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Tuesday 28 May 2024

Callie Cooke Joins the Whoniverse: A Deep Dive into Lindy Pepper-Bean, Planet Finetime, and the "Thrilling, Fun, Ominous" Dot and Bubble

(Image: BBC Studios/Bad Wolf/James Pardon)

By Jon Donnis

Callie Cooke is ecstatic to join the iconic Doctor Who universe, fulfilling a long-standing dream to be part of the beloved series. She describes her experience on the show as overwhelmingly positive, especially given the unique nature of her episode, which she hopes will leave a significant impact on fans.

A Lifelong Dream Realized
Cooke has harbored ambitions of joining Doctor Who for over a decade, openly expressing her desire to be part of the Whoniverse. Her admiration for the series extends to her favorite Doctors, Matt Smith and David Tennant, both of whom she regards highly for their acting prowess. When it comes to monsters, Cooke finds the Bogeyman from the "Space Babies" episode particularly terrifying, setting it apart as one of her most memorable adversaries in the series.

The Doctor Who Difference
What sets Doctor Who apart from other projects for Cooke is the sheer fun and freedom it offers. She relishes the opportunity to go "as big as you like" in her performance, supported by a dedicated crew and the enthusiastic fanbase. This season, in particular, stands out for its blend of heart, drama, and charm, ensuring it ticks every box for both cast and viewers.

Introducing Lindy Pepper-Bean
Cooke's character, Lindy Pepper-Bean, is a futuristic influencer hailing from the planet Finetime, a utopia where affluent parents send their children to lead carefree lives. Lindy is a fascinating mix of privilege, shelter, and petulance, making her both complex and occasionally annoying. Cooke found this combination exciting to portray, especially as Lindy's concern for her friends is often overshadowed by her preoccupation with her appearance and social standing.

Special Effects and Stunts
The action-packed nature of Doctor Who allowed Cooke to engage in various stunts, an aspect she thoroughly enjoyed. She praises the stunt team for their expertise and mentions her daily interactions with special effects, which are integral to the show's immersive experience.

The Tone of Dot and Bubble
The episode "Dot and Bubble" starts with a deceptively shiny and silly tone, presenting a seemingly harmless facade. However, a darker undercurrent soon emerges, a hallmark of Russell T Davies' masterful writing. Cooke highlights Ncuti Gatwa's exceptional performance, hinting at the impressive acting that fans can expect to see.

A Colorful Costume
Pam Downe, the costume designer, crafted a vibrant pastel palette for Finetime, with Lindy often seen in purples and pinks. Her signature look includes a feathery cuff blazer, a cute skirt, and pumps, reflecting her character's style and the practical needs of the show's adventurous plots. Cooke appreciated the collaborative approach to her costume design, ensuring it was both stylish and functional for the demands of Doctor Who.

Three Words for Dot and Bubble
Summing up "Dot and Bubble" in three words, Cooke describes it as "thrilling, fun, ominous," promising an episode that will captivate and intrigue fans of the series.

As Cooke steps into the Whoniverse, she brings with her a fresh and dynamic character, poised to make a memorable impression on Doctor Who's rich tapestry of stories.

Britain's Got Talent: 2024's Leading Entertainment Series

Image: ITV Press

By Jon Donnis

ITV's long-running entertainment juggernaut, Britain's Got Talent (BGT), has clinched the title of the biggest entertainment series of 2024 across all channels. Series 17, produced by Thames, a Fremantle label, is currently averaging an impressive 7.1 million viewers, including repeats, with the launch episode consolidating up to 8 million viewers and still climbing.

The social media impact of BGT series 17 is equally notable, amassing over 660 million video views to date. This reflects the show's extensive reach and continued relevance in the digital age.

ITV has demonstrated a commanding presence on Saturday nights in 2024, winning 15 out of 21 weeks. This success is part of a broader trend, as ITV's entertainment programmes have reached 85% of the UK population this year, translating to over 54 million viewers. These programmes have generated 166 million streams on ITVX, marking a 10% increase from the previous year. Twenty-one shows across four popular titles—BGT, Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway, The Masked Singer, and The 1% Club—have all attracted more than 5 million viewers each.

Britain's Got Talent stands out as one of the most significant entertainment programmes in ITV's history. Over the years, it has reached more than 55 million viewers, and an astounding 143 episodes have surpassed the 10 million viewers mark each. Consistently, for the past 16 years, BGT has been among ITV's top five overnight audiences. Furthermore, it has been streamed 88 million times over the last six series, as far back as streaming records go.

