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Saturday, 27 February 2021

The Hairy Bikers Go North

After years of riding abroad, The Hairy Bikers, Si King and Dave Myers, are back home in the North of England on their most personal journey yet.

In this 8 x 60' series for BBC Two they will travel from the west coast to the east, discovering the northern producers who are revolutionising the British food scene.

Each week they'll base themselves in one stunning location and explore the changing area through restaurants, recipes, producers and inventive new food entrepreneurs.

This is a food adventure that explains where the bikers came from, taking them to the regions they grew up in and have shaped them. But it isn't all familiar territory. Through the Peaks and Dales they uncover inventive new production methods, allowing the Bikers to create some incredible new recipes that showcase the allure of the mighty North.

They begin their journey In Lancashire, the red rose county, and travel through Cumbria, Yorkshire, The Peak district in Derbyshire, Northumberland and Newcastle. Along the way they take in some of the best gastro pubs in the land, meet award-winning local producers and an incredible range of young food entrepreneurs who are revolutionizing their local food scenes. They discover how tradition and the modern world are influencing one another in unique and exciting ways.

Si King says: ''Without doubt our most personal emotional and enlightening journey we've undertaken. Go North was a trip around the wonderful northern landscapes that shaped our identities, palates, culture and friendship. We met some great folk dedicated to their areas and to the continued success of their beloved communities. We flipping loved every turn of that motorcycle wheel."

Dave Myers says: "It's been nearly a decade since we went on the road in Britain and it's true you quite often miss what's on your own doorstep. We had already decided to film in the UK before Covid was an issue and stopped foreign travel, so we filmed here through choice not circumstance.

"The series is a love letter to the north, and a celebration of the food and the people that produce it. Viewers will get to see the two of us in our temporary homes in an intimate, honest reflection of two life-long friends cooking laughing and living together. We found amazing cooks, chefs and producers who have chosen to make the north their home. The landscape and roads are as varied as the people themselves. Please join us for a joyous romp through some of the finest food in the world and the world that is ours, The Hairy Bikers."

Even more Married at First Sight Australia coming to E4

Married at First Sight Australia Season 6 sadly concludes Monday 1 March, but buckle up as we're heading back down under soon, as Married at First Sight Australia series 7 is set to land on E4 this summer.

The popular dating show sees a whole new bunch of singles go on the journey of their lifetime by going on bucks night for the boys, and hens night for the ladies. Our couples will then say 'I do' after meeting each other for the first time on their wedding day. But that's just the start, after the celebrations are over, their relationships will really be put to the test as they go on a luxury honeymoon, before moving in with each other AND their fellow couples.

Married at First Sight Australia series 6 is currently drawing a huge consolidated average audience of 1.3m viewers and a 6.0% share of audience and 14.0% 16-34 share. The series has been the biggest All 4 title every week since launch.

Married at First Sight Australia Series 7 will be broadcast on E4 this summer.

Friday, 26 February 2021

First look at Gomorrah's fifth and final season

Sky today revealed the first look images and behind-the-scenes video of the fifth and final season of Gomorrah, the Sky Original blockbuster series produced by ITV Studios' Cattleya in collaboration with Beta Film, based on an idea by Roberto Saviano. The award-winning series set a new standard for Italian TV series when it debuted in 2014 and has gone on to receive widespread acclaim from both viewers and critics alike. To date the series has been shown in over 190 territories around the world.


The highly anticipated new episodes of the most popular Italian series in the world - which The New York Times recently rated #5 of the top 30 international shows of the past decade - are written by the head writers Leonardo Fasoli and Maddalena Ravagli, who are also the authors of the series bible with Roberto Saviano. Gianluca Leoncini and Valerio Cilio round out the writers' room.

Marco D'Amore and Claudio Cupellini, who have been at the helm since season 1, are going to direct five episodes each as well as serving as the artistic supervisors of the series. D'Amore has previously directed two episodes of Gomorrah 4 and the box office hit The Immortal, produced by Cattleya and Vision Distribution, intended as a bridge between Season 4 and 5.

Filming of the fifth season of the series commenced in Riga and is now taking place in Naples, with the final day of shooting scheduled for May. The series is set to air on Sky and NOW TV.

The first-look images and the backstage video show the protagonists of Sky's iconic series back on set: Salvatore Esposito, playing Genny Savastano who is forced into hiding in a bunker at the end of the fourth season, Arturo Muselli as Enzo Sangue Blu and Ivana Lotito as Azzurra Avitabile, Genny's wife. Returning both in front and behind the camera Marco D'Amore, stars again in the role of Ciro Di Marzio, left for dead at the end of the third season and - as revealed in the finale of the movie The Immortal - sensationally back on the scene, alive, in Latvia.

The clash between the Levante's and Patrizia left Naples in a pile of bricks forcing Genny to give up his dream of normality and to come back in action. But the police hot on Genny's heels forced him into a bunker alone without Azzurra and Pietrino. His only ally is now 'O Maestrale, the mysterious crime boss of Naples' eastern district Ponticelli . War is imminent and the enemies are fierce. But Genny is about to make a sensational discovery: Ciro Di Marzio is alive, in Latvia. And for Genny nothing will ever be the same.

Gomorrah - final season | Coming soon on Sky and NOW TV

Sky reveals first look of Kenneth Branagh as U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson in Sky Original drama This Sceptred Isle as filming commences

Sky has revealed a first look image of Kenneth Branagh as U.K Prime Minister Boris Johnson as he commences filming on This Sceptred Isle. The five-part drama will chart the events surrounding the U.K. Prime Minister, the government, and the country in the face of the first wave of the global pandemic.

The Sky Original drama which will air on Sky Atlantic and streaming service NOW TV is produced by Fremantle, Richard Brown's Passenger and Michael Winterbottom's Revolution Films. BAFTA and Emmy award-winning actor Kenneth Branagh will play U.K. Prime Minister, Boris Johnson. 

This Sceptred Isle will tell the tale of some of the most devastating events to ever befall the United Kingdom, and of a Prime Minister leading in these unprecedented times. The drama will trace the impact on Britain from this once in a generation pandemic, and the response of scientists, nurses, and doctors as they worked tirelessly and heroically to contain and overcome the virus. It is based on the first-hand testimony of people from all walks of life; from Number 10 Downing Street, the Department of Health, The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), and from hospitals and care homes across the country.

All Star Musicals returns for a one-off special

All Star Musicals returns to ITV later this year for a spectacular one-off special that will see six celebrities flex their theatrical muscles on stage.  Each of the celebrities will embark on the ultimate musical theatre masterclass culminating in a show stopping one-night extravaganza.

John Barrowman is back as the show's host with Elaine Paige heading up a panel of critics with a distinguished history in the West End and on Broadway.  Joining Elaine on the panel will be returning Trevor Dion Nicholas (Hamilton, Aladdin) and Samantha Barks (Les Miserables, Frozen).

The special, produced by Multistory Media, will see a host of famous faces take to the stage to perform an iconic musical number. Each of the celebrities, all of whom have been selected based on their stand out performance skills, will be aiming to impress the virtual audience, as well as the panel.

Alongside the celebrities' performances on stage, viewers will also get to see John, Elaine, Trevor and Samantha perform together in the show's opening number.

The celebrities will be mentored by Elaine and supported by a West End chorus line and, in the lead up to their big performance, will receive training from expert choreographers and vocal coaches. The musical numbers performed will be from a range of famous musicals, both contemporary and traditional.

