What Have I Enjoyed Watching in 2015?

This year has been a really busy one — hence the paucity of posts from TVClaw Towers. Apologies to anyone who’s missed me.

last kingdom
The Last Kingdom | Episode Two © Carnival Film & Television Ltd Photographer: Joss Barratt Alexander Dreymon (as Uhtred)

What have I enjoyed watching in the rare moments when I haven’t been working? Here’s what. And if you haven’t seen the good stuff yet, then pull up a comfy chair and get ready to watch some really, really excellent TV shows.

In no particular order, here’s what’s grabbed my attention in 2015:

Ripper Street: the perfect ending to the whole H Division saga. The very end even had a cheery little nod to Spooks. *Sob*

Game of Thrones: gory, sad, frightening. Utterly compelling.

Fortitude: clever plot twists and a knock-out cast. Some completely bonkers moments. Can’t wait for Season 2.

Penny Dreadful: utterly bananas, but Timothy Dalton + stunning production design = a must-watch in the first half of the year.

No Offence: Joanna Scanlon is terrific as potty-mouthed DI Vivienne Deering. Rocking the heels-and-leather combo she turned in one of the most memorable performances of the year. Brilliant scripts from the “Shameless” team.

Pointless: best host banter. Ever.

The Last Kingdom:  in the mood for some Anglo-Saxon Chronicles action but fed up with Vikings‘ insanely violent torture porn? Watch this instead. Clever and well-written, with a winning lead in Alexander Dreymon. A breakout role for superb Ripper Street alum David Dawson.

Man Down: still funny, but I found myself pining for Rik throughout.

Les Revenants: t’inquiete pas — it’s still brilliant.

Yonderland: talc my downstairs! The hilarious Season 2 paid homage to Star Wars and Sherlock among other things and was chock full o’ family-friendly nudges, winks and smutty asides.

30 Degrees in January: have to admit, I loved the first half but found the second half heavy-going. Too many annoying, poor decisions.

University Challenge: obviously I have no idea what Paxo’s asking most of the time, but it’s an oldie that remains a goodie. (Cough, looking at you Doctor Who, cough…)

Last Man on Earth: if I was the last man on earth I would so steal all the great art from every museum and poo in the neighbour’s pool. This makes me laugh out loud every episode. Boris Kodjoe steals every scene he’s in.

River: unbeatable combo of Nicola Walker and Stellan Skarsgard aided and abetted by most of the ex-cast from last season’s Game of Thrones and a Sixth Sense-y vibe. Is River totally batshit crazy, or is he the ghost whisperer?

Great British Bake Off: ’nuff said.



Game of Thrones: The Exhibition Returns For 2015

Ever fancied standing on top of The Wall above Castle Black? If so, it’s time to dust off your Night’s Watch cloak and get ready: Westeros is coming. And it’s free!


HBO has announced that Game of Thrones: The Exhibition (#GOTExhibit) will be back for 2015 with even more fun stuff for fans to enjoy.

Right now, it’s been confirmed that the 2015 touring exhibition tour will stop off at seven cities — London, Stockholm, Tel Aviv, Madrid, Berlin, Amsterdam and Paris — but more cities may be added at a later date. Presented by HBO and its international partners, Game of Thrones: The Exhibition will feature all-new installations focusing on key places, characters and relationships from Season 4 of the worldwide hit.

New for 2015: fans can pledge their allegiance to their favourite Game of Thrones family by joining a House before entering the exhibition and having their photo taken on the Iron Throne.

Organisers promise an unprecedented, immersive Game of Thrones experience courtesy of the “Ascend the Wall” 4D Oculus Rift virtual reality experience. Back by popular demand this Night’s Watch experience allows fans to ascend the 700ft Wall by stepping into a physical recreation of the Castle Black winch elevator while wearing the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset and a pair of headphones. From that moment on, they’ll find themselves inside a virtual version of the elevator — one that looks, sounds and feels extremely real.

Let’s hope there aren’t any White Walkers waiting for them at the top.

