Time for Tellyspotting!


Welcome to Tellyspotting – Your Brit TV Pub!

From Peter Cook to Ricky Gervais and from Upstairs/Downstairs to MI5 (Spooks), the Brits produce some of the best shows on television.

Bill Young

Bill Young

As Vice President of Television Programming at KERA (Dallas/Ft. Worth), I have a job that affords me the opportunity to screen and evaluate much of the available British television catalogue for possible broadcast to American PBS audiences like you. And I think that makes it one of the best jobs in the world.  Well, that job just got even better because I can now share All Things British Television with you on a daily basis!

Why now, you ask?  Well, several factors caused the stars to align perfectly:

  • The  Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) was established 42 years ago.
  • British comedy made its U.S. debut on your very own KERA-TV 35 years ago this month with the premiere of Monty Python’s Flying Circus. That very daring decision was made by then Program Director, Ron Devillier, and CEO Bob Wilson.
  • The Brits caught on and, today, KERA runs more British comedy than the BBC, thanks, in part, to member support.
  • And, of course, there was the invention/ongoing evolution of the Internet and the World Wide Web. Every day is a new day on the Web, so when blogs came along, it didn’t take long for them to evolve into the rich, dynamic, interactive, fan/fanatic get-together meet-up they are today.

Given the above, I am willing to go out on a limb here and say that because PBS, KERA-TV (with your continued support!), the Internet, the WWW and blogs (of some form) are here to stay, it definitely is time for Tellyspotting – Your Brit TV Pub.

So tell your friends and strangers too. Because, in any British pub, a stranger is just a friend you haven’t met yet. If you like the idea of Tellyspotting – Your Brit TV Pub then email, text, IM, digg, facebook, myspace, Twitter, FriendFeed, Skype, post to delicious, Tumblr, Posterous, etc. to share it with your favorite mates. Or, go old school and ring them up.

Also, follow Tellyspotting – Your Brit TV Pub on Twitter @tellyspotting.  Sign up for the RSS feed to be among the first to get latest post.  And keep an eye out for our YouTube channel and flickr stream.

Tellyspotting – Your Brit TV Pub really encourages and welcomes your ideas, input, suggestions, questions and ever-so-clever critiques. It’s up to you. Thanks for popping in. Come back often and hang a bit.

Finally, a quick shout out to Stephen Becker and the folks over at Art&Seek for their mention and welcome to the blogosphere. That said, I will leave you with a classic scene from Fawlty Towers. And a question:  What’s your favorite bit from Fawlty Towers?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=78b67l_yxUc

Cheers!

  • bill holston

    Great site, can’t wait for this. It’s very hard to pick one scene from Fawlty Towers. I believe its the German Guests scene though, although the Mr. O’Reily and the wall repair is pretty darn funny…. or the Kippers…. ok, I’m settled on the War and teh German guests.

    • http://www.kera.org Bill Young

      Thanks, Bill. Hope you enjoy. Have to say, I laugh out loud every time Mrs. Richards hits her head and Basil picks up something as asks “Is this a piece of your brain?”

  • http://www.artandseek.org book/daddy

    So … Bill.

    When do we get to see YOUR Silly Walk?

  • bill holston

    I almost said that very line. I agree.

    “What were you expecting, Krakatoa Erupting?”

    bill

    • http://www.kera.org Bill Young

      Just “Herds of Wildebeests sweeping majestically across the plain” will be fine.

      • Cora Latta

        Would something like the communist resistance watching the German officers running around without their uniforms across the field work?

  • Cora Latta

    Oh Boy – this looks like such fun. Thanks for launching. It’s been fund to see ‘Allo, ‘Allo again too! We’re fortunate to live in an area served by a “committed to Britcoms” PBS station.

    • http://www.kera.org Bill Young

      Thanks, Cora. I’m convinced that there is some genesis of the idea for Inglorious Bastards that is based on ‘Allo, ‘Allo. If you’ve seen, what do you think?

  • TBone

    Please, please, please, please, for the love of all things good, stop subjecting us to Keeping Up Appearances. I become violently ill with projectile vomiting when I see Hyacinth.

