Channel Three: Double
are designed to be flexible. Each chapter has a clear
teaching point. It can be identified with a major structural
area such as the passives or reported speech. A lot more
goes on as well, but this clarity of focus makes it easy to
select appropriate video materials to go with whatever you
Which is more difficult in a foreign language? Understanding
a person speaking (with gesture, body language, facial
expression, background pictures) or understanding a
telephone conversation? Listening is a vital skill, but
students are doing it blindfolded without the visual
information we get in real life. Students can follow a video
story via the pictures, and are motivated to watch again to
try to get more meaning from the material. They understand
because so much of communication is non-verbal. Above all,
classroom video gets students talking. It inspires more
conversation than any other method. Surveys of students
consistently reveal that it is the most popular stimulus.
That is, as long as it is designed for a purpose, short, and
interesting. Seven or eight minutes of video is enough for a
90 minute lesson
Viney, during the filming of episodes 7 and 8
Three" is a comedy thriller set in Oxford. Alan Penny
(played by Steve Steen) is a librarian at Ethelred College,
Oxford. When we meet him, we find out that he is short of
The college has just discovered an unknown Shakespeare play,
"The Falcon of Malta" in its ancient storerooms, and Dr
Burbage, the Master of the College wants Alan to take it for
computer analysis. On the way, Alan is kidnapped. The
kidnappers are led by Ingrid and Frankie . They think he is
Professor Fanshawe, a famous biochemist, who happens to be
It seems to Dr Burbage that Alan has run away with the
manuscript, and the police are called in. Debbie, his friend
and co-worker, is determined that Alan is innocent.
The plot follows Alan's escape with the help of Debbie . Not
only does he have to keep out of the clutches of the gang,
but he also has to recover the manuscript which he had left
in a briefcase
The locations in and around Oxford are stunning.
One and two consist of separate stories. We felt that the
structural material we wanted to cover in Level Three lent
itself best to a story, with all the work it involves in
summarising the story so far and guessing the future
direction of the plot.
This is a genuine pre-intermediate / intermediate course
rather than yet anoother "false beginners" course. In other
words it covers structures such as reporting, past perfect,
passives, conditionals and speculation. These all work
better with a continuing story.
The story is divided into eight episodes, each with a clear
The cast was built
around the English Channel 1 & 2 team, with Steve
Steen as Alan / Professor Fanshawe and Jim Sweeney
as the villain, Frankie.
Steve is most familiar as Dennis Cook in Levels one and two.
Steve had played multiple roles in "A Day In the Country" in
level one where he plays five brothers.
Jim had a new short hair cut for his menacing role as
Frankie. His appearance is completely different, and he
combines menace with comedy.
When we filmed "Ken's Kitchen" in English Channel One, we
immediately wanted to do a script with Gabrielle
Cowburn, Steve and Jim as they worked so well together.
Gabrielle also played the mother in the Oakwood Avenue
stories in Levels One and Two, and the manager in "An
English Country Garden" from level two. Gabrielle is
Rebecca Egan plays the leading villain, Ingrid. This
is a dramatic role reversal from Levels One and Two, where
she plays the Police Superintendent.
Martin Ball hadn't worked with us on "English
Channel" before, though we knew him well from his TV work,
such as the sitcom, "Keeping Mum". He plays Dr Burbage
Melia) and Mick (Anderson Knight), the other
members of the gang both appear in Levels One and Two. Terry
is the taxi driver in Level 1: Story One and the waiter in
Level Two: Episode 7. Anderson appears in "Going, Going,
Gone" in Level Two.
Bruce Alexander who plays the Inspector is extremely
familiar in the role, as he also plays the senior police
officer in TV's "A Touch of Frost".
Simon Schatzenburger who plays the intelligent police
sergeant, is the cyclist in "A Day in the Country" from
level one, and also encounters Dennis Cook in both the
earlier Dennis Cook stories.
Cathryn Harrison is immediately familiar to viewers
of the Grapevine
as well as from her many major roles on film and TV. Cathryn
does a cameo performance in English Channel Three as Dr
Alice Trim, an academic who is fascinated by Frankie.
Rob Maidment directed and produced the whole series.
Rob was the producer of all our other video series, and the
producer / director of "Only
Martyn Hobbs was the script editor of the
The concept dates back to lunch with Rob and Martyn. We were
discussing our other videos and how we had once planned the
story of a missing Shakespeare manuscript. This was replaced
by the story Bob Baker did for "Mystery
We remembered that we'd never thought of a title for the
fictional play, and I suddenly said "The Falcon of Malta".
I'd been thinking of the classic film "The Maltese Falcon"
by John Huston. From there we got onto film noire, and the
advantages of a thriller story for the level.