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Monday, 18 February 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Star-studded cast join Inside No. 9 for fifth series

With filming underway for the fifth series of the award-winning and critically-acclaimed Inside No. 9, a host of talented actors are set join masterminds Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton as they create six brand new stand-alone stories which promise to bring more exceptionally twisted tales to BBC Two.

The new series follows last year’s live Hallowe’en special Dead Line, which has been cited by The Guardian’s TV reviewers as the best TV episode of 2018. Season five will stay true to the show’s anthology format, with each episode bringing an original story, a cast of new characters and surprising twists in the most unexpected of places. Combining horror, thriller, drama and comedy, Inside No. 9 never fails to amaze, delight, unnerve and amuse in equal measures, with series four treating audiences to an episode written entirely in iambic pentameter and a murder mystery told in reverse chronological order.

As ever, there will be a stellar cast joining Reece and Steve: the line-up includes Maxine Peake (Silk, Three Girls), Jenna Coleman (Doctor Who, Victoria), David Morrissey (The Missing), Dipo Ola (Baghdad Central), Phil Davis (Vera Drake, Whitechapel), Ralf Little (The Royle Family, Two Pints of Lager), Jill Halfpenny (Three Girls, In The Club), Steve Speirs (Star Wars, Upstart Crow), Tom Goodman-Hill (Ideal, Mr Selfridge), Fionn Whitehead (Dunkirk, Black Mirror: Bandersnatch), Kadiff Kirwan (Chewing Gum, Black Mirror: Nosedive), Debbie Rush (Coronation Street) and Ioanna Kimbook (recently cast opposite John Malkovich in the new David Mamet play Bitter Wheat).

Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton say: “We’re delighted to announce a guest cast brimming with both emerging and established talent, all judiciously chosen to make us look a bit classier by association.”

Shane Allen, Controller, BBC Comedy Commissioning, says: “Reece and Steve consistently dazzle and delight with what is undoubtedly the most inventively prolific storytelling series on television. Their ability to subvert and surprise makes each show a unique experience for the viewers. It’s the antidote to a world of familiar cosy TV formats.”

Last year, Reece and Steve won the Writer: Comedy Bafta Award for The Bill (from series three), with series four winning the South Bank Show Award for Comedy. This year, Inside No. 9 scooped up two wins in the Comedy.co.uk Awards, Best Comedy Drama and Comedy of the Year for 2018, following on from the same double win the previous year and breaking records as the first time a show as had a double consecutive win in the award's 13 year history. These awards add to the growing list of wins that include the Writers’ Guild Award for the Best TV Situation Comedy in 2017, the Rose d’Or Television Comedy Award (2016), the RTS Programme Award for Comedy Performance (2015), and two major prizes at the Banff World Media Festival (2014).

One of the six new films in this series will be directed by Steve Pemberton, returning to the role after Cold Comfort and Nana’s Party from the 2015 series. Guillem Morales (Julia’s Eyes, Decline and Fall) returns to direct three further films, with the two remaining films directed by Matt Lipsey (Psychoville, Upstart Crow)

This Time with Alan Partridge - Q&A

Alan Partridge is returning to the BBC to fill in for regular presenter John Baskell as Jennie Gresham’s co-host on the popular magazine show This Time. Alan took a few minutes out of his busy schedule to tell us what we can expect...

Alan Partridge, it’s been 25 years since your last BBC presenting job.
It has. But very soon I’ll be parking ma backside on the This Time sofa, just inches from regular host Jennie Gresham, a broadcaster I genuinely admire. If it’s not verboten to say this in the current climate, she’s the thinking man’s thinking woman and provides not just eye candy, but ear candy and even brain candy too at times. She’s that good.

How did your return to live TV come about?
Well, as you may have read, regular presenter John Baskell has become rendered unwell - it’s not my place to divulge the nature of his illness but I believe it’s to do with his heart, brought on by good living and his almost heroic refusal to ever exercise. So with a few days’ notice, I got the call. And although my schedule is as clogged as John’s arteries (get well, John) I consider it my public duty to stand in for as long as John is away. Anyway, it won’t be for long. If John can fight this with a fraction of the vigour he uses to fight for presenting work he knows has already been promised to other people, he’ll be on his feet again in no time.

You’re used to helming your own shows. Have you co-presented before?
I’ve presented daytime radio alongside a man called Simon Denton for several years. But that’s not co-presenting. In relation to me, Simon’s position contractually is one of total subordination. He’s a sidekick - at best. And he knows that.

So no, co-presenting is not a dynamic I’m used to, but I’ve been working on a few things. So when Jennie’s reading the autocue I might turn my head to face her to simulate listening, or frown solemnly if she mentions ‘cancer’, or wait until it’s my turn to speak and then prefix it with ‘That’s right, Jennie.’ Loads of things you can do.

How do you and Jennie get along?
Gotta say, we’ve only just met but already we have a chemistry that sizzles like liver in a hot pan and crackles like a genuine house fire. We joke about it ourselves! I said to her, “Jennie, in the words of Grease, we go together like rama lama lama ka dinga da dinga dong.” And did she laugh! (Yes.)

What can you tell us about the show? Are you a fan of This Time?
If I’m honest, I’m not super-clued-up on the show itself? I’m not an avid watcher of BBC One, since I don’t like documentaries about supermarkets or period dramas featuring bonnets. But I’ve circled a bit on a This Time press release here that describes it as a '30-minute mixture of studio chat, rigorous interview, hard-hitting VTs and a generous helping of fun, covering news, issues and consumer affairs'. Whereas I’m more of a Nazi Megastructures man.

It’s a little more serious-minded that the rest of your output.
I’m cool with that. I pull no punches, push the envelope and punch my weight when push comes to shove - if that makes sense.

How would you sum it up?
Ha! Believe me, I don’t have the time to sit around thinking up marketing taglines for the show. Wish I did! But I suppose if pushed I’d say something like: if you’ve got time to give This Time your time, then it’s time to let This Time spend time making your time a good time on This Time with me, Alan Partridge and I’m sorry I’ve forgotten the woman’s name,

Jennie Gresham.
Thank you.

What changes can we expect with you in the hot seat?
And it is a hot seat. There’s an exposed bit of metal frame that cooks under the studio lights and if you sit right back and your shirt rides up, it scalds you on the back. So you just have to sit forward and/or make your shirt stays tucked in.

And what changes can we expect?
Fear not, I’m not going to eff with a winning formula. But I do have a phalanx of fresh ideas that’ll benefit the show no end, including the introduction of my longtime radio sidekick Simon Denton. Adept at reading out tweets and providing a sideways look at news, he’ll be our social media reader-outer.

Anything to add?
Not really, just please please please please please please please watch the show.

BBC One's Ambulance confirmed for a heart-stopping fifth series

BBC One and Dragonfly Film and Television, part of Endemol Shine UK, have today announced that a fifth series of the Bafta award-winning observational documentary Ambulance has been commissioned.

Renowned for its unflinching but humane insight into the frontline of emergency health care in the UK, Ambulance is expanding its coverage across the North West, featuring the work of paramedics in Liverpool and across the whole of Merseyside, a whole new set of faces will feature in this latest instalment (12x60’).

With unprecedented access to the crews, and the decision takers in the control centre the new series will also keep audiences up-to-date with the North West Ambulance Service’s work across Greater Manchester, as winter throws everything it has got at the service, pushing it to its limit.

Cameras will remain into spring, as the brand new teams in Merseyside face the complexities of making the life or death decisions that come with providing emergency medical care in their area.

Beejal-Maya Patel, BBC Documentaries Commissioning Executive, says: "I'm really excited that Ambulance will be returning to BBC One for a fifth series, this time filmed in the North West during a crucial time for the emergency services. The programme's dramatic 360 storytelling will reveal the pressures they are under as well as explore the bigger picture of the challenges facing society."

Richard Bond, Creative Director of Dragonfly, says: “With the NHS facing unprecedented demands, this new series could not be more timely, and we’re privileged that NWAS have allowed our cameras back in to capture their extraordinary work on the frontline of the winter crisis.”

Last year Ambulance delivered an average audience of 3.8million viewers and a 16.5% audience share.

The executive producers for Dragonfly will be Tom Currie and Simon Ford. It was commissioned by Charlotte Moore, Director, BBC Content and Clare Sillery, Head of Commissioning, Documentaries. The BBC Commissioning Executive is Beejal-Maya Patel.

Nadiya Hussain returns with new BBC Two series, Time To Eat With Nadiya

We’re a nation that loves to cook and eat delicious food. But… we don’t always have the time. Unsociable working hours, active lifestyles and complicated family routines mean it’s not always easy to make Time To Eat.

