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Wednesday 31 October 2018

Helen Mirren holds court as formidable Russian Empress in Sky and HBO’s Catherine the Great

Set against the lavish backdrop of the politically ruthless 18th century Russian court, this is the first image of Helen Mirren as one of the most powerful female leaders of all time, in Sky and HBO's original British drama Catherine the Great.

Starring alongside the Oscar® winner in the glittering and power-hungry court are Jason Clarke (Zero Dark Thirty) as Catherine's favoured statesman, military commander and lover Potemkin, BAFTA winner Gina McKee (Bodyguard), as Catherine's lifelong friend and confidante Countess Bruce, and Rory Kinnear (The Imitation Game) as Minister Panin, a skilful politician, advisor and governor to Catherine's son and heir Paul (Joseph Quinn).

Richard Roxburgh (Moulin Rouge) also joins as Grigory Orlov, one of Catherine's former lovers who, with his brother Alexei Orlov (played by Kevin R McNally, Unforgotten), orchestrated the coup that brought Catherine into power.

Currently shooting in palaces and sets across Russia, Latvia and Lithuania, this four-part epic will chart the latter years of Catherine's 34-year reign, as she builds Russia's reputation as one of the great powers of Europe.

The first-look image shows Helen Mirren as Empress Catherine in her private quarters modelled on the original Russian palaces and surrounded by hand-copied paintings from the Hermitage.

The wider cast includes Clive Russell (Game of Thrones) as The Fool, Sam Palladio (Nashville) as Catherine's young lover Alexander Vasilichikov, Lucas Englander (Genius) as Lieutenant Mirovich, Antonia Clarke (Les Misérables) as Princess Sophie, Paul Ritter (Friday Night Dinner) as General Suvorov, Paul Kaye as Pugachev, Thomas Doherty as Peter Zavadovsky, Raphael Acloque as Platon Zubov, James Northcote as Alexander Bezborodko and Andrew Rothney as Alexander Dmitriev-Mamonov.

Written by Nigel Williams (Elizabeth I) and directed by BAFTA and Emmy® Award-winning Philip Martin (The Crown), Catherine the Great is produced by Origin Pictures and New Pictures. It is the third commission from Sky and HBO's high-end global drama partnership.

The series will air on Sky Atlantic and TV streaming service NOW TV in the UK and Ireland next year, and on Sky Atlantic in Italy, Germany, Austria and Spain. Sky Vision will handle international sales and distribution.

Monday 29 October 2018

The First: Interview with Natascha McElhone who plays Laz

Explain a little bit about The First.

One of the things that Beau was aiming for was this idea of human ambition. We even have it in our vernacular – “it’s not rocket science, it’s not like going to the moon…” It’s no accident he used that… not in an allegorical way because it is literally what we’re all questing to do. It’s about how robust human relationships are, the contracts we make, the understandings between families and what we hear and don’t hear. At the critical moment when these people are leaving Earth, those things are under a microscope in a way they might not be in normal life when you’re not shoved up against the wall. It’s as much a map of the human heart as the space between Earth and Mars.

You play Laz Ingram. What’s her story?

She is still undergoing construction ongoing fermentation! People don’t normally have the bandwidth, time or money for that, but Beau is very much into character excavation and talking about all the possible variants, even writing scenes that we perhaps don’t use but somehow deepen our understanding of who these people are. It’s such a luxury to have that kind of process.

Laz is a hugely successful and intelligent individual, but is it fair to say she struggles with the interpersonal side of things?

Yes Laz is someone who is very unapologetic. She’s the opposite of a ‘people pleaser’. I think she’s probably had advice on how to curtail her direct approach but she isn’t interested in behaviour or impressions enough to change it, she is expedient. It’s served her well in terms of what she wants to get done. She’s not impatient; she’s just someone who cannot understand why people don’t see what she sees and why they don’t share her sense of urgency. She’s very, very decisive. I think she’s very secure and pragmatic in her decision making and solution finding, that’s something that comes very easily to her. Life has taught her she should be in the driving seat. I don’t think it’s complicated interpersonal relationship dynamics with humans that she worries about it’s why the MAV is not communicating!

Why do you think the creators decided to make her a Brit? Is that relevant to her character?

I wonder if for Americans British people get away with being more direct because they’re deemed to be courteous and civilised. I also think Beau has cast very different characters throughout because he wanted as many different perspectives as he could get. It was partly just trying to gain another perspective and show ambition, in a very obvious physical way. If you come to the States to study specifically or to get a contract with NASA, that in and of itself takes quite a lot of ambition. I was just delighted I didn’t have to work in an American accent. My dad is from Lancashire, so I took that. Her Northern accent has almost eroded. She’s been in USA for twenty years. I liked doing a hybrid accent as that’s what I hear most around me in real life.

What was it that drew you to the show?

The script has a lot to do with it. It was a joy, for sure. Whether I feel it’s something that hasn’t been fully explored or… sometimes you can read a script that feels a bit hackneyed, the buttons are all in the right places and you think, “Oh here we go, I am being pulled and triggered,” and that’s fine but it gets repetitive. The themes Beau wanted to explore in human nature really appealed to me, irrespective of the ‘space forum’ that was a bonus; it’s not a world that I’ve ever had a chance to fully look into before. I did a film once set in space but it was very much the George Clooney character who was the astronaut. I was a figment of his imagination for most of it. I didn’t do scientific kind of research for that project so this was a first. And also playing an entrepreneur, I haven’t done that before. Plus it was fun to play someone who isn’t in a romantic relationship! I liked playing a zealot. I played a nun once who had a vision and was incredibly articulate about her belief system. It was interesting to play someone who has a lot of that but it’s internalised and it’s not very expressed.

I understand you had a 7 and a half hour meeting with Beau. What did you talk about?

We had to stop because he had a plane to catch, but we could have gone on for a few more days. He’s very inspiring. He’s the real deal.

You’ve alluded to doing research to this; what kind of research did you do?

I did read quite a few books and watch Particle Fever and other documentaries. I met an engineer, an entrepreneur and futurist Sophie Hackford was hugely helpful. Also a few people who were involved in start-ups which are now up and running and successful, but equally I wanted to meet a few people whose ideas were nascent, Sophie was very informative around that what is brewing now that may be manifest in 13 years’ time etc. . Our series is set in the near future, so I wanted to talk to someone who was mid-twenties now, who maybe has a prototype, is shopping it around and is hoping to break through make it big soon…that was what I was interested in, the kernel of Laz’s ambition. One of the things that I would hear in a lot of in these people’s conversation was that they didn’t really mind if something was unpopular because they wouldn’t have gotten to where they were if they’d bothered by that. That usually denotes a certain kind of a character and also a certain kind of social behaviour. Laz is just looking for improvements all the time and that can make you unpopular. She doesn’t mind a bit of unpopularity. It’s a race against time. She’s used to most things being against her, that’s normal.

There’s some pretty technical scientific discussions in the script. When you’re doing dialogue like that do you feel you need to understand the science?

I do like to. The astronaut Chris Hadfield, who advised on the show, was really, really helpful. I’d read his book and done a bit of research on him anyway and watched his show on TV. He was a great resource. And another guy called Nicholas Patrick, a British astronaut who worked for NASA. He was great, just answering my dumb questions. I’d WhatsApp him when he was fixing some part of an engine in a desert somewhere! He was really helpful. You want to break it down in order to be able to explain it to another character. That was very important to all of us.

Going into this, did you have a particular interest in the cosmos? Has this peaked your interest?

If I wasn’t an actor I’d have a pathology of being not a finisher, someone who loves the start of an idea but rarely seeing them through to their end. Because I’m an actor and I’m meant to abandon projects when I’ve done my bit it works quite well. It was very true of this project. I became obsessed, I watched nothing but space films or documentaries or Mars society podcasts And the moment the project was over I’m thrust back into my world, kid’s stories & their needs, homework, ratios, Northanger Abbey, river flow and the PH of urine! Doctor’s appointments, birthday parties & School plays and trumpet lessons. It sounds very fickle but necessarily so. If it comes back round I’ll pick up where I left off. Work feels like a luxury because it’s part time so it never gets repetitive.

How was it working with Sean Penn?

I just loved it. From the beginning I was delighted by his generosity and desire for collaboration. It’s unsurprising because he’s directed to great acclaim; he spots what needs to be done. He also knows when to step back and let the director or writer or showrunner take control. He’s very good at immersing himself in the job he needs to do. He’s great to work with. It’s so natural, effortless for him you don’t see the stitching. It’s very easy for him. Everyone felt the same, it was pretty unanimous

The show is set in the near future and the tech is just a bit more advanced than what we have at the moment. Do you think it was a conscious decision to go down that route, rather than super sci-fi?

