Max Brown is the latest Brit actor to land a role on US television, having made his name on homegrown dramas such as The Tudors and Spooks. He stars as medical examiner Evan Marks in Beauty and the Beast. OTB caught up with him to discuss how he landed the part and to find out what’s in store for his character over the course of the series…
How did you become involved with Beauty and the Beast?
I went to LA last year for my first pilot season, which was pretty intimidating. I auditioned for between three to five pilots a day, which was an intense process. Beauty and the Beast was something that kept coming back and I auditioned a second time.
The competition for roles must have been huge…
It’s different to the UK where they might audition up to ten actors for a role, in America it’s more like hundreds for each part. So it was a great achievement to be whittled down to the last three for the screen test, where you meet the studio and audition in front of about forty people in a room. It was fantastic to get the part. Then we shot the pilot in Toronto, and had to wait for a while to hear if the series had been picked up, so I was lucky on all counts.
Your role on the show must have raised your profile over there…
Certainly being on a TV show in America has raised my profile, though it’s not as if they hadn’t seen The Tudors or Spooks. Fingers crossed it’ll make the next job easier to get though!
How did you prepare for your role as a doctor (Evan Marks) and potential love interest for Cat, having become accustomed to playing villains?
I hadn’t played a nice guy in quite a while actually! There’s more of myself in this character than others, although they wrote him as more of a playboy than I ever was. In preparation for the role of Evan I was lucky enough to speak to Michael Baden, who’s one of the most famous medical examiners in the world – he worked on the OJ Simpson case. I spoke to him for a couple of hours on the phone just wanting to really get into the mindset of an M.E.. It was interesting for me to discover what motivated him to get into it and the relationships he had with judges, police and authority figures.
How do you see Evan developing over the series?
I think Evan’s role will develop over the series as all the evidence compiled over the series goes through him. As the Beast gets more and more involved in cases Evan starts to find traces of him. I think the series for Evan is about his journey discovering the beast and confiding in Cat and maybe exposing their relationship somehow.
How does working in the US compare to the UK?
They’re pretty similar; the only difference I find here is that they will shoot until they finish the day. In England if the shooting is overrunning it will usually get postponed and put on the following day. In America they shoot until they’ve finished the day, so you don’t have normal working hours. They’ll shoot until one o’clock in the morning if it’s needed sometimes.
Beauty and the Beast continues tonight at 9pm on Watch, where it can be found every Wednesday.
Thirty years on from Prime Minister Jim Hacker’s debut in Yes, Minister, the series has been revived, based on a successful stage adaptation of the original series. Scripted by the original creators Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn, the first episode aired last night on Gold – after the BBC insisted on a pilot (“There were 38 pilots available on DVD,” said Lynn).
2013’s Jim Hacker has been reincarnated as David Haig, who’s something of a political satire stalwart, having memorably appeared as passive-aggressive enforcer Steve Fleming in The Thick of It.
In this episode, the dysfunctional political triptych of Hacker, Sir Humphrey Appleby and Bernard Woolley plot together to repair the damage from a gaffe-strewn interview with a Paxman-style figure, in which the PM let slip his attempts to solve the European economic crisis were floundering.
I’ll willingly admit I haven’t seen any of the original series, though I am a young buck at 23. I’ve seen every episode of the aforementioned TTOI, The Day Today, Seinfeld and The Larry Sanders Show, though. I know what I like when it comes to comedy. My opinion of Yes, Prime Minister 2.0 is not tinged with nostalgia and if I’m honest, this reboot did nothing for me. There’s too much old-school emphasis on one-liners rather than analysis of character. In one scene, the PM tells the head of his Policy Unit: “Dealing with Europe isn’t about achieving success,” (pregnant pause) “it’s about concealing failure.” You can see the punchlines coming a mile off. They’re the three most powerful people in the country and though visibly flustered, they don’t actually seem all that anxious. In reality the political profession would be gradually eroding their mental and physical health beyond repair.
That’s not to say it’s a show that’s badly made or acted – far from it. Yes, Prime Minister works well as a studio sitcom, and the chemistry between the three main characters – fresh from appearing in the stage play – is obvious. I get that the tone is gentler than many ‘modern’ sitcoms. Lynn explains that the characters are there to be sympathised with: “Our view is that if we were in those jobs we would behave the same way, so our criticism is of the system and human nature.”
