Bits and Bobs (Vol. 10): Brand Hugh Fall TV

Westwickomarafriel_lDedicated Whovians know the rumors. Last week, the tabloid News of the World reported that two of next year’s Doctor Whos will be set in the States with a “big name” American companion. It’s nothing new: The Doc’s already had a San Francisco foray (in 1996’s DW movie) and a Yank lackey (Peri Brown, played by Englander Nicola Bryant). But it does up the ante on the show’s current cross-cultural possibilities and has me wondering: With these episodes also rumored to be David Tennant’s last, could we be in store for an American Doctor? (If so, my vote’s for Love Soup’s Michael Landes, already a veteran of U.K. TV.)

It’s only a thought — and not a completely crazy one. Just consider the scores of Brits that grace U.S. telly. We’re way past Hugh Laurie pretending to shock Emmy viewers with his English accent. At least seventeen Irish and British actors star in Fall’s major shows. That’s despite Scotsman Kevin McKidd and Londoner Michelle Ryan taking such enormous belly flops last season with Journeyman and Bionic Woman. (McKidd may return stateside for a Grey’s Anatomy stint, but Ryan’s gone home to portray a sorceress on BBC’s Merlin). And, of course, I’ve got my favorites — i.e. those thesps and series I’m dying to see. After the jump, a list and a sampling of each actor’s best homegrown work.

addCredit(“Ed Westwick; Jason O’Mara; Anna Friel: Giovanni Rufino; Kurt Iswarienkio; Kate Turning”)

The Newbies:
1. Stephen Moyer. Watch him: as a troubled vampire in HBO’s True Blood (debuts September 7th). Then check him out: opposite Rashida Jones in NY-LON. (U.K. DVD only).
2. Rufus Sewell. Watch him: channel a mystery-solving scientist on CBS’ Eleventh Hour (October 9th). Then check him out: in Andrew Davies’ adaptation of Middlemarch.
3. Charlie Hunnam. Watch him: portray a biker in a law-bending motorcycle gang on FX’s Sons of Anarchy (September 3rd). Then check him out: on the U.K. Queer as Folk.
4. Jaime Murray. Watch her: play a modern day Aphrodite on The CW’s Valentine (September 21st). Then check her out: as a narcoleptic secretary on Love Soup. (U.K. DVD only)
5. Jason O’Mara. Watch him: Fill John Simm’s very large platforms in ABC’s remake of Life on Mars (debuts October 9th). Then check him out: on season two of Monarch of the Glen.

The Returns:
1. Ed Westwick. You know him: as caddish Chuck on The CW’s Gossip Girl (premiered September 1st).  See him: play the bully older brother in Son of Rambow
2. Ashley Jensen. You know her: as seamstress Christina on ABC’s Ugly Betty (September 25th). See her: as Ricky Gervais’ sidekick in Extras and Patrick Stewart’s bodyguard in the British Eleventh Hour.
3. Damian Lewis. You know him: as NBC’s Zen detective on Life (September 29th). See him: portray evil Soames Forsyte in The Forsyte Saga and To Let.
4. Jonny Lee Miller. You know him: as a lawyer with psychic visions on ABC’s Eli Stone (October 14th). See him: in Trainspotting or The Canterbury Tales (U.K. DVD only).
5. Anna Friel. You know her: as love interest Chuck on ABC’s Pushing Daisies (October 1st). See her: play Dickens’ Bella Wilfer in Our Mutual Friend.

Honorable Mention: ER’s Parminder Nagra (I love her in the King Lear update Second Generation) and The Mentalist’s Owain Yeoman (it’s about time the Kitchen Confidential costar gets a U.S. show that sticks).

Did I miss anyone? Whom are you most excited to see? What other British or Irish actor would you like to watch on American TV?

Here’s your anglophile calendar for the week:
Tuesday (September 2nd): The Inspector Lynley Mysteries: Series 6, Inspector Lewis: Series 1, and Ballet Shoes (with Emma Watson and Marc Warren) drop on DVD. Russell Brand hits Leno at 11:35pm on NBC.
Wednesday: Bones goes to London at 8pm on Fox.
Thursday: Blur bassist and former cocaine addict Alex James sees the coke industry firsthand in the unmissable Cocaine Diaries: Alex James in Colombia on BBC America at 9pm.
Friday: BBC America’s Star Stories spoofs Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas at 9:20pm. 
Saturday: TCM airs Charles Laughton’s U.S. thriller Night of the Hunter at 8pm.
Sunday: At 9pm, watch Russell Brand host MTV’s Video Music Awards, while recording the premiere of The Life and Times of Vivienne Vyle on Sundance.

