Saturday 30 March 2019
Creator Joe Swanberg’s “Easy,” returns for a third and final season on May 10, only on Netflix. This season of the anthology series consists of nine episodes and will feature some new faces as well as many returning fan favorite characters, all of whom are navigating the modern maze of love, sex, technology, and culture in Chicago.
From Creator, Director and Executive Producer Joe Swanberg: “EASY has been the most exciting and important project of my career. The anthology format allowed me to explore a range of stories and characters, but small moments of incidental overlap, or deep relationships between characters, connected the episodes enough that we were able to build a fictional community rooted in a real Chicago.
The support, flexibility and trust that Netflix provided, combined with their global reach, made this a completely unique experiment. The fact that I was able to collaborate with so many of my favorite actors took an already dreamy experience to the next level. I couldn't be more proud of the new season and I can't wait to share it.”
The new seasons stars Elizabeth Reaser (The Haunting of Hill House), Michael Chernus (Orange is the New Black), Jake Johnson (Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse) , Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Black Mirror: San Junipero), Marc Maron (GLOW), Jane Adams (Sneaky Pete), Melanie Lynskey (Togetherness), Kate Micucci (Another Period), John Gallagher, Jr. (The Newsroom), Megan Ferguson (Casual), Sophia Bush (Chicago P.D.), Kiersey Clemons (Lady and the Tramp), Jaz Sinclair (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina), Jacqueline Toboni (Grimm), Zazie Beetz (Atlanta), Aya Cash (You’re The Worst), David Franco (The Disaster Artist), Evan Jonigkeit (X-Men: Days of Future Past), Danielle MacDonald (Dumplin’), Kali Skrap, Lindsay Burdge (Her Smell), Cliff Chamberlain (Altered Carbon), and Nicky Excitement (Win It All).
After competing in the first ever all-female MasterChef final, retiree Irini Tzortzoglou (61) has been crowned MasterChef 2019 Champion becoming the fifteenth amateur cook to claim the title.
Facing competition from 54 other determined contestants, through seven gruelling weeks of culinary challenges and a close final cook-off, Irini was awarded the MasterChef 2019 trophy by judges John Torode and Gregg Wallace.
On winning, and after asking if she could share the trophy with her fellow finalists, an emotional Irini said: “I’m trembling, I’m floating on air, I don’t think my feet are touching the ground right now. What an experience, I just don’t have the words to say how thrilled and grateful I am.
She added: “I can finally say I believe in me; I believe it takes something tough at times, but that strength can surface, and when it does it can achieve wonders.”
John Torode said: “Taking the food that she knows from the island of Crete and putting it into a modern context – that’s what Irini does and it’s stunning. She has a magic in her finger tips and a fire in her belly. She wanted to make her grandchildren proud – she’s done that!”
Gregg Wallace said: “Irini’s little touches of Greek flavours and Greek ingredients are nothing short of inspired. You can learn cooking technique, what you can’t put into somebody is absolute love and passion, and Irini is just bursting with it. It’s from the heart every time she cooks.”
On Irini’s winning menu Gregg said: “Every little morsel of Irini’s three courses was beautiful.”
John added: “She’s introduced us to things we’ve never seen before, flavours we’ve never tasted before. She is able to take these flavours she loves so much and take them to a completely different food. It’s magical.”
Ahead of John announcing the winner, a tearful Gregg said to the finalists: “Watching you grow, watching you achieve your personal goals, I’ve found uplifting. I think today was a proper celebration of culinary art done by people who are obviously completely in love with what they do. It’s joyous.”
Speaking about this year’s competition, Gregg said: “I have loved loved loved this year’s competition. We’ve had lawyers, engineers, digger drivers, estate agents, flight attendants, sculptors, nurses – people from all walks of life.”
John added: “Some of the food has been mind-blowing, some daring food, experimental food... there’s been drama, there’s been tears, there’s been laughter.”
Irini fought her way from 54 amateur cooks through to the final week and, along with the other incredibly talented finalists, teacher, Jilly McCord (42) and police officer, Delia Maria Asser (28), was pushed to show the judges the skills, creative flair and perseverance needed to succeed at the highest level in the intense final challenges.
