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Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Stranger Things 3 | Official Trailer [HD]

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

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

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

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

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

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

Monday, 18 March 2019

Competition: Win The Miracle Series 1 on DVD

The Miracle is released on 25th March

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

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

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

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

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

For your chance to win just answer the question below.

Who is the writer of The Miracle?

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

Terms and conditions
1. Closing date 01-04-19
2. No alternative prize is available
3. When the competition ends as indicated on this page, any and all entries received after this point will not count and emails blacklisted due to not checking this page first.
4. Winners will be chosen randomly and will be informed via email.

Sunday, 17 March 2019

Babes in the Wood – Trevor McDonald

Thu 28 Mar 2019
9.00pm - 10.00pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, 15 March 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ITV announces a brand new ITV2 reality show, Singletown

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Interview with Emma Morgan, Executive Producer of Mums Make Porn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mums Make Porn is a very hard-hitting series…

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Sky confirms air date for Chernobyl in first look trailer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, 11 March 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

Interview with Minnie Driver who stars in new E4 comedy Speechless

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, 9 March 2019

Britain’s Got Talent unveils new 2019 promo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bang will air on BBC One Wales in early summer.

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

Eating With My Ex: Celebrity Specials

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

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

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

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

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

Trailer for new E4 comedy Dead Pixels

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

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

Dead Pixels is coming soon to E4

Friday, 8 March 2019

Deutschland 86 returns to More 4 tonight

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

Pre-Order from Amazon by clicking here

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

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

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Further casting announced for BBC One’s major new surveillance conspiracy thriller, The Capture

Ron Perlman (Hellboy, Hand Of God), Famke Janssen (X Men, Taken), Laura Haddock (Transformers: The Last Knight, Guardians Of The Galaxy), Ben Miles (The Crown, Coupling), Lia Williams (The Crown, Kiri), Sophia Brown (Clique, Marcella), Paul Ritter (Friday Night Dinner, Quantum Of Solace), Adelayo Adedayo (Origin, Some Girls) and Ralph Ineson (Harry Potter, Game Of Thrones) have joined the cast of The Capture.

In addition, Cavan Clerkin (The Last Kingdom, The Inbetweeners), Barry Ward (Jimmy’s Hall, Save Me), Ginny Holder (Death In Paradise, Holby City) and Nigel Lindsay (Four Lions, Victoria) will also star.

They will feature alongside the previously announced Callum Turner (War And Peace, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald) and Holliday Grainger (Strike, Cinderella) in the six part series, which has been written and directed by Ben Chanan, and is produced by Heyday Television and NBCUniversal International Studios for BBC One.

The Capture is an acutely timely surveillance thriller set in London, which looks at a troubling world of misinformation, fake news, and the extraordinary technological capabilities of the intelligence services. In the post-truth era and when criminal justice relies so heavily on video evidence, can we always trust what we see?

Ben Chanan, Writer and Director, says: “I am incredibly excited to see The Capture brought to life by such a wonderful cast and crew. It’s an honour to come to work every day with these hugely talented people.”

Shane Meadows returns to Channel 4, with Stephen Graham, for Ireland-set drama The Virtues

Shane Meadows returns to Channel 4 showcasing his inimitable style with a powerful, bold drama that tackles themes of repressed memory, apocalyptic revenge and the hope of redemption.

BAFTA-nominated Stephen Graham (This is England, ’86, ’88, ’90, Boardwalk Empire, Taboo) is Joseph, a barely on-the-wagon alcoholic whose precarious reality is knocked for six when his ex-partner moves abroad with their young son, from Liverpool to Australia, for a better life.

With no immediate family to live for, Joseph is haunted by a past he has tried, for decades, to forget – if not actively obscure with drink and drugs. Suffering the hangover from hell – the dry spell over – he walks away from his present life and boards a boat bound for Ireland to confront hazy, fear-inducing memories from a childhood spent in the care system that he’s had to forget.

Emotionally and physically wrecked, Joseph reunites with an incredulous Anna (Helen Behan, This is England ‘88 & ‘90), the sister he hasn’t seen since childhood. Anna persuades her wary husband Michael (Frank Laverty; Michael Collins, Angela’s Ashes) to let Joseph stay and give him work in the family-owned building company. There, Joseph is forced to directly confront the demons of his past when he comes face to face with Craigy (Mark O’Halloran), a shadowy figure who is dogged by dark rumours, and who won’t leave Joseph alone.

Joseph’s precarious family reunion is further complicated when he is immediately drawn to Michael’s fiery sister Dinah (Niamh Algar; The Bisexual, Pure). Angry and lost, Dinah is fiercely guarded, and, like Joseph, haunted by a deeply-held secret.

