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Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Soccer Aid for Unicef is back for 2019 with new famous faces and a move to London

Today, Unicef UK and ITV announced Soccer Aid for Unicef is back and better than ever before with the star-studded football match of super celebs and football legends, taking place at Chelsea FC’s Stamford Bridge in London on Sunday 16th June.

Leading the line-up for the Soccer Aid World XI is Chelsea FC legend Didier Drogba, who will be returning to Stamford Bridge for the first time since 2015.  Drogba will be managed by  I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here winner Harry Redknapp who will be joined on the touchline by co-manager Good Morning Britain presenter Piers Morgan. Usain Bolt has confirmed his return to the Soccer Aid World XI team alongside Drogba.

Managing England will be ‘Big Sam’ Allardyce, looking to repeat his penalty-kick inspired triumph of 2018, and Susanna Reid, the first female manager of Soccer Aid for Unicef, who will be going head-to-head with her Good Morning Britain co-host Piers. Their team will consist of football legends and celebrities including Jamie Redknapp, Mark Wright, Ben Shephard and Joe Wicks.

The match will be broadcast live on ITV and STV on Sunday 16th June and the money raised will go towards Unicef’s vital work protecting children in danger around the world and will help every child grow up happy, healthy and safe to play.  Soccer Aid for Unicef is produced by Initial, part of Endemol Shine UK, for ITV.

This year’s Soccer Aid for Unicef match falls on Father’s Day, meaning father-son duo Harry and Jamie Redknapp will spend this special day on opposing teams with Jamie reprising his role playing for England and Harry returning to co-manage the Soccer Aid World XI.

To mark the occasion, and to celebrate the importance of childhood play in all of our lives, Harry and Jamie have released a #ThenandNow picture of themselves.

Jamie Redknapp said: “Even though we’re on opposite teams, it’s an honour to be able to play against my dad in Soccer Aid for Unicef this Father’s Day. Some of my best memories of my childhood are playing with my dad and being with him at the football, and it’s an incredible feeling to know we’re making more playtime possible for kids around the world by getting together for this special game.”

Soccer Aid for Unicef co-founder and Unicef UK Ambassador Robbie Williams has spoken of the importance of protecting all children’s right to play this Father’s Day.

Robbie Williams said: “The ability to play is one of the most important things in any child’s life. It’s how they make friends, how they learn who they are and about the world around them, it’s so vital. I’ve seen first-hand the important work Unicef does around the world helping to make sure every child can have a happy, healthy and safe childhood, to be able to play like all children should. I dread to think what my children would be like without play, they’re so bright and happy and its absolutely everything to them. I hope everyone gets involved this summer with Soccer Aid for Unicef, we can all play our part to help kids around the world just be kids.”

Long-term Soccer Aid for Unicef supporter and show host Dermot O’Leary said: “I’ve been so lucky to see some of the work made possible by Soccer Aid for Unicef, helping children in really tough situations be able to just be children again. The game is going to be incredible this year, we’ve got a massive line-up, we’re back in London for the first time in 10 years, sadly not at my beloved Arsenal (the Kings of London) and Drogba is playing, which has already brought back nightmares. Whoever you support, it’s going to be one hell of a night at Stamford Bridge, and the money we raise really will make a huge difference to kids everywhere. What better reason to get involved than that?”

Soccer Aid for Unicef is not only for the stars on match day. Unicef UK is calling on the nation to come out to play and help raise funds for children by taking part in The Great Big Kickabout between 14th to 16th June. For those at school, the Soccer Aid Playground Challenge on Friday 14th June will see pupils design and take part in obstacle courses, getting the whole school active whilst generating vital donations for Unicef’s work protecting children around the world.

100% of all public donations to Soccer Aid for Unicef will go towards supporting the vital work protecting children in the UK and globally. The money raised through profits from ticket sales and viewer donations during the match will add to the incredible £30 million that has already been raised through Soccer Aid for Unicef since its inception.

Visit www.socceraid.org.uk to find out more and follow @SoccerAid on Twitter and Instagram, ‘Soccer Aid’ on Facebook and use the hashtag #SoccerAid for regular player and match updates.

Filming commences on third series of critically acclaimed drama Marcella starring Anna Friel

Hugo Speer and Amanda Burton join the cast of the hugely successful series

Innovative and gripping ITV crime drama Marcella, from leading UK independent content production company Buccaneer Media, returns to production this month. Filming will take place entirely on location in Belfast, Northern Ireland during spring and summer of 2019.

Created by internationally renowned screenwriter and novelist Hans Rosenfeldt (The Bridge) and Nicola Larder; Marcella stars Emmy® award winning Anna Friel (Broken, American Odyssey) in the title role. Also set to join the cast this series are Hugo Speer (The Musketeers, Britannia, The Full Monty) and Amanda Burton (Waterloo Road, Silent Witness) whilst Ray Panthaki (Colette, One Crazy Thing) returns to the series as Rav Sangha.

Following on from the dramatic conclusion of the previous series, the new eight-parter sees Marcella in Belfast as an undercover detective. She has taken on a new identity, Keira, and has infiltrated the infamous Maguire crime family but as she investigates their activities, questions come to the fore about how much she’s embraced the Keira personality and left Marcella behind. 

In true Marcella style, the series has interweaving storylines with strands focusing upon the Maguires’ criminal operations.  As she inhabits the character of Keira, Marcella’s quest for the truth puts her in danger and others in harm’s way.  Her undercover role makes her take risks, but will her old life eventually catch up with her? 

Actor and executive producer Anna Friel commented: 
"I'm absolutely delighted to be taking on the role of Marcella again and am very grateful to ITV and Netflix for giving me the chance to delve into her unsettled world once more. Everyone has been so supportive of the show and I am loving being so widely welcomed by the great city of Belfast. I can't wait for the viewers to see what this series has in store."

An array of new cast members are welcomed to the series including Amanda Burton (Waterloo Road, Silent Witness) who takes on the role of Katherine, the matriarch of the Maguire family; Aaron McCusker (Bohemian Rhapsody, Fortitude, Shameless) plays her son, Finn Maguire; whilst Hugo Speer (The Musketeers, Britannia, The Full Monty), who made a brief appearance in the final scenes of series two, reprises his role as Frank Young, Marcella’s undercover handler. Kelly Gough (The Fall, Broadchurch) also joins the cast, taking the role of Stacey, Katherine’s daughter; Martin McCann (Death & Nightingales, The Frankenstein Chronicles) plays Stacey’s husband, with Eugene O’Hare (The Fall, Death & Nightingales) as local police officer Eddie. Michael Colgan (X Company, My Mother and Other Strangers) plays Rory Maguire, whilst Paul Kennedy (Death & Nightingales, No Offence) plays Lawrence, Marcella’s initial contact within the crime family and Glen Wallace (River City, The Secret) is Matt, a past acquaintance.

Monday, 25 March 2019

Riviera Season II Trailer

Behind every great fortune is a great crime, and the second season of Riviera sees Georgina (Julia Stiles) focused on trying to get away with murder as she fights to retain power within the Clios household and her position at the top of the elusive art world.

Picking up immediately from the shocking ending of season one, with the Clios family still reeling from the devastation caused by Constantine’s mysterious death, Georgina continues her battle for dominance and control with Irina Clios (Lena Olin) and her children Christos (Dimitri Leonidas) and Adriana (Roxanne Duran).

She must also contend with new arrivals, the Eltham family. A dynasty who sail in to the shores of the Cote d'Azur, with secrets of their own. Juliet Stevenson takes on the role of Lady Cassandra Eltham and is joined on the Riviera by her children, the impossibly stylish Daphne (Poppy Delevingne) and the brooding Nico (Jack Fox) and Daphne’s husband Raafi (Alex Lanipekun).

Meanwhile, Georgina is reunited with her charismatic uncle Jeff (Will Arnett) and we learn more about the troubled past she left behind in America.  She also becomes entangled with the handsome and mysterious Noah (Grégory Fitoussi).

The second season of Riviera will air on 23rd May on Sky Atlantic and NOW TV

Doc Martin returns to Cornwall

Martin Clunes returns to Cornwall to play the nation’s favourite grumpy medic in a brand new series of Doc Martin for ITV.

