship with him. When- thanks, in part, to the girls’ involvement- their relationship ends, Tamara soon embarks instead on an affair with Nicholas, with whom she had had an obvious infatuation as a girl.
Meanwhile, Andy, tasked by Tamara with the renovation of her mother’s house ready for the sale, becomes aware of the affairs and, in the end, he is not the only one. Tamara receives a hard dose of reality and Nicholas is on the receiving end of something altogether more bovine after a confrontation with Glen, a Thomas Hardy scholar who has become besotted with Beth.
The film is based on a graphic novel by Posy Simmonds, which in turn was inspired by Thomas Hardy’s Far From the Madding Crowd.
It started as a series in The Guardian in 2005, and thus the entire novel can be read on their website.
The film’s screenplay, written by Moira Buffini, can be read and downloaded here, from the BBC’s ‘Writers Room.’
Stephen Frears said:
“I only agreed to make the film when I cast three of the people. Gemma Arterton, Roger Allam, who plays the cad, and Tamsin Greig, who plays the downtrodden woman. So when I had them, then I agreed to make the film. Roger is dazzling. He was brilliant in La Cage Aux Folles. I mean quite, quite brilliant! He’s a wonderful actor. He’s great. He’s wonderful.” The Oral History of Hollywood
Gemma Arterton said:
“Roger Allam is a genius at acting lying,” Arterton notes in a feature-length commentary shared with Evans, “which is so hard – to act a lie.” The Globe and Mail
Awards and nominations
Roger Allam won the London Evening Standard’s ‘Peter Sellers Award for Comedy’ for his role in Tamara Drewe.
The year is 1990 and Thatcher’s support within the government is wavering – her hold on the premiership hangs in the balance. Then, long-serving politician Sir Geoffrey Howe resigns over Thatcher’s attitude towards Europe.
His resignation speech sparks a chain of events that leads to the downfall of Britain’s longest-serving (and first female) Prime Minister.
Heading Thatcher’s ultimately unsuccessful campaign to remain as party leader is John Wakeham, Energy Secretary, selected to give her side the necessary ‘weight.’ Though loyal to Thatcher’s leadership, he knows that her chances are slim and wishes to look out for her best interests, even if this would involve advising that she stand down.
Mo Folchart has an amazing gift– as explained by the film’s narrator: when he reads aloud from books the characters contained within their pages become real. There is only one (fairly major) drawback: in exchange, someone from the real world must be confined to the book.
This dubious ‘gift’ is thus, more often than not, a curse, and one which loses him his wife, Teresa. After this tragedy, he abandons all attempts at reading and embarks on a quest with daughter Meggie to find the book that he believes will restore Teresa to them.
However, he is reliably informed by Dustfinger (a fictional fire-breather once contained within the storybook ‘Inkheart’) that he is not the only one searching for the book as its made-real villains, including Capricorn and his sidekick Basta, are determined to prevent Mo from reading them back in.
Aided (reluctantly) in his task but his aunt Elinor and also by the book’s reclusive author, Mo and Meggie face a race against time to restore the desired status quo before further damage can be wreaked on the world by the escapades of the villainous Capricorn.
For young ingenue Speed Racer, life is all about motor racing– his family run an independent motorcar company and his dream is to pursue the sport as a career– a dream that was somewhat tainted by the death of his much idolised brother Rex some years earlier, the result of a racing accident.
Nevertheless, with his family behind him, Speed quickly becomes a force to be reckoned with on the racing circuit. So much so that he attracts the attention of the Arnold Royalton, the influential (and corrupt) owner of Royalton Industries who seeks to recruit Speed to his team, attempting to lure him with the promise of a luxurious lifestyle.
Speed is tempted but declines due to his father’s distrust of power-hungry corporations. Angered, Royalton reveals that for many years the key races have been fixed by corporate interests, including Royalton himself, to gain profits- thus, he concludes, Speed doesn’t have a chance at success without him on side (a point he demonstrates rather succinctly by arranging for Speed to be involved in a crash).
Speed must now not only beat the odds to win the Grand Prix– something his brother failed to do– but also defeat the powerful forces who seek to prevent him from achieving his goal.
Speed Racer is an English language adaptation of the Japanese anime Mach GoGoGo written by Tatsuo Yoshida.