Regardless of mise-en-scene iPads or references to the Eurozone, to me the show seems out of time. It’s just too polite.
No one was crying out for another police procedural, but BBC1 has gone ahead and produced one with bells on anyway. Last night the alleged comedian Ben Miller returned as DI Richard Poole, a briefcase-carrying English expat investigating crime on the fictional Caribbean island of Saint-Marie, in the second series of Death in Paradise.
DI Poole’s sidekick Camille (Sara Martins) has a French accent but never slips into her mother-tongue. Following sugar cane plantation owner Roger Seymour’s machete-in-the-back murder in the pre-credit expository bit of the show, Poole and Camille set about investigating the crime scene for clues. A policeman at the scene reliably informs them Seymour’s ancestors were slave-drivers, and he wasn’t exactly Dr. Schultz himself.*
There’s a lot of suspects, basically. So far, so Bizarro Midsomer Murders.
Chief among said suspects were Seymour’s alcoholic ex-wife, his strange nephew, his potentially gold-digging young partner, the farm worker he treated like a son and the doctor who conveniently discovered the body. It’s like a 21st century update of Cluedo devised by the writing team behind Emmerdale.
Since watching Sky 1’s police procedural parody A Touch of Cloth, I’ve found it hard to take this genre seriously. Death in Paradise never deviates from familiar tropes and there’s an inevitable, nay obligatory, scene at the police station involving Miller pointing a stick at mugshots of the suspects on a flipchart while explaining the plot to the viewer.
It’s odd seeing Miller play the straight man; he’s earned his stripes as a comic actor over the years in sitcoms like The Worst Week of My Life, yet in Death in Paradise Miller’s Poole maintains an uptight demeanor throughout. The will-they-won’t-they?-no-they-won’t-and-I-don’t-even-care-if-they-do sub-plot involving Poole and Camille hypothetically provides Miller with the opportunity to stretch his comic muscles but they remain unflexed, which is a shame, because the programme could do with one or two jokes.
Death in Paradise continues on BBC1 every Tuesday at 9PM.
*Is it too early to make a Django Unchained reference? Probably. All things considered, it’ll probably generate a few more hits for the article. Anyway, I’m referring to Christoph Waltz’s slave-freeing bounty hunter dentist in this instance.
Nominations for the television industry’s least prestigious awards show, the National Television Awards, have been announced ahead of the January 23 ceremony at the O2 Arena.
Dermot O’Leary will host the event, which promises to reward programmes and performers palatable for an ITV1 Wednesday evening audience.
In short, don’t expect Breaking Bad, Grandma’s House or Grayson Perry to walk away with any gongs. Do expect nominations for This Morning, Mrs Brown’s Boys and Keith Lemon, however. Read more
If you’re over-the-hill, stricken with ‘flu or under house arrest, chances are you’ll be spending New Year’s Eve in front of the television. It’s not that bad; you’ll save a fortune on alcohol and probably do your liver a favour in the long-run. A proverbial ‘quiet one’ basically buys you a few more nights out in the future. Quiet ones are like Nectar points. Save up enough of them and you’ll be able to party like it’s ’99 at a time more suited to you. Plus you get to spend New Year’s Day without a hangover-induced unremitting sense of guilt and self-loathing.
If you’d rather indulge in a spot of guilt and self-loathing on New Year’s Eve instead, then for God’s sake watch Numb: Simon Amstell Live at the BBC (BBC Four, 9:30pm), which sees the acerbic, anxious former Never Mind the Buzzcocks host lay bare his existential woes to an audience of sophisticated BBC Four viewers. I saw Amstell perform Numb live in Brighton earlier this year and I can’t recommend it highly enough.
The Graham Norton Show (BBC1, 10:30pm) packs some real star quality this week, with a plethora of guests including none other than notorious
alleged homosexual Scientologist Tom Cruise, Rosamund Pike, Wolverine himself (Hugh Jackman), Billy Crystal as well as John Bishop and Great British Bake Off pair Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood.
