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Sunday 23 December 2018

Grantchester - Returns 11th January

Grantchester starring Robson Green and James Norton, and new cast member Tom Brittney, returns to ITV for a fourth series in a co-production from Kudos and MASTERPIECE on PBS.

James Norton, who plays the charismatic, jazz-loving clergyman, Sidney Chambers, will make his final appearance during the series. Clergyman Will Davenport, played by Tom Brittney, becomes DI Geordie Keating's new crime-solving partner in 1950s Grantchester.

Episode 1

It's 1956 and with Amanda long gone, Sidney's life now revolves around the church services and the interminable meetings of the Parochial Council and their plans for a village fete. He yearns for some excitement, and Geordie has noticed that Sidney's devil-may-care attitude feels increasingly like a death wish.

In need of spiritual sustenance, Sidney and Leonard go to hear inspirational civil rights activist Reverend Nathaniel Todd talk in Cambridge as part of a fundraising tour. Todd is accompanied by his son Charles, daughter Violet, and fellow activist Robert DeVeaux. Professor Barkley and his wife Madhia host their stay, and while at their house, Leonard introduces Sidney to an old friend, Will Davenport. Will is the current Chaplain at Corpus Christi, following in Sidney's footsteps. Sidney strikes up a conversation with beautiful, vibrant Violet Todd and sparks soon fly.

At the talk, Nathaniel's impassioned speech invigorates Sidney until he is interrupted by a racist young student, Gregory Jones, who verbally attacks the pastor. Chaos then erupts and what sound like gunshots ring through the church as fireworks are thrown by protestors. Sidney, Leonard, Will, the Barkleys and the Todds are all almost crushed by the crowd trying to escape. Finally, Will breaks open the door and they spill out of the church... but Charles Todd staggers forward, stabbed by an unseen assailant, and dies in his father's arms.

As Geordie and Sidney set about finding the killer, Reverend Todd wrestles with his grief, Violet steels herself to speak out, Sidney wrestles with his growing feelings for her – and Leonard has a poem prepared for the village fete...


Sidney Chambers - JAMES NORTON
Geordie Keating - ROBSON GREEN
Will Davenport - TOM BRITTNEY
Leonard Finch - AL WEAVER
Jack Chapman - NICK BRIMBLE
Daniel Marlowe - OLIVER DIMSDALE
Violet Todd - SIMONA BROWN
Reverend Nathaniel Todd - PATERSON JOSEPH
Professor Henry Barkley - SAMUEL WEST
Madhia Barkley - SANDRA TELES
Charles Todd - TOK STEPHEN
Larry Peters - BRADLEY HALL

Friday 21 December 2018

Sky original production Urban Myths returns to Sky Arts with a third series

The International Emmy Awards nominated Urban Myths has been greenlit for a third series on Sky Arts. The next episode of the anthology series to be announced sees students from the National Film and Television School (NFTS) taking over the creative reigns. The series three instalment, Bleak House Guest, stars Stephen Mangan as Charles Dickens and will air in spring 2019.

The NFTS have been commissioned to make the episode as part of the school’s Bridges to Industry scheme. A first glimpse can be seen in Sky’s upcoming highlights promo which will air over the Christmas period.

Morwenna Gordon, commissioning editor for Sky said: “We’re incredibly proud of Bleak House Guest and thoroughly enjoyed the process of working with SLAM and the NFTS on this project. With Stephen Mangan, Ian Hart and Monica Dolan in front of the camera, and a talented crew of NFTS alumni, It will make a world class addition to our next series of Urban Myths.”

Jon Wardle, NFTS director said: “We are extremely grateful to Sky Arts for giving our graduates and students this opportunity to create an episode for such a high-profile series. Our Bridges to Industry scheme is such an important aspect of what we do at NFTS, and we couldn’t give our students and graduates this career enhancing experience without the continued support of our industry champions like Sky.”

Louise Delamere, producer for Slam Films said: “SLAM is delighted to have worked together with Sky and the NFTS on the Bridges to Industry initiative. This unique endeavour resulted in an Urban Myth which SLAM are incredibly proud of – not just for the quality of the programme itself but for the opportunities we were able to offer young, emerging talent.”

Bleak House Guest will join the already announced Mick and Margaret, which charts Princess Margaret’s 30-year friendship with Mick Jagger. Further details of series 3 will be announced in the new year. Previous episodes of Urban Myths have starred Gemma Arterton as Marilyn Monroe, Noel Clarke as Muhammad Ali, Anna Maxwell Martin as Agatha Christie, David Suchet as Salvador Dali and Noel Fielding as Alice Cooper.

Danny Dyer to deliver Channel 4's Alternative Christmas Message

Actor and broadcaster Danny Dyer, the unofficial man of the people, is to deliver this year’s Channel 4 Alternative Christmas Message.

Picture the scene, the post-Christmas Day kitchen carnage, rubbish everywhere, everyone fighting to be heard and nowhere to sit down and relax. Enter Danny Dyer.

Sipping tea out of a Prince Harry & Meghan Markle Royal Wedding mug, Danny reflects on a “pretty full on” year. He goes on to give his view candidly about the lack of leadership in this country.

"That shambles down in Westminster, what a palava that is. I mean where are our leaders? Where are they? There’s been more backstabbing than we have in Albert Square.”

Donald Trump doesn’t get off lightly where Danny is concerned either – he gets both barrels for both not turning up to the Armistice memorial as it was raining and for cancelling his trip to Britain.

“It ain't any better for the Yanks though is it, you know, what an absolute melt they've got there. He don't want to turn up to memorials because it's raining. He don't fancy a little trip to Britain because there's people here that just don't like him. Leave off.”

On a more positive note, Danny raises a glass to both to the heroes of 1918 to mark both 100 years since the Armistice of World War I and the victory in the fight for the women’s vote.

In the Alternative Christmas Message, which will be broadcast on Christmas Day at 3.50pm on Channel 4, Danny calls for more heroes and role models, citing his mum, Nan – and in later years, Harold Pinter, as his.

“That’s what I think we need more of, heroes, role models. If we need anything for 2019, it’s for each of us to find who we look up to. Could be your mum, could be your dad, your stepdad, your Nan, teacher, social worker. Maybe even a handsome roguish actor off your favourite soap.”

He talks of Pinter, “a father figure I didn’t even know I needed,” teaching him “that where I came from didn’t dictate where I went to” and he’s tried to pass this message on.

“I teach my girls they can be who they want to be, and I try and teach my boy to be a good man. Now don’t get me wrong, I ain’t no saint, you know, I can do better. I think we can all do better. And as dads, we can’t stop trying to do better until there’s no need for hashtags to remind us that no means no.”

He signs off with a thoughtful reflection, “Life can get a little stressful and we might get on each other’s nerves a bit, but remember how much there is to be proud of, to be grateful of, and get yourself a Harold, you know, if you can …. Merry Christmas, my loves.”

Thursday 20 December 2018

OPERATION: LIVE - Heart-stopping Australian TV first coming to Seven

Landmark TV event on Seven in 2019 - surgery broadcast live

Coming to Channel Seven in 2019, OPERATION: LIVE is a unique TV event broadcasting life-changing operations live in their entirety from Australia’s leading hospitals.

During the two-night event, audiences will witness open-heart surgery and the birth of a baby, both in real time with a multi-camera set up capturing every compelling moment from the first incision to the very last stitch with the patient’s life in the surgeon’s hands.

Commenting on the upcoming TV event, Seven’s Director of Programming, Angus Ross, said OPERATION: LIVE would demystify exactly what unfolds during surgery and underline the brilliant work that takes place in our hospitals.

“This event will give audiences a front row seat to a fascinating world that’s normally off limits,” he said. “When the format aired in the UK, social media was flooded with questions and overwhelming praise for the medical teams involved with people completely in awe of what they had seen.

