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Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Top Gear Series 28 returns to BBC Two on Sunday 26 January at 8pm

Fresh from the success of their first series together, Top Gear’s new line up of presenters - Freddie Flintoff, Paddy McGuinness, and Chris Harris - get up to ever more mischief as they travel the globe in pursuit of hijinks and motoring mayhem.

Expect to see bungee jumping in a car, an epic race between a fighter jet and the latest McLaren hypercar, a spectacular roadtrip through Peru plus top celebrity guests in the studio, and lots of laughs. Having taken the world’s biggest motoring entertainment show to a whole new level in 2019, audiences will be on the edge of their seats in 2020.

Episode one

A summer holiday in (very) cheap convertibles
The average cost of a summer holiday is £600. Per person. Six hundred quid to sit in a smelly metal tube for a couple of hours, all for a bit of sun on your face. But what about if, instead of spending £600 on a holiday, you spent it instead on a second-hand convertible? A far nicer way to get a bit of sun on your face, surely?

To find out, the presenters each bought themselves a very cheap cabrio - Chris a Merc SLK, Paddy a very nineties Escort, and Fred a monstrosity called the Chrysler LeBaron - and set out on a glamorous journey from Bognor Regis to Essex. During which they were squirted with a ‘low-friction synthetic sweat substitute’, pelted with golf balls, and marooned in the sea.

Power Test: Ariel Atom 4
See, the new Ariel Atom costs about 40 grand, and accelerates from zero to sixty in 2.8 seconds. But in freefall, an object - for example a Rover Metro cabrio-shaped object - will accelerate from zero to sixty in 2.7 seconds. Supercar acceleration for free! Provided, that is, you can stop your Rover Metro before it hits the ground.

Chucking a car off a dam
Yes, Top Gear is attempting to bungee-jump a car. A Rover Metro cabrio, to be precise, with a Freddie Flintoff at the wheel. Off a massive Swiss dam. This has never been done before, at least not successfully.

You might ask ‘why’. Freddie did, quite a number of times, while suspended 400 feet above an unyielding valley floor. The answer? Not merely a bid to discover if Mr Flintoff has any function remaining in his fear-gland (spoiler alert: definitely a bit), but also Chris’s latest money-saving tip.

Get ready for one of the most palm-sweat-inducing bits of telly of the year.

The Windermere Children - The remarkable true story of a group of child Holocaust survivors

August, 1945. A coachload of children arrive at the Calgarth Estate by Lake Windermere, England. They are child survivors of the Nazi Holocaust that has devastated Europe’s Jewish population. Carrying only the clothes they wear and a few meagre possessions, they bear the emotional and physical scars of all they have suffered.
From Bafta-nominated screenwriter Simon Block and Bafta and Emmy-winning director Michael Samuels, The Windermere Children is the first dramatisation of a remarkable true story about hope in the aftermath of the Holocaust, based on the powerful first-person testimony of survivors who began their new lives in the UK.

The drama is led by a stellar cast including Thomas Kretschmann (The Pianist), Romola Garai (The Miniaturist), Tim McInnerny (Strangers) and Iain Glen (Game Of Thrones).

Charged with looking after the children is child psychologist Oscar Friedmann (Kretschmann). Along with his team of counsellors, including art therapist Marie Paneth (Garai), philanthropist Leonard Montefiore (McInnerny) and sports coach Jock Lawrence (Glen), they have four months to help the children reclaim their lives.

By the lake, the children learn English, play football, ride bikes, express their trauma through painting - and begin to heal. Some locals taunt them, but they are embraced by others. Haunted by nightmares, they yearn for news of their loved ones. When the Red Cross arrives with letters about the fates of their families, none of them receive good news. But in the absence of relatives, the children find family in each other.

The Windermere Children is the stark, moving and ultimately redemptive story of the bonds the children make with one another, and of how the friendships forged at Windermere will sustain them as they rebuild their lives in the UK.

Tuesday, 21 January 2020

ITV commissions true crime drama The Pembrokeshire Murders starring Luke Evans

Acclaimed actor Luke Evans will take the lead in true crime drama The Pembrokeshire Murders, a three-part mini-series depicting the pursuit of a cold-blooded serial killer.

Commissioned by ITV’s Head of Drama, Polly Hill, the drama is from the makers of Line of Duty and Bodyguard, World Productions, and will be executive produced by Simon Heath, the company’s CEO. World was awarded Best Independent Production Company at both the Broadcast Awards and the Edinburgh TV Festival in 2019. The mini-series is written by Nick Stevens (In Plain Sight) directed by Marc Evans (Manhunt, Safe House) and produced by Ed Talfan (Hinterland, Hidden) for Wales-based Severn Screen.

The drama is adapted from the true crime book Catching the Bullseye Killer, written by Senior Investigating Officer Steve Wilkins and ITV news journalist Jonathan Hill. Luke Evans (Dracula Untold, The Alienist, The Great Train Robbery) takes the role of Steve Wilkins.

Luke Evans: 
“It is a privilege to be playing the role of Steve Wilkins in The Pembrokeshire Murders and working again with Simon Heath, his team at World Productions and ITV. It’s a huge responsibility for me as the drama depicts a true crime which to this day still affects the families of those whose lives were tragically taken.”

Two unsolved double murders from the 1980s cast a shadow over the work of the Dyfed Powys police force. In 2006, newly promoted Detective Superintendent Steve Wilkins decided to reopen both cases. Employing pioneering forensic methods, Wilkins and his handpicked team found microscopic DNA and fibres that potentially linked the murders to a string of burglaries committed in the 80s and 90s. The perpetrator of those robberies was nearing the end of his prison sentence, but if Steve Wilkins was right, he was also a serial killer ... Could Steve and his team find enough forensic evidence to charge their suspect before he was released  to potentially kill again?

