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English Channel Three: Double Identity

English Channel 3: Double Identity

English Channel 3 Student's Book Videos like "English Channel" and "Only in America" 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 are using.

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


Peter Viney on the set on Double Identity
Peter Viney, during the filming of episodes 7 and 8

The Story
"English Channel 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 money.

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 his double.

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.
Why a story?
English Channel 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 language focus.

The cast
Steve Steen Jim Sweeney 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.
Gabrielle Cowburn 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 Debbie.
Rebecca Egan 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 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 brilliantly.



Terry Melia Anderson Knight

Terry (Terry 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 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 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
Cathryn Harrison is immediately familiar to viewers of the
Grapevine videos, 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.gif (4533bytes) Rob Maidment directed and produced the whole series. Rob was the producer of all our other video series, and the producer / director of "
Only in America"

martyn.gif (4798bytes)

Martyn Hobbs was the script editor of the series.

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 Tour." 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.


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