Filming begins this week with Martin Clunes starring as Dr. Martin Ellingham, the GP with a brusque bedside manner and a phobia of blood, in eight new episodes of the hugely successful drama produced by Buffalo Pictures, and set in the idyllic hamlet of Portwenn in Cornwall.

Picturesque Port Isaac provides the beautiful backdrop for the popular series, with all regular members of the cast reprising their roles.

Caroline Catz plays Doc Martin’s wife, Louisa Ellingham, who has resigned from her job as headmistress at the local school to pursue a new career in child counselling.

Returning to this ninth series, Dame Eileen Atkins plays Doc Martin’s formidable Aunt Ruth. Ian McNeice is back to play Bert Large, with Joe Absolom as his son Al. John Marquez is PC Joe Penhale, Jessica Ransom is the doctor’s receptionist Morwenna Newcross and Selina Cadell is pharmacist Mrs Tishell.

Martin says:
“We love going to Cornwall to make Doc Martin, and we miss it when we are not there. The county is so beautiful, and the people have been so warm and welcoming to us.  It is the best job in television.”

In this new series the Doc’s career is hanging in the balance. His future as a GP is under scrutiny from the General Medical Council following complaints about his irascible approach to patients.

Doc Martin has been filming in picturesque Port Isaac, and the surrounding areas of the north coast of Cornwall since 2004. The huge popularity of the ITV drama has brought thousands more tourists to the pretty hamlet. This boost to tourism was recognised by Cornwall Tourism which presented a special award  for outstanding contribution to tourism to the Doc Martin team at a grand ceremony held at Truro Cathedral.

Producer Philippa Braithwaite says the Doc Martin team was delighted to receive such a prestigious award.

BBC Young Dancer returns as 2019 category finalists announced

BBC Young Dancer 2019 today unveiled the 20 talented young dancers who have made it through to the Category Finals of the prestigious competition.

Presented by Ore Oduba and Anita Rani, the Category Finals will be broadcast on BBC Four throughout April and May in the lead up to the Grand Final, which will be broadcast live for the first time from Birmingham Hippodrome on BBC Two on 18 May.

One winner from each category will be selected to receive a specially commissioned trophy, £1,000 towards furthering their dance studies and a place in the Grand Final - together with one ‘wild card’ from across the Category Finals who impressed the judges with their potential, despite not winning their category.

As well as being a contest and showcase, BBC Young Dancer 2019 is committed to providing all the finalists with a rich experience that stands them in good stead for the future as they continue their dance education. This year’s BBC Young Dancer has once again been working in collaboration with Sadler’s Wells to provide expert advice and support across the competition’s four categories.

Emma Cahusac, Commissioning Editor, Arts and Music Television, says: 
“BBC Young Dancer 2019 has taken the search for the next generation of dance talent to new heights. We are genuinely excited for audiences to see for themselves the stellar standard reached by all our incredible finalists this year.

"BBC Arts provides a platform for new talent and previous Young Dancer winners Connor Scott and Nafisah Baba’s dance careers continue to go from strength to strength. The BBC Young Dancer 2019 trophy awaits what will be another exceptional winner.”

Paul Bullock, Executive Editor, BBC Young Dancer, says: “We’re thrilled to be returning with a third series of BBC Young Dancer and once more showcasing the very best young dance talent from across the UK.

"Since launching BBC Young Dancer back in 2015, we’ve been committed to providing a platform for these dedicated and talented young people, whilst also providing an environment in which they can develop and thrive. The creativity and passion that all the dancers bring to the competition is always inspiring and it’s exciting to see them working with some of the UK’s leading dance professionals and going from strength to strength.

"The talent this year has been extremely high and we can’t wait to provide a platform for them to be seen in the coming weeks.”

Jonzi D (Cross Category Judge) adds: 
“It’s been a joy to witness the future of UK dance! The finalists performed with great skill, purpose and imagination. All the dancers were focused and worked diligently on their solos and duets. They expressed a deep understanding of their chosen technique, and proudly represented it on stage.”

Presenter Ore Oduba says:
“I can’t wait to take to the stage again for BBC Young Dancer, and reunite with my friend Anita to present this amazing competition. Dance has become such a huge part of my life, and for our finalists this is an opportunity that could change theirs. To watch the best young talent in the country competing for the top prize... well, it’s going to be both exhilarating and inspiring at the same time!”

Presenter Anita Rani says:
"I’m so excited to be returning to host BBC Young Dancer and I feel honoured to be able to witness first-hand the amazing young dancing talent we have in this country. Ore and I are big fans of dance and I can’t wait to see what this year’s BBC Young Dancer competition has in store for us. I’ve got a sneaky suspicion we’re going to be blown away! It’s a privilege to watch talented young people who are dedicated to their art form.”

Category Finalists

Chloe Keneally - age 18 (London)
Hollie Smith - age 18 (West Yorkshire)
Louis Fukuhara - age 20 (Glasgow)
Danila Marzilli - age 19 (Glasgow)
Keiko Tsuchiya - age 17 (London)

Max Cookward - age 19 (Leeds)
Adanna Lawrence - age 20 (London)
Hannah Connor - age 21 (Leicester)
Matthew Rawcliffe - age 19 (Manchester)
Hana Kato - age 19 (London)

South Asian:
Aishani Ghosh - age 18 (Birmingham)
Mahika Gautam - age 18 (London)
Sundaresan Ramesh - age 19 (London)
Tulani Kayani-Skeef - age 19 (London)
Shree Savani - age 20 (Loughborough)

Street Dance:
Thomas Carsley - age 22 (Neath)
Louie Juster Age - age 21 (Derbyshire)
Christian Griffin - age 20 (Birmingham)
Kate Morris - age 20 (Mid Glamorgan)
Max Revell - age 20 (Cornwall)

Friday 19 April, BBC Four - South Asian Category Final
Friday 26 April, BBC Four - Contemporary Category Final
Friday 3 May, BBC Four - Ballet Category Final
Friday 10 May, BBC Four - Street Dance Category Final
Saturday 18 May, BBC Two – LIVE GRAND FINAL

Competition: Win Babylon Berlin - Series 1 and 2 on DVD

Babylon Berlin - Series 1 and 2 is released on 1st April

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

THE CRITICALLY acclaimed, multi award winning hit German period drama Babylon Berlin follows a young police inspector uncovering a tangled web of corruption amongst the political, social and sexual extremes of the Weimar Republic. Making waves at home and internationally after its run on Sky Atlantic, and with its third series due later this year, Babylon Berlin Series One & Two Box Set is set to arrive on DVD courtesy of Acorn Media International.

The lavish, $40m series is Germany’s most expensive drama to date, and explores a metropolis in turmoil: growing poverty stands in stark contrast to the excesses and indulgence of the night life in 1929 Berlin.

Gereon Rath (Volker Bruch), an ex-soldier from Cologne, is transferred to Berlin to investigate one of Berlin’s biggest pornography rings, together with stenotypist Charlotte Ritter (Liv Lisa Fries) and his partner Bruno Wolter (Peter Kurth). Rath is forced into an existential conflict, torn between loyalty and uncovering the truth as an even greater conspiracy unfolds: Soviet rebels confronting the rise of National Socialism. Berlin’s police headquarters increasingly become the melting pot of a democracy whose days are numbered.

The social climate and political factors that coalesce into a growth in power of the populist far-right has striking political relevance even now, 90 years after the show is set. With a rare 100% critics consensus on Rotten Tomatoes, Babylon Berlin is perfect for your next box set binge.

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

For your chance to win just answer the question below.

Which actor plays Charlotte Ritter in Babylon Berlin?

Send you name, address and of course the answer to competition@jonn.co.uk

Terms and conditions
1. Closing date 08-04-19
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.

Friday, 22 March 2019

Little Mix’s Jesy Nelson shares her struggles with mental health in new BBC documentary

Jesy Nelson, a member of the world’s biggest girl band Little Mix, will explore body image and mental health in a brand new documentary for the BBC.

Jesy Nelson: My Story will look at how growing up in a social media-fuelled age of selfies, body shaming and trolling is having a profound impact on the mental health of young people.

Having lived in the spotlight and under the intense scrutiny of the media for the past seven years, Jesy will bring this unique insight and passion to the documentary, as she shares her very personal experiences and talks to young people who have been affected.

Jesy says: “This is a project really close to my heart, and I’m delighted to be working with the BBC on a documentary that will both challenge me personally and also highlight a hugely important issue affecting young people today.”