On social media, BGT's performance is unparalleled. The show has accumulated a total of 24.1 billion lifetime views across its social accounts, with 4 billion views in the past 12 months alone.

Britain's Got Talent continues its legacy with live shows airing Monday to Friday next week at 8 pm, culminating in the grand final next Sunday at 7:30 pm on ITV1 and ITVX.

Monday 27 May 2024

Interview with Michaela Strachan - Springwatch 2024

Michaela Strachan

Michaela Strachan (Image: BBC Studios)

Springwatch 2024 returns with an exciting schedule, broadcasting from RSPB Arne in Dorset and exploring wildlife across the UK, including the Isle of Bute, Loch Lomond, and Glasgow. Airing on iPlayer and BBC Two from 27 May, the programme features live updates, behind-the-scenes insights, and new nest cameras. With the theme "Little Things Make A Big Difference," it emphasises the impact of collective conservation efforts. Presenters Chris Packham, Michaela Strachan, Iolo Williams, and Megan McCubbin will engage audiences with stories from rare birds in Dorset to urban wildlife in Glasgow, highlighting the UK's diverse biodiversity and conservation challenges.

How can we support local wildlife this Spring?

Obviously we can do all the usual stuff that we always speak about that everyone should be doing anyway, like feeding the birds, putting out water, leave a bit of the garden messy, plant local foods.

But also something we're going to be talking about this series is The Big Help Out, the biggest mass volunteering event of the year between the 7 to 9 of June. It's not just wildlife, it's volunteering for lots of different organisations, but obviously we're going to be focusing on the wildlife.

We're going to be looking at things like animal sanctuaries, environmental projects, local wildlife groups, doing all sorts of different things that people can volunteer with wildlife, anything from a beach clean to surveys, and it really is a great way that people can support local wildlife.

What are your favourite kinds of wildlife to spot around this time of year and why?

One of my favourite birds in the UK are puffins and also I'm choosing them because we're going to be filming some nests on the Dorset coast. I'm going to focus on this one species because it could actually be a real turning point for puffins this year. Their numbers have dropped dramatically, mainly due to climate change and overfishing and the loss of what they eat, which is sandeels.

But just recently the government have got some new legislation out which is stopping industrial sandeel fishing in the English North Sea and all Scottish waters from the 26 of March. And that's in time for the puffin breeding season, so I think it could this could be a real turning point for not just puffins, but other seabirds as well. And I find that incredibly exciting that something so big has been done to help a bird like the Puffin and so many of our of our seabirds around our coastline. I love puffins I love the colourful beaks and I love the fact that they're so interesting to watch and they're real characters.

What do you want viewers to learn from Springwatch?

I think like as in every Watch our aim is to inspire our viewers, inspire them to see wildlife, care about it, and then protect it. If you don't know about wildlife, you're not going to be interested. You're not going to care about protecting it. So I mean, I think that's what we really want viewers to take home from any series of the watches that we do.

And the other thing that we're promoting is the Hero Awards. We want to show people that anyone can make a difference, we can all be wildlife heroes, anyone can help with wildlife. And during the series, we're going to promote so many different ways that you can do that and to inspire people with our Hero Awards, awards where people have nominated others that have done amazing things for wildlife. And as I say hopefully that will inspire people to do their own things however big or small they might be.

Every series we learn something fascinating and something that surprises the experts. And I love it when we show those things and people go away with a wow moment from something that they would have totally overlooked. We want them to go away with wow moments and wow facts about things that they would never know about never had the chance to see.

What advice do you have for getting kids interested in wildlife spotting?

I think it's getting harder and harder to get kids connected with wildlife because of the competition between watching wildlife and the draw of social media and all the other platforms that kids get involved with. So I think the way to get kids into nature is using social media to inspire them. I think we've just got to find new ways of keeping kids connected, most kids are born with a fascination for wildlife. So the challenge is not to let kids disconnect with that, you know, to keep them with that fascination and I also think we just need inspiration from young people. And we're doing that more and more on the show.

What do you hope to see when you're in Dorset?