Each of the celebrities will be scored by the virtual audience and the critics with both votes combined to determine who will be 'top of the bill' and the 2021 All Star Musicals champion.

John Barrowman said "Now more than ever we're all in need of some fabulous musical entertainment and I can't wait to be reunited with Elaine on stage for All Star Musicals.  We've got the most amazing show lined up with something for everyone and lots and lots of surprises!"

Elaine Paige added "All Star Musicals is a joy to be a part of, I'm so pleased to be back heading up the critics panel and mentoring our new celebrities.  We've got the most wonderful evening of musical theatre and entertainment lined up for viewers and some very exciting surprises."

Ricky Wilson swaps music for art in brand new CBBC show, Ricky Wilson’s Art Jam

Kaiser Chiefs frontman Ricky Wilson is to switch the microphone for a paintbrush in new CBBC show, Ricky Wilson's Art Jam.

Each episode sees the former art teacher invite a celebrity friend into his art studio to chat about their lives and art passions. Bringing with them three treasured objects, the celebrities will tell Ricky the stories and meaning behind them which he then uses as inspiration to create a stunning, bespoke piece of art just for them.

Famous faces joining Ricky for Ricky Wilson's Art Jam include former Girls Aloud star Nadine Coyle, Radio 1 DJ Nick Grimshaw, YouTuber Joe Sugg, TV presenter Kem Cetinay alongside a host of other athletes, social media stars and TV personalities.

Ricky will also take viewers around the UK on a tour of street art, museums and art galleries, highlighting some of the artists and creators that have inspired him. Ricky will also show his celebrity pals some of the amazing art work CBBC viewers have sent in for the show.

Ricky says: "Art was my favourite subject at school and I'm excited to 'don' my Art Jam apron and create some artwork for my celebrity friends, and of course show the CBBC viewers how simple it is to transform anything into a special and unique piece of art."

Lockdown Learning is available on CBBC, BBC Two, BBC Bitesize, BBC iPlayer and the Red Button.

Ricky Wilson's Art Jam launches on CBBC at 11am on Monday 1 March with all episodes available on BBC iPlayer that day.

Channel 4 orders more Steph’s Packed Lunch

Expectation and Can Can Productions have been commissioned to make a bumper second helping of the weekday lunchtime show Steph's Packed Lunch for Channel 4. The recommission means the show will continue to air across 2021.

Presented by Steph McGovern, Steph's Packed Lunch is broadcast live from Leeds bringing viewers a daily dose of entertainment, lifestyle and consumer news with celebrity guests, fantastic food and intriguing real-life stories.

Steph's Packed Lunch launched in September 2020, airing from 12.30pm to 2.10pm on Channel 4. Since its launch, the show has more than doubled its viewer share, up 103%, and nearly trebled its volume, up 188%. The w/c 8th February 2021 saw its best weekly performance to date, with an average of 277k viewers and a 3.3% share.

On Steph's Packed Lunch, Steph McGovern is joined by an on-screen family of well-known faces each day, including Anton du Beke, Chris Kamara and Oti Mabuse. The show also features a mix of chefs cooking up tasty lunchtime treats, plus consumer, legal and medical experts to give timely advice to viewers at home.

The Celebrity Circle: Who is real and who is a catfish?

The Circle is back, kicking off with The Celebrity Circle for Stand Up To Cancer on Tuesday 9 March on Channel 4.

For the first time ever, a group of celebrities move into the most famous apartment block in the UK. Expect twists and turns as these VIPs compete to be crowned The Circle's most popular celebrity player. While some of the celebrities are playing as themselves in the game, others are catfishing as another celebrity identity altogether, hoping to convince the other players that they are the real deal.

Who are each of the celebrities playing as in the game in their mission to be crowned most popular?

Going into The Celebrity Circle as themselves:
Denise van Outen
Duncan James
Saffron Barker

Going into The Celebrity Circle under a celebrity catfish profile
Baga Chipz will be playing as Kim Woodburn
Lady Leshurr will be playing as Big Narstie
Kaye Adams and Nadia Sawalha will be playing as Gemma Collins
Rickie Haywood-Williams and Melvin Odoom will be playing as Will.i.am
Sam Thompson and Pete Wicks will be playing as Rachel Riley
and Charlotte Crosby will join the game as a new player, playing as Peter Andre

This edition of the game will see suspicions heightened and gameplaying galore as the celebs compete for the title of most popular player. The series was filmed in autumn last year, with the celebrities having no idea who was catfishing and who was keeping it real.

Emma Willis returns as host, delivering the players some surprise alerts along the way, and comedian Sophie Willan resumes her role as the unmistakable voiceover of each episode.

Fans of the show won't have long to wait for even more action from The Circle. The six-part celebrity series will be followed immediately by the all-new third series of The Circle.

The Celebrity Circle starts Tuesday 9 March on Channel 4

Channel 4 announce new Daytime show "Tool Club"

Channel 4 and Screen Scotland today announced a new pilot from Scotland-based Beezr Studios and Spark North - Spark Media's new Sheffield -based off-shoot - for Channel 4 daytime. The hour-long pilot, Tool Club, was commissioned through the joint funding partnership between Screen Scotland and Channel 4 announced last year.

We might all have attempted to spruce up our surroundings recently, but with millions of pounds spent each year rectifying the DIY jobs Brits have botched at home this timely pilot will offer useful tips and hacks to help us skill up and offer some practical inspiration to everyone bored of the same four walls.

Tool Club is a celebration of the do it yourself attitude and host Michael Underwood will lead a team of creative DIY experts including Jessica Grizzle (all round DIY expert), Julia Miller-Osborn(DIY Dynamo) and Max McMurdo (Designer and Upcycler) who will  tackle a range of DIY disasters.  From an ambitious community build to a garden makeover, small household repairs and furniture upcycling, each project will be a handy guide for viewers at home who want to get stuck in themselves.

A mobile DIY roadshow, the Tool Bus will be a drop-in base for members of the local community to walk in with their DIY-woes. With no job too big or too small, The Tool Bus will be a base for the team to demonstrate and teach some simple skills that can transform DIY disasters into something to be proud of.

Alasdair MacCuish said 'The opportunity to bring Tool Club to the C4 Daytime audience is something we are very excited about. The show couldn't be more timely, and having the support of both the Channel and Screen Scotland has been tremendous during these challenging times'.

Thursday, 25 February 2021

The Underground Railroad - Official Teaser

The 10-episode limited series is based on the Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Colson Whitehead.

About The Underground Railroad

The Underground Railroad chronicles Cora Randall's (newcomer Thuso Mbedu) desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. After escaping a Georgia plantation for the rumoured Underground Railroad, Cora discovers no mere metaphor, but an actual railroad full of engineers and conductors, and a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil.

Over the course of her journey, Cora is pursued by Ridgeway (Joel Edgerton), a bounty hunter who is fixated on bringing her back to the plantation she escaped; especially since her mother Mabel is the only one he has never caught.

As she travels from state to state, Cora contends with the legacy of the mother that left her behind and her own struggles to realise a life she never thought was possible.

The Underground Railroad stars Thuso Mbedu, Chase W. Dillon and Joel Edgerton. Aaron Pierre, William Jackson Harper, Sheila Atim, Amber Gray, Peter De Jersey, Chukwudi Iwuji, Damon Herriman, Lily Rabe, Irone Singleton, Mychal-Bella Bowman, Marcus "MJ" Gladney, Jr., Will Poulter and Peter Mullan round out the cast.