Roger Allam said:
“I got the part of the lead villain in it, it was absolutely great. Unfortunately the film just failed at the Box Office, so Hollywood villain-dom is a door that has remained closed, so far.” (source)
However, it’s Roger Allam who steals the show as the pompous villain Royalton, chewing through each of his scenes like he’s feasting on the world’s most expensive filet mignon (or maybe pancakes). Nobody else could sell the line “Pancakes are love” as if it’s the secret to the universe, and his portrayal of Royalton rides a perfect line between hammy and honest — he’s committed to being over-the-top. When Speed declines his offer to race for him, the transition that Royalton makes from smiling and benevolent to corporate reptile is captivating in the actor’s hands. The various threats he spews and the condescending laughs he lobs at Speed makes for one of the most charged moments of performance in the film. (source)
Over the years, Speed Racer has grown a cult status as “one of the most criminally overlooked films in recent memory.” (source)
In the early 1960s, Harry H. Corbett is an up-and-coming actor with a promising career ahead of him. He is offered the chance to star in a brand new sitcom- Steptoe and Son– and he jumps at it. The show is being written by BBC’s golden boys Ray Galton and Alan Simpson and overseen by Head of Light Entertainment, Tom Sloane.
In the role of the put-upon son- Harold- he finds himself working opposite noted actor Wilfrid Brambell who plays his unpleasant and subtly domineering father- Albert. However, Corbett’s talent proves to be his undoing as when the show proves to be a huge success he finds himself being typecast. It seems that there is little he can do to escape the shadow of the unforgettable character he has created in Harold Steptoe.
Co-star Brambell is meanwhile facing troubles of his own, and these too are not lost on Corbett, increasing the resentment he is beginning to feel towards the show. The older man appears to lack his co-star’s dedication to the job in hand while simultaneously dealing with the issues resulting from being gay at a time when homosexuality was still illegal in England.
Ultimately, the sitcom will come to have a far greater effect on Corbett’s life than he ever would have believed or, indeed, desired.
It’s his last year of primary school and Kyle Jerome is up a tree and in trouble (not for the first time). His mum Candy is determined that secondary school will be the making of him, and that he will go to the best state school in the area, ‘secondary transfer booklet’ guidelines be damned.
Meanwhile, in another world mere miles away, Anthony Troth is the successful headmaster of an elite public boys’ school resplendent with kempt lawns (and pupils) and a world-renowned choir. In these rarefied surroundings, silk purses are crafted from silk, and not, as the Deputy Headmaster, Charles, points out, from “sows’ ears.”
Having not got her son into the school of her choice, Candy stages a one woman protest which comes to Troth’s attention when it is reported by the local press. “That,” he gestures to a picture of mother and son, “is a sow’s ear if ever I saw one.” He bets his doubtful deputy that if the boy came to their school, he could get him into Oxford.
Scheme afoot, Troth slips a prospectus into Candy’s bag and convinces her to enter her son for the scholarship. He’s sure he can make a ‘silk purse’ indeed- his colleague is not. They shake on it- the wager, a walnut whip.
The summer of 1997 is not one that The Royal Family will look back on fondly. The landslide victory of Tony Blair, the Labour ‘moderniser’, marks the start of a series of events which nobody could have predicted and which threaten to have calamitous consequences for Queen Elizabeth II and her family. With a mixture of dramatised imaginings of what went on behind closed doors as well as news footage from the time, The Queen tells the story of those few weeks.
The film begins on a fallacious but nevertheless dramatically significant note with a discussion between Queen Elizabeth and her portrait painter du jour about about her inability to vote. Technically speaking, there is no legal bar, but that’s by the by as the scene raises a significant point. As she sits for the portrait, adorned with the all the traditional regalia of rulership, she actually has no power at all, particularly not against the surging tide of modernity (as will soon become painfully apparent).
The next morning, The Queen’s private secretary, Robin Janvrin, informs her that the Prime Minster is on his way (“Prime Minister to be, Robin, I haven’t asked him yet.”) Cue a scene of procedural awkwardness and ill-executed ceremonial backward-shuffling from new Prime Minister, Mr ‘call-me-Tony’ Blair. This first meeting between Her Majesty and Blair lasts for no longer than fifteen minutes before Janvrin brings it to a halt with news- Princess Diana has been courting controversy (again).