One of the things we're really excited about is cameras on a peregrine nest. We're rigging up cameras on Corfe Castle with the National Trust and it's the first time we've rigged a historic monument ourselves. And so that's exciting in itself. We haven't had cameras on a peregrine nest for a long time now. There's also a raven nest on Corfe Castle so it will be interesting to see the interactions between the peregrine nest and the raven nest . I think that's going to be quite an exciting nest for us to watch.

If you were a British wildlife species, what would you be and why?

I'd love to be a bottlenose dolphin. I think dolphins are smart, they're fit, they're speedy. They hang around in gangs, which looks fun, and they've got the ocean as a playground. They make people smile, and people are usually really pleased to see a bottlenose dolphin. People like dolphins and I'm one of those people who likes to be liked. So those are my reasons for wanting to be a dolphin!

Interview with Chris Packham - Springwatch 2024

Chris Packham

Chris Packham (Image: BBC Studios)

Springwatch 2024 returns with a thrilling lineup, broadcasting from RSPB Arne in Dorset and exploring diverse wildlife across the UK, including the Isle of Bute, Loch Lomond, and Glasgow. Airing on iPlayer and BBC Two from 27 May, the programme features live updates, behind-the-scenes insights, and a new array of nest cameras. With the theme "Little Things Make A Big Difference," it highlights the significant impact of collective conservation efforts. Presenters Chris Packham, Michaela Strachan, Iolo Williams, and Megan McCubbin will captivate audiences with stories from rare birds in Dorset to urban wildlife in Glasgow, showcasing the UK's rich biodiversity and the challenges it faces.

How can we support local wildlife this Spring?

Firstly, we can ensure that wildlife is allowed to prosper and that means communicating in our communities. No Mow May is running this month and that's very much a community thing so people can make sure that their verges and parts of their local park or community resource areas that are green can be left un-mown.

We can also do No Mow May in our gardens, if we're lucky enough to have gardens. It's a time where things start growing and people will be returning to their gardens. So I'd say return with wildlife gardening in mind, not just gardening for decorative reasons. And there's a whole wealth of material out there in terms of how people can access that and what's appropriate for them.

Obviously, making ponds is also something that we've always encouraged on the Watches. The single most important thing you can do to increase biodiversity is to put a pond in your garden and bear in mind it doesn't have to be large, we've done projects in the past where they've been washing up bowls and they still attract species to them.

What are your favourite kinds of wildlife to spot around this time of year and why?

Well it's all the harbingers of spring: the first butterflies, I had a great day yesterday when there were brimstone butterfly about, absolutely my favourite butterfly by far. Also yesterday I had first orange tips and holly blue butterflies. You get a real sense of things happening when those species appear and it's a joy to see them and they're all familiar species that can appear in just about everyone's back garden.

Birdsong obviously is coming to that peak of when we should have a dawn chorus if we're lucky enough to live in an area with a density of birds so one species to really listen out for are blackbirds. Another is song flushes, I call them the urban nightingale. Their rich, fluid and melodic song is really special and again they're widespread across the UK, you can find them in urban as well as rural areas. So these are all common species, but their songs are worth listening to.

What do you want viewers to learn from Springwatch?

The thing about Springwatch, as ever, is it will be a challenge and a surprise. Our mission is to bring people new stories from the nest that we follow and the other stories that we bring in and obviously we'll be delving into the new science and the only thing that we can guarantee, or that we can't say what it is, is that we will see something that we've not seen before, as that always happens.

And we will therefore delve deeply into the new science and we'll come up with new stories for people and you know, I can't tell you what they'll be because who knows what will unfold. We've got our camera on Corfe Castle peregrines and their nesting opposite the Ravens. So there could be some interplay between those. Who knows what that could be, that could be the drama of the series peregrines versus ravens. And then we'll find out more about both of those species and how they behave.

What advice do you have for getting kids interested in wildlife spotting?

I think the first thing is don't demonise devices. I use my phone all the time, I use my phone to identify species. There's some good birdsong apps that work pretty well and they are improving. I've also got a device that plugs into my phone and it becomes a bat detector. So I think there was an idea that we should keep young people away from their devices because they disconnect them from nature. But in fact, I would argue mine connect me with nature. And I've got all my field guides on my phone now. I mean, I kept my books, but most of those books when it comes to UK and European wildlife, have been translated into apps that are usable on my phone. I think it's about retraining those young people to make sure that they understand how useful those apps can be.

What do you hope to see when you're in Dorset?

