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Friday, 27 May 2022

BBC Wales investigates "fixing plan" in lower league European football

The BBC discreetly filmed a footballer who played in lower league clubs across the UK helping to recruit players for an international spot-fixing operation.

Spot-fixing is an unlawful activity in which people modify game events such as yellow cards and corners so that criminals can profit by betting on them.

Undercover journalists posing as businessmen secretly filmed four meetings with French-Congolese footballer Emile N'Goy, who has recently played in the lower leagues of Wales, England, and Scotland, and his brother Hermes N'Goy over the course of 20 months for BBC Wales Investigates.

In one of the meetings, the undercover journalists were introduced to three other footballers who had all been playing in European domestic leagues. Idris Laib, Jean-Francois Mbuba and Julien Vercauteren all claimed they had participated in match-fixing operations in the past, and said they would do it again for cash.

In a later meeting in Paris, Hermes N'Goy told the undercover journalists: "It would be like 500 euros for a throw-in, a corner, a free-kick. One thousand for a yellow card. And the red card will be 2,000."

Former FIFA match-fixing investigator Terry Steans looked at the BBC team's undercover footage and said: "He's got players on board, like-minded, that will do what he wants them to do, already. So, I think he's deadly serious.

"It's very hard to detect. It's one of the hardest things to investigate without the full weight of the police force behind you with the tools."

Emile N'Goy joined Llanelli Town FC in 2019. Since then, he has played for Brechin City and Stranraer in Scotland, and Dorchester Town in southern England. He also said he'd had a trial at Hereford.

There's no suggestion any of the clubs he played for, or any other players at those clubs, were involved.

When asked by reporter Wyre Davies for his response to the allegation he was willing to get players involved in fixing, Hermes N'Goy said: "I don't know nothing about that. I don't know what you're talking about."

In a later statement, he said he and his brother, Emile, strongly denied doing anything illegal. The three players who all said they had fixed before were also contacted. None of them replied, but Hermes N'Goy told the BBC they also strongly denied doing anything illegal.

The Hidden World of Football also looks at the vulnerability of lower league football in the UK to corruption and investigates the ownership of Bangor City FC.

The Hidden World of Football out now on BBC iPlayer

The Big Breakfast Returns with a new "woke" lineup

I am guessing Johnny Vaughan and Denise Van Outen were busy. Hell, I would have been happy with Richard Bacon and Kelly Brooke! Oh well, you can't have everything you want in life.

Rise and shine, wakey wakey! Summer Saturdays will get off to a riotous start with the return of Channel 4's famous morning entertainment show The Big Breakfast. The show will return in August for four weeks on Saturday mornings, produced by Lifted Entertainment, a division of ITV Studios.

Mo Gilligan, a BAFTA award-winning comedian, and AJ Odudu, a broadcaster, will reprise their RTS award-winning hosting relationship on the show they co-hosted for the Black to Front Project one-off special in September last year.

When it comes to breakfast telly, The Big Breakfast defies the rules. With its original riotous spirit and joyful energy the live two and a half hour show will see Mo and AJ joined bright and early by brilliant guests to dissect the hot topics of the day.

AJ Odudu said: "There really is nothing like The Big Breakfast on our screens. I loved hosting it last year and I am looking forward to being back at the house to kick off summer weekends on this now award-winning show."

Mo Gilligan added: "I love being part of this incredible history making show. The whole team are so spectacular, and I have so much fun working with AJ - she's one of the best in the business. And now a live summer series? LET'S GO!"

Thursday, 26 May 2022

FULL EPISODE - Unapologetic S01E02 - Channel 4


A late-night topical discussion programme that doesn't hold back. Yinka Bokinni and Zeze Millz host as Black guests talk freely about the big issues of the day and what's new on social media.

The show dives into sex, open relationships, dating apps, and sexually explicit female rap

47 mins

Tuesday, 24 May 2022

Alan Carr and Amanda Holden to host The Italian Job

Amanda and Alan: The Italian Job follows the couple as they join the ranks of the 'One Euro' property purchasers, buying a piece of heaven for a reasonable price in a little village situated in the sun-kissed hills of rural Sicily.

They'll spend the summer immersed in the Sicilian way of life, transforming their depilated house into a luxury vacation home, thanks to a common enthusiasm for travel and interior design.

Alan and Amanda have both remodelled homes in the past, but neither has attempted a project of this magnitude. While they'll attempt everything from plumbing to painting and plastering, they'll enlist the help of local contractors to show them the ropes.

As the pair roll up their sleeves to take on the challenge in their own inimitable style, they'll also throw themselves into the local lifestyle, making friends with their Sicilian neighbours and exploring what this beautiful region of Italy has to offer.

Alan Carr says: "After presenting two series of Interior Design Masters I feel now it's time for me to pop my hard hat on, slip on my steel toe capped boots and really get my hands dirty. Working in beautiful Sicily with one of my dearest friends is like I've won the jackpot. Expect a summer of drilling, demolition and hopefully la dolce vita!"

Amanda Holden says: "Alan and I came up with the idea for this show together and approached the BBC as we knew it was the perfect home.

"We are both very passionate about interior design and we'll be very hands on, injecting some much needed life into an area of Sicily that's in need of some Holden & Carr magic. Although we're on the same page most of the time, I'm more practical and organised than Alan. However he's up for some shameless bargaining so that will help us keep on budget!

"We've already started filming and one thing's for sure, we're not shy of a power tool!"

At the end of the summer the property will go on sale and all the profits will be donated to charity.

The Dog Academy – a new dog training series for Ch4

This summer, Channel 4 will open The Dog Academy on behalf of the many dog owners around the country who are frustrated with their misbehaving pets. The series was made possible by the broadcaster's Global Format Fund, a ringfenced budget set aside to encourage the creation of innovative new formats by UK-based indies for both domestic and international audiences.

Our most difficult canines and their desperate owners will receive assistance from the Academy. Beleaguered owners will be taught dog management techniques and dog psychology by a sharp team of Britain's top professional trainers.

Dogs and their owners will receive separate training designed to help owners build long-lasting, positive relationships with their furry friends. And audiences will be offered a chance to see how dog and owner fare as they try to put their new skills to use.  Can the experts help them leave The Dog Academy happy, healthy and better placed to enjoy the rest of their lives together?

Channel 4 has recommissioned Firecracker Film’s Open House: The Great Sex Experiment for a second series.

The second series will follow monogamous couples as they consider whether they might be happy together in an open relationship, similar to the first series, which spurred discussions about monogamy in modern relationships.

The couples will go through a number of intimate difficulties with the help of experts to see if having sex with other people is incompatible with sustaining their committed relationship.

Jes Wilkins,  Chief Creative Officer, Firecracker Films said: "I couldn't be prouder of  the impact that this series has made. It's harder than ever before to attract a big, young audience to risky new shows and we have achieved that by evolving the blend of purposeful and provocative factual entertainment that Firecracker and Channel 4 have worked on together so successfully over the years.  

Monday, 23 May 2022

Last Woman On Earth with Sara Pascoe - Set to return to BBC Two

Sara Pascoe investigates some of the world's most endangered vocations in the critically acclaimed Last Woman on Earth with Sara Pascoe, which is due to return for a second series on BBC Two and iPlayer from Talkback (a Fremantle label).

Sara will go to Greece, Denmark, and Jordan in her new 3x60 episode to become a living filing cabinet of lost talents, taking on some unique vocations that are on the verge of extinction.