In addition, a new integrated web-based companion and photo stations will provide exciting new ways for fans to interact within the exhibition, placing them inside some of Game of Thrones’ most shocking and talked-about moments.

Game of Thrones: The Exhibition will also display original artefacts used on set from Seasons 1-4 plus some never-before-seen pieces from Season 5, which premieres in April 2015. Created by artisans whose extraordinary craftsmanship has lent authenticity to the show since its inception, the collection includes costumes, model dragons, House banners, armour, weapons and costumes.

Excited much? The 2015 tour kicks off at the O2 in London on 9-12 and 15-17 February. Tickets are up for grabs on 26 January from Sky: www.sky.com/gameofthrones.

For further dates and details on the exhibition, visit the official website: www.GOTExhibit.com


Game Of Thrones 4: The ‘Secrets’ Trailer Is Amazeballs


It’s only a matter of days until Game of Thrones Series/Season 4 hits our screens and to whet fans’ appetites HBO has been releasing a steady stream of trailers.

This latest, third, trailer focuses on the women: Sansa hell-bent on revenge for the slaughter of her family; Cersei still seeking to make her loved ones safe (at the expense of making lots of other people considerably less safe); Daenerys continuing to dish out justice The Targaryen Way.

Oh, and there’s also Jon Snow. And Samwell Tarly. And Giantsbane. And dragons. Big dragons. My, haven’t they grown? Enjoy!

Game of Thrones 4 premieres in the US on HBO, Sunday 6 April at 9pm ET

Game of Thrones 4 premieres in the UK on Sky Atlantic, Monday 7 April at 9pm

Game of Thrones 4: HBO Unveils New Trailer

“veni, vidi, vici” — Winter, to Ned Stark


Cold winds are rising, so it must be time for the new Game of Thrones Series/Season 4 trailer. And it looks good (obvs). Thank you HBO!

Dragons, Wildlings, ginger beards, John Snow’s curls vs. Jamie Lannister’s new ‘do, it’s a jam-packed 93 seconds of Game of Thrones action fit to whet anyone’s whistle.

Though after last season the thought of another GoT wedding is enough to set anyone’s nerves a-jangling.

Game of Thrones 4 premieres in the UK on Monday 7 April, 9pm on Sky Atlantic

Game of Thrones 4 premieres in the US on Sunday 6 April, 9pm ET on HBO

Favourite TV Shows Of 2013

This is an entirely subjective list. It’s not claiming to be a “Best of” or “Top 10 of” 2013 television shows. Instead, it’s a list of what’s tickled our fancy over at TVClaw Towers this calendar year.


So here, in no particular order, are the TVClaw Favourite TV Shows of 2013

Game of Thrones Such heartbreak, suspense, sorrow and gore. Lots and lots and lots of gore. Possibly even too much gore sometimes, but Game of Thrones continues to be one of the most compelling dramas around. Much of the credit for that has to go to the awesome cast and crew, but also to HBO for having the guts to let it be peopled by homely, hairy, snaggle-toothed bods having a bad time in inhospitable countryside, not a bunch of smooth-browed, perfectly coiffed, White Queen types who look like they’re waiting for the castle gift shop to open. However, here’s hoping producers let the actresses put their tops back on for at least part of Season 4 otherwise we really will have to start calling it Game of Tits.

The Returned Yes, the finale was a head-desking “waaarfghfgh?!” waste of an opportunity, but the rest of the season was sublime. Frightening, thought-provoking, beautifully shot and acted. And that soundtrack from Mogwai. This is how you do contemporary horror/ghost story/whatever the hell it is. Series 2 will have its work cut out to redeem itself after the disappointing end to Series 1. But we can’t wait to be scared by The Returned all over again. (Will probably give the US remake/reboot a miss though.)