For my taste, because the sci-fi world has been well covered and explored, I like this. I like this achievable future that’s in our midst. In the same way we look back 15 years ago, we wouldn’t have been aware of some of the advances, yet we could imagine it. It feels like the tech and the machinery of the piece doesn’t overwhelm the people and the characters.

Bearing in mind it’s not that far into the future, did you get an idea of where we are on the road to this being a scientific reality? Are we going to colonise Mars?

For the rest of the public, if you listen to a compelling speech by someone from the Mars Society, you think “Cool! If they say it’s possible, it probably is. If they’ve invested all these billions and private individuals are willing to put money into this when they could put their money into anything, it must be.” Then when you start to break it down you see the amount of work that needs to take place. The fact that we can’t breathe, there’s no water… it’s so colossal. Then again throughout history we’ve done seemingly impossible things. There’s no reason why we won’t get to it. But by no means do I think it’s the next step. How does international law operate? Who gets to decide? We have an International Space Station for a reason but this is only relatively recently. Our international relations have reflected our space explorations to date.

Do you think Laz would have liked to have made the trip herself?

No, I don’t think so. You don’t just go – the first manned mission to Mars is clearly going to be with astronauts who are highly trained and have taken years to gather the expertise they’ve gathered. That’s not what she’s doing; she’s doing something very different. She’s probably very good at compartmentalising knows what her skill sets are, she’s not a larger than life character, a fantasy of an all-powerful CEO. I like the fact that she’s not particularly articulate or excessively magnetic or any of the things we’d normally associate these characters with.

For a lot of kids, becoming an astronaut is a dream. Is it one you ever had?

No. If anything I would dive to the bottom of the ocean before I would go into space. I’m really fascinated with the underwater world.

SU2C raises biggest total ever - £24.6 million

On Friday 26th October stars from across the worlds of entertainment, music and sport came together for RTS award-winning and BAFTA nominated Stand Up To Cancer, the joint national fundraising campaign from Channel 4 and Cancer Research UK.

Alan Carr, Maya Jama and Adam Hills were at the helm of the spectacular, star-studded live TV fundraiser and announced a grand total of £24.6 million for research into cancer which will accelerate new cancer treatments to UK patients and save more lives.

Money is still coming in and donations can still be made at channel4.com/SU2C. To give £20 or £10 text TWENTY or TEN 70404 or call 0300 123 4444. 100% of your donation goes to Cancer Research UK in support of the Stand Up To Cancer campaign.

The live extravaganza, a culmination of inspirational programming and epic fundraising activities, was heaving at the seams with celebrity sketches, comedy skits, interviews and moving moments, all banging that Stand Up To Cancer drum.

Michael Bublé was James Corden’s passenger for a world exclusive Stand Up To Cancer Carpool Karaoke, Miss Piggy teamed up with Jack Whitehall and Liam Gallagher ranted about cancer meanwhile, Danny & Dani Dyer, Louis Tomlinson & Liam Payne, Dele Alli & Eric Dier and Abbey Clancy & Peter Crouch were the very special stars of our Celebrity Gogglebox special.

Music superstar John Legend led the cast of ‘Big Star, Small Print’ showing us quite how easy it is to donate with a brilliant new version of his smash hit All of Me with Rick Astley and Zara Larsson following suit. Popstrels Little Mix and 90s heroes Backstreet Boys were our superstar superteases leading us through the events of the evening, Sharon Horgan and a host of stars including Emma Willis, Katherine Ryan, Prue Leith and Clare Balding were on hand to highlight the importance of knowing your boobs and recognising signs of cancer and Kate Beckinsale showed us why going for a smear test can save your life.

There was an incredibly moving moment as Emeli Sandé paid tribute to soul legend Aretha Franklin who died from cancer in August with a stunning version of Don’t Play That Song and Gary Lineker and Mark Gatiss talked very movingly about their personal experiences with cancer.

Joining Alan, Maya and Adam for Stand Up To Cancer live in the studio were Liam Gallagher, John Bishop, Nick Grimshaw and Mo Gilligan and there were very special music performances from Tom Odell, Tom Walker and Freya Ridings. Plus Chris O’Dowd and Katherine Ryan were in the studio all night to explain the incredible science funded by Stand Up To Cancer.

An exclusive first look clip revealed the star-studded line up for The Great Celebrity Bake Off for Stand Up To Cancer 2019. Those competing for the much sought-after Star Baker apron are John Lithgow, Jeremy Paxman, Sally Lindsay, Michelle Keegan, Jon Richardson, Russell Brand, Russell Tovey, Greg Wise, Jess Phillips MP, James Acaster, Big Narstie, Nicola Adams, Katarina Johnson-Thompson, Caroline Flack, Hannah Cockroft, Joe Wilkinson, Johnny Vegas, Georgia Toffolo, Krishnan Guru-Murthy, and Rylan Clark-Neal.

Davina McCall tasked Spencer Matthews and Jamie Laing with creating a charity single with very unexpected results and there were very special sketches featuring the likes of Sting, Shaggy, Matthew McConaughey, Jon Hamm, Stephen Merchant, Olly Murs, Mark Wright, Marvin and Rochelle Humes, the stars of Poldark, Jamie Oliver and The Windsors.

Ed Havard, Head of Entertainment at Channel 4 said, "This has been the most successful Stand Up To Cancer campaign to date and we continue to be blown away by the public’s generosity. We’re incredibly grateful to every single person who donated and to the huge array of famous faces who gave up their time to be a part of the campaign. From all of us at 4, a massive thank you”

Clare Moore, Director of Stand Up To Cancer at Cancer Research UK, said, “There’s been amazing progress in research. Thanks to new treatments, screening and prevention, more people are now surviving cancer. But 1 in 2 people will be diagnosed with the disease at some point in their lives, that’s one person every 2 minutes, so we still have a lot more work to do. And funding research is key.

On behalf of Cancer Research UK, I’d like to say a massive thank you to everyone who shared their experience of cancer, fundraised or donated to help us reach this incredible total. Because of you, we can fund more research and save more lives.”

#standuptocancer trended all night on 26th October on Twitter.

Friday 26 October 2018

ITV throws open the doors for Happy Hour with Olly Murs

ITV have commissioned Happy Hour With Olly Murs, a one-hour special produced by ITV Studios and set to transmit later this year.

The much-loved pop star and coach on The Voice UK will be heading back to his Essex roots as he takes over an entire pub to put on a jam-packed night of games, chat and performances of all his biggest hits. As he celebrates a decade at the top with his sixth album, You Know I Know, set for release on November 9th, it's the ultimate homecoming party with a specially invited audience of friends, family and famous faces. 

With the bar packed to the rafters, there will be laughs aplenty as Bradley Walsh – who Olly affectionately calls his 'showbiz dad' – steps inside. Emma Willis will be the resident Karaoke Queen as she hosts special singalongs for any game guests that choose to step up to the mic and entertain the crowd. Fellow Voice coach Sir Tom Jones will be dropping in to join in the fun and there will be a very special exclusive duet from Jennifer Hudson and Olly. 

With multiple sold out arena tours to his name, there will be truly intimate performances from the multi-platinum selling star as he sings his classic hits as well as songs from his brand-new album. His latest single Moves will be one of those performances with Lady Leshurr taking to the stage alongside him. 

Lucky super fans will mingle with the invited audience that will also include Olly's closest friends and family with more special guests to be announced.

Olly Murs commented: "We know how to throw a proper party back in Essex so I'm looking forward to welcoming everyone into my world to join me and my family for what will be a fun night in/night out for all. I can't wait!"

Katie Rawcliffe, Creative Director, ITV Studios, said: "Olly is a firm favourite here at ITV. From when he won everyone's hearts on X Factor to now being one of our fantastic superstar coaches on The Voice UK.  We're so pleased to be producing this show with Olly that will be filled with music and laughter."

SAS: Who Dares Win - SU2C Celebrity Special

This year SAS: Who Dares Wins has partnered with Stand Up To Cancer for its very first celebrity special. The team of ex-Special Forces operators, led by Chief Instructor Ant Middleton have put 12 brave celebrities, both male and female, through an intensive 7 day course to see if they've got what it takes to pass this unique version of SAS Selection.

The varied group of Celebrities includes former professional athletes such as Olympic Gold Medallist Victoria Pendleton and England Rugby International Ben Foden, a former MP, Louise Mensch and TV stars such as Loose Women's Andrea McClean, Love Island's Camilla Thurlow and Made in Chelsea's Sam Thompson.

Instructor Jason 'Foxy' Fox says, "We took great pleasure bringing these celebrities into our world and giving them as hard a time as we give anyone."