In the first season, the writer and comic tried her hand at ice carving in Finland, climbing trees in Cuba to harvest coconuts for sweets, and working as a Stalin Museum guide in Georgia.

Now she's off for new adventures, meeting more extraordinary people doing jobs that you didn't even know existed and learning some unusual skills along the way including Lego master builder and Dead Sea lifeguard. Will they survive the unforgiving pace of the modern world, or be lost to history?

Sara says: "Having been locked indoors like everyone else through the pandemic, I can't wait to get back out into the world to see what's changed, what's changing and how rare and interesting jobs are being affected. We've got more fascinating people to meet this series and some equally exciting adventures!"

Sunday, 22 May 2022

COMPETITION: Win The Cane Field Killings on DVD

The Cane Field Killings - Released from 30th May

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

The Cane Field Killings, a brand-new, gritty, and enthralling crime-drama from award-winning writer-creator, Rohan Dickson (The Wild). This South African noir aired as Reyka in South Africa and is the first of its kind, delivering a fresh and unique perspective for audiences across the globe.

Led by a strong female protagonist played by Kim Engelbrecht (The Flash, Raised by Wolves), and a stand-out performance from lauded British actor Iain Glen (Game of Thrones, Resident Evil), The Cane Field Killings boasts high production values, dramatic, visually stunning landscapes, and memorable characters. This refreshing, remarkable thriller is set for its DVD and digital release on 30 May from Acorn Media International.

Brilliant but broken criminal profiler, Reyka Gama (Kim Engelbrecht) returns to her beautiful hometown of KwaZulu-Natal to track down and bring to justice a rampant serial killer who has been violently murdering women, discarding their dead and burnt bodies in the sugarcanes, to be lost forever.

But it soon becomes clear that Reyka’s reasons for returning to her homeland are far more complex than they first appeared, and she finds herself drawn back to the source of a nightmarish childhood trauma that continues to haunt her… a man named Angus Speelman (Iain Glen).

Forced to face her demons both past and present Reyka embarks on a high-stakes fight for the truth amidst a web dark, deadly secrets and deception...

Pre-Order from Amazon at https://amzn.to/3wAk6Gs

For your chance to win just answer the question below.

Who plays Reyka Gama in The Cane Field Killings?

Send your name, address and of course the answer to competition365@outlook.com

Terms and conditions
1. Closing date 06-06-22
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.
5. Entries that come directly from other websites will not be accepted.

Thursday, 19 May 2022

FULL EPISODE - Unapologetic S01E01 - Channel 4



A late-night topical discussion programme that doesn't hold back. Yinka Bokinni and Zeze Millz host as Black guests talk freely about the big issues of the day and what's new on social media.

Wednesday, 18 May 2022

Funny Woman - First Look Trailer


Gemma Arterton stars as Barbara Parker - the unstoppable force who takes 1960’s London by storm. Her journey from Blackpool beauty queen to comedy superstar is based on the best-selling novel by Nick Hornby.

Funny Woman is a comedy drama that follows Barbara from working in a Blackpool rock factory to the male dominated world of the 1960s television sitcom where she finally finds her voice. The series written by and starring Morwenna Banks (Slow Horses) also stars Rupert Everett (My Best Friend’s Wedding), David Threlfall (Shameless), Tom Bateman (Behind Her Eyes), Clare-Hope Ashitey (Top Boy), Arsher Ali (Line of Duty), Alexa Davies (White House Farm), Emily Bevan (Temple), Leo Bill (Becoming Elizabeth), Matthew Beard (Vienna Blood), Olivia Williams (The Crown), Rosie Cavaliero (Code 404) and Alistair Petrie (Sex Education).

Gangs of London Series 2 - Trailer


Catch up on season 1 at https://amzn.to/39sC1Hb

The map and soul of London have been remade one year after Sean Wallace's death and the brutal reckonings of series one. The Wallaces are dispersed, the Dumanis are broken and estranged, and Elliot, the ex-undercover cop, is now compelled to work for the investors. To restore order, investors have banded together behind heroin baron Asif Afridi and installed a new ruling force in London in the form of violent gang leader Koba. His vision for the criminal environment is one of dictatorship, in which old school gangster codes are abolished and he has complete control of London's drug trade. This monopoly, however, cannot last indefinitely. The gangs are fighting back, but who will emerge victorious?

Series two will see the return of Ṣọpẹ́ Dìrísù, Paapa Essiedu, Lucian Msamati, Michelle Fairley, Orli Shuka, Pippa Bennett-Warner, Brian Vernel, Narges Rashidi, Asif Raza and Valene Kane reprising their roles.

Joining the ensemble cast include Waleed Zuaiter (Baghdad Central, The Spy) as Koba, French rapper Jasmine Armando in her first TV role as Saba, Fady El-Sayed (Baghdad Central, A Private War) as Faz, Salem Kali (Un Prophete, Dealer) as Basem and Aymen Hamdouchi (SAS: Red Notice, Criminal: UK) as Hakim.

Gangs of London series 2 is set to air on Sky and NOW in 2022.

This England - Trailer - starring Kenneth Branagh


Michael Winterbottom co-wrote and directed This England, a Sky Original drama, starring BAFTA and Academy Award winner Kenneth Branagh. The series follows the impact of the first wave of the Coronavirus epidemic on Britain, and is based on Boris Johnson's rocky first months as UK Prime Minister. 

As Johnson (Branagh) deals with Covid-19, Brexit, and a tumultuous personal and political life, the drama brings us inside the halls of power. The events in government are interwoven with stories from across the UK, including experts and scientists racing against time to understand the virus; doctors, nurses, and care-home workers on the frontlines working tirelessly and heroically to contain and overcome it; and ordinary people whose lives have been turned upside down.

Tuesday, 17 May 2022

David Tennant and Catherine Tate return to Doctor Who

One of the best loved pairings in Doctor Who's history are reuniting and are currently filming scenes due to air in 2023 to coincide with the show's 60th anniversary celebrations.

The Doctor and Donna parted ways when the Doctor had to wipe Donna's memory, making her forget him, in order to save her life. He left her family with a warning: if ever she remembers, she will die. But with the two coming face to face once more, the big question is, just what brings the Doctor and Donna back together?

The Greatest Snowman to return

Later this year, the hit celebrity competition format The Greatest Snowman will return for a second season.

When it broadcast last Christmas, the one-off spectacular produced by Southshore and Motion Content Group for Channel 4 averaged 1.8 million viewers across ninety minutes. The show was very popular with viewers under the age of 16, and it was the PSBs' youngest-skewing prime-time programme in 2021.

Sue Perkins will reprise her role as host as a new intake of celebrities travel to a snowy mountain top to have their creativity challenged in this  epic snow building competition.

Supported by a crew of seasoned sculptors, engineers, and snow builders these stars will have to design and create some of the most extraordinary snow creations ever seen on TV. The creations will be again be judged on form and artistry by Swedish sculpting sisters Sara and Emilie Steele and renowned British artist and sculptor Taslim Martin.

Competition alumni Laurence Llewellyn Bowen will also be on hand to offer artistic tips and advice to the famous competitors as they chip, carve and saw their way through tonnes of snow and giant blocks of ice to create awesome, but temporary, masterpieces.

Jon Richardson and Lucy Beaumont hunt for the perfect celebrity couple

Jon Richardson and Lucy Beaumont, two comedians, are on a mission to locate the perfect match. Showbiz and comedian couples, not everyday couple.

