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(1963–1998)

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Letters: Nicholas Parsons and World in Action's Spongers

Letters: Nicholas Parsons and World in Action's Spongers
“Of course I’ll do it.” With those words Nicholas Parsons agreed to host a television programme uncomfortably outside his usual genres. It was 1989 and Margaret Thatcher’s government had characterised those on state benefits as “spongers”.

ITV’s current affairs programme World in Action decided to make a programme with that name showing how the wealthy profited substantially more from state handouts and benefits than the poor. It was to be in the risky format of a take-off of a television game show, in which a wealthy family was pitted against a family barely making do. I was the producer and, without hesitation, Nicholas agreed to take part. Largely due to his input, the show was a success and much discussed. Later that year we decided to repeat the exercise, this time with a programme called Beat the Taxman, showing how the wealthy may escape their fair burden of taxation.
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Channel 4’s Dorothy Byrne Calls on Broadcasters to ‘Get Serious’

  • Variety
Broadcasters can arrest their fall in ratings by making “really clever and difficult programs,” according to Dorothy Byrne, Channel 4’s head of news and current affairs, who delivered the keynote MacTaggart lecture at the Edinburgh TV Festival on Wednesday night.

Speaking to an Edinburgh auditorium packed with many of the U.K.’s most senior executives, Byrne said that broadcasters who are “desperate for young audiences” should tap into the fact that millions of them are now politically aware and active, listening to podcasts and Ted Talks and reading books on serious subjects such as climate change and the viability of financial systems.

“We have to stop being afraid of serious analysis authored by big brainy people. We have the ability and we have the airtime. Let’s make some really clever and difficult programs.”

Byrne, who was following in the footsteps of previous MacTaggart lecturers such as Rupert Murdoch and Ted Turner,
See full article at Variety »

Why Christopher Nolan Must Direct A Bond Film

Neil Calloway argues that Britain’s best director must direct Britain’s biggest franchise…

So it seems like the news that Syncopy will be producing the next Bond was at best premature and at worst totally untrue. It’s a shame, because the possibility that Christopher Nolan is going to direct a Bond film is too great to pass up.

Nolan is exactly the right choice; British, from the same sort of class at Ian Fleming, the right age to have grown up with the Bond films all around him, and a master – perhaps the master – of the big budget, intelligent action movie. As he showed with his Batman films he can take something that is both familiar and a little overblown and reinvent and reinvigorate it and most importantly make it believable.

Ten years ago there was a clamour for Paul Greengrass to direct a Bond film, and you
See full article at Flickeringmyth »

Michael Beckham obituary

Fearless World in Action producer-director whose films of Vietnam and Chile left an indelible mark on the genre

Michael Beckham, who has died aged 78, was a producer-director of films that defined a golden age of television – mostly for the famously fearless Granada TV programme World in Action. He made about 80 documentaries for the series, and award-winning dramas thereafter. “He was the Dickens of television,” said his colleague and friend since 1966, Mike Ryan, “prolific, but always the best. He could do everything.”

It’s not nostalgia to regard those days as halcyon ones in television. World in Action broadcast to audiences of 13 million at prime time, against Panorama’s 9 million on BBC – a third of the country watching serious, international quality documentaries. I got my first real job on World in Action in 1979, an ambition conceived six years previously as a student watching Michael’s report of Chile’s 1973 military coup,
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Final Trailer For Kong: Skull Island

  • TheMovieBit
Kong: Skull Island crashes onto our screen on March 10th, and one final trailer has come our way to give us our best taste yet of what is in store for us. And what is that exactly? Well, judging by this its a nice line in odd humour (mainly from that old hand himself John C. Rielly), intense action, and Kong going medieval on whatever is put in front of him. Seeing the titular Eighth Wonder of the World in action (especially when we get up close and personal with Mr. Kong early on, playing with our heroes helicopters) makes me absolutely giddy, and I seriously can’t wait for this to finally come our way. Released: March 10th Synopsis: This compelling, original adventure from director Jordan Vogt-Roberts (“The Kings of Summer”) tells the story of a diverse team of scientists, soldiers and adventurers uniting to explore a mythical, uncharted island in the Pacific,
See full article at TheMovieBit »

Run The Series: The monumental Up series captures half a century of ordinary life

With Run The Series, The A.V. Club examines film franchises, studying how they change and evolve with each new installment.

