A roster of Britain’s best-known acting talent has joined Gabriel Byrne in the cast of Channel 4’s brand-new four-part drama series Coup (w/t), it was announced today.
They include Stephen Dillane (Game of Thrones, John Adams), Douglas Hodge (Robin Hood, Unforgiven), Gina McKee (The Silence, Vera), Charles Dance (Gosford Park, Merlin) , Lia Williams (The Last Detective), Rupert Graves (Sherlock), Sylvestra Le Touzel (Case Histories) and Ruth Negga (Love/Hate, Misfits).
Filming in Manchester, Liverpool and London has begun this month with tx. scheduled for later this year.
Gabriel Byrne plays the pivotal role of politician Tom Dawkins, the reluctant hero at the heart of this contemporary conspiracy thriller, who finds himself thrust into the spotlight of front-line politics when he least expects to be, and who risks everything by taking on the might of the establishment.
A massive industrial accident on Teesside leaves several people dead and raises awkward questions about the safety procedures of the US petrochemical company involved. As a man who has a profound belief in transparency and open government, Dawkins (Byrne) will have to tackle vested interests, financial, media, and military, both domestic and international, in his pursuit to uncover the truth and get justice for the families affected by the disaster. Along the way, he will struggle to keep his party onside and the electorate behind him, as he also weathers damaging revelations about his personal life. And as the investigation into the Teesside disaster proceeds, Dawkins becomes aware of establishment’s secret ties to the petrochemical company and comes to realise that there are bigger powers at play behind the scenes.
Coup is written by Robert Jones (Lennon Naked, Cops, Buried), based on the novel A Very British Coup by Chris Mullin, directed by Ed Fraiman (The Philanthropist, ShakespeaRE-told, A Midsummer Night’s Dream) and produced by Johann Knobel (The Shadow Line, Shameless). Executive Producers are Jason Newmark, Ed Fraiman, George Faber and Charles Pattinson.
Source: Channel 4 Press Release 15 Feb 2012
Sky1 has announced new firefighter drama The Smoke.
The series is described as “adrenaline-fuelled and gut-wrenchingly emotional” and will focus on a fire crew’s professional and personal lives.
“We wanted to bring a new, modern view of heroism to Sky 1 HD – The Smoke was a perfect fit,” said Anne Mensah, Sky’s head of drama.
“It has all the huge-scale action and adrenaline that a show about fire can bring to the screen, but… there is also a beautiful depth and complexity to the characterisation. This is a show that asks real questions about what it means to be a man in today’s world. “
Jane Featherstone of producers Kudos Film and TV added: “We are so pleased to be making our first series for Sky 1 HD whose ambition matches our own. In The Smoke, [creator] Lucy Kirkwood has created a rich, layered world and with [exec producers] Noelle Morris will bring these characters and stories to life in a bold and surprising way. You’ve never seen a fire show like this before.”
The eight-part drama will begin production in early 2013 for transmission later that year.
Sky1 has also confirmed that Ashley Pharoah (Life On Mars) is to adapt John Meade Falkner’s novel Moonfleet for a new two-part drama.
The tale of smuggling and adventure will be directed by Dan Percival (Strike Back) and will also transmit in 2013.
Greg Davies is to write and star in his own Channel 4 comedy pilot.
The stand-up, who portrayed headmaster Mr Gilbert in The Inbetweeners, will play a teacher who hates his job in Man Down, reports The Sun.
Channel 4’s comedy commissioning editor Nerys Evans said: “Greg is in more ways than one a giant of British comedy.
“He has managed to write a joyfully funny, laugh-out-loud script. We’re thrilled to be working with him on his first solo piece.”
Jon Thoday of Avalon, which will produce the show, added: “We are very excited to be part of bringing Greg’s brilliant comic creation to Channel 4.”
Davies will soon embark on a nationwide stand-up tour entitled ‘The Back of My Mum’s Head’. The comic’s previous tour ‘Firing Cheeseballs at a Dog’ was extended three times and released on DVD last year.
