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Tuesday, 31 December 2019

'Ian Somerhalder' of V-WARS, talks about how he got in shape for the series

I often get asked the question of how I got in shape for Luther Swann, well actually episode 10 Luther Swann 2.0. I’d been working on the show for 4-5 months and we were planning on some pick-ups and reshoots. We really wanted to find a dynamic end for Swann, push him to excessive lengths, put him thru hell. What was Swann’s journey? We needed to send him down a path that would not just have audiences wanting more of but us as producers wanting more.

We needed an engine to propel Swan into the dark, dangerous and rapidly changing world or V Wars. We needed Swann 2.0.

We came up with something that we could not wait to shoot. Ep10 Swann is left for dead and the vampires have kidnapped my son, Dez. We leave the audience thinking for a moment that the series is over. We then we jump forward four months, revealing Swann in a basement in a very different state than we last saw him. He’s angry, dark, unshaven and much stronger and more muscular than the last time we saw him. He’s working out hard listening to loud music. He has a small militia and arsenal of guns at his side, preparing to take down anyone and everyone in his way to get his son. He’s in hiding and must remain in the shadows as a government would be diligently looking for him.

After we all settled on the ending and stared at the timeline, the room got quiet. I realise why everyone was staring at me. This transformation that we were going to put Dr. Swann through required one thing. ME. Oh shit. That’s me I realised... Ha! “How long have I got until we shoot this I asked”? Again the room was quiet… hmm “2 weeks” someone piped up”. Oh Boy. Now, I typically stay healthy and get in as much gym time as I can for my health and sanity. But I had spent the last 4+ months of my life up till 3 to 4 AM every single night pushing myself to the limit editing the show with our amazing team. The workload and timeline of producing V-Wars was something that I have never experienced in my professional life and I thought I had experienced a great deal! it is incredibly taxing on the body so I was about 10 pounds underweight. I was a tired skinny mess that is an executive producer of a television show. But I LOVED my job and wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Only one thing to do: Call Jance Footit.  Jance an Olympic strength trainer and a dear brother. He’s my strength training guru and coach. He trained me through all of The Vampire Diaries in Atlanta and built all of my supplement and meal regiments for a decade now to keep me strong and healthy. I trust him implicitly, he’s always right.

He immediately reminded me: food is medicine. Focus. Training. Food. Rest. These are the key ingredient for success. He immediately put me on a clean and strict but yummy diet of protein, fats, vegetables, good carbohydrates and loads of water. 5 or 6 meals per day and all of the vitamins to feed rapid muscle growth! Alcohol is not your friend when training this hard so I only snuck in 2 light beers over the course of two weeks! They were GLORIOUS.

The goal? Make Swann very different man. A formidable adversary. The guy you want on your team but the guy you do NOT want coming after you.


With 10 days to go. I was not feeling very confident that I was looking like the new Swann 2.0. so Jance met me in Toronto with this one goal in mind. His method was incredible. NOTE: This isn’t a method that we plan on having to use often but it sure as hell works. It is simple: Train 4 days hard. Rest 4 days and shoot or compete. Only 4 days of training BUT 3-4 times per day! WTF?! How was I going to do this while prepping, production meetings, location scouting, costume fittings, camera tests and rewrites?! All of the things you need to go into production. The other kicker was we needed 10 days of actual shooting but only had the money for six days so it was going to be intense!

So here we go: 
4 days of hard training, 3-4 Sessions per day
4 days of rest - only light fasted cardio 1st in AM
Night before shooting eat a stack of pancakes and sleep.
The goal is to train with so much frequency in those first few days to produce so much damage to the muscle they have only one thing to do: grow. Rapidly.
As you take those few days off your body is just in repair mode building muscle fibers.

Bouncing back and forth between the gym (starting at 6:30 AM sharp) and production meetings, writing sessions and all of it was really wild! I would be in the gym for 30 minutes, grab my script pages, proteins/carb shake and get into the infrared sauna to help move the blood around while rolling calls.

Then run back into the meetings, scouts and the back into the gym screaming a grunting as Jance coached me through it all. I would the collapse after hours and hours with our writing into bed and think- oh shit I’ve got to do it all again in 6 hours!

The first few days were so brutal. I said to my producing partner, “If I have to do this you’re doing it with me!” Honestly it was more of a joke but without skipping a beat he jumped in to share the pain with me and make it happen. It was brutal.

Come day of shooting, Swann was ready for the camera. I put on 8 pounds of solid muscle in less than two weeks my arms had grown almost 2 inches. Swann looked like someone had temporarily inflated him with a bicycle pump. And that’s how Swann will stay for a good while.

I’m back in training now for season 2… Just not three to four times a day!

The journey of a parent to find their cub is one that no one will ever argue; it’s built into our DNA . If you’re going to do anything in this life it is to save, protect and nurture your offspring to the best of your ability until your last breath. This is a man who spent his life peering through a microscope working so hard to help prevent catastrophe for the human race. As Rachel, Swann’s ex-wife and Dez’s his mom put it “you’re out saving the goddamn world but you couldn’t save your own family.” Swann is on a journey to never lose his son again and hopefully save the world.

Watch Season 1 now on Netflix.

Monday, 30 December 2019

Competition: Win 8 Days on DVD

8 Days is out on DVD on 6th January.

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

What would you do if you only had 8 Days left to live? A meteorite is on a collision course with Earth. The chances to survive in Central Europe: Zero.

This colossally ambitious German series explores the answer to this impossible question through the eyes of an ordinary Berlin family living through the last days of mankind as we know it. Starting on Sky Atlantic tonight, the series arrives on DVD and digital 6 January from Acorn Media International.

Each episode of this eight-parter brings us one day closer to annihilation. The impending catastrophe sets in motion the reorganisation of society as we know it, and the world rapidly sinks into a huge, panicky, chaotic party. Suddenly people can break the speed limit at will, have wild unprotected sex, do all the drugs they want, shop with no money, live without working, love with no consequences – but in the end, the only thing that matters is: What is really important to you in your final days and hours?

As riots break out in the streets, former physics teacher Uli Steiner puts his trust in smugglers to help his family on a life-threatening escape to Russia, but his wife Susanne worries about the safety of their children, Leonie and Jonas. Her brother, emerging politician Hermann, has his pregnant wife to look after, while their bitter father Egon uses these last days to try and make up for old mistakes.

How far would a person go to protect the ones they love? Leonie’s best friend Nora is trapped in a bunker by the violent, paranoid Klaus, but could former convict Robin be a saviour? Not just for her, but for the new religious sect that see him as a Messiah. Or are the real saviours those in law enforcement still trying to do their job, like dedicated policemen Deniz? With the end of the world nigh, secrets bubble to the surface in the melting pot of Berlin.

Prepare for the end of life as you know it in… 8 Days.

Buy from Amazon by clicking here (Opens in a new window)

For your chance to win just answer the question below.


Terms and conditions
1. Closing date 13-01-20
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.

Saturday, 28 December 2019

Susan Calman Fronts BBC Scotland’s Hogmanay 2019 celebrations

Susan Calman fronts the Hogmanay festivities on television this year in an extended offering, including a sofa full of Scotland’s stars to get the party started.

First up is Susan Calman’s Not Quite End of the Year show on the BBC Scotland Channel at 9pm when the popular comedian and writer looks back over 2019 with plenty of music, entertainment and chat.

Joining her on the sofa are Scottish movie legend James Cosmo and Guilt star Mark Bonnar. Some of Scotland’s biggest sporting stars are celebrated too with an appearance from Scottish Women’s National Football team captain Rachel Corsie and boxing world champion Josh Taylor.  Classic tunes come from Travis and Twin Atlantic and comedian Jim Smith takes a look back at some of the more unusual news events from the past 12 months.

At 11.30pm Susan is back for Hogmanay 2019, this time joined by Des Clarke and Amy Irons, to move the festivities up a gear with an entertainment-packed programme on both BBC One Scotland and BBC Scotland. Line of Duty star Martin Compston and Still Game’s Jane McGarry join the sofa line-up and the traditional tunes will be provided by award-winning Elephant Sessions along with folk star Julie Fowlis, who’ll lead the crowd in Auld Lang Syne.