Barry Jenkins serves as showrunner and directs all ten episodes of the limited series. He executive produces alongside Adele Romanski, Mark Ceryak, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Brad Pitt, Richard Heus, Jacqueline Hoyt and Colson Whitehead. The Underground Railroad is a production of Plan B, Pastel and Big Indie with Amazon Studios.

Monday, 22 February 2021

First Look at Highly Anticipated Dramedy "Physical"

First look at "Physical," a new dramedy starring Emmy and Golden Globe nominee Rose Byrne and created by Annie Weisman, and produced by Tomorrow Studios. The 10-episode Apple Original series will make its global premiere this summer on Apple TV+.

Set in the idyllic but fragile beach paradise of sunny 1980s San Diego, "Physical" is a half-hour dark comedy following Sheila Rubin (played by Byrne), a quietly tortured, seemingly dutiful housewife supporting her smart but controversial husband's bid for state assembly. But behind closed doors, Sheila has her own darkly funny take on life she rarely lets the world see. She's also battling a complex set of personal demons relating to her self-image... that is, until she finds release through the unlikeliest source: the world of aerobics.

At first hooked on the exercise itself, Sheila's real road to empowerment comes when she discovers a way to merge this newfound passion with the burgeoning technology of videotape to start a revolutionary business. The series tracks her epic journey from a stifled, overlooked enabler to a powerful, confident economic force, as Sheila transforms into someone we take for granted today (but was entirely radical at the time) - the female lifestyle guru.

In addition to Byrne, "Physical" stars Rory Scovel, Dierdre Friel, Della Saba, Lou Taylor Pucci, Paul Sparks and Ashley Liao.

First Look at "Lisey's Story" Starring Julianne Moore and Clive Owen

Apple TV+ reveals first look at "Lisey's Story," from creator Stephen King and starring Academy Award winner Julianne Moore and Golden Globe Award winner Clive Owen

New limited series based on the best-selling novel to debut summer 2021 on Apple TV+

"Lisey's Story," the highly anticipated Apple Original limited series from creator and executive producer Stephen King, executive producer J.J. Abrams, director and executive producer Pablo Larraín, and starring and executive produced by Academy Award winner Julianne Moore, will make its global debut this summer on Apple TV+. The news was revealed today at the Television Critics Association Winter 2021 Press Tour, along with a first look at the star-studded eight-episode series.

Based on the best-selling novel by Stephen King, and adapted by the author himself, "Lisey's Story" is a deeply personal thriller that follows Lisey Landon (played by Moore) two years after the death of her husband, famous novelist Scott Landon (played by Clive Owen). A series of unsettling events causes Lisey to face memories of her marriage to Scott that she has deliberately blocked out of her mind. Joan Allen, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Dane DeHaan, Sung Kang and Ron Cephas Jones star alongside Moore and Owen.

An Apple Original limited series, "Lisey's Story" is directed by Pablo Larraín, and hails from J. J. Abrams' Bad Robot Productions and Warner Bros. Television. In a rare step, every episode of the series was personally written by Stephen King. King, Moore, and Larraín executive produce alongside Abrams, Ben Stephenson and Juan de Dios Larraín.

Apple's Gripping Drama "The Mosquito Coast," Starring Justin Theroux and Melissa George

Apple TV+ announced that "The Mosquito Coast," the widely anticipated drama series adapted from the best-selling novel and starring Justin Theroux, Melissa George, Logan Polish and Gabriel Bateman, will premiere globally with the first two episodes on Friday, April 30, followed by new episodes every Friday on Apple TV+. The news was unveiled today at the Television Critics Association Winter 2021 Press Tour, along with a first look at the Apple Original series.

From award-winning novelist and creator Neil Cross, and based on the best-selling book by Paul Theroux which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, "The Mosquito Coast" is a gripping adventure and layered character drama following the dangerous journey of a radical idealist and brilliant inventor, Allie Fox (played by Justin Theroux), who uproots his family for Mexico when they suddenly find themselves on the run from the US government.

The seven-episode series is executive produced by creator Neil Cross alongside Rupert Wyatt, who also directs the first two episodes, author Paul Theroux, star Justin Theroux and Edward L. McDonnell. Bob Bookman, Alan Gasmer and Peter Jaysen also serve as executive producers for Veritas Entertainment Group. "The Mosquito Coast" is a Fremantle Production.

Acclaimed Apple Original Comedy "Mythic Quest" Returns May 7, 2021

First look at the sophomore season of its hit workplace comedy "Mythic Quest," and announced that the new season will make its much anticipated global debut on Friday, May 7, 2021 on Apple TV+.

With the quarantine finally over, season two of "Mythic Quest" finds everyone back in the office (well, almost everyone), attempting to build upon the success of Raven's Banquet by launching an epic new expansion, but Ian (Rob McElhenney) and the newly promoted co-creative director, Poppy (Charlotte Nicdao), struggle with the game's direction. Meanwhile, C.W. (F. Murray Abraham) reconciles some unresolved issues from his past, the testers (Ashly Burch and Imani Hakim) test the bounds of an office romance, and David (David Hornsby) loses yet another woman in his life as Jo (Jessie Ennis) leaves him to assist Brad (Danny Pudi).

Created by Rob McElhenney, Charlie Day and Megan Ganz, "Mythic Quest" is executive produced by McElhenney and Day under their RCG banner, Michael Rotenberg and Nicholas Frenkel on behalf of 3Arts, and Jason Altman, Danielle Kreinik and Gérard Guillemot for Ubisoft Film and Television. David Hornsby and Megan Ganz also executive produce. The series is produced for Apple TV+ by the Lionsgate, 3 Arts Entertainment and Ubisoft.

"Schmigadoon!" to Premiere Globally This Summer on Apple TV+

Apple TV+ unveiled a first look at "Schmigadoon!," a new musical comedy series executive produced by Lorne Michaels, and starring Emmy Award nominee Cecily Strong and Emmy Award winner Keegan-Michael Key that is set to make its global debut this summer on Apple TV+

"Schmigadoon!," a parody of iconic musicals, stars Cecily Strong and Keegan-Michael Key as a couple on a backpacking trip designed to reinvigorate their relationship when they discover a magical town in which everyone is living in a studio musical from the 1940s. They then discover that they can't leave until they find "true love." The first season of the six-episode series also stars Alan Cumming, Kristin Chenoweth, Aaron Tveit, Dove Cameron, Ariana DeBose, Fred Armisen, Jaime Camil, Jane Krakowski and Ann Harada.

Hailing from Broadway Video and Universal Television, a division of Universal Studio Group, "Schmigadoon!" is co-created by Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio. Cinco Paul serves as showrunner, and wrote all of the original music for the series. Barry Sonnenfeld directs and executive produces. In addition to starring, Cecily Strong serves as producer, and Ken Daurio serves as consulting producer and writer. Andrew Singer executive produces with Lorne Michaels on behalf of Broadway Video.

Saturday Night Takeaway peaks with 8.1 million viewers

ITV continues its Saturday night dominance

Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway burst back onto screens with an audience peak of 8.1 million viewers, with the show averaging an impressive 7.3million viewers. This makes it the second highest rating programme of the year*, outside of news and sport across any channel.

The audience last night continues ITV's ratings dominance on Saturday nights - with ITV being the most watched channel across over 75% or 45 out of the 60 Saturdays since the start of 2020. This rises to over 77% of Saturdays (46 out of 60 Saturdays) in terms of popularity with 16-34 audiences.