Something new, something we haven't seen before. Dorset wildlife has a sort of speciality there because a lot of Arne is sandy lowland heath.

Last year we saw extraordinary things with our night jars eating their own young. You just couldn't make that up and no one's been able to explain what was going on there. And that's great because we love mysteries in natural history. We don't need to know everything, but it generates conversation and people come up with ideas.

Hopefully, if we can we'll focus on the peregrines and the ravens and we'll see some new things. I'll also be leading the charge to not just focus on the cute cuddly, the fluffy and the feathered, you know, it's all about the little stuff as well. And that means the invertebrates and the plants and so largely we are pretty good at that and I'll be pushing harder for more.

If you were a British wildlife species, what would you be and why?

Everyone would love to be something fast and dashing. It would be quite fun to be a peregrine falcon for a few minutes and be stooping at more than 100 miles an hour conventionally. That'd be quite a thrill.

But if it were a lifetime, in the jackdaw population there are groups of male jackdaws that never breed. Essentially they just sort of have a bachelor's life without any of the encumbrance of responsibility.

And there's always a nice jackdaw population on Corfe Castle, which is one of the most attractive ruined castles in the UK, if you ask me, it's one of my favourite places. And jackdaws are quite smart, they can they can swindle people out of their sandwiches and scones while they're having a cream tea alongside Corfe Castle. So I would be a non-breeding Jackdaw on Corfe Castle. I'd try to avoid the peregrines. Wouldn't want to be eaten by one of those too quickly, of course!

Springwatch 2024 Returns: A Spectacular Season Unveiled

Springwatch 2024

Image: BBC Studios

By Jon Donnis
Springwatch is back, more thrilling and expansive than ever before. The main hub for this year's exploration is RSPB Arne in Dorset, where the programme will revisit the captivating stories and wildlife characters from the dramatic 2023 season. Additionally, viewers can look forward to journeys across Dorset's varied landscapes and a special road trip uncovering the natural wonders of the Isle of Bute, Loch Lomond, and Glasgow.

The mission of Springwatch remains steadfast: to inspire, engage, and captivate audiences, inviting them to immerse themselves in the beauty and drama of this season's wildlife as it unfolds.

Springwatch 2024 will air on iPlayer and BBC Two from Monday, 27 May, featuring three weeks of live programming. The presenters will serve as the audience's eyes and ears, bringing live updates from diverse locations and capturing the real-time dramas of the natural world.

Broadcast Schedule:

Monday, 27 May – Wednesday, 29 May: 8pm
Friday, 31 May: 7.30pm
Monday, 3 June – Thursday, 6 June: 8pm
Monday, 10 June – Thursday, 13 June: 8pm

Viewers are encouraged to join the conversation, reacting to topics and questions as they come in, with no limits on the wildlife discussions.

This year's overarching theme, "Little Things Make A Big Difference," underscores the idea that even small actions can collectively have a significant impact on wildlife conservation. The programme will feature a new array of live nest cameras at the springtime locations, providing fresh stories and characters for the audience. Pre-recorded films will capture various wildlife happenings across the UK, not shying away from addressing the pressing challenges facing our natural world.

In an exciting new addition, Springwatch will offer behind-the-scenes glimpses, showing viewers the careful processes involved in creating the series without disturbing the wildlife.

Main Locations and Presenters:
Chris Packham and Michaela Strachan will be stationed at the RSPB Arne reserve in Dorset. This site is teeming with life during spring, from rare breeding birds to specialised heathland insects and all six native UK reptile species. Set against the picturesque Poole Harbour, Arne offers a rich tapestry of habitats, including ancient oak woodlands, reedbeds, mudflats, and heathlands.

Iolo Williams will explore Dorset's abundant wildlife, from Little Terns nesting on Chesil Beach to Dormice in Garston's ancient woodlands. He will also visit the Portland Bird Observatory and delve into the surprising urban wildlife of Bournemouth. Crossing into Hampshire, Iolo will highlight local farmers' efforts to save the rapidly declining Turtle Dove.

Megan McCubbin will venture to Scotland, starting on the Isle of Bute in the Firth of Clyde. Despite its small size, the island boasts a wealth of wildlife, including seals and hunting Ospreys. Megan will then collaborate with Glasgow University's field research centre to explore the species inhabiting Loch Lomond's temperate rainforest. She will continue to the Argaty Rewilding Estate in Perthshire to witness the impact of reintroduced beavers and observe red kites.