First-look image of Eva Green in BBC Two’s The Luminaries

BBC Two has released a first-look of Eva Green (Casino Royale, Penny Dreadful, Sin City, A Dame To Kill For) as Lydia Wells in The Luminaries, the adaption of Eleanor Catton’s 2013 Man Booker Prize-winning novel of the same name.

Currently filming in New Zealand, the six-part series also stars Eve Hewson (Robin Hood, The Knick, Bridge Of Spies) as Anna Wetherell, Himesh Patel (The Aeronauts, EastEnders) as Emery Staines and Australia’s Ewen Leslie (The Cry, Top Of The Lake: China Girl) as Crosbie Wells.

They are joined by an ensemble of antipodean acting talent, including Marton Csokas as Francis Carver (The Equalizer, Lord Of The Rings, Into The Badlands), Erik Thomson (The Code, Packed To The Rafters), Benedict Hardie (Hacksaw Ridge, The Light Between Oceans), Yoson An (Mortal Engines, Dead Lucky) and New Zealand newcomer, Richard Te Are.

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

The Luminaries tells an epic story of love, murder and revenge, as men and women travelled across the world to make their fortunes. It is a 19th century tale of adventure and mystery, set on the Wild West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island in the boom years of the 1860s gold rush.

The story follows defiant young adventurer Anna Wetherell, who has sailed from Britain to New Zealand to begin a new life. There she meets the radiant Emery Staines, an encounter that triggers a strange kind of magic that neither can explain. As they fall in love, driven together and apart by fateful coincidence, these star-crossed lovers begin to wonder: do we make our fortunes, or do our fortunes make us?

The Luminaries (6x60’) will be produced by Working Title Television - a joint venture between NBCUniversal International Studios, Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner, and Southern Light Films for BBC Two, in association with TVNZ, Fremantle and Silver Reel. The series will be executive produced by Mona Qureshi for the BBC; Eleanor Catton, Andrew Woodhead, Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner for Working Title Television; Christian Vesper for Fremantle, Claudia Bluemhuber for Silver Reel and Tim White for Southern Light Films with Producer Lisa Chatfield.

The series will be sold internationally by Fremantle. The Luminaries has been supported by the New Zealand Film Commission.

Second series of Abi Morgan’s original BBC One drama The Split begins production

Joining Nicola Walker (River, Last Tango In Halifax), Stephen Mangan (Episodes), Deborah Findlay (Leaving), Fiona Button (Lip Service), Annabel Scholey (Being Human), Rudi Dharmalingam (Our Girl), Barry Atsma (Hector And The Search For Happiness), Chukwudi Iwuji (Zander) and Ellora Torchia (Maggie Lavelle) are Donna Air (Hotel Babylon) and Ben Bailey Smith (Cleaning Up, Doctor Who) as the second series of BBC One’s The Split enters production in London.
Production has started in London on series two of The Split, helmed by award-winning writer Abi Morgan (River, Suffragette, The Hour) and executive producer Jane Featherstone (Broadchurch, River, Humans).

Set in the fast-paced, messy world of London’s high-end divorce circuit, The Split is an authentic, multi-layered, witty examination of modern marriage and the legacy of divorce. Exploring the often complex realities that bind families together, and tear them apart, the series follows the three Defoe sisters, Hannah (Nicola Walker), Nina (Annabel Scholey) and Rose (Fiona Button) and their formidable mother Ruth (Deborah Findlay).

At the end of the first series, which averaged 5.7 million viewers , Hannah’s formerly rock-solid marriage was beginning to crack following the devastating revelation of Nathan’s (Stephen Mangan) affair. For the rest of the family, and Hannah, joy had turned to tragedy as estranged father Oscar (Anthony Head) passed away the night of Rose and James’ (Rudi Dharmalingam) wedding. Struggling with the grief of losing her father for the second time in her life and with Christie (Barry Atsma) having made his feelings for her clear, Hannah was torn between her past and the promise of a different future.

Now the Defoes are back, at newly merged law firm Noble Hale Defoe, and as former rivals now find themselves on the same side of the table, Hannah’s latest case is set to put NHD firmly on the map.

Locked into an aggressive NDA by her controlling husband Richie Hansen (Ben Bailey Smith) when she was young and naive, Fi Hansen (Donna Air), one half of the UK’s most powerful celebrity couples, now wants out of her marriage. Hiring Hannah to help prepare to leave her dangerously coercive and manipulative partner, their divorce is set to be all the things the press love: public and messy. As the curtain is pulled back from the glossy veneer of their meticulously constructed public image, the pain that lies behind Brand Hansen is slowly revealed and Hannah must invest more than just her billable hours in helping Fi reclaim her life.

Meanwhile, Rose and James return from their honeymoon with ambitions to start their own family and Nina teeters on the edge, as the consequences of her erratic behaviour finally catch up with her. With the merger now complete, Ruth forced out from her role as head of the family firm, must search for a new purpose in life. And, as Hannah fights one of the most public cases of her professional career, the fight to save her own marriage is a deep, intensely, private battle.

Conducting a passionate affair with Christie, Hannah feels trapped; struggling to forgive Nathan, whilst ridden with guilt about her own infidelity. Will she take a course which could result in the end of her marriage, or can she in fact have it all?

On the joy of returning to this gorgeous world Abi has created, and Donna Air and Ben Bailey Smith joining the cast, Executive Producer and Founder of Sister Pictures, Jane Featherstone says: “I love these characters so much and can’t wait to spend time with them again as we watch them struggle through life’s complicated relationships.”

Abi Morgan says: “Sitting on set on the first day of filming I am always reminded what a joy and privilege it is to do what we do - tell stories. Returning for the second series of The Split, the world of high end law and the stories of love, marriage and divorce in the metropolis ricochet through the lives of Hannah and her sisters. Relationships are challenged, friendships are tested and the lines between work and home blue. It’s great to be back."

Created and written by Abi Morgan, The Split is produced by Sister Pictures for BBC One, co-produced with SundanceTV, and was re-commissioned by Piers Wenger, Controller of BBC Drama, and Charlotte Moore, Director of BBC Content. Series Two is executive produced by Sister Pictures Founder Jane Featherstone (Broadchurch, Humans, River), writer and creator Abi Morgan (River, Suffragette, The Hour), Lucy Dyke (Black Mirror, Ripper Street) and Lucy Richer for the BBC. Paula van der Oest boards as director with Natasha Romaniuk producing.

David Dimbleby to guest present Have I Got News For You for the first time

The first episode of the brand new series of Have I Got News For You (airing on BBC One at 9pm on Friday 5 April 2019) will see journalist and broadcaster David Dimbleby make his HIGNFY guest presenting debut, in what will also be his first presenting role on the BBC since retiring from his role as chair of Question Time.
Topical pabel show returns to BBC One on 5 April 2019
David Dimbleby to guest present opening episode
Joining Dimbleby and regular team captains Paul Merton and Ian Hislop as the opening episode’s guest panelists will be journalist and documentary filmmaker Stacey Dooley and comedian Henning Wehn.

On guest presenting the programme for the first time, Dimbleby says: “It is an intriguing invitation. When chairing Question Time I became used to dealing with difficult panellists - but Ian Hislop and Paul Merton are another matter. They have turned disruptive subversion into an art form. It will be quite a challenge to keep the show on the road but whatever happens it will be fun.”

The new series (nine episodes) will air weekly on Friday nights from 5 April at 9pm. The extended version of the programme, Have I Got A Bit More News For You, will air on Mondays on BBC One, from 8 April.

Have I Got News For You is produced by Hat Trick Productions for BBC One. The Series Producer is Jo Bunting, the Producer is Mike Rayment, the Executive Producer is Richard Wilson and the Executive Producer for the BBC is Pinki Chambers.

Have I Got News For You returns to BBC One on Friday 5 April at 9pm, guest presented by David Dimbleby.

Stormzy joins cast of BBC drama Noughts + Crosses

British musician Stormzy has joined the cast of the much anticipated BBC One drama Noughts + Crosses, a Mammoth Screen adaptation of Malorie Blackman's award-winning young adult book series currently being filmed in South Africa.
Stormzy will play newspaper editor Kolawale, a character created for the TV series, and admits: "As a diehard fan of Malorie's novels, being a part of this important show is a dream come true."