The 2021 series opened to 1.2m 16-34 viewers, making it one of the highest rating programmes of the year for this demographic, outside of news and sport.

The Mezzotint, a ghost story for Christmas from M. R. James and Mark Gatiss, is announced

BBC Two and BBC iPlayer have announced The Mezzotint, a ghost story for Christmas based on the M. R. James short story and adapted for television by Mark Gatiss. The haunting standalone drama is made by Can Do Productions and Adorable Media, and will air this December.

"For sale: Interesting mezzotint: View of a manor-house, early part of last century."

It's 1922 and in the heart of an old English college, Edward Williams receives an engraving of an unknown country house. An imposing facade. A sweeping lawn. And, just perhaps, something else…?

Laced with M. R. James' trademark terror, The Mezzotint will guarantee a chill in the air for viewers this Christmas.

Rory Kinnear (Years & Years, No Time To Die) stars as Williams, alongside Robert Bathurst (Cold Feet, Downton Abbey) as Garwood, and Frances Barber (Doctor Who, Semi-Detached) as Mrs Ambrigail. The Mezzotint also stars John Hopkins (Poldark, Lucky Man), Emma Cunniffe (Roadkill, Unforgotten), Nikesh Patel (Four Weddings and a Funeral, Indian Summers), and Tommaso Di Vincenzo (Dracula).

The Mezzotint is the latest ghost story for Christmas from Mark Gatiss on the BBC, following Martin's Close in 2019, The Dead Room in 2018, The Tractate Middoth in 2013, and Crooked House in 2008. All were a ratings hit, with Martin's Close becoming BBC Four's most watched programme of 2019, with 1.5 million viewers (30-day consolidated figure).

Mark Gatiss says: "It's delightful to be bringing a little seasonal unease to the nation once again and this famous M. R. James story is just the ticket. We've assembled a top-notch team to bring this eerie mystery - and a certain enigmatic old picture - to life."

Filming wrapped recently in the South of England. The Mezzotint will air this Christmas on BBC Two and BBC iPlayer.

Friday, 19 February 2021

First look image of Keeping Faith 3

First-look image for the third and final series of Keeping Faith - the BBC iPlayer hit starring Eve Myles - due to air soon on BBC One and BBC iPlayer.

Eve Myles returns as Faith Howells as she attempts to navigate the fall out of her marriage break-up, while taking on an emotionally wrenching legal medical case involving a gravely ill little boy.

Bradley Freegard as Evan Howells and Mark Lewis Jones as Steve Baldini are joined by Olivier award-winning Celia Imrie (Victoria Wood: As Seen On TV, Dinnerladies, Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) for this third series.

Matthew Aubrey (Made in Dagenham, The Gospel Of Us), Bafta Award-winning actress Dame Sian Phillips, and presenter and actor Shaun Fletcher have also joined the cast.

Keeping Faith was originally developed by S4C as Un Bore Mercher. Produced for BBC Wales and S4C by Vox Pictures, in association with APC and Nevision. Directed by Pip Broughton and Judith Dine, written by Matthew Hall and Pip Broughton, and produced by Pip Broughton and Llyr Morus.

Helena Bonham Carter and David Mitchell join the stellar cast for The Cleaner, written by and starring Greg Davies

The cast for The Cleaner includes: Helena Bonham Carter (The Crown), David Mitchell (Upstart Crow, Back), Stephanie Cole (Still Open All Hours), Donald Sumpter (Game Of Thrones), Shobu Kapoor (Four Weddings And A Funeral), Ruth Madeley (Years And Years), Layton Williams (Everybody's Talking About Jamie musical), Zita Sattar (Casualty), Georgie Glen (The Crown, Call The Midwife), Bill Skinner (Ted Lasso) and Esmonde Cole (Still So Awkward).

Written by and starring Greg Davies, The Cleaner follows Paul 'Wicky' Wickstead, a state-certified cleaning technician with a very special field of work - he is a crime-scene cleaner responsible for the removal of any signs of death.

Armed with chemicals, scrubbing brushes and cleaning rags, Wicky removes the gruesome mess at the scene of the crime. When carrying out his duties, he stumbles across the strangest of people, from the victim's relatives, employers, neighbours and acquaintances to occasionally even the murderers themselves. And because he's a sociable type, he sometimes gossips more than he cleans…

Greg Davies says: "I'm thrilled that this remarkable collection of actors has agreed to appear next to me on screen. Scrubbing up blood in a hazmat suit in front of them will be a pleasure."

James Newman will return to represent the United Kingdom in the Eurovision Song Contest 2021

James Newman has been confirmed as the artist representing the United Kingdom at the Eurovision Song Contest 2021 after the competition was postponed in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The 65th Eurovision Song Contest will be held in Rotterdam, The Netherlands in May 2021, and the United Kingdom song will be revealed in March 2021.

James Newman is a hugely successful BRIT Award-winning and Grammy-nominated songwriter. James won a BRIT for British Single of the Year for Waiting All Night, performed by Rudimental and Ella Eyre. He has also written hit singles Lay It All On Me performed by Rudimental ft Ed Sheeran, Blame performed by Calvin Harris ft. John Newman, and Therapy, performed by Armin Van Buuren and James Newman. Last year James co-wrote My Last Breath with acclaimed British songwriters Ed Drewett, Iain James and Adam Argyle which was the song entered by the UK in last year's competition before it was postponed. James released his debut EP The Things We Do in Summer 2020 and ended the year with another new collaboration with Armin Van Buuren, Slow Lane.

The BBC also announces the renewed collaboration between BBC Studios and music company BMG for this year's contest. The song will be released and published by BMG, and BBC Studios will once again produce the BBC's coverage of the biggest and most watched song competition in the world.

James Newman says: "I'm so excited and honoured to be getting a second chance at representing my country in the Eurovision Song Contest. I haven't stopped making new music in lockdown and I can't wait for everyone to hear the song I'm taking to Eurovision in 2021."

The Eurovision Song Contest Grand Final will take place on Saturday 22 May in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, and will be broadcast live on BBC One with commentary by Graham Norton; and live on BBC Radio 2 with commentary from Ken Bruce. Ken Bruce will be also be previewing Eurovision on his Radio 2 show from 9.30am-12 noon on Friday 21 May. The semi-finals will be held on Tuesday 18 & Thursday 20 May, broadcast live on BBC Four.

As one of the Big Five countries (United Kingdom, Spain, Germany, France, Italy), the United Kingdom does not have to qualify from the semi-final stage of the competition and will gain automatic access to the Saturday Grand Final. The Netherlands, as the incumbent champion, will also not need to qualify from the semi-final stage and will gain automatic entry to the Grand Final.

Beauty Fix with Naomi Shimada coming to BBC Sounds

In each episode Naomi will delve behind the selfies and meet the models, influencers and campaigners who know how to get their beauty fix, while showing that beauty is anything but fixed.

The podcast will explore some of the most pressing representation issues in the fashion and beauty industry, as each week Naomi and her guest share what beauty really means to them. Discussions include: embracing natural hair with model and activist Ebonee Davis, celebrating skin tones with Queer Eye's Tan France, sustainable beauty with Dr. Richard Blackburn, fashion for all with campaigner Sinéad Burke, inclusive make-up with beauty blogger Gary Thompson, aka The Plastic Boy, bald beauty with make-up artist Emmy Combs, unfiltered beauty with model Kadeeja Khan, carefree body hair with model Deba Hekmat, Nail Transphobia with activist Charlie Craggs, and ageless fashion with legendary designer Dame Zandra Rhodes.

