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ITV Studios Spring Drama Line Up Unveiled

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On the eve of its third annual Drama Festival, ITV Studios announces new sales of its enviable portfolio and a new slate for 2020 to be presented to global buyers.

Mammoth Screen’s major three-part television adaptation of H.G. Wells’ seminal tale – the first alien invasion story in literature – The War of the Worlds – has been acquired in the US by the AMC upgrade subscription service AMC Premiere, taking the total number of territories it is available in to 221.

The hotly-anticipated Noughts + Crosses, also from Mammoth Screen and based on the award-winning young adult novel series by Malorie Blackman, has sold to HBO Europe and BBC First Australia.

Mammoth Screen’s epic World War Two drama World on Fire, now available in 144 territories, has sold to BBC First and BBC Player Asia along with Mainstreet Pictures’ character-driven relationship thriller starring Emmy® winner Julia Ormond, Gold Digger.

Both titles make their way into Latin America with a pan regional Satellite TV service, DIRECTV, which acquires ITV Studios Factual Drama and Urban Myth Film’s A Confession written by the Oscar-nominated Jeff Pope in addition.

A Confession will also be available on Magenta TV (Deutsche Telecom) Germany, Telefonica Spain, SVT Sweden, Cineplex Thailand, Channel Zero Canada, Britbox Canada, YES Israel, Viacom Russia, Okko Russia and BBC in New Zealand, which has also picked up Stick and Stones.

TVNZ has picked up Genial Productions’ new comedy drama starring Dawn French, The Trouble With Maggie Cole (former w/t Glass Houses), which delves into what happens when idle gossip escalates, and Silverprint Pictures’ family drama meets contemporary thriller, Flesh and Blood. Flesh and Blood has also been acquired by Network Seven in Australia, KT Corp in Korea, Virgin Media Eire and RTV Slovenia.

Additionally, all six seasons of the Emmy®-nominated Schitt’s Creek have sold in a pan regional deal to ViacomCBS Networks Americas.

The success of these now world-renowned titles is set to be replicated in 2020 with a stunning new slate of premium titles launching internationally today.

World Productions’ up-coming adrenaline-fuelled thriller Vigil (6 x 60’, w/t) starring Suranne Jones (Gentleman Jack, Doctor Foster), Rose Leslie (Game of Thrones, The Good Fight), Gary Lewis (His Dark Materials, Billy Elliot), Martin Compston (Line of Duty) and Paterson Joseph (The Leftovers, Peep Show) leads the new slate. Written and created by BAFTA® nominee Tom Edge (The Crown, C.B. Strike, Oscar®-nominated Judy) and directed by BAFTA® winner James Strong, Vigil unravels a high-stakes conspiracy threatening the very heart of Britain’s nuclear deterrent, a Trident nuclear submarine.

The Singapore Grip (6 x 60), from Mammoth Screen adapted by Oscar®-winning screenwriter Christopher Hampton from J.G. Farrell’s classic novel, is an ambitious and exotic family saga set in colonial Singapore during World War Two. Featuring David Morrissey (The Missing, The Walking Dead) as rubber merchant Walter Blackett, Jane Horrocks (Little Voice, Absolutely Fabulous) as his wife Sylvia and Charles Dance OBE (Game of Thrones) as his business partner, it centres on a wealthy British family living a life of luxury which is slowly crumbling around them as the Japanese make their invasion.

Inspired by the short stories created by Anaïs Nin, Little Birds (6 x 60’), from Warp Films and directed by Stacie Passon (The Affair, House of Cards), is set in Morocco in 1955 and centres on two very different women: troubled American heiress Lucy Savage (Juno Temple, Dirty John, Atonement, Vinyl) and the famous Moroccan dominatrix, Cherifa Lamour (Yumna Marwan, The Translator, One of These Days). Their lives, and those of their lovers – Hugo Cavendish-Smith (Hugh Skinner, Fleabag, Harlots) and Adham Abaza (Raphael Acloque, Mission Impossible, Humans, 24, Versailles) – become dangerously entangled in Tangier’s ‘International Zone’. Little Birds weaves together stories of private desire and public politics against a backdrop of hedonism and conflict, to deliver a modern tale of freedom and feminism.