And Nadiya Hussain’s life is no different. However, her clever time-saving kitchen hacks ensure she can always make meal times special, no matter how hectic her life is. And in this series she’s revealing her secrets by showcasing simple but delicious recipes that won’t break the budget, and can be slotted into our busy lives.

Nadiya will cook up delicious time-saving recipes for the end of a busy day, bakes that can be rustled up in a rush, effortlessly impressive meals, and simple sweet treats that take no time at all.

Trying out these scrumptious dishes will be the people who work in the 24-hour non-stop world of food production to make the time-saving ingredients Nadiya loves to cook with. And she won’t just be feeding the workers either - in each episode she’ll be put to work so that she can get an appreciation of the process - what goes into picking, collecting or making one of her shortcut ingredients. There’ll be early morning milking, late night mushroom picking, and she’ll be on the production lines helping to create everything from yoghurt to chocolate bars and golden syrup.

Nadiya says: “We’re a nation that loves to cook and eat delicious food but we don’t always have the time with our busy working hours and family routines. Busy lives deserve delicious meals.”

Nadiya will also go to the rescue of British households who struggle to find the time to cook. She’ll meet everyone from firefighters to truckers to busy working mums and dads, and she will teach each of them a tasty, time-saving recipe that can fit seamlessly into their hectic lives.

Competition: Win A Place to Call Home - Series 6 on DVD

A Place to Call Home - Series 6 is released on  25th February

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

In the final series of the critically acclaimed, award-winning drama, Marta Dusseldorp resumes her role as resilient nurse Sarah Nordman, finally marrying wealthy landowner George Bligh. But as Sarah takes her place as Lady of Ash Park, George's mother, Elizabeth, feels pushed out of the household that she ran for decades. George s son, James, returns from abroad to start a new business in Sydney, while his daughter, Anna, lives in Hawaii with her sister-in-law, hiding a secret from the rest of the family. As the Blighs journey back to each other, they face tragedies, betrayals, and new beginnings that will challenge their relationships and change the courses of their lives. Set in 1959 Australia, A Place to Call Home blends A-Grade period drama (The Guardian) with Pointed social critique (The New York Times).

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

For your chance to win just answer the question below.

Who stars as Sarah Adams in A Place to Call Home?

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

Terms and conditions
1. Closing date 04-03-19
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.

Saturday, 16 February 2019

Filming begins for second series of psychological thriller Hidden/Craith

BBC Cymru Wales and S4C have confirmed that filming has begun for the second series of the hit psychological crime drama Hidden/Craith.

The BBC Cymru Wales/S4C co-commission, which aired as Craith on S4C first and then as Hidden on BBC One Wales and BBC Four - will return to TV screens this autumn on S4C and on the BBC at a later date. The series is also backed by distributors All3media.

Cadi John (Sian Reese-Williams) and Owen Vaughan (Sion Alun Davies) return for the second series, as this time another murder leads them into the shadows of the slate-strewn mountains of Blaenau Ffestiniog to unlock more dark secrets.

Hidden/Craith is the latest in the Cymru noir genre that has captivated audiences since Y Gwyll/Hinterland first aired in 2013. Made by Severn Screen, Hidden/Craith brings together the same production team as the first series, including Executive Producer Ed Talfan and Series Producer Hannah Thomas. Gareth Bryn and Chris Foster will direct, whilst award-winning author Caryl Lewis returns as part of the writing team.

BBC Wales Head of Commissioning, Nick Andrews, says: “Hidden proved to be a real hit with audiences in Wales and right across the UK, so it’s no surprise that we wanted to commission a second series. This wonderfully dark crime series is made all the more menacing because it’s set against the rugged backdrop of north Wales. The second series will take us to Blaenau Ffestiniog and I’m sure audiences will be as excited as I am to see this captivating drama return.”

Amanda Rees, S4C’s Commissioning Director, says: “We are thrilled to bring this hugely popular drama co-production back to the screen. The first series of Craith proved to be a big success here in Wales and across the world and its local universal appeal attracted international audiences. The unique, relevant and current stories that’s part of the second series will leave our viewers at the edge of their seats, and we hope that audiences will enjoy Craith once more.”

Maartje Horchner, EVP Content at All3media, says: “We are delighted to be working with such fantastic team on this series and are so thrilled by the positive reception we’ve received for Hidden from our overseas partners.”

Series producer, Hannah Thomas, says: “It's great to be able to bring so many members of the production team and cast back together for a second series and we can't wait to introduce another intense story to the audience. Blaenau Ffestiniog is an amazing place to film and shows yet another facet of the spectacular north Wales landscape that was so central to our first series.”

Graham Norton and Alan Carr confirmed as celebrity judges for RuPaul’s Drag Race UK - series to air on BBC Three in 2019

BBC Three has confirmed two of TV’s best loved presenters and personalities, Graham Norton and Alan Carr, will be joining RuPaul and Michelle Visage on the judging panel for RuPaul’s Drag Race UK.

Eight-time Bafta TV award-winner Graham Norton is no stranger to RuPaul’s Drag Race, having already appeared on RuPaul’s Drag Race: All Stars season two in the US as a guest judge in 2016. Whilst comedian Alan Carr is a long-time fan of RuPaul, having made his acquaintance when Ru appeared on his chat show Alan Carr’s Chatty Man.

Both Graham and Alan share a passion for the drag scene and RuPaul’s Drag Race.

The first UK adaption of the global hit will showcase the most fabulous drag queens that the UK has to offer, and Graham and Alan will appear as rotating resident judges. Each week, they will join RuPaul, Michelle Visage and a celebrity guest judge.

For the grand finale, Graham and Alan will both appear on the judging panel alongside previously announced judge Michelle Visage, where together they will assist host RuPaul in crowning the UK's Next Drag Superstar.

Graham Norton says: “Becoming part of the drag race family makes me ridiculously happy! I can’t wait to see what the UK drag queens bring to the party, but they better weeeeerk!!!”

Alan Carr, says: “Wow! To be sat next to Michelle Visage and Mama Ru as a guest judge on possibly one of my all-time favourite shows EVER is a dream come true. I can’t wait to see what the UK Queens have got in store - it’s going to be sickening! *does death drop*”

RuPaul, says: "I was both shocked and delighted when Graham and Alan told me they’d be wearing tucking panties when sitting at the judges' table. I told them it was not necessary, but they insisted. Now that’s what I call dedication!"

Kate Phillips, Controller, Entertainment Commissioning, says: “I am so excited that self-confessed Drag Race fans Graham and Alan have agreed to join Ru and Michelle on our judging panel. Their immense wit and wisdom will be invaluable in ensuring the most deserving Queen sashays away with the title.”

Stephen Jardine to present flagship debate programme on new BBC Scotland channel

Stephen Jardine will take the presenter’s chair on Debate Night - the flagship current affairs debate show on the new BBC Scotland channel which launches on 24 February.

The first of 24 episodes will air on Wednesday 27 February at 10.45 pm during the channel’s launch week. Each hour-long programme will allow a studio audience to lead the agenda and put their questions to those in positions of power in Scotland. Stephen will be joined by a panel made up of politicians, leaders of public bodies and opinion formers to get answers to the questions which Scotland is asking.

Audiences and the panellists will be drawn from right across the spectrum of Scottish public opinion, and they will have the chance to debate issues at the top of the agenda, from Scotland or around the world, in a lively and enlightening format.

Stephen said: “I’m delighted to be hosting Debate Night. At this time in particular, Scotland should have a programme bringing politicians and the people together and that is what I want this to be. It is a privilege and a responsibility to be tasked with such a big show and I look forward to making Debate Night a great forum for Scotland to share views and opinions in an open and civilised way”.

A graduate of Edinburgh University and the journalism course at University College Cardiff, Stephen started his career with Radio Tay before joining GMTV as Scotland Correspondent and then Europe Correspondent based in Paris. In 2000 he moved to STV to present the nightly news show Scotland Today and a raft of other programmes including the Sunday politics programmes Sunday Live and Seven Days. For his work, Stephen was presented with a Royal Television Society Awards. Stephen currently presents programmes on BBC Radio Scotland.

Daniel Maxwell, Executive Producer, BBC Scotland, says: "Stephen has a first class track record in broadcast journalism and we’re delighted he will be in the chair for Debate Night. He is an excellent communicator and facilitator with a sure grasp of all the key political, cultural and social issues that resonate in Scotland."

Tony Nellany, BBC Scotland Channel Manager, says: "One of the key aims of the channel is to produce content that will engage our audiences and give them a say on the big issues of the day. Debate Night will do just that under the expert stewardship of Stephen whose authoritative and inclusive presenting style is ideally suited to this format."