    Second only to the above mentioned pablum is My Hero. Really, if we wanted to see horrible TV we would watch American TV.

  • BIll Young

    @TBone Unfortunately for you, fortunately for me, KUA continues to fall into the category of both most hated and most loved British comedy series. Probably the reason it remains the highest rated Britcom currently on the air throughout most of the U.S. Knowing you fall into the most hated category, what do you like?

  • http://greenvneck.blogspot.com Deb

    My favorite Fawlty Towers line is when Manuel is hunkered down below the front desk, looking for something, and it seems as though the giant moose head on the desk is the one saying, “I speak English well, I learned it from a book!” Can’t wait for the marathon!

  • Mark H

    Thanks, Bill! Can’t wait to see the marathon. Was wondering where are other fan favs – like The Vicar of Dibley, and Waiting for God?? We love and miss seeing those on KERA. Thanks for keeping the Britcoms coming to North Texas!

  • David Evans

    I wish that I could see the show (I don’t remember its title) about a man who walks from a modern street down a couple of blocks, and finds himself in World War II, goes into a bar, asks for a beer, and is astounded to find that it only costs a tiny amount compared to what he’s expecting. Like I say, I don’t remember its title, but I would really like to know it, and to see it and the subsequent episodes.

    BTW, I hate Keeping Up Appearances; we’ve seen each episode several times. Why not have a vote of those who like it and those who hate it? You might be surprised at the results. So might we.

    • David Evans

      As an addition to above, I think that the man who walks down the street and into WWII is played by Nicholas Lyndhurst. But I’m not sure.

      • http://www.kera.org Bill Young

        @David: The show you are referring to is Goodnight Sweetheart and it does star Nicholas Lyndhurst. Like you, I thought that show was really innovative and well done. We’ll definitely be re-airing the program in the not too distant future. Re: Keeping Up Appearances, it’s probably 50/50 showing up on the most requested and most hated comedy. I’d welcome others to chime in with their thoughts.

        • Joe

          Is there a way to get an accurate schedule of KERA programming?

          The really good Britcoms like The Industry, Black Adder, and others are shown only the hours between midnight and 3 AM while working folks are sleeping? Between pledge drives and constant reruns of music videos and pyscho-babble info-mercials, we never know when our favorite shows will be run, and even the schedule on the KERA website says “to be announced” or “best of”…?

          • http://www.kera.org Bill Young

            Joe: The KERA website should be the most accurate reflection of what airs. Even with this, it sometimes takes several days to make schedule changes given the way things are structured internally to get information to TV Guide, who then makes the changes and sends the listings updates back to KERA site. All should be correct within a few days.

            With regards to programs like The Industry, Blackadder, etc. being on after midnight, the reasoning comes down to available broadcast time for everything we have to air from a contractual standpoint. Obviously, up until the 10p hour, the PBS national schedule is aired with Masterpiece usually running until 10p. The “softer” most popular comedies over the years whether it be As Time Goes By, Keeping Up Appearances, Waiting for God, etc. air right after that with the “edgier” programs that have a somewhat smaller but equally as good of an audience such as Blackadder, etc. air after midnight. In looking at the schedule across the entire week, it’s either there or nowhere given other commitments either from PBS or other acquired programming. I appreciate you staying with us though even though I’m sure your dead tired on Monday morning.

  • Celeste

    About Keeping Up Apperances – is there a category for people who absolutely love it but are SO tired of it they can’t watch it anymore? I wonder what would happen if, just for a season between pledge drives, some of the old favorites like KUA and As Time Goes By took a little vacation while new programs were given a shot…probably the masses would rise up in protest. Although Are You Being Served isn’t in the lineup right now and we are all managing to survive (of course I bought it on DVD, so…)

  • Bill McCain

    Wondering why you replace fan favorite shows (Last of the Summer Wine, Vicar of Dibley, etc.) with reruns of the nifty fifty music shows?