If films are your bag, then you could do worse than toast to 2013 in front of Film4, which is showing Sexy Beast (Film4, 11:10pm). Knight of the realm Sir Ben Kingsley is terrific as a psychotic gangster tasked with coaxing Ray Winstone’s East End criminal out of his Mediterranean retirement for the fabled ‘one last job’.
There’s no Gone With the Wind on TV this New Year’s Eve, and Channel 4 plans to relive its successful allnighter house party from earlier in the year with House Party: NYE (C4, 11:50pm) – a six-hour club set featuring DJs like Annie Mac (her off Radio 1), Frankie Knuckles (me neither) and Toddla T Sound (???).
If you took MDMA earlier in the evening prior to your friends cancelling at the last minute, House Party: NYE is essential viewing, as it will further fuel the delusion you’re not actually lonely, self-hating and depressed as 2013 chimes in. Otherwise, best give it a miss.
However you spend NYE, for God’s sake don’t give in to Jool’s Annual Hootenanny (BBC2, 11:05pm). You’re better than that.
Having spent the last half hour flicking through the Christmas 2012 Radio Times so you don’t have to, OTB is saddened to reveal that It’s a Wonderful Life will not be on free-to-air television for yet another Christmas, which just isn’t right. It’s a Wonderful Life is the archetypal Christmas film; heartwarming, endearing and timeless. There are loads of other films on TV instead and we’ll recommend which ones to watch and avoid here. Think of this Xmas movie diary as a gift from us to you and remember to bookmark the page so you won’t piss off relatives by perpetually scrolling through your TV’s EPG during the EastEnders Christmas special.
SATURDAY 22 DECEMBER
Pick of the day: Assuming we’ve reached the 22nd without perishing as a result of the Mayan apocalypse, we’ll kick off Xmas film proceedings with James Cameron’s not-remotely-festive Terminator 2: Judgment Day (10:45pm, ITV1), the special effects-laden sequel to his 1984 classic. Arnie reprises his most iconic role, this time as a besunglassed hero-on-a-motorbike, to save the world from the shape-shifting T-1000 model.
Alternative viewing: Rare Exports from the Land of the Original Santa Claus (1:00am, C4) Finnish fantasy horror about a group of people who unearth Santa’s tomb.
Avoid: Four Christmases (9:00pm, C4) Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon feature in this dreadful yuletide romcom about an unmarried couple who have to split their Christmas Day between all four of their divorced parents.
Christmas is nearly here and festive films have hogged the schedules since the start of November. I’ve done my best to pick a selection of films that don’t concern themselves with Christmas matters, with the honorable exception of (the exceptional) Die Hard.
Die Hard – Film4, Monday 10 December, 9pm
Nothing says Christmas like a bearded terrorist Alan Rickman exclaiming: “Now I have a machine gun. Ho ho ho” in a German accent to a bloodied Bruce Willis. Ideally Willis’ yippee-kay-yaying thriller should be viewed late on Christmas Eve after an evening of mulled wine and roasted chestnuts by a pub fireplace. Still, there’s a dearth of decent films on TV this week to be honest and Die Hard is easily the best of the lot. Sky+ it or, better still, grab it on Blu-ray.
BBC cameras spent a year filming behind the scenes at Claridge’s, gaining an insight into how the 1% live. The hotel employs over 400 members of staff to cater to the every whim of its moneyed guests, and Inside Claridge’s witnessed just how much work goes into ensuring visitors enjoy their stay at the billionaire’s Travel Inn.
Take the Japanese Britney Spears who, along with her 35-strong entourage, touched down in the five-star hotel for a month, demanding a Jacuzzi in her suite. Acquiescing to these kinds of divaish demands are just part of the day-job for Claridge’s staffers, and the exclusive Brook Penthouse had its bath ripped out and a Jacuzzi installed without so much as a mild grumble from management. Money talks, and if a rich Japanese popstar who can’t be bothered with long-term financial planning wants to plonk a Jacuzzi in an already-luxury suite then she bloody well can. What recession? Read more
As a companion piece to OTB’s Girl’s Guide to TV Girlfriends, here’s a guide from a male perspective, compiling five of the best TV GFs. And no, none of them have appeared on Take Me Out.
