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How Do You Look?

Another week at Channel 4, and some more remarkable programming.

After the hugely entertaining (somewhat overdressed) Big Fat Gypsy Weddings and the highly educational (somewhat underdressed) Joy of Teen Sex, this week’s new arrivals are more serious in tone.

Wednesday sees the launch of Beauty and the Beast: The Ugly Face of Prejudice. This series investigates the extremes of discrimination by bringing together two people often defined by the way they look: one has a facial disfigurement, the other an intense preoccupation with their appearance.

What do our faces give away, and what do they hide? And how often do first impressions lie, or at least economise the truth?

Our online game aims to test the reliability of opinions based on appearance alone by evaluating your snap judgements of total strangers. Come and have a go if you think you’re unbiased enough…

Also on the site, you can take part in a Body Confidence Test, which has been created in association with The Centre for Appearance Research, to investigate how body confidence issues can impact on our everyday lives.

One suprising stat that has emerged so far: 69.2% of men often wish they looked like someone else. (And that’s not even counting the ones in police line-ups…)

There’s also brand new drama this week on Channel 4 when The Promise launches on Sunday at 9pm. In Peter Kosminsky’s four-part serial, an 18-year-old girl sets out on an emotional journey when she retraces her grandfather’s footsteps.

The subject matter might not sound immediately contentious, but the location and timing is crucial. The Promise takes shape in one place and two time periods – Palestine following the Second World War, and modern day Israel.

Any drama set against the conflict of our age is bound to generate controversy, but according to Rachel Cooke in The Observer: ‘It is the best thing you are likely to see on television this year, if not this decade.’

As before, it’s all about how you look…

Here on the website, we’ve got preview clips, cast profiles and an interview with the director, Peter Kosminksy. Lindsey Hilsum, the International Editor for Channel 4 News, has written an article exploring the drama’s political background, and there’s even a Twitter tracker to help you explore, and join in, the conversation about the programme.

In the publicity material promoting The Promise, such as the trailer above, the faces of the two lead characters are formed out of the land where the drama is set. If you wanted to know how this sort of artistic jiggery pokery is achieved, this clip should help. Until next time…

More Weddings and Some Fun for All

After the success of last year’s award-winning My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, a bright spark in C4 Towers has hit upon a brilliant idea for a brand new documentary series: loads more gypsy weddings!

Airing at 9pm on Wednesday nights, and anytime on 4oD, Big Fat Gypsy Weddings offers an insight into an unseen Britain that lives right on our doorstep. Albeit sometimes temporarily.

More big days means only one thing: more incredibly big dresses. It seems that when it comes to a gypsy wedding, smart but casual is not an option… Here on the website we’ve got an interview with dress designer Thelma Madine that’s as exclusive as her fabulous creations.

Visit the site for more exclusive video that offers a closer look at the traveller community: their lifestyle, hopes and aspirations.

Elsewhere this week, grim-faced lawyers have been busy pacing the Channel 4 corridors, anxiously counting down the hours till 10 O’Clock Live hits your TV screens. Jimmy Carr, Lauren Laverne, David Mitchell, Charlie Brooker. A live show about politics. I don’t know what they’re worried about…

If you’re all Twittered and Facebooked up (and if you’re reading this blog you clearly know your way around the internet), we’ve got even more to offer. Follow 10 O’Clock Live on Twitter for news of extra content and to engage with the show.

Alternatively (or as well – in for a virtual penny) get more from the show from its official Facebook page. Here, you can take part in polls, suggest topics for discussion and generally make your own helpful (or otherwise) contributions to the debate.

And there’s more live funny business on Channel 4 this weekend, when Jonathan Ross hosts the biggest night of the year for British comedy – the British Comedy Awards. Visit the website to see all the nominations, and to find out how to vote for your favourite comedian in the People’s Choice award.

In the run-up to the event, which airs at 9pm on Saturday, Bill Bailey tracked down five of the UK’s favourite comedians to ask them who they think most worthy of an award, with amusing results. You can watch these comic choices here on 4oD. In this clip, Lee Mack takes the opportunity to point out to Bill what a great face he has for comedy, rather than, say, gynaecology. Enjoy

Shameless Glee

The festive season, as we always knew it would, has finally bitten the dust. If you’re reading this, you must have got through it at least partially unscathed. At times like this, thank your lucky stars you’re not Frank Gallagher, who has his own personal New Year’s Eve every time he can rustle up the price of enough super strength.