Jon and Lucy's Perfect Couples (working title) is a new comedic panel show from Manchester's King of Sunshine Productions that pits celebrity couples against one another in a series of playful rounds to determine who is the perfect marriage.

Each episode features two pairs of showbiz lovebirds daring to subject themselves to Jon and Lucy's probing into their private lives. Relationship secrets are spilled as dirty laundry is aired, grievances shared and irritations examined, all while Jon, Lucy and a professional marriage therapist sit on in judgement, on the hunt for the perfection.

The road to be crowned a perfect couple begins before the celebs even get to the studio, when Jon and Lucy take them to a special couples' retreat to complete a variety of daft, physical games designed to test key relationship skills such as communication and trust.

Jon Richardson said: "For too long now I have snuck out of our house and, behind her back, told audiences around the country about the things Lucy does that annoy me. I am grateful to Channel 4 for giving me the opportunity to air these grievances to her face and hope audiences enjoy the opportunity to see a small and petty man roasted and humiliated in return, as celebrity guests and a studio audience watch on with glee. I hope we can make a show that will generate some much-needed laughter, make couples realise that their relationships are not as bad as they thought and make single people appreciate how lucky they are."

Lucy Beaumont said: "Jon doesn't want to spend time with celebrities and I don't want to spend time with Jon, so I think Channel 4 have found the perfect recipe for a couples based panel show. Good luck to us all in all honesty, and I hope people can feel slightly better about their own relationships, and we can laugh in the face of celibacy."

Monday, 16 May 2022

Discovering Canary Islands - Rakuten TV commences shooting

Rakuten TV has begun filming its next original series, Discovering Canary Islands, an adventure reality show hosted by Pilar Rubio that will journey throughout the Canary Islands in its debut season. By immersing competitors in local culture and traditions, the show will unearth the most remarkable and interesting traditions surrounding the islands.

For the first time, an OTT platform (Over The Top) is committed to an international format where 8 contestants of 8 different nationalities will compete to be the best explorer in Europe. The contestants, who are still to be revealed, will discover that the Canary Islands number not eight... but nine! La Graciosa, Lanzarote, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Tenerife, La Palma, El Hierro and La Gomera hide their own legends. Between reality and folklore, history and fiction, it is said that there is a ninth island: San Borondón. Known as Whale Island, because of the way it appears and disappears in the waters of the Atlantic Ocean, it has been the dream of cartographers and sailors for centuries.

Pilar Rubio, an internationally famous Spanish presenter with a long career in television, will host the show. Rubio, who has 7.5 million Instagram followers, was ecstatic about the project: "I am happy to be able to present a show that will reach 42 European countries. It is a format which is hugely identifiable: a family show, full of adventures in a unique setting!".

The most spectacular scenery in the Canary Islands will be the backdrop for impressive challenges of strength, ingenuity, and skill. All will be required in a dynamic race that will explore the islands across six episodes. During the show, each challenge is a key to the next, offering an advantage or a reward, and the possibility of obtaining a clue in the form of a coordinate and part of the legend to reach the final goal: San Borondón.

The reality series will premiere in the second half of the year and will be available exclusively and free of charge on Rakuten TV's linear and on-demand programming, present in 42 European territories.

COMPETITION: Win The Terror: Season 2 "Infamy" on Blu-ray

The Terror: Season 2 "Infamy" - Released from 23rd May

And to celebrate we have a great competition for you and 2 copies on Blu-ray to give away.

Lauded series The Terror garnered international acclaim from critics and viewers alike and now with a brand-new premise and setting but with the same stunning production values and gripping story lines, the second series The Terror: Infamy is set to hit our screens. Following its run on BBC2, the series is set for its Blu-ray, DVD, and digital release from Acorn Media International on 23 May 2022. The Terror One and Two Box set will also be available on Blu-ray and DVD.
The Terror: Infamy is a thrilling supernatural series set against the backdrop of World War II and the Japanese internment camps and boasts powerful performances from an outstanding cast of international talent. The line-up includes a stand-out turn from renowned actor George Takei (Star Trek) who himself spent time in an internment camp as a child and acted as a historical consultant on the drama.  

Chester (Derek Mio – Grey’s Anatomy, Geek) lives with his family on Terminal Island, a few miles south of Los Angeles, just off the coast of California. He and his father, Henry (Shingo Usami – Unbroken), are fishermen but Chester seeks more. He’s in love with a Spanish-American student named Luz Ojeda (Cristina Rodlo – Miss Bala, Too Old to Die Young) and doesn’t understand why his immigrant mother, Asako (Naoko Mori – Torchwood) and father choose to remain confined to a small swath of the big world – especially after travelling so far in the pursuit of freedom.

In the aftermath of Pearl Harbour, the family’s comfortable life is about to change forever as they’re forcibly uprooted and shipped off to an internment camp, where fear lurks in both supernatural and human form.

A string of relentless, brutal and bizarre deaths haunts the community, and Chester and his family are menaced by a mysterious and murderous shapeshifting entity. What spirit lies behind The Terror, and can the family overcome it and save those dearest to them?

Craftily weaving a semi-historical narrative with modern parallels, co-creators Max Borenstein (Godzilla) and Alexander Woo (True Blood) deliver an enthralling and potent exploration of monstrosity – both mythical and man-made. The Terror: Infamy is an unsettling, compelling and captivating must-watch.

Pre-Order from Amazon at https://amzn.to/3LbyslS

For your chance to win just answer the question below.

Who are the co-creators of The Terror Infamy?

Send your name, address and of course the answer to competition365@outlook.com

Terms and conditions
1. Closing date 30-05-22
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.
5. Entries that come directly from other websites will not be accepted.

Friday, 13 May 2022

Nadiya's Everyday Baking for BBC Two

With a series packed full of entertaining, delicious, and faff-free recipes, Nadiya Hussain, one of Britain's most renowned bakers, challenges the concept that baking is time-consuming or just for special occasions.

With recipes as are aspirational as they are easy, fun, and delectable, Nadiya will show us some of her favourite dishes that let the oven take the strain any day of the week, with plenty of Nadiya's signature hacks, cheats, and techniques tossed in.

Nadiya will demonstrate how to cook a variety of exquisite delicacies, ranging from afternoon teas and weekend breakfasts to delectable family roasts and quick bakes, over the course of six episodes, each with a different theme.

The series will also meet skilled and passionate bakers across Britain, who'll share their own favourite recipes - proving that baking every day, for both sweet and savoury treats, is not just simple and achievable but a pleasure.

Host Nadiya Hussain says: "Baking is definitely for every day of the year! The oven is an amazing bit of kit to take the pressure off and I am really excited to be sharing some super delicious, super easy and super accessible bakes with BBC Two viewers."

Coming Soon

Granite Harbour - New three-part drama series set in Aberdeen coming to BBC Scotland and BBC One

Granite Harbour is a new three-part drama series for BBC Scotland, BBC One, and iPlayer, directed by LA Productions and set in Aberdeen. It stars emerging stars Romario Simpson (Small Axe, Noughts and Crosses) and Hannah Donaldson (Murder Island, Annika).

Dawn Steele (Holby City, Liar), Gary Lewis (Vigil, Rig 45), and Fiona Bell (Holby City, Liar) are among the renowned Scottish actors who have joined the group (The Nest, Shetland).

Granite Harbour tells the narrative of Lance Corporal Davis Lindo (Romario Simpson), a new recruit to Police Scotland who arrives in Aberdeen.