There's been no allowance made for fame or status, the celebrities have had to push themselves to the limit and reveal themselves like never before. We've learnt about each Celebrity's strengths and weaknesses, hopes and fears, and come to an understanding of who they really are.

Chief Instructor Ant Middleton says, "Celebrities go through their lives showing the public a front and face they want them to see but this process stripped all that away. They've importantly turned up to raise money for SU2C but also to learn something about themselves by facing extreme experiences."

The First: Interview with executive producer Jordan Tappis

Tell us a bit about The First.

The First chronicles the first human mission to Mars. While the concept of Mars looms large throughout the season, the majority of the these eight episodes focus on the cost of getting to the starting line, on the astronauts embarking on the inaugural mission, and on the colleagues and loved ones they will be leaving behind.

What makes the show unique?

The First is a deeply personal human drama with a science fiction premise. Straddling those two worlds is atypical from what you'd expect from a space-themed show. Furthermore the project was produced more like an eight hour film than an episodic TV series. The differences in terms of performance, pacing, production design, music, VFX and cinematography are obvious from the opening frame.

Why is a show like The First important today?

The First is optimistic to its core. It is one of the only big budget modern TV series that doesn't harness negativity – typically in the form of crime, violence or drugs – to achieve its narrative goals. The First is about real people, flawed as they may be, working together to achieve something extraordinary.

People might go into The First thinking it's a sci-fi drama on Mars, but it's a lot cleverer and subtler than that. What was your reasoning for showing this specific story in this specific way?

In the not too distant future, a team of real life explorers will travel to Mars and it will instantly become the greatest pioneering achievement in human history. But these people will risk their lives, leave everything and everyone they've ever known behind, in an attempt to evolve human beings into an multi-planetary species. This all sounds like science fiction but it's reality. This will happen. Probably in the next 15 to 20 years. First and foremost, our show tells the story of those as they navigate the perilous waters of life in an attempt to do something greater than themselves. The show does its best to approximate what that first mission will look like.

The show creates a really believable near future. All the tech is just that bit more advanced than what we have now. What was the process for creating that environment?

It took years of research and dozens of real world consultants to help us flesh out what the near future would look like and how it would work. Before we looked forward, however, we decided to look back. The show takes place 13 years from now and yet we began the process of future prediction by analysing what the world looked like 13 year ago. We studied med tech, cars, phones, computers, wearables, architecture, and fashion and found that some of the most practical and visible advancements between 2005 and 2018 had to do with cars and communication. Once that analysis was complete our next challenge was to imagine the leap between 2018 and 2031, and for the most part we honed in on those same two fields: cars and coms. With the help of a team of extraordinarily talented production, prop, and concept designers, we developed several autonomous electric vehicles and a suite of interactive AR wearables in the form of glasses and ear buds to tell the story of 2031. Most of our near future communication predictions, while subtle, incorporate broad scale voice activation, augmented reality (vision) and bone conduction technology (sound) along with a sweeping range of environmental smart tech all of which are in early phases of real world development today.

Do you think humans will ever colonise Mars? And do you think we should?

Yes and hell yes!

The First: Interview with Beau Willimon

Explain a little bit about The First.

The First is about the first human mission to Mars in the early 2030s which will be the greatest pioneering achievement in human history. But on a deeper level it's about journeys, not just to other planets but inward journeys: journeys to confront one's demons, to confront the past; journeys to find ways to move forwards. We're really telling the human story of this mission and humans are messy, complicated, flawed people. We don't shy away from that. That's the subject of our show - how these ordinary people are able to confront all the various things in their lives that pose as obstacles to getting to the fourth planet from the Sun. These ordinary people are able to accomplish extraordinary things.

Why this idea? Where did the inspiration come from?

It's always difficult to pinpoint a moment of inspiration for any project. In this case I actually do have one. I've always been interested in science, technology, and in stories of exploration and adventure, stories of people pushing themselves to the limit. For me this story was a song, and the song was In Love and In Justice by Colin Stetson who scores the soundtrack for the show. I was driving in the car and that song came on. It's simply one man with one instrument, a baritone saxophone, but he makes it sound as though it's five instruments. There's a deep base from circular breathing, he's getting microtones out of the instrument using the valves, he has a microphone taped to his throat to capture vocalisations in his larynx… it feels like this otherworldly type of music but also like the sound that comes straight out of the centre of the earth. I had the volume up loud, the car was actually vibrating with the bass, and the image came to me of a dust devil making its way across the surface of Mars, which is actually the first image of the show. From there I began to think about the story getting from my car driving here on Earth to the surface of Mars. I told my producing partner when we began working on this that if we didn't get Colin to score the story I didn't think it was worth doing! For real! I really didn't want to make this show if Colin wasn't making the music. Luckily for us he was excited by the idea.

What did you do in the way of research? Do you do a lot of reading, is there a lot of talking to experts…

Both. It's almost impossible to read every book on the subject. There are books and articles coming out all the time. But I try to read and continue to read as much as possible. Every one of our team is constantly reading. But there's no substitute for talking to experts, the people that do this in real life. So we worked with a lot of folks from NASA, astronauts, scientists, engineers, a whole range of consultants, the current lead on the Mars 2020 mission… a couple of astronauts in particular: Chris Hadfield, Michael Lopez Alegria, Chris Ferguson, all have been invaluable in this process. And also Amy Webb, who is a futurist consultant, which is a whole industry in and of itself of people trying to make very informed speculations into where science, technology and culture is moving in the near future. She really helped us envision our 2030.

How much of the science behind the story do you think you need to understand in order to do your job?

It's kind of an impossible question to answer. We're exhaustive in terms of our research. I don't have a PhD in astrophysics, I don't have various masters in engineering. I will never have as a writer the expertise the experts have. What you have to do is have enough of a working knowledge that goes a bit beyond pure layman's knowledge in order to be able to envision the world. Then you break story and write scripts and run them through gauntlets of consultants to help correct what you've done wrong or make suggestions of things that could be improved.

A lot of the show is about the sacrificies made by the astronauts and their families and the toll that takes. Did you get a sense of that from the people you spoke to?

Sure. One of the things we always asked was, anecdotally, what were their own experiences, their human experiences, working in this field. In the first episode there's a major catastrophe. A lot of people we spoke to had worked for NASA during the Columbia and Challenger tragedies and were able to talk to us about what the atmosphere was like, how it felt, how devastating it was, how much determination it took to get going again. It just reinforces in the most profound and visceral way how dangerous this all is and that there is no real exploration without the potential for harm or death. That's really at the root of everything. All these thousands of people are working so hard to keep human beings alive. But aside from those ultimate costs, there's a lot of other costs too; how much time these people are away from their families, how much their families worry about them… they're all dealing with the same things you and I are. People are getting divorces, people are having a difficult time with their kids, people have professional and interpersonal issues they're trying to work through. There's something universally human about all these people that are trying to do this impossible thing.

Do you write the show with the actors in mind?

I began working on this over three years ago. In the initial draft I tried to focus on the truth of the characters themselves and building their inner lives and backstories without necessarily trying to do that with particular actors in mind. I wanted to remain as open minded as possible to what the characters were telling me they wanted to be. But as they really began to form certainly Sean and Natascha were people that came to mind as really perfect for what I needed to achieve with these two roles. Luckily they were both willing to go on this journey with us.

Why did you decide to set this in a relatively familiar world, as opposed to setting it fifty years hence and making it super futuristic?

I set it in the near future, a little over a decade from now, because we wanted to envision a world in which we got to Mars sooner as opposed to later. The early 2030s is about as soon as we could possibly get there, if we really dedicated ourselves to this mission now. What we're trying to do is say "This is within arm's reach, let's not think about it as some distant things but something all of us might see in the next decade and a half."

A lot of time and effort has gone into designing the tech that will exist 15 years from now. Tell us a little about the process for that.

When you're envisioning the future, even if it's only 13 years from now, a lot can change. What we tried to do is not necessarily tackle every last bit of the way that culture and technology will change in the next thirteen years, but focus on a few key areas so we would feel that future but not become a distraction, or drive us insane by trying to tackle every single detail. We wanted to pick a few areas and do them really, really well. The areas that spoke to us most were cars and communication devices. We've been working with Amy Webb and others who speculate that in the early 2030s at least 50 percent of cars will be autonomous and electric. You see that reflected in the show. One of the examples if Laz's car. We actually worked with a company in that case to build upon one of their future prototypes thinking about, if this was a self-driving autonomous car what would it look like? And not just the exterior, where you see that very smooth skin and light bands circumferencing the car where all the sensors and cameras would be, but also the interior - if you want to have the options to both drive or not drive, perhaps you have a driver's seat that can swivel and face the back, when the car is driving itself. Every last detail of that car had to be designed the way an actual car is. On the communications side we're really looking at people having customised kits. It might be an earbud, it might be a bracelet, it might be augmented reality glasses or a mixture of those. We think that people won't actually have just one smart phone, they'll have multiple devices that they mix and match depending on what they want their experience to be. The AR glasses are something a lot of futurists and people working on communications think we'll be moving towards quite quickly to the point where they are ubiquitous in the next decade or so. AR technology already exists. The question now is how it will integrate into our lives. The ultimate goal is to have characters use these things in a way that feels totally normal to them. Technology integrates itself into our lives pretty quickly. None of us are looking down at our phones saying, "God, look at this magical box!" It feels normal to us.

