Big thanks to Lorna for sending us many exclusive scans.
North Americans, Downton Abbey returns for its second season this Sunday, January 8th. Visit PBS for more details and videos behind the scenes!
Big thanks to Lorna for sending us many exclusive scans and for DowntOnline for letting us use their Entertainment Weekly 2012 scans!
Based on Kate Mosse’s international bestseller, Labyrinth is a four-hour event miniseries which will take a global audience on a richly compelling journey through the South of France of the present, and the dark and tortured landscape of the Crusades and Cathar massacres of medieval times. Two spirited and charismatic heroines must somehow work together across the centuries in order to save a four thousand year-old secret from falling into the wrong hands.
Jessica Brown Findlay stars as Alaïs Pelletier. Jessica (represented by Troika) made her film debut in the coming-of-age drama Albatross. She also played Rachel in Misfits, and was recently seen as Abi in Black Mirror:15 Million Merits on Channel 4. She also appears in Downton Abbey as the politically engaged youngest daughter, Lady Sybil Crawley.
Jessica began her career as a dancer, training with the National Youth Ballet and was asked at the age of 15 to dance with the Kirov at the Royal Opera House in London for a summer season. It was after this, during her time of study on a Fine Art course at London’s prestigious Central Saint Martin’s College, that Jessica began acting classes, in which she showed great promise and a natural talent. Read full story »
Also on the boiler in the Christmas special is the ongoing romance between rebel Lady Sybil and chauffeur Branson.
Actor Allen Leech, who plays the Irish driver, was thrilled when the pair finally kissed.
He says: “It is the scene everyone wanted to see.” And Jessica Brown-Findlay, who plays Lady Sybil, insists: “I think she and Branson are truly in love. They would have to be to make that leap.”
Just a reminder for everyone that Downton Abbey: Behind the Drama will be on tomorrow night at 7:30 on ITV1. Be sure to tune in!!
Don’t miss the series finale of Misfits. Tonight at 10pm on E4.
- It was so much fun to see Jessica Brown-Findlay back on Misfits as Rachel. Now that we know her as Lady Sybil in Downton Abbey, it was really odd seeing her getting sexy with Curtis and downing vodka. Great, but odd.
- Rachel desperately trying to get Curtis to have sex with her when Tony turned up was rather funny. As was Rudy’s unsuccessful attempt to take Curtis’s place. To be honest, you’d have thought the zombies would have put them off having sex with dead people, but whatever.
- “I did everything I thought I was supposed to do. I got drunk, I took drugs, I had sex and I’ve sworn like a c**t.” Lady Sybil, really!
- Rudy leans in to kiss Rachel. “Oh, no, no, you smell of sick. No thank you. Oh, dear me.”
Matt Smith’s ex-girlfriend Daisy Lowe and Downton Abbey star Jessica Brown-Findlay are among those tipped to become Doctor Who‘s new sidekick, following the news that Karen Gillan is leaving the show.
Bookies have named 22-year-old model and actress Daisy as the 10-1 third favourite to join the Doctor in the Tardis after Karen – who plays Amy Pond in the series – makes her exit.
However, she could face some stiff competition, with Downton‘s Jessica the 4-1 favourite to take the role, followed by model Lily Cole at 6-1.
Actress-turned-Strictly Come Dancing queen Chelsee Healey is also in the running at 12-1 – but bookmakers Ladbrokes have hinted that bringing Daisy into the show could make for an explosive combination.
‘Ratings would surely rocket if Lowe and Smith were thrown together,’ spokeswoman Jessica Bridge said.
Daisy recently split from Matt after they had been together for 18 months, but on Friday the pair were seen hugging outside her North London home before going inside – sparking rumours they may have rekindled their romance.
According to an eye-witness, Matt had just gifted Daisy with a new car as an early Christmas present – further lending weight to the reports of a reunion.
Meanwhile Doctor Who fans have taken to the internet to express their disbelief and anger over Karen’s impending departure – in what has been described as a ‘heartbreaking storyline’ due to air next year.
‘I can cope with a lot of things,’ one fan, Graham Pugh, said on Twitter, ‘but Amy Pond leaving Doctor Who could push me over the edge.’
Another fan, Aoife Wilson, added: ‘If you listen carefully you can hear the sound of a million hearts breaking in unison.’
Matt, meanwhile, said that he was ‘very disappointed’ that Karen, 24, was leaving.
The actress – who also stars as model Jean Shrimpton in the upcoming BBC Four drama We’ll Take Manhattan – has previously said that she is keen to do more theatre.
“The National Anthem was a thriller of sorts, but 15 Million Merits is a romance – kind of”
By Charlie Brooker
The second episode of Black Mirror, you may be relieved to discover, contains no Prime Ministers whatsoever. No harrowing ordeals partly inspired by the popularity of the I’m a Celebrity “bushtucker trial”. And no one so much as glances at a bacon sandwich.
The National Anthem was a thriller of sorts, but 15 Million Merits is a romance – kind of. It goes out on Channel 4 straight after the X Factor final finishes on ITV, which is fitting since it features Rupert Everett, Julia Davis and Ashley Thomas as talent show judges, while Daniel Kaluuya (The Fades) and Jessica Brown Findlay (Downton Abbey) star as Bing and Abi, the young pair who hope to impress them.
