So, our news. Our film Cat Wars transmitted on BBC1 on September 22 and seemed to pass off without violent incident and much enjoyment. We are busy making two further BBC1 single films for their 10.35pm slot - something of speciality for us and one of the few places in telly where you can get to craft a really good single doc. Births (working title) is an eye opening and, we hope, reassuring film about the different choices women make about childbirth. Council (working title) spends the winter with the hardworking staff of a northern local authority.
Looking back to last year, 2013 was one of Landmark's best years, with two heavyweight series - for ITV1 and BBC2 - and two more lighthearted BBC1 single films during the year.
Fox Wars - a 10.35 BBC1 documentary about lovers and loathers of Britain's urban foxes - transmitted in October. It pulled a big audience of 2.4m and the newspaper TV critics certainly seem to have enjoyed it: The Guardian thought it "charming", The Independent called it "revealing", The Mail found it "completely fascinating" and The Sunday Times wrote "highly enjoyable - hilarious."
The film follows on from the success of some our recent productions for that slot - Hedge Wars and Litter Wars. Strange how everything has to be a "war" but I suppose it's a form of TV shorthand for an isssue people feel strongly about.
Our six-part police series - Married to the Job - showed on ITV1 over the summer. It featured the work and - very unusually - the home lives of a group of women police detectives. We're enormously excited about it: it was a real treat to make with lovely central characters. Here's what viewers wrote on Twitter as the first show was going out: storify.com/nicholasodwyer/married-to-the-job-twitter-comment?utm_source=t
The detectives certainly made quite an impression on Carol Midgely from The Times. She wrote: "These women emerge as so passionate, committed and humane that, frankly, if I ran the service I’d feel like cloning them." What's On TV wrote: "This fly-on-the-wall series is uneasy, often incredibly grim, viewing, but the makers have done such a brilliant job in not sensationalising matters that it's moving and inspiring, too." High praise indeed but the women are indeed fantastic.
We're still hearing lovely things said about a wonderful series of one hour films called Brain Doctors which went out on BBC2 in February. The series shows the astonishing work of the brain surgery team at Oxford's John Radcliffe Hospital. The films show some remarkable brain surgery but it is the truly humbling courage and stoicism of patients - often facing nightmare dilemmas - which impresses most.
The series was received extraordinarily well. The Mail on Sunday says: "Far more involving than any medical drama you've ever seen - you'll hardly be able to blink for fear of missing a moment," which is certainly going it a bit. The Daily Mail calls the series "fascinating and moving" and the Sun says "prepare to be mesmerised." The Daily Telegraph wrote "another rollercoaster episode in this short but superb series." The Sunday Times calls the series "life affirming."
There has also been an amazing tidal wave of positive comment on social media which you can see on Twitter under #braindoctors or storify.com/nicholasodwyer/brain-doctors-final-episode which shows some of the comments about the last episode of the series. The best news of all is that all the people featured in the series - including Rajvir, Jenson, Cerys and Chris - are still doing really well.
The BBC have posted up a lovely scene which wasn't included in the series at www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p014jy3z. Have a look - it is one of those truly wonderful moments.
Brain Doctors has been bought by UKTV and it will be repeating on their Really documentary channel throughout the year - there is a new run of reapts starting in November.
This is the second series of hospital films we have made here in Oxford: our earlier series, about the work of the Craniofacial Surgery Department at the JR, was highly praised, with The Sunday Times calling it "this dazzling series" and The Times describing the series as "astonishing." The Guardian praised it as "compulsive viewing"; the Glasgow Herald called it "heart-rending but uplifting".
Our affectionate BBC1 film about litter vigilantes also transmitted in February this year and again in August under the title of Litter Wars. This one was very much in the style of our Hedge Wars film for BBC1 last year - lively and likeable characters and about a Great British issue which people can get mighty heated about - litter dumping and dog fouling.
All three projects are exactly the sort of people-based, inspiring projects which we love making.
Excellent reviews, too, for The Guest Wing, Landmark's recent six-part, glossy series for Sky Atlantic about stately homes and their sometimes eccentric - and often hard-up - owners. The series repeats often on Sky Atlantic: do keep an eye out for it. The Sunday Times wrote: "This fantastically enjoyable documentary has unearthed some fabulously telegenic characters.... a hilarious series." The Daily Telegraph called the first film: "An exquisite treat: I'm already looking forward to the next episode." We're really proud of it: it was a joy to make - great people, truly beautiful photography in stunning locations and the whole thing warmed with a generous spirit.
We're always on the lookout for new director and AP talent so, if you're new and bright and you have a belting docco idea that's sharply focused - about specific people, places and events - feels funny and fresh then get in touch.
We're especially keen to meet people who live in or around Oxford or who are thinking of moving to this part of the world.
LANDMARK FILMS NEWS