He is also due to star opposite former Saturday Night Live performer Andy Samberg in BBC Three sitcom Cuckoo.
Tuesday (26th June) sees the start of a brand new and edge of the seat police corruption drama starring Lennie James. James plays DCI Tony Gates whose 100% clear up rate sees him investigated by Anti-corruption. The series also stars Vicky McClure (recently seen alongside David Tennant in improvised drama True Love) and Adrian Dunbar and is written by Jed Mercurio (Bodies). Below is an interview with Lennie James discussing more about his character and what drew him back from America to take the lead in a BBC2 drama.
Tell us about Tony Gates and his role in Line of Duty…
I play Tony Gates and he’s DCI of his own particular unit – TO-20. He’s very successful – he’s the boss – and when we first meet him he’s receiving an award for being cop of the year – he is basically the top officer in his division. He’s married with two kids and he is the guy everybody wants to be next to because he gets results.
At the very start of the drama, we see he is meeting an old friend for lunch (whom may well be a little bit more than an old friend) and he rescues a mother and baby who are being mugged on the street, in kind of dynamic fashion. Unbeknownst to himself he is also becoming the subject of an investigation by AC-12. He becomes the subject of their investigation because Adrian Dunbar’s character (Superintendent Ted Hastings) believes he’s too good to be true and so he sets up an investigation to come after Tony Gates, which is a risk; Tony is the golden boy and they know it is going to be a difficult one.
So is Gates a bit of a hero among the force?
I think other people might perceive him to be a bit of a hero – if you’ve got ambitions in this particular squad or in this particular station, the place to advance your career is to be next to Tony. He has an incredibly loyal squad and they would walk over hot coals for him. I think that’s because he’s a dynamic character; he’s got there the hard way and he has worked hard to be in his position. For all intents and purposes he is the model cop and is a good police officer. He is committed and he gets the job done – it’s just a question of whether or not he gets the job done according to the rules, or whether or not the rules, from Tony’s perspective, are getting in the way of good policing. In Tony’s opinion it’s just about getting the job done – putting bad guys behind bars, solving cases, and keeping people on the street safe. Not everybody needs to or wants to see how the sausage is made, and Tony is the sausage maker.
What made you want to be involved with this drama?
I think what attracted me to this drama is that it had really good characters, a really interesting story and it is much more than just being a ‘police drama’. When I first spoke to Jed about the role, we said that in the end, if the final product is just a good police drama then we kind of haven’t done our jobs. This isn’t as straight forward as ‘there is a crime, so we watch police officers go about solving it’ – it’s much more complicated than that. This is the police investigating the police which means that you have all these other layers – who is lying, who is telling the truth, what are they after – and so everybody’s perspective, everybody’s point of view, everybody’s angle, what everybody is after is important in every scene. The layers we got to play were staggering and interesting and there was never a mundane or a boring scene. Everybody’s lying, everybody’s trying to protect themselves, and everybody’s trying to find out who is after them. The intrigue levels as the story progresses just rise and rise and rise.
Tony Gates is also about whether or not he is guilty or innocent; and if he is guilty, is it so much that he needs to be taken away from his job? For me playing the guy, it was kind of like a roller coaster. I never thought whether or not Tony is a good guy or a bad guy. I think that’s irrelevant, it’s about what he is prepared to do and what he’s not prepared to do – and that premise kind of stays with him all the way through the series.
You’ve played a few coppers before, what makes Tony Gates different?
I have played loads of coppers! Too many coppers! But the scripts were so good and the cast they managed to put together was so fantastic that there was no saying no to this. As an actor when you get told about a project, most scripts are at their best before you have read them, and more often than not they are not quite what you had hoped for or completely the opposite. But with Line of Duty and the work Jed did with the scripts they just got better and better. When I first received the first three scripts I read them back to back probably three times because there was so much in them and so much to explore. It was a no brainer for me in the end, even though playing cops had kind of become something I was resistant to. At one point I thought I was the poster boy for the Metropolitan Police!
