DOCTOR WHO SEASON FIVE NEWS

The BBC have annnounced details of the fifth season of Doctor Who and the very good news is that David Tennant will remain in the title role. There is to be something of a gap year in 2009, no regular series but a trilogy of specials. Season four, which is already in production will air in Spring 2008 and this years Christmas special guest stars Kylie Minogue and follows on directly from the climax of season three.

Jane Tranter, who is one of the head honchos behind the return of Who put in her two bobs worth to say: "Doctor Who is one of the BBC's best loved and most successful dramas. Its journey over the past three series has been one of the most ambitious and exciting that we have had, and I'm delighted to be able to confirm not only three exciting specials for 2009, but a fifth series in 2010."

RUTH WILSON ON CAPTURING MARY

After her acclaimed performance in the title role of BBC One's Jane Eyre, Ruth Wilson is rapidly becoming regarded as one of our finest young actresses. Her performances as Mary in Capturing Mary and the Culture Show drama A Real Summer can only help enhance her growing reputation.

Ruth takes the role of young Mary (she is played in later life by Maggie Smith). Mary is a highly promising young writer in the late Fifties whose career is derailed by the machinations of Greville (David Walliams), a malevolent older man whom she unwisely crosses.

The character of Mary is first introduced in A Real Summer, which Poliakoff was commissioned to write for The Culture Show.

Ruth explains more about her character: "A Real Summer charts the development of an unexpected friendship between the rising columnist and a young female aristocrat, Geraldine. This drama gives a deeper understanding of how Mary's attractive qualities: her audacity, her compassion and her outspokenness, contribute to her downfall in Capturing Mary."

The actress, who was Bafta-nominated for Jane Eyre, says working with Stephen is a real privilege. "He is passionate about his work and has a real respect for the actor in the process. Within this business that is a unique quality. Stephen's writing is superb it's so rich. Each time you look at a scene, you keep finding more and more new things in it.

"Mary's journey reflects the Fifties and Sixties, which were a massive era of change. The whole idea really excited me and I haven't been disappointed.

"When we see the young Mary, she's incredibly successful and confident. She feels she can do whatever she wants. She's on the crest of the wave, an integral part of the intellectual elite who are heralding great change in the late Fifties. That makes her downfall all the more tragic."

The actress goes on to describe the relationship with Greville at the core of Capturing Mary. "It's a power struggle between old and new and between men and women. She's fighting a losing battle against entrenched tradition. Mary is originally from the North and is very determined to prove herself and take on the mantle of 'the voice of youth'. Greville, on the other hand, represents the old guard. He holds all the power and influence and she just can't break that.

"Greville wields this immense power over Mary. He burdens her with these awful secrets and she thinks, 'I don't want to know all this dreadful stuff' but she does and it really takes the wind out of her sails.

"He makes the world she had previously trusted suddenly seem frightening. She becomes cynical, everything is now tainted in her eyes. She finds herself no longer able to voice an opinion or express an optimistic view about what the future holds. She is now burdened with a terrible knowledge that prevents her from writing. She is left with secrets that she can't tell anyone and that have ruined everything for her. It's shocking."

The 25-year-old actress explains why she thinks Greville destroys Mary's career. "Because she's young and represents change, she stands out from the crowd and is willing to challenge her elders. She is a towering force, and he sees this as a serious threat. She wants to introduce change, but he can't bear it if he's not in control, so he snuffs out anything new. It's a fascinating, complex power struggle."

According to Ruth, the fight between Mary and Greville also symbolises the age-old battle of the sexes. "It's the archetypal male-female struggle," she reckons. "Feminism was starting to erupt after the Second World War. Even though women had had greater independence during the war, they were expected to go back to the old repressive ways and work in the home. Mary reacts against that reactionary male view that women should merely be submissive, and Greville is desperate to stop this new wave of women coming through."

There is also initially a crackle of sexual tension between Mary and Greville. "In lots of scenes, they're on the cusp of the bedroom," Ruth reveals. "They're very intimate, but their connection is not ultimately romantic. It's not love between them, more a mutual intellectual attraction."

Ruth says she was delighted to be playing the younger version of Maggie Smith. "It's such a thrill," she beams. "I thought, 'wow, to be asked to play the young Maggie Smith is such an honour!' But it's also a great pressure. I hope I've lived up to it."

Fortunately, Ruth adds, "we really hit it off. Maggie's absolutely lovely. The first thing she said to me was, 'I feel like I know you because I've been watching you for weeks performing with my son' [Toby Stephens, Ruth's co-star in Jane Eyre].'"

