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Tuesday 31 December 2019

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

V WARS
Watch Season 1 now on Netflix.
https://www.netflix.com/gb/title/80236118



Monday 30 December 2019

Competition: Win 8 Days on DVD


8 Days is out on DVD on 6th January.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For your chance to win just answer the question below.

COMPETITION CLOSED

Terms and conditions
1. Closing date 13-01-20
2. No alternative prize is available
3. When the competition ends as indicated on this page, any and all entries received after this point will not count and emails blacklisted due to not checking this page first.
4. Winners will be chosen randomly and will be informed via email.

Saturday 28 December 2019

The Witcher Season 1 Review


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

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


The Mandalorian - Season 1 Review



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

First episode date: 12 November 2019

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

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

Thursday 26 December 2019

Ragnarok - New Trailer Released


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

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

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

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

www.netflix.com/ragnarok 





Sunday 22 December 2019

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


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

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

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

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

Friday 20 December 2019

ZeroZeroZero: official trailer unveiled


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Thursday 19 December 2019

WIN A COPY OF WATCHMEN: THE ULTIMATE CUT RELEASED FOR THE FIRST TIME ON BLU-RAY™ ON 25TH NOVEMBER AND 4K UHD AND 4K STEELBOOK* ON 2ND DECEMBER


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

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

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

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

COMPETITION CLOSED

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

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

Terms and conditions
1. Closing date 06-01-20
2. No alternative prize is available
3. When the competition ends as indicated on this page, any and all entries received after this point will not count and emails blacklisted due to not checking this page first.
4. Winners will be chosen randomly and will be informed via email.

Saturday 14 December 2019

The Greek Islands With Julia Bradbury



Fri 10 Jan 2020
8.00pm - 8.30pm
ITV

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is a Twofour production for ITV

Episode 1 - Crete

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday 13 December 2019

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


Can you tell us about Mary Cratchit?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday 12 December 2019

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


Tell us about this version of A Christmas Carol…

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

Tell us about your version of Marley…

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

Tell us about Steven Knight’s scripts...

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

Can you tell us about your costume?

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

Do you have any standout memories from filming?

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

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

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

Sticks and Stones Episode 1 Preview


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

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

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

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

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

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

Ball & Boe: A Very Merry Christmas


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

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

Fri 20 Dec 2019
9.30pm - 10.30pm

Wednesday 11 December 2019

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


Tell us about this version of A Christmas Carol…

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

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

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

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

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

Tell us about Steven Knight’s scripts…

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

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

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

Do you have any standout memories from filming?

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

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

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

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

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

The Last Igloo - Introduction by Joe Evans, executive producer


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

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

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

Official trailer for The New Pope unveiled today


A brand new official trailer for The New Pope, created and directed by Oscar® winner Paolo Sorrentino and starring Jude Law and John Malkovich, has been unveiled today. The show will launch on Sky Atlantic and NOW TV on 12 January 2020. 

The New Pope, a Sky-HBO-CANAL+ original series, is produced by Lorenzo Mieli and Mario Gianani for Fremantle’s Wildside, and co-produced by Haut et Court TV and The Mediapro Studio. Fremantle is the global distributor for The New Pope.

Series synopsis:
Pius XIII is in a coma. And after an unpredictable and mysterious turn of events, the Secretary of State Voiello succeeds in the enterprise of having Sir John Brannox, a moderate English aristocrat, charming and sophisticated, placed on the papal throne adopting the name John Paul III.

The new pope seems perfect, but he conceals secrets and a certain fragility. And he immediately understands that it will not be easy to replace the charismatic Pius XIII: hanging between life and death, Lenny Belardo has become a Saint and thousands of faithful are now idolizing him, fueling the contrast between fundamentalisms.

Meanwhile, the Church is under attack from several scandals that risk devastating the hierarchies irreversibly and from external threats striking the symbols of Christianity. As always, however, in the Vatican nothing is what it seems. Good and evil proceed arm in arm towards history. And to reach the showdown we must wait for the events to take their course…

All nine episodes of The New Pope are directed by Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Paolo Sorrentino. The limited series is written by Sorrentino with Umberto Contarello and Stefano Bises, and marks Sorrentino’s second series set in the world of the modern papacy.