Cattleya and Groenlandia’s Romulus (10 x 60’) is an ambitious drama that reconstructs the epic tale of Rome, as never told before. In the eighth century BC, a primitive and brutal world exists, where a man’s fate is decided by the merciless power of nature and the gods. Romulus is the story of this world as seen through the eyes of three people marked by death, loneliness and violence. As these men and women learn how to shape their own destinies instead of passively suffering the whims of fate, a ferocious and protective female figure leads the formation of a new society – laying the foundations for one of the greatest Empires ever.

ITV Studios also proudly unveils a new slate of crime titles, including the true crime dramas Honour and Pembrokshire Murders, English crime procedural Grace as well as the European titles Voiceless and Thin Blue Line.

Honour (2 x 60’ or 1 x 90’) from Hera Productions is based on the heartbreaking true story of Banaz Mahmod, a young woman murdered by her family for falling in love with the wrong man. When DCI Caroline Goode (Keeley Hawes, Bodyguard), discovered that Banaz had been to the police five times to report threats to her life from members of her own family, she was appalled that her colleagues had missed multiple chances to prevent this so-called ‘honour’ killing. This powerful factual drama explores the fight to bring her killers to justice. Based on the book by Detective Superintendent Steve Wilkins and Jonathan Hill,

The Pembrokeshire Murders (3 x 60’, w/t) from World Productions brings to life the pursuit of the most notorious serial killer in Welsh history. When newly promoted Wilkins played by Luke Evans (Dracula Untold, The Alienist) decided to reopen two 1980s murder cases in 2006, he used pioneering forensic methods that linked the murders to a string of burglaries. This three-part drama offers insight to the painstaking detective work and cutting-edge innovations – as well as a bizarre identification via a TV gameshow – that enabled Steve and his team to catch the serial killer, John Cooper.

In the compelling and fast-paced detective drama Grace (2 x 120’) from Second Act Productions, Tall Story Pictures and Vaudeville Productions, renowned screenwriter Russell Lewis (Endeavour) brings Peter James’ award-winning Roy Grace novels to life. Starring John Simm (Doctor Who, Life on Mars) as the tenacious Detective Superintendent, the first two stories in the series: Dead Simple and Looking Good Dead. Are the subject of two new feature-length dramas. The Roy Grace book series has been translated into 37 languages with worldwide sales of over 20 million copies.

Featuring contemporary crime stories told with warmth and humour, Mammoth Screen’s McDonald & Dodds (2 x 120’) follows the investigations of a mismatched detective duo in one of Britain’s most traditional cities, Bath. Newly promoted, the ambitious DCI McDonald (Tala Gouveia, Cold Feet) is a tough, driven, battering ram of a cop originally from London, veteran sergeant Dodds (BAFTA® winner Jason Watkins, The Crown, W1A) is a quiet and unassuming man, with a hidden talent for deciphering puzzles. The pair instantly lock horns over their different approaches to policing – and to life, but soon forge an entertaining and ultimately effective partnership.

Voiceless (Bella da Morire, 8 x 60’) from Cattleya delicately yet fearlessly weaves complex, topical issues of prejudice and violence against women into a provocative thriller. Eva Cantini, a brilliant, direct and strong-willed police inspector returns to her hometown to help her sister raise her child. When Gioia Scuderi, an aspiring model and actress with a bad reputation, is discovered lifeless at the bottom of the lake, Eva is assigned the case. She forms powerful new alliances as she uncovers a net of violent, controlling men surrounding Gioia, all while embarking on an unexpected relationship of her own that could be her downfall…

Thin Blue Line (10 x 60’) from Anagram Sweden gets under the skin of what being a modern-day cop is really about. When your career requires you to deal with the grittiest parts of society, how do you remain whole and happy? Nobody in this police force expects to come home as the same person. As they try to balance their evolving personal and professional lives, and the fight against the city’s criminals intensifies, the line between private and public starts to blur.