Can you tell us a bit more about what Gates’ relationship is like with Fleming and Arnott?
I think with both of them the relationship starts in one place and ends up going someplace else.
With Martin’s character Arnott, for a long time, Tony just doesn’t take him seriously. He is like a fly which keeps buzzing around and Tony doesn’t think he can have any effect because why would he? A lot of the decisions and mistakes Tony makes are partly because Tony doesn’t take Arnott seriously, but also because in the end, the mistakes he makes are because he is trying to get the right results and get Arnott off his back. At the end of it there is a strange slightly messed up begrudging kind of respect between the two of them, although they never really like each other or had any time for each other, they’ve gone on a journey which has a massive effect on both of their lives.
In Gates’ relationship with Fleming you see how Tony man manages his team, which is that everybody on his team owes him something. Neil’s character (DC Nigel Morton) was on his way out of the squad because of his disability and Tony picked him up off the floor and gave him something to work for, and on some levels, live for; Craig’s character (DS Matthew “Dot” Cottan) was in danger of losing his career before he had a chance of getting it started, and Tony took him into his squad and protected him and nurtured him; and Faraz’s character (DC Deepak Sharma), an Asian officer in the force, Tony knows the hoops that you have to jump through if you are from an ethnic minority…he’s trying to make his way through the police force and Tony is trying to make that path easier for his character and so he is beholden to him. Finally you have Vicky’s character who at the beginning is working in a division of the force that she is quite obviously over qualified for and has ambitions beyond, and Tony takes her out of a place she doesn’t want to be and brings her up to the big room. Through her you then get to see how Tony manages the squad, how he uses that loyalty, how he nurtures them and how he sometimes takes advantage of them. He expects and demands undying loyalty.
You live out in LA, how did this part come about?
I don’t quite know how I ever get the jobs but with this one my agent had been tracking the gig for a while as she knew that I wanted to come home and do some work back there – remind everybody that I still have an English accent and still do what I do! Luckily this project came up and Jed liked me so I didn’t have to audition or do any of those nerve racking things. When the scripts were sent, I sent an email straight back saying ‘I’m very interested – how do we move further?’ So I guess it came the way you hope all jobs might come to you – somebody, the creators or the masters, who are in charge, know your work and like your work and offer you a job based on your work.
Finally, could you ever be a copper in real life?
Not now…there was a time when I was deciding what I wanted to do outside of school and I had serious considerations about being a copper…one of my good good friends was a lifelong police officer and I remember wanting to be a police officer because he was, and I also have friends I went to school with who joined the force, a couple of whom are very high ranking members of the met and surrounding regions. I’d like to think I could have been a police officer too but the reality is I don’t think I could have done. I would have left like at least one of my friends did early on, because there was a time when it was, or I would argue that it was one of the most dangerous jobs to be a black police officer in Britain.
Looking at and remembering them, I don’t think in the end I have what it takes to have got to the position that they or Tony got to as a black man trying to be a senior police officer. At the time when I would have had to have go through it you had to be single minded, in a way that I couldn’t have been about that job but could be about the job that I do. For a large part of what would have been Tony’s career, he had to fight everyday just to get to the starting line, and I couldn’t have done that in order to be a police officer. There have been times when it has felt like that trying to grow the career that I want as an actor – whatever hoops I’ve had to jump through, fences I’ve had to jump over and glass ceilings I’ve had to break through – doing it as an actor and a writer was the way I was going to do it, not as a police officer.
Line of Duty begins Tuesday 26th June 9.00pm on BBC1
David Tennant and Emily Watson have signed up to star in new BBC Two drama The Politician’s Husband.
The three-part serial is written by Paula Milne (White Heat) and has been described as a “bookend” to her award-winning 1995 drama The Politician’s Wife.
Former Doctor Who star Tennant will play Aiden Hoynes, a senior cabinet minister and political rising star, while Watson – who recently won a BAFTA for her role in ITV’s Appropriate Adult – will play his wife and fellow politician Freya Gardner.