The cast features two-time Academy Award® nominees Jude Law and John Malkovich. Returning cast from “The Young Pope” include Silvio Orlando, Javier Cámara, CĂ©cile de France, Ludivine Sagnier and Maurizio Lombardi. New cast for the limited series are Henry Goodman, Ulrich Thomsen, Mark Ivanir, Yuliya Snigir and Massimo Ghini. Sharon Stone and Marilyn Manson guest star.

Monday 9 December 2019

A Christmas Carol - Interview with Charlotte Riley (Lottie/The Spirit of Christmas Present)


Tell us about your character...

What sets her aside from the other ghosts is that she was a human, she’s not an entity or an unknown spirit. Her spirit is that of a human, his sister. What I think is exciting is how Steven’s taken a character that I personally think is a bit dull in the book and created a connection with Scrooge. It’s made the journey that the two of them go on much more interesting because it personalises it. We see why he is the man that he is today, the bad choices in his life, and she feels the sadness about it that he does. So, it’s a very smart device that Steve’s used to freshen it up. In past versions this ghost has been quite benevolent, and she’s benevolent too, but she can also reach him in a way that nobody else can because of the love that they shared, and still share, for each other.

Can you tell us about working with Steven Knight again and why you wanted to be part of this drama?

We’ve worked together on Peaky Blinders, so I’ve gotten to know him well over the years and just knowing who he is meant I knew he would do something exciting with this story. I’ve also never done anything particularly for Christmas or Dickensian, and I loved the idea of doing that. I loved that in it we discover what’s underneath Scrooge and that, like the novel, it brings the macabre and the spooky to Christmas. I really enjoyed working with him and he really enjoys talking to actors and changing and moulding the script to whoever plays the part. Plus, I really wanted to work with Nick Murphy (Director) who I’ve come close to working with on projects before and we’ve never quite managed it, so that was amazing, he’s a fantastic director.

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

I remember that as a little girl I wanted to watch it because I loved the period it was set in, which really harked back to the ideal of Christmas, with the snow and the crackling fires, but then I always found it too scary to watch the whole way through. So, I’d always just watch the first bit and then run out the room and come back in when it was all nice. I hated scary things as a child, so my memory is patchy of it, of watching little snippets to quench the desire for the comfy cosy Christmas and then hiding from the spooky bits!

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

There was a lot of fake snow and a lot of fires and we were in these incredible costumes sweating by these fires in the Summer, which was quite interesting! The tone is dark, and Dickensian but warm, like with the crackling fires, as well. It’s got more grit and reality to it than other adaptations, it’s got that Steve Knight feel and some bits are pretty terrifying!

Do you have any standout memories from filming?

One of the first scenes that I filmed was in a graveyard in North London and they’d transformed it into a winter wonderland, and everybody was stood around in their costumes and it just looked so beautiful and incredible. Everyone around was drawn to it, I think even Ricky Gervais came and had a look!

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

It’s a story of redemption, a story of a person who the world has given up on and, through moments of fear but also love, his heart opens to see what life could be if he stopped holding on to the pain of the past.

A Christmas Carol - Interview with Joe Alwyn (Bob Cratchit)


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

When I was growing up I was very aware of A Christmas Carol and obviously Charles Dickens, but it wasn’t something that was a staple diet of my childhood. I knew the bones of the story, but it was this version, Steven Knight’s version, that was my first real experience of it. It’s an iconic story and I know how important it is to people, but it wasn’t something that I was overly familiar with as a child.

I’ve never sat down and watched another version and coming in to this, I didn’t want to be clouded by other interpretations or versions. I’ve seen snippets of the Jim Carrey one and I know Albert Finney was in one and Patrick Stewart and Richard E. Grant in another, but I’ve never sat down and watched them all. Maybe I should!

Now you are more familiar with it, what is about the classic story that you think is so loved and popular?

