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Thursday, 13 December 2018

Further casting announced for BBC Two’s The Luminaries

Himesh Patel (The Aeronauts, EastEnders) and Ewen Leslie (The Cry, Top Of The Lake: China Girl) join Eve Hewson (Robin Hood, The Knick, Bridge Of Spies) and Eva Green (Casino Royale, Penny Dreadful, Sin City, A Dame To Kill For) in The Luminaries.

Further cast have been announced and filming has begun in New Zealand on BBC Two’s The Luminaries, Eleanor Catton’s adaptation of her 2013 Man Booker Prize-winning novel of the same name.

Himesh Patel (The Aeronauts, EastEnders) and Australia’s Ewen Leslie (The Cry, Top Of The Lake: China Girl) will play Emery Staines and Crosbie Wells. They will star alongside the previously announced Eve Hewson (Robin Hood, The Knick, Bridge Of Spies) as Anna Wetherall, Eva Green (Casino Royale, Penny Dreadful, Sin City, A Dame To Kill For) as Lydia Wells and Marton Csokas as Francis Carver (The Equalizer, Lord Of The Rings, Into The Badlands).

They will also be joined in the six-part series by an ensemble of antipodean acting talent, including Erik Thomson (The Code, Packed To The Rafters), Benedict Hardie (Hacksaw Ridge, The Light Between Oceans), Yoson An (Mortal Engines, Dead Lucky) and New Zealand newcomer, Richard Te Are.

The series will be broadcast on BBC Two in the UK and TVNZ1 in New Zealand. Produced by Working Title Television and Southern Light Films, it is being adapted for the screen by novelist Eleanor Catton and director Claire McCarthy (Ophelia, The Waiting City).

The Luminaries tells an epic story of love, murder and revenge, as men and women travelled across the world to make their fortunes. It is a 19th century tale of adventure and mystery, set on the Wild West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island in the boom years of the 1860s gold rush. The story follows defiant young adventurer Anna Wetherell, who has sailed from Britain to New Zealand to begin a new life.

There she meets the radiant Emery Staines, an encounter that triggers a strange kind of magic that neither can explain. As they fall in love, driven together and apart by fateful coincidence, these star-crossed lovers begin to wonder: do we make our fortunes, or do our fortunes make us?

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

First Netflix Original Series in Africa to star South African actress Pearl Thusi

Netflix, the world’s leading entertainment streaming service, continues its investment in international content with the announcement of its first Original series in Africa, with South African series Queen Sono.

The action-packed series follows Queen Sono, the highly trained top spy in a South African agency whose purpose is to better the lives of African citizens. While taking on her most dangerous mission yet, she must also face changing relationships in her personal life. The series will be created by Director, Kagiso Lediga and Executive producer Tamsin Andersson.

South African actress, Pearl Thusi, will star as Queen Sono, with the character having been created with her in mind. Thusi is also known for her performance in the romantic dramedy, Catching Feelings, available on Netflix.

"We are excited to be working with Kagiso and Pearl, to bring the story of Queen Sono to life, and we expect it to be embraced by our South African users and global audiences alike.” said Erik Barmack, Vice President of International Original Series at Netflix.

“We are delighted to create this original series with Netflix, and are super excited by their undeniable ability to take this homegrown South African story to a global audience. We believe Queen Sono will kick the door open for more awesome stories from this part of the world” added the director and executive producer of the series, Kagiso Lediga.

The series is due to start production in 2019.

Sky to bring involvement in cycling to a close after 2019 season

Sky has announced that 2019 will be the final year of its involvement in cycling, drawing to a close an association spanning more than a decade of unprecedented success. The decision will bring to a conclusion Sky’s ownership and sponsorship of Team Sky, which will continue to race under a different name if a new backer is secured to provide funding from the beginning of 2020. The team will compete as Team Sky for the last time throughout the 2019 road racing season, aiming to add to its total of 322 all-time wins including eight Grand Tours, 52 other stage races and 25 one-day races.

Sky kicked off its involvement in cycling in 2008 when it joined forces with British Cycling in a mission to increase participation at all levels and support elite success on the track and road. By the end of that partnership in 2016, nearly two million people had been inspired to cycle regularly and the Great Britain Cycling Team had achieved unprecedented medal success at three Olympic Games.

As part of Sky’s broader support for cycling, Team Sky took to the road in 2010 with the ambitious goal of winning the Tour de France with a British cyclist for the first time. This goal was achieved in 2012 with Sir Bradley Wiggins’ historic victory and Team Sky riders, backed by an outstanding support staff, have gone on to realise sustained success in the Tour de France and other major races. Chris Froome won the first of his four Tour titles in 2013 and was the first rider in more than 30 years to hold all three Grand Tour winners’ jerseys at the same time. Earlier this year, Geraint Thomas became the third Team Sky rider – as well as the third Briton – to win the Tour de France, representing the team’s sixth success at the race in seven years.

