And Five From Across The Pond:
Aside from very brief roles in things like "Love Actually" and "Four Lions," Julia Davis isn't especially well known in the US, but in the UK, she's become one of the most distinctive voices in British comedy, thanks to her collaborations with Steve Coogan, and her own, often dark and bleak creations "Human Remains," "Nighty Night" and "Lizzie And Sarah." She's gone over to Sky for this new show, a six part parody of Bronte-esque period dramas with an all-star cast. The story invovles the shipwreck survivor Helene (rising star Alexandra Roach from "The Iron Lady"), who marries a pastor (Alex MacQueen of "In The Loop") only to clash with his maniacal housekeeper (Davis herself). Familiar faces for UK comedy fans like Rebekah Staton, Alexander Armstrong and Kevin Eldon also feature, the production value looks strong, and between Davis' impeccable track record, and the impressive stuff that Sky have been comissioning recently, this could be a real gem.
When? It starts airing at 10pm on August 27th on Sky Atlantic in the UK. No word on a US airing yet.
Stephen Poliakoff is probably Britain's most lauded TV dramatist, but came unstuck a little with his venture onto the big-screen a few years ago, with the disappointing "Glorious 39." But he's back on TV soon with his first full series "Dancing On The Edge," a five-parter that focuses on a black jazz band in the 1930s, who get caught up in the murder of their singer. And Poliakoff has assembled a tremendous cast for the BBC production, with Chiwetel Ejiofor and Matthew Goode leading things, and John Goodman, Wunmi Mosaku, Jacqueline Bisset, Janet Montgomery, Tom Hughes, Anthony Head, Jane Asher and Mel Smith also involved. A trailer popped up briefly a while ago, and looked like handsome, sterling stuff, and while Poliakoff doesn't hit it out of the park every time, his work is almost never uninteresting.
When? It's been in the can for almost a year, but the BBC haven't yet indicated when they're showing it. Christmas might be a good bet.
It seems that movie stars making a move into TV isn't just a US phenomenon. Even though he's featured in a couple of the biggest hits of the last few years, with "Inception" and "The Dark Knight Rises" (the latter admittedly only briefly), Cillian Murphy is set to topline "Peaky Blinders," a new six-part drama series for the BBC. And he's not the only one migrating from the movies. The show is created by Steven Knight, the screenwriter behind "Eastern Promises" and "Dirty Pretty Things," who recently made his directorial debut on Jason Statham picture "Hummingbird." Murphy will play the dangerous brother of a crime family in Birmingham in 1919 who has to deal with a police chief from Belfast, and a mysterious woman who are both new in town. It sounds somewhere between "Lawless" and "Boardwalk Empire" with a British spin, and Knight's skillset seems particularly well suited to TV drama, so this could be very promising indeed.
When? Shooting starts in September, so likely to air sometime in 2013.
Despite many amazing performances, from his Cannes-winning turn in "My Name Is Joe" to last year's "Tyrannosaur," Scottish actor Peter Mullan isn't necessarily an actor who's had a lot of chances to carry things, particularly on the small screen, but that could change when he headlines Channel 4 drama "The Fear" later in the year. Penned by "Wallander" writer Richard Cottan, and directed by Michael Samuels ("Any Human Heart"), the series sees Mullan play a Brighton crime boss diagnosed with early onset dementia, just as Albanian mobsters try to muscle in on his territory. It's a dramatic, "King Lear"-like premise, and the supporting cast, including Paul Nicholls and "Game Of Thrones" star Harry Lloyd as his sons, and Richard E Grant as an old enemy, is very promising.
When? Shooting is currently underway, so perhaps by the end of the year, or in 2013.
Dennis Kelly isn't yet a household name, as far as writers go, but he's certainly one to keep an eye on. The playwright, who co-wrote excellent sitcom "Pulling," won acclaim for writing hit musical "Matilda," and this new TV series that he's created sounds extremely promising. Revolving around four strangers who find themselves with fragments of a mysterious and legendary graphic novel, and are forced to go on the run from a powerful conspiracy, Channel 4 have put together an outstanding ensemble cast, including Alexandra Roach ("The Iron Lady"), Paul Higgins ("In The Loop"), Nathan Stewart-Jarrett ("Misfits"), Neil Maskell & Michael Smiley ("Kill List"), James Fox ("Performance"), Simon McBurney ("Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy") and Geraldine James ("Sherlock Holmes"). Kelly is a tremendous talent, and with "The Crimson Petal And White" director Marc Munden at the helm, this could be something very special indeed.
When? Filming is just getting going now, so keep an eye out in 2013.
Honorable Mentions: After a few years of lagging behind, things are looking more promising than they have for a long time in British TV. The BBC are soon to offer up conspiracy thriller "Hunted," starring Melissa George and Stephen Dillane, from "X-Files" writer Frank Spotnitz," as well as period procedural "Ripper Street," starring Matthew MacFayden, Jerome Flynn and MyAnna Buring. On Sky, Marton Csokas stars as Spanish detective Falcon, with Hayley Attwell and Bernard Hill in support, while Chris O'Dowd created and starred in the upcoming comedy "Moone Boy," about a young boy with an imaginary friend. Finally, ITV are offering up the ten-part "Mr. Selfridge," starring Jeremy Piven as an American department store magnate in London.