    I am in my seventies, so the fifties are not a bad memory, however, my brain is functional enough to remember that KERA and every other Public Radio station I have listened to over the years, re-runs the same old tired Be-Bop, Rock and Roll, Do-Wop, etc. shows in every fund raising period.

    There are the rare gems such as the Chet Atkins special this year, and they can be great.

    A favor, if you know that the Do-Wop brings in more money to the station, why not consider running the “favorites” during the late night/early mornign? DVR’s will let us watch when we want, and hopefully we can both have a win-win.

    Thank you.

    Bill McCain
    billmccain1@yahoo.com

    • http://www.kera.org Bill Young

      Bill: You summarized my answer in a nutshell in your question. Unfortunately, historically, the “fan favorites” of Last of the Summer Wine, Vicar, etc. do not bring in the dollars that they need to bring in during the membership campaigns. I wish it were different, but it’s not. The music programs generate a significant dollar amount where the British comedies do not.

      At some point, we need to determine just how we can keep the programs on during pledge and generate member support for those programs and viewers need to understand that if they aren’t supported, they will cease to exist as we know them now. Unless there is a “new” comedy, KERA generates very little money around British comedy even though some of our highest audience figures are consistently around these shows. With viewers being the sole support of these shows, there’s going to come a time where we can’t continue to keep the high level of the Britcom line-up going by having both the “fan favorites” and the “new” programs unless everyone steps up and supports what they watch week in and week out. And not at high dollars either. If everyone that watched the British comedies gave us even the minimal membership level of $35, that would be huge compared to what we receive now. Not that this answer helps, but hopefully, will explain why for most of the membership campaigns, the British comedies are replaced by music programs.

  • http://pirot.moonfruit.com/ Rachel

    Dear Bll,
    As you have been a regular guest in our living room,I feel I should be able to call you Bill.I am a rabid fan of the weekend Brit Coms.I pay for dish service strictly for it.Bill,I must ask.What happened to my 2 laugh filled nights of British comedy? I love the classics from Open all hours and Are you being served? to the modern britcoms like Coupling,Spaced(<a suggestion)I LIVE for Sat and Sundays Brit com run.Now Im being weaned to 4-5 hours a week.Am I being punished?

    • http://www.kera.org Bill Young

      Rachel: No punishment intended, I promise. Ultimately, when the opportunity to broadcast MI-5 and the new Doctor Who episodes came out, it was somewhat of a “perfect storm” of events as these new shows combined with the fact that there was very little out there from a comedy standpoint that was good. The challenge has always been to keep some of the classics, but get new programs too. The classics are there, but not so much with the new offerings. Having MI-5 and Dr Who allowed to rest some of the classics and not overplay them as we had, for some time, been hearing from many people that they were tired of the likes of Are You Being Served, etc. Once MI-5 ends its current run, we will most likely return another hour of Britcoms to Saturday nights so you’ll have 2 hours on Saturday and the regular 4 on Sunday nights. Still need to find room for Life on Mars and Adventures of Robin Hood. FYI, Reginald Perrin and Yes Minister will begin this coming Saturday from 10p-11p if you are missing some really good “classics”. Let me know what you’d like to see.

  • Rachel

    Ask and ye shall receive.
    Fawlty Towers
    Brittas Empire
    Black Adder(dealers choice)
    Bean
    Mulberry Days
    My Hero
    Fr Ted
    Only Fools and Horses
    To the manor Born
    Kiss Me Kate
    Waiting For God

    • Jack Ablon

      Bill,

      I can’t help it but “Ladies of Letters” is less than a dud. And surely you could have dead air in lieu of Reginald Perrin (I thought that series had been buried). They make “keeping Up Appearances” seem like a real TV show. The rest of The British Comedies” are wonderful and thanks for trying to find more. Waiting For God and Mulberry Days were incredible and Black Adder is always a treat.