Celebrations from around Scotland will be a central part of the show and Des Clarke will be out and about among the crowds in Edinburgh in the countdown to the Bells while Amy reports live from the historic Fireballs Ceremony in Stonehaven.

As the big moment approaches, the focus will turn to the traditional piper playing high on the ramparts of Edinburgh Castle to herald the beginning of the spectacular fireworks that light up the skies on the stroke of midnight.

Watch live on BBC One Scotland and the BBC Scotland Channel, UK-wide via the Red Button and get involved on social media with #BBCHogmanay.

Susan Calman’s Not Quite End of the Year Show, Tuesday 31 December,  BBC Scotland, 9.00pm-9.30pm.

Hogmanay 2019, Tuesday 31 December, BBC One Scotland & BBC Scotland, 11.30pm – 12.30am

First And Last Hosted by comedian Jason Manford

Hosted by comedian Jason Manford, First And Last (6x45') is a brand new game show that will put contestants through a succession of ingenious rounds, all of which have one golden rule - players mustn’t come first or last in any game. If they do, they will be eliminated.

Eleven contestants start each show and compete across a range of five downright daft, stupidly funny, play-along-at-home games that will see one of them leave with a cash prize of up to £10,000. The first and last players are eliminated from each round. To triumph, they’ll need to judge every round to perfection and hold their nerve in the nail-biting endgame - contested by the remaining three players.

The format

Round one

The show opens to reveal eleven contestants either hidden inside boxes or holding buckets down over their heads. All the contestants have to do is choose their moment to jump out of their box or let go of their bucket. The first and last contestants to make their appearance will be eliminated.

Round two

The remaining nine contestants are given a category and asked to secretly write something within that category. The goal is to offer an answer which gives neither the most nor least successful result. The game will vary each time. Categories will include various search engines.

Pre-round three

Prior to round three, the seven remaining contestants always play Weigh To Go.

This isn’t a game in itself, but a way to decide the order in which the contestants will play the next game. It’s our version of drawing straws! The contestants will all be asked to bring a vegetable, such as a potato, into the studio. Amidst OTT dramatic lighting, they will then be asked to reveal their potato and place it on the podium.

The potatoes are weighed, and the contestant who brought in the potato of the middling weight will pick first in the next game.

Round three

In round three our seven contestants will always pick from one of seven things. They might be represented by props, pictures or people in the studio.

They must try not to pick the thing that is first or last in a given category.

Examples include: Marathon runners and their running times, song streams on Spotify, celebrities and their numbers of Twitter followers.

Round four

In round four the remaining five contestants face a range of games. Examples include: Your Mum’s On The Phone, where each contestant asks their mum to telephone Jason within a specified time window - but the contestants whose mums call Jason first and last will be eliminated. Or the five contestants must head out into the audience and pick someone who they think will be neither the oldest nor the youngest. Or a game where contestants must pick audience members who are currently carrying neither the most nor least amount of cash.

Round five

The final three contestants are told that there is £10,000 up for grabs. But how do they win it? We could tell you, but then we’d have to kill you.

Q&A with Jason Manford

What attracted you to host First And Last?

I’ve worked with Zeppotron a few times on various projects from doing 8 Out Of 10 Cats to Would I Lie To You? and it’s just always a great team there and I always really enjoy working with them, so that was the first thing when they asked me to meet about it. The second thing is the actual show itself - it just sounded silly really. I’m not going to lie to you - there’s nothing too serious about it and in difficult times, where the news is hard work and everyone is shouting at each other on Twitter, then you need a show where you don’t have to think about it, it’s a bit of early evening fun.

Can you explain what this brand new show is and what viewers can expect from it?

It’s one of the great shows that you can explain in one line. The aim of the game is not to come first and not to come last in any round. It sounds simple but it’s actually quite tricky. Peoples’ instinct is always to win games, so you have to think completely differently to not come first and not come last. It celebrates being in the middle which I think is wonderful because no one gets celebrated for being average but most of us are! It’s a lot of daft silly games with a prize up for grabs. But really it’s watching people play the silly games and what’s great about it is that it’s really playable at home. I can imagine a Royle Family sort of situation where they are sat playing the game going: "What do you think Barb?", which is a sign of a good game show really, that you can play at home as well.

What are your favourite games in the show?

We go from people jumping out of boxes, to weighing potatoes, to guessing how many Twitter followers a particular celebrity might have, which is actually harder than you might think! It’s an eclectic mix, no two games are the same, and it’s so interesting to see how the players all judge it differently.

People jumping out of boxes sounds interesting, can you say anything more on that?

We start off with eleven players in boxes who can’t hear or see anything and they’ve just been told to jump out of the box whenever they feel like it. But whoever jumps out first and last is out straight away, so it’s very silly. It’s just a funny idea that they’ll be telling the family all week: “I’m going on the telly this Saturday, I’m on telly”, and then they were, but for about 30 seconds, so it’s games like that really and there are other games where more skill and luck is required which I think is fun.

We do another game where contestants’ Mums have to call me in the studio, and whoever’s mum rings first and last is out. It’s very funny and silly - if you can’t depend on your mum who can you depend on?

It sounds like it can get quite tense in the studio then?

Oh yes definitely. There’s a lot of jeopardy and that’s what I like about it! No matter how simple the games are it gets really nerve wracking. To win the money you have to be able to think really clearly under pressure and that’s what people find so hard.
Players can win up to £10k, so in one game you’re sat there weighing your potato, but actually it’s a very important potato, it’s a £10k potato!

What game-shows did you love when you were growing up?

I loved, and even now I go back and watch clips of Les Dawson on Blankety Blank. I also loved The Generation Game - that was one of my favourites growing up and I love shows that you can all watch together really as a family, and I miss that a little bit.

So First And Last is one you can watch with the family?

Oh yes absolutely, it’s definitely one you can all join in together and have a play. I’ve actually been playing some of the games with my kids at home - like the internet based higher and lower games which are a lot of fun. And even now before going to bed they’re asking to play, so they are really into it already!

How have you found switching from acting and stand up, to hosting?

It’s something I’ve always done, I’ve always done gameshows and quiz shows and panel shows so it’s sort of one of the roles I’ve done the longest really!

Do you have a favourite?

No, I couldn’t say because people might say: “Oh it’s like that is it.” But the great thing about presenting a game show is, in a similar way it’s like stand up, you get to have fun and play with the contestants, do jokes and ad lib when things happen. There is always stuff going on! I also love contestants and having a laugh with them. As a comedian it’s like having a play with the front row at a gig but someone’s already done the research for you, so it’s great fun!

Why should people tune in?

Because you need a bit of a laugh and to be able switch off for a little bit, and to sit down after you’ve had your tea and have a bit of fun. That’s what this show does. It’s one of those shows where, when you get to work on Monday people are like: “Did you see that show on BBC One where people had to jump out of boxes and weigh potatoes?” it is nuts, absolutely nuts - but it is from a great team of people who make great telly, and I can’t wait for people to watch it!

The Witcher Season 1 Review

Netflix's The Witcher is finally here and IGN is here for a review of season 1.

Henry Cavill is perfect as Geralt of Rivia. But the show has its fair share of issues. But this fantasy darling rises to the challenge, and by the end of its eight-episode run transforms Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski’s books into a fascinating cinematic world of fearsome monsters, corrupt kings, and scheming mages. But the journey there is messy, convoluted, and littered with poor performances, dialogue, and direction. Ultimately causing this entertaining show to fall short of its massive potential

The Mandalorian - Season 1 Review

A lone gunfighter makes his way through the outer reaches of the galaxy, far from the authority of the New Republic.

First episode date: 12 November 2019

Chris Stuckmann reviews The Mandalorian Season 1 created by Jon Favreau.

Starring Pedro Pascal, Carl Weathers, Gina Carano, Werner Herzog, Nick Nolte, Taika Waititi.