Malorie Blackman says: "The first time I met Stormzy he informed me he was a huge fan of my Noughts and Crosses series of books. I’m thrilled he will now be a part of the Noughts + Crosses TV production. It's so exciting!”

Executive producer Preethi Mavahalli adds: "As an icon of black British culture, we are honoured to have Stormzy play a part in this adaptation of a novel he's such a fan of."

A gripping story of first love in a dangerous, alternate world where racism divides society Bafta Cymru winner Jack Rowan (Peaky Blinders, Born to Kill) will play Callum McGregor and newcomer Masali Baduza has been cast as Sephy Hadley. Other cast include Helen Baxendale, Paterson Joseph and Ian Hart.

Mammoth Screen is part of ITV Studios. International distribution is handled by ITV Studios Global Entertainment.

Channel 4 confirms full line up for SAS: Who Dares Wins - 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 seven-day course to see if they’ve got what it takes to pass this unique version of SAS Selection.

Channel 4 has today announced the final five celebrity names completing the line-up. They are, former premier league and England footballer, Wayne Bridge; television presenter, AJ Odudu; War Horse and Mama Mia actor Jeremy Irvine; broadcaster and life coach Jeff Brazier; and Heather Fisher, an English rugby union and rugby sevens player.

The other names already announced, include Olympic Gold Medallist Victoria Pendleton; England Rugby International Ben Foden, former MP, Louise Mensch; Loose Women’s Andrea McClean, BBC Radio 1’s Dev Griffin, 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.”

Danny Dyer, Miriam Margolyes among those exploring the world of sex education

With sex education becoming mandatory for all secondary school children in England from September 2020, Channel 4 are sending a cast of parents and their children including Danny Dyer and his 11-year-old daughter Sunnie and Ulrika Jonsson and 14 year old Martha back to the classroom in Let’s Talk About Sex. 

The 3 x 60’ series from Spelthorne Community Television will take the most outrageous, unexpected and unintentionally hilarious sex education videos both past and present and show them to a diverse range of pupils and parents. Others sharing their candid opinions and fascinating anecdotes of their own personal experiences are Miriam Margolyes OBE, Stephen Mangan, Alastair and Grace Campbell, Phil Wang, London Hughes and Kieron Richardson.

Together they’ll discuss what works and what doesn’t and what they think should be on the syllabus next year as they have some very frank conversations about what each of them knows about sex. From watching how sex educators have handled erections and managed menstruation to how they’ve dealt with the LGBT+ issues and the challenges of masturbation – no subject will be off limits.

From September 2020 relationship and sex education will for the first time become mandatory for all school children in England. To coincide with this, next year the government plans to release new statutory guidance to replace the current “outdated” regulations last updated at the turn of the century in 2000. Using a wealth of video archive, this informative and entertaining series examines what young people have been taught to date an uncovers exactly what school children today do and don’t know about relationships and sex.


Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Stranger Things 3 | Official Trailer [HD]

One summer can change everything. Watch the official trailer for Stranger Things 3. Premiering July 4. Only on Netflix.

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

New Series of Victoria | First Look | Sunday 24th March | ITV

Victoria is a British television drama series created and principally written by Daisy Goodwin, starring Jenna Coleman as Queen Victoria. The series premiered in the United Kingdom on ITV on 28 August 2016 with eight episodes, and in the United States on PBS on 15 January 2017; PBS supported its production as part of the Masterpiece anthology.

In December 2017, Victoria was renewed for an eight-episode third series, which premiered on PBS on 13 January 2019, and is set to premiere on ITV on 24 March 2019.

First look at the new series of Victoria. Starts Sunday 24th March on ITV.

Monday, 18 March 2019

Competition: Win The Miracle Series 1 on DVD

The Miracle is released on 25th March

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

From the makers of hit drama The Young Pope comes Sky Italia original series The Miracle. Visionary, award winning writer Niccolò Ammaniti (The Crossroads, As God Commands) pens this intense and intriguing tale of politics, mob violence, and the awesome power of belief. After its acclaimed run on Sky Atlantic, The Miracle Series One is set to arrive on DVD and digital courtesy of Acorn Media International.

A fearsome mafia boss, a naïve young Prime Minister, a priest who has lost his path, an ill security general, and a haematologist with an ailing mother – these people from disparate walks of life are tied together by something inexplicable: a miracle. During a raid on a mafia base in an abandoned army swimming pool, a statue of the Virgin Mary is discovered in a pool of blood – not from any violence, but wept from her stone eyes. There is no answer to the mystery, but it has the power to change all of their lives forever.

This secret is capable of sending a man mad, driving a scientist to the very limits of reason and destabilising a country already hanging on a delicate balance. Pragmatism, national interest, faith and science are the paths taken to find an answer to this incomprehensible phenomenon, but the search for answers only uncovers more questions…and the statue’s isn’t the only blood spilled.

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

For your chance to win just answer the question below.

Who is the writer of The Miracle?

Send you name, address and of course the answer to competition@jonn.co.uk

Terms and conditions
1. Closing date 01-04-19
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, 17 March 2019

Babes in the Wood – Trevor McDonald

Thu 28 Mar 2019
9.00pm - 10.00pm

"This programme looks into the harrowing case of the murder of two nine year old girls through the eyes of the family and police officers involved in the case. The film shows how justice finally caught up with killer Russell Bishop, 32 years after the murders in what is a real testament to everyone involved never giving up." Sir Trevor McDonald

“Some people won’t believe the truth until it hits them right in the face. This is the truth and the truth is he murdered two little girls, he tried to murder another little girl. He is now wallowing in prison where he should be.” Barrie Fellows (victim Nicola Fellows’ father)

Told through first hand testimonies from the one of the families and officers and with access to exclusive police footage, presented by Sir Trevor McDonald; ‘Babes In The Wood’ follows the chronology of events. Starting in 1986 with nine year old girls, Karen Hadaway and Nicola Fellows being reported missing, through to the discovery of their bodies in Wild Park, the arrest and failed first prosecution of Russell Bishop, his acquittal and ‘The March For Justice’ with the families demanding that Sussex Police reopen the case. The frustration the officers faced knowing that a guilty child murderer had gone free. 

Barrie Fellows reacts to the accusations made against him that he had watched a video of his own daughter being raped by his lodger and the defence accusing him of murdering his own child, allegations that were fully investigated and dismissed by Sussex Police.

The assault, kidnapping and attempted murder of seven year old, Claire in 1990 at Devil’s Dyke, the successful prosecution and arrest of Russell Bishop, the repeal of the double-jeopardy law and the DNA forensic breakthroughs that brought Bishop back to face justice at last.

Sir Trevor McDonald explores and discusses the facts of the case from start to finish. Conducting interviews with Susan Eismann and Barrie Fellows parents of Nicola Fellows.

Chief Superintendent Jeff Riley talks us through the intricacies of the ‘new and compelling evidence’ that is required for a double jeopardy case to be brought to retrial and how finally against all odds he brings a child killer to justice.

Friday, 15 March 2019

The country is on the verge of a national emergency in new Sky original drama COBRA

Ever wondered what happens in the corridors of power during a time of national emergency?

Starring Robert Carlyle (Trainspotting, The Legend of Barney Thomson) as Prime Minister Robert Sutherland and Victoria Hamilton (The Crown, Deep State) as his Chief of Staff Anna Marshall, COBRA, is a new Sky original production set in the heart of government during a major crisis.

The high stakes six-part British drama for Sky One and NOW TV deals with an unfolding national emergency that threatens to engulf the country as the COBRA committee, a team comprised of Britain’s leading experts, crisis contingency planners and most senior politicians fights to ensure the protection of the people of Great Britain

The Prime Minister and his Chief of Staff must contend with impossible political decisions, whilst also wrestling with ferociously pressured personal lives. Not only do they bear the weight of public expectation and their family’s needs; they must also be mindful of their political opponents who will use any sign of weakness as an opportunity to strike.

Written by Ben Richards (The Tunnel Sabotage; Strike: The Cuckoo’s Calling) and produced by New Pictures (The Missing and Catherine The Great) for Sky, the drama hurls us into the eye of the political storm, both inside the corridors of power and on the ground, as catastrophic events pull the nation further and further into the abyss.