It’s a story that required striking visuals and, yes, a heart. But a heart surrounded by glass, because it’s set in a world in which almost every surface is an interactive screen, a source of distraction and entertainment. Anyone who’s found themselves gazing from a laptop, to a smartphone, to a TV set, and back again may recognise this aspect of the world, because it’s a sarcastic exaggeration of the one we’re already in.
The idea came about when my wife was watching me dumbly patting at an iPad while simultaneously checking Twitter on a phone, and remarked that I’d only be truly happy if every wall in the house functioned as some form of touchscreen. This led to a conversation about inflight entertainment: about how the addition of a small screen spooling films into your face makes the discomfort of a long-haul flight more bearable.
How much discomfort could you bear while being entertained? Taking that as a starting point, we sketched out an idea for a world in which permanent distraction was king, a world that steadily became more and more sinister the more details we added.
Incidentally, although the contest at the heart at the story may look familiar, the episode is not a “satire on talent shows”. It’s more about the tainted surrounding air Bing and Abi have no choice but to breathe: it’s about wanting something better than you currently have.
Doctor Who fans may be interested to hear this episode was directed by Euros Lyn of Doctor Who and Sherlock fame, while wider sci-fi fans in general may be pleased or perturbed to learn that while writing it, we watched Nigel Kneale’s superb 1968 BBC drama The Year of the Sex Olympics and the Twilight Zone episode Number Twelve Looks Just Like You.
So if you like them, you’ll hopefully like this. And if you’ve never seen them, seek them out. But only after you’ve watched 15 Million Merits. Because hey, our show’s in colour and high-def and everything — perfect for the glinting black mirror in the corner of your living room.
Rating: 5 stars
The first episode of Black Mirror, Charlie Brooker’s satirical Twilight Zone inspired horror series, formed a nightmare “what if?” scenario around social media, 24 hour news channels and, ultimately, audience complicity in increasingly sadistic televised entertainment. The second episode, “15 Million Merits”, could easily be that society in the not too distant future. Set in an unspecified time and place, the episode – co-written by Brooker and wife Kanak Huq, the former Blue Peter presenter – puts us in a world that’s perhaps best described as being like what you’d imagine if Apple designed a prison.
In this future society people divide their time between watching TV in cramped private living quarters and watching TV at work – spending all day peddling exercise bikes to earn the titular merits. Here merits have replaced money and powering away on the bike – presumably to generate power for all the TVs – is how people get money to spend on food (purchased exclusively from vending machines) and entertainment. In the best traditions of dystopian sci-fi, little is explained. The one beacon of hope in people’s lives is the thought of becoming a TV star by taking part in the “Hot Shot” talent contest, as judged by Julia Davis, Ashley Thomas and Rupert Everett.
The living quarters themselves are comprised of four walls which double-up as TV displays, controlled by motion sensor technology obviously inspired by X-box Kinnect, with merits used to buy new clothes for each person’s avatar as well as various apps – such as alternate wallpapers and alarm clocks for the bedroom. The most haunting and potentially horrifying prediction here is one that sees the hero – played by Daniel Kayluuya – using most of his “money” skipping the constant adverts for pornography (by now quite overt and mainstream) and extremely crass reality TV shows (most of which revolve around humiliating fat people). With fat people reduced to figures of fun and forced to work as cleaners, Brooker sets up a society in which there is a clear stigma against those who choose not to ride the bikes.
Kayluuya’s character is disillusioned with this existence and has a lot of merits saved up, owing to the fact that he’s not interested in all the tinsel. However he soon meets, and finds himself instantly attracted to, a girl played by Jessica Brown Findlay, whom he hears singing in the toilets. She sings nicely but not exceptionally, but convinced of her gift he decides to buy her entry ticket for “Hot Shot” in the hope of finding some meaning for his own existence. He sees her singing as something “real” in a pre-fabricated world, and when things don’t go to plan – and that fragile, imperfect beauty is ruthlessly beaten down – he has a break-down reminiscent of Peter Finch in Network.
Findlay’s singer might not be the best, but the way the studio audience – comprised of viewer avatars – reacts to her performance is emblematic of the sorts of hate-filled comments people make in a world in which they feel increasingly alienated and anonymous. Here the bombastic and ugly “Hot Shot” – a stylistically perfect parody of well-known UK talent shows – is a conduit for people’s misdirected rage, apathy and nihilism. The horror aspect, again, comes from the realisation that the events on-screen are not too far removed from where we sit now.
The whole episode is full of astute social observations and brimming with sharp black comedy, but it stood out for me because of its unexpected beauty and tenderness. The interactions between Kayluuya and Findlay are really very sweet and the music (Stephen McKeon) and direction (Eros Lyn) invested in these moments a type of sensory pleasure I always associate with Paul Thomas Anderson’s mesmeric, heart-wrenchingly beautiful Punch-Drunk Love. As a piece of satire it’s also incredibly strong, again looking at viewer complicity more than promoting a trite “technology is evil” line.
“15 Million Merits” is on Channel 4 this Sunday at 9pm.
Written by Robert Beames.
We’ve been lucky to have the opportunity to gain access to some exclusive HQ promotional images and stills from the 1st season of Downton Abbey for you! Here’s the first batch while we all wait for the Christmas special (by the way, DowntOnline has just posted tons of amazing Christmas promoshoots).