Thursday, 26 December 2019

Ragnarok - New Trailer Released

Ragnarok will release exclusively on Netflix worldwide on January 31st 2020.

Ragnarok is a coming-of-age drama building on and contributing to a new and surprising angle on Norse mythology. The series is set in the small, fictitious town of Edda, situated in the grand, breathtaking Norwegian nature. The story revolves around the inhabitants of Edda, who are perhaps not all who they claim to be. With them, we experience a drastically changing world: melting poles, warm winters, violent downpours. Some might say we’re headed for yet another Ragnarok. Unless someone intervenes in time...

The six part Norwegian language series is produced by SAM Productions, a Danish screenwriter-based production company. Adam Price functions as creator, writer and executive producer, executive producer Meta Louise Foldager Sørensen (Antichrist, Melancholia), producer Stine Meldgaard Madsen (Pros and Cons, Something’s Rockin’), script executive Emilie Lebech Kaae and Director Mogens Hagedorn.

The cast of Ragnarok includes David Stakston (Magne), Jonas Strand Gravli (Laurits), Theresa Frostad Eggesbø (Saxa), Herman Tømmeraas (Fjor), Emma Bones (Gry), Henriette Steenstrup, Odd-Magnus Williamson, Synnøve Macody Lund, Bjørn Sundquist and Gísli Örn Garðarsson.


Sunday, 22 December 2019

Multi award-winner Olivia Colman to star in new Sky and HBO original drama Landscapers

Academy Award and BAFTA winning actress Olivia Colman (The Favourite, The Crown) is to star in the new Sky original drama, Landscapers, the latest project from Sister for Sky and HBO after their multi-Emmy award-winning hit Chernobyl.

The four-part limited series will be directed by Academy Award winner Alexander Payne (The Descendants, About Schmidt, Sideways) and is written by Ed Sinclair in his first television screenplay.

Inspired by real events, the drama explores the lives of convicted killers Susan (Colman) and Christopher Edwards (casting tbc) and asks how this devoted and mild-mannered couple came to kill Susan's parents and bury them in the back garden of their Mansfield home, in a crime that remained undiscovered for over a decade. This blackly comic, narratively playful true crime drama is based on extensive research, hours of interviews and direct access to the accused, who have always protested their innocence of murder.

Pivoting through various perspectives from Susan and Chris, to the police officers and lawyers involved in the investigation, the drama also draws the audience into the surreal fantasy world that Susan and Christopher created by casting themselves as their Hollywood heroes in stories of their own invention.  This is the story of a unique murder case involving four lives lived on the margins of society, that turns into an exhilarating and darkly funny exploration of love and fantasy: its power and its peril.

Cast announced for new drama Industry coming soon to BBC and HBO

Casting has been announced for Industry, the brand new drama from Bad Wolf (His Dark Materials, A Discovery of Witches) coming soon to BBC Two and HBO.

Industry is the debut drama from writers Konrad Kay and Mickey Down (pictured below), and is an exhilarating dive into the world of international finance, as seen through the eyes of ambitious twenty-somethings struggling to secure their futures.

The series follows a group of young graduates competing for a limited set of permanent positions at a top investment bank in London - but the boundaries between colleague, friend, lover, and enemy soon blur as they immerse themselves in a company culture defined as much by sex, drugs, and ego as it is by deals and dividends. As members of the group rise and fall, they must decide whether life is about more than the bottom line.

The ensemble cast include Myha'la Herrold (The Tattooed Heart), Marisa Abela (Cobra), Harry Lawtey (Marcella), David Jonsson (Deep State), Nabhaan Rizwan (Informer), Freya Mavor (The ABC Murders), Will Tudor (Game of Thrones), Conor Macneill (Death and Nightingales) and Ken Leung (Marvel's Inhumans).

Interview with Sarah Hadland - Miranda: My Such Fun Celebration

New Year's Day 2020

Sarah, what can you tell us about Miranda: My Such Fun Celebration?

It was absolutely brilliant. I think we were all quite unsure about what form it was going to take, but the night itself was just fantastic to be part of, it was amazing. Obviously we knew it was going to be really good fun to see different people again from various episodes, and of course, the core cast, but it was just wonderful.

The fans that came to see the show responded really well and it was a really special feeling to hear all the fans enjoying the references to the show. It was just a great night and I think it's a really unique combination of a celebration of the show including music, dance and classic Miranda moments that people enjoyed, it’s all in there. It's something I think the fans will really love.

What’s the reaction been from fans about the celebration special?

I think probably every day since the show finished I get asked by somebody in the street: "When are we going to do more?" The reaction has always been quite extraordinary to the show and it’s something none of us ever predicted. The feedback I've had in the street to the sitcom is that it’s a show that children, parents and grandparents can all watch together and laugh, a show that brings families together, which is not something I think was in any of our minds when we started doing the sitcom. You don't imagine it will have that impact and it's just a reminder of how important laughing together is. The fans were just desperate for something new, and just to enjoy seeing the cast back together again.

How did it feel being reunited with the cast again?

It was amazing. I mean we’ve all been very close. Miranda wrote this at a time when traditional sitcoms were not in, it was all very observational comedy. We all went on a journey together as a cast that none of us could ever thought. We've all stayed friends so it's really special to see everybody all together. Also, I don't want to give anything away but cast members that have been in different episodes it’s so lovely that they wanted to come back and be part of this, it’s really special.

What was it like being on stage at The London Palladium?

Well funnily enough I've been on that stage twice before, both times through the sitcom. We did the Royal Variety Show a couple of years ago, which was amazing. I also did a charity event with Miranda there, a few years before; it's the most unbelievable theatre. There's something really special about the Palladium and to do an actual show in the nature that we did was really incredible and I think we all felt really lucky. Patricia (Hodge) pointed out that's where Judy Garland sat on the edge of the stage and you're like, wow, this is a really special amazing theatre and to do something really special there, was really fantastic.

Did you think ten years from the first Miranda the show would still be as popular today?

No, definitely not which sounds terrible, but it's true. I thought all this is a very traditional slapstick sitcom. We never predicted that teenagers and young people would like it so much, that really blindsided us all. So to think that ten years later we'd be doing a show on this scale at The London Palladium is quite amazing.

Why do you think the show resonates with the fans so much?

The feedback I get from fans is lovely. The show came at a time when on TV, young women and teenagers felt the representation of women had to be cool, had to look and act a certain way. And then along came our show, (which ironically Miranda and I were in our late 30s when we did it) we were very infantile, the characters were very playful and there was a lot of mucking about. Stevie and Miranda had an amazing friendship as both of them were kind of misfits. We didn't tick any of the right boxes, we weren't cool, we weren't sexy, we weren't confident, and we were both bumbling along. But we had a really good laugh. We have an amazing friendship and we have a great time. And that's all that matters.

How would you best sum up Miranda and Stevie’s friendship?

Miranda and Stevie had a really, really strong friendship in that it's like sisters, and Miranda and I both have sisters and we both really relate to that sort of bickering. But ultimately, you've always got each other's back. I think sister friendship is replicated in the best friendships in that you can say things and do things that nobody else would forgive, but your sister will. But ultimately, what really matters is you've got each other's back, and also that you have fun together.

You both got the same silly sense of humour I know with my sister we laugh at the same stupid things and I think that's something Miranda and I talked about a lot is we both have very close relationships with our sisters in real life. So I think that was something that we both really bonded over. Loveoo came from something that I say to my sister and she says to me, and that's something that got picked up and it's become a big catchphrase for the show. And I think, ultimately, good friendships can be a really meaningful part of life, you want somebody that you can laugh with, but also somebody that’s there for you when things go wrong, and hopefully that's what we kind of portrayed in that kind of sitcom world.

Do you have a favourite #MirandaMoment from the show?