Virtual reality special of Doctor Who coming soon from the BBC

Doctor Who fans will soon be able to step inside a virtual reality version of the TARDIS in an upcoming immersive VR adventure called Doctor Who: The Runaway.

The new original story set in the TARDIS will see Jodie Whittaker reprise her role as the Doctor in animated form. It will run for around 12 minutes and will be available on selected VR headsets in the coming months.

Viewers will join the Thirteenth Doctor on board the TARDIS in this animated interactive story from the BBC and Passion Animation Studios. Fans will get the chance to be the Doctor's champion and help her on this exciting adventure, as they find themselves at the centre of the action facing a deadly threat.

Jo Pearce, creative director for the BBC's digital drama team, says: “Fans will experience the TARDIS like never before in this thrilling new interactive story. As ever, the Doctor is full of warmth, wit and charm - helped by a wonderful performance from Jodie - which puts fans at the heart of the story as they immerse themselves in this beautifully animated world.”

Zillah Watson, head of BBC VR Hub, says: “Our team at the BBC VR Hub has been creating new experiences with the goal of helping to usher virtual reality into the mainstream, and Doctor Who is exactly the sort of series that can help more people to try this new technology. The show has been pushing boundaries for over 55 years, and VR enables Doctor Who to explore a whole new dimension of storytelling.”

Featuring new original music from series composer Segun Akinola, Doctor Who: The Runaway has been written by Victoria Asare-Archer and directed by Mathias Chelebourg, whose previous VR films include Alice, the Virtual Reality Play and The Real Thing VR. It has been produced by the BBC’s digital drama team, BBC VR Hub and Passion Animation Studios.

Cillian Murphy to join BBC Radio 6 Music for a run of shows

Actor Cillian Murphy is set to join BBC Radio 6 Music for a run of shows as Guy Garvey takes an extended break to work on his next album.

Cillian Murphy on 6 Music is on Sundays, 2-4pm, from 3 March until Summer 2019, also available on BBC Sounds.

Well known for his role as Tommy Shelby in the Bafta award-winning drama, Peaky Blinders - which will transfer to BBC One for its fifth season - the Irish actor is also celebrated for his roles in the films Dunkirk, Inception, The Dark Knight Trilogy, Breakfast on Pluto and 28 Days Later. And from 25 March - 13 April, Cillian stars in Grief is the Thing with Feathers on stage at The Barbican.

Cillian Murphy says: "As a music lover, mixtape obsessive and long-time 6 Music fan I couldn’t be more chuffed to be asked to sit in for Guy on his hiatus. His show has been a constant companion for me and my family on Sunday afternoons for many years now, and it will be an honour to pick the tunes in that slot for a while. 6 Music is the best radio station in the world and I look forward to becoming a temporary houseguest!"

Paul Rodgers, Head of 6 Music, says: “We’re delighted Cillian will be joining 6 Music for the next few months. His music selections are always interesting and I think listeners will love hearing him on 6 Music on Sunday afternoons.”

Guy Garvey says: "I am taking a couple of months off to concentrate on the final stages of Elbow’s next record. Murphy is a bit too good actually, I’ve heard him before and he knows his onions. I obviously have to watch my back, but he’s nowhere near as good looking as me so I’ll win on that front."

Cillian has previously presented several one-off shows on 6 Music since 2013 - The Sound of Cinema, Cillian Murphy’s 6 Music Playlist (2016), two weeks standing in for Iggy Pop (2018) and a special show last Christmas when he played his favourite artists which featured the best of 2018 plus Irish musicians new and old.

He has a love of music, beginning his performing career as a rock musician. After turning down a record deal with renowned label Acid Jazz, he began his acting career in theatre with his professional debut in the play Disco Pigs in 1996. He also directed the music video for the track Hold Me Forever by Money in 2013

Holby City and Casualty to air special crossover episodes

For the first time since 2005, the cast of Holby City and Casualty will join forces for a two-part crossover special on BBC One, as the staff of the emergency department and the wards come together when Holby City Hospital is plunged into chaos.

Characters from both series will interact as their storylines are intertwined across the two dramatic, action-packed episodes.

A major cyber-attack plunges Holby into blackout and disables most of the hospital’s automated monitoring equipment. At the same time Sacha (Bob Barrett) is in a car crash which injures his daughter Bekka (Francesca Barrett) and Ric’s (Hugh Quarshie) granddaughter Darla (Naomi Katiyo), one of whom might be pregnant.

Fighting a different battle among the chaos, Connie (Amanda Mealing) is left to save the life of a member of her own team with surgery. As Sasha’s injuries become apparent Jac (Rosie Marcel) comes to his rescue and is ready to operate but with only one theatre available in the blackout, Connie and Jac have to make the impossible decision - which of their friends to try to save first.

Simon Harper, Executive Producer of Holby City and Casualty, says: “We’ve known for some time there’s been major audience appetite for a mega crossover between these sister shows, so that’s exactly what we are serving up! You’ll see both the Casualty and Holby teams striving heroically against the odds in two episodes of pure, nail-biting, taut, emotional medical drama.

"I’m quite literally in awe of Michelle Lipton’s writing achievement and Steve Brett’s direction in pulling off this double, and so proud of both the Cardiff Casualty and Elstree Holby crews and casts in making the mind-boggling logistics work, quite aside from their creative wizardry. There’s so much to relish in the cross-show character interactions: an especially poignant thematic resonance between two regulars, Connie and Jac, in delicious conflict, and perhaps most vitally, who from Casualty has been secretly carrying on with whom from Holby!”

The crossover will begin during Casualty on Saturday 2 March and will conclude during Holby City on Tuesday 5 March on BBC One.

Throughout 2019, Holby City is celebrating its 20th anniversary with a host of guest appearances from previous Holby characters and fan favourites across the year. Amanda Mealing will be the latest returner in the crossover, coming back to her old stomping ground in Holby as Connie Beauchamp.

Ardal O’Hanlon to join the Derry Girls for Series 2

The Derry Girls have a new fella joining the family - celebrated Irish comedian and actor Ardal O’Hanlon (Father Ted) is set to appear in Series 2. O’Hanlon will make a special guest appearance as Eamonn; the awkward, middle-aged mummy’s boy of the Quinn/McCool extended family.

Series 2 of the hit Channel 4 comedy has wrapped filming and will return to screens with 6x30’ new episodes in March 2019.

Fans will have to wait and see what shenanigans the gang get up to, but rest assured, Erin Quinn (Saoirse Monica Jackson), her cousin Orla McCool (Louisa Harland) and friends Clare Devlin (Nicola Coughlan), Michelle Mallon (Jamie-Lee O'Donnell) and Michelle’s tag along English cousin, aka The Wee English Fella, James Maguire (Dylan Llewellyn) will be back, navigating their teens in 1990’s Derry in their hilarious, unique, yet all too familiar fashion.

Derry Girls is the creation of acclaimed writer Lisa McGee who has mined her own experiences to create a candid, one-of-a-kind, family-centred comedy set against the backdrop of The Troubles.

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

The All New Monty Ladies Night: Who Bares Wins

Coleen Nolan and Victoria Derbyshire took part in the first female show last year (Image: ITV)

As the men prepare to reveal all for ITV’s The All New Monty 2019: Who Bares Wins, a group of brave women celebrities are getting ready to outdo their male counterparts in baring all for The All New Monty Ladies Night: Who Bares Wins.

Legendary tennis icon Martina Navratilova, EastEnders star Laurie Brett, Love Island’s Megan Barton-Hanson, So Solid Crew’s Lisa Maffia, TOWIE’s Danielle Armstrong, and Benidorm’s Crissy Rock are gearing up to put their inhibitions aside and lay their bodies and emotions bare, to boost awareness of women’s cancers.

Planning a brand-new routine for this award-winning show, Coleen Nolan, Victoria Derbyshire and Ashley Banjo will be showing the ladies the ropes and providing support and motivation to inspire them to put on the performance of their lives and, in doing so, encourage women to examine their breasts, have regular cervical smear checks and be more health aware regarding their bodies.

This year Coleen and Victoria are determined that their women, for all of whom women’s cancers are close to their hearts, will make Ladies Night bigger and better than ever before and are planning to out-dance and out-perform the men to prove She Who Bares, Wins!

Coleen Nolan said:

"I can't quite believe I'm putting myself through this again! But the response last year from millions of women feeling empowered to check themselves was so incredible that I’m absolutely thrilled to be back leading our new line-up of fabulous ladies help break down barriers and get women talking about health checks. Having seen first-hand how critical finding cancer early can be, I really hope we can reach and encourage as many women as possible to check their breasts as last time, which ultimately can save lives.”