“Working with ITV Studios Australia and some of Australia’s top-tier hospitals and their elite surgeons, we’re privileged to present this innovative experience for Australian audiences.”   

OPERATION: LIVE will feature expert commentary from Australian trained cardiothoracic surgeon Dr Nikki Stamp FRACS. Dr Stamp will explain the stages of the operation as they happen, working with the surgeon performing the operation.

One of only 11 female cardiothoracic surgeons in Australia and a leading advocate for heart health, Dr Stamp’s research has been published in numerous leading medical journals including the ANZ Journal of Surgery and the British Medical Journal.  She also teaches medical students and surgical trainees.

Alongside the drama and intricate theatre process, audiences will share the nerve-wracking wait with the patient’s closest family as they sit outside the theatre while their loved one undergoes surgery.

OPERATION: LIVE is an ITV Studios Australia production for Channel Seven.

About Seven West Media 
Seven West Media (ASX: SWM) is one of Australia’s leading integrated media companies, with a market-leading presence in broadcast television, magazine and newspaper publishing and online. 

 The company is the home to many of Australia’s leading media businesses – Seven, 7TWO and 7mate, 7flix, Pacific Magazines, The West Australian, The Sunday Times and Yahoo7, and the biggest content brands including My Kitchen Rules, House Rules, Home and Away, Sunrise, the Australian Football League, Cricket Australia, the Olympic Games, Better Homes and Gardens, marie claire, Who, PerthNow, racing.com and 7plus.

First look: Catch 22

Coming to Channel 4 in 2019

Based on Joseph Heller’s seminal novel of the same name, Catch-22 is the story of the incomparable, artful dodger, Yossarian (Christopher Abbott), a US Air Force bombardier in World War II who is furious because thousands of people he has never met are trying to kill him. But his real problem is not the enemy, but rather his own army which keeps increasing the number of missions the men must fly to complete their service. Yet if Yossarian makes any attempt to avoid his military assignments, he’ll be in violation of Catch-22, a hilariously sinister bureaucratic rule which specifies that a concern for one’s own safety in the face of dangers which are real and immediate is the process of a rational mind; a man is considered insane if he willingly continues to fly dangerous combat missions, but a request to be removed from duty is evidence of sanity and therefore makes him ineligible to be relieved from duty.

The cast includes Christopher Abbott (Yossarian), Kyle Chandler (Colonel Cathcart), George Clooney (Scheisskopf), Hugh Laurie (Major de Coverley), Giancarlo Giannini (Marcello), Daniel David Stewart (Milo), Rafi Gavron (Aarfy), Austin Stowell (Nately), Graham Patrick Martin (Orr), Gerran Howell (Kid Sampson), Jon Rudnitsky (McWatt), Kevin J. O'Connor (Korn), Pico Alexander (Clevinger), Tessa Ferrer (Nurse Duckett), Lewis Pullman (Major Major), Josh Bolt (Dunbar), Jay Paulson (Chaplain) and Julie Ann Emery (Marion).

Catch-22 is executive produced by George Clooney and Grant Heslov on behalf of Smokehouse Pictures, along with Richard Brown and Steve Golin on behalf of Anonymous Content. Luke Davies and David Michôd are co-writers and executive producers for the series.

The 6-part limited series from Paramount Television and Anonymous Content is directed by Clooney, Heslov and Ellen Kuras, who also serves as producer. Each directed two episodes. Catch-22 will air on Channel 4 in 2019.

Sky Sports launches a new home for American sports – Sky Sports USA

Love the NFL? Need to know what’s going on in the NBA? You’re in the right place. This January, Sky Sports is launching a new home for American sports - Sky Sports USA.

The channel, on air from 3 January to 5 February, will be home to some of the biggest superstars in sport. In a huge month for sport stateside, Sky Sports USA will show 40 live games from across the NFL and NBA.

As the race continues to Super Bowl LIII, Sky Sports USA will have every game from the NFL play-offs live, as well as the spectacular finale itself from Atlanta.

Out on the hardwood, UK fans await the NBA’s annual London game, as the Washington Wizards face the New York Knicks at The O2 arena. Then, on the 21st January, the league marks Martin Luther King Jr. Day with four games, headlined by the Memphis Grizzlies’ traditional celebration of the civil rights icon’s life.

Highlights from Sky Sports USA include:

40 live games from across both sports

Every game from the NFL play-offs, including Super Bowl LIII from Atlanta

The NBA London Game 2019 on 17 January between the Washington Wizards and New York Knicks

All four games from the NBA’s celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day

A huge range of programming across both sports, including episodes of NBA Classic Games, NBA Champions, A Football Life, SFX and America’s Game

Barney Francis, Sky Sports Managing Director, said “Every year, the NFL and NBA London games sell out in a matter of minutes and every year the following for both sports in the UK gets bigger. It’s a big month for both, with the road to the Super Bowl in NFL and the London and Martin Luther King games in the NBA – it’s a perfect time to launch a channel to make sure our customers get the very best of American sports.”

In addition to the live action, fans can watch a huge amount of support programming. From the NBA, there will be more classic games and more must-see documentaries, including Thierry Henry & Larry Bird - The Conversation and Players Only: Isiah & Magic. There’s also a host of content from NFL Films, including A Football Life, SFX and America’s Game, alongside exclusive interviews and masterclasses from Sky Sports’ NFL team.

Sky Sports USA, normally Sky Sports Action, joins Sky Sports’ line-up of 10 dedicated sports channels offering 126 live Premier League games, EFL, England cricket, the Solheim Cup and Golf’s Majors, every race of the 2019 F1 World Championship, World Championship Boxing, Netball’s Super League and much more.

Karl Pilkington’s Sick of It recommissioned for a second series

The Sky original production Sick of It is set to return to our screens as a second series of the scripted comedy gets greenlit. The scripted series, written by Karl Pilkington and Richard Yee, his long-time producer and director, will air late 2019 on Sky One and NOW TV.

The launch of Sick of It was part of a record-breaking year of comedy on Sky One. Karl and his grumpy alter ego return with more helpings of humorous philosophising in a second instalment of the critically acclaimed comedy drama. After Aunt Norma replaces Karl with a young sparky care worker, it triggers a bout of soul searching about how little he’s achieved in his life. As Karl attempts to get a new job, earn enough money to move out of Norma’s house, and start dating again, he has to contend with the new carer who not only looks after Norma but begins to take over his life too.

Karl Pilkington said: “I should be chuffed that people liked it enough that Sky want a second series, but just like in Sick of It, my inner voice is reminding me of the sleepless nights and stress I went through when doing the first series. I can never enjoy anything.”

Richard Yee said: “There’s no one able to express the anxiety and confusion of the modern world with as much wit and humanity as Karl, so it’s a joy to be bringing him and his miserable alter ego back for a second series of Sick of It.”

Jon Mountague, Sky’s head of comedy said: “The ‘real’ Special One is coming back to Sky One and so is his inner self. We couldn’t be more thrilled.”

From the Emmy Award winning team behind An Idiot Abroad and The Moaning of Life, the second series of Sick of It will be produced by Me+You Productions and Alrite Productions. Richard Yee directs.  Co-creators Karl Pilkington and Richard Yee also executive produce along with Krishnendu Majumdar. The second series was commissioned by Jon Mountague from Sky.

Tuesday 18 December 2018

David Schwimmer stars in Nick Mohammed’s new comedy series for Sky One

Intelligence is a new Sky original production set in the UK’s Government Communications Headquarters, a weedier, geekier, more bureaucratic version of MI5 and MI6.

The six-part series is a workplace comedy series based in Cheltenham and set in the UK’s highly regarded Government Communications Headquarters. When a power-hungry, maverick NSA agent (Schwimmer) comes over to join an inept and tactless computer analyst (Mohammed) and a newly-formed team tackling cybercrime, everything they know is shaken up.