Additional cast include Richard Dormer (Game of Thrones, Fortitude) as Fraser Walker, Head of the Civil Contingencies Secretariat, David Haig (Killing Eve, Penny Dreadful) as Archie Glover-Morgan, Home Secretary, Marsha Thomason (Better Things, White Collar) as Francine Bridge MP and Lucy Cohu (Broadchurch, Forgiven) as Rachel Sutherland, the Prime Minister’s wife.

Award winning actor Robert Carlyle said:
 “I am really looking forward to stepping into the role of the Prime Minister in a story that feels almost too true to be fiction. COBRA is a palpably thrilling and witty take on a political drama but with a humanity at the heart of the series.”

Sky Arts series Urban Myths returns featuring eight new incredible tales inspired by the worlds of art and culture

Series three of the International Emmy Award nominated comedy series Urban Myths, returns to Sky Arts, the UK’s only TV channel dedicated to arts, music and culture.  The series features eight raucous episodes fictionalising some of the most peculiar stories to have ever leaked out of Hollywood, the music industry and the world of art and culture.

Stories include the unlikely decades-long friendship between Princess Margaret and Mick Jagger; the bizarre night out shared between Freddie Mercury and Princess Diana; the day a burglar stumbled upon Grace Jones and artist Jean-Paul Goude’s New York apartment; Madonna’s short but passionate and influential relationship with Jean Michel Basquiat; the infamous trial of Joan Collins vs. Random House; how Paul McCartney was inspired to write Yesterday; how Andy Warhol came to judge a cheerleading competition for Donald Trump and the prolonged visit of Hans Christian Andersen to ‘friend’ Charles Dickens’ family home.

All episodes will be available on demand on Sky Arts and TV streaming service NOW TV from 10 April

Each of the eight episodes puts its own unique spin on extraordinary events, taken with more than a pinch of salt, and are performed by a selection of great actors, including Mat Baynton, Sophie Kennedy Clark, Hugh Dennis, Kelly MacDonald, Stephen Mangan, Jack McBrayer, Gloria Onitiri and David Walliams. Following the previous two series, new episodes of Urban Myths continue to wryly re-imagine how certain events unfolded, through the eyes of some of Britain’s most talented writers and directors.

Phil Edgar-Jones, Director of Sky Arts, says: 
“You might regard our Urban Myths series as a bit of “Fake History” but as all history is totally made up anyway we should regard these eight perfectly formed comedies as films of historical record, sort of. This series is one of the jewels in the crown of Sky Arts and with totally true (ish) tales from everyone from McCartney and Madonna to Dickens and Trump - our loyal band of discerning viewers are in for a treat.”

The Voice UK introduces the Lifeline giving viewers a say in who makes the live Semi-Final

This weekend The Voice UK will move into The Knockout rounds. During this stage of the competition each superstar Coach will select two of their acts to go through to the live Semi-Final, which means 16 acts will be knocked out of the competition. However, one of those 16 will now be saved with the introduction of the Lifeline vote, allowing the public to vote their favourite into the Semi-Final.

Following the second Knockout show (on Saturday 23rd March) the vote will open via the official app for the public to have their say on who to give the Lifeline to, out of the 16 performers who didn't make it through. Emma Willis will open the vote just before the show closes and the public will have until 11.30pm that evening to vote. Voting is free and viewers can vote up to five times via the app; they can spread those votes however they wish, sharing them out or voting multiple times for the same act. The successful solo singer or trio will be revealed at the live Semi-Final the following weekend.

Jennifer Hudson said: “I’m happy about the addition of the Lifeline. I feel like it gives the contestants even more hope. It allows for a second chance.” 

Olly Murs said: “I think it’s great, it’s another glimmer of hope and I think it makes the contestants work that little bit harder to show the people at home watching the show – look, this is what I can do. Olly didn’t pick me but give me a chance! Of course, I hope I’ll have three in the final! It’s a great change this year.”

Sir Tom Jones said: “The Lifeline is an exciting new addition this year. Saying goodbye to people at The Knockouts can be tough, it’s the biggest cut we see in the competition and giving the singers a second shot, from a public vote, means there’s a great opportunity up for grabs.”

Will.i.am said: “The Lifeline is good. I’ve felt the benefit of it before because we had it in Australia and then I had more people on my team go through to the final.”

The Voice UK continues this Saturday on ITV in the earlier time slot of 7.30pm. The Knockouts start this Saturday (16th March 2019) and conclude the following weekend, determining who the Semi-Finalists will be when the series goes live on Saturday 30th March.

ITV announces a brand new ITV2 reality show, Singletown

From Keshet Productions, this 15 x 60 series will see five couples press pause on their relationships and spend one incredible summer experiencing single life in the most glamorous city in the world, London.

Each couple will have a different reason for putting their relationships on ice  – from school sweethearts who’ve never dated other people properly, newer relationships that have hit the rocks, or maybe two people who just want a summer of self-discovery before they settle down.

The cameras will be there to capture the story of their summer of fun – living in luxury apartments in London these new singletons will go on dates with hand-picked suitors at the hottest venues in town, get to experience out of this world parties and unforgettable moments – it’s going to be their best single life.

But at the end of the summer will they choose to go back to their partner or stick to flying solo? For the five couples going through this experience, the stakes are high and the jeopardy is real.

Paul Mortimer, Head of Digital Channels said 
"Hot on the heels of Love Island, we're thrilled to be partnering with Keshet on this unique series. Singletown is a fun relationship show featuring a diverse mix of young couples from all over the UK brought together in the most aspirational urban setting - London in the summer. ITV2's young audience will hopefully be hooked on the dating dilemmas, twists and turns and the fresh and re-kindled romances that emerge from this exciting new format.”

David Williams, Keshet Productions said 
“Singletown has a unique starting point – it begins with an end – and I can’t wait to watch these freshly minted singles have an unforgettable summer in the city.” 

Viva LLas Vegas! Johnny Vegas hits the camping trail in a new series for C4

Channel 4 has commissioned Llas Vegas (w/t) a 4 x 60’ series from Plum Pictures following the glamping adventures of actor and comedian Johnny Vegas and his long-suffering assistant Bev, as they set about establishing a holiday home camping site in North Wales.

Johnny and Bev need to source and renovate five vintage, single story buses and transform them into unique holiday homes on wheels on a site in Wales.  But with no previous experience of running a business or conducting renovations on this scale, Johnny and Bev have a long battle ahead as they try to establish a must-stay glamping site in time for the summer season.

“I bought a bus online. Not because it’s what showbiz folk do, but because my camping van got nicked and it had been my wee bit of creative space heaven,” said Johnny Vegas.  “Since then, a number of pub chats, misadventures, an art school virus to create beauty as and when you can, plus a deep desire to save these gorgeous machines from a scrap heap, I’m suddenly, finally trying to turn a “What if?” into a “Well why not?”.  Borrowing cash, sorting out red tape via Bev and taking a risk on the fact that other folk will want to spend time in a place that feels special.  But I get it. As no doubt the bank manager might say, I’m not the most organised person, but I tend to invest in passion. (Ooh, get him!).”

Jonathan Rothery, Channel 4 Commissioning Editor: 
“This is Johnny as we’ve never seen him before, following a dream to create the ultimate glamping site, from inception to realisation. We’re delighted that he and Bev have chosen to share their glamping adventure with us.”

Will Daws, Managing Director Plum Pictures said: 
“Llas Vegas will surely become one of the most iconic tourist destinations in the country - if Johnny can raise the money, buy the buses, sort out planning permissions, keep the locals on side and stick to a schedule. What could possibly go wrong?”

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Interview with Emma Morgan, Executive Producer of Mums Make Porn

How did you come up with the idea of ‘Mums Make Porn’?

EM: We were looking at porn statistics and its impact on the sex education of teenagers. We did a lot of research on the subject and much of mainstream porn depicted violence.

We wanted to talk about sex and porn in an open way and engage with everyone. The title literally popped into my head while we were brainstorming how to get into the subject.  Who cares more about their kids than mums? It felt like a really natural way into the subject.

What did you look for when you were signing up the mums?

EM: We were very careful about the casting. We spent a long time to find open minded, articulate women who had different views ON PORN and who were from different backgrounds. We also wanted them to have different transferable skills to contribute to the porn film - the mums we chose included a writer, agent, stylist, make-up artist and photographer.

Originally there were five mums but one dropped out. Can you tell us why she did?