We keep coming back to it for several reasons. Thematically, it seems to tap into the universal theme of what it means to be a human being, it’s about our own humanity. The themes of redemption, hope, family and kindness, are ones we always return to in stories, particularly around Christmas time.

Tell us about your Bob Cratchit...

On the one hand he’s the man people are probably familiar with, the essence of him is a good, loyal, family man who toils away in Scrooge’s workplace and is paid next to nothing in order to provide for his family. He has a child who is sick - that’s Tim - and he has a daughter Belinda and his wife, Mary, that’s his family. But at the same time, there is a steeliness to him and a degree of pluckiness that is played around with in a way that hasn’t been seen before. His way of fighting back as much as he can is by biting back at Scrooge or being a little bit sarcastic or snide, never so much that he oversteps the boundary because he can’t afford to, but he isn’t completely subservient and weak either.

It’s exciting to get to play a character that is so well-known and from a source material that is so important to so many people. I didn’t really look at other interpretations, it probably would have just made me feel intimidated as much as anything else, and I wanted to come at it fresh. Steve’s story is very much a world of its own and that goes with the characters too.

Tell us about Steven Knight’s scripts…

He’s such a talented writer. It’s one of the best things I’ve read. He obviously writes Peaky Blinders, and that doesn’t feel a million miles away in tone from this world. He’s explored a story that has been done so many times but has found a completely fresh approach, and he’s explored themes and elements that haven’t been looked at before and are really powerful.

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

It’s amazing working on anything and seeing what the heads of departments create with production design and with makeup and with costume, but particularly on period pieces because it is a new world you’re stepping into. It does so much for you. Streets were closed, they were covered in fake snow and there were horses and carts, and hundreds of children, men and women as supporting artists. And when you’re on those sets, in your costume and makeup, it helps you sink into that world so much more.

How do you feel about being involved in the show?

It’s been amazing to be a part of the show. It’s rare to read things like this and to work with a writer like Steve Knight, who is at the top of his game.

Apart from the two children who play my children, I was the youngest on set. So, to be surrounded by people like Guy Pearce, who I remember watching in Memento when I was 12 years old, Andy Serkis and Stephen Graham, was exciting. I was lucky to be a part of a story that means so much to people and is so iconic.

A Christmas Carol - a new interpretation of a timeless classic


Introduction by Steven Knight

It is a true privilege to have the opportunity to offer a new interpretation of a timeless classic.
This story has resonated with people all over the world for over one hundred and fifty years and that is proof that there is something as durable as a diamond at its heart. As someone in awe of Charles Dickens ability to create narrative and invent universally recognized characters, I have tried to stay faithful to the text. However, this has involved a close examination of what is written to find elements that perhaps Dickens in his own time was not allowed to write about due to contemporary sensibilities. I have asked why Scrooge is the man he is, what caused him to be so, and I have offered what I hope are challenging answers.

Every generation hands Dickens on to the next generation, and this evocation is offered with respect for whatever is deep and significant, and for all the many things that are fun, seasonal and festive. Expect some surprises and lots of snow.



Saturday 7 December 2019

We’re seeing double! Mel B & Mel B reflect on what a f***in’ year 2019 has been in new E4 special



For the first time in more than 10 years, Leigh Francis' most memorable Bo' Selecta impersonation comes face to face with his intended parody – Spice Girl Mel B - in a one-off 90-minute special on 17 December at 9pm on E4.  

What a F***in' Year on TV with Mel B & Mel B celebrates an entire year packed full of 'reet good' telly as the two Mels hang out together in her apartment in Leeds. Donning the classic leopard print dress, surrounded by party food and a fridge full of bevvies, the Mels will give their honest and brutal opinion on the TV moments that have made us laugh out loud and shed a tear over the past year.

What a F***in' Year on TV with Mel B & Mel B will be filled to the brim with famous catchphrases, outrageous TV clips, satirical sketches and a few celebrity cameos dropping by for a gossip.

Melanie Brown said: "I'm so excited to do this show because 2019 has been one hell of a year and I get to share all of it with ME - or rather Leigh as me. It's going to be funny, fabulous, fantastic and completely crazy. Even I don't know what to expect except it's going to be hilarious. Fasten your seat belts for a review of the year like no other."