Jeremy Darroch, Sky’s Group Chief Executive, said: “We came into cycling with the aim of using elite success to inspire greater participation at all levels. After more than a decade of involvement, I couldn’t be prouder of what we’ve achieved with Team Sky and our long-standing partners at British Cycling. But the end of 2019 is the right time for us to move on as we open a new chapter in Sky’s story and turn our focus to different initiatives including our Sky Ocean Rescue campaign.

“I’d like to pay a special tribute to Dave Brailsford and the immensely talented team of riders and staff he has assembled at Team Sky. What they have achieved together would have been beyond the dreams of many just a few years ago. We thank you for joining with us on this journey and look forward to enjoying our last season of racing together.”

Sir Dave Brailsford, Team Sky Principal, added: “The vision for Team Sky began with the ambition to build a clean, winning team around a core of British riders and staff. The team’s success has been the result of the talent, dedication and hard work of a remarkable group of people who have constantly challenged themselves to scale new heights of performance. None of this would have been possible without Sky. We are proud of the part we have played in Britain’s transformation into a cycling nation over the last decade.

“While Sky will be moving on at the end of next year, the Team is open minded about the future and the potential of working with a new partner, should the right opportunity present itself. For now, I would like to thank all Team Sky riders and staff, past and present - and above all the fans who have supported us on this adventure.

“We aren’t finished yet by any means. There is another exciting year of racing ahead of us and we will be doing everything we can to deliver more Team Sky success in 2019.”

Little Mix, BTS, The 1975 and Hollywood megastars host their own Christmas Day shows on BBC Radio 1

Little Mix, BTS, The 1975, Charli XCX, HRVY and a Hollywood All-Star line-up including Hailee Steinfeld, John Cena, Emma Stone and Benedict Cumberbatch are set to host their own hour long shows on BBC Radio 1 this Christmas Day with festivities starting from 10am.
Radio 1’s Superstar Playlists - which is also available on BBC Sounds - will see Little Mix sharing their favourite songs and performing Christmas classics on kazoos, BTS trying out British traditions (mince pies and Christmas crackers) for the first time, Charli XCX calling for Kylie Jenner to release a Christmas song, and The 1975 ranking their favourite Christmas chocolates.

Joining Radio 1’s film critic Ali Plumb for the Hollywood All-Stars line-up are some of the biggest names in film including Emma Stone, Hailee Steinfeld, Michael B Jordan, Benedict Cumberbatch, Jack Whitehall, Claire Foy, Keira Knightley, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Taron Egerton, John C Reilly and Sarah Silverman, all choosing their favourite Christmas songs to curate the ultimate Superstar Playlist.

Radio 1’s Superstar Playlist schedule:

Little Mix (10-11am)
HRVY (11am-midday)
BTS with Radio 1’s Adele Roberts (midday-1pm)
Charli XCX (1-2pm)
The 1975 (2-3pm)
Radio 1’s Hollywood All-Stars (3-4pm)
Little Mix says: “Merry Christmas! We are so happy that we have been asked to host our own Superstar Playlist on Radio 1. We’re really excited to play our favourite Christmas songs and we want everyone to join in the festive fun!”

HRVY says: “I’m super excited to be on Radio 1 with you this Christmas! Join me for some great tunes, funny games and lots of festive cheer...”

Charli XCX says: "I’m very excited to bring XCXmas to the nation on Christmas Day. It’s gonna be 12 days of XCXmas popstastic fun packed into one hour. Merry Christmas world!!!! Let’s goooooo!!!"

BBC Radio 1's full Christmas Day schedule
6.30-10am: Radio 1 Breakfast with Scott Mills
10-11am: Little Mix
11am-midday: HRVY
midday-1pm: BTS & Adele Roberts
1-2pm: Charli XCX
2-3pm: The 1975
3-4pm: Radio 1’s Hollywood All-Stars
4-7pm: Jordan North
7-9pm: Radio 1’s Future Sounds with Annie Mac
9-11pm: The 8th with Dev
11pm – 1am: Radio 1’s Indie Show with Jack Saunders

New presenters announced for BBC Radio 4 Extra’s Newsjack and Comedy Club

BBC Radio 4 Extra is revamping its comedy output, with Kiri Pritchard Mc-Lean taking over hosting duties for Newsjack and a new presenting line-up for Comedy Club that includes Angela Barnes and Jake Yapp.
Award-winning comedian Kiri Pritchard Mc-Lean (pictured) will host the new series of Radio 4 Extra’s satirical sketch show Newsjack, which begins on 7 February 2019.

Kiri brings a wealth of experience in radio comedy. She has made regular appearances on Radio 4’s The Now Show and The News Quiz, as well as guest hosting on Radio 4 Extra’s Newsjack Unplugged. She’s also written and performed for Sky One’s The Russell Howard Hour and appeared on BBC One’s Have I Got News For You.

Having huge success with her sold-out show Victim, Complex at Edinburgh this year, Kiri will begin hosting Newsjack when it returns for the 20th series next year, following in the footsteps of former presenters Nish Kumar, Miles Jupp, Romesh Ranganathan, Justin Edwards, and most recently, Angela Barnes.

After hosting four series since 2017, Angela announced her departure in October this year and will be joining the presenting team on 4 Extra’s Comedy Club. She can also be heard in a second series of her poignant comedy Angela Barnes: You Can’t Take It With You on Radio 4 and BBC Sounds.

Newsjack is a satirical sketch show with an open-door policy, where brand new writers can send in material to be performed by a cast of exciting new names in comedy. It’s a sharp, witty look at news and popular culture made especially for BBC Radio 4 Extra.

Kiri Pritchard Mc-Lean says: “I am equal parts giddy and terrified to be taking over Newsjack. Angela left some huge boots to fill, metaphorically - before an internet rumour starts about unnaturally long toes.

"Newsjack was the first place to give me a chance to write comedy and was instrumental in me doing comedy for a living now so I’m so excited that I get to return as host, and being on the radio will finally make my parents proud.”

Radio 4 Extra will be focusing on fresh, original content for the Comedy Club following the programme’s success over the past few years, having moved to seven days a week and providing a late night peak in listening for the station. In the New Year, Angela Barnes and Jake Yapp will join Arthur Smith on the rota for weekend presenting duties, whilst the weekday presenters will be Jessica Fostekew, Sarah Campbell, Laura Lexx, Paul Garner, Jon Holmes, Iain Lee, and Rob Deering.

Tony Pilgrim, Exec Editor of Radio 4 Extra says: “More and more people are listening to Radio 4 Extra with two million now tuning in each week, and we know our comedy programming is a highlight of the schedule, with our peak listening moment coming for the Comedy Club each evening. As well as bringing listeners the best programmes from the BBC’s radio archives, we also celebrate and support up-and-coming comedy talent. So I’m delighted we’re bringing great new presenters to both the Comedy Club and Newsjack, showcasing some of the best rising comedy stars in the UK.”

BBC Two commissions A Tabloid Empire

BBC Two has commissioned a 3x60' social history series from 72 Films exploring the extraordinary reach of the Murdoch empire across the British press.

Covering the period from 1997 to 2012 in forensic detail, the series examines how the popular press went from exerting astonishing influence over our politics, our public policy and our way of life, to being mired in scandal after scandal - from phone hacking to corruption - culminating in the extraordinary revelations of the Leveson Enquiry.

Taking in issues from celebrity to privacy, popularism to polarisation, this series presents a unique portrait of 21st century Britain through one of the most powerful figures in the media during one of the most turbulent periods in recent history.

Using a treasure trove of archive, complemented by exclusive interviews with those at the centre of the story, the series documents the colourful characters and unrivalled power of those at the top, forensically deconstructing some of the most iconic and infamous moments of modern times.

Patrick Holland, Controller, BBC Two, says: “With A Dangerous Dynasty: House of Assad, 72 Films made one of the most exceptional modern history series of recent years. This series promises to combine the same forensic eye for detail with the best documentary story-telling to explore the decade which changed our relationship with the press forever.”

Tom McDonald, Head of Commissioning, Natural History and Specialist Factual, says: "This new commission continues to signal our commitment to stories, forms and ideas which shine a light on the big issues in modern society through the prism of recent history. This series promises intricate storytelling, beautifully assembled archive and fascinating interviews from those who witnessed and lived through these events."

A Tabloid Empire (w/t), a 3x60', is made by 72 Films. The Executive Producers are Cate Hall and David Glover. It was commissioned by Patrick Holland, Controller, BBC Two and Tom McDonald, Head of Commissioning, Natural History and Specialist Factual. The Commissioning Editor is Simon Young.

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Cheeky BBC Sports Personality of the Year trophy spills the beans on his 65 year career

The BBC Sports Personality of the Year trophy has finally spoken out about his wonderful 65 year career living with some of the world’s greatest sporting stars.

Voiced by comedian Paddy McGuinness, the trophy sits perched on a mantelpiece surrounded by photographs of some of his famous friends.

The cheeky trophy spills the beans on life with the Beckham’s and their love of him - he is a camera after all! He also shows off his flexibility in doing the 'Mobot' - a trick he learned from his time living with Sir Mo Farah - not bad for a 65 year old!

But it’s Andy Murray, he yearns for - after three years together the pair did become very close.

Trophy says: “I thought it was about time I opened up about my life, as I’ve experienced some beautiful moments with my companions over the last 65 years. I do miss having breakfast with Andy but I’m looking forward to meeting my new pal on 16 December.”