The Virtues is a visceral and hauntingly unforgettable paean to the human spirit, shot through with bittersweet tenderness, compassion and unexpected moments of laugh-out-loud humour throughout.

Deftly addressing challenging themes of revenge, redemption and repressed memory, Meadows and co-writer, BAFTA-winning Jack Thorne, ask questions of what it really means to be, and have, family.

TRAILER: Put the champagne on ice: Made in Chelsea returns

The dust may have only just settled on last season’s scandals, but there’s a new Chelsea set in town and they are ready to shake things up! A new promo released today, reveals a number of brand new faces joining our Made in Chelsea favourites for the 17th series of the BAFTA-award winning show. Hitting screens soon on E4, fans can look forward to scandalous secrets, make-ups and break ups, a fiery Parisian, more than one unexpected ex and lots of gossiping… all whilst touring SW3’s most glamorous locations.

Heading into new beginnings, can the MIC cast let go of the past? Will old flames rekindle their romance? Will new friendships be formed, or will new battles begin? Can they really forgive and forget? This series will have it all whilst they sip champagne and stroll the boulevards of the world famous Royal Borough.

Returning for more mischief in series 17 will be MIC favourites Jamie Laing, Louise Thompson and her fiancé Ryan Libbey, Olivia Bentley, Alex Mytton, Miles Nazaire, James Taylor, Sophie ‘Habbs’ Habboo, Sophie Hermann, Harry Barron and Melissa Tatum, Oliver Proudlock, Fredrick Ferrier, Eliza Batten, Mark Francis Vandelli and Victoria Baker-Harber.

Joining the cast will be Amelia Mist, the self-proclaimed ‘Bridget Jones of Chelsea’; the dashing Angus Findlay, known for his killer cheekbones; Chelsea born and bred Freddie Brown; socialite and events planner Rosi Mai Waldon; ‘sultry scientist’ Verity Scarlett Bowditch and finally Miles’ Parisian ex-girlfriend, Maeva D'Ascanio.

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Morse returns for a seventh series of Endeavour

ITV has confirmed that hit detective drama Endeavour has been recommissioned for a seventh series. The announcement follows critical acclaim and consistently strong viewing figures for the most recent series.

Produced by leading indie Mammoth Screen in partnership with PBS Masterpiece, the successful series charts the early career of the young Endeavour Morse, played by acclaimed actor, Shaun Evans. The new set of films will see Evans reprise his role alongside celebrated star of stage and screen, Roger Allam as mentor DI Fred Thursday.

Written once again by Russell Lewis, who has penned all of the 27 Endeavour screenplays to date, the new series will be set in 1970 and production will begin later this year for transmission in 2020. Filming will take place in Oxford and the surrounding area.

Creator Russell Lewis says: “We’re thrilled ITV has asked #TeamEndeavour to continue to add to the Casebook of Colin Dexter’s immortal creation, and take E. Morse and Oxford’s Finest into a new decade of decimalisation, package holidays, the Oil Crisis, Blackouts, Three Day Weeks, and Europa Endlos.”

Mammoth Screen’s Managing Director, Damien Timmer added: “We’ve been thrilled with the response to Series 6 – it's testament to Russell Lewis’ continuing cleverness and also the brilliant partnership between Shaun Evans and Roger Allam as Endeavour Morse and Fred Thursday. The 1970s are calling us, and we can’t wait!”

Head of Drama at ITV, Polly Hill commented: “We’re incredibly proud of Endeavour and delighted to have recommissioned the drama for a seventh series. Writer and creator Russell Lewis continues to engage viewers with carefully crafted stories for Endeavour and Thursday as we move into the 1970s. We’re grateful to the production team at Mammoth Screen for continuing to deliver such a high quality drama.”

Recently voted the fourth greatest British crime drama of all time in a poll conducted by Radio Times, the drama has gone from strength to strength since its first outing as a one-off film in 2012. The latest series launched with a consolidated audience of 6.9m and a 27% share, marking Endeavour’s biggest audience since 2014.

ITV drama Vera confirmed for a tenth series

Following the success of series nine, ITV and Silverprint Pictures confirms award winning actress Brenda Blethyn will return as DCI Vera Stanhope for a tenth series. Four feature length episodes, set against the backdrop of the North East, will begin production in April for transmission in 2020.

Kenny Doughty will return as Detective Sergeant Aiden Healy, who over the years has proved himself to be a strong and reliable partner to DCI Stanhope. Completing Vera’s team is Jon Morrison who plays DC Kenny Lockhart, Riley Jones who plays DC Mark Edwards, Ibinabo Jack who plays DC Jacqueline Williams and Paul Kaye who returns as Pathologist Dr. Malcolm Donahue.