Lindo aspires to be a detective at New Scotland Yard after completing his final tour in the Royal Military Police. However, he is transferred to Aberdeen to train as a Detective Constable, and he must swiftly adjust to his new life in Aberdeen, which is a world removed from everything this soldier has ever experienced.

DCI Tara 'Bart' Bartlett (Hannah Donaldson), Lindo's mentor, is a razor-sharp, streetwise Aberdonian who is used to going it alone. This odd team must navigate the stormy waters of their first case together: the murder of one of Aberdeen's most well-known oil industry figures. Lindo and Bartlett are thrown into a corporate war between old and new energy all of a sudden.

Coming Soon

Hope Street - Cast return to Donaghadee to film second series

Following the success of Hope Street, filming for the second season has begun, promising a treat of riveting narrative, engaging characters, and breath-taking locales.

With series one's tense cliff-hanger leaving audiences on tenterhooks, lead actor Ciaran McMenamin (Inspector Finn O'Hare) returns to film the exciting series. Also joining him are returning cast Brid Brennan (Concepta O'Hare), Des McAleer (Barry Pettigrew), Kerri Quinn (Marlene Pettigrew), Niall Wright (Callum McCarthy), Aaron McCusker (Clint Dunwoody), Niamh McGrady (Nicole Devine), Rachel Tucker (Siobhan O'Hare), Louis McCartney (Shay O'Hare) and Ellie Lavery (Niamh O'Hare).

The cast also features an array of exciting new characters, played by actors Stephen Hagan (Risen), Sade Malone (Tin Star), Ian Kenny (The Owners), Sophie Robinson (Rebellion), Marty Maguire (Vikings), Daniel Carlin (Blackrock), Niall Cusack (The Lost City of Z), Michael Byers (Mr Selfridge), Brigid Lohrey (If I Don't Lose, I'll Lose), Conor Grimes (Mrs Wilson), Cathy White (Nurses), Erin Galway Kendrick (Little Women) and Chris McCurry (Belfast) and Enya Doran.

Ciaran McMenamin who plays Inspector Finn O'Hare says: 
"I'm over the moon to be on the Hope Street beat again. It was touch and go for Finn at the end of last season, but I'm glad to say he'll be back where he belongs with Marlene and Callum, dealing with the unique challenges thrown at them by all your old favourites, along with a motley crew of wonderful new characters. I couldn't be happier to be back home in Northern Ireland for the shoot this summer. The new scripts are brilliant, and sure, where would you rather be?"

Keep your eyes peeled for series two of Hope Street, returning to BBC Daytime and BBC One Northern Ireland later in 2022.

Platinum Pudding - Jemma Melvin’s Lemon Swiss Roll and Amaretti Trifle beat off competition from the four other creative and passionate bakers

Jemma Melvin's Lemon Swiss Roll and Amaretti Trifle has been awarded the title of Platinum Pudding for The Queen's Jubilee celebrations in a unanimous decision by judges, it was announced on BBC One's The Jubilee Pudding: 70 Years in the Baking.

In the Fortnum & Mason Platinum Pudding competition, Jemma's Lemon Swiss Roll and Amaretti Trifle triumphed over four other creative and enthusiastic bakers, Kathryn, Sam, Shabnam, and Susan. Her winning recipe goes down in British culinary history alongside the Coronation Chicken and the Victoria Sponge.

Fortnum & Mason, who have a long history with the Royal Household, challenged the people of the UK to create a recipe that met the criteria of being fit for a queen, having a memorable story, tasting just right, being perfect for home bakers, and having the potential to stand the test of time and become a classic, in collaboration with The Big Lunch Charity, an official partner of the Platinum Jubilee Weekend.

On her winning recipe being chosen for such a worldwide celebration, 31-year-old copywriter, Jemma says: "Oh my. I have to tell my grandma first, she is the person that taught me how to bake and I am so excited to tell her, she's going to be so proud, I can't wait, I can't wait.

"I am so happy, I am so happy, thank you so much Mary, it's been an honour as well to have your feedback. It's just meant the world to me so thank you.

"The thought of people recreating my pudding, especially round the Jubilee, is just a total pleasure."

Thursday, 12 May 2022

COMPETITION: Win The Sister Boniface Mysteries - Series 1 on DVD

The Sister Boniface Mysteries - Series 1  - Released from 16th May

And to celebrate we have a great competition for you and 2 copies on DVD to give away.

From the world of Father Brown, comes the First Series of 'The Sister Boniface Mysteries'.

The Sister Boniface Mysteries is set in 1960s rural Warwickshire and follows the investigations of Sister Boniface, Bride of Christ, vintner, and Crime Scene Investigator. Police forensics is rudimentary by today’s standards.

DNA is yet to be discovered. Blood testing can take days. The notion of trace evidence is in its infancy and the preservation of crime scenes is shockingly hit and miss. Fortunately the Great Slaughter Constabulary has a secret weapon in its fight against crime.

Hidden deep in the countryside is St Vincent’s Convent, a small community of wine making nuns where ensconced in a laboratory is Sister Boniface. An IQ of 156 and a PHD in forensic science, plus an addiction to popular detective fiction and a fully equipped crime laboratory make Boniface an invaluable aid to Police investigations.

Mud, blood, stains, hairs and fibres. If there is evidence to be found Boniface will find it. Poisons, trace evidence, blood stains, etymology. She’s more up to speed on the latest forensic techniques than the Police.

In her role as official Police Scientific Advisor, Boniface works alongside the dashing Detective Inspector Sam Gillespie and Felix Livingstone, a high-flying Bermudian Detective Sergeant. Felix was supposed to be on secondment to the Metropolitan Police but an administrative error lands him in Great Slaughter.

A cast of eccentric local characters combined with his boss’s reliance on a nun leave him reeling. Although as Sam points out, that “Nun” ensures they have the highest clean-up rate in the county.

Dazzler Media presents the first series of Sister Boniface Mysteries, from the makers of Father Brown and Shakespeare & Hathaway - Private Investigators, coming to Blu-ray, DVD and Download from 16th May. 

Pre-Order from Amazon at https://amzn.to/3Me4H5e

For your chance to win just answer the question below.

In what decade is The Sister Boniface Mysteries set?

Send your name, address and of course the answer to competition365@outlook.com

Terms and conditions
1. Closing date 30-05-22
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.
5. Entries that come directly from other websites will not be accepted.

Iain De Caestecker and Joanna Vanderham in The Control Room - First look images

Iain De Caestecker (Us, Roadkill, Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.) as Gabe and Joanna Vanderham (Dancing On The Edge, The Go-Between, Man In An Orange Shirt) as Sam star in the thrilling new thriller The Control Room for BBC One and BBC iPlayer, produced by Hartswood Films (Sherlock, Dracula, Inside Man).

Nick Leather (Mothers' Day, Murdered For Being Different), a Bafta and RTS Award winner, wrote the script. The Control Room follows Gabe (De Caestecker), a regular guy who works for Glasgow's Strathclyde Ambulance Service as an emergency call handler. When he receives a desperate life-or-death call from a distressed woman who appears to know him, his world is thrown upside down. Gabe is under duress to work out.

Filming took place in Scotland and The Control Room will air later this year on BBC One and BBC iPlayer.

Interview with Jemima Kirke - Conversations With Friends

Jemima Kirke plays Melissa

Tell us why you wanted to be involved in this project, what attracted you?