  • Emily

    I have to agree with the others who cannot stand “Keeping Up Appearances.” I have been watching BritComs regularly for the past six years or so. I immediately fell in love with “As Time Goes By” and “My Hero.” KUA was stuck in-between the two shows, so I would put up with it, but I can’t say it was ever one of my favorites. However, after “My Hero” was pulled, my traditional Sunday evening ritual went from a couple hours of viewing (“As Time Goes By” thru “Are You Being Served”, to watching only ATGB and then switching to another network. I realize that “My Hero” didn’t have many seasons, and I know you can’t keep the same shows on forever, but I have seen almost every episode of KUA several times, and quite frankly, I’m tired of it. Why doesn’t IT ever take a leave of absence? There are a lot of other shows I’d rather watch. If I could choose, I would love to see “My Hero,” “Vicar of Dibley,” and “Goodnight, Sweetheart” make a comeback.

    • Jimmy

      I’d like to second Kiss Me Kate. Most of the others you can find on DVD but I’ve only seen KMK on KERA.

  • KristenM

    I remember a time a fews ago when the line up of British shows was Coupling, Red Dawrf, Are You Being Served and Monty Python. I was just wondering if any of those shows will be played again. How are showes choosen and why are shows taken off the air? Are there contracts that expire? Do people not like the shows?

    • http://tellyspotting.org Bill Young

      Kristen: You hit the nail on the head with almost all of your thoughts as to why shows come in and out of the schedule. All in all, it’s probably a combination of all of your reasons. First and foremost, it’s the audience response….or, if there is or isn’t an audience. Secondly, we do contract for a specific license period for each series which has to be renewed each time you want to broadcast. In many cases, there are only so many programs in a given series and to save from just repeating the same short set over and over, a series may leave the schedule for the time being. Recent case in point, The Old Guys has only six episodes. To run those six over and over would probably do more harm to the series than to keep it on. On the reverse, with a series like Are You Being Served, the show had been on the air without interruption for over 20 years and probably topped the viewer list of most-liked AND most-hated by that time. So, it’s a combination of both. Would love to hear what you like and would like to see back on the air and we’ll do our best. Thanks for watching the ones you do enjoy.

  • Dylan S.

    Mr. Young, thank you for your commitment and dedication to KERA. Without you, Tellyspotting would have been a distant dream and watching Brit TV in our living rooms would’ve been impossible.

    Just out of curiosity, is there any way to fit in “Yes, Prime Minister” into the Saturday schedule? I think that it’s one of the funniest and most relevant shows on TV – perhaps even more so than other shows like Parks and Recreation.

    • http://tellyspotting.org Bill Young

      Thanks, Dylan, for the kind comments. Tellyspotting may have been a distant dream, but I have to constantly tip my hat to the great Ron Devillier who, back in 1974, brought Month Python’s Flying Circus to KERA, making it the first station in the U.S. to air the series. After that, it was pretty easy to keep British comedy going when you have the likes of Fawlty Towers, Good Neighbors and To the Manor Born to work with back then. FYI, right now, plans are to roll right into Yes Prime Minister on KERA once Yes Minister concludes on Saturdays. Glad you enjoy. Couldn’t agree with you more in your assessment of the series.

  • John Freeman

    Re your last sentence, where is the classic scene from Fawlty Towers?

    • http://tellyspotting.org Bill Young

      John: Thanks for pointing this out. Not sure why the clip dropped off from the original post but I’ve added back in.

      • http://none william watson

        To Mr. Bill Young,
        Will “new tricks” and “waking the dead” return to KERA? I find both of these programs to be most enjoyable along with MR-5 and Life on Mars.

        • http://tellyspotting.org Bill Young

          William: Thanks for the obvious interest in the British programming on KERA. New Tricks will be back in November at 10:00pm on Friday nights beginning with episodes of season 4. We will run season 4-6 with the hopes that the new season 7 episodes will be available for broadcast beginning after the first of the year. At this time, WTD will be going off for a bit to rest the series and make room for another series. Glad you enjoyed MI5 and are enjoying Life on Mars.

  • Bob Branton

    To Mr. Bill Young
    Glad to hear New Tricks will be coming back into the schedule in November. It is a favorite show of mine.