Victoria Derbyshire said:

“I’m so, so proud of how many women took on board our message of checking themselves after last year’s show that I’m totally thrilled to be part of it again.”

Ashley Banjo said:

“Helping last year’s incredible set of women pull together their performance really was one of my proudest moments; that makes me nervous but also extremely excited to be on this journey with this year’s brave group of women.  They have got a lot of hard work in front of them but they know it will be worth it in the end, raising awareness of women’s cancers to millions. With Victoria and Coleen back, leading the team, I think it’s going to be another very special moment. I can’t wait!”

The All New Monty 2019: Who Bares Wins

The shows with the most front on British television are back and more ballsy then ever for 2019! Ashley Banjo, Alexander Armstrong, Victoria Derbyshire and Coleen Nolan are once again joining forces to persuade a brand new line-up of celebrities to take to the stage and bare all for the biggest and most daring extravaganza yet all to raise awareness of cancers in intimate areas of the body.

A fresh set of male and female stars will learn whole new super-sized routines from scratch, before revealing all to the nation in two 90-minute specials to demonstrate the importance of shedding body inhibitions and making checks in intimate areas to prevent cancer.

With a new name, a new line-up and all new routines the BAFTA-nominated programme will see Alexander and Ashley lead the men, marshalling the famous novices through their moves and whipping them into shape to perform a frenzy-inducing striptease. They hope to build on the impact of last year to keep key health messages about regular checks for testicular and prostate cancer at the forefront of the nation’s minds.

This year will see Love Island winner Jack Fincham, Emmerdale’s Kelvin Fletcher, King of the Jungle Joe Pasquale, Strictly Come Dancing’s Gorka Marquez, snooker legend Willie Thorne, Crimewatch’s Rav Wilding, Dancing on Ice star Matt Evers, footballer Jason Cundy, prepare to put on their dancing shoes and take off their pants.  All of them have stories to tell about how cancer has touched the lives of them or those around them.

Following the Ladies show’s recent Broadcast Award for Best Popular Factual Programme of 2018, this time the competition between the men and the women will heat up as Victoria, Coleen and Ashley lead the ladies and offer support and motivation to inspire them to give the performance of their lives. Like the men, each of the women has seen how cancer can affect people close to them, so every garment they shed is aimed at encouraging women to check their breasts, keep to their cervical smear appointments and be more health aware regarding their bodies.

As the men and women dare each other to bare for live examinations on daytime TV and plot to each pull off the most impressive dance moves, the pressure is on to see who can create the most show-stopping performance and who will overcome their nerves and inhibitions to reveal all for a good cause.

Ashley Banjo said: “It’s such a privilege to be able to be a part of this fantastic series. This show has been a life changing experience for me and hopefully for many other men around the country who have been checked or had conversations about cancer that they wouldn’t have had otherwise. Every year I plan something I hope will be better than the last, but this time Xander and I really have gone full out to make this the biggest and best yet!”

Alexander Armstrong said: “I am absolutely delighted this series will be returning following last year’s successful show in raising awareness of male cancer. I am proud to be a part of such a great cause alongside Ashley and I am looking forward to being involved in another fantastic show. With this year’s group of lads we will be looking to raise the bar and ensure it’s a night no one will forget!”

ITV Factual Commissioner Kate Teckman said: “ITV are so proud to announce our annual spectacular to remind us all to keep checking  ourselves and those we love. As we raise more awareness about cancer than ever before, this year’s cast are being pushed to the limit, so expect plenty of boobs and cock ups, but
whatever happens we will have a ball.”

Love Island’s Jack Fincham joins Chris Packham for a Nature Date

Love Island winner Jack Fincham explores his passion for nature with Chris Packham in a new programme for the BBC.
Jack’s on a mission to encourage more Brits to fall in love with the country’s wildlife with a new digital show called Nature Dates, and is joined by his childhood hero, Springwatch presenter Chris Packham. Nature Dates is a BBC Digital commission, and will be available to watch on BBC iPlayer, YouTube and social media from Wednesday 13 February.

Last year, Jack spent a great deal of time bird-watching in the Love Island villa, charming viewers with his passion for nature and wowing them with his depth of knowledge, sharing little known facts about the migratory patterns of swallows, polar bear fur and flamingo feathers.

In this episode of Nature Dates, Jack gets a beginner’s guide to bird-watching from Chris as the unlikely pair take a wander around London’s Walthamstow Wetlands, watching out for cormorants, coots, and an elusive kingfisher.

Speaking about Nature Dates, Jack says: “I’ve loved nature ever since I was a little kid. Nature Dates is a dream come true - walking around amazing areas and seeing all sorts of animals. This time Chris takes me round a nature reserve and helps me spot some really beautiful birds right in the heart of London.

“I’m hoping people follow my example and go and ask someone on a nature date - could be with a friend or someone they fancy. There’s always something to talk about, and you can find romance in nature, you just have to get out there and look for it.”

Chris Packham says: “Going birding with newbies is always great - especially when they are as keen as Jack. He wasn’t exactly a birding virgin though, he has quite a bit of knowledge but was desperate to see his first kingfisher. Luckily I delivered and he was delighted! Actually that’s an understatement - he was delirious! A man who knows that the world’s best birds are fully feathered!”

Nature Dates is produced by Posy Dixon for Luca Productions and Lee Bacon, head of digital for the BBC’s Natural History Unit, and was commissioned by Alison Kirkham, controller for BBC factual commissioning, and Daisy Griffith, digital commissioning editor for factual at the BBC. It will be available to watch on BBC iPlayer, YouTube and social media from Wednesday 13 February.

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

You vs Chris and Kem

Episode: 1 of 4
Thu 21 Feb 2019
9.00pm - 10.00pm

Britain’s best loved bromance are back in action as reality TV favourites Chris and Kem reunite to go head to head with the viewing public in a brand new series of You vs Chris and Kem.

The four part series, which returns to ITV2 in 2019, sees the loveable duo embrace their competitive spirits as they team up to take on the viewers in a series of outlandish, impulsive and no holds barred challenges that put their teamwork to the test.

Travelling up and down the country in their specially designed ‘Bro Mobile’, the Love Island double act will be assigned each challenge via their social media channels, in real time.

With only clues to guide them, Chris and Kem must decide whether to take on the challenge, knowing little about what exactly it will entail and who they will be competing against.

Having formed their unbreakable friendship during Love Island 2017, Chris and Kem have already collaborated on a one off rap single, before hitting the road for a You vs Chris and Kem special this Summer, which saw their various challenges include camel riding, gravy wrestling and speed eating donuts.

Kem said “Chris and I have always said we’ve got an unbeatable bromance and we’re ready to prove that to anyone that dares take us on. We’re ready to win whatever the challenge.” 

Chris added “There isn’t a challenge Kem and I have said no to yet, so we’re looking forward to seeing what the people of Britain have to throw at us this time. Bring it on.”

You vs Chris and Kem is executive produced by Antonia Hurford-Jones and Duncan Gray for Twenty Six03 Entertainment and was ordered by Amanda Stavri and Paul Mortimer.

The Missing’s Julien Baptiste returns in the titular role of a new six-part drama for BBC One

French detective Julien Baptiste, who first appeared in The Missing series one and two, returns in the titular role of a new six-part drama for BBC One. Starring Tchéky Karyo, Tom Hollander and Jessica Raine.

“Never-quite-retired detective and erstwhile beekeeper Julien Baptiste is a character very dear to our hearts. After seeing him brought to life by the incomparable Tcheky Karyo in The Missing, we always knew we weren’t quite ready to let him go if the right story presented itself. We’re glad it finally did, and hope people enjoy seeing Baptiste take centre stage in his show as much as we have.”

Julien Baptiste is staying in Amsterdam where his daughter has recently had a child. Forever under their feet and restless, he is invited to meet up with old flame Martha Horchner, the chief of police in Amsterdam. But this isn’t a lunch to catch up on old times - she wants his help to find a missing girl, Natalie, the niece of Englishman Edward Stratton. She believes the case is connected to a Romanian sex trafficking gang. It’s vital that they find her.

Julien meets up with Edward and they begin their search, but it’s not long before Julien realises that all is not as it seems. Why does nobody want to talk about the missing girl? Who is the man following Celia, Julien’s wife? What is the connection between the case and the transsexual brothel, whose owner has sent someone to follow them? Who is the mysterious woman, Kim Vogel, who helps the sex industry girls and tells them that Natalie has run away to Germany?