We live in a world of finite resources and finite money. Should we be striving to go to Mars?

You could say we live in a world of finite money, but I don't necessarily see the world that way. That's only true if you define human existence through money. Really when it comes to our imagination, our determination, our will to accomplish things, it's deeper than money. We cannot be stopped doing that which we set out to achieve. In a practical sense you can say it will require money but if the will is there by our species to get to another planet we can make it happen. I do think we should do it. The story of The First is not just the story of going to Mars in the 2030s. It's an ancient story. It's the story of a species from its earliest moments hundreds of thousands of years ago was driven not just by necessity but also curiosity, to see what was over the horizon. We've traversed the entire world in the process. We've left our cave, we've left our continents, we've climbed the highest mountains, we've gone to the Moon… Mars is simply the next step in that story. It's our destiny. We're drawn to it, we're driven to it, there's a need in us to grapple that which we do not know and to understand it. Mars is part of that longer journey.

Thursday 25 October 2018

The A List Character biogs

Mia (Lisa Ambalavanar)
The quintessential Mean Girl, she's gorgeous - and oh does she know it - but it's her confidence that makes her attractive. She's achieved a blend of charm, swagger and flattery laced with domination that means every girl wants to be her and every guy wants to date her.

Lisa Ambalavanar says: "I absolutely loved getting to tell such a thrilling, well-written story and playing a strong female lead in a series that is packed full of inspiring role models. The cast is very diverse and representative of today's youth but without stereotyping, and that is so important. The whole cast is just amazing and it was a pleasure to be around them, learning from them every day. I don't think there's been a show quite like this for young people in the UK before and that's very exciting!"

Amber (Ellie Duckles)
Underneath her Disney Princess exterior is a psychological predator, capable of ripping your self-esteem to shreds with an innocent sounding comment. And yet despite her deadly nature there's something fragile about her, an ethereal grace that draws you in.

Ellie Duckles says: "Playing Amber was a challenge but an exciting one.  Her supernatural powers and manipulative game plan were thrilling. I wouldn't have expected to enjoy playing the villain as much as I did!"

Dev (Jacob Dudman)
Good looking, charming and easy going in the way that only people who've had it relatively easy can ever be. Dev thinks of himself as something of a 'white knight'. He has always been the hero but he's never before come up against the combined forces of girls like Amber and Mia.  

Jacob Dudman says: "At first glance, The A List may look like a 'teen drama', but people who watch the show will see that it's got a foot in every genre - horror, romcom, sci-fi - the works. It's a show made with love for all audiences. We hope you enjoy it as much as we enjoyed making it."

Alex (Rosie Dwyer)
The lone wolf wrapped in sarcasm and acerbic one-liners, although her bark is worse than her bite. Ever the pragmatist, she has very little patience for anything frivolous or vapid. She also completely rejects any heteronormative expectations.

Kayleigh (Savannah Baker)
Sweet, and slightly vapid, she's a Beta by both design and by preference. She'd have no idea what to do with the spotlight if she ever got it and so prefers to blossom under the guiding light of others.

Brendan (Micheal Ward)
The dominant half of the Zac and Brendan double act, he's the brawn rather than the brains. Despite his considerable bravado, his body (which he takes meticulous care of) may look good but his emotional intelligence still leaves something to be desired.

Zac (Jack Kane)
Smaller in stature but bigger in heart, Zac is more sensitive than Brendan. When they were younger that meant that Brendan always had the upper hand and he never questioned that but now that he's older he's just on the cusp of realising that maybe this isn't always a good thing.

Harry (Benjamin Nugent)
A childhood illness left him with lingering health (and general) anxiety issues, an encyclopedic general knowledge gained through reading whilst in quarantine and underdeveloped social skills. He's academically intelligent but he's all theory and no practice, he's never really been out in the world and so it all seems quite scary to him.

Jenna  (Eleanor Bennett)
A supporting character who fancies herself as the leading lady. She comes from a theatre background so she's used to always having the spotlight, which she loves, more for the attention than the artistic integrity although she would never admit it!

Petal (Georgina Sadler)
A dreamer and an optimist; she believes in everyone and everything. Raised in the country by an unconventional but loving family she radiates positivity and light. 

Mags (Nneka Okoye)
A well-meaning Mother Hen who just wants everyone at the camp to get along. There's more to her than meets the eye though and over the course of the series we'll discover that beneath her cheery façade lies a dark secret. 

Dave (Cian Barry)
Cheery and sincere, Dave is a complete dorky dad-in-waiting with terrible jokes and an enthusiasm for the outdoors.

Liam Payne & Louis Tomlinson complete SU2C Celebrity Gogglebox line-up

The Bafta award winning Gogglebox returns once again with a celebrity special for the fifth time. One Direction's Liam Payne will be sharing the Gogglebox sofa with his friend and fellow bandmate Louis Tomlinson as part of Channel 4 and Cancer Research's Stand Up To Cancer campaign on Friday 26th October.

This very special edition of the TV review programme will see the famous faces as they gawp and gossip at the week's TV. Between their own cutting remarks, tears and laughter will be the views of Britain's favourite opinionated viewers; the genuine Gogglebox households including Giles and Mary, best friends Jenny and Lee and the Siddiquis.

Also appearing on Celebrity Gogglebox with Liam and Louis will be EastEnders actor Danny Dyer and his daughter, Love Island winner Dani, Tottenham Hotspur and England footballers Dele Alli and Eric Dier and Stoke City footballer Peter Crouch, his TV presenter and model wife Abbey Clancy and her dad Geoff.

Louis Tomlinson said, "At a time when this awful disease affects more of us than ever before, we have to pull together to make a difference. I'm delighted to join Liam as Stand Up To Cancer Goggleboxers this year, and hope we can help raise as much money and awareness as possible for the campaign."

Liam Payne added, "Louis and I are honoured to be a part of this year's Stand Up To Cancer campaign. We hope we can help raise much needed funds for such an incredible cause."

In recent years the shows has seen some unlikely celebrities share a sofa - all in the name of charity; from Naomi Campbell and Noel Gallagher to Jamie Dornan and Nick Frost, Ed Sheeran, Liam Gallagher, Jeremy Corbyn and Boy George to pop stars Olly Murs and Niall Horan and comedian Miranda Hart and her real life mother, Diana.

Launched in the UK in 2012, the joint national fundraising campaign from Cancer Research UK and Channel 4 raises funds for translational research, accelerating new cancer treatments and tests to UK patients to save more lives, more quickly. More than £38 million has been raised in the UK to date, funding 35 trials and projects involving more than 8000 cancer patients, and supporting one international Dream Team


Brexit: What The Nation Really Thinks

Channel 4 will be holding a live studio discussion Brexit: What The Nation Really Thinks, on Monday 5th November, hosted by Krishnan Guru-Murthy in Birmingham, the most evenly split city in Britain in the 2016 Referendum.

As the deadline for a deal gets ever closer, calls grow louder for a second referendum to give the public a final say on the outcome. This live programme will explore the results of a poll conducted exclusively for Channel 4 that will reveal where the British public now stand on all key aspects of Brexit. This will be the largest independent survey on public opinion on Brexit since the referendum. The pollsters, Survation, will have spoken to approximately 20,000 people from every constituency in Britain in order to get an accurate picture of what the country is thinking.

Krishnan Guru-Murthy will interview polling expert Sir John Curtice and will also speak to a range of politicians who will respond to the findings and debate how key issues such as immigration, the economy, and Northern Ireland have impacted on the most important decision Britain has had to make since it first joined the EU more than 40 years ago.

Two years on from the decision to leave, politicians seem more divided than ever, but what do the people now really think is the best path for the country to take?

Alex Gardiner, Channel 4 Commissioning Editor said,"This debate will stimulate important and insightful discussion with a wide variety of views from the panel and audience. Issues around Brexit now have a prominent position in the national conversation, with ever changing focal points. Channel 4 is well known for exploring challenging and political issues in a fair and balanced way and with this programme we want to help audiences understand the true sentiment of the British people."