Ruth continues that, "we met three times beforehand to discuss the character, and I found that so helpful. We decided that you could see the seeds of the older Mary in the young woman. She has a strong will and a fondness for drink. Maggie shows how Mary has got to where she is. She was unable to beat Greville as a young woman, and now she's in her sixties, she still doesn't have the confidence to break his hold over her.

"I didn't want to do an impersonation of Maggie because that would have been a massive distraction. I studied tapes and watched her performances in Othello and Ladies In Lavender. I tried to hold myself more like Maggie, her stance is very balletic. There was no slouching, I had to hold myself very high, with my chin up and my back very straight. I tried to be as elegant as Maggie which is very hard."

Ruth found it equally rewarding to work with David Walliams. "I didn't know David beforehand, but he's great. I loved collaborating with him. It sounds horrible, but David is perfect for this role. He's a lovely guy, but there is something intriguing and mysterious about him. He also has this rare presence and intensity and charm which are qualities he invests in Greville."

Ruth goes on to play the lead in a new TV drama-documentary by Leo Regan, in which she plays a medical student suffering from schizophrenia.

BILLIE PIPER IS BELLE IN THE SECRET DIARY OF A CALL GIRL

Dressing as a high class escort for her role as Belle in SECRET DIARY OF A CALL GIRL has helped Billie Piper realise a new found love of high heels and beautiful underwear.

“As most people probably know I’m happiest in trampy clothes, just being comfortable. I’m a real tomboy and at first putting on those glam clothes felt alien to me. I didn’t feel 100 percent comfortable but very quickly I grew to love my costumes and often I wouldn’t take my heels off even when I was on the way to the catering van for some sausages,” laughs Billie.

“Costumes are so important when acting, I never used to understand it but the minute I put on one of those sharp tailored suits and a pair of stilettos I instantly felt different. Personally I dress for my mood every single day. If I want to feel strong and empowered I’ll wear something that suits that mood, when I feel slightly romantic and chilled, or a bit dipsy I’d wear something floaty and have bare feet. These things do have an effect on the way you behave and the way you see yourself.”

Admitting that she has kept all her clothes from the series, Billie adds: “What I’ve discovered about great underwear is that you can wear it secretly. No one else needs to know you’re wearing something fabulous under your clothes. You just do it for yourself and it makes you feel great – empowered and body-confident.”

Billie says she was immediately drawn to the character of Belle when she read the infamous book.

“It was Belle, the person portrayed in the book that drew me to the project. I found her absolutely fascinating and some of her ideas quite romantic plus I liked her style of writing. I thought she was funny, witty, sharp and intelligent and I liked the idea of playing her.

“This is such a taboo subject, no one really ever speaks about it except the horror stories about the nature of the work. It was certainly a very different story to every other one I’d heard about prostitution.”

To get to grips with the role Billie met the real life Belle, who as a rule fiercely guards her anonymity.

“Meeting Belle was really helpful,” says Billie. “There is so much speculation surrounding the book; is it true? Does she really exist? Have these things really happened? Is she romanticising something quite controversial? Meeting her took the fear out of the part I was venturing into.

“She explained exactly how she got into it for reasons I could completely understand. I couldn’t do it myself per se but I can understand how she found herself in that situation and why she continued to do it. It was good to see her, watch her behaviour and mannerisms. We spoke about the music she likes, she’s so incredibly well read and cultured, a fascinating woman. It was good to sit down with her one- on-one and ignore all the shit that surrounds the subject mater and have a very honest and frank conversation.”

Billie continues: “She likes sex this woman, she loves it and she found herself living in London with about £20 to get through the month. One night she was at a dinner party that turned into an orgy, she left and discovered she had cash in her hand. The job she does isn’t for everyone but you have to try and understand why somebody does this and what effect it has on their life. I’m sure there are many down sides but Belle enjoyed what she did and felt very much in control of it.

“That is a major point, being a prostitute was her choice, she wasn’t forced into it. It’s not about sex trafficking and it’s not drug related at all. Obviously these things go on but I’m just telling this one person’s story. Everyone knows that prostitution can be hideous, abusive and destructive. We’re often told about it in the media but I’m playing the woman who wrote this book, and she has a very different story to tell.”

So how does the character created by Lucy Prebble and brought to life on screen by Billie compare to the real Belle?

“The obvious differences are that our Belle is a touch younger and a lot greener. She’s not been in the game that long, 18 months into it and she’s still learning about the down side of her chosen profession – spending a lot of time alone and finding it hard to form relationships. Belle from SECRET DIARY OF A CALL GIRL is still new to her work but has the same kind of energy and thought process that the original Belle does.

“I think it’s always better watching something that is a real story; it makes it more fascinating. Sex is interesting, the way people behave in that situation especially when money is being parted with. It’s something we know nothing about unless we’ve taken part in it.”