Jon Mountague, Head of Comedy, Sky Entertainment, said: “Nick Mohammed has written a brilliantly funny comedy series in Intelligence. David & Nick are hilarious together and so perfectly represent the special relationship between our two great nations. I can’t wait.”

David Schwimmer said: “I have no idea what this show is about but if it’s called Intelligence, naturally I’m going to be part of it.”

Nick Mohammed said: “Getting to work with David has been an absolute dream come true. He’s collaborative, honest and exquisitely funny and I couldn’t be more delighted and flattered by his involvement. On saying that, we did initially offer the part to the local shoplifter from Blackpool, but he wasn’t available sadly. Either way, we hope that everyone at GCHQ is as excited about this series as we are. I presume they were aware of this series being green-lit way before we ever were…”

Nerys Evans, Expectation’s Creative Director, Comedy, said: “Even though the stakes are really high for the team, fighting cyber-crime, our six-part comedy series reveals the reality is not dissimilar to any other office environment, from temperamental photocopiers to meeting rooms being double booked. David Schwimmer and Nick Mohammed have a fantastic ‘odd couple’ chemistry and the scripts are brilliantly funny, we can’t wait to see the world of Intelligence come to life.”

Mohammed (The Martian and Christopher Robin) will write, star and executive produce the six-part series. Schwimmer (Friends and American Crime Story: The People v. OJ Simpson) will also star and executive produce.

Intelligence is a co-production with Expectation and Dark Harbor Stories. Executive producer is Nerys Evans for Expectation. Commissioned by Jon Mountague, Sky’s Head of Comedy and Zai Bennett, Director of Programming for Sky Entertainment UK & Ireland. The commissioning editor is Morwenna Gordon for Sky.

Intelligence will be internationally distributed by Sky Vision.

Interview with Simon Bird for The Inbetweeners: Fwends Reunited

It’s ten years since The Inbetweeners first appeared on TV. How has it changed your life?

In lots of ways. I always wanted to perform comedy and be an actor. Before The Inbetweeners I assumed that was a pipe dream. As we were making The Inbetweeners I thought it was a pipe dream as well to be honest! We all thought it was such a tiny show and no one would watch it.

What had you done before The Inbetweeners?

I’d done a lot of live comedy. I met Joe at university and with him and some of my other friends we did lots of sketch shows and stand up. We did that at the Edinburgh Festival and in London. We had sort of odd jobs, me and Joe, writing sketches and jokes, including for Iain Morris and Damon Beesley (who wrote The Inbetweeners). That’s how we got to know them and eventually how we got the part. So just pure nepotism! Old-school nepotism.

What do you remember of the audition process?

Well I remember not being allowed to audition for about a year because Iain and Damon said I was a) too old and b) too camp. They said there wasn’t a part in the show for me or Joe. This was around the time when Skins had just come out and that was obviously a huge success. They’d cast fifteen and sixteen year olds to play fifteen and sixteen year olds which makes sense. So Iain and Damon were trying to do that. And Blake and James are slightly younger than me and Joe, so they sort of achieved that with them. But with Will and Simon, those are the characters that are based on them – Will is Iain and Simon is Damon. I think they were just very protective and didn’t really like the idea of giving those parts up to anyone. But Joe and I hung on in there and eventually Iain and Damon ran out of time, as we knew they would. They realised about three days before filming that they had to cast someone. I think it was out of desperation really that me and Joe got cast.

I can’t imagine anyone else playing them, though

Yeah it’s weird isn’t it?

What sort of teenager were you?

I mean I was essentially Will, obviously, sad to say. I didn’t have a briefcase but I had a pretty structured backpack.

When did you first realise the show was going to be a hit?

Really late, to be honest. Genuinely after series three came out. The viewing figures for series one were tiny and it got terribly reviewed so we assumed it was dead in the water. Then for some reason they commissioned a second series and we thought that was just foolhardy commissioners. The viewing figures for the second series were slightly better but not in any way noteworthy. It was really only after the third series when the viewing figures really took off and people were saying, “OK this is getting weird now.”

Do you think the first film took it to a whole new level?

Yeah I think so. I admired the pure cojones of Iain and Damon to think we deserved to make a film. Lots of TV shows have done that since but at that time it wasn’t a standard thing to do. Back then the idea of turning this pretty lo-fi low-budget sitcom about four underachieving losers into a film felt totally audacious. It felt like we were just taking the piss, to be honest.

What do you get shouted at most by fans of the show?

Oh, all the ones you’d expect. ‘Briefcase Wanker’ is obviously a classic. ‘Bumder’ is a bit of a go-to. All the old favourites.

On the night you’ll be reunited with the others – do you manage to get together a lot?

We do. Not as much as we’d all like to but we met up a couple of months ago and went out for dinner. I see Joe quite a lot. But Blake and James don’t live in London anymore so it’s a bit trickier to see them.

Tell us about your upcoming projects

For the last six months I’ve been working on a film which I have directed called ‘Days of the Bagnold Summer’. Coming to cinemas soon hopefully.

The Inbetweeners: Fwends Reunited airs New Years Day at 9pm on Channel 4

Interview with James Buckley for The Inbetweeners: Fwends Reunited

It’s ten years since The Inbetweeners first appeared on TV. How did it change your life?

I don’t know really. I got paid, and I was in this successful show, but I’m not really sure how much it’s changed my life other than that. I feel like I’m the same person. It was good fun doing it!

What had you done before The Inbetweeners?

I was in a TV show called ‘Orrible with Johnny Vaughan, I did the last series of Teachers, I did two or three different characters on The Bill. Just stuff like that. The Inbetweeners was the first thing that really took off.

What do you remember of the audition process?

I remember it was quite long. It felt like pretty much everyone I knew who was my age and was also an actor read for it. I know that they were doing auditions in Edinburgh as well, up at the Fringe. It was just a really long process; I didn’t know what was going on or what they were really looking for.

How was it meeting your fellow cast mates for the first time? What were your first impressions of them?

It was really weird meeting the other boys for the first time. That was pretty much the last audition, where they had the four of us together, and we read, and it was just quite weird. The way we are now was exactly how we were the first time we met. We we were just all very comfortable taking the piss out of each other straight away.

Was the show actually fun to film, or was it just a job with antisocial hours and lots of lines to learn?

It was the best fun. It was the best job you could ever have. It was just hanging out with your mates, mucking about, having fun, making each other laugh, and maybe we might film some stuff that could be put on television. It doesn’t really get any better than that. To be paid to do that! I still, to this day, can’t believe how lucky I was.

What sort of a teenager were you?

I was still a teenager when we filmed this – I think I was 18 when we shot the pilot and 19 when we did the first full series. I think I was a pretty ordinary teenager, boring, just played video games with my mates and went to the pub, stuff like that. Just very normal.

Did you like Jay?

I liked playing Jay. I don’t think I could be around someone like that for too long, for any extended period of time. I think I’d get wound up. It’s good fun to play a character like that, to do stuff, to behave in a way that you’d probably feel too embarrassed or ashamed to in real life. It’s like a purge. It was really great to be able to get away with the things I said and did. And Jay’s a really funny character; he makes a lot of people laugh, so I loved playing him.

Did you have any input into how the character developed?

No. And this is another reason why the job was so good! I didn’t have to think about anything. Iain and Damon [the creators] had it all there. It just needed someone to read it, and I happened to be the lucky person to do that. It meant I could spend most of my energy just winding up Joe Thomas. It was all Iain and Damon.

When did you first realise the show was going to be a hit?

I can’t really remember. It was a really slow process. It took a while to catch on, and there wasn’t a time where I suddenly realised that the show was popular and people liked it. It just slowly happened, and more and more people were watching it on TV and stuff. I can’t remember a time where we all sat down together and popped a bottle of champagne and patted each other on the back to say “It’s a hit.” That never really happened, it was just a real slow-burner before people started to get into it.