At first it was the fact that Lenny was making it - I admire his work and it was exciting to be attached to something he's making. Then I read the book and loved it. There was something about the quietness of the story that intrigued me. Especially as an actor, because it's not an action-packed story, but the story lies in the mundane and everyday comings and goings of the couple, friends and their everyday conversations. A lot can be told through the way someone cooks a meal or says hello. This story puts a lot of value in those moments.

What were your initial thoughts when you read Conversations With Friends?

I think Sally Rooney describes anxiety very well. She creates this visceral experience of anxiety, awkwardness, confusion and shame. It's a very internal world that she's creating and it's quite fun to try and express what's reality and what's her perception. I also appreciated that not all the characters were all good or bad. No one's a villain here, no one's in the wrong or the right. It's a book that really lives in the grey area of relationships. I also noticed that her words started to linger in my head after I read the book. Even just drinking a glass of water, I found myself hearing her voice describing that drink, which she does so well.

How do you think the scripts honour the novel?

I'm always impressed at how a writer can create a screenplay out of a novel - it seems like such a daunting task to know what to eliminate, what to distil and what to embellish. I think that has been done with a lot of grace. There have been some moments of creativity. A few things have changed here and there, it's always fascinating to read over those changes when you know what's in the book. But of course, there's things I miss from the book. As a fan of the book, you want everything in there, but you can't, and I trust that the writers know what's necessary.

Describe Melissa to us and the journey she goes on…

I think she's an independent, progressive, successful woman and thinks of herself as quite open minded, especially when it comes to relationships. When the affair happens, she's forced to grapple with how she wants to be perceived and how she actually feels; she ultimately chooses other people's perceptions: "I'm going to be cool with this, I'm going to make this work and incorporate it into my life" and make this new kind of relationship where we're all going to be happy together.

But I think she has a part of herself that is deeply traditional and jealous. There's a performance aspect to her character. She wants to be thought of as cool, in control, magnetic and approachable, yet intimidating. But I think that there are also insecurities and other flaws that she doesn't like to give into.

As a writer, she creates a blueprint for her life and how she wants it to look, and I think that some of the aspects of her life are quite curated: she got the husband, career, friends, and the parties. She's quite comfortable living with that blueprint and then Frances comes along and breaks it, and she has to think of a way that she can still control the narrative by allowing it. By allowing it she is controlling it in a way, because she's forcing herself into the situation.

She's a very complex character, what was the challenge playing that?

I had to do a lot of writing on her, take certain lines and really unpack them and try to understand the subtleties in everything she was saying. She is a complex character to play because she is quite even-keeled. She's not the most eccentric character, which can be quite easy to lean on.

Tell us about the relationship between Melissa and Nick when you first meet them?

I think that she met him at a time where she was trying to build the foundations of her life on a superficial level. He's not only quite a good-looking husband to have in your blueprint, but he's also quite a canvas to project your own wants onto. Whatever you really want him to be, he can be, so long as you have the creativity for it, and she does. He's also a bit of a 'yes-man', which is great for her because she likes to be in control, and she likes to be the most flamboyant one in the relationship. I don't think she would do well with someone who told her what to do or had any issue with her behaviours. It seems that he's passive enough to allow just about anything, even an affair.

What does Melissa think about Bobbi and Frances when they first meet, and why is she so intrigued by them?

It's about timing. There's a timeline in this story that starts before the book even begins. We know that at the time when Melissa meets Frances and Bobbi, her and Nick had just come out of a rough patch, but he is clearly still bruised and taking his time. She is giving that to him, maybe out of guilt or because she needs space herself. But they're not totally connected and things are probably going a bit slower than she would like. He has his little routine during the day and she does her thing at night. They are quite separate entities.

Melissa is someone who likes attention, and she meets these girls who are fans, so it's the perfect time for her to reap the benefits of that fandom. I think she's also looking to kick up a bit of dust in the relationship because it's gotten stagnant. Bringing these two girls in, while it may be subconscious, is a way to self-destruct or at least throw caution to the wind and see what happens if she brings two attractive, smart girls into their world. It's a bit of narcissism and recklessness.

You have two directors on this, tell us about who they are and what it's been like working with them.

We've got Lenny Abrahamson and Leanne Welham. They bring very different energies to the set and have different values. It can be an adjustment to go from one to the other. With both it's been quite a rigorous process. It sort of feels like acting bootcamp because there's so much importance on every little moment. From passing a bowl of salad to opening the door, nothing is throw-away. So, there are a lot of takes and a lot of rehearsals and talking about it, which I really appreciate.

Tell us about working with Joe Alwyn as your on-screen husband.

It's a tricky thing because the relationship is supposed to be somewhat distanced but also there's a history. There's not that much screen time with them alone so we don't get to necessarily see how they function as a couple when they are alone. That's something that Joe and I had to create together and talk about, but never really get to act it out.

Another thing about their relationship is that the positive aspect of it is that we know Nick is a depressive and I think that anyone who is a performer of any kind - whether it's in their careers or in their personal lives - tend to be a depressive because there's a disconnect between who they are and who they show themselves to be. So, I've decided that Melissa has depressive spells as well and I think they lift each other up or pull themselves out of ruts, which we see narratively, but it's also something I've created with Joe as well.

Tell us about working with Alison Oliver and Sasha Lane and what they brought to the roles?

When I first saw Frances come alive on screen, I was blown away. She really embodied what I'd imagined Frances to be, but more so. And that's the job of an actor - to be the character, but even more than you thought you knew about the character, to make that character extraordinary, and she did.

Her skill - and what the character really needed - was someone who knew how to say something without saying anything, because Frances is quiet and there's moments where her expression has to tell everything, she's very good at that.

I think Sasha was so well cast because she brought something extra to the character which I didn't read in the book. The book describes her as fun-loving, narcissistic (which is one reason her and Melissa get on), and maybe a bit free spirited. But Sasha dampened that bit, which I think is good because the free spiritedness can grow to get a bit old as an on-screen figure. Sasha brought a sort of soulfulness to the character and a stoicism. It made her more complex. What I didn't see in the Bobbi character in the book was someone who was very considerate of other people's feelings or was interested in doing the right thing. But I think Sasha's Bobbi is the only true victim in the story and the only person who is not actively hurting anyone. While that may have been in the book, I didn't notice it until Sasha played it.

What have been the most rewarding moments for you during filming?

It's been a pleasure to watch Alison be the main character on this and how new everything is to her. Most actors, including me, are moody and want to get the job done and it's like she has a sparkle in her eye. She's so happy to be here and everything is exciting and then even when we're shooting a scene together and it's my coverage and the camera is not on her, she's really helping me and doing everything to support me during the moment which is refreshing and generous.

Getting in the water was a moment for me. I had to recite multiple mantras in my head and have a cheerleading team behind me as I was walking in. I think one of the mantras was, "you can do hard things", and I did it. When I got out, it being over was such a good feeling.

Then there were moments with Lenny where he will give his little thumbs up behind the monitor which makes you feel good because he doesn't do that often. I don't need him to, but it's nice when he does.

What do you hope audiences will take away from the series?

There's no formula for how you love someone, and there's no right or wrong. You can hurt people, but that doesn't always mean that you did wrong by them. I think people who are in open relationships will love this. I couldn't do that, but I understand what they're saying, because one of the most interesting aspects of the story is that Nick still loves his wife, and it's not because of what was lacking that made him go to Frances, it was something that was lacking in him. It's still possible to love two people, but ultimately, we have to make sacrifices for the ones we love and the basic simplicity in our lives.