Blake Harrison, Barbara Flynn and Meera Syal will join Brenda Blethyn and Jimmy Akingbola in ITV's new upcoming comedy Kate & Koji.

Kate & Koji is a brand new 6 x 30 studio sitcom from Hat Trick Productions that will air Spring 2020 on ITV.

Golden Globe winner Brenda Blethyn stars as Kate, the owner of a seaside cafe who forms an unexpected and sparky friendship with Koji, an African asylum seeker, played by Jimmy Akingbola.  Although from very different worlds, they are similar in ways which they do not recognise, including a dogged determination to never back down! When the fur does start to fly, Kate's resourceful nephew 'Medium' acts as peacemaker.

'Medium' is played by Blake Harrison, Barbara Flynn stars as Councillor Bone, Kate's lifelong arch enemy.  Meera Syal will guest star as a GP who might represent a threat to Koji.

Brenda Blethyn (Vera, Secrets and Lies, Pride and Prejudice)
Jimmy Akingbola (Arrow, In The Long Run)
Barbara Flynn (Cracker, The Durrells, Killing Eve)
Blake Harrison (The Inbetweeners, A Very English Scandal)
Meera Syal (The Split, Goodness Gracious Me)

The National Television Awards 2020

David Walliams is the brand new host of the National Television Awards in the event's 25th Anniversary year as hundreds of stars and thousands of fans gather for the biggest night in British TV.

Broadcast live on Tuesday 28th January from The O2 London, the NTAs celebrate television’s best-loved shows and stars in the only TV awards ceremony where the winners are chosen entirely by the British public.

The event is rammed to the rafters with TV Royalty from Graham Norton to Tess & Claudia and Ant & Dec. Nominees making their NTA debut include Derry Girls, Gentleman Jack, RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, Chernobyl, Jesy Nelson with her BBC3 record-breaking Odd One Out, The Capture, A Confession and Ricky Gervais with his hit show After Life.

Sir Tom Jones is also a first time nominee in the TV Judge Category, alongside will.i.am, RuPaul, Simon Cowell and reigning champion – and NTA host – David Walliams.

And the stars of Gavin & Stacey will be out in force as the NTAs mark the hugely successful return of the much-loved comedy to our screens at Christmas.

DO you suffer with insomnia? Well Channel 4 announces LIVE: THE LABOUR LEADERSHIP DEBATE

If you have been having trouble sleeping and need something to help you fall into a deep slumber, well the solution is here as Channel 4 have announced that they will host the first live debate between the candidates vying to become the next Labour Leader.

All five contenders have confirmed to take part; Rebecca Long Bailey, Lisa Nandy, Jess Phillips, Sir Keir Starmer and Emily Thornberry

The show will be hosted by Krishnan Guru-Murthy with a live audience asking questions of the people aiming to lead the opposition. It will take place on Monday February 17th at 8pm. The leadership contest will be decided by ballot. Voting begins just a few days after the debate, with the result announced in early April.

Wednesday, 15 January 2020

Anarchic Sky original drama Britannia set to return for a third series

Critically acclaimed Sky original drama Britannia has been recommissioned for a third series on Sky Atlantic and NOW TV. Starring David Morrissey, Mackenzie Crook, Annabel Scholey and Eleanor Worthington-Cox and created by the multi-award-winning writer Jez Butterworth, Tom Butterworth and James Richardson, Britannia brings a moment of our history to life like never seen before on TV. Produced by Vertigo Films in association with Neal Street Productions, it’s a genre-bending, psychedelic tale of clashing faith systems, torn apart families, mystic men, powerful women, all told with humour, heart and violence.

Britannia series two launched in November to widespread praise with The Guardian calling it “…one of those shows you just have to imbibe, celebrating that it has the sheer cheek even to exist. Praise the capricious TV gods!” Whilst The Times said it’s “… ethereal and wonderfully odd” and “…...few shows embrace their own preposterousness quite as wonderfully as Jez Butterworth’s drama about the Roman conquest of Britain”.

In the first series of Britannia we followed the story of the Roman invasion led by General Aulus (David Morrissey) who sought to crush the Celtic heart of Britannia, a mysterious land led by warrior women and powerful Druids. In series two we joined General Aulus two years on from invading Britannia romanising willing Celt tribes with the help of Celtic Queen Amena (Annabel Scholey), and crushing those who tried to resist. The only form of hope for the Druids and Celts was Cait (Eleanor Worthington-Cox), a young girl being trained by outcast Druid Divis (played by Nikolaj Lie Kaas), to fulfil a prophecy that would save Britannia from the Romans. But an epic battle of wills divided the druids in the form of two Druid brothers – Veran and Harka (Mackenzie Crook) putting the prophecy in jeopardy.

Series three sees a radical transformation in Cait’s journey as the Chosen One with a decision that will tie her to the future of her war-torn people and their ravaged land. Aulus comes under pressure from a new and dark force - otherwise known as his wife, whilst Amena finds herself in a lethal Ménage à trois with both of them. Divis gets a new job which he despises, and Veran goes to the underworld and sees the future.

Cameron Roach, Director of Drama, Sky Studios said: “We are incredibly proud to be able to continue to grow the Britannia franchise bringing ‘Jez and the team’s unique and distinctive vision to life for a third series”.

Jez Butterworth added: We’re very excited to be continuing our mythic journey through Ancient Britain. This year was a particularly good vintage for mushrooms here in the West Country, so we strongly suggest you hold on to your hats.”