ITV STUDIOS FULL SPRING DRAMA SLATE:

Vigil
Featuring a line-up of renowned talent both onscreen and behind the camera, Vigil (working title) is an adrenaline-fuelled new thriller that unravels a high-stakes conspiracy threatening the very heart of Britain’s nuclear deterrent. As this six-part drama commences, two seemingly disparate events – the disappearance of a Scottish fishing trawler and a death aboard a Trident nuclear submarine – bring the police into direct conflict with the Navy and British security services. DCI Amy Silva (Suranne Jones) is thrown into this highly charged situation, tasked with heading an investigation both on land and at sea. Finding her authority increasingly weakened by the forces at play around her, the brilliant but fragile Silva is also left questioning her own choices as she navigates personal trauma and loss. Set in a shadowy world we rarely see but which has implications for us all, this timely thriller takes viewers deep into the pitch-black icy waters of the Atlantic, to a place where tomorrow’s geopolitical struggles are already being played out. From the producers of Bodyguard and Line of Duty, Vigil (working title) also stars Rose Leslie, Shaun Evans, Anjli Mohindra, Martin Compston, Paterson Joseph, Connor Swindells, Adam James and Gary Lewis. Written and created by BAFTA® nominee Tom Edge (The Crown, C.B. Strike, Oscar®-nominated Judy), it is directed by BAFTA® winner James Strong.

World Productions for BBC One 6 x 60 mins

The Singapore Grip
Adapted by Oscar®-winning screenwriter Christopher Hampton from J.G. Farrell’s classic novel, The Singapore Grip is an ambitious and exotic family saga set in colonial Singapore during World War Two. Featuring an acclaimed cast, this epic story centres on a wealthy British family living in Singapore at the time of the Japanese invasion. Rubber merchant Walter Blackett (David Morrissey, The Missing, The Walking Dead) and his wife Sylvia (Jane Horrocks, Little Voice, Absolutely Fabulous) live a life of luxury, seemingly untouched by the troubles in Europe. With Walter’s business partner Mr Webb’s (Charles Dance, Game of Thrones) health failing, Walter needs to ensure that the future of their firm is secure. He decides that Webb’s son Matthew (Luke Treadaway, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Ordeal by Innocence) is the perfect match for their daughter Joan, and Joan is happy to agree. But Matthew’s idealism leaves Walter increasingly suspicious as Matthew himself falls under the spell of Vera Chiang (Elizabeth Tan, Coronation Street, Top Boy), a mysterious Chinese refugee. This sweeping drama combines the private story of the machinations – both commercial and amorous – of the family as they struggle to preserve and expand their prosperous business, with a panoramic account of cataclysmic world events. Crafted with unique air and wit, The Singapore Grip is a compelling portrait of a society in decline and a family clinging to a world that is slowly crumbling around them. From Mammoth Screen, creators of global hits including Poldark and Victoria.

Director: Tom Vaughan (Victoria, Doctor Foster)
Writer: Christopher Hampton (Atonement, Dangerous Liaisons)
Producer: Farah Abushwesha
Mammoth Screen for ITV 6 x 60 mins

Little Birds
Inspired by the short stories created by Anaïs Nin, this new original drama set in Morocco in 1955 is about two very different women – troubled American heiress Lucy Savage (Juno Temple, Dirty John, Atonement, Vinyl) and the Moroccan dominatrix, Cherifa Lamour (Yumna Marwan, The Translator, One of These Days) – whose lives, and those of their lovers, become dangerously entangled in Tangier’s ‘International Zone’. One of the last outposts of colonial decadence, Tangier is a culture shock in more ways than one for Lucy. Fresh off the boat, she must navigate the sexual, personal and political tensions of Tangier, all while longing for a more unconventional life free from the society cage she’s been kept in. Her fiancé́ Hugo Cavendish-Smyth (Hugh Skinner, Fleabag, Harlots), an aristocratic English Lord, is torn between his duty to Lucy and his lover Adham Abaza (Raphael Acloque, Mission Impossible, Humans, 24, Versailles), the most eligible man in Tangier. Meanwhile Cherifa, famous in this colourful, bohemian town where anything goes, attempts to change the world around her. Her presence enraptures Secretary Pierre Vaney (Jean-Marc Barr), who is desperately in love with her. As Lucy and Cherifa struggle to find independence amid a country breaking free of its past, a passionate, sexy and witty melodrama unfolds. Set against a vivid backdrop of hedonism and conflict, Little Birds weaves together stories of private desire and public politics to deliver a distinctly modern tale of freedom and feminism.