I love the episode in series one with the dogs. I had the Great Dane and Miranda had the Chihuahua and the first time I saw that, I thought they'd done some CGI to it to make me look small. And so the first time I saw that episode I said to Miranda: “Oh, wow, I didn't know that kind of thing happened in sitcoms, you CGI’d me!” She said: “No, that's what you look like next to the Great Dane” and that really, really, really made me laugh because later in that episode, or later in the series, she says: “You look like a Borrower”. And that was exactly what I looked like - a Borrower! So that really, really made me laugh. Because obviously there's a big height difference between me and Miranda but you forget about that because she doesn't go around thinking: “Well, I'm so tall” and I don't go around thinking: “Well, I’m so small”, so you just get on with things. And then when you see something like that on TV you're like: “Whoa, yeah, okay it does look quite ridiculous”. Probably my favourite episode would be when we were competing over a new friend Tamara. There was a sequence where we tried lots of different things to stay awake late so we would do things like eat coffee and put alarm clocks on our ears and things like that - I absolutely loved filming that episode that was really really brilliant.

Finally, what does Heather Small really think of your version of Proud?

I think she's absolutely untroubled, her career is safe! I've been lucky enough to meet her and she’s just the loveliest woman and she is always very gracious about my attempts to sound like her. But yeah, she's not troubled in any way, her career is definitely safe! (laughs).

Saturday, 21 December 2019

Interview with Miranda Hart - Miranda: My Such Fun Celebration

New Year's Day 2020

Miranda, what can you tell us about My Such Fun Celebration?

Well, I can tell you it truly was a such fun celebration and to a level I could never have anticipated. Every part of the show was celebrated and we also had underlying messages such as learning to accept your uniqueness which was given an ovation. I felt genuinely overwhelmed by the loving response. Miranda was a show that harked back to traditional musical hall style comedy as well as being a contemporary sitcom so filming it at the London Palladium meant I packed it with sketches, dance numbers and guests.

There’s a moment with one guest that I am really proud of that felt very Morecambe and Wise, who as you know continue to be my comedy inspiration and heroes. In rehearsals we ended up calling it a ‘musical rom com scripted comedy chat show’ and that kind of sums it up really! There’s a bit of everything. And personally it was a surreal dream come true to perform at the Palladium again, but for a show about my own show - that is something I could never have imagined.

What has the reaction from the fans been since you announced the celebration show?

It has been incredibly and surprisingly moving. It really feels like the show has taken on a new life since it was announced. A new young audience have found the show for the first time and those who liked it from the off still seem to watch it and hold it dear to their hearts. Some of the messages have moved me to tears in honesty. And I think that is because although the show started as something just for big laughs, it has now become relevant on a new level in terms of the pertinence of messages for people suffering from anxiety and depression and illness - the message to accept yourself, that everyone feels out of place, that you don’t have to aspire to be a certain way to be loved. If we had celebrated Miranda’s first birthday we wouldn’t have been focussing on that, and now that has become the most important part for me about the celebration. All thanks to the fans for sharing what the show has done for them.

Can you tell us about some of the special guests involved in the show?

I can tell you that my tiny elf of a friend in ‘Stevie’ was of course there by my side, as Sarah Hadland often is in real life and Stevie always is for Miranda. So Miranda and Stevie had a few sketch moments and naturally broke out in to dance where possible. There was a certain someone who just had to say “such fun” and I thought the Palladium roof might come down! Whether my on screen husband Tom Ellis managed to make it over from LA I couldn’t possibly tell you - he has been busy filming Lucifer, but maybe he sent a message, maybe he teleported himself - as I say, I couldn’t possibly say.

There’s one musical guest that’s a lovely reveal moment so I will keep that tucked secretly under my breast shelf, but McFly did a fantastic opening number and it wouldn’t be a Miranda celebration without What Have You Done Today To Make You Feel Proud so Heather Small is there. We also had the Kingdom Choir to sing one of mine and Sarah’s favourite songs to celebrate the Miranda and Stevie friendship.

How did it feel being reunited with the cast again?

Oh it’s sheer delight to be with them again. Us four girls - Sarah, Patricia Sally and myself are dear friends, and there is always much silliness. But rehearsing comedy it is incredibly pressured, technical and difficult so we put work at the front in rehearsals and the larks mainly happen outside of it.

When you first started writing the sitcom, did you think it would end up being as successful as it has?

NO! In fact, on the actual tenth anniversary on 9 November I ended up being home alone as we were in rehearsals for the show. I was exhausted, and was reflecting on how amazed I will always be by its success. I remembered on that night ten years ago I wandered around Hammersmith as it was being aired thinking: “What shall I do for a job now? Will it be weird going back to office work if people recognise me, and I feel sorry for my friends in comedy who will have to try and be polite about the show”, because I thought it would just fizzle away. It was a gamble to put that style of comedy on at the time and I thought perhaps people might just think it eccentric and not see the contemporary reality story behind the big performances and physical comedy. So what has happened to it will always be my greatest joy but equally my greatest surprise.

How would you best describe Miranda and Stevie’s friendship?

They were sisters really - they were able to be completely themselves with each other which included honesty, bickering and competitiveness but held firmly and securely by a deep love and understanding of each other. They have the perfect friendship.

Why do you think the show resonates with so many people?

There is a beautiful moment in the celebration show, which was a surprise to me on the night, when a selection of fans were interviewed as to why they were helped by the show, and the overriding theme was that if Miranda could find love, be loved and accept herself then they can too. That moved me to tears. I also think everyone loves a good love story and I am proud of Miranda and Gary being a good rom com and despite it being set within a sitcom, they were incredibly romantic. And then I think it was just positive, and energetic and silly and it’s so easy for adults to forget to play, to forget to do the things they loved to do when they were younger, to allow themselves to be silly. I think that’s why the galloping became a break out part of the show - it’s mainly adults in the work place that I get sent videos of galloping. It has given people the licence to play in order to reduce stress.

The celebration show is taking place at the home of British entertainment, The London Palladium, how did it feel being on stage at such an iconic venue?

I remember when I was first walked on that stage it was with Sir Bruce Forsyth for the show I did with him to celebrate his 50 years in showbusiness. I had a total out of body moment when I was standing next to him as he tap danced on that iconic stage. So I am glad I had been on that stage before otherwise it might have been overwhelming. But there really is something special about that place. I can’t tell you how beautiful it looks as you stand centre stage and look out, both with and without an audience, and you can almost sense the greats of the past in the wings wishing you well.

Fans of the show have been tweeting their own #MirandaMoments can you tell us about some of the tweets you’ve received.

We have a section in the show when I read them out, and they were pant wettingly funny some of them! It’s something I want to keep going on social media as it’s really connected everyone and people feel less alone in their moments of awkwardness. Mainly there seems to be a lot of lost clothing in awkward situations, a lot of people getting in to the wrong cars - how does that happen so much?! - and a lot of mix ups with mobile phones. There was one dear woman who inadvertently sent a picture of her sunburnt bottom she was meant to send to a nurse friend to her carpet fitters when she was sending them pictures of her hallway and stairs!!! I said to her I would have styled that out and said: “And yes, I would also like carpet on my bum please, so I am permanently comfortable and can sit down anywhere.”

What’s your favourite Miranda moment from the series?

My favourite episode was probably the therapist office one in series two - to write and perform that was unique. And I also loved the episodes that were farcical as farce is something I have always loved and to be able to put it on TV felt like something to be proud of as it’s so technical and intricate to get right. As for a favourite moment - I don’t think I could pick one. The romance of Miranda and Gary generally, the falling in the grave stunt, the surprise of Gary Barlow appearing, and I loved us all being around the dinner table during the dinner party episode when I was trying to impress my future father in law - in particular trying to say grace having it forced upon me by him - and just getting stuck in Abba lyrics around thank you for the music.

Could we see more Miranda in the future?

This Such Fun Celebration felt like it could go both ways. It could be the goodbye forever (so for that reason I really hope people watch it and enjoy it), or it could be a springboard in to some specials. I am very torn - part of me wants to see Gary and Miranda’s married life, part of me wonders whether the story was told and as Miranda gets older it’s a very different kind of show. So the answer remains - I don’t know! But I do know that I am incredibly grateful for every supporter of the show and the legacy that it has created.