  • anonymous

    I’m a britcom fan, longtime paying subscriber who appreciates this forum. Now, (degustibus non est disputandum (sp?) some cursory comments: ALL the britcoms range from good to masterpiece, although not all of them are just my cup of tea, and some of them are very-well worn. I really like “After You’ve Gone” a lot, and “The Old Guys.” I can still somewhat enjoy the endlessly-played (quaint, dated) ones like “Open All Hours” and “Are You Being Served” (though I don’t mind missing them.) Some other faves of mine: Fools and Horses, Red Dwarf… and I would vehemently disagree with the put-down of Reginald Perrin, which is one of the greats. Thin Blue Line – excellent, brilliant! Fascinating to me: Rowan Atkinson – a genius – plays both the least articulate (least ironic) in Mr. Bean and the most brilliant and ironic of funny characters, in Thin Blue Line and Black Adder, which I would nominate as the best comedy – ever. KUA? I enjoy the performance of it, but Hyeacinth… kind of a one-note character. It’s very good, though, again, not one of my favorites. Fawlty Towers is great – although Basil is also kind of a one-note character. Favorite moments from Fawlty Towers: “What do you expect” to see out of a Torquay window…? Or, “Is the room airy? Does it have a breeze?” “Well, there is air IN it.” Finally: I recall one Britcom I really didn’t care much for at all: (dating myself?) “Butterflies.” I have become a fan of Nicholas Lyndhurst, but in that one, the two late-teenage brothers seemed to behave like ten-year-olds.

  • anonymous

    PS: Sorry… of all people… I seem to have misspelled Hyacinth.

  • robert

    what is the fate of last of the summer wine? i’m ready to start at the first season again.the shows made around compo passing away were just awsome. also as noted in another post,after midnight on sunday makes for a hard start on monday but i never tire of arkwright trying to make or save a buck or pound as it were.

  • Cindy Finch-Mass

    What about ” Black Books”? I hope I got the name correct. As for KUA,I am not a fan of Hyacinth’s character’s behaviour,but the show itself is WONDERFUL! The one I detest is “Allo Allo”,never did care for it that much. I love the oldies myself;started watching with just Monty Python on Sunday nights for half-hour on KERA-Dallas,way back in the 70’s. I got used to the 2 night Saturday/Sunday night lineup,and miss it so. I cannot name just one favorite show,”Open All Hours” is a particular fave! Bring back those nights for the comedies,do the fund-raising on Fridays!

    • Tanna

      I am glad to see I am not the only one that is loosing interest in the Sunday comedy lineup! It is no longer the same.
      I use to get so excited about Sunday night, looked forward to it all week. Now I cringe at the sight of KUA and feel it is KUAcom night.
      Really?!
      Would love to see some of the old lineup.

      • http://tellyspotting.org Bill Young

        Tanna: Thanks for the comments re: KUA. Fortunately, or unfortunately, KUA remains on the top of both the most wanted and most unwanted list of British comedies that KERA broadcasts. There will be a point in time where it may move from the Sunday at 10:30p slot, but we haven’t reached that point yet given the popularity of the series. I can tell you that we have an all new line-up coming this Saturday night, Jan 8 along with several new programs on Sundays too. Unfortunately, much of our schedule is dictated by what’s available from the BBC, which has been quite thin the past X number of years. Things are looking up so, hopefully, you’ll come back to Sundays soon. Would love to know what you think about the new programs on Sat/Sun.

  • paula

    hello.,

    When all these folks complain about KUA along with me, how can it be so popular. i loved it in the beginning, but i hate it now and pretty much just go to sleep without seeing the rest of the night’s shows. I so wish you guys would get rid of it. I know, for one, I’m sick to death of it.

    Other than keeping some shows on for an eternity, ya’ll do a great job!

    • http://tellyspotting.org Bill Young

      @Paula: I may get up the nerve to move it beginning this Fall. Waiting for a couple of options to come through as a worthy replacement. Unfortunately, the move of a show that has this kind of popularity will be judged solely on it’s replacement. I remember moving the extremely popular at the time Waiting for God years ago for this little known comedy called Keeping Up Appearances. Called the worst move ever, but took only several weeks for people to forget WFG and begin to love KUA. Need to find something that is suitable as a replacement. Any suggestions from the “classic” comedies?

