So you’re addicted to Doctor Who, BBC America and M.C. Beaton, but your young ones adore Wonder Pets!, Nick, Jr., and Stephenie Meyer. And while there’s nothing wrong with those particular pickings, you’d still like them to share your lust for all things British. Here are some Harry Potter-free suggestions. With any luck, they’ll be calling cookies “biscuits” by Christmas.
Ages 3+ will love the Charlie and Lola books, dolls, and DVDs
This brother/sister duo rules Britain — and apparently the EW offices, because Josh Wolk stole my three kick-arse talking Charlie and Lola dolls for his daughter. I already miss the dress-up Lola (pictured), who says “I’m hoping, I’m hoping, hoping, hoping,” in a delightful English lilt. Well, “I’m hoping, hoping” to buy a new one this Saturday at Charlie & Lola’s big NYC “Coming Out Party” at FAO Schwarz (details here, bring your kids!) and to catch the puppet show of my favorite C&L story, I Will Not Ever Never Eat a Tomato, in which Charlie tricks Lola into snacking healthy by telling her peas are “green drops from Greenland.” It’s cute and intelligent. If you don’t live in the area, the massive Charlie and Lola series one and two DVD set hits stores next Tuesday, October 14th. It features an animated version of Tomato. Disney will also air a C&L Halloween special on October 25th. The crazy gorgeous animation — elegant sticklike figures with photographic cutouts — will wow anyone. Just watch this clip of Lola and her friend singing “Bestest in the Barn.”
Ages 9+ will dig The Sarah Jane Adventures on DVD
Ease your offspring into Doctor Who with this children’s spinoff. Elizabeth Sladen (pictured) reprises her DWrole as investigative journalist Sarah Jane, who’s now fighting alienswith the help of some wily teenagers (including her adopted son andspunky neighbor). The first series drops on DVD tomorrow. It’s a mightygood primer for the Who universe: The extras let you huntthrough the monster profiles on Sarah’s PC and includes a boatload ofsurprisingly difficult trivia quizzes. A weekend of Adventures might even get them excited for the Doctor Who season four DVDs (with their wonderful Sarah Jane-filled two-part finale) which are available in November.
Ages 16+ will relish Skins on BBC America, Sunday nights at 10pm.
EW Must Listed it. Dalton Ross praised it. So introduce your Gossip Girl-lovingteens to this thoughtful, yet totally juicy, series about ten Bristolhigh school students. Luckily, they can jump right into the secondseason, which starts Sunday. What makes the show so good? These arereal kids played by real actors with real talent. It’s racy, butthere’s always a serious and smart payoff.
Ages 18+ will enjoy I’m Not An Animal on U.K. DVD and YouTube
Family Guy funny meets South Park dirty — with the voicework of Steve Coogan, Simon Pegg, and Julia Davis. They play talkinganimals originally intended to be designer pets with the ability to say “I loveyou,” but who turn out a lot more pretentious and opinionated. Theylive together in a waterside apartment — griping, copulating and eatinggourmet food — until they’re forced into the wild by events toocomplicated to explain. My favorite creature: Amelia Bullmore’s bulldogwho obsesses over Tim Robbins. Sound weird? It is. I’ve had the Region2 DVDs for a month and still can’t fully wrap my brain around it. Butit always makes me laugh. Here’s a clip:
Monday (October 5th): Get your learn on by watching the Carrie Fisher-narrated Stonehenge Deciphered — whichchronicles the first archeological dig within the sacred circle innearly 50 years — on the Smithsonian Channel at 8pm. Gerard Butlerguests on NBC’s Leno at 11:35pm.
Tuesday: Check out Robin Hood’s Keith Allen and Foyle’s War’s Michael Kitchen in the three-part techno-thriller Mobile, which makes its US debut on DVD. Also out: ‘Allo ‘Allo: The Complete Collection, Midsomer Murders Set 11, and The Michael Palin Collection.
Wednesday: Get John le Carré’s new novel, A Most Wanted Man, and visit BBC Worldwide Comedy’s MySpace Page.
Thursday: The US versions of Life on Mars and Eleventh Hour premiere on ABC and CBS respectively at 10pm.
Friday: Give Guy Ritchie another chance by checking out RocknRolla.
Saturday: Catch a rerun of Spaced star Jessica Hynes’ all-too-brief Doctor Who stint in the first of a two-part episode based on the 1995 Who novel Human Nature on BBC America at 7pm.
Sunday: BBC America airs a marathon of the original, Patrick Stewart-headlined Eleventh Hour starting at 1pm.