In an extremely demanding final week, MasterChef fans have seen Irini cook a fine dining tasting menu for some of the team who took part in the Transglobe Expedition - the first and only longitude circumnavigation of the world. The event celebrated the 40th anniversary, and diners included expedition leader, and the world’s greatest living explorer, Sir Ranulph Fiennes. Irini has travelled on a trip of a lifetime to Hong Kong to learn from dim sum master Chef Tak, at Lung King Heen at the Four Seasons - the first Chinese restaurant in the world to be awarded three Michelin stars. She has also cooked at Tate Dining Rooms under one-Michelin star chef patron Vicky Lau, before heading back to London to be mentored by and cooking for two-Michelin star chef, Raymond Blanc, one classic dish from the menu at his famed restaurant Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons.
The final task was to prepare a three-course meal for judges John Torode and Gregg Wallace. Irini’s winning menu, inspired by her childhood and Greek heritage, started with Red mullet with a squid risotto, confit tomatoes, a rosemary and garlic sauce, with bottarga (grey mullet roe) and an aged balsamic foam. Irini’s main course was Griddled rosemary lamb chops with trahanas puree (cracked wheat cooked in soured milk), peas, confit herb tomatoes, pearl onions, crumbled feta and a lamb and tomato jus. She finished the meal with a Fig and hazelnut baklava with roasted honeyed fig topped with Chantilly cream and candied fig, a fig leaf ice-cream and syrup, on a hazelnut crumble.
When her father passed away unexpectedly at age 48 her life took a different route, which brought her to London and to a career in banking.
On her reasons for entering the competition, Irini said: “I decided to enter because I was driven by what felt like a higher force, which was telling me that my life had yet to start and that I still had work to do. Over the years, I felt I was not here to work in banking, and having discovered my passion for food and all it signifies I knew that this was my calling.”
On her future plans she said: “My biggest ambition is to continue learning, researching, experimenting and show casing Greek food and ingredients. I would love to get published a lifestyle book with memories and recipes which I have been writing for the past year, and would love to film a programme all around Greece which combines cookery, travel, diet, health, environmental and historical topics. With its diverse land and climate Greece provides for a variety of produce and food.”
Looking back on her time in the competition, Irini said: “I feel a totally different person from only three months ago; I feel I have grown massively. What MasterChef has given me is deep seated confidence. It’s been a long road but I have enjoyed every second.”
Irini grew up in Crete in Greece, and now lives in Cartmel, Cumbria with her husband, John. She has three step-children and three step-grandchildren.
Friday 29 March 2019
Chernobyl, a five-part miniseries co-production from HBO and Sky, dramatizes the story of the 1986 nuclear accident, one of the worst man-made catastrophes in history — and of the sacrifices made to save Europe from unimaginable disaster.
Premiering in May, Chernobyl stars Emmy-nominee Jared Harris (The Crown, Mad Men), Stellan Skarsgård (Melancholia, Good Will Hunting) and Oscar-nominee Emily Watson (Hilary and Jackie, Breaking the Waves).
Chernobyl is written and executive produced by Craig Mazin (The Huntsman: Winter’s War) and directed by Johan Renck (Breaking Bad). Produced by Sister Pictures and The Mighty Mint as an HBO/Sky co-production, Emmy-winner Carolyn Strauss (Game of Thrones) and Jane Featherstone (Broadchurch) serve as executive producers while Johan Renck and Chris Fry (Humans) co-executive produce. Sanne Wohlenberg (Black Mirror) also produces.
On April 26, 1986, the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine, Soviet Union suffered a massive explosion that released radioactive material across Belarus, Russia and Ukraine and as far as Scandinavia and western Europe.
Jared Harris portrays Valery Legasov, a leading Soviet nuclear physicist. As part of the response team, he was one of the first to grasp the scope of the unparalleled disaster that occurred. Stellan Skarsgård plays Soviet Deputy Prime Minister Boris Shcherbina, who is assigned by the Kremlin to lead the government commission on Chernobyl in the hours immediately following the accident. Emily Watson portrays Ulana Khomyuk, a Soviet nuclear physicist committed to solving the mystery of what led to the Chernobyl disaster.
The miniseries also features Paul Ritter (Lovesick) as Chernobyl deputy chief engineer Anatoly Dyatlov; Jessie Buckley (Beast) as Lyudmilla Ignatenko, a Pripyat resident married to a firefighter on the first response team; Adrian Rawlins (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows) as Chernobyl chief engineer Nikolai Fomin; and Con O’Neill (Harlots) as plant director Viktor Bryukhanov. Sam Troughton (The Ritual), Adam Nagaitis (The Terror), Barry Keoghan (Dunkirk), Ralph Ineson (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince), Mark Lewis Jones (Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi), Fares Fares (Westworld) and David Densik (McMafia) also star.
