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Easter geekness: the return of Doctor Who (April 23) and more egg-stra special delights

April 22, 2011

Cowboys and aliens?: Matt Smith’s take on The Doctor tests that old adage: ‘stetsons are cool’…

All right, I’ll admit that unlike its arguable heyday, it’s a bit of a stretch to suggest the modern Doctor Who is retro, although in recent years the show’s time-travelling hero has visited William Shakespeare, Queen Victoria, Charles Dickens, Vincent Van Gogh and 16th Century Venice. But that’s not really what this blog would consider as retro. Having said all that, mind, in its latest series, the TARDIS is supposed to land in ’70s America in the time of Richard ‘Tricky Dicky’ Nixon. Surely you can’t get much more retro than that, can you?

Anyway, why am I blathering on about Doctor Who? Well, guess what, chaps, Easter once more is on the horizon and that must mean – oh yes – the kick-off of the latest series of the Who Doctor. And, I don’t mind sayin’, I’m rather excited about it.

Now, don’t know about any of you, but of all his series since that groovy Gallifreyan returned to our screens in 2005, the last one (the opening series of the latest incarnation – the 11th – namely Mr Matt Smith’s), has been my favourite. The return of River Song and those eerie stone angels? Spitfires in space? A spruced up TARDIS? Cracks in time? The Pandorica? Toby Jones’s ‘Dream’ Doctor alter-ego? Top stuff, all of it. Plus, of course, there’s been Karen Gillan’s oh-so sexy Amy Pond companion and, best of all, Smith’s excellent young-yet-old-and-at-times-very-alien version of The Doctor. The Christmas special even gave us a nice take on A Christmas Carol with Michael Gambon and (mmm) Katherine Jenkins.

All of that means, of course, that the next series (which kicks-off on BBC1 at 6pm tomorrow – and on BBC America in the States on the same day) does have quite a lot to live up to. Yet, the omens look good. Apparently, this latest series is darker in tone than the last (at least, its start is supposed to be). Also, [spoiler alerts!] Amy and her squeeze Rory will be together in the TARDIS as marrieds – just how will that work out? And, so it seems from the trailer (see above), The Doctor and River Song’s fates are likely finally to become entwined – yes, I think you know what I mean there. Oh, and it looks like Lily Cole’s in it (again – mmm). All in all then, I’m hungry to hunker down with The Doctor once more. Which brings me to Easter eggs – if you’ve been of the mind that all the hype and publicity leading up to Easter and the May Bank Holidays has only been about a particular wedding, think again, peeps, because look what you can purchase from M&S

Talking of Easter TV, at least on UK screens, there’s one or two other highlights to look out for too. Indeed, tonight you can sit down, watch and listen to an evening dedicated to Elton John (BBC4 from 9pm); and, if Reg Dwight’s ditties aren’t exactly your thing, then a documentary on George Martin (Arena, Monday, 9pm, BBC2) may be more up your street, no doubt featuring archive footage alongside interviews with past major collaborators of the genius producer. And, with the football season reaching its unavoidable zenith, there’s also an intriguing looking dramatic recreation of the events surrounding the Munich Air Disaster of 1958 in the shape of United (Sunday, 9pm, BBC2), featuring the acting talents of, yes, a past Doctor, that unbiquitous David Tennant.

So, certainly a few gogglebox treats there to gobble up your freetime over the weekend then, folks… or, of course, you could make the most of the weather and spend the holiday doing properly healthy things outside. Actually, scrap all that, maybe the latter is the better plan – after all, who knows what sort of summer we’re going to get? Happy Easter, my retro chicks.


Easter telly highlights (UK terrestrial and Freeview only)

Black Narcissus  ~ today, 2.40pm, Film4 Must-see, eerie drama about repressed desires surfacing among a group of nuns in the Himalayas, starring Deborah Kerr, Kathleen Byron and Jean Simmons

The African Queen  ~ today, 4.40pm, Film4 John Huston’s outstanding trip down an African river with a pair of ageing opposites, starring Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn

Enchanted  ~ today, 4:50pm, BBC1 Disney live-action musical that riffs on its fairytale-schamltz-past less scathingly than Shrek, starring Amy Adams and Susan Sarandon

Grease  ~ today, 6.50pm, Film4 Seemingly unavoidable film version of the ’50s-set teen musical, starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John

Raiders Of The Lost Ark ~ today, 7.10pm, BBC3/ BBCHD The first and best Indy flick – and, frankly, one of the best adventure movies of all-time – starring Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, Paul Freeman and John Rhys-Davies

Elton John Night ~ today, 9pm, BBC4 Kicking-off with The Making Of Elton John: Madman Across The Water (also shown at 12.05am) Documentary about the musician’s career and life; Elton John At The BBC, 10pm, 3.05am Archive footage; Electric Proms, 11pm, 2.00am Performing at The Roundhouse, Camden, London; BBC Sessions 1.05am And yet more Elton John