Writer: Sophia Al-Maria
Director: Stacie Passon (The Affair, House of Cards, Transparent)
Producers: Ruth McCance and Peter Carlton (The Last Panthers, Southcliffe)
Warp Films for Sky Atlantic 6 x 60 mins
English Language

Romulus
Imbued with history, myth and revolution, Romulus is a hyper-realistic, ambitious drama that meticulously reconstructs an epic tale of the genesis of Rome, as never told before. In the eighth century BC, along the banks of the Tiber, a primitive and brutal world exists, where a man’s fate is decided by the merciless power of nature and the gods. Romulus is the story of this world as seen through the eyes of three people marked by death, loneliness and violence. As these men and women learn how to shape their own destinies instead of passively suffering the whims of fate, a ferocious and protective female figure leads the formation of a new society – laying the foundations for one of the greatest Empires ever.

Cast:
Andrea Arcangeli (Trust, Domani è un altro giorno, Il tempo instabile)
Marianna Fontana (Indivisible, Capri-Revolution)
Francesco Di Napoli (Piranhas)
Giovanni Buselli (Gomorrah – the series, Thou Shalt Not Kill, My Brilliant Friend)

Creator and Director: Matteo Rovere (Romulus & Remus: The First King, Italian Race) Directors: Michele Alhaique (Thou Shalt Not Kill, Solo, Without Pity) and
Enrico Maria Artale (Sanctuary, My Bow Breathing, The Third Half)
Writers: Filippo Gravino (Gomorrah, Fiore, Italian Race), Guido Iuculano (Alaska, A Quiet Life, I liceali), Francesca Manieri (The Miracle, Romulus & Remus: The First King) and Matteo Rovere.
Cattleya and Groenlandia for Sky Studios 10 x 60 mins
Latin Language

Honour
Based on the heartbreaking true story of Banaz Mahmod, a young woman murdered by her family for falling in love with the wrong man, this powerful factual drama explores the fight to bring her killers to justice. When DCI Caroline Goode, played by Keeley Hawes (Line of Duty, Bodyguard), discovered that Banaz had been to the police five times to report threats to her life from members of her own family, she was appalled that her colleagues had missed multiple chances to prevent this so- called ‘honour’ killing. Caroline vowed that she would not rest until she finally got justice for Banaz. It was a promise that would quickly become all-consuming. Written by Gwyneth Hughes, Honour is a tense and moving drama that brings this important story, and a detective’s unwavering quest, vividly to life.

Writer & Executive Producer: Gwyneth Hughes (Vanity Fair)
Executive Producers: Liza Marshall (Temple, Riviera), Keeley Hawes and Peter Kosminsky (Wolf Hall)
Producer: Alliea Nazar (Stan Lee’s Lucky Man)
Director: Richard Laxton (Mrs Wilson, Mum)
Hera Pictures for ITV | 2 x 60 mins or 1 x 90 mins

 

The Pembrokshire Murders
Brought to you by the producers of global hit Bodyguard, true crime drama The Pembrokeshire Murders (working title) brings to life the extraordinary cold-case pursuit of the most notorious serial killer in Welsh history. Two unsolved double murders from the 1980s cast a long shadow over the work of the Dyfed-Powys police force. In 2006, newly promoted Detective Superintendent Steve Wilkins (Luke Evans, Dracula Untold, The Alienist) decided to reopen both cases. Employing pioneering forensic methods, Wilkins and his hand-picked team found microscopic DNA and fibres that potentially linked the murders to a string of burglaries committed in the 80s and 90s. The perpetrator of those crimes was nearing the end of his prison sentence, but if Steve Wilkins was right, he was also a serial killer… Could Steve and his team unearth enough forensic evidence to charge their suspect before he was released to potentially kill again? This three-part drama unravels the painstaking detective work and cutting-edge scientific innovations – as well as a bizarre identification via a TV gameshow – that would enable Steve and his team to catch the serial killer, John Cooper. Revealing the gripping inside story of a groundbreaking case that set the standard for cold case murder investigations, The Pembrokeshire Murders is based on the book by Steve Wilkins and Jonathan Hill.