Chernobyl was filmed on location in Vilnius, Lithuania, with a creative team including director of photography Jakob Ihre (Thelma); production designer Luke Hull (Howards End); editors Jinx Godfrey (The Theory of Everything) and Simon Smith (Endeavor); costume designer Odile Dicks-Mireaux (Brooklyn); two-time Emmy-winners Nina Gold and Robert Sterne as casting directors (Game of Thrones); and composer Hildur Gudnadóttir (Trapped).
Thursday 28 March 2019
All 4 has acquired the American supernatural thriller Light As a Feather from AwesomenessTV. The 10-episode series will be made available, in its entirety, on April 1.
Originally released in the US on Hulu, Light as a Feather centres on four best friends who invite the shy new girl out on Halloween, but they soon regret their decision when she suggests they play a seemingly innocent game of ‘Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board’. The game goes awry when the five girls start dying off in the exact way that was predicted, forcing the survivors to figure out why they’ve been targeted – and whether the evil force hunting them down is one of their own.
Described by Teen Vogue as “Pretty Little Liars meets The Craft, with a dash of Final Destination,” Light as a Feather stars Liana Liberato (The Best of Me, Sons of Anarchy), Haley Ramm (X-Men: The Last Stand, Red State), Ajiona Alexus (13 Reasons Why, Empire), Brianne Tju (Scream: The TV Series) and Peyton List (Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Jessie). It was developed by AwesomenessTV, a best in class media company serving the global Gen Z audience.
The series has been nominated for four Daytime Emmys, including Outstanding Lead Actress in a Digital Daytime Drama, Outstanding Supporting Actress, Outstanding Writing and Outstanding Director.
Light As a Feather was acquired as part of a deal with Viacom International Media Networks that includes three further Awesomeness title – Sleep Tight, All Night and Love Daily – to be released on All 4 this summer.
Charlie Palmer, Managing Editor All 4 said: “We’re thrilled to bringing Light as a Feather to All 4. Be sure to have your night light handy.”
Zachary Slatter, Head of Distribution for Awesomeness said, “Our partnership with Channel 4 is a huge milestone in our global expansion, and we can’t wait for fans to fall in love with Light as a Feather.”
Wednesday 27 March 2019
Mission Ignition is the exciting new competition that follows two teams of amateur car enthusiasts as they put their wrenching skills to the ultimate test and race to re-build and win a dream car.
The teams are championed by Take That legend, classic car collector and amateur racing driver Howard Donald and motor racing superstar and four-time IndyCar series winner Dario Franchitti.
Mission Ignition starts Saturday 30 March at 8:30pm on Channel 4
Howard Donald interview
Tell us what Mission Ignition is all about.
It’s basically two teams of mechanics who are all friends, and who obviously love their pastime. It’s what they do. Each team has a classic car revealed to them, but it’s in bits and they have no manual or anything like that. The first team to put it back together and successfully start it, gets to keep it.
It’s a new career direction for you. What made you want to go down this route? How did you become involved?
The producers found out I was into cars from my car racing and asked me to do a pilot for the show for Channel 4. With it being a presenting job I was umming and ahhing over it because I’d never done presenting before. But I thought if I’m going to do it I’m going to do it about something that is my passion - which is cars - and something I know a bit about. I don’t know everything there is to know about them, but I know a bit. I thought, well, I’m going to challenge myself. I’ve never done it before. That’s kind of why I did it, for my own personal challenge.
You and Dario seem to hit it off pretty well. What was it like filming with him?
It was great. Dario I knew a little through seeing him at Goodwood a few times. I knew what his achievements were, which are amazing. I met with Dario a couple of times before we started filming the show because obviously it’s better to get to know the people that you’re going to be working with. We got on like a house on fire. It was great. He does a lot of stock interviews on Goodwood, bits and bobs, so he’s had the experience whereas I haven’t. He’s got a lot more knowledge about cars, but we’re probably into cars as much as each other.
Presumably different cars present different problems. Do they broadly try to ensure are similar in terms of how difficult the job is?
Yes they do. One car may be difficult to put doors on, the other car might be difficult to put the engine in. For instance we had a Rolls Royce and when you think about the weight of this car - hoisting up and down the engine, keeping it in place to put the engine in and bolting it all together - and then the doors are super heavy as well. But I think on the other team it was difficult because usually you put the engine in from underneath, but what they didn’t know was the engine had to be dropped in from above. They realised once they had got it in they forgot to connect one of the other parts, the gearbox, up to the engine before they started plugging it in. Things like that have to be then redone which sets them back another hour.
