A CHRISTMAS CENTENARY IN OUR TV HIGHLIGHTS

Perhaps a little unusual, but we start this week with a commercial announcement, as I have to tell you about the honey, mummy! You might well remember those immortal words being uttered by a big, furry, yellow giant on TV? Well, the good news is that the Honey Monster is back. Appearing in his first TV advert for some years, he hasn´t aged at all bad, but there is one significant difference. In an attempt to distance themselves from the dreaded “S” word, our cuddly friend is now advertising Honey Monster Puffs. The “S” word is sugar by the way, the previous name of the breakfast cereal being Sugar Puffs, for those who perhaps can´t remember them.

Whilst we´re on the subject of adverts though, you might remember The Bear and the Hare, which was last year´s John Lewis Christmas TV advert. You might also remember the Channel 4 show Goggle box showed us the families trying to guess what the ad was for. Well, this year, John Lewis has signed a deal with Channel 4 to incorporate Gogglebox into this year´s campaign. The details are shrouded in secrecy of course, for now, but it will certainly be memorable.

One more ad based feature, then we´ll move on to the real TV shows! Supermarket chain Waitrose has launched its Christmas campaign by asking members of the public and its staff to lend their voices to its seasonal advertising campaign. Dolly Parton´s song “Try” is the chosen festive song, which will also be released as a charity single, with all the proceeds being split between three UK charities, Age UK, Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity and foodbank operator, The Trussell Trust. If you dare to take part, search Google for “Waitrose donate your voice”.

I did say that was the end of the advert overview, but we couldn´t ignore the fact that Sainsbury’s Christmas campaign is to focus on the famous football match between British and German forces in December 1914, to mark the event´s 100-year anniversary, keeping history alive, albeit for commercial reasons.

With more focus towards the events of WW1, the BBC will be showing a powerful five-part drama which sees the conflict unfold through the eyes of two very ordinary young men. Written by Life on Mars writer Tony Jordan, the series is part of the BBC’s programming to mark the Centenary of WW1. Paddy Gibson and Jack Lowden star as Thomas and Michael, two young men for whom the war has little mercy, no matter which side they might be fighting for. Over five chronological years The Passing Bells follows their lives, as they grow up, lose friends and find love amid the horrors of the war. Back home, their families and loved ones anxiously await news from the front.

The BBC has also announced an impressive cast including Peter Mullan, Gary Lewis, Sharon Small, Christian Cooke and Charlotte Spencer, for their new drama, Stonemouth, a two-part dramatization of acclaimed author Iain Banks’ novel made by BBC Scotland and Slate North which starts shooting in Scotland this month, to air on both BBC One Scotland and BBC Two in 2015. The first TV adaptation of Banks’ work since his death in 2013, Stonemouth is a rite-of-passage tale delving into love, loyalty and vengeance, focusing on the character of Stewart Gilmour played by Christian Cooke, who returns to the fictional village of Stonemouth for his best friend’s funeral. Run out of town a year earlier by girlfriend Ellie Murston’s criminal family, Stewart is forced to face up to his own past whilst uncovering the sinister truth behind his friend’s apparent suicide.

On a lighter note, Sir Michael Gambon has been confirmed as the voice of the eponymous vengeful robot in E4’s brand-new hidden camera show from Objective Productions, Bad Robots. The six-part comedy series, due to air on E4 in early November, takes a compelling look at our increased reliance on machines and continued exasperation with them, using new technology to create hilariously infuriating situations and computer-generated pranks. A host of demonic robots, from argumentative vending machines to patently biased pub quiz machines, abusive electronic road signs to a spray tan booth that loves to spray you (but not the colour you want…) are all intent on giving their human users a really hard time.

From the world of music, Itv has announced A Night With Olly Murs, a brand new one-off musical extravaganza with the award-winning singer. In the show, Olly will be performing some of his best known hits, such as Dear Darlin’ and Heart Skips A Beat, as well as more recent material from his new album, Never Been Better, including new single Wrapped Up. Much like previous shows, he will also be giving an insight into the real Olly Murs, answering questions from a star-studded audience.

If you´re looking for a musical day out, and happen to be in Newport, Katherine Jenkins OBE is set to ensure that Christmas will be coming early as BBC Wales’s star-studded seasonal concert, The Really Welsh Christmas Show, is staged at the Newport Centre, being recorded on the 13th and 14th of November, with free tickets available now from the Newport Centre. The event will also become the focus in Wales of the annual spectacular of entertainment and fundraising for BBC Children in Need.

Chat show fans might be pleased to know that Itv has confirmed a new exclusivity deal with Jonathan Ross, which means two more series of The Jonathan Ross Show for 2015, and a Christmas Special next year. That concluded this update and neatly bringing us back to both 2015 and Christmas highlights, exactly where we began on this week´s update.

Finally, this week a generation of Fraggle Rock fans mourned the death of Gerard Parkes, a 90 year old Canadian actor of Irish origin who played Doc in the popular show. The only human in the Jim Henson series which ran for five seasons in the eighties, Doc appeared in his workshop, accompanied by his trusty dog Sprocket, telling a story that served to initiate the action within a scene that was, at once the single point of connection from the world of the Fraggles with men.

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