Flash forward to the fateful evening of the 30th August 1997, Parisian photographers circling like vultures as a young woman and her lover step out of a hotel and into their car, driving off at high speed along darkened roads. Shots of the car are cleverly intermingled with real archive scenes from Diana’s life; the film makers sensibly avoid anything graphic. We all know what happens next.
In his bedroom at Queen’s Elizabeth’s Scottish estate, Balmoral, Robin Janvrin gets a rude awakening as a late night caller informs him that Diana has been injured in a car accident. He brings them the news and must later be the bearer of worse tidings still as Prince Charles, Prince Philip, The Queen Mother and The Queen herself hover anxiously around a television set in their nightclothes.
The next morning Tony Blair gives a speech drafted by his director of communications, Alastair Campbell- in it, he refers to Diana as ‘the people’s princess.’ Janvrin- a traditionalist- comments that it’s ‘a bit over the top’ (a comment that falls on deaf ears as fellow staff members sniff into their handkerchiefs). And so begins an extremely decorous tug-of-war between Blair- who appreciates the need for Queen Elizabeth to appear as a public figure- and The Queen’s only view that grief should be a private affair.
At the heart of the problem is the fact that there is simply no procedure in place for the death of an ex-Royal. A public funeral is decided upon- much to the dismay of senior Royals (and Janvrin, who is once again called upon to make that particular announcement, as well as to reveal that the guest list will include representatives from Diana’s charities and… “celebrities“).
Meanwhile, public anger is being directed at the Royal Family who, distanced from the people of London, are failing to interpret the mood; “in 48 hours this will have all died down,” states Prince Philip, with confident cluelessness that is contrasted sharply with news footage from the time. One newspapers remarks: “One can’t help wondering whose advice they are taking, for it’s clearly the wrong advice” (Janvrin responds that he’ll “try not to take that personally.”)
With the help of Blair and an increasingly ruffled Robin, the Queen will of course weather the storm which at one point saw one in four people turn Republican. She will not emerge entirely unshaken, however, taking away from the experience an altered perception of the role of the modern monarchy and some sobering thoughts for the young, popular Blair: “you saw those headlines and thought ‘one day that might happen to me’- and it will, Mr Blair, quite suddenly and without warning.” Prophetic, indeed…
Ireland 1919: workers from field and country unite to form volunteer guerrilla armies to face the ruthless ‘Black and Tan’ squads that are being shipped from Britain to block Ireland’s bid for independence.
Driven by a deep sense of duty and a love for his country, Damien abandons his burgeoning career as a doctor and joins his brother, Teddy, in a dangerous and violent fight for freedom.
The freedom fighters’ tactics are bold and unforgiving- they do not hesitate in bringing down those who oppose them, such as prominent landowner Sir John Hamilton whose actions had led to the arrest of many IRA members.
Eventually, after stretching the British to breaking point, both sides finally agree to a treaty to end the bloodshed. But, despite the apparent victory, civil war erupts and the families, who fought side by side, find themselves pitted against one another as sworn enemies, putting their loyalties to the ultimate test.
At the heart of the film is this sentiment: “I hope this Ireland we’re fighting for it worth it.”
The film takes its title from the Robert Dwyer Joyce ballad ‘The Wind That Shakes the Barley,’ set during the 1798 rebellion in Ireland and featured early in the film.
Many of the extras in the film were drawn from local Scout groups, including Bandon, Togher and Macroom with veteran Scouter Martin Thompson in an important role. Many of the British Soldiers seen in the film were played by members of the Irish Army Reserve, from local units.
Awards and nominations
The film won the Golden Palm award as Best Picture at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival.
“Remember, remember the fifth of November,” for on this day, in 2020, the minds of the masses shall be set free. So says code-name V, a man on a mission to shake society out of its apparently complacent acceptance of tyranny.
The world in which V lives- and which has provoked him to revolutionary tactics- is very similar to Orwell’s totalitarian dystopia in 1984: after years of various wars, England is now under “big brother” Chancellor Adam Sutler whose party uses force and fear to run the nation.