The prize these guys are competing for, it’s something they love so much. That must have really added to the tension in the place… On one occasion they play Scissors, Paper, Stone for who got it, didn’t they?
That’s right! For who got to keep it at their house. It varies from team to team. I know one wasn’t so keen on one of the cars which was, I think, a dark-pinky Jaguar. She really did not like the car. Straight away in their head they knew that when they could put the car back together they were either going to sell it on eBay or track day it or keep it and drive around Europe in it. That’s the thing of having three of them having to share it out; who’s going to store it, who’s going to sell it and how do we share this out between the three of us if they don’t want to keep the car?
Where does your love of cars come from? Where did it all start?
I think my love of cars came from when I was a child. Even though my dad didn’t have great cars I used to always love his cars. I used to love pretend driving with him, so he’d sit me on his lap while he drove me around, and he’d sometimes let me steer the car for him. Obviously not going down the main roads, just on small streets or whatever it may be. But really from when I first started to getting into Take That and you start earning a little bit of money and realise you can afford these dream cars that you dreamt of having in the 80s then you can start to collect them.
Does anyone else in the band share your love of cars?
They all love cars. Jason or Mark got a classic before I ever got one. Mark got an MGB and Jason got a Mercedes 280SL, I think a 1968 version. They got them in the really early days of Take That whereas I was a later starter for collecting. I’ve probably always been into cars more so than anybody else in the band. Much as I love my modern cars I don’t really buy them as they’re not as value for money as the classics and nowhere near as much fun.
Are you a collector now?
I’d say yes. When I say ‘collector’ I’ve probably reached my peak. I can’t really go further on it. It’s all down to space and all down to money as well. I have a family of four and they have to come first. I’m looking forward to having them all my cars under one roof and being able to look at them. Unfortunately they’re all spread out at the moment.
How many have you got and what’s your pride and joy?
I’ve got fifteen which is nowhere near as much as proper collectors. I’ve got a Mercedes 300SL which is a 1955 car which is known as a Gullwing. Probably my pride and joy more than any of the others is the Pre A Porsche 356 which I raced at Goodwood last year. That’s a 1953 car which is absolutely awesome. It’s obviously race prepped, race engine. I can drive that on the streets, it’s still road legal which is kind of how I like my cars, road legal and race legal.
What have you done in the way of racing?
I started my first race in 2017, which was a Silverstone Classic, in an Austin a35, which I didn’t really like. That was in the rain, so my first race was in the rain in one of these cars I really didn’t like! I started there. Before that, maybe three to four years before that, I was track day-ing at different places; Donnington, Silverstone, Brands Hatch. I was taught by this guy, Simon Hadfield, who’s a well-known historic car racer and a very good car racer as well. I was taught by him in a couple of Porsche’s I’ve got. He was always telling me I was ready for racing and I was never so sure. Maybe lack of confidence. So eventually when I got offered this celebrity Silverstone car race at the Silverstone classic, I thought why bloody not?
How does the buzz of going around a race track compare to the buzz of performing?
Oh, God. Your nerves are so much worse when you’re racing. Especially when you’re going around the track to get on your position and get ready to race, it really does get your nerves – not knowing where you’re going to go, whether you’re going to be knocked off, whether you’re going to crash… especially when it starts raining and you know you’re under difficult circumstances. Nerve wracking. Of course I’ve not had as much experience as a racer. I’ve only been racing two years. In those two years I’ve managed to get my UK Licence and get an International Licence so I could race abroad. Totally different.
Do you have a favourite car from the series?
Favourite car… I think it would have to be the BMW 635 CSI.
When you look at these classic cars, do you think we’ve lost something with the modern cars and how they’re built with all the technology in them?
I think when you’re talking about modern racing then no, because it’s absolutely gone up in safety. When somebody has a crash now at 180 miles per hour the more likely they are to survive. Whereas if you were to do that in a classic car, and some cars can reach 200 miles per hour, it’s doubtful whether you’re going to. The difference between historic and modern racing is the fact you don’t have any of those aids. You’re changing the gears, you’re pressing the brakes and you haven’t got brakes that are going to slow you down into corners and stop you revving too high. You’re really racing the car. That’s what I really love about historic racing. With modern cars on the road then obviously you don’t get that. The buzz about it, believe it or not, is not knowing whether you’re going to get from A to B. When you do get to B you’re so thankful and so appreciative whereas when you’re in your modern car you can just sit in it, put the stereo on and just keep your foot on the pedal. It’s an all-automatic car that pretty much does everything and you know you’re going to get there.