  • Amit

    Bill,
    Fine site to keep abreast of KERA’s british programming.
    Couple of quick suggestions of recent material that would be great to see on KERA :
    Absolute Power,
    the Bremner, Bird and Fortune shows,
    QI,
    We are history
    thanks and keep up the good work
    Amit

    • Phyllis

      KUA – what can I say. While not a violent person, I do want to shake her. Unfortunately it wouldn’t do any good because she is completely clueless at any attempt to confront her.

      After watching all of Mulberry and Goodnight, Sweetheart, I missed the last episode of each and never found out how they end. Sigh.

      Loved both of them as well as To the Manor and of course my all time fav As Time Goes By. Black Adder and Vicar are also much see shows.

      I appreciate your Sunday night Britcoms.

  • Rich Schumacher

    I returned from England in 1977 and haven’t missed a show since. I can remember Good Neighbors and many other. It is true that after I view them for the 10th time I start to get bored, unless it is “last of the Summer Wine”. These shows are much better than the regular fare on american tv. How could anybody be unhappy with the lineup we had over the past 36 years. Masterpiece Theater is the greatest show ever to be on tele vision. Thanks for the memories.

  • Jim Partridge

    Please don’t ever move or remove WFG from the schedule. That being said could we possibly see some different episodes of As Time goes By? I mean really, There were 9-10 series of the show and all we get to see are the same episodes year after year. While enjoyable it has become a bit predictable what Lionel will say next. To the Manor Born would be quite a nice addition to the Sunday night line up. Of course anything with Felicity Kendall would be a welcome addition.

    Cheers.

    • http://tellyspotting.org Bill Young

      @Jim: Happy to bring WFG back to the schedule (unfortunately, at the expense of Keeping Up Appearances, however). Re: As Time Goes By, I can honestly say that every time we air the series, it airs from the initial first episode to the final, season 9 episode and then starts over again. Not sure how you are seeing the same ones over and over, but with approximately 65+ episodes, it takes literally over a year each time we air the series to complete and then turnaround again. Re: additions to the Sunday line-up, we will, most likely, begin The Good Neighbors (w/ Felicity Kendal) in the Fall. Thanks again for watching, Jim, and for the support.

      • http://www.facebook.com/manicash Ashley

        I grew up always watching the weekend Britcoms with my grandmother, who lives next door to my mom and me, and when I moved to Denton to attend university, I continued to watch because I had fallen in love with Britcoms. I’ve become a big anglophile and I still run to watch britcoms whenever I am in a bad mood, they never fail to make me laugh and cheer me up. I’m happy that you started this website!! :) cheers! xx

        • http://tellyspotting.org Bill Young

          Thanks, Ashley. Your comments make it all worthwhile.

  • http://www.facebook.com/manicash Ashley

    along with being happy about this website, I am blessed and happy I grew up in the DFW area, with our local PBS station being able to show so many great Britcoms! :D

  • Jennifer Nelson

    Bill;

    I love the British Comedy’s!!!
    I also love Masterpiece!!

    I miss seeing Keeping Up Appearances on Sunday evenings.
    Please bring it back.

    My fave Brit author is Ruth Rendell aka Barbara Vine. Please see if ya’ll can bring some of her shows back as well. My favorite is “A Dark Adapted Eye.”

    Thanks for listening.
    Jennifer

  • Larry Jaffee

    Hi Bill,

    I enjoy your blog. I am the long-time publisher of the Walford Gazette, which is a quarterly newspaper about EastEnders. KUHT in Houston is a customer.

    I thought that you might be interested in my
    forthcoming magazine, ‘UK:Cue – British Film, Theatre & Television on Both Sides of the Atlantic’.

    I would appreciate if you checked out my Kickstarter page for the project, and contribute if you’re inclined.

    The campaign expires on Jan. 28. Please let me know if I can answer any questions.