TV Review: Silent Witness Series 3

Guest stars such as Lesley Manville, Adam James and Elizabeth Berrington help elevate an interesting Series 3 of Silent Witness 

“I’d’ve thought you’d learned by now, this is police work not yours”

Series 3 of Silent Witness brings a new recurring police team for us to get to know, a(nother) new handsome man from Sam’s past who is waiting to jump into bed with her, and a new set of cases for Sam to get overly invested in. It gets to beyond the point of mockery when almost every episode has a line like the above quote in it but you sense the writers acknowledging this, as the opportunity to work in a different capacity in London is presented at the end of the season.

Which is probably right as there can’t be many more police officers in Cambridge that Amanda Burton’s Sam Ryan hasn’t royally pissed off. And in a Midsomer Murders/Morse way, surely there’s a limit to the number of crimes that can take place in a single locale. The casting is on point in this series though – Adam James and Mark Umbers appearing as posh students and somone had clearly been watching Mike Leigh films as Lesley Manville, Heather Craney and Elizabeth Berrington all make appearances here.

Top guest appearences

  1. a baby Nicholas Hoult appears briefly as a grieving child
  2. a fresh-faced Adam James as an earnest undergrad who describes someone as “a bit of poof but he didn’t deserve to get beaten up” (1998 doesn’t feel that long ago…)
  3. there’s a performance of striking froideur from Lesley Manville in ‘Fallen Idol’
  4. Jimi Mistry makes up the numbers in the incident room for one scene in one of the cases early on, never to be seen again
  5. and no spoilers but Josette Simon is brilliant as the slick Drug Squad DCI at the heart of ‘Divided Loyalties’

News: One year of National Theatre at Home – New titles added

Ahead of National Theatre at Home’s one year anniversary on 1 December, the National Theatre has today announced the next filmed productions to be added to the streaming service, which is supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies.

Joining the platform today is Simon Godwin’s critically acclaimed 2018 production of Antony & Cleopatra in the Olivier theatre, with Ralph Fiennes and Sophie Okonedo playing Shakespeare’s famous fated couple. Then the iconic and multi-award-winning production of War Horsebased on the novel by Michael Morpurgo, will be available from 1 December until 31 January 2022 on demand internationally for the first time since its premiere 14 years ago. It will be available with British Sign Language, audio description and captions. Continue reading “News: One year of National Theatre at Home – New titles added”

Review: Manor, National Theatre

Despite the presence of Nancy Carroll and Shaun Evans, Moira Buffini’s Manor proves a disappointment at the National Theatre

“Truth is the argument that wins”

Truth is, Manor can’t help but end up as something of a disappointment. Starring national treasure-in-the-making Nancy Carroll and Vigil-hot Shaun Evans, written by Moira Buffini who has been doing interesting things on both film and TV, and having been building anticipation since before COVID (the show was in rehearsal at the National Theatre when lockdown first hit), hopes were certainly high but the reality is something a little far right of the mark.

It’s undoubtedly a play of big ideas and Buffini seems to have decided to include all of the ones she has in here. Climate changes rubs shoulders with homegrown far-right nationalism, murder mystery vibes clash with country house farce stylings and as we settle into sitcom mode, a disaster movie kicks in. The result in an unholy mess which gathers its unlikely motley crew of unlikeable characters for too long a time in an admittedly elegant set (Lez Brotherston).  Continue reading “Review: Manor, National Theatre”

News: Digital Theatre+ partners with Sonia Friedman Productions to Provide Education Platform for Uncle Vanya

From Thursday 25th November, Schools, universities, and educational institutions all over the world will be able to see Conor McPherson’s stunning adaptation of Chekov’s masterpiece Uncle Vanya thanks to a partnership with producers Sonia Friedman Productions and Digital Theatre+, Digital Theatre’s education platform. 

The original run of Sonia Friedman Production’s sold-out stage production of Uncle Vanya at the Harold Pinter Theatre was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the midst of the first lockdown Sonia Friedman Productions and Angelica Films, in association with BBC Arts, commissioned a film of the stage production, which received critical acclaim and went onto win the Theatre Award at the South Bank Sky Arts Awards 2021. Continue reading “News: Digital Theatre+ partners with Sonia Friedman Productions to Provide Education Platform for Uncle Vanya”

Winners of the 2021 Black British Theatre Awards

The Black British Theatre Awards (BBTAs) is the UK’s first award show to celebrate the excellence and influence of Black performers and creatives within the UK theatre industry.