As Julien starts to uncover some of the truths behind the lies, he realises there is more to this case that meets the eye. By the time Baptiste becomes aware of the danger that he has been drawn into, Julien’s own family are in mortal danger and Julien is caught in a trap.

Baptiste is a nail-biting ride full of twists and turns, where nothing and nobody are as they first seem. Amsterdam is both the backdrop and a veneer, and Julien Baptiste must search its narrow alleyways and its basements and canals, to uncover the dark side of the city.

Nine lives: First picture of the team behind BBC Scotland’s new flagship news programme The Nine

Meet the faces of The Nine - the BBC Scotland team that will bring the national and international news to Scotland in the new channel’s flagship nightly hour-long programme.
Heading the 15-strong core team are presenters Rebecca Curran and Martin Geissler, two of the country’s leading journalists, and Chief News Correspondent James Cook, who joins the Nine from his post as BBC News North America Correspondent.

Taking a global view on the news while maintaining a distinct Scottish voice, the programme features a hand-picked team of reporters and correspondents who will cover everything from social affairs and innovation to consumer matters, sport and entertainment. There’s also a four-strong team who will report on politics from Holyrood, Westminster and Brussels.

Hayley Valentine, Editor of The Nine, says: "I'm delighted with the team of presenters and reporters we've put together. It has a great mix of experienced correspondents and new talent, all of whom are working on a raft of original stories for The Nine. Our viewers will get some of the best analysis of Scottish, UK and international news from this team. And I’m confident viewers will enjoy a very different approach to news presenting and storytelling."

The Nine will be at the heart of the schedules, broadcasting Monday-Friday between 9-10pm in addition to weekend bulletins. Rebecca and Martin will co-present Monday-Thursday while Laura Miller and John Beattie will present the news hour each Friday.

On Saturdays, there will be a 15-minute bulletin at 7pm, followed by a review programme presented by Fiona Stalker and Nick Sheridan. On Sundays, the 15-minute 7pm bulletin will be presented by Lucy Whyte. The programme will have a distinct social media presence and can also be accessed on digital platforms.

Lorraine Bracco joins Tim Renkow in new BBC Three comedy, Jerk

Tim Renkow (Bobby and Harriet Get Married) and Lorraine Bracco (Sopranos, Goodfellas) star as Tim and his loud, proud mother, in BBC Three comedy series, Jerk.

Tim has cerebral palsy, which means that people judge him and his crumpled tissue of a body. But usually they judge him wrongly. Because what they don’t realise is that inside that severely disabled, fragile body is a bit of an asshole.

Tim knows he makes people uncomfortable - he does it on purpose. He knows his cerebral palsy means he can get away with saying what others can’t. But that’s his problem: time spent taking aim at life’s easier targets means Tim takes his eye off its bigger prizes: the job, the girl and the visa.

Like faking it as a refugee, making a disabled nemesis and offending his new colleagues at a greeting cards company, Tim becomes the master of his own downfall and it’s left to his friends Ruth, his indifferent care worker, played by Sharon Rooney (My Mad Fat Diary), and Idris, played by Rob Madin (BBC Comedy Feeds), to get him out of all the disastrous situations he gets himself into.

Tim Renkow says: “I loved working with such a talented group of people - they even managed to make this reprobate look presentable. There was such a great atmosphere on set. It was like a family, except everyone really liked each other.”

Lorraine Bracco adds: “It was such a pleasure getting to work with the uniquely hilarious talent that is Tim Renkow. It was a treasure to experience Tim’s world with him. I felt lucky.”

Shane Allen, Controller, BBC Comedy Commissioning: "Jerk is by turns jaw dropping and hilarious. Tim is the ultimate kamikaze comedy rebel who takes risks and no prisoners. The entire ensemble on the show are knockout. Strap in for one of the most distinctive and outrageous sitcoms on air this year..."

Alex Smith, Roughcut’s Head of Comedy (and Jerk Exec Producer) said: “Roughcut is thrilled to unleash Tim onto the world. This is a brave and mischievous show with a unique lead; a young man who’s his own worst enemy and knows because of his cerebral palsy he can get away with almost anything. Tim Renkow is a fearless standup, who thrives on pushing the line of uncomfortable jokes. The transition from his stand-up talent to sitcom was hugely satisfying for Roughcut to collaborate on.”

Jerk will be available as a boxset on BBC Three and will also air on BBC One. It is a 4 x 30’ comedy series written by Shaun Pye, Tim Renkow and Stu Richards and a co-production between Roughcut TV and Primal Media. The series is Executive Produced by Ash Atalla and Alex Smith for Roughcut TV and Mat Steiner for Primal Media. It is produced by Roughcut's Rebecca Murrell and directed by Tom McKay. The Commissioning Editor for BBC Comedy is Alex Moody. The series piloted as A Brief History Of Tim in BBC Three's 2016 Comedy Feeds, showcasing emerging new talent.

Claudia Winkleman and Tess Daly take on longest ever Red Nose Day Danceathon

BBC Radio 2 presenter Claudia Winkleman and her Strictly Come Dancing co-presenter Tess Daly have pledged to practice what they preach and 'keep dancing’ in an epic challenge that will see them floss, dab and salsa to the beat for the longest ever Danceathon in Red Nose Day history.

Kicking off on Monday 11 March through to Tuesday 12 March, the stars will put their dancing skills to the test as Radio 2 turns into a giant jukebox, playing the very best floor fillers from the 60s, 70s and 80s right up to the present day.

The dancing marathon will push the duo to their limits, both physically and mentally, as they swap the side lines of the dancefloor for centre stage and dance non-stop for over 24-hours, all to raise vital cash for Red Nose Day to help Comic Relief improve countless lives both here in the UK and internationally.

Their every step, turn, and twirl will take place at the Radio 2 studios in Wogan House, and will be followed across all Radio 2 shows. It will also be streamed live on the BBC Red Button where those watching at home will see music videos appear simultaneously with the tracks being played on the radio. They will also be able to send in messages of support for Claudia and Tess which will scroll across the screen.

Radio 2 presenters will back them every step of the way along with a host of celebrity friends who will surprise them during the challenge to make sure they stay motivated and never skip a beat.

Claudia Winkleman, who hosted the first ever Comic Relief six-hour Danceathon in 2015, says: “I’m so excited to be taking on this epic Danceathon challenge with Tess live at Radio 2 in the legendary Wogan House. I know it’s going to be hilarious to watch because we’re pretty bad dancers - I’m not very good at standing, let alone dancing. Thankfully we’ll have each other and we’re going to push through to raise as much money as we can for Red Nose Day.

“We love Comic Relief and believe in everything they do. We’ve seen first-hand how the money raised provides a lifeline for people living in the most desperate situations, and we’re doing this for them. We want people at home to come together, dig deep and support us through this because dancing for over 24 hours is going to be one hell of a challenge.”

Tess Daly says: “I am so proud to be supporting Red Nose Day with Claudia. I just hope we have the stamina to ‘keep dancing’ for over 24 hours straight!

“We were worn out during our first choreography session so it’s no doubt going to be a tough challenge. But, we’re doing this to raise money for Red Nose Day, so it will be incredibly special, and we’ll be thinking of all the people that will benefit from all the amazing projects funded by Comic Relief. Doing this at Wogan House is extra special for me having worked with the great man, Sir Terry, himself many times.”

The Danceathon will see Claudia and Tess busting those all-important moves night and day throughout Radio 2 programmes including Zoe Ball Breakfast Show, Sara Cox, Jo Whiley, Trevor Nelson. OJ Borg, Nicki Chapman, Vanessa Feltz, Ken Bruce, Jeremy Vine and Steve Wright, all in support of this year’s Red Nose Day which returns on Friday 15th March.

Lewis Carnie, Head of Radio 2, says: “Radio 2 is proud to host this year’s Danceathon following Sara’s triumph in 2017, and I look forward to seeing Claudia, Tess and all of our presenters having a boogie in Wogan House to raise funds for Comic Relief next month.”

The Longest Ever Danceathon with Claudia and Tess is the latest addition to the mammoth challenges previously hosted by Radio 2 in aid of Red Nose Day. In 2017, Sara Cox triumphed in her 24-hour 80’s Danceathon and Dermot O’Leary didn’t stop shaking it off in 2015 with his epic 24-hour day of dance. Radio 2 challenges have raised over £2million, helping Comic Relief to fund and invest in amazing projects here in the UK and internationally.

Inspired by Claudia and Tess? Visit comicrelief.com/danceathon to sponsor the dancing duo or for all the tools needed to host your own fundraising danceathon.

