Category Archives: Talent Spotting

Don’t Let It Fade Away

The cast of BBC3's new drama The Fades

There is so much to say about DIGITAL CHANNEL OF THE YEAR BBC3’s new supernatural yoof drama The Fades and its pocultural significance. There’s no time right now because I am out of town sans laptop and am soon going out to see Sweet Sweet Lies do their epic thing and witness Dot Cotton hosting Rock n Roll bingo. For real. I love Brighton, like you have no idea.

But when I get back, we’ll be talking about this!

Happy weekend all.


Edit [28/09/22]

After the dominance of the vampire/werewolf canon, the other paragons of the paranormal are having their day in the sun. So to speak. New supernatural yoof drama The Fades started last week, going out on BBC3/BBC HD Wednesdays at 21:00 (repeated all through the week.) Fairly modish cast the DIGITAL CHANNEL OF THE YEAR put together here. Notables include thinking telly aficionado’s fox Natalie Dormer who properly sexed up S2 of ludicrous historical melodrama The Tudors as foxy, devious Anne Boleyn and most recently went blonde for blockbusting flop Captain America. She seems to be the estranged wife of Tom Ellis off Miranda.

Poor old Lily Loveless seems to have been cast simply so that the producers can say she’s in it, bringing that vital Skins capital with her, because she has around three minutes screen time, which she spends being a brat. Hopefully she’ll have more to do in weeks to come. She plays twin sister to protagonist Paul and the siblings seem to be following in that obnoxious American tradition of vile, disrespectful teenagers who cannot obey instruction or speak civilly to their parents. Are so many kids really like that? It feels like lazy shorthand from the writers.

This ep’s got a pretty cool aesthetic, which is vital for the style-savvy demongraphic. [That was a typo, but then I really liked it, so now it’s a word. So there. Sx] The title sequence looks like a mash up between Misfits and True Blood; doubtless intentional- laying out all their goods in the shop window.


I really appreciated the saturated, sodium palette and shiny, grimy urban dystopia of the opening sequence. The DOP and crew have taken notes from the sparse look that works so well for Misfits and looks sharp on a budget.

Beautifully framed long shots abound with squares and bars of light. Silhouettes flitting about bleachy estate-scapes speak of an urban visual language familiar from the independent British cinema of the last ten years.

The linear grey of the psychiatry session in a bare, intimidating room, is redolent of A. Some limbo or hinterland scene, quite possibly set in a character’s subconscious or B. The Skins hyper-reality of unreliable or absent adults. Throughout, the cameras are close and intimate with the actors, but on first watching, the first fifteen minutes is all action, no character. A rewatch made me revise that opinion however. Continue reading

Six Degrees of Downton

Downton Abbey
was a surprise hit for ITV and uncharacteristically well-produced. Securing a thesp like Julian Fellowes was quite a coup for the also-ran of terrestrial broadcasting. It’s great to see a recurring role for the lovely Joanne Froggatt too, quietly upholding the British end in quality one-off drama for as long as I can remember. She last appeared on the channel in the short-lived and ill-executed, though well-conceived and densely cast Identity. Her episode, in which she was on chilling form, also featured Keeley Hawes, Kelly Harrison and the much-missed [by me at any rate] Laura Aikman. It was like a Who’s Who of blonde British televisual talent. She’s only been on Casualty once though.

Michelle Dockery is finally becoming a household name, after a quiet few years. Her powerhouse performance in Waking the Dead brought her to the attention of talent spotters but she failed to capitalise on it.

Really strong, and hopefully coming more to the forefront this year is Jessica Brown-Findlay as the youngest Crawley sister, the socio-political voice of the series. You might recognise her as the absinence girl from Misfits who makes Nathan come a cropper at the end of S1.

The older cast members don’t really need further praising (Though I was championing Hugh Bonneville for the next Doctor Who, before Matt Smith and his cheekbones were cast. My friend Katie wanted Sandi Toksvig for the part.), they are all well regarded already.

I can recall very little, especially on the small screen, which focuses specifically on this era of history. Recent enough to be recognisable: the language and fashions quite reasonable and familiar, yet the horribly unfair, seemingly unshakeable class system is firmly in place. There is no NHS, Europe as we know it is yet to be shaped. This soapy and very Society above/below stairs drama has begun to touch upon politics, but rather superficially. They rather rely upon us to know our history, but honestly, it isn’t much taught in school. We do the Wars [boy, do we do the Wars. And the Tudors.] but nothing on either side. Suffragettes abounded so I hear and flapper types were soon to make an appearance, and conservative values were still very much at the fore, but I’d really like to get deeper into the culture and (small ‘s’) society. A second series, airing imminently will present Downton in the midst of war, possibly even serving as a military hospital [or is that a WW2 thing?]. The ‘Who-will-Lady-Mary-marry-and-what-will-it-do-for-her-position’ rigmarole is a little wearying- the other characters’ interactions are far more engaging. Her jealousy and sniping however, delicious.