CREATIVES GROUP

BEST DIRECTOR AWARD FOR A PLAY OR MUSICAL
Anthony Simpson-Pike, Lava, Bush Theatre
Miranda Cromwell, and breathe…, Almeida Theatre – WINNER
Tinuke Craig, The Color Purple – at Home, Curve, in association with Birmingham Hippodrome

BEST MUSICAL DIRECTOR
Femi Temowo, and breathe…, Almeida Theatre – WINNER
Ian Oakley, From Here, Chiswick Playhouse
Nadine Lee, Bagdad Cafe, The Old Vic

BEST PRODUCER AWARD
Almeida Theatre, and breathe
Chris Steward and Shanay Holmes, West End Musical Celebration at Palace Theatre – WINNER
Tanisha Spring, A Killer Party

BEST CHOREOGRAPHER AWARD
Dannielle ‘Rhimes’ Lecointe, The Sun, The Moon and The Stars, Theatre Royal Stratford East
Ingrid Mackinnon, Romeo and Juliet, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre – WINNER
Sarah Golding, Cruise, Duchess Theatre Continue reading “Winners of the 2021 Black British Theatre Awards”

TV Review: Hollington Drive

Anna Maxwell Martin AND Rachael Stiring in the same show? As sisters? Hollington Drive sure knows how to tempt me in but can it deliver…

“I never thought this would happen”

One of the newest glossy ITV thrillers is Hollington Drive, precision-tooled to my interests as it has cast Anna Maxwell Martin and Rachael Stirling as sisters Theresa and Helen. And as is par for the course, it is full of wild improbabilities (like those sisters living next door to each other in suburban luxury) and unchallengeable truths (someone has an affair with other neighbour Jonas Armstrong because, well, you would). 

The actual story follows the impact on their families of a local boy going missing. Both Theresa and Helen have children who are classmates of 10 year old Alex and on the afternoon he goes missing, Ben and Eva go out to play for a suspiciously long time. When the sisters clock this disturbing detail, they go into overdrive trying to work out if that sickening feeling in their stomachs is justified, forcing them to consider how far they’ll go to preserve the sanctity of their family units. Continue reading “TV Review: Hollington Drive”

TV Review: Silent Witness Series 2

Series 2 of Silent Witness sees the show quickly slip into the patterns that bristle against the limitations of the format, whilst Amanda Burton warms up a little

“If you’re lucky, you’ll get away with a slap on the wrist and a warning not to get too involved in the future”

And so to series 2 of Silent Witness, Nigel McCrery’s forensic pathology drama, and the return of Amanda Burton’s remarkably chilly Sam Ryan. Perhaps wisely, there was a big swerve away from her family drama, the focus shifting more solidly to the numerous work crises passed her way. The only problem there is that the writers were in no way content to let her just be a pathologist. 

“I’m a forensic pathologist. All I’m interested in is the truth”, she cries at one point. But it patently isn’t true, her insistence on playing detective with every single case actually having led to the death of someone innocent last time around (she gets over the trauma of that pretty quickly…) and said behaviour continues apace here, reaching almost parodic levels far too quickly. Continue reading “TV Review: Silent Witness Series 2”

TV Review: Silent Witness Series 1

Is Silent Witness the new The Bill in terms of most actors having a credit on their CV? I start a rewatch of the last 24 years with Series 1…

“They say a victim dies only once, but a scene can be murdered a thousand times”

As it approaches its 25th anniversary, and since the BBC have kindly put all 219 episodes on the iPlayer, my infinite wisdom has decided that I’m going to do a watch/rewatch of Silent Witness. I can’t be fully precise because I don’t really remember exactly when I started watching the show – it arrived on BBC1 in 1996 but my first clearest memory is actually of the brilliant, and sadly not online, French and Saunders spoof Witless Silence. (Seriously, if anyone can point to where I can watch it again, get in touch!)

Creaated by former police officer Nigel McCrery, Series 1 introduces us to the world of forensic pathology through the eyes of the Northern Irish Dr Sam Ryan, Amanda Burton getting her name above the title in the iconic leading role. And as she moves to Cambridge to take up a position aiding the police with their enquiries and also to be closer to her mother who is ailing with dementia, there’s something really quite bold in just how chilly and spiky Ryan is as the central figure. Uber-professional to be sure but defiantly uncompromising with it. Continue reading “TV Review: Silent Witness Series 1”

News: full cast announced for Rumi: The Musical at the London Coliseum

Final casting is today annouced for Rumi: The Musical by Dana Al Fardan, one of the Middle East’s leading contemporary composers, and West End star Nadim Naaman, which will get its world premiere at the London Coliseum in November 2021.

Based on a story about the 13th century philosopher and poet Rumi by Evren Sharma, Rumi: The Musical follows Al Fardan and Naaman’s 2018 debut musical, ‘Broken Wings’, which premiered in the West End at the Theatre Royal Haymarket before touring the Middle East. Continue reading “News: full cast announced for Rumi: The Musical at the London Coliseum”

News: Wicked announces 2022 London cast

Wicked, the West End and Broadway musical phenomenon that tells the incredible untold story of the Witches of Oz, is proud to announce that Lucie Jones (Elphaba), Ryan Reid (Fiyero), Sophie-Louise Dann (Madame Morrible) and Gary Wilmot (The Wizard) will lead the new London cast at the Apollo Victoria Theatre from Tuesday 1 February 2022.

They will join Helen Woolf, who returns from maternity leave to continue her acclaimed performance as Glinda, Carina Gillespie (Nessarose), Nicholas McLean (Boq), Simeon Truby (Doctor Dillamond), Amy Webb (Standby for Elphaba) and Charli Baptie* (Standby for Glinda), who all continue in their starring roles. Continue reading “News: Wicked announces 2022 London cast”