The Politician’s Husband – directed by Boardwalk Empire‘s Simon Cellan Jones – will explore the complexities of a political marriage and the consequences when a wife becomes more successful than her husband.
“It is said that all power corrupts but the power balance within a marriage can be unspoken and subtle whereas the power games in politics are more overt and manipulatory,” said Milne.
“The drama explores the personal realm of a political marriage played against the ruthless hubris of Westminster politics, and what can happen when those two realms collide.”
Ed Stoppard (Upstairs Downstairs), Jack Shepherd (WyCliffe), Roger Allam (The Thick of It) and Oscar Kennedy (Great Expectations) will also star.
The Politician’s Husband will be produced for BBC Two by Daybreak Pictures and begins shooting this month in London.
Billie Piper will ignite controversy with scenes in her new BBC One drama True Love, a BBC source has claimed.
No stranger to provocative material after starring in four series of the sexually explicit ITV series Secret Diary of a Call Girl, the 29-year-old plays an unhappily married woman who engages in a dangerous affair.
Her character Holly is a secondary school teacher who falls for her teenage pupil, played by Skins star Kaya Scodelario.
A BBC source told The Mirror: “This storyline will get some criticism, but it’s been well researched and is similar to real-life events.”
Scodelario has previously stated that the lesbian storyline in True Love (previously known as Love Life) is not deliberately sensational, claiming: “It’s very hard to get two female actors, put them together in a relationship and not make it about sex.
“[This story] was more about the connection that they share as women [and] the points that they’re at in their lives.”
The five-part serial was semi-improvised by the actors, and sees Piper re-unite with her Doctor Who co-star David Tennant for the first time since Tennant’s final episode as the Doctor in 2010.
True Love airs on BBC One on Sunday, June 17 at 10.25pm.
Watch the trailer for True Love below:
Dead Boss writers Sharon Horgan and Holly Walsh have claimed that their new BBC Three show is more like Mean Girls than a “social commentary” on life in jail.
The programme, which stars Jennifer Saunders and Call The Midwife‘s Bryony Hannah, centres around the supposedly false imprisonment of Horgan’s character Helen Stephens for the murder of her employer.
Speaking to journalists including Digital Spy, the pair explained that they intended for Dead Boss to be “silly” despite its dark premise.
“We watched a lot of high school films like Mean Girls,” Walsh admitted. “We sort of liked the idea of writing the prison like a high school with the cliques and the bitchy remarks. There were stupid girls and sporty girls and whatnot.
“We don’t want to write a social commentary on prisons at all. Ours is very much in the tradition of the old prison comedies.
“We didn’t want to recreate prison life in comedy. We watched a lot of prison documentaries as well which nearly put us off writing it because it was so hardcore.”
Horgan added that the murder mystery running throughout the series is intended to serve as a release from the confines of the Dead Boss prison.
“I was really glad that we had the murder mystery thing because I find now when I’m watching it I love getting out of the prison and getting involved in that other kind of life as well,” she said. “I think if it were just set in a prison it would have felt a lot more sitcom-ey.”
Asked if viewers will eventually discover the identity of the murderer, the Pulling creator teased: “You get led down a few alleys.
“The idea was that someone might think they’ve figured it out but then the next week go, ‘Oh, well no she obviously did it’. And at some point you hope that [viewers will] think Helen did it.”
Walsh continued: “Basically they’re all dodgy, they’re all seriously dodgy. There’s not one person in it who’s not a suspect.”
Dead Boss begins tomorrow (June 14) at 10.30pm on BBC Three.
