Last Friday, I was invited to a press screening for Pushing Daisies. This new US drama from Bryan Fuller (Heroes) and Barry Sonnenfeld (Men in Black) has been snapped up by ITV. It stars our very own Anna Friel (lately seen in footy movie Goal, but infamous for that Brookside lesbian kiss) and has been dubbed a ‘forensic fairytale’. Having viewed it, I can see why. Quirky, offering a winning blend of romance, crime and high-concept fantasy, this is a show to set the video for (or Sky+, V+ whatever people, you get my drift). US critics are falling over themselves to praise it and Anna Friel, showcasing a perfect American accent, won herself a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress (30 Rock’s Tina Fey took home the award).
Golden Globe nominee Lee Pace (The Good Shepherd) is Ned, a young man with a very special gift; he can bring dead things back to life by touching them. However, another touch from him will kill said thing again permanently. Ned puts his gift to work in his pie shop (The Pie Hole) and by collaborating with private investigator Emerson Cod (played by Chi McBride) to crack murder cases.
It all gets complicated when childhood sweetheart Chuck (Anna Friel) gets the Ned treatment. As he cannot bring himself to touch her again, the motley crew of Ned, Emerson and Chuck run around solving crimes. Now it wouldn’t be a TV drama without a romantic entanglement or two, would it? Ned longs for Chuck but can’t have her because he can’t touch her and Ned’s nutty waitress Olive Snook (played by Kristin Chenoweth) pines for him, but he’s not interested. The whole shebang is narrated by none other than Carry On stalwart Jim Dale (Ned’s dog is called Digby, a nice inside joke as Jim Dale starred in the 1973 movie Digby, the Biggest Dog in the World).
Pushing Daisies is a lovely, offbeat series wrapped up in an intriguing premise, witty script, gorgeous visuals and perfect casting. Anna Friel shines in it; she’s simply adorably kooky. Check out the trailer.
Creator Bryan Fuller and the two lead stars were in London to publicise their show. As affable and warm as Pushing Daisies itself, I’m sure they were all relieved when applause rang out at the end. Have to say, some of the journalists there asked the most banal questions I’ve heard in a long time ("what could you live without and what couldn’t you live without in a relationship?") and a young lady from The Sun obviously hadn’t done her homework, beginning her question to Anna with: "You’re a wife and mother…" only for the actress to respond, "When did I get married?"
Yours truly asked the fab actress a sensible question about the challenge of speaking with an American accent. She revealed that she stays in character all day on the set in order to hone said accent. In addition, as far as she’s concerned, this linguistic skill is a must-have for Brit thesps if they want to crack America. I also quizzed Bryan and Lee for their views on the proliferation of British actors in US series. In short, they’re for it. Look out for Pushing Daisies on ITV1 and ITV2 soon. However, I must admit, I can’t help feeling that this show’s UK success may be curtailed by the channel that’s bought it. It just doesn’t feel like an ITV1 series (more BBC2, Channel 4 or E4). I really hope I’m wrong…
Today I am mostly lovin’ – Damages. Hardcore drama of the highest order.
Today I am mostly hatin’ – I’m sorry, but GMTV’s Fiona Phillips gets on my last nerve.
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