The final week will see Megan uncovering urban wildlife in Glasgow, with cameras focusing on peregrine falcons, water voles, and cutting-edge research in the city.

Springwatch 2024 promises an exhilarating journey through the UK's rich wildlife, highlighting the importance of conservation and the extraordinary stories of nature.

Friday 24 May 2024

COMPETITION: Win This Town on Blu-ray

From Steven Knight, the creator of Peaky Blinders and SAS Rogue Heroes, comes an electrifying new series that tells a story of family ties, teenage kicks and redemption. 

And to celebrate we have a great competition and 2 copies on Blu-ray to give away.

Opening in 1981, at a moment of huge social unrest, This Town follows a group of young people fighting to choose their own paths, each in need of the second chance that music offers. Shot through with energy, vital performances from an exciting young cast, and joyful, life-affirming music, the show captures how sometimes creative genius can only emerge from a time of madness.

Dazzler Media presents This Town on Blu-ray, DVD & Download-to-Own out now!

Buy from Amazon at - https://amzn.to/3WW45cS

Enter now for a chance to win.

What year is This Town set?

Send your name, address and of course the answer to competition365@outlook.com

Quick Terms and conditions
1. Closing date 10-06-24
2. No alternative prize is available
3. When the competition ends as indicated on this page, any and all entries received after this point will not count and emails blacklisted due to not checking this page first.
4. Winners will be chosen randomly and will be informed via email.
5. Entries that come directly from other websites will not be accepted.

Thursday 23 May 2024

Apple TV+ Announces Premiere Date for "Time Bandits" Series Adaptation

Time Bandits

Image: Apple TV Press

By Jon Donnis

Apple TV+ has revealed the global premiere date for the eagerly anticipated comedic adventure series, "Time Bandits." The first television adaptation of the beloved cult classic film will launch on Wednesday, July 24. This fresh take on the iconic movie has been crafted for the small screen by Jemaine Clement ("Flight of the Conchords"), Iain Morris ("The Inbetweeners"), and Taika Waititi ("Our Flag Means Death"). The series is produced by Paramount Television Studios, Anonymous Content's AC Studios, and MRC.

Watch the original film at https://apple.co/3WO34Du

"Time Bandits" follows an unpredictable journey through time and space, featuring a ragtag group of thieves led by an eccentric crew, with their latest recruit being an 11-year-old history enthusiast named Kevin. Together, they embark on an exciting quest to save Kevin's parents—and ultimately, the world. Guided by the character played by Lisa Kudrow, the band of adventurers encounters epic historical events and faces malevolent forces that threaten their mission and existence.

The show promises an engaging mix of historical settings and fantastical elements as the Time Bandits navigate through different eras. Their adventures include witnessing the creation of Stonehenge, experiencing the action of the Trojan Horse, escaping dinosaurs in the prehistoric ages, causing chaos during medieval times, and encountering various ancient civilizations. The series also touches on significant cultural periods such as the Harlem Renaissance, among many others.

"Time Bandits" aims to captivate a broad audience, with its live-action storytelling appealing to viewers aged 9 to 99. The star-studded cast includes Lisa Kudrow ("The Comeback"), Kal-El Tuck ("Unseeing Evil"), Tadhg Murphy ("Conversations with Friends"), Roger Jean Nsengiyumva ("You Don't Know Me"), Rune Temte ("Eddie the Eagle"), Charlyne Yi ("Knocked Up"), Rachel House ("Heartbreak High"), Kiera Thompson ("Martyrs Lane"), James Dryden ("Ready Player One"), Felicity Ward ("The Office Australia"), Francesca Mills ("Harlots"), and Imaan Hadchiti ("Thor: Love and Thunder"). The series also features special guest appearances by Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement.

The 10-episode series is a collaborative production between Paramount Television Studios, Anonymous Content's AC Studios, and MRC. Jemaine Clement, Iain Morris, and Taika Waititi serve as executive producers, writers, and directors for select episodes, with Clement and Morris taking on the roles of co-showrunners. Additional executive producers include Garrett Basch, Tim Coddington, and Jane Stanton, who represents Handmade Films.

With its unique blend of comedy, adventure, and historical exploration, "Time Bandits" is set to become a standout addition to the Apple TV+ lineup, promising to deliver an entertaining and thrilling experience for audiences around the world.

Premiering Wednesday, 24 July