New TV Channel Klaxon – PARAMOUNT NETWORK is here.

Agent Carter

Paramount Network, the brand new free-to-air UK destination offering premium scripted drama, high quality comedy and movies featuring some of the brightest stars.

Launching on 4th July, it’s the channel with big stories and big characters for adults of all ages with strong appeal to Generation X, Millennials and fans of cinematic storytelling, iconic moments and non-stop action. 

Paramount Network is the home of various free-to-air premieres, including the seventh season of SUITS, the critically-acclaimed US drama from creator/executive producer Aaron Korsh and starring Gabriel Macht, Patrick J. Adams, Rick Hoffman, Sarah Rafferty and Meghan Markle. Earlier seasons of SUITS will also air on the Paramount Network, allowing fans to catch the series from the very beginning.

The biggest news for us at is that Marvel’s Agent Carter is featuring heavily in the launch.

Marvel’s Agent Carter starts on Paramount Network on launch night at 8pm, then airing weekly Thursdays at 9pm.

There is a lot more to expect from this channel though:

Confirmed to premiere on the channel is brand new Kiefer Sutherland drama DESIGNATED SURVIVOR and US comedy series THE MICK starring Kaitlin Olsen (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia), both joining the slate later in the year.
Ben Frow, Director of Programming, Channel 5, overseeing the UK launch of Paramount Network said: “Paramount Network is set to deliver high end Hollywood entertainment with blockbuster movies, scripted drama and critically acclaimed comedy featuring some of the biggest names on the planet. Supported by Channel 5’s creative scheduling and audience insight and underpinned by Viacom’s brand-building expertise, Paramount Network is a popular premium content destination in a free-to-air world.”

Jill Offman, EVP Comedy Central and Paramount Network International said: “Launching on TV screens in the UK is another critical milestone for the Paramount Network brand, which we’re convinced will resonate strongly with British viewers given Paramount’s distinguished and successful history of epic, cinematic story-telling for global audiences. Delivering free-to-air content to millions of UK households, underlines our belief that, despite the growing popularity of on-demand, viewers continue to value highly TV channels that offer an intelligently scheduled linear line up of quality entertainment.”

Paramount Network is home to box-office smashes; from WAR OF THE WORLDS, CATCH ME IF YOU CAN and DANCES WITH WOLVES to critically acclaimed and cult classics THE SHINING, THE TALENTED MR RIPLEY and JACKIE BROWN to much loved titles including PRINCE OF TIDES, GROUNDHOG DAY and ROXANNE.

The channel also plays host to the premiere of LIP SYNC BATTLE US including the huge Michael Jackson special from the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.  The network’s slate also includes action drama SIX, fantasy drama HEROES REBORN, and the Emmy® Award-winning comedy WILL & GRACE.

The UK becomes the third Paramount Network after the US and Spain, and there are separately 11 locally scheduled versions of Paramount Channel internationally.  Paramount is one of Viacom’s flagship global brands including Comedy Central, MTV and Nickelodeon and its fastest growing international entertainment brand.

Paramount Network will launch in the UK on Freeview (57), Sky (159), BT (57) and TalkTalk (57) platforms.

The War of the Worlds: The New Generation – Live

The War of the Worlds: The New Generation - Live
O2 Arena, London

In November 2012, Jeff Wayne released a new version of his seminal 70s concept album, based on HG Wells’ novel. Where once Richard Burton spoke of “minds immeasurably superior to ours” in his inimitable Welsh burr, now Liam Neeson narrates the words of The Journalist. It takes some getting used to, but this new roster of artists, from Maverick Sabre to Ricky Wilson, give the work a fresh coat of paint. What follows the new album release is a new live show, utilising a holographic performance from Neeson, and replacing all of the new album singers, save Wilson, with seasoned stage performers like Kerry Ellis and Jason Donovan.

As a fan of the original double album, I’ve longed to see the live TWOTW show for years, with its fabled life size tripods and CG film backdrops. So, last Saturday, I found myself at the O2 Arena for the New Generation Live.

Doors opened more than an hour before show time, but with a background music soundtrack drawn from the album, and cast members interacting with the audience, there was plenty to get my excitement up. Then, as a large string section took their seats on one side of the stage, with an electric rock band on the other, Jeff Wayne stepped out to receive applause and conduct proceedings from the stage.

Opening with a new prologue, two Victorian astronomers detect strange activity on Mars. A CG film sequence then takes us to the Red Planet, where a Martian council of war is being held. From there, the first half keeps to more familar territory, with Marti Pellow handling the sung parts of the Eve of the War and Forever Autumn, and the 30 foot Martian tripod descending to the stage to catch swathes of the audience in its spotlight heat ray.

This first half was loud, the musicians and visuals creating a multi-sensory experience that felt like being in the middle of a war. At times, the live singers fought to make themselves heard above the music, only Liam Neeson’s pre-recorded part taking dominance in the proceedings.

The second half opens with another new sequence, as the Journalist addresses his lost love, Carrie, in his mind’s eye. With both Neeson and the actress playing Carrie on two video screens, there was little emotion in this scene, which was further scuppered by Carrie’s dialogue being inaudible in the Arena.

After this mis-step, however, the show came into its own, with fantastic performances from Ellis, Donovan and Wilson. I’ve always felt the second disc of the album to be the stronger, and so it proved live, with the power of a true stage musical. And while the reappearance of the Tripod had lost some of its power, a brief cameo at the end brought the walls down, if not the house.