Interview with Joe Alwyn - Conversations With Friends

Please also check out our other Conversations with Friends interviews.

Joe Alwyn - plays Nick

Why did you want to be involved in Conversations With Friends?

I was a big fan of Sally Rooney's writing beforehand, I read Normal People and Conversations With Friends after being recommended them by friends. I got through them very quickly. I've also been a big fan of Lenny Abrahamson for a long time, I love his films and everything he's made - what he did with Normal People was extraordinary and so the opportunity to marry the minds of Sally and Lenny - and be part of that - was very exciting.

What would you say are some of the key themes in the series?

Conversations With Friends is full of all different themes, but at the heart of it it's about love, intimacy, desire and relationships. It's about how we are able to love and find happiness both within social constructs that we're more used to - whether that be within friendships, families or relationships - but also outside of those things, and how we're able to find other ways of loving and growing outside of more conventional constructs.

Conversations With Friends is a love story but it's not a conventional love story, it's a modern take on that, how do you see it?

It's pretty modern in its approach. It's asking questions and challenging our ideas on how we're able to love, exist and relate to people and be in all different kinds of relationships. Not just in the conventional ways we're used to, it's pushing boundaries of those relationship and love.

What were your initial thoughts after reading Sally Rooney's Conversation With Friends?

I loved it, I just tore through it. Sally is such a brilliant writer, she's so sharp and observant and often funny at times, but also moving. Although the characters in the book go through very extraordinary things in their own ways, they're also very relatable.

How much of Nick from the book are you bringing to the on-screen version?

The writers have done a fantastic job in bringing the book to life. There are definitely bits and pieces they've maybe reduced a little or veered away from, but also bits they've lent heavily into for the sake of the story and narrative. By and large, it's all quite consistent and that goes for the characters and Nick too. When you're playing someone you're also bringing yourself to it, so there's me in it too. But in terms of Nick from the book, it's the Nick I felt when reading the scripts.

What preparation did you do when you approached bringing Nick to life?

When I was cast initially, I had a couple of months to get ready. Then, due to the pandemic, things got pushed back a few times. Although it had its moments of frustration, it actually allowed for this pocket of time to think of the script, story and Nick. Full credit to Lenny, he was so collaborative and generous in terms of inviting everyone in on the discussions about character, script, story, and what he was imagining and planning for it, that a lot of preparation was through conversations with him.

I'd never really had that experience before with a director where that's been so open. He would send through revisions from day one and wanted feedback on what I thought was working or not, so it felt like a conversation and collaboration. It wasn't long after Alison and I were cast that we'd start meeting on video calls to discuss ideas. So really, those first few months of preparation was just through conversations with Lenny and doing my own work thinking about the script and Nick, and working with a dialect coach.

What does Nick think of Frances and Bobbi when he's first introduced to them?

When Nick first meets Frances and Bobbi, because he's come through such a storm and is in such a low place, a place of recovery, that at least initially there's a kind of numbness to him. Everyone's on the periphery, he's in a low place of doubt and depression and just functioning and getting through the day.

I think he cottons on to the fact that there's a similarity between Bobbi and Melissa, and there's a similarity in his position to Melissa as there is with Frances to Bobbi. They're next to these two people who are a little more extroverted and performative. I think with Frances, he quickly falls into this curiosity and deep attraction - not just romantically, but he feels a fascination with this other person. And though they might not know why in the beginning, they find themselves strongly drawn to each other.

What is Nick and Melissa's relationship like when we first meet them?

When we meet Nick and Melissa, they're certainly not in as bad a place as they had been a few months before. But that said, it's definitely not good. They are functioning but there's no real warmth, love or spark between them that there might have once been. What's interesting is that, perhaps externally for other people, that doesn't come across, and from the outside they look like a pretty happy, functioning couple. But, beneath the surface there are lots of cracks, and though it isn't as angry or splintered as it was before, it's still not a good place.

How did you find working with Jemima Kirke as your on-screen wife?

I loved working with Jemima, she's brilliant as Melissa. She's fantastic, focussed, works hard and is a lot of fun to be around, both on and off set. She has a real force.

What was it like to work with Lenny Abrahamson and Leanne Welham?

Firstly, Lenny is absolutely brilliant. He's so special both as a director and as a person. In terms of his direction, he's so detailed, intelligent, and emotionally intelligent as well, and tuned into what he wants and what should be there without being overbearing. He's put so much thought into this, he's just a genius.

He's also incredibly funny and that makes a big difference on set, particularly when every scene is quite intense. It's nice when the whole thing feels relaxed, and that's full credit to him - he's one of the funniest guys and best guys and I feel so lucky to be working with him. He's an astonishing director.

And Leanne, coming into block two, was having to come on to something that was already moving and that must have been terrifying. She's done an incredible job keeping it consistent in the same world that Lenny has set. She's equally fantastic - the way she tuned into the rhythm of it and the way we'd been working. I think she knows what she wants and she pieced it together in her mind as she was shooting - you could feel that and she was very clear about that which is useful from a performing point of view. I felt very lucky to be working with them both.

Tell us about Alison Oliver and Sasha Lane, what are they like to work with?

I've had the best time working with Alison and Sasha. The bulk of my stuff has been with Alison, but Sasha - I can't imagine anyone else as Bobbi. She brings such complexity and energy to the role and is a lovely person to be around. Alison is just phenomenal, the fact it's her first role out of drama school and she's in every single scene, it's incredible, she nails every single take. It's amazing to watch and I think everyone's been learning a lot from her, and she's one of the nicest people around.

What would you say has been your most rewarding moments during filming?

It's always interesting when you do a scene where maybe you've had a strong idea of what you think it will be and how it will go, and then it ends up being something completely different. But it feels, you hope, right at the end of the day. There've been a few instances where you think you know the shape of something and then for whatever reason - Lenny's direction, or the way Suzie (Lavelle, DOP) is shooting something or what the person opposite you is doing - it takes a turn and goes in a different direction and the whole feeling of it and shape of it becomes something new. I always find those bits quite rewarding.

What was your favourite scene to shoot?

There's so many of them! One that jumps out was a scene we shot up in Ballycastle, which was quite a long one between Nick and Frances. Maybe it was one of my favourite scenes because, although it was quite a heavy scene it was very fun to do because we shot in a very nice pub.It was nice being up in Ballycastle and one of the first times we got to not be on set. It was nice to have a new energy, a nice scene in a nice environment… and a nice drink.

Are there any similarities between you and Nick?

I feel like on one level there's a lot that's different but there are similarities. Some of the things that he's struggled with or moments of doubt, periods of being low, I can kind of relate to, but also periods of being happy. There's an essence to him that I'm similar with, as much as there is circumstantially quite a lot different. That's a very Nick way of answering - quite evasive, cryptic and guarded.

What do you hope audiences will take away from this?

I hope people enjoy it, obviously! I hope that it's challenging in a way, it's quite thought-provoking and complex. I don't think there's such an obvious motor driving it, it's not two people in love - though that's obviously complex enough! There's lots of facets to it and it's asking some challenging questions.

When the book came out it seemed to kick up a lot of debate and conversation, with not everyone being on the same page or with the same response. That's quite interesting and more exciting than just one consensus. I hope the series provides that same level of discussion. And what I like about Sally's books that I've read is that she doesn't always tie everything up with a bow at the end, which is interesting and true to life. I'll be intrigued to see how that lands with people - but hopefully, in a good way, it will provoke a discussion.