Naturally the series contains many sexy bedroom scenes and even when filming on a closed set these can be exhausting for the actors taking part.

“It’s tiring filming sex scenes. Those days when you maybe have two sex scenes to do, you just want to be over and done with but they are vital to the piece. We’re telling the story of a hooker, you can’t be shy about the sex!

“But there are two different kinds of sex scenes – the comedy sex, which is entertaining and funny and the emotional sex with regular clients like Ashok, who is someone that she cares about and could quite possibly be her boyfriend. Those are harder. I just had to get on with it and not be shy. What I do is channel my thoughts, turn into bit of a robot. You have to be quite frank and a bit mechanical about it at times – ‘I’m going to put my hand here, can you put yours there. I don’t want to show this bit of my body’ and so on. You have to be honest about it and sometimes quite crude. But like anything those things become very normal very quickly – well they do to me!

And for the S&M episode Billie benefited from lessons with a professional.

“We had a genuine dominatrix on set, she was really sweet and cool and fascinating. I just kept thinking whereabouts in London do these things take place and who do they take place with? What drives a person to do that and what do you get out of it? Our ‘domme’ was open and candid, really insightful. I had quite an education. Like with most of these things it’s all about control and ego, whether letting go of control or acquiring control. It’s quite easy to understand once you work out the premise of the whole thing.

“I know I couldn’t do the job, I’d be endlessly concerned about hurting them, what effect it would have on me or would I scar them for life - emotional or literally. Sometimes it is about handing over complete control to someone else, letting them make every single choice for you and I can understand that theory and it must be quite liberating.”

Talking of her strongly female-led production team, Billie concludes: “I’ve never worked with such a big female contingent before and I must say it’s nice having them there. It’s a tricky subject matter and you need to know you have the right people behind you who understand the female mind and emotions.

“If it was just a male crew making the show people, I’m sure, would be slightly sceptical about the piece and what it means and women could get slightly feminist about the whole thing. But these are really strong independent women who know their stuff and have heavily researched this. It’s a responsibility to take on and tough to handle and these women are very clever and are not exploitative, they are just telling one woman’s story.”

BORN EQUAL

Colin Firth, Anne-Marie Duff, David Oyelowo with Robert Carlyle head an all-star cast in BBC One's Born Equal, a major new drama from Bafta Award-winning writer and director Dominic Savage.

Savage's gritty films - including When I Was Twelve, Love + Hate, Out Of Control and Nice Girl - have all tackled contemporary social issues.

In Born Equal, he addresses social inequality in Britain today through the interweaving stories of several characters whose paths collide in and around a B&B temporarily housing the homeless and dispossessed.

Mark (Colin Firth) is a wealthy City worker whose conscience and guilt about his luxurious lifestyle prompt him to try to help those less fortunate, but it results in turmoil for himself and others.

Staying at the B&B are: Michelle (Anne-Marie Duff), a pregnant mother with a young child, who has escaped an abusive husband; Yemi (David Oyelowo), his wife Itshe (Nikki Amuka-Bird) and their young daughter, Adanna, who have fled the threat of violence in their native Nigeria; and Robert (Robert Carlyle), newly released from prison and embarking on a search for his mother.

The stellar cast also includes Emilia Fox, Julia Davis, Megan Dodds, Nichola Burley, Emily Woof and Pearce Quigley.

All of the characters are struggling with personal crises – even Mark who, on the surface, has everything, explains Savage.

"They are people in desperate circumstances and the film captures their intertwining, different lives. It's ultimately about people's relationships and the difficulties, dilemmas and moral issues they face."

Born Equal started life as a film about homelessness but, as Savage embarked upon his research, a markedly different film began to take shape.

"When I began to look into the problem of homelessness, my sense was that there was a really big issue around people living in temporary accommodation for long periods of time.

"They're known as the ‘hidden homeless' because, although they've got a roof over their heads, it's far from being a home," says the director.

Savage visited a number of these hostels and met many different people who generously shared their stories with him – stories he says he will never forget.

"I was struck by the diverse reasons why people end up in those places: a fall from grace, a relationship break-up, coming out of prison, leaving the Army, being a refugee.

"All of those different stories come together in this one place and, for me, that was the starting-point of the film."

One of the hostels Savage visited was located in London's Swiss Cottage, literally around the corner from a row of multi-million-pound homes.

"I knew then that one of the issues I really wanted to deal with was the extremes of difference in people's lives – and, in a place like London, those extremes can be experienced within just a few streets. People can be in hugely different worlds but sharing the same space.

"The film shows huge contrasts between people and how they live, their ideas, what they've got and what they haven't got," says Savage, who points out that although the film is set in London, the same contrasts can be seen all over Britain.

