Matt Smith is to make his directorial debut on an episode of Playhouse Presents... on Sky Arts. The episode is entitled Cargese and is described as "a unique piece of poetic realism which mines the tragic seam of adolescent love and loss.". Talking about his new challenge, Smith said: "Sky Arts offers creative opportunities that many other channels don't. To collaborate with (writer) Simon Stephens in this capacity was a thrilling and rare opportunity and one we both were keen to embrace." The episode airs on Thursday 25th April. [Sky Arts]
Marc Warren has also written and directed for the series with Hey Diddly Dee, which will feature Kylie Minogue in a starring role. Warren said: "Writing and directing for Playhouse Presents... has been one of the most magical experiences of my career. To give myself the best chance I called in every favour to surround myself with a dream cast and an incredible crew. And then by some miracle, Kylie appeared, and the fate of our film was sealed." As for Minogue, she said: "When the script was sent to me, I read it and knew instinctively I wanted to be part of this project. In Hey Diddly Dee, Marc has created a beautiful and quirky story." The episode launches the season on Thursday 14th March.
Other names to feature in Playhouse Presents... this year include Frances Barber, David Harewood, Suranne Jones and Reggie Yates.
As reported last year, a new series starring Bernard Cribbins with Freema Agyeman is to feature on CBeebies. Old Jack's Boat starts its 25-episode daily weekday run on Monday 21st January at 5.40pm, and sees Cribbins as the retired, story-telling fisherman of the title, with Agyeman featuring as café-owning character Shelly Periwinkle. The story to be broadcast on Friday 25th January is written by Russell T Davies and involves the Moon. "Sitting watching Bernard Cribbins reading out some lines that you've written, I can't tell you how good it was, it was a joy," said Davies. [BBC News, 15 Jan 2013]
Agyeman also made her US debut in The Carrie Diaries this week. The Sex And The City prequel series is airing on Mondays on The CW Channel and she plays Larissa Loughlin, a style editor at Interview magazine who also acts as a mentor to the eponymous young Carrie Bradshaw.
David Morrissey isn't averse to a return to Doctor Who, should he be asked. "I would absolutely love to do it again. I had such a ball doing it," he said. "Mark Gatiss says, you know, there's nothing more blissful for him to write than 'Interior TARDIS: Day' or whatever on the top of one of his scripts, it's living the dream. And for me, when I went down and worked on it, I thought 'This is great', it's a really well-run show, people take it very seriously but you have fun on it. And l loved that character, I really loved Jackson Lake, I thought he was a really interesting man, he was in some sort of trauma himself and the Doctor liberates him from that..." [Den of Geek, 17 Jan 2013]
A play starring Billie Piper and Tom Goodman-Hill has won a gong in the Critics' Circle Theatre Awards. The Effect, by Lucy Prebble, was named Best Play. Billed as a clinical romance, it is at the National Theatre until Saturday 23rd February, although all performances are sold out except for day tickets and possible returns. [BBC News, 15 Jan 2013]
Mark Williams - currently starring as the eponymous crime-solving priest Father Brown in the BBC One daytime drama - has spoken of his fondness for GK Chesterton's clerical detective. "He has a huge appetite for the detail of life and for humanity, and he cares very much about people's souls. That's the most interesting thing about him as a sleuth: it's not him solving a conundrum or a crossword, he's dealing with what he sees as people's eternal damnation. And when he works it out, the sky turns black and is full of harpies; he's desperately committed to his morality." [Radio Times, 13 Jan 2013]
Olivia Colman joins Tim Pigott-Smith and Shaun Dingwall in the cast of the ITV drama The Suspicions of Mr Whicher II: The Murder In Angel Lane. She will play Susan Spencer, who employs Whicher as a private inquiry agent to investigate the murder of her niece. Pigott-Smith reprises his role as Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Richard Mayne, while Dingwall will play Inspector George Lock. The two-hour story is being filmed in Oxfordshire, Bedfordshire, and central London over the next four weeks. [ITV Press Centre, 11 Jan 2013]
James Moran talks about the temptations of writing darker stories: "It's when people decide to make something dark for the sake of it, and then work out the story and force it, that never ends well. Children of Earth was just a story idea that gradually turned dark all by itself, so I think it worked. But I've certainly seen it hurt other shows and movies, where they decide to make it grim just to be edgy, without it flowing naturally from the story. And sometimes, blimey, you just want to have a laugh when you sit down for a bit of telly in the evening" [Den of Geek, 10 Jan 2013]
Amy Manson has been short-listed for the title role in the new series of Wonder Woman that goes into production this year for the CW Network. [STV, 16 Jan 2013]
Mark Benton is to star in an advertising campaign for electronic cigarettes that could prove to be a landmark case, as there is currently a ban in the UK on promoting tobacco-related products. [Radio Times, 15 Jan 2013]
After the campaign last year, David Tennant, Sir Richard Branson and Usain Bolt are back to promote Virgin Media in a second series of adverts for the cable broadcaster's TiVo service.
Karen Gillan was a victim of hacking earlier in the week on Twitter when she apparently became a heavy promoter of weight-loss pills! The actress has since regained control of her account.
BBC Books authors Gary Russell, Jacqueline Rayner and Steve Cole are to be guests for Dr Who: Past, Present and Future, an event in Chelmsford on Sunday 24th March that forms part of the Essex Book Festival. [Essex Book Festival]
Eoin Colfer was revealed last week as the author of the first Puffin book for Doctor Who's 50th anniversary. The author said: "When I was asked to write one of the 11 e-shorts for the Doctor's 50th anniversary it was like being whisked away by my own Tardis back to the 1970s when Kevin, my brother Paul and I were three science-fictioneers immersing ourselves in the lore of Doctor Who in the sunny south-east of Ireland. I chose the First Doctor because I always imagined him to be a crank who was jaded by the Universe's cruelty rather than amazed by its wonders. There was no naivety about him whatsoever. He had seen far more in his life than he ever wanted to, and his fight against evil‑doers was dogged and not punctuated by repartee. The First Doctor's companion was his granddaughter Susan and her love for her granddad was perhaps the purest thing in his world, and something he was prepared to protect fiercely." [Guardian, 12 Jan 2013]
Colfer also discusses the e-book in a video released by BBC Worldwide as part of the promotion for A Big Hand For The Doctor.