The four self-contained crime stories will be inspired by the best-selling novels and characters created by acclaimed crime writer Ann Cleeves, who received the Diamond Dagger Award at the Crime Writer’s Association in 2017 for a lifetime achievement for sustained excellence.

Made by Silverprint Pictures, part of ITV Studios, for ITV, series ten will be produced by Will Nicholson whilst Executive Producer Phil Hunter returns for his fourth consecutive series. Director Paul Gay and writer Paul Logue also return to the production and will be working on the first episode. 

Commented Brenda Blethyn: “Along with the rest of the cast of VERA, I’m delighted to be embarking on series ten. The enthusiasm and warmth shown to VERA has been overwhelming and we can’t wait to get started. Newcastle here we come!”

Commented Phil Hunter: “I'm thrilled VERA is returning for series ten. Making this show is such a joy and it's clear that TEAM VERA love it as much as the viewing fans love watching. I'm continually overwhelmed by the enthusiasm and commitment the brilliant cast and crew bring to the show.”

In the UK VERA performs consistently for ITV. Earlier this year series nine averaged 7.9 million viewers. Internationally VERA is one of the most successful imported drama titles in Belgium, Denmark, France, Netherlands and Norway, and has been sold to more than 150 territories worldwide.

At this year’s Royal Television Society Awards: North East & The Border, VERA won the Judges Award for outstanding contribution to the region and Production Designer Patrick Bill won the award for Professional Excellence for Production Design.

ITV Studios Global Entertainment distribute VERA internationally.

Sara Cox to present new show for ITV on Saturday and Sunday mornings

Commissioned by ITV Heads of Daytime Jane Beacon and Clare Ely and Commissioning Editor, Daytime Lara Akeju, The Sara Cox Show (44 x 60’) will be a weekly fix of entertainment, live music and culture, with celebrity guests discussing the best in books, theatre, films, television, podcasts and all things to do, see and experience.

Sara said
"I can’t wait to keep people company on a weekend morning as they mooch about in their jamas, making crumpets and sorting the kids out. Whether it’s people feeling delicate after a big night out or parents getting ready for an activity filled weekend, I’ll bring them funny, relaxed chat with their favourite stars and no doubt there’ll be some daft capers along the way.

“It’s a dream come true to host a show like this and I hope to brighten up people’s weekends with our great guests and some excellent live music.”

ITV Heads of Daytime Jane Beacon and Clare Ely said:
“We’re delighted Sara Cox is joining ITV’s line-up of must-watch weekend morning television. She’s a fantastic broadcaster and we are thrilled to have her.”

Executive Producer of The Sara Cox Show and CEO of Cactus, Amanda Ross said:
“I’m sure viewers will love to spend a bit of quality time with Sara! Her natural charm, enthusiasm and energy will make this a really fun watch with plenty of take-away.”

The Sara Cox Show is a Cactus production for ITV.

Comic Relief 2019

The fun starts at 7pm as the biggest comedy party on the planet is broadcast live from Elstree Television Studios, hosted by Sir Lenny Henry, Paddy McGuinness, Emma Willis, Romesh Ranganathan, Rob Beckett, Alesha Dixon, Clara Amfo, Zoe Ball, Joe Sugg, David Tennant and other special guests.

Prepare for a mammoth night of live comedy, sketches, music acts, fundraising films and more.

Expect special treats from the likes of Alan Partridge, Freddie Flintoff, the cast of BBC Three’s Famalam, Mamma Mia, Bodyguard, One Red Nose Day and a Wedding and much, much more.

Viewers will also be treated to exclusive performances from the cast of Only Fools And Horses The Musical and Magic Mike Live. There will be a special Comic Relief sketch from the cast of BBC Three’s Famalam and a number of spectacular live music performances. Plus, the cast of Mischief Theatre will perform a live magic trick - what could possibly go wrong?

Expect the unexpected as more surprises and special guests are yet to be revealed for what promises to be the most unpredictable night of TV tomfoolery of the year. Plus throughout the night there will be a look at how Comic Relief makes a huge difference to those living unimaginably tough lives in the UK and across the world’s poorest communities, and how money raised this Red Nose Day will help to change the lives of many more.