Did the first film take it to a whole new level?

It’s in hindsight, really, that I appreciate what we did. No-one made TV shows into movies at that point, because that had a famous history of going badly – no-one had done it for 30 years or whatever. That was very much a possibility with doing the movie for The Inbetweeners. We didn’t know if it was going to work or if people were going to like it. I think we all felt like if we just kept doing what people liked us doing, then maybe other people would get it, but there was still this stigma around TV shows adapted for movies, and we had to overcome that. And we did. I haven’t really ever thought about it until now, but it was pretty good to have a couple of hit movies off the back of the show.

On the night, you’ll be reunited with the boys – do you ever manage to all get together?

We do sometimes, but we mostly communicate through text or email. We’ve got a weird relationship, it’s genuinely like family. You can have your brother move away and you don’t see them for a year, but you have that bond and you pick up straight where you left off. We are like family, and any excuse to get together we’ll take. That’s why we’re doing this show – it’s just an excuse to meet up. It’s difficult with kids and work and stuff like that, and we don’t live near each other, so it’s not like we can just pop round and see each other. So this is a nice excuse to spend a few days together.

Have you any idea what we can expect on the night?

I’m just going to turn up, and I get to see Joe and Simon and Blake, and Ian and Damon, and my attitude will be the same as it was with the series and the movies – if we make a TV show at the end of it then great, but I just really want to see those guys.

Do you have any favourite scenes from the show?

I haven’t really watched it. I would rather watch Blackadder thousands of times. I’m sure there are people who probably watch The Inbetweeners that much. It’s probably, like, if I ask Rowan Atkinson what his favourite Blackadder episode was, and he’s like “I can’t really remember, because it was a while ago and I never really watched them back…”

“… and I spend all my time watching The Inbetweeners.”

[Laughs] That would be the greatest!

The Inbetweeners: Fwends Reunited airs New Years Day at 9pm on Channel 4

Monday 17 December 2018

The ABC Murders - Interview with John Malkovich (Hercule Poirot)

Hercule Poirot is an iconic character. What was it that drew you to the role and why did you want to play him?

In this case it was the three scripts that Sarah Phelps wrote. I thought that they were very well written, the character was interesting, Hercule Poirot was perhaps not very happy and in a phase of his life that we don’t see very often and isn’t dramatized very often and that is what interested me.

Sarah Phelps always brings something new to Christie’s work. When you were reading the script what were the things that really popped out and appealed to you?

Where Hercule Poirot is in his life; he is nearing the end of his life, he is quite forgotten. As it happens he has lived in England for almost two decades and the world has passed him by. As well as the plot and a lot of very good characters, that was the part that interested me the most.

Can you tell us a little bit about Hercule Poirot? Where do we meet him in the story and how does his story progress?

Hercule is receiving letters and he puts together that these letters are being sent to him by a murderer who is called A.B.C. This murderer is going through the alphabet and murdering people whose names have double initials. That’s where he is at the very beginning. He’s starting to sell some of his possessions to get by (he says he has savings but he doesn’t) and he’s, like I think many people do, in the process of fading away. Then he tries to involve the police. His friend Inspector Japp is no longer there, Hercule didn’t even know he’d retired, and he finds it very hard to acquaint himself with the new inspector that he has to deal with. That’s where the story starts.

That new inspector is Inspector Crome, played by Rupert Grint. Can you tell us a bit about the relationship between Hercule and Crome?

I don’t think their relationship starts in a very promising way but they eventually gain a measure of respect for each other through the course of this story. Poirot is someone who is very experienced and Crome, Rupert’s character, is decidedly less, they have an interesting relationship.

What was it that you felt about Hercule Poirot that you wanted to bring out in your performance? Was there anything in particular that you wanted to develop in the character that we know so well?

I am certainly no expert on Agatha Christie, and in my experience, a lot of times when you know a piece really well, a piece of literature that it’s based on, it just brings trouble. So, I think that first of all it’s really Sarah Phelps’ choice to decide what to emphasise or not emphasise. One of the things that I thought was important was that Poirot was someone who had lived here in England for nearly 20 years when our story starts. I thought that was important on a number of levels. He says at one point that he’s lived here for 19 years and people still think he’s French. The first thing is that he isn’t French but he has had a long experience in England, in a way about a third of his life, and I think that is an important factor and has to be played and made clear and understood which I think is a difference from how this story normally is told.

The 1930’s is a very interesting period. Have you done much set in that period?

The 1930’s is not a period I have done a lot of work in but I’ve certainly read a lot about it. I’m probably more familiar with the later 30’s, the Second World War and after, and the First World War in Europe proper and also in the UK, but not so much in the early 30’s. I would be reticent to speak about it but certainly everybody, myself included, has felt exile; has felt an outsider; has felt unwelcome in various places and situations. I think Sarah draws interesting parallels with today. I don’t think it’s easy to be an immigrant. I don’t think it’s easy to leave what you know and strike out for a new existence. In Poirot’s case he has established something and been invited everywhere important and chic and to various stately homes to do his murder mystery evenings and then the invitations stop, as they invariably do in life and I think Sarah explores this delicately.

It’s a painful portrait of a man...

I hope it’s painful. I remember once I was doing a play here (in the UK) in the early 1990’s, it was fairly late but my little girl was not sleepy at all and something came on the TV. It was a film about two elderly people who were retiring, I think Stephen Frears directed it, and I thought it was just a wonderful thing. I thought it was terrific. My little girl, who was tiny, stayed up and watched it. It did a great job of just watching people fade away. But that’s life, we all see it with our grandparents and then our parents and then it’s our turn and that’s just normal. But, it doesn’t make it any less painful and you don’t see it very much (on screen). I don’t know… It often seems we produce a million films that are all about teenagers.

What did you want to achieve with the very famous look?

I didn’t really have an opinion about it. I was doing some work in Chicago back in April when I had the first conversation with Alex (Gabassi). From what I understood from Sarah’s script I thought that I would need to get a wig and I don’t think that my moustache would necessarily grow that way but anyway, we started to conceptualise and gather the elements to fulfil that vision which seemed to me to describe someone with very, very dyed hair and a very, very dyed moustache. I thought it was part of the pathos. I could see that it could be one that wasn’t irreplaceable but I understood it as a short hand. Alex said actually no, I want you to look like you look now, I saw a picture of you yesterday and I want you to look like that. To me that’s a decision for a director. The director is the lead interpreter of something that includes what is the text, what is the story, how do you tell it, what does it look like and probably principle among those is what are people actually seeing. My feeling was that a million people play Hamlet and they don’t all look alike; a million people play Richard III and they don’t all look alike. Obviously, you want to do something that doesn’t disrupt the notion of what period it is. I think every time it has been done the moustache has had a lead role and I guess that’s great, but you know it doesn’t in this interpretation really and I think that’s fine.

You have mentioned conversations with Alex Gabassi a number of times. What is his style? How have you found working with him?

I think Alex is very smart and he’s got a very good sense of humour. I love to watch him move things around on the set because after a day or two I thought my goodness you are even crazier than I am. I am only 88% as crazy as him. Everything he’ll organise and reframe, which by the way I like; I mean the form is founded upon manipulating images. I think he is very smart, very good with the actors. I feel plenty of freedom but at the same time I like to hear ‘I want one this way’ or ‘try it like this’ etc. That’s the whole point. I like to have direction from a director. I always welcome that very much and I always try to give options that he may like and that maybe wouldn’t have come to mind. So, for me it’s a very happy collaboration.

Through this process are there any particular words that resonate or have resonated through this? Is there a word that you have repeatedly felt, or something in the script, that sums up the feeling that’s going on around this time?

Not really, not in a word. I think he has a, and I don’t even know what we call it, it’s not really the right word, but I think we say detachment, a kind of recul sort of… he’s reflective. That’s the time of his life I think, and he’s always reflective about people and what they can get up to. Sarah’s screenplay has interesting notions about Poirot’s past, which I think are very important. But I don’t know, maybe I would say reserve.