No one who tuned in to the special broadcast of the British current-affairs series World In Action on May 5, 1964, could have foreseen the remarkable sequence of documentaries—a monumental testament to the sadness and splendor of ordinary life—that would eventually follow. At the time, the filmmakers behind Seven Up!, as the program was called, couldn’t have either. But even the greatest undertakings often start small, and so the venerable Up series, a project that has to date encompassed eight features over nearly half a century, began with what was intended to be a one-off: 40-odd minutes of television devoted to “the struggling, changing world of the 7-year-old,” in the words of the paternal narrator.

Diverting if more than a little scattershot, Seven Up! gathered 20 ...
See full article at The AV Club »

World in Action: A Paul Greengrass Retrospective

With Jason Bourne arriving this week, we’re looking back on the career of director Paul Greengrass. As the person who single-handedly popularized the technique of “shaky cam” for the new millennium, Greengrass has seen his signature style emulated in action films as wide-ranging as Quantum of Solace and Taken 2. While so many of these pictures exploit the visual chaos of handheld camerawork to mask lazy fight choreography, Greengrass has always wielded the aesthetic with visionary purpose, whether that purpose be visceral, political, or both.

Indeed, shaky cam may be Greengrass’ most recognizable trademark, but it is the filmmaker’s purposefulness in confronting social and political issues that most fully unites his work past and present. Prior to making feature films, Greengrass worked for ten years at World in Action, a British investigative current events program known for its forceful and unorthodox journalistic style. Leaving a trail of controversy in its wake,
See full article at The Film Stage »

Ray Fitzwalter obituary

Investigative journalist and editor of Granada TV’s World in Action for 17 years

Ray Fitzwalter, who has died aged 72 of cancer, was one of the outstanding investigative journalists of his era. In the late 1960s, as a young reporter on the Bradford Telegraph & Argus, he was the first to take an interest in the activities of an obscure Yorkshire architect named John Poulson, triggering what became a national scandal that ended the political career of the former Tory chancellor and home secretary Reginald Maudling.

In 1970 Fitzwalter joined Granada Television’s flagship documentary programme, World in Action, where he helped to make a series of hard-hitting documentaries on a wide range of issues including corruption in business and local government, as well as an hour-long special on the 1971 slaughter in East Pakistan which led to the birth of Bangladesh. In 1976 he became editor of World in Action, over which he presided for the next 17 years,
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Bafta-winning World in Action editor Ray Fitzwalter dies

Journalist led team at ITV show for 11 years, tackling investigations into the Birmingham Six and other issues

Award-winning investigative journalist Ray Fitzwalter, the longest-serving editor of ITV’s World in Action, has died.

Fitzwalter’s programmes for the Granada-made series, which ended in 1998, included an investigation which ultimately led to the release of the Birmingham Six.

Related: Down memory lane with the much-missed World In Action

Devastated to learn of the death of Ray Fitzwalter, a true Great of British Journalism, and an inspiration to so many of us. Rip

One of the giants of investigative journalism passes away. Rip Ray Fitzwalter https://t.co/ZyIphQB9QM

Sad to hear of death of Ray Fitzwalter. What a man. Tough, terrifying, an inspirational storyteller. His voice will never leave the memory.

With the consistent support of the old guard at Granada – great men like David Plowright, Gus McDonald and Denis Forman
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Tony Warren tribute: 'He was that rare thing: a genuine television revolutionary'

The director of Bafta-winning The Road to Coronation Street on how he got to know the soap’s creator – and how he reacted to the drama about his life

Like most Granada drama directors, Coronation Street was my first drama directing job. I was 26 at the time and a snob. Contemptuous of lower-level TV drama, I had hidden in documentaries for two years making World in Action films but finally had to pass through the factory gates of Coronation Street before anything else was allowed.

Walking into that rehearsal room for the first time in 1978 was perhaps the most terrifying experience of my directing life but I immediately fell in love with it, both because of the incredible cast, Pat Phoenix, Violet Carson and Doris Speed were all still there, and because of the sharp-edged, comic writing that had been there since the beginning.

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See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

TV Review: Quantico (ABC)

After tons of buzz and media attention, the wait for ABC’s new thriller Quantico finally ended on Sunday night. With our very own Priyanka Chopra as the lead of this series, we at Bollyspice were beyond eager to finally check out Miss World in action as a feisty FBI recruit. And we were not disappointed.