The Big Night
Comic Relief’s night of TV on the BBC will be broken down into manageable chunks for viewers’ delectation, as follows:

BBC One, 7-10pm: Comic Relief 2019
BBC Two, 10-10.35pm: Comic Relief Does University Challenge
BBC One, 10.35pm-12.30am: Comic Relief 2019
BBC One, 12.30am-1.30am: Celebrity Apprentice for Comic Relief, part 1(R)
BBC One, 1.30-2am: Celebrity Apprentice for Comic Relief, part 2 (R)
BBC One, 2-3am: The Big Red Nose Climb (NR)

Friday, 1 March 2019

Sky Sports adds NTT IndyCar Series to thrilling line-up of motor racing in 2019

Sky Sports will show every round of the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series, including the world-famous Indianapolis 500, on the Sky Sports F1 channel after agreeing a new partnership with INDYCAR.

The agreement means that every qualifying session and every race from all 17 rounds, starting with the 2019 curtain-raiser in St Petersburg, Florida on 10 March, will be live on Sky Sports F1. The pinnacle of the Series, the 103rd running of the Indianapolis 500, takes place on 26 May.

Featuring an incredible mix of superspeedways, short ovals, road courses and temporary street circuits, the NTT IndyCar Series is one of toughest challenges in motorsport. With up to 700bhp to play with, top speeds reaching 235mph, and a $1 million bonus up for grabs for the eventual champion, viewers can expect an incredible ride.

Steve Smith, Director of Content and Production at Sky Sports, said: 
“The NTT IndyCar Series is one of the most thrilling competitions in motor racing, crowned by the world renowned ‘Indy 500’, and it’s great to be able to work with our new partners at NBC to bring it to a whole new audience here in the UK and Ireland. Alongside our biggest ever season of F1, it will be part of an incredible line-up of motor racing on Sky Sports this year.”

Mark Miles, CEO of Hulman & Company, which owns INDYCAR and Indianapolis Motor Speedway, said: 
“We are pleased to reach a deal with Sky Sports to showcase the NTT IndyCar Series on the Sky Sports F1 channel for the next several seasons. INDYCAR values the commitment Sky and NBC have made to the series and the support of Comcast-NBCUniversal to help make this deal possible. We look forward to starting our season next week on Sky.”

A familiar face for British motor racing fans will again be taking his place on the starting grid of the Indianapolis 500 in May. Former F1 World Champion Fernando Alonso, who will compete in his second 500 for McLaren, will be aiming to become only the second driver ever to secure world motorsport’s unofficial Triple Crown: victories at the Formula One Monaco Grand Prix, the 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance sports car race and the Indianapolis 500. Alonso made his 500 debut in 2017, starting fifth and leading 27 laps before retiring with engine failure.

Alonso will go head to head with New Zealander Scott Dixon, who will be looking to secure a sixth NTT IndyCar Championship, following an outstanding 2018 which saw him pick up a fifth crown.

The series will be broadcast on Sky Sports F1, the world’s only dedicated F1 channel, with opening race of the season coming just a week before F1 gets underway in Melbourne. Sky Sports F1 will be the only place in the UK and Ireland to watch every race from both competitions live.

ITV commissions six part drama series Glass Houses with Dawn French

ITV today announced the commission of brand new drama series Glass Houses from Genial Productions.  The new 6 x 60” series will go into production on location in South Devon in Spring 2019.

The new series will star Dawn French, Mark Heap, Julie Hesmondhalgh, Vicki Pepperdine and Patrick Robinson, with more casting to be announced nearer transmission.

Glass Houses is created and written by Mark Brotherhood and is set in a picturesque small coastal town with a close-knit community.  It follows the stories and fall out for Maggie Connors (played by Dawn French) who doesn’t pay attention to the cautionary adage that ‘those in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones’.

Maggie is a central character in town who makes it her business to know a bit about everyone’s lives.  When a radio journalist interviews her for a small reportage piece about local life she gives him far more detail (and embellishment) about the locals and their personal lives than he was counting on.  In the days and weeks following the show’s broadcast, Maggie sees the butterfly effect of how her very public gossip-fest affects various figures around the town and disrupts their lives.

Maggie has been happily married to headmaster Peter (played by Mark Heap) for nearly 40 years, and their son Jamie and his wife Becka live nearby.  Other notable residents include Maggie’s best friend Jill (played by Julie Hesmondhalgh), Brian the publican, school secretary Karen (played by Vicki Pepperdine), the town’s GP Carol, local shopkeepers Emil and Roxanna, and Kelly who works in the hair salon.  Also part-time resident is the handsome Marcus (played by Patrick Robinson), who rents a cottage to write his best-selling novels. 
Saskia Schuster, ITV’s Comedy Controller said
“Glass Houses is a new drama in the tradition of Doc Martin and The Darling Buds Of May, full of warmth and intriguing characters.  This new series will embrace its beautiful idyllic South Devon setting as we meet the villagers of Thurlbury and find out how an innocent afternoon spent indiscreetly gossiping has a domino effect on the whole village.“

Sophie Clarke-Jervoise, Genial Production’s Managing Director and Executive Producer said
“We’re delighted to be making Glass Houses for ITV – it’s a cautionary tale for anyone wanting to gain popularity by passing on unfounded gossip and Mark Brotherhood’s scripts are packed full of intrigue, comedy and suspense.” 