If you’re a fan of British television, chances are you’ve discovered the quirky little ITV series Doc Martin. The series, which stars Martin Clunes, focuses on the titular, curmudgeonly, big-city doctor, who serves as the General Practitioner of the small fishing village Portwenn. He hates it there, and only finds a few people even tolerable — his aunt, and schoolteacher Louisa Glasson (Caroline Catz), with whom he has been in an on-and-off relationship since the beginning of the series. The two had a child in the show’s fourth series, and the recently aired fifth season saw the two struggling to adapt to living together with the baby. It’s a funny, clever little show that feels quintessentially British, and is a must-watch for Anglophiles.
One of the bad things about the show, though, is the long hiatus between seasons. Nearly two years passed between series 3 and 4, with a similar gulf occurring between series 4 and 5. Series 6 isn’t slated to premiere until late 2013, meaning that we have a long way to wait before we get to see any more of Portwenn.
To build a little bit of anticipation for the new series, star Martin Clunes shared a bit of a teaser in a recent interview with the Radio Times. “[We start filming] next year and I can’t wait to go back there,” Clunes shared. “[Series 6] will be interesting because Louisa and the doctor are finally going to marry, I think. But I don’t want to give too much away!”
Doc Martin will return for its sixth series in late 2013.
Story: Steve Arnott is a young officer who’s fallen foul of his superiors for refusing to help in the cover-up of an operation that ended in the shooting of an innocent father. He seems ideal to join AC-12, an anti-corruption police unit, just as it starts to investigate Detective Chief Inspector Tony Gates, the regional force’s Officer of the Year.
Dodgy cops and a public cheated of decent policing are the themes of this bold and tense new thriller. An intelligent, gripping drama that delves into the reality of modern policing is long overdue.
Lennie James plays DCI Tony Gates, a Jag-driving, highly commended detective with a complicated professional and private life. Adrian Dunbar is the ‘zealot’ anti-corruption cop, Superintendent Hastings, who suspects that Gates’ glowing record and outstanding clear-up rate is not all it’s cracked up to be.
He drafts in young DS Steve Arnott, played by Martin Compston – who has refused his previous boss’s order to help cover-up police failings that resulted in the killing of an innocent man – to join his crusade against bent coppers. Trouble is, Steve is not sure Gates is up to no good. When Hastings cites Gates for not reporting a free restaurant meal he accepted, Arnott’s belief that Hastings is just picking on a good officer seems to be confirmed.
Vicky McClure as DC Fleming
Writer/producer Jed Mercurio deftly and quickly establishes a murky and troubling depiction of modern coppering, with characters treading a fine line between getting the job done and breaking the rules.
His story introduces us to the practice of ‘laddering’, or cherry-picking easy cases, then adding a series of bogus charges that never make it to court but boost an officer’s clear-up figures. And we also see DC Kate Fleming (Vicky McClure) being ordered to ‘prioritise’ – pursue two out of three cases, while downgrading a third that can’t be resolved quickly.
What makes the drama captivating is that there are so many grey areas around the characters, particularly Gates. He disarms a thug trying to mug a young mother, but also helps his girlfriend (Gina McKee) to dodge a drink-driving rap, which he doesn’t realise is actually a hit-and-run killing.
DCI Gates’ ‘big, sexy’ crime squad
Fleming also notices him massaging his caseload, but is he a crook? Watching Hastings and his boys trying to prove it over five episodes will be intriguing, but it is a refreshing change to see a mainstream UK crime drama that isn’t about ingenious serial killers or murderers in picturesque settings.
Gates’ ‘big, sexy’ crime squad TO-20 is an all-male club that includes Gates’ loyal followers DS Matt ‘Dot’ Cottan, DC Deepak Kapoor and DC Nigel Morton. It’s a club that ambitious Kate Fleming wants to join. Gates has an aura as the force’s star attraction and most would back his confidence that he can see off Hastings and AC-12.
Mercurio, the man who created the excellent drama Cardiac Arrest, says of the drama’s genesis, ‘My research revealed that modern policing is a far cry from the familiar world of most police dramas. Police procedures have been transformed by a target culture that dictates which crimes get investigated – and which don’t. Forces across the country routinely drop one in three reported crimes to concentrate on cases that can be solved within a workable timeframe by workable manpower… These revelations provided the perfect setting for our thriller, the less familiar precinct wherein the police police themselves.’