Friday, 20 December 2019

ZeroZeroZero: official trailer unveiled

The official trailer has been unveiled for ZeroZeroZero, a Sky original series directed by Stefano Sollima (Gomorrah) and based on Roberto Saviano’s book “ZEROZEROZERO”.  The fast-paced and edgy trailer unveils a mammoth crime frenzy of international drug trafficking. The show will air exclusively on Sky Atlantic and NOW TV in the UK in 2020.

The series features an international cast including Andrea Riseborough (The Death of Stalin, Battle of the Sexes), Dane DeHaan (The Amazing Spiderman 2, In Treatment), Gabriel Byrne (In Treatment, The Usual Suspects), Harold Torres (González, Sin Nombre, Northless), Giuseppe De Domenico (Euphoria), Adriano Chiaramida (Romanzo Criminale – La Serie), Francesco Colella (Made in Italy, Piuma) and Tcheky Karyo (Nikita, A Gang Story).

ZeroZeroZero looks at different criminal and family groups that are equally violent and power hungry. It shows how the Mexican cartels, the Calabrian 'Ndrangheta and corrupt American businessmen all compete for supremacy over the trade routes of the world’s most distributed drug, cocaine.

ITV2 announces that Laura Whitmore will host season 6 of Love Island

ITV2 today announces that Laura Whitmore will host season 6 of Love Island. The show will launch on the channel on 12 January 2020.

Laura will present the main show which airs nightly at 9pm on ITV2 as regular presenter Caroline Flack stands down for this series. Laura will also host Love Island: Aftersun, which will air on ITV2 live from London on Monday nights at 10pm.

The first series of the year comes from a brand new location and villa in Cape Town where a host of new Islanders will try to win the hearts of each other - and the nation - in the ultimate search for love.

Laura Whitmore said: “To say I’m excited to be heading to Cape Town to host Love Island, the biggest show on television, is an understatement.

“I want to thank ITV for trusting me at the helm of this huge show. I wish it was in better circumstances; Caroline is a brilliant host and also a friend. We’ve spoken a lot in the last few days since she stepped down. She has been very kind to me and strongly pushed me for this role. I’ve watched her host every series and know I have big boots to fill. I will try and do it justice.

“Above all, I am a massive fan of this show. I’ve never been to a Love Island villa, and I can’t wait to get in there to meet all the new Islanders looking for love. The Love Island team are the best in the business… including the voice and heart of the show, Iain. He thought he was getting a holiday away from me… not a chance!”

Head of Digital Channels and Acquisitions, Paul Mortimer, said: “I’m delighted that Laura is able to step in this winter on ITV2’s biggest show. She is the best person for the job and is a popular and experienced presenter of live television. Whilst Caroline is away, we know that Love Island will be in very safe hands.“

Interview with Sally Phillips - Miranda: My Such Fun Celebration

New Year's Day 2020

Can you tell us what to expect from Miranda: My Such Fun Celebration?

It’s a cross between a variety show, a chat show and a cup of tea round Miranda’s house.

What has the reaction from the fans been?

The Gallopers are legendary. I think they’d be supportive if Miranda was filming a tour of the local dump.

How would you describe Tilly’s friendship with Miranda?

Tilly loves Miranda and Miranda tolerates Tilly. I think Tilly’s self-esteem for a long time was dependent on her being ‘better, prettier, more serious’ than Queen Kong - and at school the hierarchy was unquestioned but as they get older it becomes clear that, disturbingly for Tilly, Miranda actually has all the important things in life more sorted than she has. I always found it touching that although Tilly was incredibly annoying, Miranda was never mean back and Tilly was welcome to dance in Miranda’s lounge along with everyone else.

Did you think ten years from the first Miranda the show would still be as popular today?

You always hope you’re making something that will last but no, I could never have imagined the success the show has been and what it appears to have meant to so many people.

Why do you think the show resonates with the fans so much?

I think it’s fundamentally about accepting yourself and others and staying in touch, even loving your inner idiot and the inner idiots of others.

Do you have a favourite moment from the show?

I always loved the singing and dancing, as it felt that the spirit of fun was the heart of the show even more than the jokes. There was some absolutely classic slapstick too, though which, as a lover of silent movies I really admired. The sushi bar, Miranda in the skip, all the different variants of pushing Stevie off the stool, the wrap dress caught in the taxi door… I could go on

Miranda: My Such Fun Celebration

2019 sees ten years since a certain someone first galloped onto our screens with the award winning sitcom Miranda, and to mark this milestone, BBC One will be hosting a very special one off shindig at the iconic world famous home of British entertainment, The London Palladium.

This special entertainment show will feature a host of treats and surprises as the cast reunite to look back over a decade of such fun, friendship, romance and all that made millions of fans connect with this unique and very special sitcom. Miranda: My Such Fun Celebration (1x70') promises an unforgettable night of magical memories, and with Miranda at the helm, viewers can expect not only some poignant reflections and behind the scenes titbits but much silliness, dancing and enforced galloping!

Thursday, 19 December 2019


To celebrate the 10th Anniversary of Director Zack Snyder’s epic tale of superheroes, we’re giving you a chance to win a copy of WATCHMEN The Ultimate Cut, out on Blu-ray™ 25th November and standard 4K Ultra HD and an exclusive 4K Steelbook* on 2nd December.

Based on the best-selling graphic novel, and debuting internationally for the first time, WATCHMEN: The Ultimate Cut intercuts scenes from the animated “Tales of the Black Freighter” into the Director’s Cut of WATCHMEN for a new and exciting viewing experience. The 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray™ releases include six all-new exclusive character cards, as well as a decal of the iconic Comedian’s badge.

Celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2019, WATCHMEN is a complex, multi-layered mystery adventure set in an alternate 1985 America in which costumed superheroes are part of the fabric of everyday society. When one of his former colleagues is murdered, the outlawed vigilante Rorschach sets out to uncover a plot to kill and discredit all past and present superheroes. As he reconnects with his former crime-fighting legion Rorschach glimpses a wide-ranging and disturbing conspiracy with links to their shared past and catastrophic consequences for the future.

For your chance to win a copy of WATCHMEN The Ultimate Cut, simply answer the following question:


WATCHMEN The Ultimate Cut is out on Blu-ray™ on 25th November and on standard 4K Ultra HD and 4K Ultra HD Steelbook* on 2nd December.

Buy from Amazon Here - Link opens in a new window!

Terms and conditions
1. Closing date 06-01-20
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.

Saturday, 14 December 2019

The Greek Islands With Julia Bradbury

Fri 10 Jan 2020
8.00pm - 8.30pm

“The Greek Islands are held with great affection in the hearts of us Brits - every year, three million of us head there for our holidays, and it is easy to see why. I have a strong affinity with the islands, my mum is Greek, although she despairs that I still can’t speak the lingo. But I’ve only holidayed here, and never really explored beyond the tourist trail myself, until now. This is a voyage of discovery and I’m taking you with me.” - Julia Bradbury

This new six-part series for ITV features Julia Bradbury exploring the hidden side of the dazzling, sun-drenched Greek Islands.

The Greek Islands are loved by Brits - with three million flocking there every summer. Julia Bradbury has a special affinity with them as her mother is Greek, and that heritage has always been a big part of her life - yet despite enjoying her summer holidays on the islands she doesn’t know much about the real Greece.

In this series she uncovers the hidden side of well-known islands like Corfu, Crete and Santorini as well as uncovering some lesser-known island gems like Symi, Thirassia and Skopelos, location for global smash Mamma Mia, island-hopping her way to her ultimate destination, Chios - the island of her heritage.

She goes off the well-trodden tourist track to discover secret beaches, exquisite coves and unspoilt countryside, immersing herself in the islands’ age-old traditions and sampling some of the best food and drink they have to offer to provide a vivid and surprising insight into some of our most popular holiday destinations.

