Guinevere Jones: articles


Tamara Hope

Me and Ms Jones

THERE is not much Ted Hamilton hasn't done.

The Australian has acted in TV series including Division 4, M*A*S*H, Mission: Impossible, The Six Million Dollar Man, Hawaii Five-O and he even played Captain Thomas Ford in The Love Boat.

Hamilton has also tried his hand at film production, international business consulting, political lobbying, singing, songwriting and international sport.

However, when Hamilton recently returned to Australia, he was reticent to go back in front of the camera. But Guinevere Jones producer and old friend Lynn Bayonas persuaded him.

"She remembered me from the days we worked together on Division 4 and she called me up and said 'There's a wonderful new children's series and we can't find a Merlin'," he says. "I said I didn't really want to do a kids' show but she said it was very well written and very clever so on her reputation I went down and read for it."

His interpretation of the show's senior character left producers of the joint Australian/Canadian production wanting more.

Merlin is a mentor to the show's heroine, Gwen Jones, the reluctant reincarnation of Guinevere Jones, who caused the downfall of Camelot.

Through magic, Merlin guides Gwen to accept her position and fight evil.

"Every time we see Merlin he's a doddering old guy with a funny cap, but in King Arthur's time he was a robust young man so I decided to play him as a robust older man with a strong masculine presence," he says.

Hamilton describes the series as "Buffy, the Vampire Slayer for high-school kids" and says the show has already unearthed two very talented young actors in Greta Larkins and Tamara Hope.

Guinevere Jones, Channel 10, Friday, 4pm.

Jennifer Dudley
The Courier Mail (Australia)
May 30, 2002



TV Times cover

Girl Power

A legendary character gets a modern-day makeover in Guinevere Jones

For centuries the name Guinevere was synonymous with the downfall of King Arthur's Camelot. Now, there's a new take on the Celtic legend and, this time around, it's the mythic beauty who gets to be the hero.

Guinevere Jones is a new half-hour series for young viewers (ages eight to 14) that stars Canadian actress Tamara Hope as Gwen Jones, a 14-year-old girl who discovers that she is a modern-day reincarnation of the legendary Queen Guinevere.

"Every now and again, I think, 'Wow!' When I got into acting, if you'd said, 'What kind if role do you think you'd like to play in the next couple of years?', this is what I would have [wanted]." says Hope, a charismatic Toronto native who as a voracious reader spent many hours engrossed by the legends of Kind Arthur. "She's a powerful girl and interesting," the actress says of her character. "It's really exciting."

Filmed in Australia, Guinevere Jones is an Australian/Canadian co-production, When viewers first meet Gwen, she seems like any other Canadian teen, except that she ad her Australian-born mother are on the run. For reasons Gwen doesn't understand, they've fled to Australia. In Melbourne, her mother falls ill and is confined to hospital. While she's being treated, it becomes apparent to Gwen that there's a link between her mother's condition and the danger that has been nipping at their heels.

Events unfold to reveal Gwen's true identity, and she is forced to confront her destiny and the fact that she has unusual powers and a role to play in the battle f good vs. evil. The sudden appearance of the legendary magician Merlin (played by Ted Hamilton) helps Gwen ease on down that road. "As time goes on, she becomes well versed in magic and used to the idea of the responsibility," Hope says. "It's interesting. Gwen doesn't know Merlin, yet he knows her, he does know her very well and understands her. And he has a fatherly affection for her, but she betrayed him [in the past]… In the legend. she destroyed the whole Camelot idea that Merlin has always wanted."

As played by the talented Hope, Gwen is a wondrous mix of strength and introversion. At times seeming like a younger version of the ethereal Sarah Polley, Hope is magnetic when she is on screen. It's hard to take one's eyes off this actress, who has been performing for barely four years.

As the series lead, much is riding on Hope's young shoulders. She has appeared in several TV-movies and, last year, was honoured in Los Angeles with a Young Artists Award for a movie called The Sandy Bottom Orchestra. Hope was just finishing her final semester of high school when she landed the role of Gwen/Guinevere . As the years began, she and her mother were on a plane to Melbourne, where the series started filming in January. The rest of the Hope clan has remained in Ontario.

"I like this character," Hope says of Gwen. "I like that she's complicated. I like that she really cares about things and that she can really be hurt and bounce back and keep on trying."

A charismatic cast of Australian actors rounds out Gwen's world. Hamilton is delighted as the chagrined Merlin, whose eyes are often rolling as he observes the teen before him. "Well, at least your name is close this time," Merlin says in the first episode as she introduces herself.

Briony Behets and Denis Coard co-star as Louise and Harve Rosen, the aging hippie couple who take Gwen into their home. And Greta Larkins and Damien Bodie appear as Tasha and Josh Meyers, the sister and brother who befriend Gwen and become her allies after they learn her secret.

With an appealing mix of reality and fantasy, Guinevere Jones is sure to hold its audience's attention. Its scripts, many written by the series creator and co-executive producer Elizabeth Stewart, are imaginative, fast-paced and taut. Although an epic battle is at the core of Guinevere Jones, the series pays equal attention to its central character' relationships. The show's tone respects its audience's sophistication, and (yippee!) the good guys have lots of powerful tricks up their sleeves, too.

Guinevere Jones has lots to offer—including state-of-the-art special effects that make it easy for viewers to happily immerse themselves in her magical world.

