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1/25/2014 02:21:00 pm - Reported by John Bowman

Christopher Eccleston is to portray an English scientist in the Sky Atlantic crime drama Fortitude - a 12-episode series centring on a murder in the eponymous Arctic Circle town where there has been no violent crime beforehand. Joining him for the show - to be shot in Iceland and the UK and shown later this year - are Michael Gambon as a wildlife photographer who is terminally ill and Jessica Raine playing the wife of the town's main search-and-rescue pilot. [Radio Times, 24 Jan 2014]

John Barrowman is to present the new Channel 4 daytime series Superstar Dogs in the run-up to Crufts. It will see dogs and their owners competing in a number of challenges, with the eventual winner being crowned at the dog show in March. He said: "I have a passion for animals, dogs in particular, so I am hugely excited to be part of a sporting event for dogs and their owners that encourages teamwork, competitive spirit and a large dose of fun and laughter! Having dogs myself, I know the determination, love and commitment you need to train them - it's not easy!" Recording is taking place at MediaCity, Salford Quays from Tuesday 28th to Thursday 30th January, with tickets currently available from Applause Store. (NB: Minimum age is 16.) [Channel 4, 15 Jan 2014]

The BBC One daytime drama Father Brown - starring Mark Williams as the eponymous crime-solving priest - has been recommissioned for a third series. Made by BBC Birmingham Drama Village, it is based on the G K Chesterton stories. The new run of 15 45-minute episodes will begin shooting in and around the Cotswolds later this year. Damian Kavanagh, the controller of BBC Daytime, said: "I'm extremely proud that Father Brown has become an appointment-to-view programme on BBC One afternoons. The production team and Mark Williams have done a fantastic job bringing Father Brown to life and I'm delighted that our viewers share my enthusiasm for the series." [BBC Media Centre, 22 Jan 2014]

Richard Wilson is to appear in the one-man play Krapp's Last Tape, by Samuel Beckett, from Wednesday 25th June to Saturday 19th July at The Crucible in Sheffield, where he is an associate director for Sheffield Theatres at its studio space there. [The Stage, 20 Jan 2014]

The actor Bill Nighy has been shortlisted for one of the British Animation Awards. He has been nominated for his voice work on the 10-minute drama The Hungry Corpse, whose senior executive producer Rankin took the official portrait of Peter Capaldi for his unveiling as the new Doctor. The ceremony will be held at the BFI Southbank on Friday 7th March. [BBC News, 22 Jan 2014]

And speaking of Peter Capaldi, the actor Jason Flemyng - who will be guest-starring as baddie Vadim opposite Capaldi's Cardinal Richelieu in the BBC One drama The Musketeers tomorrow - reckons he will be "amazing" as the Doctor. Flemyng - the son of Gordon Flemyng who directed the two Dalek films in the 1960s - has a pedigree of appearing with forthcoming Doctors. Capaldi was filming The Musketeers when he got the role, and Flemyng said: "One minute I was working with Peter playing the Cardinal and the next, I was working with Doctor Who. That was quite surprising when he got the Doctor Who gig while we were in the middle of it. When I did The Quatermass Experiment, David Tennant came in one morning and was Doctor Who as well so it seems to be something strange, like I'm a lucky (charm). Always the bridesmaid, never the bride." He said Capaldi would "smash it. He's going to be amazing. He's so talented." Flemyng was less favourably disposed towards the Daleks, though. "Until they stop the Daleks flying and put them back in the spaceship, which is where they're meant to land, then I shall be keeping away from Doctor Who. It's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. Much as I love the show, suddenly the Daleks start flying and I thought, 'That's silly,'" he said. [Wales Online, 25 Jan 2014]

A poster and trailer for the forthcoming horror film Oculus starring Karen Gillan have been released. The film, which sees Gillan portray the character Kaylie Russell, who is trying to clear her twin brother of murdering their parents by proving it was supernatural forces in a mirror at their childhood home, opens in America on Friday 11th April but has yet to receive a release date for the UK. (NB: The trailer has been approved for appropriate audiences by the Motion Picture Association of America.)

In Memoriam

The actor Jerome Willis, who played the memorable villain Stevens in The Green Death, has died aged 85. He notched up well over 100 screen credits during his career, including the leading role of Matthew Peele in ITV drama The Sandbaggers and as Oliver Cromwell in the BBC drama Woodstock. Other notable series Willis appeared in included Z-Cars, Within These Walls, Freewheelers, The Avengers, Danger Man, Adam Adamant Lives!, Callan, Doomwatch, The Caesars, Poirot, and sci-fi drama Space Precinct. An accomplished stage actor, he was a member of the RSC in the 20th and 21st centuries, and in 2002 penned a piece for The Guardian describing the differences he encountered between then and the 1950s. Films that he appeared in included Siege of the Saxons and Winstanley. The DVD of The Green Death - first released in 2004 as a one-disc version and, since last August, also available as a two-disc special edition - saw Willis reprise the role of Stevens in the spoof documentary Global Conspiracy?, which was included as one of the extras. An announcement of his death was published in The Guardian on 17th January that read as follows:
WILLIS, Jerome Barry (23 Oct 1928), died peacefully on 11 January 2014. Loved and missed by his darling wife Dilys, daughters Sarah, Megan, Grania and Kate, sisters Nuala and Fiona, and his six adored granddaughters. Funeral private. A memorial service will be held at a later date.