Lastly, how do you think you would do if you took part in this show?
Not like these guys. I would be being told what to do! I’m not one of these guys that knows the insides and outsides of an engine. I’ve got only the basic knowledge of an engine. When you start talking putting it all together and all that, I wouldn’t have a clue!
Dario Franchitti interview
Your new series is Mission Ignition – what’s it all about?
The concept is two teams of amateur mechanics – three people on each team – and they get essentially a day to rebuild a classic car. The car is stripped down into kit form and laid out, so it looks something like a Lego set. And it’s laid out ready to be built. They don’t know what kind of car they’re going to get before they start, and they don’t have any instruction manual. Whoever builds the car first and starts it, they get to keep the car. Throughout the build process there’s safety checks along the way, so they’re kept in line a bit. And Howard and I are each assigned a team, and we follow their progress, give them a bit of encouragement, and on a couple of occasions actually got on the tools ourselves.
So you were allowed to get stuck in?
Well, we were at certain points. Throughout the process Howard and I would be saying “Can we go in?” And they’d be like “No!” And then in certain episodes they’d be like “Go on, they need a bit of help.” And we’d get involved. Anybody that knows me knows that my job was making cars go fast, and mostly breaking them as opposed to fixing them, so it was good fun to get involved and to help the teams. I’m not sure how much we actually helped, though.
What had you done in the way of TV work before this?
Obviously I’d done various interviews and stuff through racing. But then when I retired, I did Goodwood Classic cars show, I fronted that up for a couple of seasons. And then I did the Goodwood live coverage for a couple of seasons as well. And I do the worldwide commentary for the Formula E series. Various little bits and pieces like that since I retired. And then Mission ignition came along.
Is it something you enjoy? Would you like to explore presenting further, going forward?
Yeah, I had a great time making the show. Doing the various different shows is fun. At Goodwood, each day was a different type of classic car, from something quite humble like an Austin A35, to something that was several million pounds. You’d get to drive all these different cars, so that was a lot of fun. Mission Ignition was really brilliant. Each show was made in a day. It wasn’t staged, we made each show in a day, and it was fairly intense. Working with Howard was really a lot of fun. He’s a proper petrol head as well, so we spent most of our time off camera talking about cars. And then when we were on camera, there was a lot of pushing our teams because we wanted to beat each other.
You said each show was filmed in a day. How long did it normally take the teams to put the cars back together?
I think the longest was probably about 14 hours, and the shortest was maybe eight-to-ten. Each episode, the cars varied in complexity. But what was key was to make the competition fair, so each team was working on a car with a similar level of complexity. That was really important.
The prize these guys are competing for is something they love so much – could you feel the tension in the place?
Oh yeah, massively. You could always tell when one of the teams got a car that they really wanted. When the reveal happened at the start of the show, something would just light up. There were a couple of situations at the end of the show where you had both teams trying to start their cars, and so much riding on it. That’s when you really saw the tension. Sometimes it boiled over. It wasn’t always sweetness and light. Some of the guys lost their tempers a wee bit with teammates. You could tell it meant a lot. There was a lot at stake.
Where does your love of cars come from?
I think my love of cars came from my dad, when I was much younger. Before my dad spent all his money on my racing, he had some nice cars. And my grandfathers had nice cars. I’ve always loved cars. From the time I was a kid I’ve adored cars, and I still have that passion.
Are you a collector?
Oh yeah. It’s a disease. I’m absolutely a car collector. I’m a car fanatic. I wouldn’t want to speak for Howard, but I think he’[d describe himself in similar terms. I don’t collect cars to have them, I collect them to drive them.
What’s your pride and joy?
Ooh, that’s a tough one.
Is that like asking someone to choose their favourite kid?
Yeah, it’s a tough one. Every car that I’ve got does something a little bit different for me. Whether it’s an out-and-out performance supercar like a Porsche Carrera GT, or something a bit older, like a Ferrari Daytona Spyder, each one’s a little bit different. People say “Oh, there’s only so many cars you could use.” I could have a garage of a hundred cars and I’d still want more. Each car does something a little bit different in a slightly different way.