Ripper Street The wailing and gnashing of teeth continues after Ripper Street‘s untimely, undeserved demise. After such a promising start it lasted barely longer than a naive curate in a molly house. Series 2 was a bit uneven and had some loose ends (where was Reid’s nice girlfriend from the orphanage?) and some frankly bonkers plot twists (The Elephant Man was murdered by Benjen Stark a bent copper!), but it was heading in the right direction. Yet again, this is was (sob) an ensemble drama that benefited from a tremendous cast, with the core trio of Matthew Macfadyen, Jerome Flynn and Adam Rothenberg just getting better and better each week. Ripper Street also fielded possibly the best guest star roster of any television show in years, which was enhanced by tight scripts that, while they may have had the odd plot twist too far, delivered some beautiful dialogue.

Fresh Meat It’s back! And it’s still funny! Phew.

Case Histories Why oh why must this always be a tantalisingly short three-parter? And why so good? At the risk of repeating things, it’s all about the great cast, plot and script, dummy! Jason Isaacs stars as the emotionally damaged, at times morally ambiguous Jackson Brodie. This second series had a terrific performance from Victoria Wood as a retired policewoman flirting with the illegal side of life, and another glimpse of the excellent Vod Zawe Ashton as Jackson’s assistant. Edinburgh has never looked lovelier than it does here.

The Wrong Mans Very funny six-parter from James Corden and Matthew Baynton. A stellar supporting cast put in some hilarious performances, particularly from Dougray Scott, Dawn French and Karel Roden. This comedy spy caper/murder mystery had mistaken identities, double-crossings and crossed wires galore, and revealed itself to be an Ealing Comedy for the texting generation.

Sleepy Hollow Now this could easily fall into the “Guilty Pleasure” category but you know TVClaw: we’re not easily ashamed in terms of viewing habits (especially not after once having to review the wide expanse of US reality television for a whole year). Part of the unexpectedly successful fantasy genre that currently includes Once Upon a Time and Grimm, Sleepy Hollow harks back to short-lived classics like G vs. E and Reaper. Yes, the entire premise is totally hokey and far-fetched, but it’s funny and sharp and has a winning lead in Tom Mison.

Yonderland Another tip of the hat to Matthew Baynton. This is the first non-reality family viewing programme in ages that’s funny for the under-12s and their adults. A mashup of The Muppet Show, Monty Python and The Black AdderYonderland is clever, funny and different. It’s a product of the vastly talented Horrible Histories gang who write and star in it. There are fart jokes, slapstick routines, knowing looks to camera, sarcasm and clever dialogue. And a talking stick.

The Tunnel This is why you should be watching The Tunnel. Possibly the best drama this year in a very crowded field of excellent contenders.

Southcliffe Bleak, windswept, depressing, thought-provoking. With echoes of the Hungerford Massacre this searing drama highlighted the aftermath of a fatal shooting spree in a small English town. It explained how a local boy could become a murderer and what effects his actions would have on his neighbours and acquaintances. How well do you know your neighbours? How well do you know your spouse?


Breathless Trailer: The Doctor Is In The House

“Your mail, Doctor.” — “I know I’m male, and what’s more I can prove it!”


ITV has unveiled a trailer for new six-part drama Breathless, and it looks pretty good so far.

Written by Casualty co-creator Paul Unwin, Breathless is set in the Gynaecology unit of a London hospital in 1961.

The drama reunites This Life alums Jack Davenport (Smash) and Natasha Little (Case Histories).

They’re joined by Shaun Dingwall (Doctor Who), Oliver Chris (Green Wing), Zoe Boyle (Downton Abbey), Joanna Page (Gavin & Stacey), Catherine Steadman (The Tudors), Sarah Parish (Atlantis), Ronny Jhutti (Vexed) and Pippa Haywood (Mr Selfridge).

No sign of Donald Sinden so far (we can but hope), but Iain Glen (Game of Thrones) is front and centre as he continues his bid to wrest the “Hardest-Working Man in Show Business” crown from Benedict Cumberbatch.

[vimeo 75765245]

Breathless premieres Thursday 10 October at 9pm on ITV

The Game of Thrones Cast: Don’t I Know You From Somewhere?


As the magnificent Game of Thrones Series/Season 3 cracks on apace, viewers could be forgiven for thinking that some of the faces look a bit familiar.

