Posts Tagged ‘Peter Capaldi’

Vicar of Dibley's Geraldine and Jim  image credit BBC and Tiger Aspect Productions

Vicar of Dibley’s Geraldine and Jim
image credit BBC and Tiger Aspect Productions

The Christmas season which has been looming at the back of our consciousness for months is now suddenly and insistently in full swing. Christmas songs and adverts are in constant rotation, parties are underway and, while most of my halls are decked (thanks to my husband), we still have yet to finish trimming our tree.

For me the jarring effect of all things jolly and bright has somehow caught me off guard as it always seems to do each year. Therefore, I have concluded that the best way to join in with the spirit of the season is to immerse myself in the hilarious and often heartfelt genre of telly Christmas specials. As always my intention is to share as many as possible with you over the course of the next few weeks.

Let’s begin with an old favorite from 1986, Vicar of Dibley’s ‘The Christmas Lunch Incident.’

As the trailer explains, St. Barnabas’ beloved vicar Geraldine Granger (Dawn French) has been invited to share Christmas lunch at the homes of three different parishioners in very quick succession. After happily accepting the initial invitation from Frank (John Bluthal) and Jim (Trevor Peacock), Geraldine attempts to gently decline the others. However, soothing fragile egos and averting Alice’s threat of suicide end in the vicar agreeing to be the guest of honor at a trio of Christmas repasts.

Some highlights of this episode include:

After suffering a bit of writer’s block, it turns out that an off-the-wall gift of a Spice Girls biography, Zig-a-zig-ah, was the inspiration for Geraldine’s last ditch effort at her Christmas sermon. In her oration, she compared the girl group to Mary – virgins thrust into the public eye at a young age. And as Hugo noted, “Just like the Spice Girls, Jesus wants us to tell Him what we want!”


An already stuffed vicar engages in a sprout eating challenge with David (Gary Waldhorn). She does this in order to help Hugo (James Fleet) win this first ever bet against his overly competitive father.


Settling a long standing Horton family sprout wager image credit BBC and Tiger Aspect Productions


Alice (Emma Chambers) dressed for Christmas dinner in a ballerina ensemble complete with fairy wings.

Christmas Fairy Alice image credit BBC and Tiger Aspect Productions

Christmas Fairy Alice
image credit BBC and Tiger Aspect Productions


Two guest appearances stand out; that of Peter Capaldi as Songs of Praise producer Tristan Campbell who shows up at the vicar’s door on Christmas evening with an unexpected proposal. Earlier in the episode, Jim tells a predictable Doctor Who knock- knock joke. Coincidence? I think no, no, no. not.

A possibly less obvious cameo was Mel Giedroyc (of GBBO fame) in one of her earliest TV appearances as Alice’s even battier sister, Mary Tinker. Both sisters have an obvious penchant for festive attire but Mary has apparently confused Christmas with Easter seeing as she chose to wear a bunny jumper to Christmas dinner.

The episode concludes with poor Rev. Granger gastrically uncomfortable and alone until all her village friends arrive at her doorstep to cheer and thank her for how her presence has improved Dibley for the good. Alas she must receive their compliments and thanks from the loo where she plans to be until the New Year.

My only disappointment? The episode didn’t end with Geraldine telling Alice a joke to which the dim verger never gets the punch line. I guess for this special the running Christmas cracker joke, “What do you do when you see a spaceman?” Answer: “Park your car, man” will have to do. I much prefer “How does Good King Wenceslas like his pizzas?” “Deep pan. crisp and even.” Bah-dum-bum-ching!

Next time we’ll explore the joy and stresses of Christmas with the Shipmans and the Wests of Gavin & Stacey. 




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Peter Capaldi as the 12th Doctor  image credit BBC America

Peter Capaldi as the 12th Doctor
image credit BBC America

Peter Capaldi’s debut as the 12th Doctor is less than 24 hours away and I know there are still a few of you out there who are concerned about how a more mature actor will make the role his own. I have no advance knowledge of series 8 of course, but I’m here to say our beloved Time Lord is in good hands.

It has been highly publicized that Peter is a life-long Doctor Who fan so it’s reasonable to assume that this character is obviously very important to him. Capaldi comes to the Doctor Who franchise as an acclaimed actor and director of an Oscar-winning short film.

And while we’ve all probably heard about how Capaldi was cast as a W.H.O. doctor in the Brad Pitt zombie flick, World War Z,  you may not realize how often our newest Time Lord has played a doctor of one kind or another in the past.

For example, he played a medical doctor (albeit a quite unhinged one) in the dramedy Fortysomething. Dr. Ronnie Pilfrey was concerned with the business side of medicine and had something of an obsession with his colleague’s wife, but you’ve got to admire his energy and willingness to commit no matter how ridiculous the premise. Surely these are qualities required of  the newest Doctor.