Monday, 11 February 2019

BBC to bring back cult TV show Crackerjack

The BBC is reviving cult classic children’s TV show, Crackerjack.
The show, a staple of children’s television from 1955-1984, marked the start of the weekend with its mix of sketches, pop performances and games.

Now, 35 years after its last outing, it is making a comeback. It will be made at MediaCityUK in Salford by BBC Children’s In-House Productions and will be on CBBC and BBC iPlayer.

The retro classic will be revitalised for today’s connected generation giving them an all-round, interactive experience while retaining the beating heart of what etched Crackerjack into the affections of British children for three decades.

There will be a heady mix of jaw dropping magic, laugh out loud comedy and silly studio sitcom - and of course it will still air on Fridays with hundreds of kids in the studio taking part in all the fun.

As part of the new show, Double or Drop returns in which kids get plucked from the audience to answer questions and go head to head to win prizes - or cabbages if they get it wrong - and the much-coveted Crackerjack pencil.

The show was originally presented by This Is Your Life’s Eamonn Andrews. He was followed by Leslie Crowther, Michael Aspel, Ed Stewart and Stu Francis.

This new 10x45’ series will be presented by Bafta-winning children’s TV favourites, Sam and Mark, and will air next year. The Genre Lead for Children’s In House Productions is Sid Cole and the format has been revamped by Head of Unscripted Development Ben Armstrong and the In House team.

Cheryl Taylor, Head of Content for BBC Children’s, says: “Crackerjack is just one of several fabulous series that Children’s In-House Productions have developed this year. It’s the perfect vehicle for our much-loved stars Sam and Mark and promises to usher in a new era of frenetic family fun and whizzbang audience antics.”

Helen Bullough, Head of Children’s In House Productions, says: “We can’t wait to introduce a new set of Crackerjack 'crush-a-grape' catchphrases to a new generation of fans! The format has always been an amazing showcase for talent. And that commitment to showcasing talent is always at the heart of our wider production ambitions too, and a common theme across all of these new commissions for In House, across all the age groups we serve and from writers to on screen performers.”

Blue Planet UK spin-off to make a splash in the BBC’s daytime schedule for 2019

Dan McGolpin, Controller of BBC Programming & Daytime has announced a number of factual commissions to join a line-up of titles for daytime on BBC One debuting in 2019.
The new commissions for BBC One include Blue Planet UK, a daytime spin-off presented by Gillian Burke and Steve Brown with Chris Packham that will focus on the UK’s marine wildlife, on air this March. The series has been commissioned as part of the BBC’s on-going commitment to the environmental story and focus on Protecting Our Planet. It will complement the new peak series, Blue Planet Live also on air in March.

Also commissioned for 2019 is Good Morning Dagenham, a five-part documentary series narrated by Larry Lamb and set in Britain’s biggest open air market in East London, to broadcast in March. As well as, 24 Hours On The Inside With Dom Littlewood, which will see Dom go to the US and immerse himself in a range of extreme environments in order to uncover the realities of institutions, from policing and prisons to hospitals. Lastly, Curiosity is a new competitive format hosted by Paul Martin that puts contestant’s knowledge of history, antiques and collectables to the test.

The titles will sit alongside the range of already announced new factual, entertainment and drama programmes for daytime on air this year. These include factual entertainment series The Customer Is Always Right presented by Lucy Alexander; Welsh drama Pitching In, a co-commission with BBC Wales, starring Larry Lamb and Hayley Mills; new home design title Best House In Town; as well as a new arts programme for daytime, Home Is Where The Art Is, fronted by Nick Knowles.

Drama Shakespeare & Hathaway: Private Investigators starring Jo Joyner and Mark Benton and true crime series Murder, Mystery & My Family are also both returning for second runs having launched on BBC One last year. All of the series will be available on BBC iPlayer.

Dan McGolpin, Controller of BBC Programming and Daytime, says: “This year I’m excited to be bringing BBC viewers a new generation of daytime series, often entertaining, sometimes serious, and always high-quality.”

Sunday, 10 February 2019

Stephen Merchant and Sheridan Smith to star in The Barking Murders on BBC One

Stephen Merchant and Sheridan Smith will star in new BBC One drama The Barking Murders, which is due to commence filming this spring.

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.

Stephen Merchant (Fighting With My Family, Extras, The Office) will play Stephen Port, and Sheridan Smith (The Moorside, Care, Mrs Biggs) will play Sarah Sak, the mother of Anthony Walgate. Also joining the cast is Jaime Winstone (Five Daughters, Babs) as Donna Taylor, one of the sisters of Jack Taylor. The director is David Blair (Care, Reg).

On joining the cast, Stephen Merchant says: “This is a story that can’t be ignored - how four young lives were lost and their families’ brave attempt to uncover what happened. This factual drama will shed light on their story, so it’s a privilege to be a part of telling it with the brilliant combination of Jeff Pope, Neil McKay and the BBC.”

Sheridan Smith adds: “‘I love playing real life characters - especially an inspirational woman like Sarah Sak - but with it comes responsibility. Along with the other families, Sarah went through so much heartache and it would have been easy for her to just accept what she was being told by the police, but something inside made her keep fighting for her son.”

Writer, Neil McKay, says: "Four young men with their entire future ahead of them lost their lives in a brutal and tragic way. This is a story not only of the consequences of that loss but also of the extraordinary courage and resilience shown by those who loved them as they sought truth and justice. It is a privilege to be able to tell it."

Jeff Pope, Executive Producer, ITV Studios, says: "I think this is an opportunity to say something about how we don't always have to accept what we are told by those in authority, and how determination, sheer bloody-mindedness and - above all else - love, will always triumph."

Piers Wenger, Controller of BBC Drama, says: “The Stephen Port murders have shone a light not just on the life of one deeply disturbed individual but into the plight of the four innocent young gay men who fell foul of him. Jeff and Neil will go behind the headlines to tell the story from a fresh perspective considering the impact of these crimes rather than the crimes themselves and will explore the challenges the police faced in identifying the serial nature of the killings. We are thrilled with the cast which has been assembled to tell this story and look forward to bringing this difficult but very timely story to BBC One.”

Written by Neil McKay, the 3x60’ drama will be directed by David Blair, produced by Serena Cullen and executive produced by Jeff Pope for ITV Studios, Head of Factual Drama, Neil McKay, and Lucy Richer for the BBC. The drama has been commissioned by Piers Wenger, Controller of BBC Drama, and Charlotte Moore, Director of BBC Content for BBC One. It will be co-produced by BritBox, where it will premiere in the US.

Jeff Pope and Neil McKay worked together on The Moorside, which told the story of the community impacted by the disappearance of Shannon Matthews, and Appropriate Adult, which looked at the story of serial killer Fred West from the point of view of trainee social worker Janet Leach. They have a reputation for factual drama based on detailed research that focuses not on the crime itself but those affected by the events, whose perspective gives a fresh eye on these important news stories.

This drama tells the story of four victims of Stephen Port: Anthony Walgate, Gabriel Kovari, Daniel Whitworth and Jack Taylor and their families and friends who worked tirelessly to find out what happened to them.

Stephen Port received a life sentence with a whole life order in November 2016.

Friday, 8 February 2019

Sky Sports to show Bellator MMA 2019 tour dates from 16 February

Attention Mixed Martial Arts fans! Sky Sports will be the only place in the UK and Ireland to watch the US, London and Dublin shows of the Bellator MMA 2019 tour, starting later this month.

We literally kick off with the long-awaited welterweight showdown between British rivals Michael “Venom” Page and Paul Daley at Bellator 216 on 16 February at the Mohegan Sun arena in the US - airing in the early hours of the 17th for UK & Ireland viewers. Then MMA returns to Dublin for Bellator 217, where Ireland’s own James Gallagher takes on Steven Graham on 23 February.

This one year deal with Bellator ensures that all US fights on the tour, as well those in London and Dublin, will air exclusively on Sky Sports Action and Sky Sports Main Event in the UK and Ireland.

Georgie Faulkner, Head of Multi-Sports at Sky Sports, said: “We are delighted to be able to partner with Bellator to give our customers the chance to see some of the best, high octane fighters in the world via their MMA 2019 tour."

Scott Coker, Bellator President, said “This is a groundbreaking partnership for MMA in the UK and we are thrilled to finally bring LIVE Bellator events to our passionate fanbase there. We have worked diligently to find the right network in the UK and Sky Sports will undoubtedly deliver for our viewers. I’m excited that that our fans overseas will now be able to be part of our events that take place around the globe and witness some of the best athletes in the sport today.”