Described as a cross between Homeland and Grey’s Anatomy, Quantico follows Alex Parrish (Priyanka) and a group of young FBI recruits as they endure a training camp in Quantico, Virginia. Fast forward nine months, and the U.S. suffers the biggest terrorist attack since 9/11. The kicker? Alex is the main suspect – and has clearly been framed.

It’s pretty impressive how much Quantico was able to squeeze into just one episode. We got plenty of scandal, romance, violence, mystery and plot twists in the action-packed pilot. Naturally, there was so much happening that
See full article at Bollyspice »

ITV’s greatest theme tune: Benny Hill or Bullseye?

The Sound of ITV: The Nation’s Favourite Theme included music from Downton Abbey, Robin Hood and Benny Hill – but what about the prog rock vibes of World in Action or the honky-tonk piano of the nation’s favourite darts-based game show?

The public have spoken. According to the exclusive viewer poll that formed the basis of countdown show The Sound of ITV: The Nation’s Favourite Theme, Benny Hill’s signature tune Yakety Sax is the all-time No 1. Obviously, the correct way to celebrate this victory for good old-fashioned slap-and-tickle would be to initiate a snaking conga pursuit across the country by pinching the bottom of a buxom nurse – it’s what Benny would have wanted.

Related: Bullseye: which other gameshows deserve a live comeback?

Related: Why I love watching Thunderbirds Are Go with my daughter

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See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Wednesday’s best TV

  • The Guardian - TV News
Suranne Jones stars in brilliant new drama Doctor Foster, Dr Amanda Foreman tackles Confucianism in The Ascent Of Woman and Kate Winslet tries Running Wild With Bear Grylls. Plus: perfectionist homebuilding in Grand Designs, and masterpieces unfolded in A Very British Map: The Ordnance Survey Story

Yes, appearing on ITV really does transform lives. Just ask Alex and Sue Tatham, hitched after meeting on Blind Date; John Hurt, whose career took off thanks to The Naked Civil Servant; or Charlie Walduck, who surfed, in Phillip Schofield’s words, “a huge wave of love and support” from This Morning viewers to shed 20st in a year. Made to mark ITV’s 60th birthday, a self-congratulatory doc that’s nonetheless – especially in sections on Seven Up! and World In Action – a reminder of TV’s potency. Jonathan Wright

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See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Paul Almond obituary

Canadian director best known in Britain for the Seven Up! television documentary

Paul Almond, who has died aged 83, directed seven feature films and more than 120 television dramas in Canada, Britain and the Us. He wrote 12 novels. The Directors Guild of Canada gave him a lifetime achievement award and the Canadian government made him an officer of the Order of Canada. In Britain, though, he is known for one thing: a documentary transmitted on ITV on Monday 5 May 1964.

Seven Up! appeared in Granada Television’s current affairs slot, World in Action. The series was then in its second year and known for its brash, steamroller delivery of facts and opinions (and, in the trade, for its cavalier disregard of the technical niceties of documentary film-making). Taking the unjournalistic – indeed, essayistic – topic of the persistence of class in 1960s “swinging” Britain, Seven Up! did not quite fit the programme’s news-driven agenda.
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Who is ‘Dick Poop’ — er, Dick Pope?

By Anjelica Oswald

Managing Editor

Nothing could stop ‘Dick Poop’ from becoming a Twitter ‘Trending Topic’. The site exploded with clever responses to the Academy Award nominations Jan. 15 — from surprises to snubs to the unfortunate pronunciation of one cinematographer.

This flub occurred when Cheryl Boone Isaacs, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Art and Sciences, announced Dick Pope as a nominee for achievement in cinematography.

So who exactly is Dick Pope?

Pope received his second Oscar nomination this year for his work on Mike Leigh’s Mr. Turner, about the obsessive British landscape artist J.M.W. Turner (portrayed by Timothy Spall). The film also received nominations for production design, costume design and original score. For his work on the film, Pope has earned BAFTA Award and Critics’ Choice Award nominations. Pope won the Vulcan Prize for Technical Artist at the Cannes Film Festival, where the film premiered. He
See full article at Scott Feinberg »

Where Is The ‘Up’ Series Now, After 50 Years? The Longevity and Legacy of a Classic Doc Franchise