Brexit: What The Nation Really Thinks is produced by Renegade Pictures, and will TX on Monday 5th November at 8pm

Danny and Dani Dyer to join the Celebrity Gogglebox sofa for SU2C

The Bafta award winning Gogglebox returns once again with a celebrity special for the fifth time. EastEnders actor Danny Dyer will be sharing the Gogglebox sofa with his daughter, Love Island winner Dani Dyer as part of Channel 4's Stand Up To Cancer campaign on Friday 26th October.

This very special edition of the TV review programme will see the famous faces as they gawp and gossip at the week's TV. Between their own cutting remarks, tears and laughter will be the views of Britain's favourite opinionated viewers; the genuine Gogglebox households including Giles and Mary, best friends Jenny and Lee and the Siddiquis.

Danny Dyer said, "Dani and I had such a laugh filming Gogglebox and hope we can raise bucket loads of money for Stand Up To Cancer as it's such a wonderful cause. Cancer is affecting too many of us and we need to pull together and put a stop to it."

Dani Dyer added, "I absolutely love Gogglebox and couldn't be more excited to be on it with my dad. I'm just hoping we don't have to watch any of the antiques programmes he's always watching... but I guess as it's for Stand Up To Cancer, which is such an amazing cause, I can let it slide!"

In recent years the shows has seen some unlikely celebrities share a sofa - all in the name of charity; from Naomi Campbell and Noel Gallagher to Jamie Dornan and Nick Frost, Ed Sheeran, Liam Gallagher, Jeremy Corbyn and Boy George to pop stars Olly Murs and Niall Horan and comedian Miranda Hart and her real life mother, Diana.

Launched in the UK in 2012, the joint national fundraising campaign from Cancer Research UK and Channel 4 raises funds for translational research, accelerating new cancer treatments and tests to UK patients to save more lives, more quickly. More than £38 million has been raised in the UK to date, funding 35 trials and projects involving more than 8000 cancer patients, and supporting one international Dream Team


Dele Alli and Eric Dier to join the Celebrity Gogglebox sofa for SU2C

The Bafta award winning Gogglebox returns once again with a celebrity special for the fifth time. England and Tottenham Hotspur's Dele Alli will be sharing the Gogglebox sofa with his fellow England and Spurs teammate Eric Dier as part of Channel 4 and Cancer Research's Stand Up To Cancer campaign on Friday 26th October.

This very special edition of the TV review programme will see the famous faces as they gawp and gossip at the week's TV. Between their own cutting remarks, tears and laughter will be the views of Britain's favourite opinionated viewers; the genuine Gogglebox households including Giles and Mary, best friends Jenny and Lee and the Siddiquis.

Dele Alli said, "Eric and I were really pleased to be asked to join the Gogglebox families. We wanted to lend our support and help raise awareness for the great work of Stand Up to Cancer."

Eric Dier added, "The work carried out by the Stand Up To Cancer campaign is amazing and Dele and I are really pleased to be able to play our part. We love Gogglebox so it's going to be quite surreal to see us on the show."

In recent years the shows has seen some unlikely celebrities share a sofa - all in the name of charity; from Naomi Campbell and Noel Gallagher to Jamie Dornan and Nick Frost, Ed Sheeran, Liam Gallagher, Jeremy Corbyn and Boy George to pop stars Olly Murs and Niall Horan and comedian Miranda Hart and her real life mother, Diana.

Launched in the UK in 2012, the joint national fundraising campaign from Cancer Research UK and Channel 4 raises funds for translational research, accelerating new cancer treatments and tests to UK patients to save more lives, more quickly. More than £38 million has been raised in the UK to date, funding 35 trials and projects involving more than 8000 cancer patients, and supporting one international Dream Team.


Wednesday 24 October 2018

Orlando Bloom to read a CBeebies Bedtime Story

CBeebies has today announced that Orlando Bloom is the latest star to read a CBeebies Bedtime Story.
The actor will read We Are Together, written and illustrated by Britta Teckentrup. The book, to be shown on CBeebies on Friday 9 November, celebrates the importance of having special friends and family in your life.

Orlando says: “Through my travels as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador I’ve met children in countries all over the world, and witnessed firsthand how storytelling between adults and young children helps cement their bond. Children light up when being taken on imaginary adventures through storytelling, and it helps their creativity grow. It was great to be a part of CBeebies Bedtime Stories.”

It is the first of two stories he has recorded for CBeebies.

Orlando Bloom is the latest name to be added to a stellar list of celebrities to have read a CBeebies Bedtime Story including Ewan McGregor, Tom Hardy, Sir Elton John, US actor Chris Evans, George Ezra, Suranne Jones, Dolly Parton, Eddie Redmayne, Jessica Ennis-Hill and David Tennant.

CBeebies Bedtime Stories is on daily at 6.50pm.

Channel 4 commissions Moon Landing Live

Channel 4 has commissioned Moon Landing Live from 72 Films for the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission for July 2019. It’s a multi-platform commission, incorporating two major documentaries, several short films and online content.

It was a monumental event, when the world came together to see if we could complete our greatest adventure ever. Sourcing incredible news archive from around the world as well as exclusive NASA footage, this project will re-tell the extraordinary ambition, bravery, anticipation and achievement that captured the world’s imagination some 50 years ago. With testimony from those who were there, the documentaries will tell the story of this historical feat in forensic detail, giving the viewer the feeling of following the event in real time.

The aim of the project is to immerse viewers in what happened during the dramatic launch, and the landing on the Moon. Included will be a Twitter takeover - six days between the launch and landing - updates will be tweeted out of the mission as they happened at that time of day leading up to the historic event. Additionally, 5 x 3 min films will go out after Channel 4 News on the week between launch day (Sunday) and landing day (following Saturday) with an update on the mission from that day.

Head of Factual, Danny Horan, said: “From the launch to the landing, our audience will experience, across several platforms, the Apollo 11 mission. Bold and ambitious, this speaks to our desire to look at events in history with a sharp focus to engage a new audience”.

Executive Producer for 72 Films, David Glover, said: “The exciting thing is to try to get viewers in 2019 into a similar headspace as those in 1969.”

Exec Producer: David Glover

Production Company: 72 Films

Abbey Clancy & Peter Crouch join Celebrity Gogglebox sofa for SU2C

The Bafta award winning Gogglebox returns once again with a celebrity special for the fifth time. Stoke City footballer Peter Crouch will be sharing the Gogglebox sofa with his model and TV presenter wife Abbey Clancy and her father Geoff as part of Channel 4 and Cancer Research UK’s Stand Up To Cancer campaign on Friday 26th October.

This very special edition of the TV review programme will see the famous faces as they gawp and gossip at the week’s TV. Between their own cutting remarks, tears and laughter will be the views of Britain’s favourite opinionated viewers; the genuine Gogglebox households including Giles and Mary, best friends Jenny and Lee and the Siddiquis.

Abbey Clancy and Peter Crouch said, “We are such huge fans of Gogglebox so being able to take part in it together is amazing, especially when it’s for such a brilliant cause. The work being done by the Stand Up To Cancer campaign is phenomenal and we are thrilled to be able to play our part.”

In recent years the shows has seen some unlikely celebrities share a sofa - all in the name of charity; from Naomi Campbell and Noel Gallagher to Jamie Dornan and Nick Frost, Ed Sheeran, Liam Gallagher, Jeremy Corbyn and Boy George to pop stars Olly Murs and Niall Horan and comedian Miranda Hart and her real life mother, Diana.

Launched in the UK in 2012, the joint national fundraising campaign from Cancer Research UK and Channel 4 raises funds for translational research, accelerating new cancer treatments and tests to UK patients to save more lives, more quickly. More than £38 million has been raised in the UK to date, funding 35 trials and projects involving more than 8000 cancer patients, and supporting one international Dream Team


Tuesday 23 October 2018

The Last Kingdom Season 3 will launch on Netflix on November 19

The third instalment of The Last Kingdom, based on Bernard Cornwell’s best-selling books, will launch on Netflix on November 19. 

For the first time, all ten episodes will premiere simultaneously on Netflix, and will feature a host of new characters including Ola Rapace (Skyfall) as Danish warrior Bloodhair, Thea Sofie Loch Næss (One Night in Oslo) as the dangerous seer Skade, Timothy Innes (Harlots) as King Alfred’s heir, Edward, and  Magnus Bruun (Sprinter Galore, The Bridge) as Cnut.

The new series will see King Alfred consider his legacy, as his dream of uniting the kingdoms of England is jeopardised by incessant Danish attacks. Alfred knows that the only man with the power to crush the uprising and secure the Wessex dynasty is the great warrior and hero Uhtred, but when their volatile relationship reaches breaking point, Uhtred must confront the difficult truth: if he deserts Alfred’s cause, everything he has fought for will be forever changed.