EM: She was religious and felt morally conflicted and felt that once she had made a porn film she couldn’t come back from that. She was also a feminist blogger and felt she had something interesting to explore in the project. She went quite far with the process but eventually, she dropped out. She has stayed in touch with the mums and production team and she came to the final screening of the film... and was pleased with the result.

Mums Make Porn is a very hard-hitting series…

EM: Even though it is a documentary, there is lots of humour and warmth too. Firecracker Films likes to tackle difficult subjects with mischief and purpose - proper journalism with warmth, humour and humanity. We like to bring these topics to a broad audience so that they That allows people to talk about hard subjects. I hope it gets a reaction, but I am really proud of the documentary and the mums. The film they have made really works.

What is your response to anybody who doesn’t agree with why you have made the series?

EM: We were shocked by the stats about the impact of free mainstream porn online on the younger generation. It was clear that a lot of young people were accessing porn and were being influenced by it.

We felt it has real purpose to do something meaningful to provoke debate and encourage responsible conversations between parents and their children and draw attention to the issue. Sometimes actions speak louder than words, and we are very proud of the mums and the film that they made and the messages it conveys.

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Sky confirms air date for Chernobyl in first look trailer

New Sky Original Production Chernobyl will debut on Tuesday 7th May.
The five-part miniseries will be aired weekly.

Meet the brave men and women who made incredible sacrifices to save Europe from unimaginable disaster.

Starring Jared Harris, Stellan Skarsgård, Emily Watson and Jessie Buckley, Chernobyl brings to life the true story of the unprecedented man-made tragedy, and the brave men and women who made incredible sacrifices to save Europe from unimaginable disaster.

First look at Sheridan Smith in The Barking Murders as more cast announced

The BBC has today announced that Rufus Jones (Stan & Ollie), Stephanie Hyam (Bodyguard), Leanne Best (Line Of Duty), Samuel Barnett (Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency) and Robert Emms (Cleaning Up) are joining the cast of The Barking Murders.

They join the previously announced cast of Stephen Merchant, Sheridan Smith and Jaime Winstone.

From Jeff Pope and Neil McKay, the award-winning team behind The Moorside and Appropriate Adult, the new factual drama will go beneath the headlines to shed new light on this story by telling it from the point of view of the families of Stephen Port’s victims, focusing on their fight to uncover the truth about what had happened to their lost sons and brothers in the face of a now widely criticised police investigation.

The news coincides with the release of the first picture from the series featuring Sheridan Smith in character as Sarah Sak, the mother of Anthony Walgate. Filming on The Barking Murders (w/t) continues, with the series due to air in 2019.

On casting, Jeff Pope says: 
"Neil and I are delighted to be working with Sheridan Smith again, who brings such honesty and passion to every character she plays. Stephen Merchant didn't hesitate when we asked him to play serial killer Stephen Port and we are so grateful that he has agreed to take on such a difficult and challenging role.”

Lucy Richer, Executive Producer for the BBC, adds: 
"I’m so pleased that we’ve assembled such an extraordinary cast to be a part of bringing this important true story to screen with sensitivity and compassion. This compelling story shows the tireless courage and determination of the victims’ families and friends to find out what really happened. It’s an honour to tell it on BBC One."

Written by Neil McKay, Head of Factual Drama at ITV Studios, the 3x60’ drama will be directed by David Blair, produced by Serena Cullen and executive produced by Jeff Pope for ITV Studios, Neil McKay and Lucy Richer for the BBC.

Five mums get behind the camera in bold new series, Mums Make Porn

More and more young people are learning about sex for the first time via easily accessible hard-core pornography. Children and teenagers across the UK are viewing uncensored material through their devices, to the great concern of many parents.

Mums Make Porn is a bold and unique three-part series which will follow five ordinary mums as they confront the impact of easy access porn on their kids and shine a light on the issues relating to young people’s attitude toward sex today. Combining focused journalism with warm and mischievous entertainment, the mums will explore the world of modern pornography to produce their own 12-minute porn film.

Their mission - to create a film which not only works as pornography but promotes healthy attitudes towards sex and relationships for the next generation. The mums will have the power to show exactly how they want to handle the issues that matter to them most as parents, whether body image, consent, or ethnic diversity.

Working with industry experts, including prolific adult filmmaker and celebrated feminist Erika Lust, the mums will be given all the tools they need to have complete control – from writing and casting, to directing and editing their fully mum-approved pornographic film. From standing just out of shot on a small porn set to positioning and lighting the ‘adult’ cast on their own production, the mums will fully immerse themselves in every aspect of the porn industry, will face every emotion, and challenge their own morals in the process.

With pornography currently high on the political agenda, as new laws on how porn is accessed online, and age verification systems are schedule to be introduced across the UK later this year, Mums Make Porn could not be more relevant.

Monday, 11 March 2019

Luke Treadaway, David Morrissey, Jane Horrocks, Colm Meaney and Charles Dance cast in The Singapore Grip

ITV and Mammoth Screen, part of ITV Studios, have today confirmed Luke Treadaway, David Morrissey, Jane Horrocks, Colm Meaney and Charles Dance are to lead the cast in ITV’s The Singapore Grip. Former Coronation Street actor Elizabeth Tan and rising star Georgia Blizzard will also star as leads in the highly anticipated series.

An epic story set during World War Two, The Singapore Grip focuses on a British family living in Singapore at the time of the Japanese invasion. The series has commenced filming in South East Asia.
Award winning actor, David Morrissey (The Missing, Britannia, The Walking Dead) takes the role of ruthless rubber merchant Walter Blackett, who is head of British Singapore’s oldest and most powerful firm alongside his business partner Webb played by Charles Dance OBE (Game of Thrones, And Then There Were None).

With Webb’s health failing, Walter needs to ensure the future of their firm is secure. He decides Webb’s son Matthew is the perfect match for his spoilt daughter Joan (Georgia Blizzard). Matthew’s idealism leaves Walter increasingly suspicious as Matthew himself falls under the spell of Vera Chiang (Elizabeth Tan), a mysterious Chinese refugee.

Jane Horrocks (Absolutely Fabulous, Trollied, Little Voice) plays Sylvia Blackett, Walter’s wife and Colm Meaney (Star Trek: The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof) plays Major Brendan Archer. Also joining the esteemed cast are Luke Newberry (In The Flesh) playing Walter’s son Monty, Bart Edwards (UnREAL, Peep Show) as Captain James Ehrendorf and Christoph Guybert (Sakho et Mangane, Falco) as Dupigny.
Commented Christopher Hampton:
“As a great admirer and, eventually, a friend of J.G.Farrell, I was delighted to be invited to adapt The Singapore Grip, a panoramic account of the disastrous loss of Singapore to the Japanese invaders in 1942. Close analysis of this great novel has only deepened my enthusiasm for the skill with which Farrell has combined the private story of the machinations, commercial and amorous, of the Blackett family and their struggle - described with Farrell’s trademark subversive wit - to preserve and expand their prosperous rubber business with the unfolding of the cataclysmic events to which they remain totally oblivious until it’s too late. Matthew Webb, our bespectacled protagonist, an idealistic innocent abroad, lands in the middle of all this, to find himself fiercely pursued by two beautiful women - an English heiress and a Chinese adventurer - and his story, with its tumultuous backdrop, is told in a style with echoes of Tolstoy and Evelyn Waugh, but still, unmistakably, the unique voice of Jim Farrell.”

Damien Timmer commented:
“For me, J.G. Farrell and Christopher Hampton is the absolute dream team – two of the finest writers this country has ever produced. Forty years after it was first written, bringing The Singapore Grip to the screen is a passion project for all of us. It’s an exceptionally well-crafted novel which has been adapted with unique flair and mischief by Christopher. It’s a privilege to be making this for ITV, and we hope this hugely entertaining and exotic saga will be a memorable treat for the audience.”

Interview with Minnie Driver who stars in new E4 comedy Speechless

Can you start off by briefly summing up the premise of Speechless?

Fundamentally it’s about a family that don’t have any money, and who want to get their kids into a school where their son, JJ, who has cerebral palsy, can have an aide. They constantly move around, and everything is defined by them trying to ensure he has access to a good education. And they land in a posh neighbourhood, and they have the crappest house, and they somehow pull it together. It’s really about a family who have a particular set of circumstances. It’s a very personal story to Scott [Silveri], who wrote it, whose brother was non-verbal CP. I think he can approach it with all of the humour and largesse that he grew up with.

