Behind the Scenes of The Poison Sky / The Sontaran Stratagem (Part Three)
Excerpts from the DVD Commentary with David Tennant, Russell T. Davies, and producer Susie Liggat:
It’s funny how the weirdest things can be very difficult. That bit
where I chuck that gun away, which has to look terribly carefree,
careless, and yet throwing a gun away is so difficult because it’s an
RTD: Yeah, yeah
DT: …that you
can’t afford to break or scratch. So to toss it away with such elan,
you have to have fourteen people holding up duvets and cushions,
desperately trying to catch this gun before it scratches itself or
SL: I think Phil is an ex-rugby player or something because he’s got pretty safe hands, hasn’t he?
DT: Phil Shellard the grand-master of props
SL: He’s a legend
I broke that [the device the Doctor makes in Rattigan’s lab]. There’s a
Phil Shellard story! The first time I did that, hitting that thing
with a hammer, the prop broke in two.
RTD: [ laughs loudly ]
DT: And Phil Shellard mended it in about 30 seconds to go for another take.
SL: He was amazing.
And you can’t tell. Maybe if you freeze-frame you can just see a
hairline crack, but I bet you can’t. Oh you can! Just at the bottom,
RTD: Oh yeah, look there!
DT: Below the red switch.
RTD: You vandal.
A big “thank you!!” to everyone who shares set photos
Additional parts of this photoset: [ one ] [ two ] [ four ]
The rest of the behind-the-scenes photosets are available [ here ]
What is The Americans, anyway? I've heard about it, mostly I've heard that it's good, but what is it about?
Well, “good” is an understatement – this is one of the most critically acclaimed shows on TV, and has been every year since it was created.
Everything I watch tends to have “centered on family relationships” at its heart, and this show is no exception. It’s a period drama about Soviet spies pretending to be American citizens during the Reagan administration – the original premise was based on this real-life case from 2010. The creator/EP, who was an actual CIA officer back in the day, made the call to go historical with the story instead, which means that a) there has been a lot of beautiful metacommentary on how the geopolitical conflicts and technological shifts of the early 80s laid the foundation for the world we presently live in; and b) there is a lot more realism to the spycraft than what you see in other genre shows like Chuck or 24, because some of the historical methods have been declassified or retired now.
That doesn’t sound like it’s about family at all, right?
WRONG. So wrong.
The heart and soul of this show is its SpyFam – a fake-married couple (Phillip and Elizabeth) and their very real American children, whose everyday conflicts about homework and hobbies and whether sixteen pairs of legwarmers is too many ground the otherwise intense absurdity of the world these adults live in. Every season has an overarching theme related to family: season one, for example, explored the depths of what marriage really means; season two looked at how far parents will go to protect their kids; season three focused on the impacts of spiritual and emotional well-being; season four dealt with deceit and disillusionment between people who are supposed to love and trust each other. This season is probing into immigrant narratives and cultural differences between immigrants and their native-born kids.
And every last one of these storylines has you rooting for the anti-heroes … but the narrative never lets you forget that’s what they are. Phillip and Elizabeth do a wide array of morally terrible things, and we are right there being shown how terrible those things are, and what kind of toll their choices take on themselves and the people they hurt.
This is a show that is 100% honest about how life, like politics, is messy and complex and filled with competing truths that you have to validate or discard on your own terms. It’s not a show for the squeamish, or for anyone looking for mindless action entertainment. It is, however, flawlessly paced and well-researched, with a fabulous cast and writing team.
Anyway, 10/10 do recommend – although be prepared if you have trigger issues with certain kinds of violence or emotional manipulation.
George Harrison, with Bob Dylan and Leon Russell, at the Concert for Bangladesh, Madison Square Garden, 1 August 1971
Photo 3 (and possibly 1 & 2 also): Apple Corps Ltd
“For me, seeing George up on stage, fronting the whole thing and doing it really well. That was - you want a highlight, that was it.” - Neil Aspinall, Concert for Bangladesh Mini Features
“I really appreciated in later days that he actually went in front of that audience on the Bangladesh concert because he did it for his friends. That he actually went up there and talked to an audience. I think it must have been about the first time he’s ever done this. You see, a few things in English, or a few things in German on a stage where it didn’t matter is a big difference than to an audience, where he knew it was gonna be filmed and it’s gonna be used. To talk to an audience was very, very diffcult for him.” - Klaus Voormann, Living in the Material World
“I’d always trust rockers with my money, rather than sharks. George [Harrison], for instance, just gives a lot of it away because he actually has got morals. Whereas certain people tried to put the Bangla Desh concert money straight into their pocket.” - Paul McCartney, Melody Maker, 1 December 1973 [x]
“He must be given credit for that. It was the first big disaster that rock'n'roll had responded to. Typical of George, he did it right.” - Paul McCartney, Uncut, August 2008 [x]
“In the documentary accompanying the DVD, [David Puttnam] speaks warmly of the ex-Beatle as a Sixties romantic. ‘He never gave up hoping that the dreams of the Sixties could be realised. In hindsight, I think what was so special about George is that he always believed in the power of goodness.’ Olivia seems touchingly grateful for these words. ‘It’s lovely of him to say that. It’s hard for me because George didn’t like to blow his own horn and I don’t want to do it for him. He wouldn’t like that. He was very self-deprecating. But George always wanted to make something better. He learned a lot from that concert personally, what he could achieve.’” - The Independent, 19 October 2005 [x]
“I was asked by a friend to help, that’s all. This was Ravi Shankar’s idea. He wanted to do something about it… Once I decided I was going to go on the show, then I organized the thing with a little help from my friends. Some of the musicians flew thousands of miles and didn’t get paid for anything. They were really into the idea of helping the refugees.” - George Harrison [x]
“UNICEF subsequently tried to present George Harrison with an award, but fearing it would appear too much like a publicity stunt, George did not appear for even a modest ceremony. He later quietly accepted the award at a private gathering from his manager.‘The reason we did it,’ [Paul B. ] Edwards said, 'was because we felt the magnitude of this act of private individuals reached so many people and moved the whole Bangladesh tragedy into the public consciousness before even the governments were willing to face up to it. The world was looking on in stunned horror, not doing anything about it, when Ravi and George drove it into their minds, particularly the young people’s. Why, they even inspired us to get… to work. You should have seen how what they did affected even the people at UNICEF.’” - New York Post, 2 June 1972, via UNICEF Archives [x]