What drives Hercule Poirot? When he sees these victims they’re not just dead bodies to him, it’s almost a very personal thing - beyond the fact the killer is writing to him. What is driving him through this story?

It’s the same thing that drive us all, his past. Scott Spencer had a great line in his novel Endless Love, “the past rests breathing faintly in the darkness, it no longer holds me as it used to, now I must reach back to touch it”. I think in Poirot’s case that is what motivates him. I think Sarah has had the most interesting take on what that past was and why it dictates his present and future.

There are some pretty brutal murders and a race against time. Is Poirot scared or is he convinced that he’s going to solve this case?

I think there is being convinced you are going to solve the case and then being convinced that you have to solve the case. I’d maybe say that he is convinced that he has to solve the case, with the associates who help him: Crome, played by Rupert Grint, being one of them. I think he’s worried. I don’t think he’s personally afraid but he’s afraid that he won’t have done enough, won’t have been on the mark enough or clever enough to discover who is committing these heinous acts, I think he has fear in that way.

Is this his last chance saloon?

Well, one never knows that in this life, but it certainly could be.

In terms of the filming, have there been any particular highlights so far? Have you enjoyed filming on location in the UK; has there been a good vibe on set?

Newby Hall is a lovely place and it was insane to be on the old trains, boy they put out a lot of dirt, good lord. But it’s gone very well. I think it’s a good cast, some of whom their work I knew, or at least a tiny bit, and many whose work I didn’t know, but I think he’s gathered together a very good group and I’ve very much enjoyed it.

You share a lot of scenes with Rupert Grint. How has it been working with Rupert?

It’s been very good. He has a lot of charm. He has a way of being sort of funny and off-centre without trying very hard. He brings an inner turmoil to the funny things he does that I always think is absolutely necessary to actually be funny. The rest is maybe witty but not really funny.

Agatha Christie is an author who sells around the world - but is she a writer that you were aware of?

Of course, Agatha Christie has a reputation everywhere. I am sure I read two or three Agatha Christie books when I was a kid but it would have been when I was pretty young. I don’t know how those shows did in America (And Then There Were None, The Witness for the Prosecution) but I thought they were just excellent; they had terrific cast; they looked lovely, very well written and very, very good.

First look pictures for 'Traitors'

Traitors (previously known as Jerusalem) will air on Channel 4 and globally on Netflix outside of the U.K. and Ireland (and China where Netflix is not available) in early 2019.

Created by multiple award-winning playwright and screenwriter Bash Doran (Boardwalk Empire, Looming Tower, Masters of Sex), Traitors is her first original commission for British TV, with award-winning directors Dearbhla Walsh and Alex Winckler at the helm bringing the six-part series to life.

The cast includes Emma Appleton (Clique) as Feef Symonds, Keeley Hawes (Bodyguard, The Missing, Line of Duty) as Priscilla, Michael Stuhlbarg (Shape Of Water, The Looming Tower, The Post, Boardwalk Empire) as Rowe, Luke Treadaway (Ordeal by Innocence, Fortitude, Unbroken) as Hugh, Brandon P Bell (Dear White People) as Jackson, Stephen Campbell Moore (The Last Post, The Child in Time) as Philip and Matt Lauria (Kingdom, Parenthood) as Peter.

Traitors is a compulsive spy thriller that takes us behind the scenes of a seismic moment in global history, through the eyes of one young woman caught in the middle of it. An intimate epic set in 1945 London, Traitors is the dangerous, enthralling story of Feef, who is seduced by a rogue American spy into spying on her own country. Her task? To uncover a Russian agent in the heart of the British Government.

Traitors is produced by Twenty Twenty Productions (part of Warner Bros International Television Production based in the UK) and 42 for Channel 4 and Netflix. Executive producers are Eleanor Moran, Rory Aitken, Emma Willis, Tim Carter and Bash Doran with Rhonda Smith as producer. Sales are handled by all3media international.

The 6X60’ series was commissioned for Channel 4 by former Head of Drama, Beth Willis and Head of International Drama, Simon Maxwell.

Ashley Banjo Interview for Flirty Dancing

What is Flirty Dancing about?

It's like a blind date, but rather than meet up with somebody and then do something more conventional like go to a bar or to a restaurant, you don't speak to this person. You don't know who they are. You don't even quite know where you'll meet them, but you'll bump into somebody. You'll hear the music start to play that you've been rehearsing to for a week, but the person that you're dancing with, it's the first time you've ever seen them, and you have a few minutes to dance with that person, to do a choreographed routine. Then, once it's finished you decide if you like them, what they made you feel like, and if you want to actually see them to go out on a second date. You don't even get to speak to that person, it's all based on how that dance with them made you feel.

Why did you want to get involved in a dating show?

It's a dancing show as well as a dating show which was important to me because as you know, first and foremost, I love dancing. Everything I do normally revolves around it in some way. I’m always open to using dance in different ways. I just find it really attractive, and when we started talking about this show I was just so intrigued.

Do you think with that there's a better chance of a match than we've seen in previous dating shows?

In the real world you talk to somebody and they might get tongue-tied. They might say the wrong thing; nerves might make them a slightly different person. You make a judgment, but that judgment can be flawed because the person doesn't really give you the best version of themselves in that moment. Whereas with this, I don't really think there's any hiding. We almost give people a bit of a helping hand in a way.

Do you feel pressure because it’s your routine that’s make or break for the success of their first meeting?

Yes! I know that they've put their trust in me. Like I said, we don't take this lightly. We do our best to make it right and as representative of the person in question as we can. On the day, let me tell you, I've never felt more nervous! I feel more pressure watching them dance for the first time than I do over any Diversity performance!

What sort of places will viewers see these couples meet and dance together?

That's been a really big adventure. Over the whole summer we went to some really great places, and had some really lovely times. For example we went to an empty St Pancras station in the middle of the night; we've been on the edges of piers, dancing at sunsets and sunrises. We’ve been at viewpoints looking over the whole of London, we’ve been to amazing art galleries and then some lovely romantic locations like bandstands in a park. We really like to set the tone and create these really lovely environments for them to meet and hopefully feel a spark.

You make it sound like a scene from a romantic Hollywood movie!

That's where we started from for every single one of these. In my mind, it's like a short film. Like a little rom-com in its own right. All of them are placed in what could be scenes from rom-coms. Let’s hope sparks fly!

You’ve got Jordan and Perri helping you out. It’s almost like a Diversity team effort!

I love it, I love having the boys with me because Diversity is like my baby! But it’s not just the boys; I’ve got some amazing girls with me too. Diversity is big enough that we've got girls who dance with us all the time, so the company grows and is bound to get bigger. In this show you see different characters, different people and you see our girls helping, you see Jordan helping, Perri helping them. So it's almost like you get to see some of the more extended Diversity family too, which is really nice.

It brings a family feel to the show…

Thanks, that’s exactly what we wanted it to feel like. Do you know what makes a difference as well? When everyone who does it really cares. I could have gone and got people to come and help me and the show would be great, but I think that - the team, all the choreographers, obviously me - everyone really cared about the outcome, so we try and do our best to make people work and look after them, and I think if you start it off on that foot, then instantly I think people have a different experience.

Speaking of family, congratulations on the imminent arrival of your baby girl, have you been given any tips or advice from your family?

Well my family and friends are going baby crazy at the moment, they are being born left right and centre! So I think there will be plenty of advice around. I’m so excited to see our little one grow up and if by any chance she wanted to be like her daddy and bust a few moves, I’ve already got the dancing shoes covered!

Friday 14 December 2018

Torvill & Dean - Airs Tuesday 25th December 2018

Starring Will Tudor (Game Of Thrones, Humans) and Poppy Lee Friar (Ackley Bridge, In The Club) as the iconic leads, ITV's one-off feature-length film explores Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean’s early years and the creative impetus that finally drove them to become ice dancing royalty.