Naomi says: "So often when we speak about beauty, it's about glamour, hair, make-up and the aesthetics of someone's face. But beauty to me is something so intrinsic, something that comes from so deep within us and exudes out, which makes everyone beautiful in their own way. I'm hoping that's what people hear in the podcast - stories of survival from different people, all finding their own ways to feel beautiful, by feeling free to be themselves."

Beauty Fix will launch on BBC Sounds Friday 26 February.

BBC Three has commissioned Twofour to produce Roman Kemp: Our Silent Emergency (w/t)

In August last year, Roman Kemp's life changed dramatically with the sudden and unexpected death of his best friend, radio producer Joe Lyons. This timely documentary will see Roman taking a closer look at the urgent issue of young men's mental health, exploring why increasing numbers are taking their own lives and the reasons why so many of them never ask for help.

Wanting to find some answers in a difficult time, Roman will explore what can be done to encourage people to seek help, what preventative action we need to be taking, and the lasting impact that mental health and suicide can have on friends and families. This is a film about Roman's generation, young men and boys as they become adults, and how he himself could help add to a dialogue that might help those who are struggling in silence.

Roman Kemp says: "There is a growing mental health crisis going on right now, and without the right support, the results can be tragic. I hope that by making this documentary for BBC Three we can bring attention to a subject that is affecting thousands of young men across the country, and show that there are ways to reach those who are suffering and need our help."

Channel 4 to embark on Sex Odyssey (w/t) with Alice Levine

Channel 4 is to go under Britain's bedsheets to find out what turns the nation on. In a 3x60 series from Mindhouse Productions, broadcaster Alice Levine will be asking whether there's any such thing as "normal" when it comes to sex and sexuality in the 2020s.

Since lockdown, there's been a 900% increase in Brits searching for couples' sex toys while subscriptions to webcam services have skyrocketed. And when asked what we're most excited to do when life returns to normal, kinkier sex is a top priority. Is Britain finally shaking off its old conventions on sex?

To answer that question, Alice - co-creator of the internationally renowned podcast 'My Dad Wrote a Porno' - will immerse herself in the lives of sexual adventurers up and down Britain, meeting those pushing the boundaries of sex, intimacy and relationships.

In the series, executive produced by documentary-maker Louis Theroux, Alice will be invited into the nation's bedrooms, challenging her own preconceptions and discovering what happens when the shackles of sexual conformity are abandoned.

Alice Levine said: "It's a real honour to be the first presenter Louis is working with as an executive producer, especially after so many years watching his programmes. We are both fascinated by the contradictions of people's lives - the strange and transgressive, next to the mundane and ordinary, in one person's story. I hope that these films will be both warm and funny, surprising and sensitive. And if we can take the taboo out of talking about sex, that's a huge bonus."

Louis Theroux, Executive Producer said: "I've always seen films themed around sex as the most challenging but when you get them right the most rewarding. Our sexual interests are arguably the most fundamental aspect of who we are and we're living in a time when a lot of our assumptions are being rethought. This is a chance to examine all of that, and doing it with a presenter whose warmth, wit, intelligence, and sensitivity make her an ideal guide through sometimes difficult terrain."

Wednesday, 17 February 2021

First look at Kate Winslet in Mare of Easttown coming to Sky Atlantic and NOW TV 19 April

Sky has released the first tease trailer for the highly anticipated seven-part drama series Mare of Easttown. Academy Award® winner Kate Winslet stars as Mare Sheehan, a small-town detective who investigates a local murder as life crumbles around her.  

Winslet also acts as executive producer for the series alongside creator and writer Brad Ingelsby (The Way Back), with all episodes directed by Craig Zobel (The Leftovers). The limited series will air weekly from Monday 19 April on Sky Atlantic and NOW TV.

Mare of Easttown is an exploration into the dark side of a close community and an authentic examination of how family and past tragedies can define our present. It also stars Julianne Nicholson (The Outsider) as Lori Ross, Mare’s best friend since childhood; three-time Emmy®-winner Jean Smart (Watchmen) as Helen, Mare's mother; Angourie Rice (Black Mirror) as Siobhan Sheehan, Mare’s teenaged daughter; Evan Peters (American Horror Story) as Detective Colin Zabel, the county detective called in to assist with Mare's investigation; Guy Pearce (Mildred Pierce) as Richard Ryan, a local creative writing professor; Cailee Spaeny (Devs) as Erin McMenamin, an isolated teen living with her volatile father; David Denman (Outcast) as Frank Sheehan, Mare’s ex-husband; John Douglas Thompson (Let Them All Talk) as Chief Carter, Mare's boss at the Easttown Police Department; Patrick Murney (Seven Seconds) as Kenny McMenamin, Erin's father; James McArdle (Ammonite) as Deacon Mark Burton; Sosie Bacon (Here and Now) as Carrie Layden, Drew’s mother and Kevin’s ex-girlfriend; Joe Tippett (Rise) as John Ross, Lori's husband and high school sweetheart; and Neal Huff (The Wire) as Mare’s cousin, Father Dan Hastings.

Mare of Easttown will air on Sky Atlantic and NOW TV on Monday 19 April. It is an HBO co-production with wiip; creator, writer, showrunner, executive producer, Brad Ingelsby; director, executive producer, Craig Zobel; executive producer, Paul Lee through wiip; executive producer, Mark Roybal through wiip; executive producer, Kate Winslet; executive producer, Gavin O’Connor; executive producer, Gordon Gray through Mayhem Pictures.

Tuesday, 16 February 2021

Sky announces The Flight Attendant coming to Sky One and NOW TV this March

Sky has today announced the eight-episode limited series The Flight Attendant will air from 19 March on Sky One and NOW TV.

The Flight Attendant is a story of how an entire life can change in one night. A flight attendant (series star and executive producer Kaley Cuoco) wakes up in the wrong hotel, in the wrong bed, with a dead man – and no idea what happened. The dark comedic thriller is based on the novel of the same name by New York Times bestselling author Chris Bohjalian.

Starring alongside Cuoco is Michiel Huisman, Zosia Mamet, T.R. Knight, Michelle Gomez, Colin Woodell, Merle Dandridge, Griffin Matthews, Nolan Gerard Funk and Rosie Perez.

The Flight Attendant debuted on November 26 in the U.S. and was quickly renewed for a second season. The critically acclaimed first season has a 98% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes from nearly 60 critics' reviews. The show received nominations for Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy and Kaley Cuoco for Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy from the Golden Globe Awards; Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series and Kaley Cuoco for Oustanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series from the Screen Actors Guild Awards; Best Comedy Series and Kaley Cuoco for Best Actress in a Comedy Series from the Critics' Choice Awards; and Best New Series at the Writers Guild Awards.

Marsha Thomason joins The Bay in lead role as ITV orders a third series

Marsha Thomason joins The Bay in lead role as ITV orders a third series from Tall Story Pictures

ITV and Tall Story Pictures, part of ITV Studios, today announce that Cobra star Marsha Thomason is set to join ITV's hit crime drama, The Bay, for its third series.

Sold in over 100 territories across the world, series 1 achieved consolidated audiences of 7 million viewers with a share of 26% across six episodes. The second series currently on air is averaging over 7.5m viewers across all transmissions and devices, based on consolidated figures to date. On ITV Hub, The Bay Series 1 and Series 2 have earned a massive 19.8m programme streams since 18th December (when The Bay Series 1 dropped on ITV Hub), with 19.2m of these coming in 2021.