Do you have a favourite car from the series?
They were very different cars in the series, and I don’t want to give too much away about what there was. But we covered all the avenues. The good thing was, Howard and I got to take the cars to a track and drive them, so we had a bit of a laugh doing that. That was really good fun. We really went from the sublime to the ridiculous with some of the cars that were rebuilt. I think there may be a few shocks in there. One particular episode I couldn’t believe that we were going down that route. It was a shock when I saw what the teams were going to have to rebuild that week. Not an easy build.
Looking at these classic cars, do you think we’ve lost something with modern cars?
Oh yeah. If you drive an old car, it’s so much more involving and rewarding than driving a new car. The feedback, the noise, the smell. Going forward, every car that comes out is better, quieter, faster, more powerful, handles better – but when you take a step back and drive these old cars, they’ve got tremendous character, and you realise that maybe we’re missing something. I love driving old cars.
Do you miss the thrill of competition?
Yes. Yeah I do, absolutely. I’m lucky though – I still work for the team that I raced for in America, so I still get to be involved with the competition side. But nothing will replace the buzz of competing, and the feeling of winning. Nothing I’ve done will replace that buzz.
How would you do if you took part in this show? And would you be better or worse than Howard?
Ha! I like to think I’d be better than Howard, although he does tell me he used to work in a body shop. As in a car repair shop, not the place that sells soap. Over the years I’ve started tinkering around with some of my older cars, specifically the ones that are worth less so it won’t break my heart if I damage them. I think now I might do alright. Working with the people I’ve worked with in racing, I’ve watched how real mechanics do it. How they plan a job, how they organise and execute. I think I’ve taken on board a bit of that. As long as I know more than Howard, I’m happy!
Mae and George (working title) is a new semi-autobiographical 6 x 30 comedy series for E4 and Netflix, produced by Objective Fiction, from exciting new talent Mae Martin. The series follows recovering addict and comedian Mae, who is trying to control the addictive behaviours and intense romanticism that permeate every facet of her life. Life is further complicated by a new and all consuming relationship with her new girlfriend George...
Mae and George is a deeply personal, darkly hilarious and poignant story about the unique pressures of navigating the modern-day fluid landscape of gender and sexuality.
Starring Mae Martin, Mae and George is co-written by Mae and Joe Hampson.
Mae Martin, writer and star, says: “We cannot wait to make this show with E4, Netflix, and Objective Fiction - WHAT A DREAM. I’m especially pumped to be co-writing Mae and George with my best friend Joe Hampson. He has such an incredible head of hair. We are excited to make a show that is both funny and sad, like our lives, and I hope they’ve factored therapy into the budget because I’m already hanging by a thread.”
Fiona McDermott, Head of Comedy at Channel 4, says: “We’re so thrilled to back Mae on this project. Her comic voice fantastically captures the inelegancies of being young, now. She riffs from vulnerable to intense to hilarious and it all feels so real and refreshing. Mae and George is totally unique and totally accessible.”
Kelly McGolpin, Objective Fiction’s Head of Development says: “Mae’s stories are unique and yet utterly relatable – we hope that viewers will fall in love with her, as her live comedy audiences have. She and Joe Hampson are huge talents and we are very proud to be helping create their world.”
Mae Martin is an award-winning Canadian comedian and writer whose most recent stand-up show, Dope, focused on addiction and was nominated for the main Edinburgh Comedy Award while earning four and five star national reviews. The show has since been turned in to a stand-up special for Netflix as part of their first global stand-up series, Comedians of the World. Mae’s first non-fiction book, Can Everyone Please Calm Down? A Guide to 21st Century Sexuality will be released in May 2019.
Joe is a comedy writer who started writing and performing with the Bristol Revunions sketch group and has gone on to write for TV and radio. Credits include Skins, The News Quiz and Newsjack. His darkly comic, debut stage play Rabbits premiered at the Park Theatre and has been performed internationally. He is currently developing original projects for television both in the UK and the US.
Tuesday 26 March 2019
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.
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
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
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.
“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.
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.
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
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.
LET’S TALK ABOUT SEX STARTS ON FRIDAY 5TH APRIL AT 10PM ON CHANNEL 4
Wednesday 20 March 2019
Tuesday 19 March 2019
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
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.
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
Thu 28 Mar 2019
9.00pm - 10.00pm
“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
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.”
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.
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.”
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
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
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.
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.”
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