Yes, the mighty Shameless is back, and to celebrate Channel 4 is bingeing on Chatsworth’s finest, popping the ring pull of a fresh episode at 10pm every night this week. To remind you of what the madness is all about, here’s Frank delivering a typically well-considered political analysis of today’s Britain.

And if your New Year-addled brain needs more jogging to make a hot date (protection advised) with the Shameless crew, remember you can watch all seven previous series right here on 4oD. That really is an astonishing catalogue of bad, mad and dangerous-to-know behaviour…

Series 8 promises to be right up there with the brilliant worst of them, but don’t just take our word for it…

For more interviews with the cast and other exclusive content, visit our own little online shrine to the denizens of Chatsworth.

Over on E4, 2011 finally kicks in for real this week, too, with the eagerly awaited return of the musical youth-fest that is Glee. As you can see and hear from this clip, nothing – least of all the ludicrously OTT auto-tuned vocals – has been dialled down for Series 2.

For more Glee clips, quizzes, games and interviews head over to the all-singing, all-dancing site on E4.com.

Finally, news of an E4 series that, if anything, has been awaited with even more bated (though less finely tuned) breath. Series 5 of Skins is on its way. More on this later. In the meantime, try and make do with this intriguingly clothes-free trailer of the teens who fell to earth…

Frankie Says: See You Next Tuesday

Oh Mr Ambassador, you really are spoiling us with all this comic genius…

First PhoneShop pops up on E4. Then More4 gets in on the act with The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret. Then the return on Friday nights of the glorious, albeit scurvy-ridden, flagship of Channel 4 comedy that is Peep Show, closely followed by (after a Kylie-like costume change) Robert’s Web. And now Tuesday nights on Channel 4 sees the launch of not one but two brand new comedy shows.

The Morgana Show is a fast-paced, multi-faced sketch show starring one of the most exciting female comedians (not comediennes, please) around – Morgana Robinson. Here’s a sneak preview, featuring a slightly less manic than usual Fearne Cotton…

If that tickled your fancy, you can watch more Morgana incarnations in action here.

As for the other newcomer, the title says it all: Frankie Boyle’s Tramadol Nights. If you like your comedy tame, inoffensive and unfunny I think I can safely say that this is not the show for you. Here’s a clue – Frankie once (in)famously described Amy Winehouse as looking like a campaign poster for neglected horses…

For some reason, quite possibly related to legal requirements and watersheds, I can’t get hold of a preview clip of the acerbic Glaswegian in full throttle (his new stand-up DVD is, appropriately, called If I Could Reach Out Through Your TV and Strangle You I Would).

But here’s a taste – bad or good, you decide – of things to come. Enjoy…

Where D’ya Get Them Peepers?

If you like your comedy rib-tickling, toe-curling and near the knuckle, some great news. Peep Show is back! The very odd couple have been reunited, and Series 7 of Mark and Jeremy’s misadventures hits your telly box (smack bang in the gonads, to comic effect) on Friday 26 November.

And it gets even better. If you can’t wait till then, the first episode is available to watch here on the website a whole week before it airs on TV. Justice is done! (Well, not justice, but what we wanted to happen, which – as Jeremy says – is basically the same thing.)

So grab your ergonomic management keyboards and get ready to party. One word of warning, though. If you’re going to watch an online premiere in your dressing gown, you may want to put some pants on…

Here’s a sneak Peep of good things to come, featuring everyone’s favourite drug-addled borderline sociopath, the wonderful Super Hans.

Of course, you can watch previous episodes, indeed entire series, of Peep Show, here and now on 4oD.

And there are some more online exclusives already on the website. Camera in hand, we recently caught up with David Mitchell (Mark), Robert Webb (Jeremy), and Peep Show writers Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong. In a series of video interviews, they spill the beans on gloating sessions, award sniffing and hookers. Among other things…

Here, Robert and Jesse discuss the awful prospect of having to give Jeremy advice, during which Robert reveals a rather disturbing mental image of his onscreen alter-ego…

If all this Peep Show stuff has whetted your comedy appetite, then you might enjoy This Just In, our comedy news site that turns headlines into punchlines.