Marsha Thomason (Cobra, White Collar) joins the regular cast as Morecambe CID's new Family Liaison Officer, DS Jenn Townsend, following Morven Christie's decision to leave the show.

DS Townsend is immediately thrown into the deep end when a body is found in the bay on her first day in the job. She must get under the skin of a grieving and complicated family if she has any chance of solving the premature death of an aspiring young boxer. While she's eager to give the family answers, she also needs to prove herself as the team's newest recruit. The pressure is multiplied when her new blended family struggle to settle in Morecambe, proving to Jenn that a fresh start might not be as simple as moving to a different town.

Reprising their roles are Daniel Ryan (Innocent, Home Fires), Erin Shanagher (Viewpoint, Peaky Blinders), Thomas Law (The Worlds End, A Cinderella Story) and Andrew Dowbiggin (Cobra, Coronation Street).

The hugely successful drama is written by award-winning writer and playwright Daragh Carville (Being Human, The Smoke, Cherrybomb), with Furquan Akhtar co-writing series 3, and produced by Tall Story Pictures.  Series 3 is due to begin filming in the spring and will be produced by Irma Inniss (Tin Star, Holby City).

The third series has been commissioned by ITV's Head of Drama, Polly Hill.

"We are delighted with the audiences' response to The Bay and look forward to them meeting DS Jenn Townsend played by the fantastic Marsha Thomason, who joins the team in series 3."

Executive Producer, Catherine Oldfield says,

"Daragh and I couldn't be more delighted by the audience response to The Bay. That ITV have recommissioned the show is fantastic and to get a talent as bright and brilliant as Marsha to lead the new series is beyond exciting.  We can't wait to get back to Morecambe to start filming again in that beautiful part of the world."

Brian Conley joins cast of EastEnders

Star of stage and screen, the legendary Brian Conley is heading to Albert Square next month playing Terry Cant, Sonia's long lost father.

Sonia, feeling lonely and missing her daughter Bex, searched for her lost father's name online last year to no avail. Having given up any hope of finding her dad, Terry's arrival in Walford will be a huge shock for her. Terry is the ultimate people pleaser and will be quick to charm everyone on the Square and make himself at home but just how will Sonia react when he turns up in Walford?

Brian is a star of both stage and screen with a television career spanning four decades, he most famously hosted The Brian Conley Show and starred in the popular comedy drama The Grimleys. He has also been a force on the West End, playing the lead in musicals such as Me and My Girl, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Hairspray, Oliver!, Barnum and more recently 9 To 5 The Musical and A Christmas Carol at the Dominion Theatre London.

On his arrival to Albert Square, Brian says: "As you can imagine being a Londoner and now being part of EastEnders is such an incredible moment for me. I know for sure my dad's looking down from above and saying 'Good on yer son!' It was always his favourite programme. So in so many ways it really is an honour to be part of such an iconic show and to be working with an incredibly talented team on camera and off. I cannot wait to order my first pint at The Queen Vic."

Jon Sen, Executive Producer, EastEnders, adds: "We are delighted to welcome Brian to Albert Square. We had been searching for some time but the moment we met Brian, we knew instantly we had found our man. Brian's a talented performer whose charm, wit and charisma are exactly the qualities we want for Terry. We've got some wonderful stories in store for him and can't wait for the audience to see Brian bring him to life."

Brian's first scenes as Terry will be on screen later this spring.

Dragons' Den opens for business on BBC One in 2021

The Dragons - Peter Jones, Deborah Meaden, Touker Suleyman, Tej Lalvani, and Sara Davies - have all returned to the Den. Filmed during 2020 following the introduction of new guidelines that allowed the UK's TV production industry to restart and is to air in early 2021.

The Bafta-nominated series is produced by BBC Studios and has remained consistently popular with audiences over the years since it first broadcast on the BBC in 2005, with series 17 peaking at 3.4m viewers.

The last series saw a total of 27 investments made with nearly £2m pledged in the Den. Since its doors first opened in 2005 over 1,000 entrepreneurs have entered and there has been a total of 18 Dragons, who have made 276 deals and pledged over £22m in investments.

Kate Phillips, Acting Controller, BBC One says: "Dragons' Den has always been a favourite show with viewers and is still hugely popular. As a result it feels like the time is right to move our formidable Dragons' to BBC One, so they can entertain an even wider audience."

Hannah Wyatt, Managing Director for Factual Entertainment at BBC Studios, says: "We're thrilled to be taking the Dragons to BBC One and it's a real testament to the show's enduring popularity and the fantastic team who produce it. As Covid-19 continues to present a huge challenge for the business community across the nation, there has never been a more appropriate time to showcase great British entrepreneurialism to an ever wider audience."

Dragons' Den is a BBC Studios production. The Executive Producer is Chi Ukairo, the Series Producer is Samantha Davies and the Commissioning Editor for the BBC is Sarah Clay. Series 18 will air in 2021.

Dragons' Den was in the top 10 programme episodes on BBC Two so far this year for volume of all individuals, performing particularly well for younger and underserved audiences.

Chris Packham’s Animal Einsteins - Interview with Chris Packham

Life in the natural world is undoubtedly tough. Animals need to find food, create a safe home, attract a mate, raise a family and the most important of all - avoid being eaten.

But it's not only the physically fit that survive and thrive: problem solving, cunning trickery and the ability to co-operate with others can give some animals the upper hand.

In Chris Packham's Animal Einsteins viewers will meet nature's savviest species who show that brainpower, ingenuity and clever tactics are just as important as brawn in the daily battle for survival.

With the help of experts, experiments and the very latest science, Chris Packham shines a light upon some of the smartest creatures and explores what has led them to develop such talents.

Each 60-minute episode explores a very different skill, and showcases the animals that have honed that skill to perfection.

Interview with Chris Packham

Can you tell us what viewers can expect from Animal Einsteins?

I think there's going to be a lot of surprises for people, is the first thing. There are quite a lot of wow moments, there are stories here which are going to stop people in their tracks and get them to completely rethink the way that they probably consider other animals' intelligence. And I think the reason for that is that there's a lot of good new science.

One of the key things here is that there are a few stories that we've touched on before and that we've updated, but nevertheless there's a generous dose of up-to-date science. Given the advances in technology that we have, this has led our scientists to have a wide range of access to understand species' behaviour. It's really simple things sometimes, like the type of monitoring equipment we have, and this allows them to analyse the animals in a way that we haven't been previously able to do. While we previously have had suspicions, we are now able to prove those using the contemporary technology.

There are plenty of things there that will engage people because they'll be familiar with the animals. Of course, not everyone's met a Mantis Shrimp but most people do meet ants and domestic dogs and so on and so forth, and they play quite a significant role, so a lot of known species but with some unknown knew science brought to the fore which is great.

What attracted you to this series?

Selfishly speaking, I'm very fortunate in that my life is an ongoing learning experiment and I enjoy learning new things about animals, plants, life. Sometimes people imagine it's because you get to travel places - not at the moment obviously - or you get to meet the animals - not so much at the moment obviously. But really it's not, its meeting people who know more about them than I do. Because we're working closely with them, but with a focused objective, they effectively just tell me everything they know about that species and that topic. It's like an ongoing rolling series of lectures.