Most of you are probably well acquainted with Malcolm Tucker, the spin doctor extraordinaire from the political satire series The Thick of It. Malcolm is an artist with words and though they are often quite naughty ones, his verbal dexterity is a skill that transfers well to being a time and space traveler. You never know when you might need to talk yourself out of a jam.

On the other hand, Dr. Pete from the mini-series The Field of Blood is an alcoholic old hack with the soul of a poet. I’m not certain how soulful this Doctor’s meant to be but he usually has a sensitive side for those who are oppressed or abandoned.

*Additionally after watching The Field of Blood in its entirety, I learned that Dr. Pete is so called because he has a doctorate in divinity. Spirituality and the Doctor? The dozen or so hits on the internet that discuss the theology of Doctor Who would indicate there’s at least a passing connection.

Last but not least Capaldi played the Therapist in Big Fat Gypsy Gangster. That skill set should come in handy when confronting angry aliens with Oedipal issues.

Peter also played a psychiatrist in Getting On but he was more an object of desire for Dr. Pippa Moore than a healing character. On second thought, female adoration is something the Doctor has had dealings with on more than one occasion.

So fear not my Whovian friends, all will be well. We have a professional Doctor stepping up to the plate this evening… or at least he’s played one on TV.

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Not all TV shows lend themselves to what we call binge viewing. (Or is that #bingeviewing?) No matter. Such was the case for me with a British series called Fortysomething. After a bit of feet dragging on my part, I finally finished all six hours of this comedy/drama without dozing off.  It wasn’t painful to watch, but it wasn’t a joy by any means.

The Cast of ITV's Fortysomething

The Cast of ITV’s Fortysomething


If you’ve never heard of this short-lived or perhaps intentional one-off series, it’s about a man called Paul Slippery who is going through a mid-life crisis.  His wife is going back to work and his three young adult sons are having carnal knowledge of the Proek family girls on an alarmingly regular basis right on familial premises.  Does this bother Mr. Slippery or his good lady wife, Estelle? Apparently not too much because they’re having relationship issues of their own. And while we’re supposed to place the blame primarily on Paul, this couple’s troubles have just as much to do with Estelle’s “Don’t bother me, I’m finding myself” sort of vibe than any insensitive man-type thing Paul seems to be doing.  He’s trying very hard to make things work if you ask me.

That’s it, in a nutshell.  I found it all to be sort of “meh” to be honest.  So why am I bothering to talk about this show at all?  Because amongst the cast assembled for this fairly average decade-old series, a handful of really hot properties have emerged.

Hugh Laurie- Shortly after starring as Dr. Paul Slippery a compassionate yet distracted GP in Fortysomething…

Hugh Laurie as Dr. Slippery

Hugh Laurie as Dr. Slippery


Mr. Laurie went on to play another much more notorious physician named Dr. Gregory House.

Hugh Laurie as Dr. House

Hugh Laurie as Dr. House


For eight seasons, House tortured medical students, staff and patients alike and Hugh Laurie got a lot of accolades for playing a cranky, drug-addicted genius – a far cry from our poor sex starved Mr. Slippery.

Benedict Cumberbatch – Yes, you read that right.  The thinking woman’s crumpet of the moment and an object of desire for geekettes everywhere, Mr. Cumberbatch once portrayed Hugh Laurie’s son.  On the surface, the Slipperys’ eldest child, Rory, is sensitive, intelligent and polite.  However, if you look deeper, you can see that Benedict is already preparing for the role that will make in him a star a mere seven years in the future.  Particularly note his extraordinary powers of deduction and sarcasm.


Remind you of anyone?

Cumberbatch as the revamped Sherlock

Cumberbatch as the revamped Sherlock


Peter Capaldi – And in another case of theatrical coincidence, Peter Capaldi plays Doctor Ronnie Pilfrey.  Not only is he Paul’s colleague and self-imaged nemesis but also a Beatles tribute singer.


I’ve seen a great deal of the excellent work Capaldi has done since he put himself out there as this particular over-the-top nutter.  I can only surmise that when when Peter finally assumes the mantle of THE Doctor this Christmas, we’ll see a similar degree of playfulness mixed with the emotion of his BAFTA- nominated performance from The Hour.


Give yourself a gold star if you noticed that Anna Chancellor starred with Peter Capaldi in both those scenes, first as Paul’s wife Estelle in Fortysomething and then as foreign correspondent Lix Storm in The Hour.

So if you’re a Cumberbunny or a rabid Whovian, you might want to check out Fortysomething just to see your favorite actors in a new and younger light. Otherwise, I’d suggest just giving it a pass. Of course if you’re a Fry and Laurie enthusiast (and who isn’t) you might want to check out this shining moment.

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