Julia says: “I am going to see the hidden side, from the historical and rugged terrain of Crete to the glamour of a sunset in Santorini. But I’ll also be taking in the lesser known islands from the architectural splendour of Symi to the natural wonder of Skopelos, before ending my journey on the island where my family story first began.”

This is a Twofour production for ITV

Episode 1 - Crete

In the first episode, Julia visits the picturesque, rustic and rugged island of Crete, a favourite island with British holiday-goers, but Julia steps away from tourist trail and heads deep into the heart of the island to explore the Dikti mountains and its striking plateau of windmills. She meets goat shepherd Giannis, who shows her how he makes cheese using age-old traditional methods. Back on the coast in the town of Rethymno, Julia tries the delicacy baklava, meeting filo pastry expert Giorgos, who has been producing it for 75 years. She also meets master artisan Nico, who expertly makes the Cretan lyra, a stringed instrument said to be the ‘soundtrack to Crete’.

Her journey ends with a visit to the stunning but poignant neighbouring island of Spinalonga - once an exiled leper colony.

Anjli Mohindra and Laura Fraser to guest star in Doctor Who

With less than one month to go until the TARDIS lands back on BBC One, television stars Anjli Mohindra and Laura Fraser are set to guest star in upcoming episodes of Doctor Who.

Previously starring as Rani Chandra in the CBBC Doctor Who spin-off The Sarah Jane Adventures, Anjli is no stranger to the Whoniverse but as she takes on a new character, it’s safe to say she’ll be worlds away from her usual appearance…

Starring in a separate episode, Laura has previously starred in various dramas including the hit BBC show, The Missing and more recently Better Call Saul.

On appearing in Doctor Who, Anjli Mohindra says: “As a huge fan of the last series, it’s a bit of a dream come true getting to work opposite Jodie, Mandip, Tosin and of course after all these years, to work with Bradley again! There’s something undeniably special about Jodie’s Doctor, and to be bringing some terror to the joint was rather fun indeed.”

Laura Fraser adds: “I love this episode and couldn’t resist playing such an intense character. I watched Doctor Who every week as a child, so it was a massive thrill to be asked to take part in such an iconic show.”

Matt Strevens, Executive Producer, says: “It was a real joy to welcome Anjli and Laura to the show. We’ve wanted to work with them since we started and have found the perfect characters for them to show off their talent and range - both formidable in very different ways.”

Doctor Who will return to BBC One on New Year’s Day at 6.55pm.

The new series will begin with a two-parter entitled Spyfall, with part two airing on Sunday 5 January.

Jodie Whittaker will reprise her role as the Thirteenth Doctor alongside Tosin Cole (Ryan) Mandip Gill (Yaz) and Bradley Walsh (Graham) who are all returning for their second series.

Chris Chibnall returns as Showrunner with Matt Strevens as Executive Producer.

Kylie Minogue’s Golden Tour arrives on All 4 on Friday 13th December

After visiting 33 cities across Europe and Australia last year, Kylie Minogue’s critically acclaimed Golden Tour will be available to stream for the first time exclusively on All 4 from Friday 13 December.

The full two-hour uninterrupted event is the first recorded concert to be streamed on All 4.

Featuring over 30 songs including Dancing and Stop Me From Falling taken from Kylie’s 2018 number one album Golden, to iconic hits such as Spinning Around, Can’t Get You Out Of My Head and Especially For You, the tour is guaranteed to have you up and dancing around your living room.

Kylie Minogue said: “I had so much fun every night performing for everyone on the Golden Tour. I’m so excited that my UK fans will be able to watch the full concert at their fingertips on All 4.  I’m looking forward to being able to relive it all over again!”

Charlie Palmer, Managing Editor of All 4 said: “Her Glastonbury ‘Legends’ slot made 2019 very much the year of Kylie, so we’re delighted that we can finish the year by giving the gift of the Golden Tour, in full and uninterrupted. It’s a truly fantastic addition to All 4, and a chance to see Kylie doing what she does best.”

Kylie will also be the subject of a 90-minute Kylie themed extravaganza on Channel 4 on Christmas Day at 10.30pm. Kylie’s Secret Night will allow viewers to celebrate with the quintessential pop princess like never before as she is joined by Alan Carr for the ultimate celebration. The linear airing of The Golden Tour will follow at 12am.

Friday, 13 December 2019

A Christmas Carol - Interview with Vinette Robinson (Mary Cratchit)

Can you tell us about Mary Cratchit?

In the books you don’t learn much about her other than she is the wife of Bob and the mother of Tim, but, in this version of the story, Steven has imagined her side of events and how she deals with the strained circumstances that the family is under. First and foremost, she’s a good mum, she’s so resilient, she’s sensitive and she’s tough and she’ll do anything for her family. She has to keep her family safe and has to make some very tough decisions on that front.

What else do you think is unique about this version of the story?

What’s great is that Steven has written two female characters who have agency, Lottie and Mary, and done so in a really clever way. They are not passive and very much drive their own stories.

Can you tell us a bit more about Steven Knight’s scripts and why you wanted to be part of this drama?

It’s first and foremost always about the scripts for me and Steven is just such an incredible writer. I really loved what he’d done with this version. For a story which has become so well-worn, he made me look at it in a new light. Dickens is known for shining a light on society and the effects of poverty, but A Christmas Carol has become, in its re-telling over so many years, a ‘cosy‘ story about redemption. This version refocuses on how hard life was then and has parallels with what is happening today with the working poor. That brings a harder edge to it, which was in Dickens’ writing anyway, but we have become immune to it. If you are going to tell such a well-known story again there must be a reason, a freshness and a different perspective to it.

I didn’t know who had been cast when I auditioned but when I found out I was very excited to be a part of it. There are some brilliant scenes between me and Guy, who plays Scrooge.

Can you tell us about the look of the show and the world that has been created?

The creative teams have done an incredible job. It’s a darker, colder world but the attention to details is amazing.

One example is with my costume. There’s a scene where I’m drawing a book for Tim for Christmas and the costume designer had the idea from that, as Mary is creative, she would embroider, which fitted with my research that a woman of her status and her position would take in seamstress work. There is all this beautiful embroidery work on my costumes, really subtle details which then carry through to the children’s costumes too. Then the design team also incorporated that into their home. So all those details are just beautiful and add texture to the story.

Do you have any stand-out memories from the filming?

When we were filming some snowy scenes in a church in Hampstead, some of the local famous people just popped by to have a look! When you see it on screen you can’t believe that during the filming of those scenes the sun was boiling! There were these incredibly loud wind-turbines that made it feel like we were in the middle of an air-field, to give the blustery nature of it. That really helped us to get in the mood because it was like stepping into winter!

Thursday, 12 December 2019

A Christmas Carol - Interview with Stephen Graham (Jacob Marley)

Tell us about this version of A Christmas Carol…

It’s authentic to the book. For me, personally, I found the scripts such a great read, how Steven had put it all together. That world that’s been captured within this is fantastic. It says a lot about greed, self-obsession and the desire to have everything instantly, which is very relevant for today’s society. It says to treat people with kindness and respect because on the day of judgement when you look in the mirror, how have you treated others?

Tell us about your version of Marley…

It was a great opportunity for me to be able to play a classic role and put my own twist on it. We even get to see Marley and Scrooge in a way we haven’t before, as businessmen. He is trapped in purgatory and has repented, but the only way he can be redeemed is through Scrooge realising the error of his own ways. So, there’s an added pressure on him to try and make Scrooge aware of where he’s gone wrong in life. He’s a bit like Clarence Odbody in It’s A Wonderful Life, I’ve gone for a darker, more twisted version of him. It’s A Wonderful Life has always been one of my favourite films and that is based around similar themes.

Tell us about Steven Knight’s scripts...

Steven is a fantastic writer; his pedigree speaks for itself. It’s a great story and a fresh way of looking at it. It’s very apt for today and where we are as a society now.

Can you tell us about your costume?