After gaining power, minorities and political dissenters were rounded up and removed; artistic and unacceptable religious works were confiscated. Cameras and microphones are littered throughout the land, and the people are perpetually sedated through the governmentally controlled media.
Central to this regime is Lewis Prothero, a soldier who later became Commander of the Larkhill prison camp where ‘undesirable’ members of society are sent, and where V himself had once been a prisoner. Prothero later went on to became ‘The Voice of London’ the Party’s mouthpiece and the most vital cog in their propaganda machine.
Taking inspiration from Guy Fawkes, the 17th century co-conspirator of a failed attempt to blow up Parliament on November 5, 1605, V dons a Fawkes mask and costume and sets off to wake the masses by destroying the symbols of their oppressors, literally and figuratively. At the beginning of his vendetta, V rescues Evey from a group of police officers and has her live with him in his underworld lair.
It is through their relationship where we learn how V became V, the extremities of the party’s corruption, the problems of an oppressive government, V’s revenge plot and his philosophy on how to induce change.
Laurence Sterne’s 18th century novel The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman is one man’s humorous (and mostly unsuccessful) attempt at writing his biography. Famed for its frequent lack of coherent narrative and the narrator’s frequent diversions, the book has was considered more or less impossible to successfully adapt to film.
Then came A Cock And Bull Story, a film that took the principle of novel’s un-adaptability and ran a marathon with it: the publication of a failed attempt at producing a book is adapted for the screen with the cinematic depiction of a failed attempt at producing a film.
The action- such as it is- flips back and forth between the 18th century world of ‘Tristram Shandy’and the hapless efforts of the 21st century film makers who are trying to patch Shandy’s story into a coherent whole.
The story begins with Tristram Shandy narrating his life story as he sees it. Crammed with literary jokes and dark humor, Shandy’s warped childhood tales are constantly interrupted by his family and household, inadvertently revealing far more about himself than would be shown in any conventional autobiography.
At the dramatic moment of Tristram’s birth, the first assistant director calls cut, marking the end of a filming day. We then follow Steve Coogan (formerly in the role of Tristan, but now in character as a version of himself), the other actors and crew through the course of a chaotic evening on set.
Steve Coogan’s wife arrives with their six-month-old baby, a journalist is chasing him about a scandalous story, his agent, Adrian, has arrived with a pile of Hollywood scripts and, is if matters weren’t complicated enough, the film’s financiers are threatening to pull the plug on the whole project…
Roger Allam – Adrian
Steve Coogan – Tristram Shandy / Walter Shandy / Steve Coogan
“Though Laurence Sterne’s novel was considered more or less impossible to successfully adapt to film, director Michael Winterbottom has done it in Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story, by making a movie about the making of the movie. Stars Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon add madcap, knowing performances to the mix, and the result is a fun, postmodern romp, before there was any modern romp to post.” (Rotten Tomatoes)
Based on the Tennessee Williams novel of the same name, this TV film stars Helen Mirren as a failing actress, Karen Stone, whose life is thrown into further turmoil when her husband suffers a heart attack and dies on a plane to Italy.
Unwilling to end her days alone, she embarks upon a series of flings with younger men, eventually becoming obsessed with one who initially treats her well but later with disdain.
Watching this spectacle from the sidelines is author Williams’ alter ego, a wispy journalist named Christopher, Mrs Stone’s flamboyant friend and confidant.
Eric arranges a meeting with his wife’s lover Morgan.
There are the usual recriminations, broken up by repeated attempts of Morgan to escape and flashbacks to clandestine meetings between Morgan and Eric’s wife. It becomes clear that Eric is a committed family man, and that Morgan is not ready for the responsibilities of a full relationship.
At the end of this short film, nothing is resolved: Morgan escapes in his mind’s eye to the golden Buddha at Battersea Park, not for its spirituality but to hide from the confrontation. Eric becomes gradually more desperate in his attempts to explain the nature of his pain to Morgan.
Stranded is a television film based on the story of The Swiss Family Robinson.
David Robinson is being shipped out of Switzerland and sent to a penal colony aboard the convict ship Endymion, accompanied by his wife and children. When the ship falls victim to a storm, all but one of the Robinsons are washed up on a secluded island which they must now make their home, mourning for Jacob, whom they fear lost.