Writer: Nick Stevens (In Plain Sight)
Director: Marc Evans (Manhunt)
Producer: Ed Talfan (Hinterland)
World Productions for ITV 3 x 60 mins

 

Grace
Acclaimed screenwriter Russell Lewis brings Peter James’ award-winning Roy Grace novels vividly to life in this compelling, fast-paced detective drama. Starring John Simm (Doctor Who, Life on Mars) in the lead role as the tenacious Detective Superintendent Roy Grace, these two new feature-length dramas are based on the first two stories in the series: Dead Simple and Looking Good Dead. Hard-working Brighton- based detective Roy Grace has given his life to the job, but when the drama opens, his career is at rock bottom. He’s fixated on the disappearance of his beloved wife, Sandy, which haunts his thoughts. He’s in the last chance saloon, running enquiries into long forgotten cold cases with little prospect of success. Following another reprimand for his unorthodox methods, Grace is walking a career tightrope and risks being moved from the job he loves most. With so much at stake, his colleague Detective Sergeant Glenn Branson knows Grace has more to give and asks him for help with a case. After a stag night prank appears to go wrong, the groom – a successful property developer with everything to live for – has gone missing. So, Branson calls upon Grace to investigate his mysterious disappearance. Is it a case of stag night shenanigans gone badly awry? Or something more sinister? With nothing but instinct, a lingering suspicion and his obsessive nature, Grace doggedly pursues the truth. The Roy Grace book series has been translated into 37 languages with worldwide sales of over 20 million copies.

Directors: John Alexander (Belgravia, Trust Me, Jamestown) and Julia Ford (Sticks and Stones, Safe)
Writer: Russell Lewis (Endeavour, Lewis)
Producer: Kiaran Murray-Smith (Silent Witness, Bulletproof)
Second Act Productions / Tall Story Pictures / Vaudeville Productions for ITV Series 1: 2 x 120 mins

 

McDonald and Dodds
Featuring contemporary crime stories told with warmth and humour, McDonald & Dodds follows the investigations of a mismatched detective duo, against the backdrop of Britain’s most traditional city. Newly promoted, the ambitious DCI McDonald (Tala Gouveia, Cold Feet) has swapped the mean streets of London to leap up the career ladder in picturesque Bath. A tough, driven, battering ram of a cop, McDonald cracks cases through sheer force of will. When she’s partnered with veteran sergeant Dodds (BAFTA® winner Jason Watkins, The Crown, W1A), the pair instantly lock horns over their different approaches to policing – and to life. The tortoise to her hare, Dodds is quiet and unassuming, with a hidden talent for deciphering puzzles. But this new double act, thrown together with seemingly nothing in common, soon forge a rumbustious, entertaining and ultimately – give or take a few setbacks – effective partnership. Faced with a greed-fuelled murder in the upper echelons of Bath society and an unexplained death in a hospital for recovering addicts, McDonald and Dodds soon realise that their differences will be their strength when it comes to solving these gripping mysteries.

Director: Richard Senior (Poldark, Humans, Doctor Who)
Writer: Robert Murphy (lead writer on DCI Banks)
Executive Producers: Damien Timmer (Endeavour, Poldark, World on Fire) and Preethi Mavahalli (The War of the Worlds, Noughts + Crosses)
Mammoth Screen for ITV 2 x 120 mins

 

Voiceless
Voiceless (Bella da Morire) delicately yet fearlessly weaves complex, topical issues of prejudice and violence against women into a provocative thriller. At the heart of the story is Eva Cantini, a brilliant, direct and strong-willed police inspector who lives her life always on the attack – particularly when it comes to the men she encounters. After many years in Rome, Eva returns to her hometown to help her sister raise her child. When Gioia Scuderi, an aspiring model and actress with a bad reputation around town, is discovered lifeless at the bottom of the lake, Eva is assigned the case. In her quest for the truth, Eva forms powerful new alliances as she uncovers a net of violent, controlling men surrounding Gioia, all while embarking on an unexpected relationship of her own that could be her downfall…