Interview with Sasha Lane - Conversations With Friends

Sasha Lane plays Bobbi

What drew you to this project?

I like how everyone is an individual and how it all intertwines. I don't think I've seen something that has so many different dynamics but all so well blended. Not just in a way of, 'that's the sister', or 'they work together', it's quite intimate that you get to see the expression between all of them.

What were your initial thoughts when you read Sally Rooney's Conversations With Friends?

I liked it a lot. I thought it was very interesting because I'm into people and their psychology. I'm always thinking about what's in their brains and I think that's also what made me like Bobbi even more. Because I figured that the way she's written and the way she's considered bold, a bit blunt with her words and confident, something in me told me that she's one of the most misunderstood people.

I think it's easy to cast her off as the mean girl or the bully. Like, she's fire and Frances is ice, when I think it's quite the opposite. So that was my main focus. I wanted to bring heart and more depth to her and give Bobbi a chance to be seen as someone who is processing things and just because you're straightforward with what you say, it doesn't mean you're wrong. I think more people could be like that and I like the idea of not making her a villain, but someone who is honest, but also thoughtful, speaks the truth and is open.

What do you think are the key themes of the series?

That nothing is black and white, and it all depends on what you do with the situation you're given. Not everyone can be in an open relationship or be friends with someone that they dated. Not everyone can be honest with what they need to change about themselves, but it's just the process of being open to it and acknowledging that you have to confront it. Sometimes just accept that it is what it is and you don't know where it's going. I think that stems for every character.

It's a love story, but it's unconventional. It's a very modern take - give us a sense of that…

I think it's the balance of unconditional love and the freedom of that, while also still being confined to your humanness. I think even with Bobbi, the way she speaks and views it all is one thing but at the same time, she can't help but also feel things that everyone feels - which is jealousy and confusion. I think it's complicated but also very simple and easy at the same time.

How did you bring Bobbi to life, what were the challenges?

I thought of my past relationships that I've had with people. Everyone thinks that because I am quite bold and unapologetic with what I say that I'm probably a firecracker and hard. But I'm the opposite, I'm quite gentle. It depends on what you give, to what I give back. I'm constantly aware of looking out for other people and how they feel, but I'm not a hippie. I just have very different views on love and I think it's different for every situation, so I was trying to bring that into Bobbi. What would she be thinking at this moment? There must be a reason her and Frances are still friends, it can't just be 'well they're totally fine' and there are no emotions there. I was trying to think of the patience Bobbi has with Frances and the vulnerability it takes to be so open and talk about what she's feeling and thinking, while also keeping her emotions at bay and walking Frances through her own relationships separately.

Can you describe Bobbi and Frances' relationship when we first meet them?

They're friends, they have a past, but it's not really something that has carried on. I like that it starts off light and they feed off each other. They are the type of friends that have a relationship where they'd rather sit on their couch alone drinking wine together than doing anything else. I think they're each other's safety net, which I think is sweet for the moment.

Why is Bobbi so drawn to Mellissa? Tell us about that relationship.

I don't think it's as big of a draw as has been seen or what people are assuming it is. I feel Melissa is like a spark to her. She's clearly intelligent, and when they first meet she radiates strong energy, I think she's the opposite to some of the people she hangs around with, so I think Bobbi is attracted to the fact that there's someone who is as big of a mountain as her. It's the fact that it's someone who has stronger energy than she does, which makes her fascinating.

What does Bobbi think of Nick when she first meets him?

I think her first thought is, 'here goes a placeholder who is interrupting what I'm seeing'. It's just, 'oh she has a husband; he doesn't speak much and he's boring'. You see someone that's majestic and then he's like a patch of grass.

Tell us about the directors...

We have Lenny Abrahamson, with whom it was one of the first times I was able to be vulnerable without being exposed. He brings something out of you and you feel like it's a safe space. I feel like I had a huge opportunity to grow with him. It's nice to be able to have a personal relationship as well as a working one. It makes you feel a bit more human that you can go up to work and not necessarily be a robot.

He's so detailed and its mind blowing the way that he's thinking about the edits and whether the dialogue works in the scene and building it. It's insane the way his mind works, I'm grateful to work with him, that's one of the main reasons I wanted this because of the stuff he can do. I think Leanne Welham brought a nice pace to it; she's thinking about how she's cutting, so it was a nice jolt to be able to run for it and go for it.

Tell us about working with each of your fellow cast members?

I adore Alison, she's one of the sweetest people I've met, I just want to protect her. I think she's worked incredibly hard. With this being her first project, she's done amazingly. She makes you feel the joy of the questions she asks and amazement with things. She's like a little gem, she makes me feel like a better person on set. I'm probably nicer and smile more because she's there, so that's a plus.

I really like Joe. We have nice little one-on-one moments. We'll spend half the day not saying a word and then the next thing you know, we're in a deep conversation. I like our little dynamic where it's like, 'hey dude', and then we dive in.

Jemima's great. I instantly bonded with Jemima, she's the perfect Melissa. I remember the first conversations we had were straight to the point. I like that kind of dynamic with her.

What has been your favourite scene to film so far?

I think the big fights between Frances and Bobbi, or the nice walk they have down the pier where they have a very real, honest, slow-paced conversation. It just felt natural. Those were my favourite - intense, but real moments.

What has been the most rewarding moment during filming?

Making friends with the cast. I generally don't make friends and I don't have many, but I wanted to make friends with everyone, it's quite surprising. There's a lot of time to build the character, I think that's the best thing about show. You actually have time to dive into the character to the point where it's like putting on second skin. That's rewarding because I won't walk away feeling like I didn't get to know her enough to portray her.

What do you think people will take away from your character?

I hope it changes what they would assume she's like from the book. I have the strongest feeling that people hate Bobbi and don't want to like her. I think it's so easy to write her off as rude. Hopefully, if I've done my job well, that will go away. I hope they start to feel that there is a vulnerability and caring side to her. I want them to be able to see the light and the softer sides versus how slick her tongue is because she's just rude. So, I hope they like me.

In what ways are you similar or different from Bobbi?

I think I'm similar to Bobbi in the way that I'm 100 percent down to talk. I like being open and having conversations, talking about the truth and feelings. But if it comes to the point of actually having to express them, I don't want to be seen when that happens. I think that's when my wall goes up and I think that's the same for Bobbi, which is why she's always looking away or needs a bit of a tick to get her through.

The ways that we're different is that I don't think I could ever be as bold as she is and the things that she says. I would just crawl into a hole, so it's fun to do it and I don't feel bad after because it's in the script.

What do you hope audiences will take away?

That it takes a lot of work to eliminate all the fluff of relationships, conversations and multiple dynamics. I want people to feel like this makes them think of a relationship or something they've been wanting to tell someone. I hope it registers and makes people feel more comfortable with thoughts that they've had about 'could I be in a relationship like that' or 'do I feel bad for being honest or bad for not being honest'. I just like the fact that it's very human, it's real, it's raw and that's okay. Especially to be on screen, I think that's quite exceptional. It wasn't just a 'this is cute and here's a relationship'.

Interview with Alison Oliver - Conversations With Friends

Alison Oliver plays Frances

Why did you want to be involved in this project?

I was already a big Sally Rooney fan and was in awe of her brain and work. When I read the book I just completely fell in love with it straight away and all the characters in it. I think the people behind the project are such a big part of it too. The directors Lenny [Abrahamson] and Leanne [Welham], and all the producers, writers, cast and crew are just extraordinary. When you have people like that behind a series, you know it's going to be very special. It was just a dream to even audition!