Dobby – Peep Show
The subject of Mark Corrigan’s affections post-Sophie, Dobby is quirky, geeky and works in IT. She bears a resemblance to her namesake house-elf from the Harry Potterverse, though to quote Captain Corrigan: “She is strangely attractive”. Plus she knows exactly how to lure a self-hating man into the ‘fuck bunker’. These are a points-worthy attributes in TV Girlfriends Top Trumps. Unfortunately she does have a habit of hanging around with her exes a bit too much, though her commitment caring for Gerrard in his last days demonstrates a humanity and empathy often lacking in the show itself (and life). Read more
OTB met the Greek burger van-owning, one-time Caterer of the Year extraordinaire Angelos Epithemiou ahead of his appearance on Dave’s One Night Stand to talk about how a childhood accident inspired him to get into comedy, bidding farewell to his virginity, and discovers just what’s in his bag…
What is your One Night Stand episode for Dave about?
It’s a show where I go to Derby to do a standup routine about my hometown Derby, which isn’t my hometown, ‘cos that’s in Greece, but they didn’t have the budget. So I did it in Derby, which was nice, but I was only there for a night and spent most of it in the hotel.
What’s your house like?
Well ‘cos I’ve been doing showbiz stuff, I never get round to fixing the bog or moving the book from underneath the door. At the Dorchester they know how to serve a good cup of tea, but when I’m at home I just think ‘I’ll have another pot noodle’. I basically live like a student, although I’ve never been a student and I’ve never studied in my life. Everything I’ve learnt has been from the Internet on the Googles.
Did you have a nice childhood?
It was really hard work ‘cos I got mixed messages. My mum was a graphic designer and she was into art and that sort of stuff, but my dad was a blackmailer, so I often thought to myself ‘who do I believe here?’ He’d do anything to get himself down the pub, and she’s very creative so he took the piss out of her a lot. I am a product of my environment.
Do you have any particular memories of childhood holidays?
The funniest thing I ever saw was my mate Kenny fall down a hole in Neasden when we were about eight-years-old. Unfortunately he permanently buggered his ankle and his wrist, but it was the one thing that made me think ‘yeah, I want to get into comedy’ ‘cos it was hilarious! It took a long time for people falling down holes to become fashionable and it wasn’t until Youtubes came along, and Jackass – which I love…
…And You’ve Been Framed remains popular, although a lot of the clips seem staged…
I think it has been staged, ‘cos they offer £200 here and £200 there, but when you think we’re now in 2012, some of the videos on there are from 1998! It’s also the same on World’s Wildest Police Chases, which I watch all the time. Clips on there are also from 1998, and I’ve seen the same stuff on Cops On Camera the week before. I think they’re pooling their resources to be honest!
What were you doing in 1998?
I was buying my first van from Dave in Sunderland. We fell in love and then he beat me up and went back to Sunderland. That was my first burger van though.
Do you still own the same van?
No… I had that van, then sold it and bought another van, then I won a prize and then that one blew up. I got the insurance money from that one and I bunged all of it into a new business: elephant tusks, because everyone is bang into that, I thought. It turns out they weren’t and I had to do Shooting Bloody Stars.
How were you discovered by Vic and Bob?
I won an award for caterer of the year and Mortimer came up to present the award to me and he asked me to come onto Shooting Stars. I said no and told him I wouldn’t go on that show if they paid me. But he was crafty and kept on hassling me so I finally gave in. Let’s be honest, if it wasn’t for me that show would’ve gone down the pan with those two members of the lucky club.
When did you lose your virginity?
Good question! I was 14, I started early. It was a bit of bump and grind, y’know. It was pretty full-on ‘cos I knew what I was doing already having read all the books. I got them out of charity shops and I spent a lot of time in the library researching how to do the fiddling about so the lucky lady had no idea I’d never done it before. It was good fun for her, and it was good fun for me too, I’ll be honest with you. It’s easier for younger people nowadays as they can do their research on the Internet.
What’s in your bag, Angelos?
A horn, another horn, a mask, Vin Diesel’s head, some mini Easter eggs, I’ve got some tippex, some Top Trump Cards, loads of stuff.
Thanks for speaking to us, Angelos. Best of luck with the show.
Angelos appears with Tom Rosenthal and Imran Yusuf on Dave’s One Night Stand at 10pm, Wednesday 28 November on Dave.