Timewatch: The Real Bonnie And Clyde ~ today, 12.00midnight, BBCHD The true story of the legendary murderous lovers

Being Alice: Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland/ Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland ~ Saturday, 2pm/ 2.30pm, BBC2/ BBCHD The world premiere of a new ballet of Lewis Carroll’s classic tale from Covent Garden’s Royal Opera  House, preceded by a behind-the-scenes look at its making

Hook  ~ Saturday, 3.35pm, Channel5 Spielberg’s colourful and watchable take on Peter Pan, starring Dustin Hoffman, Robin Williams, Julia Roberts and Bob Hoskins

Doctor Who ~ 6pm, BBC1 The latest series – and second with Matt Smith as The Doctor – of the sci-fi adventure drama kicks-off with its opening episode, The Impossible Astronaut

Time Bandits  ~ Saturday, 6pm, Film4 Terry Gilliam’s evergreen, off-kilter time-travel adventure starring Sean Connery, Ian Holm, John Cleese and Ralph Richardson

The Karate Kid  ~ Saturday, 7pm, 5* Iconic if hokey ’80s teen martial arts drama starring Ralph Macchio, Pat Morita and Elisabeth Shue

Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom  ~ Saturday, 9pm, BBC3 Helter-skelter-ride-like second in the series of the adventure films, starring Harrison Ford, Kate Capshaw, Ke Huy Quan and Amrish Puri

Carry On Cleo  ~ Saturday, 9pm/ Sunday, 1.30pm, ITV3 Nicely played Classical epic spoof starring Sid James, Kenneth Williams, Amanda Barrie and Jim Dale

Rosemary’s Baby  ~ Saturday, 1.15am, Film4 Roman Polanski’s eerie, superior late ’60s chiller starring Mia Farrow

Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan  ~ Sunday, 1pm, Film4 Possibly the best of Star Trek‘s big screen outings, starring William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy

Mary Poppins  ~ Sunday, 1.30pm, BBC1 The essential family musical adventure, starring Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke and those animated penguins

Chariots Of Fire  ~ Sunday, 6.40pm, Film4 Oscar-winning British drama focusing on the 1924 Olympics, starring Ben Cross and Ian Charleson

Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade  ~ Sunday, 7pm, BBC3/ BBCHD Last of the original Indy adventures, starring Harrison Ford, Sean Connery, Denholm Elliott and Alison Doody

Ghostbusters  ~ Sunday, 7.50pm, Channel5 The classic supernatural comedy adventure blockbuster starring Bill Murray, Sigourney Weaver and Dan Aykroyd

United ~ Sunday, 9pm, BBC2/ BBCHD Feature-length drama about the 1958 Munich Air Disaster, in which many of Manchester United’s ‘Busby Babes’ perished, starring David Tennant

Holst ~ Sunday, 9pm, 12.20am, BBC4 Revealing documentary about the eventful life of Gustav Holst, composer of The Planets

Carry On Camping  ~ Sunday, 9pm, ITV3 The Carry On team go under canvas in perhaps their most popular movie, starring Sid James, Kenneth Williams, Barbara Windsor, Charles Hawtrey and Bernard Bresslaw

Elizabeth  ~ Sunday, 10pm, Channel4 Oscar-nominated, fast-paced treatment of the early years of Elizabeth I, starring Cate Blanchett, Christopher Ecclestone, Joseph Fiennes, Richard Attenborough and – yes – Eric Cantona

Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull  ~ Monday, 7.05pm, BBC3/ BBCHD Geriatric Indy returns in the latest instalment of the classic hero’s antics, starring Harrison Ford, Shia Lebeouf, Karen Allen and Cate Blanchett

Arena: George Martin ~ Monday, 9pm, BBC2 Portrait of the legendary music producer, with contributions from Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and Cilla Black

Carry On Henry  ~ Monday, 9pm, ITV3 Tudor history amusingly re-written by the Carry On team, starring Sid James, Kenneth Williams, Hattie Jacques and Barbara Windsor

Top Gun  ~ Monday, 9pm, Film4 Tom Cruise feels the need for speed; also starring Kelly McGillis and Val Kilmer

Buster  ~ Monday, 11pm, Channel 5 ’80s ‘guilty pleasure’ dramatisation of the 1963 Great Train Robbery, starring Phil Collins and Julie Walters

The Right Stuff  ~ Monday, 11.05pm, ITV4 Acclaimed epic focusing on the early years of America’s astronaut programme, starring Ed Harris, Scott Glenn and Dennis Quaid

A Hard Day’s Night  ~ Monday, 11.15pm, BBC2 The Beatles’ fast, furious and fantastic first foray in film

Snowdon And Margaret: Inside A Royal Marriage ~ Monday, 12.25am, More4 Documentary about the tumultuous marriage of Princess Margaret and Anthony Armstrong-Jones

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