When I first put it on, and for the first couple of days shooting, it took an hour and 20 minutes to get in to it! I never thought I would be getting dressed whilst people used drills on me! It was intense! We managed to get it down to half an hour by the end, we got into a smooth routine. It captures the time and the look is fantastic, as it is with the other ghosts and their costumes too.

Do you have any standout memories from filming?

I had such fun on it. When we were doing the work we were very serious, but I had a great time. Nick, the director, was wonderful, and Guy Pearce and Andy Serkis are both magnificent and all my stuff was with them, so it was just lovely. We’re very fortunate to be able to do a job we absolutely adore, it’s not really a job it’s a vocation. I like to have a good time when I’m there, I’m not there to be miserable, I’m there because I really love doing what I do, so I always like to have a smile on my face and get on with everyone involved.

Why do you think the story of A Christmas Carol has resonated for so long?

It’s that quintessential, rites of passage, trying to find your way, story: The idea of being given the opportunity to look back on your life before your death, to see where you’ve gone wrong and to go back and correct the errors of your way. There’s a bit between Scrooge and Marley at the end of this, when he really realises the error of his ways and has transformed, and his performance is majestic, it’s beautiful.

BBC Two announces Baby Chimp Rescue, a three-part natural history series from BBC Studios

Baby Chimp Rescue will follow life in a home for orphaned baby chimpanzees run by wildlife vet Jimmy Desmond and his wife Jenny.

The Desmonds started with just two rescued baby chimps, saved from the illegal pet trade, but now their home is bursting at the seams with 21 orphans to look after.

The chimp babies run riot around the compound they share with a pack of adopted dogs, as they learn to play with their new adopted siblings. Baby chimps form very close bonds with their mothers during their early years, so Jimmy, Jenny and a small army of care-givers work around the clock to help the babies recover from their trauma.

Chimpanzees share around 96 percent of human DNA (1). Like humans, they have complex emotions, a high level of intelligence, unique finger prints and even a sense of humour. Sadly, chimpanzee numbers have plummeted in West Africa in the last 25 years and they are now classified as critically endangered species (2). Wild chimpanzee mothers are killed for bush meat and their babies are sold as high-value pets. While it is illegal to keep chimpanzees as pets in Liberia, many are unaware of the law.

Sadly, many of the rescued chimp babies lost their mothers before they were able to learn key skills, and will not be able to return to the wild. Professor Ben Garrod, evolutionary biologist and conservationist, will help Jimmy and Jenny teach the chimps vital life lessons such as climbing, foraging for food and recognising danger. Ben will visit the Desmonds and their ever-growing chimp family over 12 months. Together, the team hope that the chimps will grow up to live independent lives within their new home.

Despite battling financial worries and an overflowing home, the Desmonds are determined to achieve their dream of moving the chimps to a more natural habit: a 100-acre forest surrounded by mangroves.

Jo Shinner, Executive Producer for BBC Studios Natural History Unit, says: "These orphan chimps are all suffering PTSD. The care and love lavished on them by the Desmonds is an extraordinary thing. This story of our times has captivating and irresistible characters, both chimp and human, set against a wider picture of wildlife crisis."

Professor Ben Garrod says: "We are in a global crisis of climate change and biodiversity loss, and with everything seeming like an ecological uphill struggle, the story of the Desmonds battling to save our closest living relatives is a much needed good-news story. If we can save Max, Bui and their relatives, then it gives us hope for the future of countless other species, including ourselves."

Image released for BBC One's The Pale Horse

BBC One and Mammoth Screen have released a picture from the latest Agatha Christie adaptation The Pale Horse.

Produced by Mammoth Screen and Agatha Christie Limited for BBC One. Adapted by Bafta-nominated writer Sarah Phelps, The Pale Horse is coming to BBC One in 2020.

The image shows Emmy and Bafta-nominated Rufus Sewell (The Man In The High Castle, The Marvellous Mrs. Maisel, The Father) in the lead role of Mark Easterbrook.

When a murder investigation is launched into the death of a young woman, a mysterious list of names is discovered in her shoe -prompting an inquiry not only to find the killer, but also to understand the list of names. Who wrote the list, and who do these names refer to?

One of those named is widowed antique dealer Mark Easterbrook, who, despite having found love again with new wife Hermia, is still haunted by the tragic death of his first wife Delphine. The Pale Horse tells the story of Mark’s investigation into how and why his name came to appear on the list, an investigation that leads him to the peculiar home of a trio of rumoured witches, The Pale Horse, in the beautiful village of Much Deeping. Word has it that the witches can do away with a rich relative, by supernatural means alone…

Despite Mark’s scepticism towards the paranormal, he cannot help but be consumed by the increasingly strange and extraordinary things that begin to happen around him. Is this too the work of the witches of The Pale Horse, and does this mean he is next on their list? Or can he find a rational explanation and identify the killer before they catch up with him?

Rufus Sewell says: "I’ve always loved watching Agatha Christies. What appealed to me about this script and this character was that the veneer of sophistication, of class and luxury is only possible if it’s supported by a vicious, brutal underbelly. That’s what keeps it all nice."

The Pale Horse was filmed over the summer at The Bottle Yard Studios and in and around the Bristol area.

Also in the cast are:

Kaya Scodelario (Crawl, Extremely Wicked And Shockingly Evil And Vile) playing Hermia
Bertie Carvel (Doctor Foster, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell) as Zachariah Osborne
Sean Pertwee (Gotham, Elementary) as Detective Inspector Lejeune
Henry Lloyd-Hughes (Killing Eve, Indian Summers) as David Ardingly
James Fleet (Unforgotten, Patrick Melrose) as Oscar
Poppy Gilbert (Call The Midwife) as Thomasina Tuckerton
Madeleine Bowyer (Black Mirror, Britannia) as Jessie Davis
Ellen Robertson (Snowflake, Britney Soho) as Poppy

Sarah Woodward (Queens Of Mystery, Loving Miss Hatto), Georgina Campbell (His Dark Materials, Black Mirror) and Claire Skinner (Outnumbered, Vanity Fair) will also star.

Completing the cast are Rita Tushingham (Vera, A Taste of Honey) as Bella, Sheila Atim (Girl From The North Country, Bloodmoon) as Thryza Grey and Kathy Kiera Clarke (Derry Girls, Tartuffe) as Sybil Stamford who will play the trio of witches.

Father Brown returns for series eight on BBC One in 2020

BBC Studios Productions’ ever popular daytime crime drama Father Brown returns to BBC One in early 2020 for an eighth series with ten brand new episodes (10x45') following the murder mystery solving skills of the clerical sleuth.

Mark Williams (Harry Potter) resumes his role as the crime busting charismatic priest in the Cotswolds. Based on the character made famous from GK Chesterton’s short stories, the eighth series sees Father Brown investigate the murder of an eccentric beekeeper, step in when Mrs McCarthy’s family reunion is threatened by a fortune-teller’s predictions and race against time to save Bunty from the hangman’s noose when she is tried for murder.

Also returning are Sorcha Cusack (White Heat) as Mrs McCarthy and Emer Kenny (EastEnders) as Bunty Windermere, as well as regular characters Inspector Mallory (Jack Deam, DCI Banks) and Sergeant Goodfellow (John Burton, Doctors).

The new series will feature a number of returning guest characters including Lady Felicia (Nancy Carroll), Sid Carter (Alex Price), Hercule Flambeau (John Light), Blind ‘Arry (Alan Williams), Chief Inspector Sullivan (Tom Chambers) and for the first time since 2014, Chief Inspector Valentine (Hugo Speer). The series also boasts guest appearances from Niamh Cusack, Nigel Planer, Pippa Haywood, Alison Pargeter, Graeme Hawley, Ian Puleston-Davies, Annabelle Apsion and James Anderson.

Peter Bullock, Producer, BBC Studios, says: "This eighth series promises to keep viewers enthralled with ten new whodunits to solve. Set against the backdrop of the stunning Cotswolds countryside these gloriously nostalgic episodes are full of drama, warmth and humour and feature a fantastic roster of familiar faces returning to Kembleford along with a wealth of brilliant guest appearances. For me, Father Brown continues to go from strength to strength."