A fantastic show then, but I left with a few niggles. The CG sequences, while deliberately 70s in style, became a little repetitive after a time, with too many appearances of an unexplained flying Martian machine. But the biggest problem is Neeson, or rather his pre recorded performance. Whether on a large film screen or on stage as a rather limited hologram, the barrier this created could not be overcome by the live performers who had to act, and sing alongside him. The most powerful scene of the show was between Kerry Ellis and Jason Donovan, as they could act more naturally with each other.

Perhaps what is needed now is for someone to take a fresh approach with Wayne’s music. A recast narrator who could tour with the show, ideally one who could also sing his music parts, would be a good step forward, and more live action on stage could reduce the reliance on CG film. And some of the bridging music from the album could also be trimmed live. The War of the Worlds: The Next Generation anyone?

Steven Spielberg?s Alien Invasion

Produced by the legendary Steven Spielberg, Falling Skies ? out on DVD 2nd July ?chronicles the chaotic aftermath of an alien attack that leaves most of the world completely incapacitated. The spectacular series joins a wealthy back catalogue of sci-fi films that Spielberg has put his unique mark on and to celebrate the release, we look at the best extra-terrestrial tales that the three-time Oscar-winner has brought to our screens.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

Steven Spielberg?s first major foray into the supernatural follows Roy Neary (Richard Dreyfuss) after he has an alien encounter, becoming obsessed with five musical notes and a mountain-like figure; the movie was unusual for its time as it portrayed aliens as peaceful beings, rather than destructive monsters. Despite being released in the same year as the groundbreaking ?Star Wars,? ?Close Encounters of the Third Kind? became Columbia?s most-successful film of the time and was honoured with eight Oscar nominations.

E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

In one of the most-loved children?s film of all time, a young boy named Elliot (Henry Thomas) discovers an alien and tries to get him home without raising the suspicions of his parents or the government. Spielberg admitted that he had based ?E.T.? on the imaginary friend he had made up during childhood and shot the entire film at a child?s eye level so the audience would feel more involved with Elliot?s adventure. The film surpassed ?Star Wars? at the box-office to become the highest grossing movie in history, a position it kept for over a decade.

Men In Black (1997)

In this Spielberg-produced sci-fi comedy, a NYPD cop (Will Smith) joins a secret organisation that protects Earth fromgalactic invasions whilst monitoring ?legal aliens? who have chosen to peacefully live amongst humans. ?Men In Black? is considered to be the film that projected Smith onto the Hollywood A-list, however he reportedly turned down the lead role thinking he wasn?t good enough for a Spielberg movie; Smith?s wife talked him into reconsidering and he has since starred in two sequels.

War of the Worlds (2005)

Spielberg adapted the H.G. Wells classic into a tale of a man?s (Tom Cruise) fight to save his family during an alieninvasion; it was a change in approach for the director who stated that “for the first time in my life I’m making an alien picture where there is no love and no attempt at communication.” Spielberg owns one of the surviving copies of the original Orson Welles radio script and had planned to make it into a film decades earlier but decided against it when ?Independence Day? was put into production.

Transformers (2007)

Despite turning the franchise down at first, famously calling it a ?stupid toy movie,? Michael Bay?s desire to work with Spielberg was the reason he eventually agreed to take the helm on ?Transformers.? Although having such differing styles, Spielberg?s main piece of advice to Bay was that at the heart of the explosive action should be a simple tale of a boy and his car; this combination of quality storytelling and stunning action sequences made ?Transformers? a surprise box-office smash and spawned two sequels.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)

Released nineteen years after the last installment, the fourth Indiana Jones adventure revolved around an extra-terrestrial psychic skull. To compensate for the time difference and Harrison Ford?s obvious ageing, Spielberg set the film in the late 1950s; this allowed him to take into account the Cold War, and once he learnt that Joseph Stalin had been interested in crystal skulls, he made the Soviets the script’s villains.

Cowboys and Aliens (2011)

Despite having the most ridiculous title since ?Snakes on a Plane,? Spielberg?s alien western was received as a credibly fun if ultimately unsuccessful action movie. Charting the story of a man (Daniel Craig), who wakes up in the Wild West with a forgotten past and a mysterious shackle around his wrist; Spielberg provided the director, writers and cameramen with a collection of famous westerns to make sure that they got the authentic look of the genre that he desired.

Super 8 (2011)

The parallels to the Spielberg-written ?The Goonies? was unmistakable in this exhilarating tale of a group of friends who film a train crash whilst making an amateur movie, only to suspect supernatural activities behind it when looking back at the footage. Director J.J.Abrams stated that ?Super 8? ?paid homage? to producer Spielberg?s childhood adventure films and even featured the famous bicycle from E.T. as part of the metal junk that gets attached to the water tower in the final scenes.

Falling Skies (2011)

Spielberg transferred his passion for extra-terrestrials onto the small screen in last year?s sci-fi drama ?Falling Skies.? The series takes place six-months after aliens take over the earth, where history professor Tom Mason (Noah Wyle) helps lead a small army named 2nd Massachusetts in the battle of their lives to preserve their families and what is left of humanity. Wyle admitted that Spielberg?s presence on set was a testament to how much he cared for the project, mentioning that the producer shaped the script, made the editing suggestions and gave notes on how the aliens should look.