Jacob, however, has survived the ordeal, rescued by the roguish sailor, Thomas Blunt who then raises the boy as his own son and apprentice. This ‘apprenticeship’, however, soon becomes far from conventional as Blunt turns to piracy, captaining the ill-gotten trading ship The Albatross with ‘Jakey’ by his side.
Orson Welles seeks to produce what will become his greatest film, Citizen Kane, despite opposition from the film’s de facto subject, William Randolph Hearst.
When RKO Pictures began work on production number 281, no one could have imagined that they were making perhaps the greatest American film of all time. But the moment Orson Welles announced that he intended to make a film based on the life of tyranical multi-millionaire publisher William Randolph Hearst, they knew that they had trouble on their hands.
Welles, the enfant terrible of American cinema and a household name thanks to his infamous radio adaptation of H.G. Wells’s The War Of The Worlds, was signed to direct films for RKO, and he was given an unusually free hand to make whatever sort of film he wanted. But what Welles didn’t count on was the power of Hearst to keep his film from being seen.
RKO 281 is based on the true story of the making of Citizen Kane and the war of words between Welles and Hearst.
Children’s animation telling the story of the biblical figure Daniel and the madness of king Nebuchadnezzar. After praying to God, Daniel interprets the distressing dreams of the king, while the interpreters of the court – including Chief Magnus – can not.
With its different animation techniques and heavily – but carefully – truncated versions of each play, this episode is a truly beautiful stop motion puppet animation of Shakespeare’s comedy Twelfth Night or What You Will.
Viola and her twin brother Sebastian have been shipwrecked off the coast of Illyria. Each believes that the other has been drowned. Viola disguises herself as a boy and, under the name of Cesario, enters the service of the duke Orsino. The duke sends Cesario to woo the lady Olivia on his behalf, but Olivia falls in love with the lovely ‘boy’. Meanwhile, Viola/Cesario, has fallen in love with Orsino. To add to the farce, twin brother Sebastian was rescued by a sea captain and he too arrives in Illyria…
The show was both a critical and a commercial success. The episodes Hamlet and The Winter’s Tale were awarded the Emmy for for “Outstanding Individual Achievement in Animation” in 1993 and in 1996.
To this day, “The Animated Shakespeare” is one of the most widely used didactic tools in British primary and secondary schools to learn about Shakespeare.
On the 21st November 1974 explosions in two Birmingham pubs killed 21 people and injured 182. The IRA was immediately blamed for the bombings and six Irishmen– who came to be known as the Birmingham Six– were arrested and sentenced to life in prison.
Who Bombed Birmingham follows the investigation of a group of TV journalists from World in Action including Ian McBride, Chris Mullin and Charles Tremayne who were unconvinced by the men’s ‘confessions’ and sought to prove that they had been wrongly convicted of the crime for which they were imprisoned.
“I did hold in my hand at one stage a document that had been sent to Granada which showed the names of… the IRA people who had committed the murders. And we shot one version using the real names, and one version using false names… I’ve forgotten the names, I erased them from my memory as quickly as possible.” (source)
Henry Wilt is fed up: with his job, his car, his failures and, most of all, with his wife, Eva. He sometimes fantasises about killing her, and imagines different ways he might do it: throwing her from a multi-storey, perhaps, or tampering with her scuba oxygen tank…
One night when he’s ‘considering’ these options on a walk with his dog, he happens across a botched sting operation headed by the extremely inept Inspector Flint. Wilt intervenes in the resulting struggle and unknowingly helps the drug dealer to get away, thinking that he is witnessing a mugging.
Three weeks later and Wilt’s life really hasn’t improved- he’s been punched by a student and has had to spend far more time than he would wish in the presence of Eva’s sex-obsessed friend Sally and her yuppie husband, Hugh. On top of this, he’s been involved in an incident with a phone box and now his car is broken.
Heading into work in his colleague’s car, the pair arrive to find a commotion; a construction worker believes he has seen a woman’s body in a hole being filled with concrete. Inspector Flint arrives with his ever-so-slightly more competent Constable, Dave. Some papers found at the scene (as well as the presence of a battered Vauxhall Cavalier) lead them straight to poor Henry. Things really aren’t looking good for Mr Wilt…