When Granada Television debuted the documentary special Seven Up! as an episode of World in Action on May 5, 1964, the primary point was to show a brief look at youth of varied social backgrounds around the UK. It was a study of sorts, but as original director Paul Almond told me last year, “All I wanted to do was to find out what little boys and little girls of different classes thought about. I didn’t have any intention other than trying to find out what in fact were the differences.” The show itself plainly states that the idea is to show viewers “the shop steward and the executive” of tomorrow, specifically that of the turn of the next century. Perhaps one follow-up in the year 2000 would have sufficed to update us on where those kids wound up. Instead, by that year there’d already been five installments, produced and released at seven-year intervals, and
See full article at FilmSchoolRejects »

A brief history of architecture on TV

Reverent in the 60s, flirty in the noughties, telly just can't leave architecture alone. As BBC4 launches Nation Builders, we look at some historical highlights

Ultimately it's just bricks piled up into different shapes, but those shapes have entranced programme-makers for decades. This month, BBC4 launches the Nation Builders season, which includes The Brits Who Built the Modern World, a look at such famous ruler-wielders as Norman Foster and Richard Rogers. Even better, it also features Bunkers, Brutalism, Bloody-Mindedness: Concrete Poetry, the new film from walking thesaurus Jonathan Meades. Meades is hilariously hostile to his employers and is one of the most consistently entertaining presenters when it comes to shows about buildings.

However, television's archives bulge with programmes about stuff made from stucco and stone. In the postwar years, architects were treated with kid-glove reverence by the Beeb. They were the people building a more glamorous Britain. René Cutforth gave
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Berlinale Special nabs nine world premieres

  • ScreenDaily
Berlinale Special nabs nine world premieres
World premieres include A Long Way down, starring Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul and Pierce Brosnan, and The Two Faces of January, the directorial debut of Drive screenwriter Hossein Amini starring Viggo Mortensen, Kirsten Dunst and Oscar Isaac.

The Berlin International Film Festival (Feb 6-16) has unveiled the 18-strong line-up for its Berlinale Special strand, including nine world premieres.

Stand-outs in the list include the world premiere of A Long Way Down, an adaptation of Nick Hornby’s bestseller about four people who meet on New Year’s Eve and form a surrogate family to help one another weather the difficulties of their lives. It stars Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul, Pierce Brosnan, Toni Collette and Imogen Poots.

Also receiving its world premiere will be con artist thriller The Two Faces of January, the directorial debut of Drive screenwriter Hossein Amini, which stars Viggo Mortensen, Kirsten Dunst and Inside Llewyn DavisOscar Isaac.

Mexican actor Diego Luna
See full article at ScreenDaily »

Paul Greengrass to get BIFAs honour

  • ScreenDaily
Paul Greengrass to get BIFAs honour
Bourne, Captain Phillips director recognised for focusing international attention on the UK.

Paul Greengrass is to receive the Variety Award at the 16th Moët British Independent Film Awards, set to be held on Dec 8 at Old Billingsgate, London.

The prizes recognises a director, actor, writer or producer who has helped to focus the international spotlight on the UK. Previous recipents include Jude Law, Kenneth Branagh, Daniel Craig, Dame Helen Mirren and Richard Curtis among others.

Greengrass received an Oscar nomination for his work on 9/11 drama United 93 and won top awards at Berlin and Sundance for Bloody Sunday.

The British director took on the Bourne spy franchise in 2004 and worked with star Matt Damon again on sequel The Bourne Ultimatum and Green Zone. His latest feature is Captain Phillips, which opened the BFI London Film Festival this year.

Greengrass spent the first decade of his career covering global conflict for ITV current affairs programme World In Action and writing
See full article at ScreenDaily »

Captain Phillips: a film with no black and white, just shades of grey

Paul Greengrass puts his ship's captain through hell, shows reservations over Us seafaring might, and has empathy with the Somali pirates' plight

At the heart of Paul Greengrass's Captain Phillips is the story of two eternal seafaring archetypes. The first is the Master Mariner (Conrad's final rank) plying his cargo through the great nautical arteries of global commerce, and the second, the luckless fisherman turned pirate, picking off the stragglers among the gargantuan cargo ships passing too close to the coast of Somalia, the better to ransom their contents back to their owners.

Asymmetrical warfare structures the movie, as the pirates dog a city-sized cargo ship with only two clapped-out skiffs and a threadbare mother-vessel, boarding with a makeshift iron ladder, subduing the bridge, and issuing their demands. The second half sees the pirates and their captain-hostage trapped in the ship's sealed lifeboat, hemmed in by Us Navy frigates and an aircraft carrier,
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »
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