Produced by Ruth Caleb (Out Of Control, Care, Bullet Boy) and Lucy Hillman (Derailed, Whistleblower, Panorama), the drama was completely improvised and filmed without rehearsal.

It was a process described by David Oyelowo, who plays Yemi, as "the acting equivalent of extreme sports".

Savage says: "It's the most organic way of making a film but also the most risky way because film-making is about delivering something people have an expectation about."

He shot two alternative endings to the drama and did not decide upon the final scenes until the very last moment.

"Working like this is more like a journey – the film keeps developing and changing as you shoot. It's exciting not quite knowing what you're going to get.

"You have a sense of it and you can talk about it with the actors in detail but then it's open to change and that's what I like. You're completely thinking on your feet."

With the cast having so much input – not a single line of dialogue was scripted in advance – making the film became a very democratic process, he adds.

"I think it was an incredibly liberating process for the actors and I was really interested in what their life experiences brought to it. It was vital that they didn't mind exposing certain elements of themselves," he says.

"For me, there was something about all of them that connected with the role they were playing. There was an element of reality in it for them and that was really important. They empathised and understood it, but also felt that they could give something quite personal to it."

For Savage, the film taps into the way a lot of people today are beginning to think about society, wealth and poverty, and the way we live now.

"If you're fairly well-off, fairly comfortable, and you see people who aren't – who have nothing – living at the end of your road, you do start to think about it. It makes you think about these vast differences between our lives and that's what the film is about," he says.

"I want people to go on a journey with the characters. If we, as an audience, care about them, irrespective of our preconceptions, that's what matters.

"In the end, what the film aspires to achieve is to encourage people to think more about others, care about the less fortunate and be more aware of what's going on around them."

Born Equal is a BBC production with BBC Films.

back to drama

BLUE MURDER In Deep

In In Deep, the final episode of the current series of Blue Murder, a diver finds human remains in a lake and a hip flask engraved with the name Paul Cochran is found nearby. Janine and DI Mayne visit Paul Cochran’s house and discover he is not dead but in a rehabilitation institution, trying to address his drug problems.

The dead man is identified as Mickey Day, who went missing 3 years ago. Paul Cochran is suspected as the killer, until he too is found dead. Both Day and Cochran are revealed to have been part of a fishing group so could the deaths be linked? And if it is a series of killings, who is the next victim?

Meanwhile Janine has problems to deal with at home when her son Tom is being bullied at school and her new nanny takes matters into his own hands.

Blue Murder stars Caroline Quentin as DCI Janine Lewis, Ian Kelsey as DI Richard Mayne, Paul Loughran as DS Butchers and Nicholas Murchie as DS Shap.

Guest stars include Jeremy Sheffield and Jason Watkins.

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CRIME AND MYSTERY

Here you can find listed all our crime and mystery shows, from the one off drama to the long running series.


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A Touch of Frost Endangered Species

A TOUCH OF FROST: Endangered Species

Broadcast: ITV1 Network | Sunday 5 November 2006 | 9.00pm

In Endangered Species Detective Inspector Jack Frost (David Jason) and Superintendent Mullet (Bruce Alexander) have lost their case against Kevin Flanagan (Gary Sefton). Having gloated to the two men outside the court, Flanagan finds that he now desperately needs Frost’s help.

Frost is reluctant to respond to Flanagan’s pleading phone call and at first fails to believe he is in trouble. When he hears the cries of a tortured man in the background, Frost realises this is serious and heads to Flanagan’s farm with his new assistant Detective Constable Presley (Blake Ritson).

Arriving at the farm, Frost and Presley encounter not a mastermind criminal but an intimidating crocodile. Flanagan is nowhere to be seen. Whilst searching the farm, Frost finds an old cellar containing an array of exotic animals and, searching the grounds of the farm, Presley finds an amputated leg – presumed to be Flanagan’s. The rest of the body is thought to be in the lake - or in the crocodile.

Later, Frost and Presley are trying to come to some sort of arrangement to indicate to the other when they have company. However, secret codes and symbols won’t work for Frost when his latest love interest, Julie Brown (Claire Cox), is brushed aside in favour of work.

Elsewhere, the Harris family return from a camping holiday only to find a naked male body in their bedroom. Jumping to conclusions, Gerald (Tim Treloar) suspects his wife, Carol (Ruth Gemmell) is involved, assuming the man was her lover.

The next day there is shock when Flanagan turns up at the Police Station. He is taken into custody as the star witness to the murder of his oriental friend - the remains of whom were found in the lake, and the crocodile… Flanagan is released on surveillance – hoping he will lead them to the leader of the smuggling ring, Kenneth Shaw (David Calder)...


Screenplay by Tony Charles and Christopher Blake