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Funland (BBC-3 2005, Daniel Mays, Sarah Smart)

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Funland is set in Britain’s Las Vegas – Blackpool, over the course of one long weekend. It is ostensibly about three different sets of characters whose stories gradually come together with devastating results.

The mark of co-writer Jeremy Dyson’s League of Gentlemen is all over Funland (theres even a role for fellow Gentleman Mark Gatiss as a Dutch taxidermist).

Blackpool may be all bright lights and kiss me quick hats on the surface but Funland reaches for its dark underbelly where nothing is quite as it seems, the series opens with Carter Krantz, played by Daniel Mays, who arrives in Blackpool to avenge the death of his mother. Without a penny to his name and carrying only a fragment of paper containing the words ‘Ambrose Chapel’, Carter tries to uncover the truth about his mother and in doing so is sucked into the most disturbing of mysteries.

We also meet the Woolf family who seem to have a finger in every dodgy pie going from seedy nightclubs to protection rackets, matriarch Mercy (the brilliant Judy Parfitt) is evil and manipulative whilst her son Shirley (Ian Puleston-Davies) is quite possibly mentally deranged, his wife Connie (Frances Barber) is desperate to hang on to the what she sees as her failing marriage.

Lastly there is the Suttons Dudley and Lola (Kris Marshall and Sarah Smart) a young couple who are trying to spice up their flagging marriage with a dirty weekend. Their stay at the Shangri-La soons turns into a nightmare when Dudley puts them three grand in debt thanks to a game of poker. Their decidedly grubby landlords solution is for Lola to take part in some “glamour photography” and pole dancing.

The three strands of the story slowly come together aided and abetted by some brilliantly supporting characters, Roy Barraclough is brilliant as the bewigged, out of his depth town Mayor and Mark Gatiss’s Ambrose Chapfel is a major league weirdo.

Lets be frank, this is definitely not a series for the feint of heart, there is foul language galore, graphic sex scenes, strong violence and several scenes that just make you want to cover your eyes but for all that, the writing, the acting and some brilliant camerawork, not to mention all the subtle and surreal moments, guarantee that it is a must see.

production details
UK / BBC Three / 1×55 minute episode 10×30 minute episode / Broadcast 23 October – 7 November 2005

Writers: Simon Ashdown, Jeremy Dyson / Script Editor: Louisa Hopgood / Music: David A. Hughes / Executive Producer: Kenton Allen / Producer: Sanne Wohlenberg

cast
DANIEL MAYS as Carter Krantz
JUDY PARFITT as Mercy Woolf
IAN PULESTON-DAVIES as Shirley Woolf
FRANCES BARBER as Connie Woolf
EMILY ASTON as Ruby Woolf
KRIS MARSHALL as Dudley Sutton
SARAH SMART as Lola Sutton
BETH CORDINGLY as Vienna Keen
ROY BARRACLOUGH as Oman Van Kneck
SIMON GREENALL as Ken Cryer

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Clochemerle (BBC-2 1972, Cyril Cusack, Roy Dotrice)

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Clochmerle BBC 1972

Period sitcom, based on a novel by Gabriel Chevallier that was adapted by Ray Galton and Alan Simpson, that saw the French villagers of Clochemerle kick up a fuss over plans to install a new toilet.

cast
CYRIL CUSACK as Major Piechut
ROY DOTRICE as Ponosse
KENNETH GRIFFITH as Ernest Tafardel
WENDY HILLER as Justine Putet
HUGH GRIFFITH as Alexandre Bourdillat
BERNARD BRESSLAW as Nicholas the Beadle
MADELINE SMITH as Hortase Girodet
GEORGINA MOON as Rose Biraque
PETER USTINOV as Narrator

crew details
Writers: Ray Galton, Alan Simpson
Novel: Gabriel Chevallier
Producer: Michael Mills

production details
Country: UK
Network and Production Companies: BBC Two – Bavaria
Duration: 9×30 minute episodes
Aired From: 18 February – 14 April 1972 Fridays at 10.05pm

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Clairvoyant, The (BBC-2 1986, Roy Kinnear, Sandra Dickinson)

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BBC 2 Logo

In Roy Clarke penned sitcom The Clairvoyant used car salesman Arnold Bristow is knocked down in a car accident and suddenly finds himself with psychic powers – or so he believes. There was a pilot broadcast 27 Nov 1984.

cast
ROY KINNEAR as Arnold Bristow
SANDRA DICKINSON as Lily
HUGH LLOYD as Burma
SHAUN CURRY as Newton
GLYNIS BROOKS as Dawn
CARMEL CRYAN as Carmen

crew details
Writer: Roy Clarke
Producer and Director: Alan J.W. Bell

production details
Country: UK
Network and Production Companies: BBC-2
Duration: 6×30 minute episodes
Aired From: Pilot – 27 November 1984 and Series – 15 May – 19 June 1986

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Christmas Princess (UP 2017, Nicole Munoz, Zak Santiago)

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Christmas Princess Nicole Munoz

Christmas Princess is the true story of Donaly Marquez who, through a childhood of neglect and abuse, achieved her dream of becoming a rose bowl princess. An inspirational story of resilience, strength and finding a family to call your own.

cast
Nicole Muñoz as Donaly Marquez
Rosa Blasi as Sara
Zak Santiago as Ignacio Marquez
Olivia Steele Falconer as Emily Marquez
Jaedon Siewert as Abraham Marquez
Lina Renna as Young Donaly
Paloma Kwiatkowski as Chloe
Ty Wood as Trent
Pendo Muema as Monique
Kalyn Miles as Maria
Kaaren de Zilva as Roberta
Garfield Wilson as Dr. Miller
Clay St. Thomas as Judge #1
Patti Allan as Judge #2
Natalie von Rotsburg as Judge #3

crew details
Director: Allan Harmon
Writer: Tracy Andreen

production details
Country: Canada
Network and Production Companies: UP
Duration: 1×120 minute episode
Aired From: Sunday 10 December 2017

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