Sky Sports Fight Dates announced:

Bellator 216: MVP vs. Daley – Saturday Feb. 16, 2019 – Mohegan Sun Casino – Uncasville, CT, USA
Bellator 217: Gallagher vs. Graham – Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019 – 3Arena – Dublin
Bellator 218: Sanchez vs. Grimshaw – Friday, March 22 – WinStar World Casino & Resort – Thackerville, OK, USA
Bellator 219: Koreshkov vs. Larkin – Friday, March 29 – Pechanga Resort Casino – Temecula, CA, USA
Bellator 220: MacDonald vs. Fitch – Saturday, April 27 – SAP Center – San Jose, CA, USA

ITV Studios Australia secures sixth season recommission of I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here!

ITV Studios Australia secures sixth season recommission of I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here! on Network Ten following epic fifth run

Unprecedented success of UK season 18 and equally strong season 13 in Germany echoed Down Under.
A sixth season of ITV Studios (ITVS) Australia’s I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! has been commissioned by Network Ten following a record-breaking fifth run which is still in production and will air its finale on 17 February.

Created in the UK by ITV Studios Entertainment, I’m a Celebrity….Get Me Out of Here! has run for 18 seasons on ITV winning multiple awards. Rounding out its most-watched season ever, the 18th season finale was the third highest-viewed programme (live TV Viewing) across the entire of 2018 (behind two World Cup fixtures) with a peak audience of 12.1m and a 56% share.

The number one entertainment show in Germany also, I’m a Celebrity….Get Me Out of Here! recently enjoyed its 13th successful run on RTL, peaking with 6.4m viewers.

Produced in a total of 12 territories worldwide a new season of I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! will go into production for TF1 by ITV Studios France in the coming months.

Soon Gone: A Windrush Chronicle

Some of the finest British actors, writers and directors, each with a personal connection to the Windrush story, tell the story of the Afro-Caribbean community in modern-day Britain through a series of monologues.

A host of the UK’s finest acting talent - including Sir Lenny Henry (The Long Song, Broadchurch) and Vinette Robinson (Sherlock, Doctor Who) - explore modern British family life through a series of heartfelt monologues for BBC Arts on BBC Four.

Set in the front room of an Afro-Caribbean home, the series explores the highs and lows of one family from the 1940s to the present day through their hopes and desires, challenges and shattered dreams.

Curated by Kwame Kwei-Armah (Artistic Director, Young Vic theatre), the series of eight 15-minute monologues is led by four female directors and has been developed by eight leading British writers.
A partnership between BBC Arts, the Young Vic theatre and Douglas Road Productions, the series follows similar partnerships - Queers (2017, curated by Mark Gatiss) and the highly-acclaimed Snatches (2018, curated by Vicky Featherstone of the Royal Court Theatre).

Can love overcome fear? Can perseverance overcome ignorance and racism? What does it cost to belong? Soon Gone: A Windrush Chronicle challenges our collective understanding of what it means to be part of the Afro-Caribbean community in modern-day Britain.

Eunice arrives into 1940s England full of hope and ambition, and we follow her dynasty across leaps of a decade to the present day. Each self-contained monologue links to the original arrival of the enthusiastic, young nurse. We hear of Eunice’s baby, conceived out of wedlock with a runaway white doctor, and of Cyrus - her knight in shiny overalls - who offers his heart and loyalty by agreeing to marry her and put his name on the child’s birth certificate, despite the fact that Eunice doesn’t love him.

Sir Lenny Henry says: “Soon Gone: A Windrush Chronicle is a wonderful entry point for anyone who wishes to take the psychic temperature of a diaspora generation. I’m proud to be associated with this project and I hope you enjoy it. We tell these stories because they are a gateway to understanding for our children.”

Kwame Kwei-Armah, Artistic Director of the Young Vic theatre, brings together some of the finest British actors, writers and directors, each with a personal connection to the Windrush story, to tell the tale through a series of deeply emotive monologues.

The impressive cast of nine includes Vinette Robinson (Black Mirror, Doctor Who, Sherlock) as Yvonne; Sir Lenny Henry (The Long Song, Broadchurch) as the older Cyrus; and Montserrat Lombard (Upstart Crow, Ashes To Ashes, Love Soup) in the role of Samantha.

A number of rising stars feature in the younger roles: Danielle Vitalis (Attack the Block, Youngers, Afro Punk Girl) as Eunice; Clifford Samuel (McMafia, Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll and A Guide For The Homesick) as young Cyrus; Gamba Cole (Damilola: Our Loved Boy, Guerilla, Lucky Man) as Malcolm and Elliot Barnes-Worrell (Poirot, Jericho, Ready Player One) as David. Whilst, Jonathan Jules (Invasion Earth, The Battle Within, Dave Allen at Peace) plays the role of Kev, and, Olivia-Mai Barrett (Disney’s Alex & Co, Penny on MARS) is Michaela.

Kwame Kwei-Armah says: “This has been an incredibly personal project for me: as a storyteller I’ve felt a huge sense of responsibility in exploring this history. Having the chance to honour my late parents and the pioneering Windrush immigrants - as a generation begins to slip away - has felt incredibly moving. I hope that the series will draw viewers to question their own story and how we collectively move forward.”

The team of leading writers for television and stage includes Carmen Harris (EastEnders, The Crouches, Family Affairs); Angie Le Mar (Funny Black Women On The Edge, The Brothers, Forty); Roy Williams (Clubland, Sucker Punch); Juliet Gilkes Romero (RSC The Whip, Best Play Award at Writers’ Guild); and Carol Russell (House of Usher, Comin’Atcha, The Story Of Tracy Beaker). With a number of actors composing scripts: Clint Dyer (Royal Court Theatre, Scala Films, Theatre Royal Stratford); Nathaniel Martello-White (Royal Court, Young Vic), and Kwame Kwei-Armah (Artistic Director, the Young Vic).

The all-female team of directors are led by Bafta Award-winning writer-director Tinge Krishnan (Been So Long, The Exorcist TV series), and includes 2013 London Film Festival Best British Newcomer Destiny Ekaragha (Silent Witness, Gone Too Far); Christiana Ebohon-Green (Holby City, Eastenders, Doctors); and Dionne Edwards (We Love Moses, That Girl).

Series outline
The 15-minute episodes will be broadcast in pairs in February 2019. Exact broadcast details to be confirmed closer to transmission.

Episode one
Eunice (1949)
Danielle Vitalis (actor), Carmen Harris (writer), Destiny Ekaragha (director)

Episode two
Cyrus (1951)
Clifford Samuel (actor), Kwame Kwei-Armah (writer), Christiana Ebohon-Green (director)

* * *

Episode three
Kev (1968)
Jonathan Jules (actor), Clint Dyer (writer), Dionne Edwards (director)

Episode four
Yvonne (1981)
Vinette Robinson (actor), Juliet Gilkes Romero (writer), Christiana Ebohon-Green (director)

* * *

Episode five
Samantha (1993)
Montserrat Lombard (actor), Angie Le Mar (writer), Destiny Ekaragha (director)

Episode six
Malcolm & David (2000)
Gamba Cole (Malcolm) & Elliot Barnes-Worrell (David), Nathaniel Martello White (writer), Tinge Krishnan (director)

* * *

Episode seven
Cyrus (2011)
Sir Lenny Henry (actor), Roy Williams (writer), Tinge Krishnan (director)

Episode eight
Michaela (2019)
Olivia-Mai Barrett (actor), Carol Russell (writer), Dionne Edwards (director)

E4 'Speechless' over new Minnie Driver sitcom acquisition

All three seasons of the US irreverent comedy Speechless are coming to E4. Maya DiMeo (Minnie Driver) is a mom who will do anything for her husband, Jimmy (John Ross Bowie), and kids Ray (Mason Cook), Dylan (Kyla Kenedy), and JJ (Micah Fowler), her eldest son who has cerebral palsy.

In season one, as Maya fights injustices both real and imagined, the family works to make a new home for themselves, and search for just the right person to give JJ his "voice." In the second season, it’s the start of a new school year and the DiMeos, who have always been on the search to find the right school support for JJ, are faced with a new and unfamiliar reality… the DiMeo kids are going to continue at the same school! This is unchartered territory for the DiMeos but, as always, they will find a fun balance in everything they do while adjusting to the concept of becoming actual members of a community. As season three begins, the family – along with JJ’s, aide Kenneth (Cedric Yarbrough) – head to London to meet up with Maya’s long-estranged father, Martin, to ask him to help them in their time of need. Will they even reconcile? Maya grapples with the fact her children are growing up fast and JJ will be heading off to college soon, leaving her a lot more free time on her hands to focus on Ray and Dylan.

