BBC Showcase 2011 – Day 3: Top Gear, British comedy and more…


Day three in Brighton. Immersed in the world of television comedy, drama, doc, natural history and science with 100’s more hours of screenings trying to find that hidden gem from the BBC catalogue. As you can expect, lots of William and Kate documentaries in the news and documentary section as we approach the royal wedding on 29 April.

Several one-time-only specials of note screened yesterday included an interesting docu-drama on the Nuremberg trials, which focused on the trials of three of the most wanted Nazi war criminals, Albert Speer, Hermann Goering and Rudolf Hess. Another WWII doc of note, Goering’s Last Secret, tells the untold story of Albert Goering, the brother of Herman Goering, and his steadfast hatred of the Nazi regime. With great individual risk, he single-handedly saved 34 individuals from Nazi atrocities by forging his brother’s signature and using his high-ranking position within the party. As usual, some great programming in the natural history genre, including a fascinating profile on the Galapagos Islands, an monumental effort to save the rapidly diminishing orangutan population and more greatness from David Attenborough.

The evening was topped off with dinner at the Grand celebrating the premiere of Top Gear USA. In attendance were hosts, Adam Ferrara, Tanner Foust and Rutledge Wood along with the brilliant Top Gear UK host Richard Hammond, a.k.a., Hamster. One cannot doubt the world-wide phenomenon that is Top Gear after you realize that it’s entering its 16th season on BBC Two, is seen in over 90 countries and has a world-wide audience in excess of 350 million people. Not bad for a show that has an overall purpose of just to have fun, drive really fast cars around a track or, perhaps, racing the lost F-16 fighter plane now and then. Hammond interviewed the USA hosts who said there were plans to branch out and descend on France for some interesting challenges in the upcoming second season. Top Gear UK still reigns supreme over its 1-year old American cousin re-make, which, judging from what I’ve seen, needs to learn from the UK version and lose their stereotypical American male bits.

British comedy highlight of the afternoon was to hear that Steve Coogan’s Alan Partridge series, Mid-Morning Matters, which you may have read about on tellyspotting earlier this year as an internet-only series, is being packaged as a 6-part series for television. As I’ve said before, to the delight of some and the not-so-much delight of others, forget Dave, Jay and, even Conan, Alan Partridge is back, even if it’s only on North Norwich Digital Radio. Here’s a quick look…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ej_n70vknA0

Finally, some updates on various series comings and goings while we’ve been here…

  • Episodes, the Matt LeBlanc comedy co-production from Showtime and BBC has been commissioned for a second season. All the major players will be back including Matt LeBlancm Stephen Mangan and Tamsin Greig along with writers, David Crane (Friends) and Jeffery Klarik (Mad About You)
  • Word is that Roger and Val Have Just Got In has been commissioned for a second season. No details series 2, but looks like a late 2011, early 2012 launch for the series starring Alfred Molina and Dawn French
  • Rev, starring Tom Hollander as kind of a reverse Vicar of Dibley vicar, who goes from a sleepy, rural parish to a busy, challenging, inner-city parish, has also been commissioned for a second season coming in late 2011

This morning was a comedy presentation showcasing the best of what’s coming up on all the Beeb’s channels this year. Will update tomorrow as to what viewers should, and shouldn’t, be on the lookout for in the coming year.