As we approach the 60th Anniversary of Doctor Who, revisit the story of Doctor Who, the occasional series written for the 50th Anniversary, explaining the origins of the programme.

Episode 20 - An Unearthly Series - The Origins of a TV Legend: First published 19 Sep 2013

Pilot Demand 'Lost BBC Yes, Prime Minister Revival'Bookmark and Share

Friday, 4 January 2013 - Reported by John Bowman
The BBC lost the TV revival of political sitcom Yes, Prime Minister to digital channel Gold because it demanded a pilot episode, it has been revealed.

Both Yes, Prime Minister and its antecedent, Yes, Minister, were originally BBC series, and BBC In-House Comedy has made the six new episodes, based on the stage play. However, co-writer Jonathan Lynn has told Chortle that when he and Antony Jay were looking to bring the show back to TV screens, following an approach by Gold, the duo decided to give first refusal to the BBC "as a courtesy" but the corporation told them to write a pilot first.

Lynn said that they pointed out to the BBC:
there were 38 "pilots" available on DVD, manufactured by the BBC, and a play running in the West End to capacity audiences. They said it was policy. So we said our policy was to not write a pilot for them. I thought it was absolutely extraordinary.
In response, a BBC spokesman said:
Yes, Prime Minister was last on air 25 years ago so it would not be unusual to ask for a pilot, as clearly a lot of the elements, including the cast, would be different.

[Gold parent company] UKTV was involved in the initiation and development of the project; the BBC decided not to broadcast a new series as it was felt a better use of resources to invest in new comedy, for example Mrs Brown's Boys and Miranda.
Yes, Minister ran for three series of seven episodes each from 1980 to 1982, winning BAFTAS for Best Comedy Series in 1980, 1981, and 1982. An hour-long Christmas special called Party Games in 1984 paved the way for Yes, Prime Minister, which comprised two series of eight episodes each, airing between 1986 and 1988. Nigel Hawthorne won the Best Light Entertainment Performance BAFTA four times - in 1981, 1982, 1986, and 1987 - for his portrayal of Sir Humphrey Appleby.

The new series of Yes, Prime Minister - starring David Haig as the premier Jim Hacker, Henry Goodman as Permanent Secretary Sir Humphrey Appleby, and Chris Larkin as Principal Private Secretary Bernard Woolley - starts on Gold on Tuesday 15th January at 9pm. It co-stars Zoe Telford as political adviser Claire Sutton, and will guest-star Robbie Coltrane.

The first episode - called Crisis At The Summit - will be followed at 9.40pm by the documentary Yes, Prime Minister: Re-Elected, which will celebrate the phenomenon of the show and reveal how influential it was in its 1980s heyday.

FILTER: - BBC - Comedy - Yes Prime Minister

Yes, Prime Minister Revival Start DateBookmark and Share

Saturday, 29 December 2012 - Reported by John Bowman
The revived and updated political sitcom Yes, Prime Minister will start airing on Gold on Tuesday 15th January at 9pm.

The six episodes have been made by the BBC, which also made the show's antecedents, and star David Haig as the premier Jim Hacker, Henry Goodman as Permanent Secretary Sir Humphrey Appleby, Chris Larkin as Principal Private Secretary Bernard Woolley, and Zoe Telford as political adviser Claire Sutton.

The titles for the first three episodes have been given as Crisis At The Summit, The Poisoned Chalice, and Gentlemen's Agreement, with the remaining three unknown as yet. All six have been written by the TV series' original authors, Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn.

It's the present day and the Rt Hon Jim Hacker is back in office as Prime Minister, leading a coalition government confronting the greatest economic crisis in a generation.

European economies are going down the toilet, there's a tempting energy deal on the table from an unusual source, a leadership crisis with his coalition partners, a Scottish independence referendum, and the greatest moral dilemma Hacker has ever faced.

Following the broadcast of the first episode, Gold will be showing a documentary called Yes, Prime Minister: Re-Elected celebrating the phenomenon of the show and revealing how influential it was in its 1980s heyday.

It will feature the thoughts of John Sergeant, Rufus Hound, Richard Wilson, Andrew Neil, Nigel Lawson, and Roy Hattersley, while former cast members Diana Hoddinott (who played Jim Hacker's wife, Annie) and Deborah Norton (political adviser Dorothy Wainwright) will reveal what life was like on the set of the original series and what they thought of their most famous fan, Margaret Thatcher.

An excerpt from the documentary, narrated by Tamsin Greig, can be seen below.

Gold is available on Sky 110, Virgin Media 126, and Top Up TV 20.