The Game of Thrones supporting cast is, quite frankly, awesome, despite the lack of Timothy Dalton and Christopher Eccleston.

The latest appearance to have TVClaw spilling wine on the floor was Stannis Baratheon’s wife, Lady Macbeth Selyse.

Creepy Selyse is played by Tara Fitzgerald who, back in the early to mid-’90s, cornered the market in period drama heroines with starring roles in The Woman in White, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall and The Camomile Lawn.

She also co-starred as the small but determined heroine in films with Hugh Grant and Ewan McGregor before heading back to the small screen post-2000 as Dr Eve Lockhart in Waking the Dead and its spin-off series, The Body Farm.

So, who else looks familiar? Check out the TVClaw “Who He?” Game of Thrones rundown and feel free to add your own celeb spots in the Comments section.

But please: NO SPOILERS.

Keen-eyed viewers will have most recently seen Roose Bolton (Michael McElhatton), Brynden ‘Blackfish’ Tully (Clive Russell), Bronn (Jerome Flynn), Ser Barristan Selmy (Ian McElhinney), Hodor (Hodor! Kristian Nairnand Ser Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen) in Series/Season 1 of Ripper Street.

In fact, the Game of ThronesRipper Street bonds are so deep that when the luxuriant ginger beard of Tormund Giantsbane first hoved into view, TVClaw initially thought it was Artherton (David Wilmot). But alas, it wasn’t.*

Meanwhile, Ser Davos Seaworth (Liam Cunningham) and Ser Barristan featured in recent nautical drama Titanic: Blood and Steel

Davos was then joined underwater in a Cold War-era Russian submarine in Doctor Who by Lady Catelyn’s brother Edmure Tully (Tobias Menzies).

Long ago, Edmure was the man to whom a blood-soaked Mance Rayder (Ciarán Hinds) uttered the immortal line, “et tu, Brute?” in Rome.

Viewers with long memories may remember Thoros of Myr (Paul Kaye) as the celeb-baiting spoof interviewer Dennis Pennis. Remember when he squirted Tom Cruise with water?

How about Maester Pycelle (Julian Glover)? Remember him from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade? Or The Empire Strikes Back?

Before he was smithing in Game of Thrones, Gendry (Joe Dempsie) was hunted by Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer) in The Fades, a short-lived supernatural thriller on the BBC.

Margaery’s Gorgon of a grandmother, Lady Olenna Tyrell (Diana Rigg), originally found fame as Emma Peel in The Avengers.  (No, not that one, this one.) She was also — briefly — Mrs James Bond.

Before he was King in the North, Robb Stark (Richard Madden) was in the Birdsong trenches with his uncle Benjen Stark (Joseph Mawle).

Karl (Burn Gorman), the treacherous Nights Watchman who killed Kraster, was known in a previous life as the libidinous Owen Harper in Torchwood.

Petyr ‘Littlefinger’ Baelish (Aidan Gillen) cut his scheming teeth in Baltimore, playing conniving local politico Tommy Carcetti in The Wire.

You may have recognised wildling Osha (Natalia Tena) as Tonks from the Harry Potter films, but did you spot Jojen Reed (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) as the kid from Love, Actually or the classic Doctor Who two-parter, ‘Family of Blood’? (Which also starred Viserys Targaryen, a.k.a. Harry Lloyd.)

LATE ADDITION: Watching Hot Fuzz last night I spotted The Hound (Rory McCann) as the homicidal supermarket trolley boy who just says “Yarp” a lot. Plus Walder Frey (David Bradley) as the incomprehensible, heavily armed local with a sea mine in his shed.

*Giantsbane is played by excellent Norwegian actor Kristofer Hivju. Who features heavily in this ginger beard “appreciation blog.” 

In the UK: Game of Thrones airs Mondays at 9pm on Sky Atlantic
In the US: Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9pm ET on HBO

Ripper Street Series/Season 2 premieres on BBC1 and BBC America in early 2014

Twitter: @TVClaw