Produced by the award-winning Carnival Films, the ten-part season is adapted by BAFTA-nominated and RTS award-winning writer Stephen Butchard, who also serves as executive producer. The executive producers for Carnival are Gareth Neame and Nigel Marchant. Chrissy Skinns is series producer and Cait Collins is producer.

The Last Kingdom Season Three will launch on Netflix UK and US on November 19, it will be released at a later date across Africa, Belgium, China, Greece, Israel, Italy, the Middle East, the Netherlands, the Nordics and Poland. The series is distributed worldwide by NBCUniversal International Distribution.

Monday 22 October 2018

Competition: Win The Music of Silence on DVD

Andrea Bocelli biopic 'The Music of Silence' arrives on DVD 29 October

And to celebrate we have a great competition for you and 3 copies to give away.

Internationally renowned tenor Andrea Bocelli has been entertaining and thrilling audiences all over the world with his astounding voice for some 25 years, selling more than 20 million records, filling stadiums galore, and bringing joy to the masses.

Starring Game of Thrones’ Toby Sebastian, Hollywood favourite Antonio Banderas, and an appearance from Bocelli himself, who also provides his angelic singing.

Before he was Andrea Bocelli, he was Amos Bardi. Born nearly blind, Amos (Sebastian – Barely Legal) is separated from his family to attend an institute for the visually impaired, but a terrible accident occurs while he’s there, resulting in complete loss of sight. Despite being told that he will never be a serious opera singer, Amos is driven by great ambition and with the help of his maestro (Banderas – The Mask of Zorro, Puss in Boots), overcomes every obstacle and becomes one of the most renowned opera singers in the world.

Click here to buy from Amazon (Opens in a new window)

For your chance to win just answer the question below.


Terms and conditions
1. Closing date 29-10-18
2. No alternative prize is available
3. When the competition ends as indicated on this page, any and all entries received after this point will not count and emails blacklisted due to not checking this page first.
4. Winners will be chosen randomly and will be informed via email.

Sunday 21 October 2018

Dark Heart - ITV

Series overview
Tom Riley stars as DI Will Wagstaffe, a man haunted by the murder of his parents when he was 16 years old.

Set in London and produced by Silverprint Pictures, the series is written for ITV by acclaimed screenwriter Chris Lang whose work includes award-winning drama Unforgotten, Torn, Undeniable and A Mother's Son.  Dark Heart is inspired by characters created by novelist Adam Creed, who has written a series of books featuring Will Wagstaffe.

Tom is joined in the series by Charlotte Riley (Peaky Blinders, Close To The Enemy), Miranda Raison (Murder on the Orient Express, Silk) and Anjli Mohindra (Bancroft, The Boy with the Topknot) and guest cast include Claire Goose (The Coroner, Unforgotten, Waking The Dead), Alex Carter (Cuffs, Emmerdale, Hollyoaks), Clare Foster (Taboo, Sherlock, The Crown) and Paul Kaye (Game of Thrones, Three Girls).

Whilst devoting his life to his work, DI Will Wagstaffe, also known as Staffe to his colleagues, battles personal demons. He's haunted by the unresolved murder of his parents, which affects both his private and professional life including his on-off romance with sometimes girlfriend, Sylvie (Miranda Raison).  His closest relationship is with his sister Juliette, (Charlotte Riley) and young nephew Harry, who stays with him when Juliette has troubles with her boyfriend.

With no parents and no significant partner of his own, Juliette and Harry mean everything to Staffe. Determined and tenacious, Wagstaffe is an exceptionally good police officer, in spite of the fact he's been known for pushing the boundaries of what's considered acceptable policing.


Episode 1
DI Will Wagstaffe is at London City Airport when his travel plans are put on hold. His colleague, DC Josie Chancellor calls to inform him of a gruesome murder.

Staffe, along with Josie, DS Dave Pulford and DS Rick Johnson, are confronted by a horrific scene. RAY COLLINS, a man in his early-forties, has been brutally murdered.

As the team investigate further, they learn that the victim was arrested two and a half years ago on suspicion of sexually assaulting his young step daughters, Holly and Jasmine. He was remanded in custody for three weeks but there wasn't sufficient evidence and Collins was released. 

Returning home that evening, Staffe discovers his sister Juliette and nephew Harry at his house. Juliette and Harry are Staffe's world, he picks up on something that really bothers him and he knows their unscheduled stay means she's in more trouble with new boyfriend Paolo than she's letting on.

As the story unfolds, Staffe and his team delve deeper into the morally complex crime. But pressure builds as it's not long before a lawyer, Guy Dawlish is brutally attacked.

Dawlish's assault bears the same hallmarks of Ray Collins' murder, but the similarity doesn't end there, he was arrested two years ago over allegations of child sex abuse. There was insufficient evidence so he also wasn't charged. 

But just as a pattern begins to emerge, a historical case throws Staffe's theory of a single serial killer on its head. The suspected paedophile in this instance was John Statham. Like Collins and Dawlish he was attacked with unusual brutality. However this case appears to be closed. The father of the child Statham allegedly abused, Nico Cashell, is serving time for assaulting Statham and is adamant of his own guilt. 

With the anniversary of Staffe's parents murder drawing closer, knowledge of the fact that their killer is still at large weighs heavy on his mind. Little does he know that elsewhere in London, Mark Regis, walks free of child abuse charges on a technicality. Is the depraved killer preparing for their next victim?

Wed 31 Oct 2018
Time: 9.00pm - 10.00pm

Saturday 20 October 2018

Daily Mirror’s Pride of Britain Awards 2018

The prestigious Daily Mirror’s Pride of Britain Awards, in partnership with TSB, returns this November on ITV.

Hosted by Carol Vorderman, celebrities and public figures including HRH Prince Charles, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick and David Beckham will celebrate this year’s truly remarkable winners at the Grosvenor House in London's Park Lane.

Actor Sir David Jason, music mogul Simon Cowell, singing sensation Ellie Goulding, Major Tim Peake, BGT’s Amanda Holden, X Factor’s Dermot O’Leary, singer and presenter Rochelle Humes, The Voice’s Olly Murs, Love Island champions Dani Dyer and Jack Fincham, singer Louise Redknapp, comedian John Bishop, I’m A Celebrity star Scarlett Moffatt, singer and actress Kimberley Walsh, radio DJ Roman Kemp, plus Coronation Street’s Kym Marsh will also be among those honouring the night’s heroes.

Inspirational winners of 2018 include the selfless British divers at the heart of the Thai cave rescue, who earned global praise for their bravery while rescuing the trapped youth football team.

Further awe-inspiring stories centre on the remarkable efforts of a young widow tackling mental health issues in rural areas, a couple who dedicated their life to fundraising more than £230 million for children’s cancer research and a schoolboy who became the youngest person to scale the 440ft Old Man of Hoy in honour of his terminally-ill mum.

Host Carol Vorderman said: “Pride of Britain is a very important part of my life. I’m thrilled that it’s become a staple part of British culture. I never fail to be humbled by those who have often turned a tragedy into something pretty magnificent.”

Alongside uplifting stories of courage, selflessness and beating the odds, there will be plenty of surprises on the night. Dancing superstar and Diversity frontman Ashley Banjo joins Carol when he surprises one of this years winner’s in a very special stunt.

Stars of Strictly, X Factor, Coronation Street, EastEnders and members of the England World Cup football team will all come together to make this a truly memorable night.

Tens of thousands of people nominated their unsung heroes and the winners were chosen by a judging panel which this year included host Carol Vorderman, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick, award-winning actor Michael Sheen, legendary broadcaster Sir Trevor McDonald, Good Morning Britain presenters Susanna Reid and Ben Shephard, retired professional footballer turned pundit Jermaine Jenas, Coronation Street actress Kym Marsh, Chair of the Royal College of GPs Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard and Daily Mirror Editor Alison Phillips, Pete Markey, TSB Chief Marketing Officer, Executive Producers Paul Wright and Matt Cox and POB founder Peter Willis.

It's time for comedy 50:50

ITV’s Controller of Comedy Saskia Schuster hosted an event last night (October 18th) with RTS, The Writers' Guild, Era 50:50, Funny Women and BAFTA to launch Comedy 50:50, an initiative seeking to implement measures to address the gender imbalance in comedy, starting with writers.

The event brought together producers, writers and agents and was opened by Schuster, who talked about her plans to build on ITV’s Social Partnership agreement to increase the number of female writers in comedy teams on ITV productions. The event also heard from Deirdre Mullins, Bafta-winning actress and founding committee member for the Equal Representation for Actresses campaign (ERA 50-50).