Written by acclaimed film, television and theatre writer, William Ivory (Made in Dagenham, Burton and Taylor), the inspirational drama has been produced by leading production company Darlow Smithson Productions and will follow the pair’s humble beginnings and family life in Nottingham and how they came together to become Olympic champions.

Acting royalty, Anita Dobson (The Rebel, Call the Midwife) takes the role of Miss Perry, Jayne’s first coach at the Nottingham Ice Stadium, whilst Stephen Tompkinson (The Split, DCI Banks) plays Jayne’s father George and Jo Hartley (Bliss, This Is England ’90) plays her mum Betty. Dean Andrews (The Moorside, Last Tango in Halifax) and Christine Bottomley (Fearless, In the Club) play Chris’s parents, Colin and Mavis, and Jaime Winstone (Babs, After Hours) is Janet Sawbridge, the ice dancing instructor who pairs Chris and Jayne together for the first time. Susan Earl (I Want My Wife Back, Reggie Perrin) takes the role of Betty Dean.

Torvill & Dean is executive produced by Darlow Smithson’s Emily Dalton and writer William Ivory. It is produced by Emma Burge (Shameless, The Village) and directed by Gillies MacKinnon (Hideous Kinky, Small Faces). Northern Ireland Screen are co-production partners with Darlow Smithson and international distribution is handled by Endemol Shine International.

Episodic synopsis
The Nottingham-based biopic opens in 1968, showing Jayne and Chris as children in their respective family homes. Exploring how the pair were individually introduced to ice skating, Jayne's first experience on the ice is during a school trip where she immediately shows potential and is taken under the wing of trainer Miss Perry. Meanwhile, following his parents' separation, Chris is given a pair of skates by his new stepmother, Betty, which encourages him to try out the sport.

As the years progress, ice skating becomes a big part of both of their lives. Jayne continues to train with Miss Perry, whilst Chris uses the ice as an escape from his complicated family life. Sensing that Jayne needs a partner to allow her more expression, Miss Perry introduces her to Andrew who she starts to train with, whilst Chris begins a partnership with fellow skater, Leanne. However, creative differences within both partnerships eventually lead to their breakdown, and it isn't long before Chris' trainer, Janet Sawbridge, puts Jayne and Chris together.

Despite being unsure at first, the duo blossom together and they're soon excelling at a competitive level. With both having full-time jobs and commitments beyond the rink though, they must work hard to achieve their dreams.

The Voice UK - Stars Saturday 5th of January 2019

The Voice UK returns and the search is on to find the voice of 2019. Emma Willis will again host the competition with the stellar panel of coaches – Jennifer Hudson, Olly Murs, Sir Tom Jones and will.i.am – all confirmed to return to their iconic red chairs. They will be seeking the very best solo singers, duos and, in a competition first this year, trios.

Grammy, Oscar and BAFTA winning singer and actress, Jennifer Hudson was recently cast in the film adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s smash musical Cats and is set to star as the young Aretha Franklin in the upcoming biopic about the Queen of Soul. She continues to be a coach on The Voice on both sides of the Atlantic.

With five multi-platinum albums and countless sold out arena tours, Olly Murs made his debut as a coach earlier this year.  Since then, he has released his hotly anticipated sixth studio album, You Know I Know.

The legendary Sir Tom Jones, with a phenomenal six decades in showbusiness, will be back following a tour of the UK and Europe this summer. The reigning champion, having shepherded Ruti to victory last series, he will be hoping to keep the crown.

Entertainer, innovator and seven-time Grammy award winner, will.i.am returns as The Black Eyed Peas celebrate 20 years together having recently entertained audiences the world over on their Masters of The Sun Tour.

The series will commence with the Blind Auditions and each coach seeking ten acts to fill their teams. The next round sees the Battles and the coaches reduce their teams by half but, with the opportunity to steal one act each from another coach, they will take 6 through per team to the Knockouts. Those lucky enough to make it through the Knockouts will earn a place in the live semi-final where the public will decide who makes it through to the final. Ultimately the viewers will choose their winner in the spectacular live finale.

The winning act will be set on the road to realising their artistic ambitions with the ultimate prize of a recording contract with music giants Polydor Records.

The Voice UK is an ITV Studios production of a Talpa format and the new series will air on ITV early next year.

The Long Song A bold three-part adaptation of Andrea Levy’s critically acclaimed bestselling novel set in the final days of slavery in Jamaica

A three-part TV adaptation of the award-winning, critically acclaimed bestselling novel by Andrea Levy.
A bold new look at the final days of slavery in Jamaica, seen through the eyes of a spirited survivor, The Long Song is a three-part adaptation of Andrea Levy’s award-winning novel, written by Sarah Williams, directed by Mahalia Belo, and starring Tamara Lawrance, Hayley Atwell, Jack Lowden and Sir Lenny Henry.

The Long Song opens just as 300 years of slavery are finally coming to an end on the British-ruled island of Jamaica. But far from being a harrowing tale of misery that one might expect from such a history, The Long Song is a story of hope, passion, determination, and humour in the face of adversity. It follows a defiant, wily young woman, July, who is born a slave, but ends up as the mother of a gentleman.

The story begins at Amity sugar plantation, where a strong-willed young slave July (Lawrance) is working as a lady’s maid for her odious mistress Caroline Mortimer (Atwell). When a charming new arrival to the island, Robert Goodwin (Lowden), becomes the new overseer at Amity, July and Caroline are both intrigued by his seemingly revolutionary determination to improve the plantation for the slaves and mistress alike. But his arrival has consequences which none of them could predict.

Set during a time of social unrest and turmoil, it’s a story about the injustices which humans inflict upon each other, and the unexpected ways in which people’s humanity sometimes overrules their prejudices. Told from July’s perspective as she looks back over her life, her tone is mischievous and indomitable, and her powerful story is one of love and survival.

Three hundred years of slavery finally came to a chaotic end on the British-ruled Caribbean island of Jamaica in 1838, yet that history of British slavery has rarely been represented on our screens. The Long Song offers a bold and unexpected perspective on this shameful and rarely-acknowledged aspect of Britain’s colonial past.

New Pictures Released for Pure

A refreshingly honest, funny C4 drama about getting to know your mind and your mates, set for early 2019

Twenty-four year old Marnie (newcomer Charly Clive) has ‘bad’ thoughts all the time and she can’t tell anyone. Her mind is XXX-rated and intrusive thoughts are piling up inside her head. It turns out she’s actually caught in the grip of an excruciating type of obsessive compulsive disorder – a form of OCD nicknamed ‘pure O’ – where her obsessions take the form of intrusive thoughts, often sexual, and the compulsions are unseen mental rituals that deeply affect her daily life.

Only, Marnie doesn’t know this yet – she just knows: Something. Has. Got. To. Give.

On the day of her parents’ 25th wedding anniversary in the Scottish Borders, things reach a peak and result in THE most shocking intrusive thoughts ever! At breaking point, she packs a bag and, with no plan, jumps on a coach to London. But in the capital, Marnie soon discovers she’s not the only one who’s lost…

In increasingly funny and awkward encounters, Marnie finds a gang of new friends, all with their own foibles. She moves in with her deceptively cheery old school friend Shereen (Kiran Sonia Sawar; Murdered By My Father, Black Mirror). She befriends Charlie (BIFA-winning Joe Cole, A Prayer Before Dawn, Peaky Blinders), who is in recovery, having torpedoed his love and work life, due to his porn addiction. He’s now single, stuck with an old-school flip-phone and attending weekly Sex Addicts Anonymous meets. Queen among Marnie’s new gang is journalist and ladies-woman, Amber (Niamh Algar, The Bisexual) who has been gaining a problematic rep for her promiscuity. Then there’s Amber’s housemate, the irresistible and unassuming Joe (Anthony Welsh; Black Mirror, Journeyman) with whom Marnie shares an adorable Will They-Won’t They romance.