Lennie James must be delighted that Mercurio’s role of the sharp-witted police boss Gates came his way. He puts in a classy performance as the copper’s copper, and watching him trying to keep his empire together is going to be one of the summer’s main TV attractions.
Cast: Lennie James DCI Tony Gates, Martin Compston DS Steve Arnott, Vicky McClure DC Kate Fleming, Gina McKee Jackie Laverty, Adrian Dunbar Superintendent Ted Hastings, Craig Parkinson DS Matt ‘Dot’ Cottan, Neil Morrissey DC Nigel Morton, Faraz Ayub DC Deepak Kapoor
Jonathan Creek will reportedly return to BBC One this Christmas.
A one-off episode of the Alan Davies detective series has been commissioned for the channel’s festive line-up, according to The British Comedy Guide.
“It’s definitely going ahead, and everyone here is very grateful to David Renwick for bringing back such a loved character for such an important time of year,” a BBC insider said.
“We’re very excited to see Jonathan back on screen with a new mystery to unravel.”
Davies plays magician trick deviser Creek in the crime series, who helps solve cases which are seemingly impossible to crack.
Caroline Quentin starred as Creek’s sidekick for three series from 1997-99, and was later replaced by Julia Sawalha.
Sheridan Smith portrayed sceptic Joey Ross for the 2009 and 2010 Jonathan Creek specials.
The insider added that Smith’s character has been included for a return, but that the actress has yet to officially confirm her involvement.
Filming for the special is scheduled for September.
Alan Davies was criticised earlier this year for making controversial comments about the Hillsborough disaster.
Watch a clip from Jonathan Creek below:
BBC One sitcom Mrs Brown’s Boys is to be made into a feature film.
However, series star and creator Brendan O’Carroll is yet to begin work on a script, according to The Sun.
“I haven’t written it yet,” confirmed the comic. “That’s what success does, they give you money and say ‘Whatever you think’. So I’ve taken the money!”
Mrs Brown’s Boys was recently named best ‘Situation Comedy’ at the 2012 BAFTA Television Awards, beating off competition from Fresh Meat, Friday Night Dinner and Rev.
The series, which first aired in January 2011, started life as a radio show on Irish station RTÉ 2fm.
A second run of TV episodes came to an end on February 4 this year, with a third series to air on BBC One in late 2012.
ITV has reportedly axed drama series Above Suspicion and Kidnap and Ransom.
Based on the Lynda La Plante novels, Above Suspicion starred Ciaran Hinds as Detective Chief Superintendent James Langton and Kelly Reilly as Detective Inspector Anna Travis.
The latest series, subtitled ‘Silent Scream’, focused on the murder of a film star. The fourth and apparently final run finished on January 23.
The drama series Kidnap and Ransom starred Trevor Eve as an international hostage negotiator. It ran for a total of six episodes and two series on the channel.
Eve was previously quoted slamming the BBC for focusing its energy on shows like Doctor Who.
He said: “All they are interested in are spinoffs from Doctor Who and [shows similar to] Doctor Who, like Sherlock… It’s fine as far as it goes, but Doctor Who is a 40-year-old children’s programme.”
The cast and creators of both shows have yet to speak out on the reports.
Scott & Bailey will return for a third series, the show’s stars have revealed.
Suranne Jones told the Radio Times that new episodes of the ITV1 drama will begin filming in November.
“[Series co-creator] Sally Wainwright is such an amazing writer and has so many amazing ideas,” said her co-star Lesley Sharp.
“She gives you some sort of clue about what might happen and then you open the script and none of it’s there and it’s something even better.”
The crime drama – which began in May 2011 – follows the personal and professional lives of DC Rachel Bailey (Jones) and DC Janet Scott (Sharp) of the fictional Manchester Metropolitan Police.
The Scott & Bailey series two finale pulled in 6.44m viewers for ITV1.