The event gave producers, writers and agents the opportunity to network, including focussed introductory producer/writer meetings, with each producer hosting at least three, ten minute introductory meetings with female writers at the event.

The event also gave the attendees the opportunity to hear about and engage with a number of other aims Comedy 50:50 plans to drive forward, including:

Creating an independent database of female comedy writers, which can be accessed free of charge by producers.   This is not related solely to ITV productions, this is for use on any show for any broadcaster.

Setting up mentorships whereby established writers commission less experienced writers to write an episode of their show and will work alongside them in the storylining and writing process. This suggestion has come from more established writers who benefitted from this early in their careers and perceive that there is generally less occurrence of this practice in the industry today.

Regular targeted networking that sets up short introductory meetings between writers and producers to expand the network of contacts.

Saskia Schuster said "A few months ago a disgruntled female writer crossly pointed out to me that commissioners have the privileged opportunity to create change. She was right. And a bit scary. This is the start of that change, not with the ambition of meeting targets or quotas, but of changing our comedy culture. We can’t be making the best shows possible for our audiences if our shows aren’t inclusive or representative of the gender diversity of our viewers.”

Ade Rawcliffe, ITV’s Head of Diversity in Commissioning closed the event, which was held at ITV’s Waterhouse Square Offices in Holborn on Thursday night (October 18th).

Comedy 50:50 is supported by the RTS, BAFTA, The Writers' Guild, ERA 50:50 and Funny Women, who helped in extending invites to female writers with at least one TV, theatre or radio credit.

Wildfire - Cathy Brady's highly anticipated first feature announced

Pre-production is underway on WILDFIRE, the highly anticipated feature debut from award-winning Irish director Cathy Brady (Morning, Small Change, Wasted) and a multi award-winning team of producers: Tempesta Films’ Carlo Cresto-Dina (The Wonders -Cannes Jury Grand Prix, Happy As Lazzaro - Cannes Best Script), Cowboy Films’ Charles Steel (Oscar and BAFTA-winning The Last King of Scotland, Marley) and Samson Films’ David Collins (Oscar and Sundance winner Once, Float Like A Butterfly).

An Irish-UK co-production, WILDFIRE was supported through development and production by the BFI (using funds from the National Lottery), Screen Ireland, Northern Ireland Screen and the Wellcome Trust. Film4, Sulcata Productions, Illium and Lexis Media also co-financed production. Lizzie Francke, Celine Haddad, Lauren Dark, Emma Duffy, Robert Halmi and Jim Reeve are the executive producers. WILDFIRE will shoot on location in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland for 6 weeks later this year. Award-winning cinematographer Crystel Fournier (Girlhood, Nico 1988) is the DOP.

WILDFIRE is the story of two sisters who grew up on the fractious Irish border. When one of them, who has been missing, finally returns home, the intense bond with her sister is re-ignited. Together they unearth their mother’s past but uncovered secrets and resentments which have been buried deep, threaten to overwhelm them.

Cathy Brady’s journey in making this film began by casting the lead actors Nika McGuigan (The Secret Scripture, Traders) and Nora-Jane Noone (Brooklyn, The Magdalene Sisters, The Descent). From there, over a year-long workshop process of improvisations, transcript, rehearsal, voice and dance drills, she created the story and wrote the script.

“What excited us by WILDFIRE was firstly Cathy’s energy and talent,” said the producers, “but also the unique generative process Cathy wanted for this: trying to create a film that is different because it’s made differently. “

Great Point is handling world sales and Head of Sales Nada Cirjanic and her team will be introducing the project to buyers at the upcoming American Film Market. Cirjanic said: “We were moved by the piercing emotional truth of this story of a family in crisis, and captivated by Cathy’s clear and powerful vision for bringing it to life.”

Wednesday 17 October 2018

ITV Studios Australia enters its biggest production year to date with four new and returning series commissioned by Nine Network

Smash Hit Love Island to Return, Along With Award-Winning 90s Drama SeaChange, The First Ever ITV Studios Australia Scripted Production

17 October, 2018 – ITV Studios Australia is set to enter its biggest production year to date with four new and returning shows commissioned by Nine Network, in addition to several more previously announced.

Following the stand out success of Love Island Australia on 9Go – which smashed viewing records and became Nine’s most streamed show of 2018 outside sporting events – a second season of the fun and flirty dating show is being lined up for 2019 to air on Channel 9. Other returning entertainment favourites to be produced by ITV Studios Australia include Talpa Global’s phenomenal talent show The Voice (season eight) and the inter-generational game show Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation (season two).

ITV Studios Australia will also make its first ever foray into scripted content with the revival of the enormously popular, multi award-winning 90s drama, SeaChange. As a co-production with Every Cloud Productions (Miss Fisher Murders, Mystery Road) SeaChange will be steered by the show’s original creator Deb Cox, alongside CEO and Co-Founder Fiona Eagger, who will serve as Executive Producers alongside David Mott, CEO of ITV Studios Australia and Sigrid Thornton. It will commence production in 2019.

SeaChange will star its original lead, Sigrid Thornton, as Laura Gibson, a city lawyer who moves to a sleepy seaside town called Pearl Bay with her children, after her professional and personal life breaks down. It was the winner of three coveted Logie Awards for Outstanding Drama Series (1999 – 2001), becoming one of Australia’s most iconic franchises. The series will see a number of previous characters returning to screen, alongside some new faces for a new generation of fans.

David Mott, CEO ITV Studios Australia said, “I couldn’t be more delighted that our deepening relationship with Nine Network has led to several of Australia’s favourite shows returning to air in 2019 including the record-breaking SeaChange, with our partners at Every Cloud Productions, as we diversify our Australian operation into scripted.”

The commissions follow the recent announcement of the first seasons of ITV Studios Global Entertainment’s Sunday Night Takeaway and I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here! for Network Ten, as well as Mad as Hell (season 10, ABC) and The Chase (season seven, Seven Network).

Love Island Stars Join The ITV2 Blood Squad

ITV2 and NHS Blood and Transplant spearhead a Halloween campaign.

To appeal for young blood donors, please add the signup link in all copy

As the nation prepares to adorn fake blood and gory costumes for Halloween, ITV2 and NHS Blood and Transplant have come together to create the ITV2 Blood Squad.

The ITV2 Blood Squad has been created as part of a fantastic new campaign that will work to alleviate young people’s fears and misconceptions about blood donation and encourage them to register and book an appointment at a local donation centre.

Love Island stars’ Dani Dyer, Jack Fincham, Wes Nelson, Dr Alex George and Laura Anderson have come together to star in a series of promos to take the fear out of blood donation and help dispel the myths associated with giving blood.

The Halloween themed promos made by ITV Creative, will run on air and across social media from Tuesday 16 th October in the lead up to Halloween. Alex Mathieson, ITV2 Creative Director says: “ITV2 are always trying to connect to young people’s lives and when we spotted an opportunity to help the NHS Blood and Transplant with such a great cause, we pulled out all the stops to gather together a great team of talent and crew to make it happen.” Adding: “Our Love Islanders blew us away with their support and generosity inhelping make the campaign come to life, and it’s great we can use ourplatform to help so many others.”

Joanna Deadman, ITV2 Marketing Executive says: “Every October our audience tune in to ITV2 for our Halloween themed programming. We wanted to use this great opportunity and buzz around the blood- thirsty Halloween season to encourage young people to donate their blood and ultimately, help save lives."

As Halloween approaches, ITV2 and NHS Blood and Transplant are urging young people to become donors and combat an ageing donor population. 600 new donors are needed every day to keep the country going, so NHS Blood and Transplant is inviting young people to come forward and allay their fears by proving that giving blood is not scary.

Love Island’s Dr Alex George comments: “6,000 donors are required daily to save lives, that is scary. As a doctor in the NHS, I’ve seen first-hand how important blood donation is. It is quick and easy, you will only feel a small scratch.”

Laura Anderson added: “I didn’t think I would be able to donate blood as I have a tattoo, but then discovered that you can give blood four months after an inking or piercing. I was apprehensive to start with,but can confirm there is
nothing to be scared of.”

Dani and Jack say: “People can get a bit squeamish about giving blood but from being involved in this campaign we’ve seen it’s really not scary and is so simple. Just an hour of your time can save up to three people’s lives, which is
just amazing.”

Wes Nelson says: “It’s such a great campaign and I’m delighted to be involved with it. It’s so important to dispel the myths that discourage people from giving blood and I want to help get that message across.” In a poll of 1,000 adults, the fear of giving blood surpassed a list of widely known fears amongst the younger generation, with 33 per cent claiming to be afraid of public speaking, 28 per cent terrified of heights and 19 per cent petrified of going to the dentist. Although, unsurprisingly, the fear of creepy crawlies topped the list, with 51 per cent admitting to the fear of spiders.