Some complain about anachronism, especially in speech, but as long as it isn’t clunking I feel those little modernisms can add to the immediacy of the drama. It’s still more Vile Bodies than Servants. Anyone remember Servants? The BBC’s raunchy, foul-mouthed below stairs drama starring pretty, young Joe Absolom (off Personal Affairs with Laura Aikman! It’s 6 Degrees…] and Felicity Jones. I think they were trying to cash in on the Gosford Park vogue, but it’s only just really caught on. I don’t think a rich tapestry like Downton Abbey would bear that coarse contemporism of speech; the inconsistencies in behaviour however (the master waltzing into the servants’ hall. Not done, apparently) are less excusable. Surely they have researchers, fact checkers and the like?

Anyway, I’ll keep my eyes open for more Drama Connections and Degrees of Separation and update the post as and when I spot them. I actually wrote this one last November when my laptop was being trashed by the fucktards at PC World, so it’s high time it got posted really. SX

Not entirely relevant- I just found the juxtaposition visually pleasing.

The Academy of E4

There is inarguably a solid set of casting principles at work behind the scenes of E4’s flagship programming. Skins is steadily showcasing quality young talent year after year. Nicholas Hoult, The Name in Gen 1 is now in Hollywood working with Colin Firth and notaries, Mitch Hewer filled out and took a star turn in Brittania High and even mediocre buffoon Dev Patel has become an international household name. Kaya Scodelario, luminous in Gen 1, though a little misused in Gen 2, is named as a star of the future on numerous lists (as was Robert Sheehan, more on him later). Amy Ffion-Edwards (Sketch) of course is slowly building up a very solid CV as a character actress. Much of the most recent generation are yet to establish their post-Skins careers, but if we never hear from the oft-dubbed ‘luminous’ Lily Loveless or those junior acting heavyweights the Prescotts again, I shall be writing to whoever’s calling himself Prime Minister to demand an explanation. The effervescent Jack O’Connell of course already had the makings of a long and promising career even before the E4 gig, making his omission from the recent This Is England small screen outing even more inexplicable.

They’ll all be appearing in the upcoming Skins feature [:s –Sx] and have other projects in production which I’ll be looking out for. With an Inbetweeners film also in production and a Misfits flick quite likely, it seems 4 are really trying to put the boot into the BBC by not only owning the yoof demographic, but locking it in a Teflon box.

Misfits in particular is like a who’s who of the soon-to-be-great actors of our generation. When we’re middle aged there will be nostalgia shows talking about how this was where it all started and Sir Robert and Dame Lauren will laugh and say ‘Who would have thought?’ [I did!]

In the last couple of years mop headed Robert Sheehan has turned in a trio of nicely nuanced, if tonally similar, performances in the above, Coming Up’s Dip and Red Riding respectively (with Andrew Garfield no less). Already recognised as one of Ireland’s leading lights, he is yet to turn in a truly standout lead performance, but I feel there’s something of the Cillian Murphy about him. Castmate Lauren Socha received an independent BAFTA nod this year for her supporting role in Samantha Morton’s care system drama, yet again from the house of 4.

Also rapidly ascending, the Welsh-speaking, all-singing, probably dancing Iwan Rheon, already a stage star after Spring Awakening with Charlotte Wakefield off Holby City (roles taken on in the US by Lea Michelle and that uber-generic Jonathan Groff guy from Glee. Did that connection influence the decision to cast Rheon?) He too gave his time and talents to the Coming Up strand with I Don’t Care and made an amusingly deprecating cameo as the object of Simon Amstell’s affections on Grandma’s House over on the Beeb. [More on GH to come]

Michael and Lauren SochaThis Is England was heavyweight and cinematic British drama, which will be getting the Silver Lining treatment one day, but was most notable for me for the ‘a-ha moment’ when I fianlly twigged why Harvey was so familiar. (Because he’s a male clone of real-life sister Lauren Socha. Listen to them talk with your eyes closed… see?) With past classics like Sugar Rush (featuring guest appearances from half the future alumni of Waterloo Road bizarrely) cementing the careers of Olivia Hallinan and Lenora Crichlow (no one mention Material Girl) and of course new Spiderman Andrew Garfield, the 4 stable has a history of teen/youth programming filled with the cream of the British and Irish crop, but it feels like E4 is trailblazing at the moment, whatever Stuart Lee might think of it.

It Fits, No Miss, No Maybe. It’s Misfits!

Tomorrow marks the start of an auspicious second series for cracking E4 drama Misfits which, despite being precisely what I imagine the pitch to have been [“Basically Harry, it’s Skins meets Heroes…Yeah.”] is well-balanced, self-aware and pretty compelling, not to mention as casually hilarious as nights round your mate’s house after college. Everything I require from my midweek digital and/or web-based viewing. 4 have dropped a few squids on the production too, not to mention the slick website, which at present features a rather sexy countdown graphic.

Antonia Thomas as Alisha in Misfits


There is also firecracker Antonia Thomas, who will probably play me in the The Social Network-style film of my life.


Thanks to its deserved, though utterly unexpected BAFTA win, this series has a much higher profile than the last. Good for them of course, and good for us if it means telly like this keeps getting made, but it robs me of my smug superiority in knowing something other people don’t. It reminds me yet again, that if I were more efficient with my blogging I could demonstrate that I’ve got my finger on some pop cultural pulse, rather than trying to convince you. I am without my laptop at the moment and I’m seeing all these blogging opportunities pass by. It makes me determined to be better, when I finally get it back!

To follow is a post I wrote weeks ago about E4 being the font of British popcultural greatness. Better late than never?

%d bloggers like this: