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Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Warren - Six-part Martin Clunes comedy beginning on 25 February on BBC One

Created and written by Jimmy Donny Cosgrove and Paul McKenna, this original six part comedy series from Hat Trick Productions centres around the life of Warren Thompson (Martin Clunes), a pedantic driving instructor who thinks the world is against him.

Warren suddenly finds himself in his mid-fifties, forced to move from the south up to Preston when his partner Anne’s (Lisa Millett) father falls ill.

Warren’s living in an area he doesn’t like, doing a job he’s not emotionally cut out for and looking after two teenage stepsons, Charlie (Tim Preston) and Danny (Oscar Morgan) he never wanted.

Never blessed with any sort of patience or a paternal instinct, Warren just wants an easy life. He’s happy with a clean house, a neat garden, and a nice cup of tea. But thanks to his naturally difficult personality, Warren is constantly finding himself in sticky situations. He’s always making life hard for himself and often on the verge of losing it. There are no happy endings for Warren as he grapples against the problems and misunderstandings of his own making.

Trailer for new comedy Home

Trailer for new Channel 4 comedy Home, created and written by Rufus Jones. Sami, an asylum-seeker from Syria arrives in Britain and finds himself living with a family in Dorking, Surrey. Over the next few months, while Sami waits for his application to be processed, he learns more than he expected about the people he’s living with, himself, and his own family somewhere in Europe.

Tuesday, 19 February 2019

BBC Two commissions The Hairy Bikers Ride Route 66

The Hairy Bikers (Si King and Dave Myers) are about to embark on their most iconic road trip to date: America’s Route 66, spanning over two thousand miles of tarmac from Chicago to California. The boys will motor through eight different states, all with their own distinct landscapes, history, flavours and people.

Coming to BBC Two later this year, The Hairy Bikers Ride Route 66 is a brand new 6 x 60’ episode series produced by Twofour.

The Bikers' journey will be carved into six legs, in which they’ll visit destinations like Chicago, St Louis and Las Vegas, and travel through incredible landscapes from vast prairies in Oklahoma to the staggering scale of the Grand Canyon. The breadth of food on offer will allow them to experience everything from the very latest L.A. trends to regional specialities that only the locals know about.

Si King says: “America has a multicultural food scene and is the home of some outrageous food. We’re all accustomed to the supersized portions and all-you-can-eat challenges that the USA has become known for, but we’ll be seeking out the best and most diverse cuisine this fascinating country has to offer.”

Dave Myers says: “Route 66 is a bucket-list trip for us and it truly is an American dream to take in the sights and scenery of this part of the world - all whilst enjoying some delicious local delicacies along the way.”

David Brindley, Head of Popular Factual and Factual Entertainment, says: “It’s always a joy to have the Hairy Bikers on our screens, and they are sure to bring the excitement and thrill of this iconic cross-country road trip to audiences on BBC Two later this year.”

Dan Adamson, Director of Programmes at Twofour, says: “This will be the ultimate American road trip and a real treat for fans, celebrating the greatest food, characters and locations along the ‘Mother Road’ of the USA. In this epic adventure the boys serve up plenty of delicious looking food and definitely not just the usual burgers, brisket and BBQ.”

Colin Farrell boards Andrew Haigh’s BBC Two series The North Water for See-Saw Films

Golden Globe-winner Colin Farrell has boarded the BBC Two four-part thriller The North Water, being adapted and directed by multi award-winning Andrew Haigh (Lean On Pete, Looking, Weekend).

Based on the critically acclaimed novel from Ian McGuire, the series will be produced by See-Saw Films for BBC Two and has been commissioned by Piers Wenger, Controller of BBC Drama, and Patrick Holland, Controller of BBC Two.

Set in the UK and the ice floes of the Arctic in the late 1850s, The North Water tells the story of Patrick Sumner, a disgraced ex-army surgeon who signs up as ship’s doctor on a whaling expedition to the Arctic. On board he meets Henry Drax (Farrell), the harpooner, a brutish killer whose amorality has been shaped to fit the harshness of his world. Hoping to escape the horrors of his past, Sumner finds himself on an ill-fated journey with a murderous psychopath. In search of redemption, his story becomes a harsh struggle for survival in the Arctic wasteland.

Andrew Haigh says: “Casting the right leads is the most important part of any project and I’m thrilled to have Colin Farrell on board. I am a huge admirer of his work and can't wait to see him bring Drax vividly to life.”

See-Saw Films’ COO Hakan Kousetta and Head of Television Jamie Laurenson, say: "The North Water is a thriller, a survival adventure, and searing study of character and man’s place in the world. We are so proud to have the compelling talent of Colin Farrell on board to bring Andrew Haigh’s vision of Ian McGuire’s novel to the screen.”

This gripping and original novel of murder, mystery and survival has topped critic’s lists around the world and was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize and named A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice. The story is being brought to life by See-Saw Films, firmly established for delivering multi award winning mini-series and working with extraordinary writers and directors such as Jane Campion for Top Of The Lake and Top Of The Lake: China Girl.

Piers Wenger, Controller of BBC Drama, says: “Colin Farrell will bring a blend of brutality and humanity to Andrew Haigh’s superb adaptation of this savage novel. The North Water is a brooding and resonant story which is set to grip BBC Two viewers.”

Irish actor Colin Farrell rose to fame in 2003 with his portrayal of Danny Witwer in Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report. Since then, Farrell has acted in a wide variety of roles, winning a Golden Globe in 2009 for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Comedy or Musical for In Bruges. Farrell was also nominated for a Golden Globe in the same category for his performance in the critically acclaimed The Lobster. Recently, he starred in the box office success and Harry Potter spin-off Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them and the critically acclaimed The Beguiled and The Killing Of A Sacred Deer. Farrell can be currently seen in See-Saw Film’s Widows directed by Academy Award-winner Steve McQueen and starring Viola Davis. He will also star in Disney’s forthcoming live-action remake of Dumbo.

Director, writer and producer Andrew Haigh shot to international acclaim following his heart-wrenching portrait of married life in the Academy Award nominated 45 Years. Adapted and directed by Haigh, the film premiered in Competition at the 2015 Berlin Film Festival where stars Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay won Silver Bears for their performances. 45 Years received numerous awards and nominations including an Academy Award nomination for Rampling and a Bafta nomination for Best British Film. Haigh’s other credits include the breakout hit Weekend (2011) and HBO TV series Looking. Andrew’s latest film Lean On Pete debuted at the Venice, Telluride and Toronto film festivals and has recently been nominated for 4 Bifas including for Best Director. At Venice Film Festival, Lean on Pete star Charlie Plummer received the Marcello Mastroianni Award for Best New Young Actor or Actress.

Filming will begin in this autumn.

Sleeping with the Far Right: Interview with Alice Levine

Explain a little bit about what your new documentary is all about.

In what must be the strangest school exchange ever, I went and lived for seven days with Jack Sen, who is a British Nationalist and former member of UKIP and the BNP. I lived with him and his family – his wife, his daughter and his mother – and I went about his business with him in an attempt to understand and dissect his motivations for being drawn to the far right wing of political thought.

Why did you want to make this programme?

It felt like a really pertinent time. The opportunity arose, first of all, which felt like an opportunity that isn’t extended to you very often. And it felt important because of what’s going on in the world around us. The far right seem to be edging closer to mainstream politics in lots of different parts of the world – Brazil, Hungary, America of course – and I suppose people would think of me as being in a leftie bubble, with my job in media, living in Central London, doing a podcast about porn – so it kind of felt like my curiosity got the better of me. I wanted to step out of my comfort zone and see what leads people to these views. I also wanted the challenge of trying to extract as much humour from this bizarre set up as possible and believe it or not there was some.

Why Jack Sen, and how did it come about?                                     

I wouldn’t have known who Jack Sen was before making this film. When we were looking at the far right, the producers were talking to a lot of people in the nationalist movement and beyond, and one name that kept coming up was Jack Sen. He’s not a household name, but he’s someone who’s very connected to power players across the nationalist movement. He’s in regular contact with Dr David Duke, former leader of the KKK. We have an electrifying moment with Nick Griffin, who he does his radio show with. And generally, he is a very, very intriguing man, because he doesn’t really fit the portrait of what perhaps you would think a British nationalist would look or sound like. He’s got an American accent, he’s part-Indian, he’s got a Ukrainian wife, so he felt like a really fascinating subject. And it’s not really a film about politics, it’s film about identity at the heart. So this wasn’t just a chance for someone to recite their manifesto or have a platform to repeat their rhetoric, it had to be about two people getting to know each other. We’re an odd couple, to say the least, so the film is entertaining, and has these strange moments of dark humour. He is a fascinating character, but also somebody who has opinions that are obviously troubling and dangerous, it’s makes for a tense and unique hour.

Why do you think he agreed to it?

I think he hoped that it was going to be an opportunity to disseminate his beliefs on a large scale, a national broadcast platform for him to preach on. I think anybody who has political aspirations, or anyone who has previously been in politics, probably sees it as a great moment to reach some new ears. However, this film definitely isn’t a soapbox for Jack Sen, what we do manage, is to peel back some of the layers of that bravado to see what he is really all about.

He also thought that I was going to be quite a soft touch – there was one point at which he did say he was glad it was me, and he was glad I was a woman, because he thought I’d be maternal. I’m not sure he thought of me in that motherly role by the end though.

How did you get on with the family?

You’re in this really, really strange position, because you’re a houseguest on one level, and you want to be polite and you want to help with dinner, and you want to make sure you’re abiding by all the rules of being a good guest. On the other hand, we’re talking about some incredibly heavy things that you don’t agree with, that you know that you’re going to ultimately end up arguing over. Jack’s mum Faye is a very sweet woman in spite of her beliefs, and we spent some nice time together. She made me cups of tea and a hot water bottle and generally made sure I was okay. But the house was claustrophobic, there was a real tension in the air, and I think that put a pressure on us all.

Faye, in particular, is an enigma, isn’t she?

Yeah, she really is an incredibly intriguing woman. She’s a polyglot, she’s a poet, she watches Fox News on a loop most of the day, she was in a interracial marriage, she’s lived in America and Germany, she is a Nationalist.

She was very kind to us, firstly letting us live in her house for a week but also just the courtesy and patience that she extended to us in conversation. She identifies as a nationalist, but I think our discussions were a lot calmer and a lot more empathetic than those I had with Jack.

Jack is very security conscious – you had a 7pm curfew so he could put on the alarm each night. Is that paranoia, or are there elements out to get him?

As the week progressed, everything became less clear, more smoke, more mirrors. Was there an alarm that was automatically activated at 7:07pm every evening, and deactivated at 9:09am so we were confined to the house? That had a direct call out to the police, which he couldn’t override except with 48 hours’ notice?  I’m not sure, I think almost definitely not. That was just another intriguing part of that week, another attempt for control, another power struggle. A lot of things changed and moved and shifted, so it was always quite hard to pin Jack down and pin the facts down.

Were you ever scared?

I wouldn’t say I was scared for my safety. There were moments when the hairs on my neck stood up because we were in very, very heated conversations, and his mood changed quite dramatically. I was there with the director, we stayed together in the house, I was never on my own. And we had protocols if we needed to step out somewhere else, and the production team rented a house nearby, should we need to go there. That scene where he shouts in my face and calls me an extremist, it was really unpleasant but actually quite rewarding as I felt he showed his true colours, we saw past the supposedly rational veneer.

Towards the end, that very, very electric scene where we talk about Jack’s birth name, I definitely felt the most discomfort then, because he was raging, furious and I think probably a little bit scared in truth. Although I wouldn’t say I ever felt physically in danger, he can do some shocking things online, as we discussed in the film. I told him I was worried that he might disseminate false information about me on the internet that was false, but that could be damaging. I know he has the power and the contacts to make a real impact, reputationally, online. Which is perhaps a more relevant fear in 2019. Not that he’s going to ‘get me’ but that he can push out some vicious things about you on the internet. And also mobilise some nefarious characters to do it for him.

What was the biggest surprise for you, in this whole experience?

I didn’t really expect to make a breakthrough. I didn’t actually think that would happen. He’s so well-rehearsed, he’s made tonnes of speeches before. I didn’t know if we’d ever break through that Nationalism rhetoric, and see Jack, the man. I never really wanted to make a film about the far right, I wanted to make a film about Jack Sen, and use him to see how this happens.

And actually, by the end, we do make a breakthrough, we’re sat on his sofa, and he’s essentially saying to me he felt persecuted, he felt isolated, he felt like he didn’t belong and he didn’t like that feeling. And I thought “That, in itself, is a valid point. We’ve all felt lonely, all felt like we weren’t part of a greater group, felt excluded.” I just don’t think that that’s race-based. I didn’t expect us to ever bond, because I knew we were too politically and ideologically opposed, but actually, at that moment, I thought maybe I understood him a little bit. I thought his framework for breaking down those feelings was flawed, but I understood the core feelings. But not everyone who feels excluded or isolated comes to such extreme views.

So did you finish off the project more or less concerned about the rise of the far right?

It would be easy to dismiss these opinions as niche. People feeling isolated or disenfranchised, or the feeling that this is a very hard moment to be a white man, that is a genuine feeling out there, whether I think it’s valid or not. If you can find a belief system that explains that for you, that is a very powerful thing. And if that framework has hate woven into it, that is a very dangerous thing.

Is Jack going to take over the world single-handedly or become the leader of a huge party – maybe not. But I think all of these conversations, these micro-movements, are really concerning. So it did make me worry about what can catch light. Traditional political forums aren’t the only place that these conversations can have an impact. It doesn’t need to be legitimised members of the establishment on television, making speeches anymore. Social media can be an incredible tool but also a really troubling one.

This is a very different direction for you from a lot of your work. Did you enjoy it, and would you like to do more factual stuff?

I really enjoyed it, once I was out of there. At the time, it was incredibly intense. I think what we’ve ended up with is a really fascinating film. I think it’s a really different take on the far right, on British nationalism. I haven’t seen a film like this before. There’s a lot of places where you can go to understand and to learn what it is that British nationalists believe and feel, and to see them in a political setting. That’s not what this was about. That’s why I was in there. I’m not a journalist or a politician or an activist. I really loved the challenge of it, so I think the next thing I do will be something different.

Lastly, do you ever think Jack has listened to My Dad Wrote a Porno?

I think Jack would be absolutely repulsed by My Dad Wrote a Porno. I think he’d think that it was the beginning of the end. He struggled with me identifying as a feminist, so I’m not sure how he’d cope with My Dad Wrote a Porno. He had very traditional ideals of family life. I think a young woman talking openly about sex? No! He’s quite the prude. He actually said that to me.

In The Line Of Fire With Ross Kemp

Thu 28 Feb 2019
9.00pm - 10.00pm

“It’s so difficult - you’re looking into a darkened car, it’s night-time conditions, you’ve got a little light on the end of your gun, and you’re searching the entire people in that car to make sure they’re all reacting as they should. And if they’re not, what are they doing? Are they hiding something, or are they reaching for a weapon to shoot you with it? And you’ve got to make that split-second decision.” - Pc Clive, South Yorkshire Police armed officer

Part of ITV’s Crime & Punishment strand, this new documentary fronted by Ross Kemp, goes inside tactical firearms teams and out on the beat with officers to investigate whether or not all police should be armed.

For last year's ITV documentary Ross Kemp And The Armed Police, he was given exclusive access to specialised armed police units, and in this follow-up film he goes on the frontline with officers whose experiences of being confronted with lethal weapons have been captured on their body cameras to ask whether police at any level can be left unarmed today.

With armed officers now a more regular presence on Britain’s streets, in stations and at airports, Ross goes out on a raid with a mobile undercover unit used to tackle new dangers with pre-emptive and confrontational tactics. He also gains exclusive access to their military-style training facility.

First, he sees how two unarmed officers deal with a violent man who is threatening them with a kitchen knife, revisiting the scene with two constables, Alex and Debbie, of Northamptonshire Police. After pepper spray proved ineffective against the man who they suspected had taken cocaine, he was restrained with the use of batons. Debbie says: “I honestly thought that Alex was going to be killed, and I tried everything within my power to protect Alex and get some kind of control over this male. At the end of the day Alex and I have worked together a long time, he’s like family to me… If it came to having to use a firearm or wanting to leave the force, I would take the firearm.”

Ross goes out with a covert MASST (Mobile Armed Support To Surveillance Team) on the trail of an individual they suspect has a gun in the West Midlands. After waiting several hours for the raid, then arresting the man using aggressive tactics, one of the anonymous officers says: “We’ll get intelligence from that tonight, and it puts them on the back foot, because they don’t know when the next strike’s going to come, and occasionally we get the intelligence and we get lucky, we get a good seizure of drugs and or firearms and then we’re able to put them in prison and protect the public, which is what we’re here to do.”

Ross asks Dave Sturman, West Midlands Police’s detective superintendent in charge of the team, whether using aggressive tactics and 15 armed officers on one raid is overkill. He says: “Firearms tactics can on the face of it seem to quite aggressive but that is designed with a purpose to get control quickly. You need that domination effect to make it absolutely clear to the opposition that we are in charge and we are going to take them into custody. One of the key factors here is to put the fear back on to them that they are going to get caught and convicted, we must do that if we are going to suppress this problem properly.”

Det Supt Sturman also says the problem is escalating and that the force has had 16 firearms discharges in the last month. Ross visits a counter-terror police training base for the first time - designed to instil military-style tactics into everyday police officers. Ross watches as officers use explosives to gain access to a building and acts as a hostage in a practice raid. Before the officers burst in using stun grenades, Ross says: “It’s actually tense doing this, I mean I know what’s about to happen. Can you imagine what in a real hostage situation they’d actually feel?”

Ross asks one of the officers if he had imagined ever doing such extreme training. The anonymous officer says: “This is a very high-end tactic that you’ve seen us do. The very next day we could be dealing with relatively low-level gun crime, and we go into places that have got plenty of innocent people in there - friends, family, associates - and we still need those policing skills to be able to deal with those people as well. So it’s not always at that level.”

Ross joins Pc Jemma Follows on the beat in Northampton, who says she doesn’t believe all police should be armed - despite an almost daily barrage of assaults. She tells him about the time in late 2017 when she faced down a man who pointed a gun at her - later discovered to be an imitation firearm. Ross asks her if she would have shot him if she was carrying a firearm. She says: “I would have most likely have shot him. That would have been purely because at that moment that gun was pointed at me and I thought for a moment that I’m going to be shot.”

Ross interviews Simon Chesterman, the national lead on armed policing, who says he believes if the threat level continues to increase, all officers could end up being armed, partly down to public and media pressure to act. He says if there are more armed police, it will inevitably lead to more police shooting incidents. He says: “Ultimately, they don’t discharge firearms very often, these are not trigger-happy people. However if you put more armed officers out there, inevitably we’re going to get to more high-risk incidents quicker, and the chances are we will see more police shootings.”

Ross also interviews constables Rob and Gary from Northamptonshire Police, who were involved in an incident that left Rob fighting for his life after being stabbed in the leg with a sword, piercing his femoral artery, which was depicted on their body cams. The man was arrested - but Rob says it could have ended differently if they had been armed. He says: “Certainly colleagues that I have spoken to on the armed response units have said if that had been any one of us there on that night, and received the injury in that way, we’d have drawn our pistols and shot.”

But he explains he wouldn’t want all officers to be armed - just more to be trained in using guns. He says: “The number of incidents that we’re now seeing involving gang violence, they’re carrying guns and yet we’re still deploying with a small can of pepper spray and a baton.”

Ross also meets constable Laura, who has just qualified as an armed officer after ten years on the South Yorkshire force, and is going on her first patrol with her colleague Clive, which results in a dramatic arrest. Ross asks how her family cope with her new role, and Laura says: “My son understands that mummy’s got a gun at work, and I don’t think it’s really sunk in that much at that age, but there will come a point where it will.”

This is a Renegade Pictures/Freshwater Films programme for ITV

Monday, 18 February 2019

Steve Pemberton Joins Cast of Sky One's Hit Comedy Bounty Hunters

Steve Pemberton (The League of Gentlemen, Happy Valley) joins the all-star cast in the second series of Sky original production Bounty Hunters, written by writing duo Freddy Syborn and Jack Whitehall (Bad Education) and produced by Tiger Aspect.

Series two of the Sky One comedy thriller from writing team Jack Whitehall and Freddy Syborn will see Barnaby Walker (Jack Whitehall) and Nina Morales (Rosie Perez) return with a bang ready for more adventures and scrapes in the second instalment of this hit show.

The five-part drama which was filmed in Spain and in the UK, is scheduled to air weekly from 14 March 2019 exclusively on Sky One and TV streaming service NOW TV in the UK and Ireland.

Steve Pemberton joins the stellar cast as Colin McQueen, a history teacher at Eton College whose interests lie more in the ‘specialist’ end of the antiques market which had previously brought him into contact with Nigel Walker (Robert Lindsay). Now, with the freewheeling Nigel dead, Colin wants to get his hands on that final, elusive piece of art and Nigel’s son, Barnaby, might be the man to help him.

Steve Pemberton said: “It was a thrill to be asked by Jack and Freddy to play a sinister private-school teacher with an unhealthy interest in Nazi memorabilia - frankly they had me at ‘sinister’ - and it proved a peach of a role which I devoured (apart from the stone, that would be unhealthy).

A link to the first look trailer can be found here:

The first series, which launched in 2017 to an audience of 1.38 million, became Sky One’s biggest sitcom launch for six years. Series one, which is currently available to watch On Demand on Sky and NOW TV, ended with  Barnaby (Jack Whitehall) and Nina (Rosie Perez) restraining Angel (Christian Ochoa) and abducting him, whilst Leah Walker (Charity Wakefield), ended up in her own predicament as she found herself locked up in a Mexican prison.

Bounty Hunters writers Freddy Syborn and Jack Whitehall said: “We are thrilled to be given an opportunity to delve deeper into the characters we had such fun with in series one. The second series of Bounty Hunters allows us to build on the characters and also gives the audience a glimpse into other storylines.”

Bounty Hunters is produced by Tiger Aspect, the makers of The Other One, Man Like Mobeen and Jack Whitehall: Travels With My Father and part of The Endemol Shine Group. Executive producers are Pippa Brown and Ben Cavey. The series is written by Freddy Syborn and Jack Whitehall with Jeremy Dyson and Keith Akushie joining the writing team for series two.

Both series of Bounty Hunters have been commissioned for Sky by Commissioning Editor Morwenna Gordon and director of programmes for Sky entertainment UK & Ireland Zai Bennett and are internationally distributed by Endemol Shine International.