Comments (34 total) Add your comment
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  • Perry Lucas

    I’ve been a big Damian Lewis since watching him in Band of Brothers. Hopefully, his show will do well this year in the ratings and stick around for a bit.

  • cimagato

    Doctor Who fever spread through this household during the summer. We’ve been eating up eps from SciFi and BBCA like crazy. I think we’d actually cry if David Tennant left. I love the “Britishness” of the show and wouldn’t be crazy about an American playing the Doctor–but fair is fair. As you pointed out so well, they’re taking over our airwaves. Could this be related to Rene Z. playing their beloved Bridget Jones? If so, I think it’s overkill. Do you think Stephen Fry be interested in playing House’s valet from Tennessee?

  • Roon

    How could leave out Jack Davenport of “Swingtown” on CBS and “Coupling” on the BBC?

  • Anonymous

    To Roon: Swingtown isn’t a fall show.

  • Roon

    Point taken.

  • Anonymous

    I think the likelihood of an American doctor is about as likely as snow in the Sahara. If it were any other show, I wouldn’t be so sure, but Doctor who is seen by the British people, the people for whom the show is truly made, as quintessentially British. No way would they or Stephen Moffatt, the new show runner who happens to be another huge fan of Who, allow a non British doctor to show up. I mean there are Whovians who consider the whole Doctor in S.F. as anathema….. As for myself, I prefer the British Doctors. It would feel odd to have an American in the role, even if he could do a passable accent.

  • Jo

    Doctor Who already has one major American recurring character (Jack Harkness) that’s launched his own spin-off. And even that actor is Scottish by birth, if American by raising. I really can’t see the BBC casting an American as the Doctor unless they were unbelievably convincing as a Brit. Doctor Who is more British than Bridget Jones, say I.

  • Melinda65

    Charlie Hunnam isn’t quite a newbie–he was in the canceled-too-soon “Undeclared”, which premiered on Fox in the fall of 2001. And Owain Yeoman was the first terminator chasing John Connor last fall on The Sarah Connor Chronicles, but fell victim to metamorphosis.
    I’m really looking forward to Kevin McKidd returning to TV (hopefully it’s true) and if I had to choose one Brit actor that I’d like to see, it would be Ardal O’Hanlon.

  • Jonas

    Marianne Jean-Baptiste who plays Vivian Johnsonin “Without a Trace” is from London (and teh shows main star Anthony LaPaglia is an Aussie…not the same as a Brit but British Commonwealth none the less), Jamie Bamber on Major Lee “Apollo” Adama is a Brit as well (Irish mother, Yank dad, raised in England but lives in Hollywood) currentl;y reciding in London to shoot Law & Order: London for ITV.

  • Jonas

    Gosh, my spelling is HORRIBLE!!! I am very sorry. I did not explain details about Jamie Bamber good enough. He plays Major Lee “Apollo” Adama on Battlestar Galactica.

  • Mac

    Yea, now I have a reason to watch “sons of Anarchy”

  • Rose Tyler

    The Doctor is British! That’s all there is to it. Besides fans had enough trouble with Ecleston’s “northern” accent so I really don’t think that an American Doctor would go over well. I’m not even thrilled about two episodes set in America. Of course I’ll watch anyway.

  • RT

    Sense when is Jason O’Mara a newbie? He’s been gracing our American television sets for over five years. He made his debut on the wonderful HBO miniseries “Band of Brothers”. Then later in 2002 on the CBS series “The Agency”, which by the way was an excellent show. Jason is now starring in his own show which I am very excited to see, LIFE ON MARS. He’s an amazing actor with a slew of TV appearances including co-starring in the ABC series “In Justice” with Kyle Maclachlan. He also has THE sexiest Irish voice I’ve ever heard. GO JASON!!!

  • Perry Lucas

    I think the category titles pertain to the shows themselves, not the actors’ work experience.

  • Stef

    David Tennant is Scottish, not British. I do hope that he stays around as long as possible, he is highly entertaining.

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