Cheerio, PopWatchers. Welcome to the first installment of a new weekly column designed to bring you up-to-date on the best of British entertainment (and how to watch/read/listen to it without breaking the bank at Virgin Atlantic or Amazon.co.uk). If you’re not an Anglophile yet, I hope/think you will be: We’ve got some great offerings in the next few months (Simon Pegg’s Spaced on DVD, an interview with Inspector Lynley himself, and…well, let’s not spoil our own work, shall we?)
In honor of Wanted’s massive opening weekend at the U.S. box office, let’s get the party started by loving up its brilliant Scottish star, James McAvoy, for his telly work. The guy steals every movie he’s in (sorry, Forest), but any self-respecting Anglophile knows he’s been doing the same thing for years on British TV. So fire up that Netflix account, hit YouTube, and check out these shows (all available on DVD):
1. Shakespeare Retold: McAvoy’s Macbeth segment is the highlight of these BBC Bard updates. He’s a tasty chef with a sprinkling of killer instinct, thanks to his ambitious wife, played by MI-5 vixen Keeley Hawes. Not sold? Watch this clip. Our boy even sings!
2. Shameless, Season 1: Steve (McAvoy) is a car thief. His girl, Fiona (McAvoy’s real-life bride Anne-Marie Duff) is living on a Manchester estate (Britain’s version of public housing) and caring for her five younger siblings. The show’s humor (drunken teenagers, naked bums) is, well, shameless. Watch the entire first episode here.
3. State of Play: The DVDof this thrilling Paul Abbot whodunit—which stars McAvoy, Bill Nighy, John Simm,and Kelly Macdonald as journalists investigating the murder of apolitical aid—was a hot commodity at EW.
4. The Inspector Lynley Mysteries, Season 1: James out-creeps The Wire’s Idris Elba and Colin Firth’s little bro Jonathan in episode three, in which a woman is knifed to death during an acting retreat in Scotland. Shake in your Wellies.
The hardest thing about being an Anglophile is finding the stuff,so I’m ending each column with a list of things to look out for duringthe week. And please, give me your own suggestions and opinions on McAvoy (and any other Brit you think is the bee’s knees)!
Monday: At 9 pm, watch Shameless (sans McAvoy) on Sundance.
Tuesday: Tune in to BBC America’s Tuesday Night Comedies at 8pm. The line-up: Coupling (with Swingtown’s Jack Davenport), Not Going Out, and AbFab.
Wednesday: Rent Rebus: Set 3,the 2007 episodes of the Scotland-set crime show based on Ian Rankin’snovels (the most popular mystery books in Britain right now).
Thursday: Check out David Gray on Sundance’s Live From Abbey Road at 10pm. Pray he sings “This Year’s Love.”
Friday: Watch a rerun of comedian Russell Brand’s (Forgetting Sarah Marshall) hilarious Letterman appearance at 11:30 on CBS.
Saturday: At night, enjoy the Britcoms Coupling, The Vicar of Dibley, and Absolute Power on PBS (check local listings for airtimes).
Sunday: Listen to Office co-creator Stephen Merchant’s funny BBC6 radio show here. At 9pm, watch Billie Piper’s husband Laurence Fox on Masterpiece Mystery! in the uber-excellent Lewis.