Cast:
Cristiana Capotondi (The Night Before Exams, Di padre in glia, The Ma a Kills Only in The Summer) Matteo Martari (Medici: The Magnificent, Thou Shalt Not Kill, I bastardi di pizzofalcone) Lucrezia Lante della Rovere (Tutti pazzi per amore, Quantum of Solace, La dama velata) Elena Radonicich (1992, 1993, 1994, The Red Door)
Giulia Arena (Il paradiso delle signore)

Director: Andrea Molaioli (Suburra, The Girl by the Lake, The Jewel)
Writers: Filippo Gravino (Gomorrah, Fiore, Italian Race), Flaminia Gressi (Vite in Fuga) and Davide Serino (The Comedians, 1993, Vite in Fuga)
Cattleya for RaiUno 8 x 60 mins Italian Language

 

Thin Blue Line
When your job – and your career – requires you to deal with the grittiest parts of society, how do you remain whole and happy? To find out, Thin Blue Line gets under the skin of what being a modern-day cop is really about, following police officers in the vibrant multicultural city of Malmö. Never a simple 9 to 5, their working day involves the constant threat of violence and danger. Nobody expects to come home from that as the same person. This becomes a painful reality for our characters. As they try to balance their evolving personal and professional lives, and the fight against the city’s criminals intensifies, the line between private and public starts to blur. Blending serious themes with the warmth and humour of real life, this ten-part drama takes audiences on a memorable, thrilling and emotional journey.

Cast:
Amanda Jansson (Midnight Sun, Arctic Murders)
Oscar Töringe (Beck, Syrror, Eye In The Sky)
Gizem Erdogan (Hidden: Förstfödd, Alex, Drakens Hotell, Agenterna) Per Lasson (Eagles, The Bridge, Solsidan)
Sandra Stojiljkovic (The Bridge, Wallander, Hotel)
Anna Sise (Eagles, Skeppsholmen, Before We Die, Real Humans)

Director: Sanna Lenken (My Skinny Sister, Double Life, Yoghurt)
Writer: Cilla Jackert (SPUNG, Lite som Du, Svaleskär, Shed No Tears)
Producer: Martin Persson (A Royal Affair, The Hunt, Systrar 1968)
Executive Producers: Miira Paasilinna (The Carer, The Girl King, Mestari Cheng) and Mats Alders (En Komikers Uppväxt)
Anagram Sweden for SVT 10 x 60 mins
Swedish Language

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Strawberry Blond TV wins double commission for Channel 4 and More4

Strawberry Blond TV wins double commission for Channel 4 and

Strawberry Blond TV has been commissioned to make two new series for Channel 4 and More4.

Huge Homes with Hugh Dennis sees the actor and comedian unlock the doors to some of the largest domestic dwellings across the UK. In a celebration of everything massive, Hugh explores a variety of gigantic homes from the colossal Broughton Hall with its own private railway to a jaw-dropping island fort off the coast of West Wales.

Over four episodes, Hugh will see astonishing conversions and meet eccentric owners as he journeys through a gargantuan domestic wonderland. Along the way, he’ll tell the stories of each immense property and he’ll also be getting his hands dirty with some of the tasks needed to keep the huge homes in full working order – including cleaning chandeliers and a marathon six hours of hoovering.

Strangers on a Plane is a new stripped daytime format that sees five strangers compete to prove they can holiday better than anyone else. At the start of the week, five holiday-hungry Brits jet off to the same popular holiday destination for a five-day getaway, with each traveller taking control of the group’s activities for 24 hours.

As each holidaymaker takes their turn to plan their perfect day, they must make the key decisions: what accommodation everyone stays in, where they all eat, what activities the group does and what the evening entertainment is. The sky’s the limit on imagination but the budget is set and if they overspend, they could soon end up with a holiday nightmare.

At the end of each week, the group votes on who planned the best day, with the winner enjoying another week in the sun with a friend or family member. Everyone has a different idea of what makes a good holiday and these strangers on a plane will need to please more than just themselves if they’re to emerge a holiday hero.