There are many myths associated with giving blood, which have resulted in fear. The main obstacle to donation is a fear of needles with 26 per cent scared of the process, however, encouragingly, 86 per cent of blood donors have admitted that the process of giving blood was much easier than originally expected proving it was more treat than trick.

Mike Stredder, Director of Blood Donation at NHS Blood and Transplant says: “There are many myths associated with giving blood, but it really isn’t scary.

“There is a particular need for O negative and B negative donors. O negative is the only blood type that can be given to anyone, regardless of their blood type and used in emergencies. B negative is one of the rarest blood groups and only 2% of population have this. If you are aged 17 or over, please register to donate and help us save lives.

“If you live or work near to one of our fixed site donor centres, please book an appointment to give there as we have a higher number of appointments available at these centres.”

Join by visiting www.itv.com/itv2bloodsquad

To sign up to the blood donation register and book an appointment today. If you can’t book an appointment straight away, please don’t worry. Blood donors are needed every day so please book an appointment in the future.

Save a life. Give blood #ITV2BloodSquad

ITV to celebrate 20 years of The Black Eyed Peas

One-hour spectacular will be hosted by their friend, Joanna Lumley
The tribute will be both a music special and portrait of one of the biggest groups in the world
Transmitting in late 2018

One of the best-selling groups of all time, with a phenomenal 76 million record sales, The Black Eyed Peas have won the love of the UK and the world. This year will.i.am, apl.de.ap and Taboo celebrate 20 years at the top, and viewers are being invited along to chart their incredible journey. Joanna Lumley presents this very special one-hour spectacular to feature exclusive performances of some of the global super group’s greatest hits.

A whole host of international celebrities and faces from the music industry, as well as the friends and family that have shaped their lives, will share their insights into the group and what makes them such a unique and special act. Away from the bright lights on stage, the show will take a look back at how The Black Eyed Peas came to be.

Starting with going right back to their childhoods, friends and family share their memories of those early beginnings and how they watched the group grow. The story will pick up from how and when they met, right through to their breakout album Elephunk and the ongoing international success they enjoy today, including their highly anticipated “Masters of The Sun” European Tour that kicks off October 27 in London at the Eventim Apollo.  See www.blackeyedpeas.com for additional dates and cities in UK.

Returning to Los Angeles, the trio will all be going back to their childhood neighbourhoods. They’ll be taking a trip back to the club where they were discovered - Whisky A Go Go on the Sunset Strip - and first got signed to a record deal. And they’ll also be revisiting the studio where they recorded many of their big hits and reminiscing about that time.

Back in the UK, as they take to the stage to perform, there will be surprises in store with some of music's most renowned names joining them for special performances of their biggest hits.

will.i.am said: “I have my family, my Black Eyed Peas family and my Voice UK family. I’ve always felt at home in the UK and, as a group, we continue to feel Big Love from our fans over here.  We are excited to be sharing the backstory of our journey to success with you all.”

apl.de.ap said: “It’s very special to be celebrating this landmark moment in The Black Eyed Peas story. There’s nothing better than performing with my best friends on stage. We’re looking forward to everyone joining us for this party, and we know our UK fans know how to party.”

Taboo said: “Twenty years of Black Eyed Peas and so much more. will.i.am and apl.de.ap are my brothers. We have incredible memories to be treasured and we’re excited for everything to come with the ‘Masters of the Sun’ European tour.”

Joanna Lumley added: "I'm both a friend to and a big fan of The Black Eyed Peas. It's very exciting to be part of this and I'm looking forward to it enormously."

Katie Rawcliffe, Creative Director, ITV Studios commented: “will.i.am is a much-loved part of the ITV family and we are delighted to be producing this one off special that pays tribute to one of the world’s greatest groups. Combined with the wonderful Joanna Lumley, this will offer a unique celebration of twenty years of the Black Eyed Peas.”

Tuesday 16 October 2018

I'm A Celebrity... Extra Camp returns to ITV2

ITV2 today confirms that Scarlett Moffatt, Joel Dommett and Joe Swash will all be returning to host I'm A Celebrity…Extra Camp this Autumn.

The show will be hosted live every night by the straight talking Jungle fanatics who will each bring their own unique take on what's happening in camp. They'll get all the latest behind the scenes gossip with unseen clips, exclusive interviews and the insiders guide to the dreaded Bushtucker Trials.

Viewers are invited to join the lively debates via social media and the app as well as putting their questions directly to the campmates live in the studio once they've left the Jungle. The hosts will also be joined in Australia by various celebrity guests.

Scarlett Moffatt said "I'm so excited to be back working with Joe and Joel for another year on Extra Camp, I absolutely adore them both. We have such a laugh doing the show together, I can't wait to get back out there and meet our new celebrity jungle campmates."

Joel Dommett said "So excited to see my jungle family again! Scarlett is like the sister I never had and Joe is nothing like the brother I already have.  Plus I left a 2p coin under a log on set. Can't wait to see if it's still there."

Joe Swash said "Good times! Me, Joel and Scarlett are going to be reunited again on Extra Camp. I loved working with them last year, we had such a laugh both on and off screen! I can't wait to see what celebrities are going into the jungle."

I'm A Celebrity…Extra Camp has been commissioned for ITV2 by Paul Mortimer Head of Digital Channels and Acquisitions and ITV's Head of Entertainment Siobhan Greene. The show will be Executive Produced by ITV Studios Entertainment Creative Director Richard Cowles and Toni Ireland.

I'm A Celebrity…Extra Camp is an ITV Studios Entertainment production for ITV2.

Trevor McDonald and the Killer Nurse

In Sir Trevor McDonald's first year reading News at Ten, he covered the extraordinary case of one of Britain's worst serial killers: a young, female nurse.

In 1991, 22-year-old nurse Beverly Allitt murdered four children in her care, and attacked a further nine, at Grantham Hospital in Lincolnshire.

Now, 25 years since he reported on her conviction, Trevor is able to shed new light on a case that has fascinated him ever since.

Trevor is given access to the original police interviews with Beverly Allitt, and tracks down several of her surviving victims, some of whom are speaking for the first time about their traumatic experiences, and the impact it has had on their lives.

Bradley Gibson was 5 years old when Allitt tried to kill him, in the children's ward of Grantham Hospital.

Now 32, Bradley tells Trevor how his heart stopped beating for thirty-two minutes, long after many doctors would have given him up as dead.

"They had to use adult doses of shock for me because I was not coming round at all."

When Trevor plays Bradley the police tapes of Allitt's interview, he says, "She’s trying to get away with it any way she can. To me that screams out almost psychotic."

Kayley Asher was just fifteen months old when Beverly Allitt attacked her. She was already suffering from a serious disability affecting her development.

Her adoptive mother Sharon tells Trevor that "Kayley was injected with air underneath her armpits that made her lungs collapse".

She says that Beverly Allitt is still a major presence in their lives: "Kayley has...flashbacks of what happened. She sort of looks under her bed, in drawers looking for Nurse Allitt although (she’s) told time and time again she’s not there, she still looks the whole time."

When Trevor asks Kayley what it is that frightens her now, Kayley replies, "in case she comes back for me."

Trevor also meets the detective that caught Beverly Allitt, and hears the extraordinary story of an investigation against the odds.

Former Detective Superintendent Stuart Clifton tells Trevor how he pushed on with his enquiry, despite pressure to give up: "One very senior officer said to me, 'you’re chasing rainbows'. Detectives develop a sixth sense, I think, and particularly experienced detectives, and there was something that just rankled with me that didn’t seem quite true."

Trevor also sits down with the officers who interviewed Beverly Allitt, and plays them the interview tapes. They talk him through this extraordinary archive material, in which a soft-spoken 22-year-old woman flatly denies allegations of murder, smiling and joking with the officers.

Trevor also investigates Beverly Allitt's detention and punishment.

He uncovers a document that suggests Beverly Allitt was faking the original symptoms that had her transferred from jail to hospital while on remand, and he hears from experts who suggest she should be in prison, rather than Rampton Secure Hospital.

Trevor finds Beverly Allitt's surviving victims troubled by her apparent lack of confession, but in the course of making this film he discovers a document which shows that she has in fact confessed to all of the crimes of which she was convicted.

Victim Michael Davidson says, "I didn’t know about that. It makes me feel better, but it was more in her self interest. It would mean more if she'd pleaded guilty at trial".

Kayley Asher's father agrees: "Too little, too late".

Wed 24 Oct 2018
9.00pm - 10.00pm