Dawn French said
“Sophie and I have been developing Glass Houses for some time and I can’t wait to finally get started in front of the camera.  It’s such a good story with a fantastic funny, touching script by Mark Brotherhood.  Let me at it!”

Mamma Mia here we go yet again!

Ten years after audiences were wowed by Jennifer Saunders’ dance moves and Philip Glenister’s vocal prowess, Mamma Mia for Comic Relief is back!

A new sketch written by Jennifer Saunders will pay tribute to last summer’s box office smash hit Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again.

Ten years on from the original Mamma Mia! for Red Nose Day, Alan Carr, Miranda Hart, Philip Glenister and Sue Perkins will return to join Jennifer on screen.

The sketch will premiere exclusively on BBC One during Red Nose Day on Friday 15 March
Written by Jennifer Saunders as a tribute to last summer’s box office smash hit, Mamma Mia! Here We Go (Yet) Again will see some of the UK’s biggest names in acting and comedy recreating memorable moments from the sequel and even attempting to sing some of Abba’s most iconic songs.

Jennifer Saunders says: “If I could have lived on the fake Mamma Mia set for the last year, I would have been very happy. So I am very, very, very happy to be back. This is undoubtedly one of the silliest things I’ve done. But my god I enjoy it so much.”

The sketch will see some familiar faces reprising their roles, with Jennifer Saunders playing Meryl Streep’s Donna, Alan Carr playing Colin Firth’s Harry and Philip Glenister playing Pierce Brosnan’s Sam.

Miranda Hart and Sue Perkins will also be on hand to ensure it all runs smoothly, returning as the producer and director.

More cast names will be revealed in due course.

Mamma Mia! Here We Go (Yet) Again will premiere exclusively on BBC One during Red Nose Day on Friday 15 March. The sketch has been written by Jennifer Saunders and Richard Curtis and directed by Ed Bye. Colin Hopkins and Peter Davey are the Executive Producers for BBC Studios. Mel Crawford is the Executive Producer for Comic Relief.

That Peter Crouch Podcast scores second run

Footballing legend Peter Crouch is one of the sport’s funniest personalities and now he has one of the biggest podcasts in the country.

Crouch, who recently signed for Burnley and has played for Liverpool and Spurs among others as well as winning 42 caps for England, has now scored a second series of his hit podcast.

That Peter Crouch Podcast returns this month after becoming the BBC’s biggest sports podcast and the biggest ever podcast launch for BBC Radio 5 live. It’s a bigger phenomenon than Peter’s robot dance was way back in 2006. Series two starts with two episodes on 20 March and a new episode will be available each Wednesday for ten weeks.

For fans who can’t wait for the new series, a new episode, called That Bonus Episode, is available today on BBC Sounds. Chris finally makes good on the bet he lost with Peter in series one. Plus, we find out what happened when Crouchy took on the rest of the dads at the school sports day.

The fascinating insights revealed in the first series include how Peter bought the book Jose Mourinho: How To Win The League as a secret Santa gift for his Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez, plus his memories of doing yoga in front of Graeme Souness.

As well as grabbing global headlines, That Peter Crouch Podcast has won armies of fans with thousands contacting the team each week.

Peter Crouch says: “I’ll be honest, when we started this I had no idea what a podcast was. Now I’m all in - I can’t walk down the street without people shouting at me about the Iniesta photo. Or Karl, and what he can do. Feels like me, Tom and Chris are only warming up, too.

“I’m so excited to have a second series. Thank you to everyone who’s downloaded the pod and to everyone who’s passed it on. We go again. Back stronger. If you know, you know.”

Jonathan Wall, controller of BBC Radio 5 live, says: “That Peter Crouch Podcast is a runaway hit and its many listeners will be as thrilled as we are Peter and the team will be back. Peter is one of the biggest characters in the world of football and now he’s a towering figure in the world of podcasting.”

The first series of That Peter Crouch Podcast was one of the BBC’s top sporting hits last year. It is one of the best performing podcasts on BBC Sounds, alongside other big hits from BBC Radio 5 live including End Of Days, Brexitcast, You, Me And The Big C, Football Daily and Tailenders.

That Peter Crouch Podcast is available on BBC Sounds.