Pure (6 X ‘45), writer Kirstie Swain’s first original series, based on Rose Cartwright’s acclaimed memoir about growing up and discovering she has Pure O, is painfully human, sharply observed, and outrageously funny. It is a moving, warm and truthful exploration of one young woman’s search for herself and her very real struggle with mental illness. It explores how it feels to discover a whole new world, with amazing new friends.

Rose Cartwright said: “When I wrote my memoir, Pure, my mental health condition was virtually unheard of, and my thoughts were deeply taboo. Now, to collaborate on its adaptation with such a talented, diligent, witty team, is an extraordinary validation and privilege.

“As my story is reimagined on-screen, we have a unique opportunity to reach untold thousands of people who have lived for years, as I did, in secrecy and shame. To humanise their darkest experiences, to empower them to change, and to give them new hope.”

Writer Kirstie Swain said: “When you have an anxiety disorder, life can feel like just a series of things to worry about. What to say, what to eat, how to be, who to be with. That’s why I wanted to write this show, because as a chronic over-thinker, I really identified with Rose’s account of what it’s like to constantly question yourself. PURE explores what happens when that doubt turns pathological and gives a female voice to the often silent story of mental health. I’m so proud to have made this show with Channel 4 and Drama Republic. I’m practically vibrating with excitement…plus a little bit of anxiety."

Manpreet Dosanjh, C4 drama Commissioning Editor said: “In Marnie, Kirstie Swain has created an unforgettable and utterly lovable character who navigates the challenges of her mental health with a uniquely goofy charm. Pure is an outrageously funny and painfully honest show which will speak to anyone who has ever wondered who they are and where they belong. We’re thrilled to be working with an exceptionally talented cast and the brilliants team at Drama Republic on this incredibly special show.”

Other members of the cast include Arabella Weir, Doon Mackichan Ewan Stewart, Olive Gray, Tori Allen-Martin, Jing Lusi and Jacob Collins-Levy.

Lead director on Pure is BAFTA-nominated Aneil Karia, and Alicia McDonald directed the second block. The producer is Jen Kenwood and executive producer is Roanna Benn. The production company is Drama Republic and Manpreet Dosanjh is the commissioning editor for C4 drama.


Kaya Scodelario will skate into the lead role on Spinning Out, a new edgy drama series from creator Samantha Stratton. As previously announced, Netflix has ordered 10 episodes.

Scodelario stars as Kat Baker, an up-and-coming, high-level single skater who's about to turn in her skates after a disastrous fall took her off the competition track. When Kat seizes an opportunity to continue her career as a pair skater with a talented bad-boy partner, she risks exposing a fiercely kept secret that could unravel her entire life. On and off the ice, Kat and her new partner will face daunting odds, injury to body and soul, financial sacrifice, and even potential mental breakdown on their way to realizing their Olympic dream.

Creator / Co-Showrunner / Executive Producer: Samantha Stratton (Mr. Mercedes)
Co-Showrunner / Executive Producer: Lara Olsen (90210)
Executive Producers: Tory Tunnell (Safehouse) and Joby Harold (Safehouse)


Kaya Scodelario Bio

Kaya is a British actress of Brazilian, Italian and English descent, who grew up in West Sussex, England. She began her acting career in 2007, when she was cast as Effy Stonem in the beloved British series “Skins,” and was one of the only characters to appear in all four seasons of the show.

Scodelario starred as the female lead in “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” alongside Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Geoffrey Rush and Brenton Thwaites. The film was released by Disney on May 11, 2017.

Scodelario is perhaps most widely known in the US for her role in “The Maze Runner” film series, based on the popular novels by James Dashner. She first appeared in “The Maze Runner” in 2013 and then again in the 2015 sequel, “Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials.” Scodelario reprised her role as Teresa alongside Dylan O’Brien in the third and final installment titled “Maze Runner: The Death Cure” on January 26, 2018.

Most recently, Scodelario filmed “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile” alongside Zac Efron about the life of notorious serial killer Ted Bundy, which will premiere at Sundance in 2019. She also recently starred in the Paramount film, “Crawl,” which is an environmental horror set to premiere in 2019.

Scodelario’s additional film credits include “Shank,” “Clash of the Titans,” “Wuthering Heights,” “Twenty8k,” “Now Is Good,” “The Truth About Emanuel” with Jessica Biel, “Tiger House,” and “The King’s Daughter” with Pierce Brosnan and Benjamin Walker, which does not yet have a release date.

Kaya currently resides in London.

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.”

Tuesday 11 December 2018

Jessie J joins Will.I.Am, Danny Jones and Pixie Lott to take up fourth chair as The Voice Kids UK 2019 competition gets underway

Jessie J is joining The Voice Kids UK as a new coach alongside Will.i.am, Danny Jones and Pixie Lott who all return to their big red chairs when filming commences this week. Back on ITV for a third series in 2019, talented youngsters will now have four coaches to try and impress as they sing for the star panel. Also, for the first time, young performers can enter the contest as a duo. Each coach will have nine spots to fill on their teams, for either solo singers or double acts who are all aged 7-14.

A founder member of the Voice family, Jessie J has previously been a coach on The Voice in the UK and Australia, where she mentored Ellie Drennan to victory in season 4. Fresh from completing a tour of the US, China and Europe, the multi-platinum selling star will be looking for young stand out singers to be part of Team Jessie.

Jessie said: “I love kids, I love to sing and I love to share all I know about singing and performing.  The idea of combining those three things again on The Voice Kids is a dream come true. I am grateful to have been asked back. I am so excited to share my experience with the young singers on the show, who are just starting to discover themselves as singers. I will be protective of their experience emotionally, as well as vocally. It’s a huge moment in their lives and I am happy I get to be someone to help and hold their hand. It’s a fun and awesome panel to be joining. I love Pixie and Danny and I can't wait to be sitting alongside my friend Will. Let’s go!!”

Will.i.am commented: "Fantastic to be back alongside Pixie, Danny and now adding my friend Jessie J to the coaches panel. Jessie will add a new dynamic as we each compete to secure the freshest new talent in Britain to our teams."

Danny said: “I can’t wait to get going on the Blind Auditions and build a super strong Team Danny. It will be great to reunite with Will and Pixie and also welcome along new coach Jessie J. She has an amazing voice, she’s a great artist and she also cooked me pasta once! It’s gonna be fun to see what kind of team she puts together…but I know mine will be better!”

Pixie said: “I absolutely love Jessie and I’m thrilled to have a girl joining me with the boys! We’ve performed at some of the same gigs in the past and I’ve always admired her voice. I’m going to be doing all I can to keep my unbeaten record next year. Two series and two winners for me so far and I want the winner again so bring it on, kids!”

The Voice Kids is an ITV Studios production of a Talpa format and the new series will air on ITV next year.

NETFLIX - New Original Anime - Aggretsuko: We Wish You A Metal Christmas

Aggretsuko has become a global hit since its Season 1 launch on Netflix on April 20th, 2018. Based on a Sanrio character, Retsuko is a 25-year-old red panda who copes with her thankless office job and daily frustrations by belting out death metal karaoke after work. While fans will have to wait a little longer for Season 2, which is scheduled for a 2019 launch, Netflix will premiere a special Christmas episode as a Christmas gift to fans. The episode also features a punk cover of “Jingle Bells”, performed by Tim Timebomb and the Interrupters. (Tim Timebomb is a music project of Tim Armstrong, frontman of the legendary punk band Rancid.)

Retsuko's newfound obsession with posting pics on her social media account threatens to ruin her Christmas, while Haida still hopes to spend Christmas with her.