One recent addition to the site is the Headline Jacker.This brand new app allows you to harness the combined power of the internet and a hugely popular social networking site (can anyone guess which one? Clue: it’s not Friends Reunited) for the best possible purpose – to insult your nearest and dearest.

So is any friend of yours a deluded, workshy waste of space? And is it worth gently pointing this out to them? If so, walk this way. (No, this way…)

This Just In

Increasingly Offensive, More Funny

Everyone’s favourite young offenders are back on the run. Misfits will be causing havoc on E4 from November 11, in brand new Series 2.

If you’re unfamiliar with this brilliant comedy drama – perhaps, like Nathan, you’ve been unavoidably detained somewhere – you’ve still got time to remedy this oversight. Can I politely suggest you sort your life out and get up to speed with Bafta-winning Series 1 on 4oD? Here’s a sneak peek of things to come.

Over at E4.com they’ve gone overboard – in a good way – on the Misfits website, with new games, exclusives and loads more video.

They’ve also come up with a brilliant way for you to come face to face with your favourite superheroes with Asbos. Mess with the Misfits allows you to star in your very own Misfits scene. It’s what Facebook should have been invented for – try it out here.

Meanwhile, news that More4 is joining the comedy party with a brand new series that starts on Sunday 14 November – The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret.

The show stars stand-up comedian, writer and Arrested Development star David Cross as the eponymous Todd – whose fast and loose relationship with the truth lands him in increasingly hot water. And court.

Like Free Agents, Plus One and the mighty PhoneShop, this show first saw the light of day as a one-off on Comedy Showcase, before the C4 execs saw sense and snapped it up as a series. Here’s a little bit of what tickled their collective fancy.

Our website features behind-the-scenes video extras from the cast and crew about the making of the show. These include contributions from Todd’s sidekick Dave, played by Blake Harrison.

You might recognise Blake from some obscure E4 show – The Inbetweeners, I think it’s called? In this clip, he and David reveal its benign, and hitherto unsuspected, influence on baby linguistics, lycra animatronics and the work of film director James Cameron. Enjoy.

Drama Season

The nights are drawing in. Summer has given up the ghost. Autumn is upon us and Winter, like the ice-cold hand of Death, is tapping a bony digit on our shoulder.

On a slightly more positive note, the long evenings are the perfect time to enjoy some top new drama on Channel 4.

Saturday saw the launch of The Pillars of the Earth, an epic love story set against a backdrop of war, religious strife and power struggles in 12th century England. The drama is executively produced by renowned filmmaker Ridley Scott who, as this trailer indicates, brings some big-screen panache to the TV table.

An impressive cast including Ian McShane, Rufus Sewell, Hayley Atwell and Donald Sutherland star in this adaptation of Ken Follett’s novel. The website features video diaries that document the mammoth task (tusk?) of bringing this sprawling adventure to the screen, and an intriguing series of Author’s Blogs.

And, of course, if you missed Saturday’s opening double-bill you can watch it here on 4oD.

Theres another drama double-bill debut this Friday on Channel 4, when The Event launches itself at an unsuspecting British public. This conspiracy thriller follows everyman Jason Ritter on an investigation that exposes the greatest cover-up in US history.

Personally, I don’t believe in conspiracy theories. Mind you, I’ve probably been programmed to think like that…

Visit the site for more preview clips and video interviews, and find out who’s who with our character profiles.

Finally, if it’s high drama you’re after, those glamorous US divas of suburbia are returning to Channel 4 on Monday evenings. No, not Desperate Housewives (although brand new Series 7 is now airing on Sunday evenings), but the Real Housewives of New Jersey.

If you’re unfamiliar with this ‘reality’ series about the hilarious infighting between a bunch of glam East Coast moms, here’s a recap from Series 1.

Now that’s what I’m talking about…

International Heart-throbs

As well as our full-length programmes on 4oD, there’s a ton of bespoke, non-broadcast video available on Channel4.com. Recent examples of this are the cast interviews from Shane Meadows’s This Is England 86, the highly succesful continuation of his hit film of the same(ish) name.