Dan McGolpin, Controller BBC Programming and iPlayer, says: “BBC daytime viewers will already be looking forward to the eighth series of Father Brown, due early in the New Year. They won’t be disappointed with ten fantastic new stories and the return of some well-loved characters in addition to new guest appearances and of course the wonderfully talented regular cast.”

The combination of detective drama shot in idyllic English countryside has proved to be very appealing to audiences around the world. To date Father Brown has been sold to over 200 territories. In the UK, series seven averaged 1.8m viewers with a 26% share of the audience, winning its timeslot.

A ninth series of Father Brown has already been commissioned and will be broadcast on BBC One and BBC iPlayer in 2021. Both series eight and nine are produced by the BBC Studios Daytime Drama Unit in Birmingham and were greenlit earlier in 2019 by Dan McGolpin for BBC One daytime. The Script Producer is Neil Irvine, the Producer is Peter Bullock and the Executive Producer is Will Trotter.

Sticks and Stones Episode 1 Preview

Episode 1
Thomas Benson is a Sales Associate at Clayton Office Solutions in Reading where he lives with his wife Jess, a nurse, and their young daughter, Millie, who was born deaf.

He’s good at his job and feels respected by his colleagues Andy, Isobel and Becky and his boss Chris Carter.

Thomas and the team give a pitch presentation to Janice Lancing and her team at Murray Technology but when the presentation goes badly wrong, Thomas panics and faints in front of everyone.

The team has lost a potentially large contract and with it the lucrative bonuses that would have been coming their way.

The team seem to lay the blame firmly at Thomas’s door. Is it his imagination or are his colleagues now out to get him? How will Thomas react when his work life is threatened?

Ken Nwosu - Thomas Benson
Ben Miller - Chris Carter
Susannah Fielding - Isobel Jones
Sean Sagar - Andy Stocks
Ritu Arya - Becky Mills
Debbie Chazen - Natalie
Alexandra Roach - Jess Benson
Daisy Boo Bradford - Millie Benson
Phoebe Nicholls - Janice Lancing
Gwilym Lee - Mark Baxter
Elena Saurel - Tanya Baxter
Michael Cochrane - Clayton
Neil Pearson - Phil

Ball & Boe: A Very Merry Christmas

They’re back. After the massive success of their previous albums and sold out tours, the unstoppable force that is Michael Ball and Alfie Boe reunite for an unmissable festive night of music.

Showcasing both their unique blend of extraordinary talent and infectious humour, the iconic duo will perform exciting new material alongside some Christmas favourites, as well as singing with special guests Dame Shirley Bassey, Luke Evans and Gregory Porter.

Fri 20 Dec 2019
9.30pm - 10.30pm

Wednesday, 11 December 2019

A Christmas Carol - Interview with Andy Serkis (Ghost of Christmas Past)

Tell us about this version of A Christmas Carol…

"Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol." When I think of those words I think of a fireside, holly, the ghosts, and a kind of warm, fuzzy, journey. It gets a little dark and scary but it’s a happy ending. That is the expectation most people have of that story. Our version is a darker telling of this tale and is brilliantly written by Steven Knight. It really examines the character of Scrooge in a way that I don’t think has ever been seen before.

It feels very contemporary, the emotions, the human nature, the selfishness, the greed and the way Scrooge operates. Its couched in a Victorian environment and so you have a real interesting tension between the way it looks and the way it feels.

The Spirit of Christmas Past, who I play, is very different. He’s normally portrayed as this affable character who takes Scrooge back to an early part of his life where things were happy. But in this version, he’s much more confrontational, he is going in there to examine Scrooge’s soul, he’s got a red-hot poker that he’s trying to press against Scrooges conscience to get him to stop denying who he is.

Do you remember the first time you came across A Christmas Carol?

The very first time I came across A Christmas Carol was it being read to me when I was quite young, maybe about nine or ten.  The character of Jacob Marley stood out to me, the man in chains, carrying all of his sins and searching for redemption, I remember being haunted by that image.

Tell us about Steven Knight’s scripts…

Steven Knight is such an extraordinary writer, the worlds that he creates are so thorough. He has a real love and passion for Charles Dickens, and Dickens was a writer that also really delved into social inequality and different class structures. That combination and the way that Steven has extrapolated his story from Dickens’ book is exceptional. That’s what drew such an interesting cast, no one wants to make yet another version of A Christmas Carol, because there have been so many great versions, but this is so original. Steven really wanted to examine humanity in its rawest form and to take the expectation of the book, subvert it, and make it about the world that we live in, is really an extraordinary feat.

Can you tell us about the look of the show and the world that has been created?

There are so many ways that you can visually interpret this story. The production design, the costume design, the makeup and hair, and so on, everything was geared towards it being visually interesting and spectacular, and of course, period, but it doesn’t draw attention to itself in a way that takes you out of the story. You take it for granted that these things are real, and that’s a real skill to pull off. It all provided a backdrop that was a great canvas for examining Scrooge’s psychological and emotional journey.

Do you have any standout memories from filming?

The night shoots that were filmed very early in the morning! My first scenes playing this character were all night shoots. So, at four/five o’clock in the morning when your mind is melting, and you’re trying to remember dialogue and still trying to find the character, it’s quite brutal! That was a real challenge but having Stephen Graham there to act with was just brilliant, and we helped each other, well I think he helped me more than I helped him!

And to work with Guy who was literally on set all the time, and to watch how he was operating, was great.

What do you hope audiences take from this version of A Christmas Carol?

I really truly think that audiences won’t have seen anything quite like this. It is not particularly for young children, tonally it’s more suited to a slightly older audience, I would say 12 years old and above, and with that comes the freedom of expression to take it into a much more honest and visceral analysis of what it is to be someone in this world who has enjoyed profit at the expense of other people’s lives.

There’s a very good reason why this story is repeatedly told. I mean, it’s obviously a fantastic piece of literature, but it also speaks to every new generation in a different way. There are universal themes in this story, Christmas is a very special and significant time where we tend to reflect on our standing in the world. There is an expectation of this story to be a particular way and the universal themes are still there, they still carry through from Dickens’ original writing, but this is such a fresh palette that Steven Knight is working with that it is definitely something new. It makes a book that was written over 150 years ago relevant in a very deft and intelligent way. You still have the same characters, but, for instance Bob Cratchit, who is the perennial slave of Scrooge, actually has a voice in this version, he almost stands up for himself to Scrooge. So, where we think we know the story and we think we know the relationship of the characters, it’s just gently subverted.

The Last Igloo - Introduction by Joe Evans, executive producer

The Last Igloo is a very simple film: the story of one man - an indigenous hunter called Julius (pictured above) - as he sets out from an Inuit settlement into the wilderness of Greenland to fish, hunt, and eventually build an igloo. Of course, making something simple means that every detail is amplified. In one way, that was the point of the film - we are so relentlessly deluged with information that it’s easy to forget that TV should also be about giving us space to think and to feel.

Witnessing Julius’ life on a very sensory level - as this film allows the viewer to do - you realise that the apparent simplicity of life in the arctic belies extraordinary expertise, complexity and a constant battle against an environment where a single mistake can cost your life. Because The Last Igloo is all about immersing the viewer in a landscape of snow and ice, the beautiful scenes, filmed and directed with great skill by Christian Collerton, needed to be matched by the sound. For that, soundman Mick Duffield recorded in surround sound, not only above ground, but beneath the sea ice, and renowned Icelandic composer Biggi Hilmars created a score that feels as though it emerges almost naturally from the mountains and glaciers of Greenland.

Above all, The Last Igloo is a testament to Julius and the native people of Greenland. Julius was a dream contributor - not only for his abilities as a hunter and igloo builder - but for his facility to talk about his way of life with lyricism and depth of thought. But Julius’ generation of hunters are possibly the last. The great poignancy of the film is that it captures a world that is, due to climate change, literally melting away, and may soon be gone forever.