Gill Brown, commissioning executive for Channel 4, said: “I’m thrilled to have commissioned two hugely entertaining series from the team at Strawberry Blond. Hugh Dennis is the perfect tour guide around an eclectic mix of fantastic, not to mention gigantic, homes that I’m sure our More 4 audience will find fascinating, while Strangers on a Plane is set to be a wild and raucous daytime delight on Channel 4. I can’t wait to see what our holidaymakers get up to.”

Steve Wynne, CEO, Strawberry Blond TV, said: “We’re now only pitching shows that involve going on sunny holidays or looking around massive houses – luckily Channel 4 loved both ideas. It’s a dream to be making two original series for More4 and Channel 4 – they both have the humour and warmth that runs through Strawberry Blond.”

Huge Homes with Hugh Dennis is a 4×60’ peak series for More4 and Strangers on Plane is a 20×30’ daytime series for Channel 4. Both series were commissioned by Jo Street, Head of Daytime and Features and Gill Brown, commissioning executive for Daytime and Features at Channel 4. The series are made by Strawberry Blond TV’s Scotland base. Steve Wynne is executive producer of Strangers on a Plane and Audrey Neil is executive producer of Huge Homes with Hugh Dennis.

Huge Homes with Hugh Dennis will air on More 4 later this year and casting for Strangers on a Plane is underway now. To apply to take part, visit: strangersonaplane.co.uk.

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BBC examines the work of T.S. Eliot at the centenary of The Waste Land

BBC examines the work of T.S. Eliot at the centenary

Programmes across TV and radio examine the life and work of one of Britain’s most influential writers.

This year the BBC marks the centenary of T.S. Eliot’s groundbreaking work The Waste Land with a range of programming across the BBC looking at his life and work.

Beginning on 10 July on BBC Radio 3 and BBC Sounds, He Do The Wasteland In Different Voices will see the poem performed for the first time as if an audio drama, the text unchanged from the original, but with a focus on the collection of voices within it. Permission was granted from the Eliot estate to mark the centenary with this new adaptation.

Recorded word for word, the performance features an ensemble cast including the likes of Paul Ready (The Terror; Motherland), Maggie Steed (Ten Percent); Adrian Edmondson (The Young Ones) and David Haig (My Boy Jack; Killing Eve) as they bring the characters from the poem to life. They include the mysterious Madame Sosostris who, in a seedy room, turns the cards; a poet and his wife, both miserable in their marriage, waiting for something to happen, and a street prophet with visions of the future finding his faith tested.

Capturing the slipperiness and unease of the post-war period, the performance will also feature the work of award-winning sound designer David Thomas. Carefully created to evoke a sense of fractured time, with haunting whispers of catastrophes to come, the sound remains faithful to the themes of anxiety, loss and anger found within the text as well as the uncertainty of the modern age we currently live in.

The programme will be preceded by a feature about the poem, with leading Eliot scholars Dr Lyndall Gordon, Professor Mark Ford, Professor Seamus Perry, Professor Stephen Connor and Nancy Fulford, archivist for the T S Eliot Estate. Taking listeners into the Eliot archive, the feature will contextualise the text and provide insight into Eliot’s own inspirations as well as the story behind the Waste Land.

Later this year on BBC Two and iPlayer is T.S. Eliot: Into ‘The Waste Land’, a new documentary uncovering the hidden personal story behind Eliot’s creation of his celebrated poem, directed by Susanna White.

For decades, Eliot actively discouraged biographical interpretations of his work, developing an ‘impersonal theory’ of poetry in which the private life of a poet was deemed irrelevant. But in 2020 there were dramatic new revelations which uncovered that, behind Eliot’s mask, there was a much more personal story to be found within The Waste Land.

In January 2020, more than 1000 of Eliot’s private letters were unsealed at Princeton University Library, 60 years after they were first deposited there. These letters to his confidante and muse Emily Hale have finally unveiled Eliot’s hidden heart, and the personal breakdown behind the creation of his most famous work. Eliot’s letters illuminate what appears to have been a complex yet unspoken emotional triangle within the poet’s life in which he was pulled between his troubled relationship with his first wife Vivien, and his enduring feelings for his first love, Emily Hale.