Series Launch Date: Dec. 20, 2018
Format: 1 episode (22 minutes)

Monday 10 December 2018

I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here! final peak of 12.1 million

I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here! final peak of 12.1 million

The I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here! final attracted a huge peak audience of 12.1 million/56% share tuning in to see Harry Redknapp crowned King of the Jungle - the highest peak audience of the series.

The final show of the series averaged 10.9 million/48.2% share - an increase of 1.7 million viewers on the audience to last year's final, and the highest rating final since 2013.

Series 18 has averaged 9.1 million viewers/44% share based on overnights ratings data.

Based on 7 day consolidated data the series is averaging 12.2 million viewers, making it the highest rating series in the show's history, based on available consolidated data after 14 episodes.

Sunday 9 December 2018

I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! - Fill Your Face

I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! - Fill Your Face

Emily Atack undertake tonight's Bushtucker Trial - Fill Your Face

Sunday 9 December at 9pm on ITV

I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here! is back which can mean only one thing… the time has come for a brand new cast of celebrities to head down under and battle it out in TV’s toughest entertainment challenge.

Leaving their plush pads and luxuries far behind, our celebrity campers will spend up to three weeks taking on the harsh surroundings of the Australian Jungle, with a whole host of brand new nasty surprises created just for them.

Declan Donnelly and Holly Willoughby will present all the big stories live from the Jungle every night.

The celebrities heading into the Jungle for the new series are:

Football manager – Harry Redknapp
Corrie star– Sair Khan
TV presenter – Nick Knowles
Singer – Fleur East
Popstar – James McVey
TV’s ‘The Governess’ – Anne Hegerty
Hollyoaks actor –Malique Thompson-Dwyer
Comedy actor – Emily Atack
Actor & entertainer – John Barrowman MBE
Actor – Rita Simons
TV Legend - Noel Edmonds

Friday 7 December 2018

Paras drop into ITV for landmark series on elite regiment

ITV will show a brand-new landmark documentary series on the Parachute Regiment in 2019 after its doors were opened to a UK network broadcaster’s cameras for the first time since the early 1980s.

For The Paras: Men Of War [WT], producers Avanti Media, commissioned by ITV, were granted unprecedented access to the elite regiment and spent 12 months filming months filming all aspects of this closed world which turns raw recruits into elite soldiers trained to kill.

Across the 3x60 series, viewers will see young men, many still in their late teenage years, pushed to the extremes of their endurance and learn vital skills - as they give their all to pass through the highly pressurised and often brutally demanding recruitment stage and be accepted into the regiment.

Only a few of those who join up will make it to the end.

The Paras: Men Of War [WT] will offer a unique perspective and unflinching account of what it takes to make the grade, as well as providing an intimate insight into the characters of the young men and the officers charged with transforming them into battle ready paratroopers, who are the first in to any conflict.

Throughout the series they talk openly about their experiences both in training and in combat - and reflect on the challenges they face, providing an often disarming and enlightening view into the mindset of the soldiers and the reality of the unique culture of the Paras.

And the series will follow the recruits who make it into the regiment, filming them up close and personal on their first major assignments as they prepare for new military threats. 

The Paras: Men Of War [WT] is commissioned for ITV by Tom Giles, Controller of Current Affairs and produced by Neil Grant [Executive Producer] and Nick Betts [Series Producer/Director] for Avanti.

Tom said:

“At a moment when the armed forces are under more scrutiny than ever, this new series presents a unique opportunity to see inside the world of the Parachute Regiment, which is usually firmly closed to outsiders, and get a powerful understanding of the people and culture within an elite, sometimes controversial, regiment that we all know of, but about which we have little real inside knowledge.”

Neil Grant, Executive Producer said:

“This is no ordinary and predictable army access documentary. This is raw, honest and revealing - sugar coated it isn’t.  Uniquely this series goes inside the Para mindset of what it takes to succeed and the personal consequences of failing to make the grade. It’s an intimate portrait of loyalty and honour, of the kill or be killed mindset and being a member of the Regiment entitled to wear the coveted maroon beret.” 

Nick Betts, Series Producer / Director said:

“The Paras are trained killers who’ve courted secrecy, controversy and admiration in equal measure, and who largely view all ‘media’ with extreme caution. The dialogue with the Regiment involved a long period of just listening, without filming - but then slowly the real men behind their identities as soldiers emerged. The ambition of the series was to show the raw, often brutal truth of why young men from all backgrounds desire to become Paratroopers. And in order to do this they must strip away the person they are, to become capable of killing.”

House of Talent renewed for second season

The first season of House of Talent will end on December 28th in the Netherlands, and a second season has already been commissioned by Talpa Network. Season two will air later in 2019 and just like the first one, it will kick-off with the launch of the professional music careers of eight talented musicians. With reality tv, music and social fully integrated in the multi-platform format, the artists are visible everywhere. They connect with the audience via all channels, resulting in a large number of followers and fans on TV, YouTube and social media.

The first season will end with a spectacular finale determining who will be the winner of House of Talent 2018. This artist wins 10.000 euros to invest in his or her career and two singles that will be released by record label 8Ball.

The daily reality show targets the young and difficult to reach audience across different platforms. The strength of the format lies in the strategic multi-channel approach; each of the more than 40 social channels creates its own ripple effect that amplifies the other channels, resulting in an extensive reach and fanbase amongst youngsters.

In House of Talent, eight aspiring artists live together in a well-equipped former TV and radio studio and work hard on their music careers as professionals. They have to build a fanbase, perform throughout the country and release a new track every 6 weeks. If the artists don’t generate enough income or online engagement in every 6-week period, they will be nominated for elimination. The viewer decides who has to leave and make room for new talent.

House of Talent offers an exceptional opportunity for every young artist and a unique way for a viewer to witness the road to fame and success.

Vick Hope joins E4's Shipwrecked

The broadcaster and presenter will narrate the latest series of the pioneering paradise reality show on E4 in 2019

Broadcaster and presenter Vick Hope will be the voice of the all-new series of Shipwrecked, the pioneering paradise island reality show returning for a new 15-part prime-time series on E4 in early 2019.

The new series will see a batch of adventurous young castaways competing in the ultimate popularity contest on two uninhabited paradise islands in the South Pacific. The two tribes – Sharks and Tigers – will battle it out to win over new arrivals to their respective islands, with a £50k prize fund at stake for the largest tribe at the end of the competition.

Vick comments: “I’m chuffed to be voicing the all new series of Shipwrecked. I was such a fan of the show back in the day on T4, and my friends and I would be so invested in all the tribal twists and turns on Shark and Tiger Island, so it’s a real honour to get to have the first sneak peek at winter’s hottest reality show. There are some amazing characters, epic bombshells and lovely waves of nostalgia ahead.”

Neale Simpson, Executive Producer, Fizz comments: “Vick is the perfect voice for the Shipwrecked and we're thrilled that she is joining us to tell the remarkable story of our island adventures. We've loved seeing Vick become instantly hooked on the mischief and mayhem that ensues as the Tigers and Sharks battle it out in the ultimate popularity contest in paradise.”

Abigail Adams, Executive Producer, Motion Content Group adds: “We’re delighted to once again be working with Vick Hope.  Her humour and warmth shine through the series.”

Karl Warner, Controller of E4 adds: “Shipwrecked changed the game, and we’re very excited about the new series that confidently shakes up reality TV once again. Thanks to the amazing creative team behind the camera, a diverse cast of characters and the brilliant talents of Vick Hope, the new series has all the ingredients for a fresh blast of sunshine and surprises to kick off a hugely exciting year ahead on E4.”

The 15 x 60’ brings Shipwrecked back to our screens for the first time since 2011. Shipwrecked is executive produced by Neale Simpson and Kate Bates for Fizz, part of the Banijay Group and Abigail Adams for Motion Content Group. The series is a commission for E4 by Channel 4 Formats and Features.

Shipwrecked begins early 2019 on E4