What were your initial thoughts when you read Conversations With Friends?

I was fascinated by the dynamic between these four characters and how reliant they all are on each other to develop and move forward with their lives. They're all in a very stagnant place in their lives and through meeting each other it enables them to grow - I found that very interesting. I was so compelled and moved by this intense female relationship between Bobbi and Frances. It's so beautiful and one that I resonated with and understood.

You mentioned you were a fan of Sally Rooney before being cast...

I had read Normal People and Conversations With Friends before I was cast or auditioned. I think her writing is so intimate and sensitive and detailed, but also fearless and powerful. She writes characters that feel like very real people and she writes about a world that I understand and that resonated with a lot. Her style of writing is very funny and has such character to it, so it was amazing to then say, let's see where I could fit into that.

How do you think the scripts honour the original novel?

The writers Mark, Alice, Maeve and Susan have done such an incredible job at adapting the book. The heart of all the characters remains completely intact. I think with any adaptation there's things that will work in a book but then when they are translated into a visual form might not have the same effect, so there are slight differences, but the narrative and Sally's tone remain true and present throughout.

You'd already read the book before you got the scripts, what is it about the scripts that are so compelling?

With the scripts, it's a lot of what's not said. I love that about the scripts, not feeling the need to give words to it. There's a lot of scenes where they're talking about one thing but really there's another thing going on. Everything feels in oppositions a lot of the time and I just find that exciting to play.

What are some of the big themes in the series?

Love, friendship, age, class and non-monogamy!

How did you prepare for bringing the character of Frances to life?

I worked primarily from the book actually, I think the tone of the book is so distinct and clear that when I read it, it sometimes felt like I was reading Frances' diary. It would be her perspective on how she took any given moment or experience in her life and so I would always go back to that when looking at a scene in the script and say, well, how is she feeling about this? because it may look one way but actually this is how she's interpreting the situation. It's so detailed and in depth, I felt so spoiled, I sometimes felt like I was cheating on a test!

Can you describe the character of Frances?

Frances is a very cerebral and observant young woman who has a very dry humour. I completely adore her because I think she's refreshing as a young woman in all her complexities and chaos and vulnerabilities, because she's multi-faceted and very extreme as a character. At one moment she can be very introverted and embarrassed and awkward and scared, and the next she's so ballsy and brave and reckless - I just love that about her.

She's someone who is very intelligent and very talented. She really knows what her beliefs and morals are in the world, but when it comes to her own personality or who she believes she is, she has no idea and is living in this identity crisis for a lot of the story. She's married to a version of herself that is unemotional. At this point in her life she's struggling to accommodate that version of herself while she embarks on situations that will inherently evoke emotion and that causes her to behave in certain ways. Because of that she's very complicated but amazing.

You've obviously had a lot of fun playing this character, give us a sense of that…

There's something interesting in playing a character who doesn't know who they are, because you end up playing loads of different people, and she's different with every single person in her life. Even if it's the slightest shift, how she is with her parents versus who she is with her friend Philip, or with Bobbi or Nick or Melissa. I was deciding what version of Frances she is today and that's so much fun. I think everyone involved in this enjoys being here and loves the story and the characters, so there's naturally so much joy, humour and fun every day.

It's a complex coming-of-age drama, can you talk about the journey Frances goes on in the story?

When we meet Frances, at this point in her life, she's stuck in a lot of patterns of behaviour, and there's a lot of change happening within her relationships with Bobbi, her dad, her own identity and changes within her body that she's having to figure out. It's putting her in situations where she has to confront her own vulnerabilities and defences, and confront life in a sense, which is something she's always trying to avoid. It's a tricky time for her, but it's very compelling to observe because to me, it feels very real and relatable.

Tell us about this extraordinary relationship between Frances and Bobbi.

Frances and Bobbi are inseparable, they're the best of friends and they do everything together and love being with each other. When you meet them at the beginning of the story they are happy together and have developed this way of being, speaking and living. They used to be in a relationship at school, but they've kept this bond that's platonic, and because of that I think there's an underlying and unresolved tension because they've never actually spoken about the breakup in depth - why it happened or how it made them feel.

What does Frances feel when she first meets Nick?

It's a funny one because I don't think it's a love at first sight, it's a very instant intrigue and fascination with Nick. Frances is such an observant person, she likes to look at people and can place them off the bat, but she can't do that with him at all. He's such a mystery to her when she first meets him, and they have a common ground as they are the more introverted of the pairings. So, when they're left with each other in a social context they must negotiate who's going to assume what role in the conversations. She can feel an interest from him and that shocks her, because Frances is someone who has a very low opinion of herself and is used to people taking to Bobbi and feeling she's sometimes in her shadow. So having someone who is older, famous, wealthy and married, it makes her feel good about herself.

They have this odd bond, a thing that sparks between them as they meet over the course of a couple of different nights and she's fascinated and constantly wanting to know more.

Tell us who the directors are and what it was like working with them.

Lenny Abrahamson, who directs the first block, is just the most incredible director and person. I was blown away by him every single day because he has this ability to get under the skin of characters and can track everyone's journey at the same time to create a very compelling moment. He directs in a way that brings about the most organic, truthful responses in people because I feel like he's always searching for the most nuanced and subtle moment in a scene or in a story. He creates such a warm and safe environment to do anything, and he'll nurture that and guide you through it. I'm completely in awe, the way that he works and interacts with actors and everyone on set is amazing. And he's so funny, just such good craic - it's been a complete dream come true working with him.

Leanne Welham, who directs the second block, is amazing. I remember when we first had a chat - she had all these interesting takes and considerations about the story and characters that I may have not considered before or may have forgotten about. The part of story that she's directing is a big turning point in Bobbi and France's relationship. Leanne is so amazing at interrogating that and tracking exactly where they are in their relationship, conflicts that are arising, and she allows moments to breathe. She celebrates the most ordinary moments, where you're just sitting on the couch chatting to someone but, those are the most beautiful moments, as it's when two people are connecting.

What was it like to work alongside the other actors?

They're the most wonderful, amazing, talented people ever. I felt so lucky to work with them and I learnt so much from them every day. Watching them bring those characters to life has been magic because I imagined so much what those people might be like, look like, what their energy is like – then when you see the three of them I thought, of course that's Nick and Melissa and Bobbi. They're unique in their own way of bringing those characters to life and they've brought such complexities to them. In the book, Frances is relaying her version of who those people are, but when people embody them it's naturally going to be their version of the characters. I can't wait for people to see what they're doing with those characters because it's so good.

What has been your most rewarding moment during filming?

Just working with the people here. After such a mad and uncertain time being locked in, it's been so rewarding being in a space with people where you feel like you're really connecting with them and working in a close way - that feels rewarding because it feels like something we haven't had for so long.

What has been your favourite scene to film?

My favourite scene to film is the first dinner party that Nick and Melissa have for Bobbi and Frances after they go for a swim. It's when they're all figuring out how to speak to each other and there's a lot of different things at play there. It was so fun to film.

What was your favourite place to shoot?

My favourite place to shoot would probably be Ballycastle on the north coast. The landscape there is extraordinary – it was nice to be out in the country.

What do you hope audiences will take away from the series?

I think what I took away from the story - and what I hope people will take away - is you can't control who you love or how many people you love, you can't control how it's going to work out or how you're going to feel about it. You can only just love people and hope for the best.