Both women appear to have played key roles in the genesis of the poem.

Moving through all five sections of the poem, the documentary explores many different facets of The Waste Land, from Eliot’s state of mind during each phase, to the different places where it was composed. Featuring contributions from actor and director Fiona Shaw and composer Max Richter; poets Hannah Sullivan and Daljit Nagra; Eliot’s biographer Lyndall Gordon, Vivien’s biographer Ann Pasternak Slater and Faber Poetry Editor Matthew Hollis. Simon Russell Beale performs specially recorded readings of the poem, in conjunction with Eliot’s own hypnotic reading of his work.

In October on BBC Four and BBC iPlayer, Ralph Fiennes’ exquisite performance of T.S. Eliot’s poetic masterpiece Four Quartets is translated from stage to screen by director Sophie Fiennes. Early in the Covid pandemic, Fiennes set himself the challenge of committing Four Quartets to memory. Written by Eliot in the shadow of the Second World War, the poem is a searching examination of who – and what – we are. Four Quartets offers four interwoven meditations on the nature of time, faith and the quest for spiritual enlightenment in one of the poet’s final great works and the questions, imagery and emotions it produces still bear powerful relevance today.

On Radio 4 and BBC Sounds in November is Hold On Tight: The Women Of The Waste Land, arts writer and broadcaster Jude Rogers immerses herself in the worlds and the voices of the women inside and outside T.S. Eliot’s extraordinary poem. Blending historical and literary insight with radiophonic and aural magic and imagination, Jude’s explorations are arrestingly sound designed by producer Steven Rajam.

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Channel 4 appoints Charlie Perkins as Head Of Comedy

Channel 4 appoints Charlie Perkins as Head Of Comedy

Channel 4 has appointed Charlie Perkins as Head of Comedy. Charlie will report directly into Chief Content Officer Ian Katz and will manage a team comprising newly promoted Commissioning Editor Laura Riseam and Commissioning Executive Joe Hullait. Charlie will also oversee the appointment of a new Senior Commissioning Editor.

Ian Katz, Chief Content Officer, Channel 4 said: “Channel 4 comedy has always been about betting on brilliant and iconoclastic new talent and Charlie is squarely in that tradition. She has an unerring ear for funny, has nurtured and collaborated with some of Britain’s most exciting and distinctive comedy talent and had an ambitious and original vision for the future of Channel 4 comedy. With a succession of wonderful shows from Derry Girls to We are Lady Parts and Big Boys, Fiona McDermott has delivered a purple patch for Channel 4 comedy and, along with Laura and Joe, I’m convinced that Charlie will continue that success.”

Charlie joins the multi-award-winning Channel 4 Comedy department from Blink Industries where she was Head of Comedy, having begun her career working on shows such as Little Britain, French & Saunders, Benidorm and Mock the Week, moving on to become a Producer at the infamous alternative comedy venue The Invisible Dot, BBC Radio Comedy and Cave Bear Productions. In 2009, Charlie founded the Bristol Revunions whose alumni during her time included Jamie Demetriou, Charlotte Ritchie, Ellie White and Joe Hampson. In 2013, Charlie founded The Paddock comedy collective, an experimental, new material platform for performers and filmmakers. She is also one of the Co-Founders of the Live Comedy Association and Founder of the Free-Free Movement.

At Blink Industries, Charlie Produced cult comedy series Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared which will air on Channel 4 later this year and during her time there the company has been behind the hit Netflix 2D animated series Dead End: Paranormal Park as well as E4 short-form animated format Blind Love on a First Date Island; and C4 Blap Sam Campbell: Get Real Dude.

Charlie Perkins said: “Creating platforms and opportunities for people to develop and thrive in their work has been the primary focus of my career to date – prioritising creative freedom, originality, tenacity and passion. I’m unbelievably honoured to now get to do this at scale at Channel 4; the place where all of our favourite comedy shows come from, a place which has vitality, risk-taking and art at its very core. Comedy is tattooed on my soul and I cannot wait to get started.”

Charlie joins later this year. Recruitment is underway for the new Senior Commissioning Editor role.

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