FILTER: - Comedy - Yes Prime Minister

All Set For A Christmas StinkBookmark and Share

Wednesday, 5 December 2012 - Reported by John Bowman
The BBC today released pictures from the forthcoming TV adaptation of the children's novel Mr Stink.

Originally written by David Walliams, who along with Simon Nye has adapted the comedy for BBC One, it will air at 6.30pm on Sunday 23rd December. (It had been provisionally scheduled for Boxing Day.)

It stars Hugh Bonneville as the eponymous tramp, Sheridan Smith - companion Lucie Miller to the Eighth Doctor in the Big Finish audio dramas - as Mum, with Walliams playing the Prime Minister.

The one-hour production was filmed in October in both standard definition and in 3D - the first time the BBC has filmed a fictional programme in 3D. The free-to-air broadcast in 3D will be available to anyone who has access to a 3D TV set and to the BBC HD channel, regardless of which digital TV provider they use.

FILTER: - Comedy - Mr Stink

Red Dwarf X Clip: Lister's Lost Starbug!Bookmark and Share

Sunday, 30 September 2012 - Reported by John Bowman
With Red Dwarf blasting back on to our TV screens in just four days' time, the final teaser clip heralding the sci-fi comedy's return has been released by digital channel Dave.

In the clip, Kryten (Robert Llewellyn) discovers that Lister (Craig Charles) has lost Starbug in a card game - but there is an upside to it!

The six-part series - the cult show's tenth - begins on Dave on Thursday 4th October at 9pm with the episode Trojan and ends on Thursday 8th November with The Beginning. Each episode will also be available via catch-up on the Dave website for seven days following its transmission but only to people in the UK.

FILTER: - Red Dwarf - Online - Comedy - Dave

Red Dwarf X Clip: Annoying, Whiny SoundBookmark and Share

Sunday, 23 September 2012 - Reported by John Bowman
The latest in a series of teaser clips from the forthcoming tenth series of Red Dwarf has been released by TV channel Dave.

In the excerpt, which can be seen below, Rimmer (Chris Barrie) finds himself afflicted by an auditory problem but gets little sympathy from Lister (Craig Charles).

Next weekend will see the final teaser clip released by Dave before the new, six-part series of the cult sci-fi comedy starts on the digital channel on Thursday 4th October at 9pm.

In addition, as part of the publicity drive, posters - as seen beneath the clip - promoting the return of the show have started appearing on hoardings across the UK.

FILTER: - Red Dwarf - Online - Comedy - Dave

Third Series Of Episodes CommissionedBookmark and Share

Saturday, 22 September 2012 - Reported by John Bowman
A third series of the award-winning comedy Episodes has been commissioned by BBC Two.

The show - starring Tamsin Greig as Beverly Lincoln, Stephen Mangan as Sean Lincoln, and Matt LeBlanc as a stylised version of himself - will enter production in London and Los Angeles next year and will again be written by David Crane and Jeffrey Klarik. As with the second series, it will comprise nine episodes.

In the second series we saw the aftermath of Beverly's one-night stand with Matt. Her marriage was over and Matt's friendship with Sean was beyond repair but all were forced to work together as their sitcom, Pucks, was about to premiere.

As the series progressed we were plunged deeper into the twisted world of making television and were given an insight into the hilarious and bitter-sweet portrait gallery of megalomaniac network executives, surgically-enhanced actresses, and naked stalkers. The final episode of series two saw all the skeletons come out of the closet as affairs were uncovered and true feelings revealed.
BBC Two controller Janice Hadlow said:
I'm delighted that the critically-acclaimed Episodes is returning for a third series to BBC Two. The last season ended with a thrilling finale and like the rest of the audience I can't wait to find out what happens next.
Gregor Sharp, executive editor for comedy, said:
David Crane and Jeffrey Klarik are supremely-talented comedy writers and we're thrilled they'll be bringing their amazing cast back to the BBC for another series of Episodes.
Series 2, which aired in the UK between 11th May and 6th July 2012, averaged a consolidated audience of 1.1 million (5.17 per cent share).

In January this year, LeBlanc won a Golden Globe Award for Best Performance By An Actor In A Television Series - Comedy or Musical for the seven-part first series of Episodes, which was shown in the UK from 9th January to 20th February 2011. The programme was nominated for Best Television Series - Comedy or Musical but lost out to Modern Family.

The show, which is a Hat Trick/Crane Klarik production for the BBC and Showtime Networks, will be executive-produced by Jimmy Mulville, Crane, Klarik, and Sharp.

FILTER: - Comedy - BBC Two - Episodes