Monday 2 December 2019

First-look of Lennie James as Nelly Rowe in Sky original Save Me Too


Here is the electrifying first-look photograph of Nelly Rowe in the second instalment of BAFTA nominated and RTS multi-award-winning Sky original, Save Me, as Lennie James reprises his role in the critically acclaimed London-based drama.

At the end of series one, which achieved an army of fans and became the most rapidly binged boxset in the broadcaster’s history, Nelly is left devastated when his desperate search for his daughter Jody is unsuccessful. To find Jody he has been dragged into a dark underworld, taken risks dangerous to himself and those closest to him, and challenged him to re-evaluate many of the decisions he has made about his life.

In the next gripping chapter of his quest we re-join Nelly seventeen months later.  Is he still looking for his daughter?  What hope is there of finding her? And if new evidence were to emerge what would it force Nelly to do next?

Showcasing bold, British drama at its finest, Save Me Too, produced by award-winning World Productions (Line of Duty, Bodyguard) will see Lesley Manville (Mum, Harlots) join the all-star cast as Jennifer Charles, the wife of Gideon (Adrian Edmondson). Jennifer is forced to make an almost impossible choice that will place her in direct conflict with Nelly, following the return of the vulnerable girl, Grace (Olive Gray), whom Nelly rescued whilst searching for Jody.

Suranne Jones returns as Jody's mum Claire who faces the dire possibilities of her daughter’s fate and Stephen Graham is back as Melon, who is attempting to start a new life with Bernie (Alice Feetham). Also returning are; Thomas Coombes (Goz), Kerry Godliman (Teens), Nadine Marshall (D.I O'Halloran), Susan Lynch (Stace) and Jason Flemyng (Tam), all contributing to the vibrant community that viewers came to know and love in the first series, which is currently available to watch on demand on Sky and streaming service NOW TV.

Save Me Too will air on Sky Atlantic and Now TV in 2020

I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! Monday 2 Dec preview (video)


Nadine Coyle undertakes tonight's Bushtucker Trial - Movile Home

I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! continues Monday 2 December at 9pm on ITV

Competition: Win Plebs - Series 5 on DVD


Plebs - Series 5 is out on DVD on 9th December.


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

Synopsis
Plebs follows the lives of three hapless young men from the suburbs as they try to get laid, hold down jobs and climb the social ladder in the big city...of Rome in 23BC. Penned by Sam Leifer (How Not to Live Your Life) and Tom Basden (Fresh Meat) and starring Tom Rosenthal (Friday Night Dinner), Ryan Sampson (Brassic) and Jonathan Pointing (London Kills) alongside a stellar cast and inspired guest stars.

Series five sees Amanda Holden (Wild at Heart) feature as lusty aristocrat Rufina who takes a liking to Jason (Pointing) when he gate-crashes a banquet…and he doesn’t seem to mind too much. Marcus (Rosenthal), Aurelius the water-boy man (Basden) and lazy slave Grumio (Sampson) are still trying to turn the Crown and Toga into the trendiest nightspot in the city, even if it means getting in with a rowdy bunch of sports hooligans including Leo Gregory (Green Street Hooligans).

Developing schemes and side-hustles aplenty, the gang are joined on their adventures by Emilia Fox (Delicious) who guest stars as a detective and Tony Robinson (Blackadder Goes Forth) who, of course, plays an archaeologist. Returning characters include series favourites Landlady (Maureen Lipman – Coronation Street), Landlord (Karl Theobald – GameFace), Sylvia (Samantha Spiro – Sex Education) and Lepidus (Danny Webb – Humans).

With Marcus wooing Gloria (Ellie Taylor – The Mash Report) who runs the laundrette next door, Jason and Aurelius trying their luck at a male escort agency, and Grumio inventing the first hands-free parasol: The Grumbrella, you know you’re in for a right Roman riot.

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

For your chance to win just answer the question below.

COMPETITION CLOSED


Terms and conditions
1. Closing date 16-12-19
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.