You play Maya, who is something of a force of nature, isn’t she?

That is a really nice way of putting it. She is. She’s difficult, because she’s had to fight very hard. She’s a parent, first and foremost, she advocates for her children, but she’s also a self-aware narcissist as a personality type, which is funny and awful, when you give that type of person a mission. She’s a very interesting, complex character. But first and foremost she’s a mother, and all of these special needs mothers that I’ve spoken to over the years, they all have to advocate in this way, which is to fight. It’s a fight, a constant battle.

So what did you do, and who did you speak to, in order to research the role?

Well, first of all, a lot of our writing staff have disabilities. A lot of our advisors. Ava, who basically was the person who came up with the laser on her glasses, which she figured out she could point to a board – so that was developed. [In the programme, JJ communicates by pointing a laser, on his glasses, at a message board]. I talked to her, and I talked to tonnes and tonnes of caregivers, often mothers and fathers, but mostly the mothers. We’d invite people to the set and sit in the conference room and chat, and talk about the nuts and bolts of physically what it means to transfer a person with a disability into the shower, to get them to bed, to get them dressed, what kind of accessibility you’re looking for. So there was nuts and bolts which I needed to understand. And then there were the things you come up against – insurance companies, schools, accessibility, getting an aide, who’s that person going to be? I love the fact that JJ chooses the guy with the cool voice, who turns out to be this amazing person. Of course we’d all want a cool voice to be our voice. I love that. Fundamentally, he’s just a normal teenager, with all of the proclivities and desires and ambitions and feelings that a teenager has. And he wants a cool voice.

And he’s a teenager, as well, in the sense that he’s excruciatingly embarrassed of his mother.

Incredibly embarrassed. And he does have a very embarrassing mother, there’s no doubt.

Did you draw on your own experience as a mother, and how protective you feel when you become a parent?

Absolutely. Whilst my child is able-bodied, it’s the same fierceness, you love and you want what’s best for them at all times, and that comes before everything else. You just have a different way of looking at things. We’re planning our summer holiday right now, and I realised all my friends without kids are going and doing these wonderful things that don’t involve kids, but you’re constantly looking at life from the point of view of “Well, I’ve got my son, is it going to be fun for him? What are we going to do and how will it work?” You book places on the basis of whether there’s enough for kids to do. I’d quite like to go walking in the Pyrenees. That’s not going to happen! Oh, a yoga retreat in Bali? Nope!

Was she written as a Brit, or did that come after you were cast? Was there ever discussion about you playing her as an American?

Yeah, there was. We actually read it through for the studio and network both ways. They liked the English accent, I think primarily because you have a cadence of your own humour in your own accent. I wanted her to be an American. I’d just done About a Boy, and I’d been British in that, and I wanted the challenge of being American. She was written as an American, and that’s what I wanted to do, but it just turned out to be funnier the other way around.

There are so many pitfalls to a show like this, from being overly sentimental to preachy to exploitative. The show treads that tightrope incredibly well, doesn’t it?

It really, really does. I got that from the pilot, and from talking to Scott Silveri, and to Chris Gernon, who’s one of my great friends, who is our executive producer and directed loads of the episodes. She directed every episode of Gavin and Stacey. We were all of us allergic to the notion of sentimentality and melodrama, primarily because that is the way that the media represents disability. You’re not only often looking at able-bodied actors playing disabled characters, but they’re trying to get away. They’re either trying to kill themselves or they’re trying to get out of this terrible situation. We all wanted to make a funny show, first and foremost, and because of our writing staff, because of Scott, and because of Micah [Fowler, who plays JJ] we’ve got an in as to where the humour lies within that. And if you’re approaching it from a comedic point of view, it’s really easy to avoid all of that other stuff. There are definitely heartfelt, emotional moments, because that happens in any family. But none of it is really around the idea that it’s all impossible and awful and hard.

Do you ever find yourself wondering what Maya would be like if she didn’t have a disabled child?

Yeah, I do, I really do. I think that she would be as big and pushy an advocate, but JJ is a raison d’etre for her, and as JJ grows up and goes off to college, what is she going to do? She won’t have that focus, so much of her identity is tied up with being the mother of a special needs child.

What’s it like working with the kids on the show?

They’re amazing. Genuinely, I have always felt that film and TV sets are no place for a child. You’re missing out on a childhood when you’re working that young. But these kids have unique parents, and they themselves are lovely people. They’re just lovely, and they’re deeply funny. They have funny bones, as opposed to being child actors who have that weird slightly Stepford thing that can happen, where they’re acting being a child because they’ve not actually experienced what that means. They’re all really, really good actors, and they’re all children too! Only they’re not children now, they’re all bloody huge and grown up. We just celebrated Micah’s 21st birthday. He got the part on his 18th birthday. But they are great, and they’re just getting better and better, which is lovely to see. You become weird de facto parents. I feel very maternal towards all of them.

Micah, who plays JJ, manages to bring huge charisma and humour to his role. That’s no mean feat for a non-verbal role, is it?

Absolutely. And I think it’s been a huge learning curve for him. He was very inexperienced when we began, and he’s had to learn on camera really. Plus it’s a very specific thing he’s being asked to do – to calibrate your reactions. It took a minute for all of us to figure out how it was going to work. Doing a scene with Micah is really interesting – when you’re reading ‘for him’ off his board, and then doing your responses as you. It’s not easy, but it’s really interesting. Watching him grow as an actor, and how much he enjoys it, is really lovely.

Have you had any feedback from the disabled community, in terms of what the show means to them?

Yes, a huge amount. Mostly on social media. Reading a tweet from a non-verbal person with Cerebral Palsy, saying “I sit and I watch my experience, and it makes me scream with laughter” is so gratifying. Or families who go “It’s extraordinary that we can all sit down and watch this together, my able-bodied kids and my kid with a disability, and we can all enjoy it and roar with laughter and feel that we are seen”. Without wanting to get too deep on it, the idea of representation for people who I don’t think they have been fairly represented, to be able to see themselves, and for it to be a laugh, I think that’s lovely. And I think it’s expanded the conversation here in America. The more you include, the more impossible it is to maintain your distance and your looking away which, let’s face it, most people do around disability. They don’t know how to interact with it, how to approach it. And I think the humour has broken down that barrier quite a lot.

You’ve talked in the past about the show being pretty exhausting to film, with 65-hour weeks for months on end. That must take a toll…

Definitely. The first two seasons, particularly season one, were the hardest I’ve ever worked in my career, to the point of real exhaustion. Scott’s whole idea was to have a show about someone who can’t really move, so he wanted a fast-paced show, and a show with lots of action in it. But also, when you’re working with someone who uses a wheelchair, that presents unique challenges, which can be really time-consuming. It’s just one of the fundamentals of doing it. So it took a long time for us to get into a swing that was easier. Definitely this season was a bit easier, but shooting nine months, five-days-a-week… now it’s 13-14-hour days, as opposed to 14-17 hours before. So it’s better. But I’m not going to complain, it’s a great job, and it’s meaningful and funny. If you can pull off those two things, you’re ahead.

What does it mean to you to have the show finally going out in the UK?

I cannot tell you how long both Chris Gernon and I have been waiting for this. It doesn’t really mean anything to anyone else, but we were both like “How can this not be on in the UK?” It speaks to social inclusivity, to a National Health Service that gives free health care – these things that we fight against in the US. I’m thrilled, because I just know that this show will land with British viewers, because it is funny, and because Britain has always seemed to me to not be scared of subject matters that other people find difficult. The UK is, Brexit aside, an extremely inclusive place. Always has been. That’s what I grew up in. And I really like it when you have American-British crossover, humour-wise, because when it works I think it is brilliant.

Speechless is on weekdays at 7.30pm on E4 from Monday 11th March

Saturday, 9 March 2019

Britain’s Got Talent unveils new 2019 promo

Britain’s Got Talent makes its much-anticipated return to ITV this April and to kick things off the judges and hosts have filmed a spectacular new promo.

Set in a picturesque music hall, the new show opener sees the judges and hosts become part of a unique orchestral performance that’s jam-packed with surprises.