The appeal of Guinevere Jones may be explained by the fact that Stewart and creative partner Kim Todd aren't strangers to girl power on TV. They were the team behind The Adventures of Shirley Holmes, which aired for four seasons and starred Meredith Henderson as the teen descendant of the great detective who shared his acumen for crime solving. "We naturally wanted to do a girl hero—one ho is a real character," Todd says. "And not necessarily one that conforms to a television idea of what a girl hero is."

Adds Stewart: "When we first thought of Guinevere, we did a lot of thinking. Originally [Guinevere] wasn't a hero, she was responsible for bringing down Camelot. But the more we thought about it, we thought it was interesting. It fits so neatly with the idea of reincarnation—with the idea that we keep coming back until we get it right."

It seems Todd and Stewart keep coming back too—and getting it tight.

Alison Cunningham-McMillan
TV Times (Canada)
May 03-09, 2002 issue



MYTH, MAGIC AND ROMANCE OF GUINEVERE JONES COMESTO LIFE ON YTV IN AN ORIGINAL PICTURES/IBIS ENTERTAINMENT PRODUCTION

April 8, 2002

Original Pictures and Ibis Entertainment announced today, the premiere of their epic 26-episode live-action TV series, Guinevere Jones. This modern-day tale of myth, magic and romance launches on YTV Saturday, May 4th, 8:00 - 8:30 p.m. (r) Friday, May 10th, 8:30 - 9:00 p.m. EST/PST.

Guinevere Jones stars TAMARA HOPE as Gwen Jones, a reluctant heroine who discovers that she is the modern-day reincarnation of the legendary Queen Guinevere. Hand-picked by the great wizard Merlin (TED HAMILTON), like Guinevere before her, teenage Gwen is an old soul. Her birthright and destiny is to use magic to save the world from evil, but try telling that to a 14 year-old who's dealing with a new school, new friends and all the usual pressures of teen life.

"With its fantasy based story line and dark, eerie imagery, Guinevere Jones is a perfect fit for Dark Corner, YTV's Saturday night line-up of fantasy and scare-fare programming," says Joanna Webb, Director of Programming, Children's Television, Corus Entertainment. "Joining viewer favourites such as Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Scariest Places on Earth, Guinevere Jones is set to add Arthurian magic and mysticism to YTV's popular Saturday night line up."

Guinevere Jones reunites the creative team of Kim Todd and Elizabeth Stewart who were behind YTV's award-winning series The Adventures of Shirley Holmes. A Canada/Australia co-production between Winnipeg-based Original Pictures Inc., Vancouver-based IBIS Entertainment Inc. and Australia's Crawford Productions Ltd. in association with YTV, the series is executive produced by Kim Todd, Elizabeth Stewart, Tom Parkinson and Bruce Gordon. Producers are Tim Williams and Lynn Bayonas.

"It's about magic and destiny. Combining the flavour of Celtic mysticism with the pressures of today's modern world creates a wonderful backdrop to this story of a young girl's attempt to make sense of her life," said Elizabeth Stewart, Executive Producer.

"This series offers a refreshing and unique take on the contemporary teen," said Kim Todd, President of Original Pictures Inc. "We are thrilled that YTV is showcasing this series so prominently."

The series was shot for spectacular high definition television (HDTV) making it available for the new technology. The special effects, said Todd, "are thrilling, including the projection of Merlin from the past." Each episode is highlighted with 15 to 20 breathtaking visual effects.

Canadian actress TAMARA HOPE (Sandy Bottom Orchestra) plays Gwen, a young Canadian whose world falls apart when, on the run in Australia, her mother is hospitalized with mental illness. Gwen finds herself in foster care in a strange country at a strange school. Things become a lot more bizarre when Gwen discovers that her mother isn't mentally ill, but possessed by a demon. Somehow, Gwen and her mother are caught in an evil plot launched by the infamous sorceress Morgana La Fay (MERCIA DEANE JOHNS). No matter how reluctant she may be, Gwen realizes she has no choice but to learn magic from Merlin and use it to try and save her mother.

Along with a myriad of demons and magical beings, Gwen also encounters her own Arthur (DAMIEN BODIE) and Lancelot (Canadian actor, YANI GELLMAN) as she fights to establish her modern identity against the legendary Guinevere. One difference is clear: Gwen is no damsel in distress. This time around, the girl gets to be the hero.

Creative producer Kim Todd and series creator Elizabeth Stewart have combined the thrill of magic with the relationship drama of teen life, exploring the battle between good and evil in the epic realm of Merlin and Morgana, as well as in the hallways of a typical high school.

A second season of 13 episodes has already been ordered by YTV. In Australia, the Channel Ten Network will air the 26 episodes in a single season.

This summer, Random House will release the first in a series of Guinevere Jones books as part of the market launch of Canada's newest TV character.

YTV, Canada's #1 youth network, is seen in over eight million homes across Canada. As a major force in Canadian kids' entertainment, YTV has triggered over $819 million in Canadian independent production; developed a Web site that averages more than 2.1 million page impressions each week; published a successful kids' magazine, Whoa!; and conducts a highly respected annual survey, The YTV Kid & Tween Report. YTV is owned by Corus Entertainment, a Canadian-based media and entertainment company. Corus is Canada's market leader in both specialty TV and Radio. Corus also owns Nelvana Limited, one of the world's largest international producers and distributors of children's programming and products. The company's other interests include music, television broadcasting and advertising services. A publicly traded company, Corus is listed on the Toronto (CJR.B) and New York (CJR) Exchanges. Corus' Web site can be found at corusentertainment.com.