In this vein, as it were, check out our interview with Alexander Skarsgård, who plays the dangerous Eric in ‘mature vampire drama’ True Blood. Clearly a serious actor, which explains the å in his surname, Alexander reveals how he owes his appearance in the show to the US writers’ strike, and how his portrayal of Eric was inspired by a male lion in a David Attenborough documentary…

If you’re thirsty for more True Blood, then there are polls, quizzes and competitions here. Visit the site next week for more interviews with Nelsan Ellis and Sam Trammell, AKA Lafayette and Sam.

And in case you missed it, I should point out the site also features a video interview with Stephen Moyer. He plays Bill, who rivals Eric when it comes to sexiest undead bloke in True Blood.

But when it comes to sex appeal, both Stephen and Alexander would surely have to take a back seat to Coach Trip legend Brendan. In this exclusive interview, Brendan reveals that he hasn’t, in fact, been to every place in the world, and how he had to fend off the unwanted attentions of Yannis to maintain his reputation as an international tour guide. Sit back, relax and enjoy the ride!

If you, like Yannis, can’t get enough Brendan in your life, visit the site for his daily video blogs. And if you, like Yannis, would like to see Brendan in the flesh, then you can apply to take part in future series of Coach Trip here.

And there will be future series. This is one show that’s not going anywhere…

High Street Rubbery

It’s not too often I get enthusiastic about anything.

We are, after all, merely transient beings, destined to turn to dust after varying periods of painful individual decline and a brief collective spell on planet earth, spent screwing it up for as many other species as possible.

However, when it comes to the brilliant PhoneShop, I make an exception. And here’s why…

After a hugely successful pilot as part of Channel 4’s Comedy Showcase season, this razorsharp sitcom about a high street phoneshop begins its full series premiere on E4 next Thursday.

And it gets better – you don’t need to wait until then! You can watch the opening episode right here, right now on 4oD.

PhoneShop features a superb ensemble cast that includes Martin Trenaman as Lance, the shop manager. Martin also stars in another sitcom from 4 that’s doing rather well – the multi award-winning Inbetweeners.

And in a further example of Connect 4, the new series of PhoneShop features cameo support from Channel 4 and E4’s slipperiest customer, the upwardly mobile Kayvan Novak.

Who’s he? Well, you might not recognise the name but you’ll… Actually, you might not recognise the face, either. Here’s a clue, involving four genuine Come Dine with Me contestants and the one and only Terry Tibbs.

Enjoy! Life’s too short not to, remember?

We Have Got News for You

We’ve been busy here at Channel4.com. (When I say we… well, you know what I mean.)

Wednesday saw the first airing on Channel 4 of ‘a brand new reality’ – Seven Days – which follows the lives of some intriguing characters living in London’s Notting Hill. Here’s one of the more intriguing, Malcolm, recounting the unusual fate of his favourite cat.

“And I put him in the fridge on his favourite pillow, and I covered him in roses, and I went away for two and a half years…” As I say, intriguing.

This unique documentary series aims to allow viewers to influence what happens not only on their screeens, but in real life.

So how on earth is that supposed to work? Luckily, someone who knows something about it had the foresight to make this handy guide…

A brand new episode of Seven Days airs on Wednesday at 10pm, and if your own real life has the temerity to clash with the Channel 4 schedule, you can always catch up on 4oD.

For those of you still getting over the images of Malcolms ‘house party’ at the end of the show – please don’t have nightmares. Instead, distract yourself with a visit to our spanking new Channel 4 News site, which launched on Monday with a new design, improved navigation and search functionality.

Alongside breaking news, blogs and special reports, the site has launched a competition to find the best young news blogger in the UK.

Technophiles should note that all the video on the new site can now be played back on iOS devices (iPhone and iPad) and the latest Android OS, so you can keep up to speed when you’re on the move.

And if the latest phone technology is up your street, or even if it isn’t, look out for the brand new series of the hilarious PhoneShop, coming soon to E4. More news on this next time, but in the meantime check out this preview.

This series is definitely worth watching. Trrrusssst me.



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