Ant and Dec don their finest tails as they turn conductors, Amanda Holden becomes a spellbinding magician’s assistant, David Walliams commands attention as he plays the cymbals, while a host of musicians try their best to avoid Alesha Dixon’s red buzzer and earn Simon Cowell’s coveted golden buzzer push.

As the iconic tune of Land of Hope and Glory plays, viewers are left in no doubt that this series really does have more talent than you can shake a stick at.

The promo will air this Saturday night, 9th March, on ITV.

Britain’s Got Talent is a Syco and Thames production for ITV.

BBC Cymru Wales to broadcast bilingual drama Bang on BBC One Wales

BBC Wales acquires crime thriller, set in Port Talbot which first aired on S4C.

BBC One Wales viewers will be taken on a fast-paced journey through the streets of industrial south Wales later this year, after the broadcaster acquired the rights to the crime thriller Bang.

Set in the steel town of Port Talbot, Bang is a drama about blood, love and human relationships. It was written by Bafta-wining scriptwriter Roger Williams, and produced by Joio and Artists Studio. Bang has won best drama in the Bafta Cymru awards, and Celtic Media Festival.

The eight-part drama follows the story of an ambitious policewoman, Gina (Catrin Stewart), and her brother Sam (Jacob Ifan), whose life is transformed when he comes into possession of a gun.

Much of the dialogue is through the medium of Welsh, which will be subtitled in English.

BBC Cymru Wales Head of Commissioning, Nick Andrews, says: “Full of drama and pace, Bang will have you on the edge of your seat. It’s another of the phenomenal Welsh dramas making an impact, and is already highly acclaimed.

“As well as having a gripping storyline and fast-paced dialogue, Bang showcases the powerful industrial landscape the steelmaking communities of south Wales. After the BBC’s documentary on the annual Taibach pantomime Balls of Steel, then the furore around Banksy’s visit, Port Talbot is clearly at ease in the limelight.”

Bang will air on BBC One Wales in early summer.

Pictured are Jacob Ifan (Sam) and Catrin Stewart (Gina). Photograph copyright: Banijay.

Eating With My Ex: Celebrity Specials

Eating with My Ex, the Bafta-nominated BBC Three show, which sees former couples reunited over dinner to pick over the bones of their failed relationships, will include two celebrity specials as part of the current, new 11x30' series.

Alongside the often awkward and revealing questions being served up on their plates, exciting new ingredients have been added to ensure that Eating With My Ex delivers plenty more heart-warming, funny and authentic encounters.

The new series launched on BBC Three earlier this year and episodes that are currently available to watch include a guy who wants to confront his ex-girlfriend over cheating with one of his mates, a harsh revelation over what exactly happened on a lads’ holiday in Zante and the man who unashamedly hopes to gain a friend with benefits.

The first of the celebrity specials, will see reality TV star Jemma Lucy reunite with ex-boyfriend, TV presenter Stephen Bear, to confront him over his alleged cheating, but will he finally admit to his mistakes? And West End musical inspiration drag queen Jamie Campbell meets up with his ex-boyfriend, Chad, to apologise for the way he ended their relationship.

The second celebrity episode will see Love Island’s Sam Bird reunite for a meal with his ex-girlfriend Elle in Norwich. Sam hasn't seen part time model, Elle, since he ghosted her and left for the villa. She wants to meet him again, but is Sam ready to pick up where they left off? And comedian London Hughes is meeting her ex from seven years ago, fellow comic Tommy. Will she be able to get to the bottom of all the rumours about his sexuality?

Trailer for new E4 comedy Dead Pixels

Dead Pixels is about three friends, Meg (Alexa Davies), Nicky (Will Merrick) and Usman (Sargon Yelda) who play Kingdom Scrolls, the popular online role playing fantasy game, set in a magical world of wizards, orcs and wyverns. They are committed to the game. Because in the end, what’s more important – playing badminton with your flatmate Alison (Charlotte Ritchie), or defending Castle Blackfinger from marauding orcs? For Meg, Nicky and Usman it’s no contest, the castle comes first.

Dead Pixels is an unusual mix of live action and animation, where the action is split between real life and Kingdom Scrolls, the online game.

Dead Pixels is coming soon to E4

Friday, 8 March 2019

Deutschland 86 returns to More 4 tonight

The hugely anticipated Deutschland ’86 returns to More4 following the unparalleled success of the first series Deutschland ’83, which critics hailed as the start of a golden age for German TV. Alongside programmes like the much-lauded Babylon Berlin Series One and Two, which has a season three in the pipeline, the timing is perfect for the next instalment of this cool, super stylish thriller. It is set to arrive on digital and DVD on 13 May 2019 from Acorn Media International alongside a stunning box DVD set of both series.

Pre-Order from Amazon by clicking here

Deutschland ’83 saw viewing figures in excess of 2.5 million, exceeding that of the seminal Nordic noir hit The Killing and putting Germany at the forefront of must watch television. This epic coming-of-age story is set against real events, culture wars and the political realities of Germany in the early 1980s and sees Jonas Nay (Line of Separation) as a spy at the centre of this suspenseful Cold War thriller. The series also features an era defining 1980s pop soundtrack that hits all the right nostalgic buttons (99 Red Balloons anyone?).

Deutschland ‘86 is an epic 10-part drama that catapults audiences into the tumultuous political landscape of 80s East Germany. We join Martin Rauch (Nay) in 1986 and East Germany is broken, Perestroika is real, terrorism plagues Europe, the AIDS crisis intensifies and the struggle against apartheid rages on. Banished for his sins in 1983, Rauch wallows in limbo until his Aunt Lenora (Maria Schrader – Aimée & Jaguar, The City and the City) conscripts him into her plan to drum up hard currency abroad. They set off on an adventure through Africa, Western Europe and finally home to East Germany. Can mafioso-style Capitalism save Communism just in the nick of time?

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

Siobhan Finneran takes a leading role in Harlan Coben thriller, The Stranger

Siobhan Finneran takes a leading role in Harlan Coben thriller, The Stranger, with Hannah John-Kamen cast in the titular role

Jennifer Saunders, Anthony Head and Stephen Rea also join the Netflix series

The Stranger, a new Netflix drama series, today announced further cast members joining Richard Armitage in the eight-part thriller.

Happy Valley and Downton Abbey star Siobhan Finneran takes a leading role as DS Johanna Griffin in the suspenseful series, based on the bestselling Harlan Coben novel of the same name and is produced by Red Production Company.

Hannah John-Kamen (Ant-Man and The Wasp, Ready Player One) will play the title character - a mysterious stranger who exposes people’s secrets, dropping bombshells that will shatter lives.

Jennifer Saunders (Absolutely Fabulous) joins in her first major dramatic role, as Heidi, Johanna’s closest friend; an outgoing character who is seeking adventure after her daughter leaves for university.

The cast also includes Shaun Dooley (Ordinary Lies, Broadchurch), Paul Kaye (Game of Thrones), Dervla Kirwan (Strike Back, Silent Witness), Kadiff Kirwan (Chewing Gum, Black Mirror), Anthony Head (The Split, Buffy The Vampire Slayer) and Oscar-nominated actor Stephen Rea (War and Peace, The Crying Game).

Richard Armitage (The Hobbit) plays Adam Price, the series’ protagonist who finds himself tangled in a mysterious web of deception. His steady life, two wonderful sons and watertight marriage all seem unassailable – until The Stranger reveals a shocking secret about his wife.

Siobhan Finneran’s punchy police detective, Johanna Griffin, finds her pragmatic approach to police work compromised when her investigation into the matter becomes deeply personal.

Finneran said: “I am thrilled to be working with RED again - it’s been a brilliant 20-year relationship and I feel very lucky and blessed to have that with them. After the success and utter joy of working on Happy Valley with them, it’s great to now be involved in such a new and exciting project.”

Hannah John-Kamen said: "I’m so excited to be attached to a special project for Netflix that is so thrilling and full of mystique. It's a real page turner of a show and I'm honoured to be part of it."

Jennifer Saunders said: ‘I’m delighted to be playing Heidi in this new Harlan Coben drama. There is a great cast and production team with strong credentials lined up and we are all looking forward to starting filming in Manchester.'

Anthony Head said: “I am so pleased to be working with Nicola Shindler and Harlan Coben. They’ve both built such brilliant reputations, creating shows in which mystery runs dark and deep, while being utterly believable. The Stranger is just such a fantastic script – Harlan’s concept is genius.”