Scott Silveri (Friends) writes and is executive producer of the show, along with Fresh Off the Boat's Jake Kasdan and Melvin Mar. The series is from Twentieth Century Fox Television.

Speechless is coming soon to E4

Thursday, 7 February 2019

P!NK to receive the Outstanding Contribution to Music Award at The BRIT Awards 2019

The BRIT Awards 2019 with Mastercard today announced that multi-million selling global pop icon P!NK will be honoured with the prestigious Outstanding Contribution to Music Award at this year’s ceremony, which takes place Wednesday 20th February. P!NK will be the first international artist to receive this award.

Seven studio albums and one greatest hits album on since her debut in 2000, totalling over 60 million global sales, over 8 million in the UK alone along with over 12 million UK single sales, P!NK is a musical force to be reckoned with. With seven Top Five albums - with two going No. 1 (Funhouse and the most recent platinum-certified Beautiful Trauma), three UK No. 1 singles (‘Just Like A Pill’, ‘So What’, ‘Lady Marmalade’) and 32 Top 40 singles, 19 of which going Top 10, including ‘Try’, ‘Just Give Me A Reason’ and ‘What About Us’, P!NK has become one of the UK’s best-selling female artists and one of the world’s greatest singers, with her inimitable powerhouse vocals and show-stopping stage performances.

Over 2 million tickets sold in the UK alone to date, nine BRIT nominations, and one win for International Female Solo Artist in 2003, and a string of other prestigious awards and accolades including three GRAMMY awards (20 nominations) and two Billboard Music Awards, P!NK’s career sees no sign of letting up with her first UK stadium tour in five years booked for this summer, including two nights at London’s Wembley Stadium.

P!NK said: “I am so honored to be recognized with the Outstanding Contribution To Music Award at the 2019 BRITs! Since the beginning of my career the British fans have been some of the most fierce and loyal in the world. I am humbled to receive this honor and be in the company of an illustrious group of British icons!”

BRITs Chairman and Chairman & CEO of Sony Music UK and Ireland Jason Iley said: “P!NK is a trailblazer, a phenomenally talented singer and songwriter, and truly one of the greatest artists of our time.  It is a real pleasure to honour her at this year’s BRIT Awards with the Outstanding Contribution To Music Award. With her remarkable career spanning nearly 20 years, P!NK is one of the most successful artists in the world, consistently releasing multi-million-selling albums and selling out tours all over the globe. I am really excited to welcome her back to The BRITs and to recognise her prodigious success.”

P!NK joins an illustrious list of previous BRIT Awards Outstanding Contribution to Music recipients including Sir Elton John, David Bowie, Queen, Spice Girls, U2, Sir Paul McCartney, Oasis, Robbie Williams and Blur. The award was rested in 2013 to make way for a Special Recognition for War Child to mark the charity’s 20th anniversary. P!NK will be the first international artist to receive the honour, a decision taken by the BRITs committee to open the award up to overseas acts who have achieved long term success in the UK, and P!NK will be awarded in recognition of her significant impact on British music and her incredible musical repertoire over the past two decades.

Like all winners on the night, P!NK will be presented with an exclusive trophy designed for this year only by Sir David Adjaye OBE, and she will close the show with an exclusive performance on the night, showcasing her extraordinary talent which continues to wow audiences all over the world.

P!nk brings her Beautiful Trauma World Tour to the UK this summer. Kicking off at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium on the 20th June, she then plays two nights at Hampden Park in Glasgow, Anfield Stadium, Liverpool, before bringing the UK tour to a close with two epic nights at London’s Wembley Stadium. Tickets on sale now.

The BRIT Awards 2019 with Mastercard take place Wednesday 20th February at The O2 Arena, London, broadcast exclusively on ITV and hosted by Jack Whitehall. Clara Amfo and Alice Levine will be back to host this year’s Red Carpet show on ITV2 on the night of the awards for the third year running.

Hollywood star Luke Evans to read a CBeebies Bedtime Story on Valentine’s Day

CBeebies has announced that Luke Evans is the latest star to read a CBeebies Bedtime Story.
The Welsh actor will read I Love You Already by Jory John and illustrated by Benji Davies on Thursday 14 February. It’s a story about Bear who loves nothing more than relaxing on his own but his best friend, Duck, has different ideas.

Luke Evans’ career began in musical theatre, but he’s known for his roles in films and TV series, including Beauty and the Beast, The Hobbit and Girl on a Train.

He says: “Filming CBeebies Bedtime Stories was such a pleasure - what a fun experience! I’m so pleased to bring these books to life for families all across the UK, and of course all my family’s and friend’s kids, and my own awesome godchildren”

Previous Valentine’s Day appearances on the much-loved slot have been by Natalie Dormer in 2018 and Tom Hardy in 2017.

CBeebies Bedtime Stories is on daily at 6.50pm.

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

DeGale and Eubank Jr face off on top of 02 ahead of arena blockbuster

James DeGale and Chris Eubank Jr squared up on top of the world-famous O2 today ahead of their much-anticipated fight inside the arena on February 23.

Going toe-to-toe with the stunning London skyline as the backdrop, the pair faced off 52 metres above ground level on the Up At The O2 walkway - with the city’s brooding clouds a perfect match for the fight’s title - A Storm Is Coming.

The boxers set foot on the landmark’s famous canvas roof as they count down the weeks before they enter the ring staged beneath it on 23 February where they will each aim to send the other tumbling to the canvas in defeat.

Donning ITV Box Office-branded robes and gloves for the event, the fighters continued the build-up to their electrifying Super Middleweight clash with a few words to each other as they were filmed by a drone as part of the channel’s fight promotion ahead of its exclusive live coverage.

James DeGale said: “This is a great view - but the best sight for me will be when the referee raises my arm at the end of the fight. By knockout or points, either way I’m leaving the ring the winner.  Having the London skyline as the backdrop is entirely appropriate - I’m aiming for the stars, but first I aim to conquer Chris Eubank Jr at The O2."

Chris Eubank Jr said: “I’m right at the the top of my game - and I want the city to shake with the impact of my punches. The only view that’s going to stick in his mind is looking up at me from the canvas after I lay him out.”

The fight will be shown exclusively live on ITV Box Office and features a full undercard including Lee Selby’s big ring return against Omar Douglas, a heavyweight collision between Commonwealth Champion Joe Joyce and challenger and Former World Champion Bermane Stiverne and the British Light-Heavyweight Title Eliminator between Andre Sterling and Ricky Summers.

As a bonus for fight fans, later in the evening ITV Box Office will feature live coverage of the WBC Super Middleweight title fight between Anthony Dirrell and Avni Yildirim.  All the action from this clash will come live from Minneapolis, Minnesota following the conclusion of DeGale v Eubank Jr.

Meanwhile, legendary boxing International Hall of Fame ring announcer Jimmy Lennon Jr has been confirmed as the master of ceremonies for the evening.

For ITV Box Office, Mark Pougatch hosts live from ringside, with commentary from Ronald McIntosh and Duke McKenzie, and reporting from Gabriel Clarke.

Brought to you by ITV Box Office, Premier Boxing Champions and promoted by Poxon Sports, access to the event is priced at £19.95 and is now available to buy for Sky customers.

Richard Poxon said: “Fight fans can expect a feast of boxing - with an all-British headline fight between two of the country’s greatest fighters in recent years, a full undercard, and then the switch to the WBC title contest between Dirrell and Yildirim.  It’s a huge night for the Super Middleweight division and it’s all on ITV Box Office.”

Full details on how to access the event are found in Notes To Editors at the end of this release.

Late last year, ITV announced a ground-breaking new deal with Haymon Sports and Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) to bring exclusive coverage of exciting PBC world-class boxing events to ITV viewers and fight fans in the UK.

The unique collaboration is the first time that Haymon Sports and PBC has partnered with a UK broadcaster to stage boxing events regularly in the UK. The exclusive three-year deal will guarantee a minimum of 15 televised events each year, drawing from PBC’s unrivalled group of over 160 of the best boxers in the world, which includes more than 60 current and former world champions in matches staged both in the UK and the US. PBC, the sports’ pre-eminent boxing brand, is broadcast over cable and network television in the United States. 

The world-class action from events for the next three years will include free-to-air broadcasts on ITV’s channels, including ITV main channel and ITV4 and ITV Hub, and will also include pay per views on ITV’s PPV channel, ITV Box Office.

This new deal for boxing adds to ITV Sport’s portfolio of first class events, which includes exclusive free to air coverage of the England football team’s qualifiers for both the European Championship and World Cup, the 6 Nations and exclusive coverage of the Rugby World Cup, UK horse racing, the Tour de France and the French Open.