Part of the challenge of this series was to say to people, and we do repeatedly stress this, is that you cannot use the same parameters that we use to measure our own intelligence. They are just not applicable. The most significant example of that is perhaps the self-awareness with dogs using smell rather than sight, because a lot of people will know - because they have dogs - that they are relatively speaking an intelligent animal, but they don't have what we have.

We've previously never thought they had a sense of self, in the sense that they know each other and other dogs as individuals. I've always had suspicions because this is such a long-lived social animal, but there's an experiment done in the series which involves moving a dogs urine around its range, which seemed to show they do have a sense of self. So there's quite a lot of human ingenuity in it as well when it comes to the experiments and the science which is nice. So all of those things - I think it's good to get an update, I'm always curious, I love learning new things and I like human ingenuity when it comes to simple experiments.

What was the most unusual skill or technique that you saw the animals on this series displaying?

I think I'd go for the cuttlefish, the Mourning Cuttlefish. They make half of their body look like a female so they can sneak past another male and it is just unbelievably cheeky. I mean, we all like a con artist, I think we all like the idea of tricks, we are drawn to card tricks and magicians - and magicians have been going for thousands of years and we still watch them now - but when you look at that cuttlefish, looking half like a female so it can sneak in, and the male thinks "oh this is a bonus I've got two females" - but the minute it's under there, the male side attracts the female and they get to mate, and it's so sneaky and so brilliant that they have the capacity to change their colouration to mimic the opposite sex, for me that was just joyous, absolutely joyous.

Which animal do you think is the most intelligent animal that you encountered on the series?

Well clearly it was all the scientists that were doing the experiments, but if we take out the humans, the ones I actually met would be the raven that we had. Because the raven was presented with a challenge that it hadn't seen before. The first time it did it, it took about a minute and 15 seconds and then the second time it did it - which I think was the take that we used in the series - it did it in about 45 seconds. But what we didn't show in the episode was that once the raven had figured out, it just kept doing it again and again and again, because it was getting the reward. And in the end it was doing it in about 15 seconds, after about four goes. So it's not only that it had the capacity to solve the problem initially, it also has the capacity to hone its problem-solving ability so it could do it more effectively, and to see that in real time, every time it did the test it sort of halved the amount of time that it took, was just amazing.

I like ravens very much. Bran the raven, I've known that raven for quite a few years now, it belongs to a couple of friends of us all. So to see Bran in action, I mean it had already demolished the intelligence of My Former Poodles actually, on another series that we made, so we brought him back into play and once again he demonstrated these remarkable problem-solving abilities.

Do you think Animal Einsteins will change people's perceptions about animal intelligence?

I certainly hope so, and the first thing that has got to change is that we can't use what we think of as intelligence to measure intelligence in other species, because basically they don't need our sort of intelligence. Those attributes which can be enormously beneficial to us would not benefit the vast majority of other animals.

However, developing their own forms of intelligence is something which they have clearly done, but we have just never measured in a way in which we would therefore call them intelligent. With the little Cleaner Wrasse, we have a tiny fish which clearly knows itself and will therefore will know other wrasse as individuals.

So, another thing we are able to expose is that we drastically underestimated the intelligence of so many other animals up until this point, because we haven't been able to test them properly. But now, given our capacity to test them with new technologies, we are opening up a goldmine of new animal intelligence and I think people will find that exciting.

What can humans learn from the ingenuity of animals?

Well, I think one of the things we see in the Builders episode, where we look at biomimicry, which is where humans have essentially copied animal engineering. So when we look at bees, they want to create the maximum beneficial structure in terms of strength, durability and purpose. But they want to do it in the quickest amount of time using the minimum amount of material. Because for them, time and material are incredibly important resources, they don't have the luxury of being able to sit around pontificating about how they're going to do something because they're constantly on the knife edge of survival. So for them it's an absolute must.

What we see with animal construction is a purity of form that's driven by the need to absolutely maximise and optimise their capabilities in term of design, as it were. And so, when we copy from those - honeycomb, all sorts of other things - and there's an enormous benefit to us, because we are able to mimic those advantages that they have.

So, I think that's a key thing, that we do learn from other animals and we've always done that I think, we've been doing it for a long time, but now we have the ability to measure that so much more precisely. I mean, we talk about beaver dams in the way that they are shaped so that the water pressure holds the dam onto the substrate beneath it. And obviously we build our dams in the same way. In engineering terms, it makes sense, otherwise they'll fall down and everything gets flooded, so I think biomimicry is key, I think a lot of people will take that away from the series as well.

What are some of the new scientific discoveries that have come out of the series?

We've got the bees that can count, obviously. That's been done at Queen Mary, University of London. And we go on to show them playing football, which is a bit of gag. But the key thing is that these animals can count.

Planning ahead is another thing that we've looked at in these programmes. The cuttlefish again, they plan for the future. So they choose to have a lighter lunch if they know that there's a chance that they could get a bigger dinner. So that ability to predict the future is again a tremendous sign of intelligence, because currently we don't know of too many species that can do that. We know that birds do it when they store some of their food, they're cacheing it, they will eat the more perishable items first because they know that they will go off, effectively. But now switching from a vertebrate bird to an invertebrate cuttlefish, and we know that they are doing the same thing, they're making a decision about when they eat based on what they think they can eat later, which is quite something really. And then we've got the little fish, the Cleaner Wrasse, which is passing the mirror test, which is incredible. That's the thing, every programme has lots of new science which is really good.

Can you tell us about the apes that use the gestures humans can understand?

Oh, it's amazing. I mean when I do the test, I recognise the gestures. That's the key thing. So they put together the programme whereby they have the apes gesturing to one another, and then they have a cartoon of it. And you see it once in slow motion and you look at the drawing and you have to, as a human, try to interpret what the apes mean with that gesture. And we score really highly, because obviously their gestures are pretty similar to those that we use. And when you see them being used in that context, they're easy for us to understand. So again, it's not only that they're using gestures, which is phenomenal, it's also that those gestures cross the species barrier.

What was it like to meet the animals on the series? Were there any that you had a particular affinity with or affection towards?

Aesthetically we met some great things, the Poison Arrow Frog are exquisitely beautiful. There aren't many animals as beautiful as a Poison Arrow Frog. They're so delicate and yet the colours are so intense and they're remarkable. So I liked looking at the Poison Arrow Frogs, that was great. The raven I've already mentioned was fantastic. I got to ride a couple of camels, Bactrians, and I like camels. I like the smell of camels, we had very posh camels, they came bathed and washed, but they still smelt of camel, but no they smell good, I quite like that, because it's unique to that animal. It's a distinct smell. So I always enjoy meeting those animals. But yeah, the Poison Arrow Frog was pretty spectacular I've got to say.

Do you have a particular highlights from filming the series?

For me it's finding out those new things. It's just being simply astonished by things that you just think couldn't possibly happen. I like trying to imagine how animals perceive the world, because we think about our eyesight, but we also did a thing about animals that see in polarised light. You just can't imagine it, it's beyond our comprehension. I like being challenged by things like that which are beyond our comprehension. I can put on polarised sunglasses, but that's not what they see, they don't see that. That's a means of us explaining what polarised light it about. So that was really good, I like those sorts of things.

I like animals that are also better at doing things than we are. So the chimpanzees, you show them something for a fraction of a second and then in a fraction of a space of time their short-term memory is so strong that they're able to relocate all the things that you've just shown them. And even things like budgies, everyone thinks of them as a little caged bird that your grandmother used to keep, but new science there has shown that the females will chose the brighter males, the more intelligent males, so there's lots going on that we don't know.

In summary, what do you believe makes an animal 'intelligent'?

Well I think animals have to manifest their own intelligence. Ultimately in order for them to survive, which so many of them do if we don't interfere with them, they manifest a form of intelligence which is essential to them, otherwise they would fail to survive.


Anne Robinson is today named as the new host of Channel 4's iconic daytime show Countdown.

Her identity was revealed live on Channel 4's Steph's Packed Lunch today after the show teased her name to viewers with a Countdown conundrum.

Anne will be the show's sixth host, and the first female to fill the hotseat on the long-running programme.  Anne takes over from Nick Hewer who earlier this year announced he would be stepping down after nearly ten years on the show.  

Journalist and broadcaster Anne is best known as the indomitable host of the ground-breaking quiz The Weakest Link which she presented both in the UK and in America.  

Anne joins numbers whizz Rachel Riley and wordsmith Susie Dent on the show which is filmed in Salford. Anne makes her on-screen debut this summer.

Produced by ITV Studios Entertainment, Countdown was the first programme to broadcast on Channel 4. It's been on air since its November 1982 launch making it one of the longest running quiz shows in the world. It airs weekdays at 2.10pm.

Anne Robinson says  "I am beyond thrilled to be joining Countdown. The show is almost as old as I am and just as historic. I am particularly excited to be working alongside the Show's two other formidable women.  Worryingly, Susie and Rachel are not only very smart but younger, prettier and thinner than me. Sadly, there's no time for another face lift so I'll have make do with this old one.

Anita Rani to present The Answer Trap on Channel 4

Channel 4 has commissioned The Answer Trap, a brand-new list-based quiz format for Daytime from Objective Media Group Entertainment, made out of Objective Media Group Scotland.

The 30x60 series is co-produced with Motion Content Group and sees two teams play against each other to secure as much prize money as they can.

Host Anita Rani will challenge the teams to place answers from a series of lists into their relevant categories. However not all the answers belong in the categories, some are devilish decoys - Answer Traps.

The Answer Traps have been set by iconic quizzers Bobby Seagull and Frank Paul, with the brainiacs competing to see who can catch the most players in their traps.

If the teams can assign the answers to the correct categories and avoid the traps, they get the opportunity to play for a £10,000 jackpot on the final question.

Anita said: "For as long as I can remember I have loved all the classic C4 daytime quizzes, I am actually quite obsessed with them! To be the host of their latest format is a dream come true and I cannot wait to welcome you all to The Answer Trap."

Friday, 12 February 2021

Channel 4 and Keo Films to tell the extraordinary story of Lucy, the chimpanzee raised as human and her return to the wild

Channel 4 reveals the fascinating story of a female chimpanzee raised as a human, and the woman who took on the near impossible task of helping to give her freedom, by living with her in the wild.

In 1960s suburban America, chimpanzee Lucy was raised as a human from two days old in an experiment conducted by psychologists from the University of Oklahoma.  By age 11 Lucy was too strong to be kept by her human family.   In an extraordinary attempt to give her freedom, a plan was made to take her to Africa to teach her to be a wild chimp.

A young student called Janis Carter, who had befriended Lucy, was asked to go with her and the psychologists.  Janis and Lucy arrived in The Gambia, West Africa in 1977.  The plan had been for Janis to stay for a couple of weeks.  But with Lucy struggling to adapt, Janis stayed on and lived with Lucy in the wild on a remote uninhabited island for over 6 years.  

Director Alex Parkinson weaves the story of their unbreakable cross-species friendship and survival against all odds and explores the blurred boundaries between species. The film includes archive footage and photographs of her 'human' childhood in the USA and of Janis and Lucy's life together in The Gambia.

"Janis has waited 40 years to tell this story. It takes us back to a very different time, but it has a powerful message for today," says executive producer Matt Cole.

Janis & Lucy, a one-off documentary from Keo Films, centres on Janis's emotionally charged first-person account and uses previously unseen archive film and photographs as well as dramatic reconstruction. Computer generated "virtual sets" were used to bring to life locations in The Gambia and USA. This technological solution allowed filming to continue despite travel restrictions imposed during the pandemic.

Sacha Mirzoeff, Commissioning Editor at Channel 4, said: "The unique story of Janis and Lucy is set in a very different time - one where the boundaries of our relationship with animals were surprisingly different to today.  And yet it also raises the eternal question about what divides humans from our nearest animal relatives and offers profound discoveries about the values we share with our nearest animal relatives."

It will air on Channel 4 this spring.

Wednesday, 10 February 2021

Will Mellor steps onto the cobbles of Coronation Street

Manchester actor Will Mellor will walk into Weatherfield next month as Leanne Battersby (Jane Danson) finds herself forced into a dangerous world of drugs and despair.

In the coming weeks we'll see a still grieving Leanne battling to save son Simon (Alex Bain) from the hands of an evil drugs gang he's got mixed up in, after losing her other child Oliver to mitochondrial disease.

This fierce maternal instinct to protect Simon is what will throw her into the orbit of drugs lord Harvey, to be played by 44 year old Will Mellor.

Harvey is Jacob's 'boss' and after Jacob has lured a vulnerable Simon into his trap, it's Harvey who takes over to pile on the pressure and threats when Simon wants out.

It soon becomes clear that Leanne and Simon are in way too deep and a menacing Harvey has no intention of letting them out of his grasp.  

Will said: "I'm honoured to be asked to come into Coronation Street, it's such an iconic show and has been a huge part of my family life. When I started acting 32 years ago it was my mum's dream for me to be in Corrie so I'm happy to finally be able to make it come true. It's a Manchester institution and as a Manchester actor this is definitely a box ticked.

Harvey is the first out and out baddie I've ever played. It's a very different type of role for me so I'm looking forward to getting my teeth into the character and making some waves."

Producer Iain MacLeod added: "I am so excited to welcome Will into our world. He is a fantastic actor who has thrown himself heart and soul into making his character as terrifyingly real as possible. He will have a massive impact on our characters' lives, from the moment he swaggers menacingly onto the screen."

Rachel Khoo revealed as new Great British Menu judge

The multitalented chef, who founded a loyal fanbase through the BBC series Little Paris Kitchen, brings an arsenal of culinary credentials to Great British Menu judging table - from her early experience as a pastry chef in Paris to more recent work as an international food creative.

Her appointment comes as Andi Oliver reprises her role of presenter for a second series. Andi, who was a judge on Great British Menu for four series, left her seat at the judging table to present the show's festive special in December and will continue to guide audiences through the heat of the kitchen in series 16.

Rachel will join long standing judges Matthew Fort and Oliver Peyton OBE. The judging panel will be completed by a different guest each week.

Rachel says: "I am delighted to be taking on the role of judge at the Great British Menu! We have some extraordinary chefs in the UK and the programme does a great job of showcasing that homegrown talent. I'm so proud to be part of the series and I can't wait for viewers to see what's in store."

Series 16 of Great British Menu is set to be its most inventive yet. With 2021 marking the 30th anniversary of Sir Timothy Berners-Lee donating the world wide web to the world, as well as Helen Sharman becoming the first British astronaut to go into space, chefs from across the UK will showcase their culinary creativity through dishes celebrating British innovation.

Taking inspiration from early inventors in the world of computing, right through to modern-day medical pioneers, the chefs will have to prove their originality and technical flair to be in with the chance of serving their creations at the inimitable GBM banquet.

Great British Menu returns to BBC Two for its 16th series in March.