“From time to time, I have to do things against my instinct. But the point is I am paid to serve and the guest must always come first.”

ITV today confirmed commission of an 8 x 60’ drama series, The Halcyon, which tells the story of a bustling and glamorous five star hotel at the centre of London society and a world at war.

The drama, set in 1940, shows London life through the prism of war and the impact it has on families, politics, relationships and work across every social strata – set to a soundtrack of the music of the era.

Produced by award-winning independent production company Left Bank Pictures (Wallander, DCI Banks), The Halcyon reveals how war permeates everyone’s lives from the glamorous guests to its loyal, hard-working staff watched from within by American journalist Joe O’Hara.

Created by writer Charlotte Jones (Trust Me), who also writes the series, The Halcyon has been commissioned by ITV’s Director of Drama Steve November and Controller of Drama Victoria Fea.

“A hotel is the perfect place to show ambition in telling the story of World War II,” said Steve. “It was an extraordinary time in our country’s history, and London was a transforming city. The Halcyon takes us right to the heart of this as the hotel is busy, energetic, and vibrant which reflects how people carried on with their lives with defiance in the air,” added Steve.

The Halcyon will be executive produced by Sharon Hughff (Strike Back, Waterloo Road) and produced by Chris Croucher (Downton Abbey) with the opening episodes directed by Nigel Cole (Calendar Girls, Cold Feet).

Left Bank Chief Executive Andy Harries said: “1940 is one of the most dramatic years in our islands history. Who could have imagined that London would survive the blitz and Luftwaffe’s attempted destruction of the city? What was it like to be in a 5 star hotel in the west end through this extraordinary period?

It’s such a compelling idea for a drama. The world of the Halcyon hotel has to carry on, through thick and thin and against all odds. The bedrooms have to be made safe, the bars have to stay open, and the band has to play on. People have to sleep, eat and survive.

Our opening line says it all ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times’.”

The series will begin filming in London and surrounding areas from April 2016.

During Amazon Studios’ latest pilot season, the U.S remake of Cris Cole’s acclaimed dark comedy Mad Dogs became one of its most watched shows, and has been picked up for a full season. The new series will premiere exclusively for Prime Instant members in the U.S, UK and Germany later this year and into 2016.

The original show’s creator, Cris Cole, wrote the adaptation, based on the UK original, which follows the reunion of a group of underachieving forty-something friends in a Belizean villa where grudges begin to emerge and secrets explode as their trip becomes a labyrinthine nightmare of lies, deception and murder.

The pilot starred Steve Zahn, Billy Zane, Romany Malco, Michael Imperioli and Ben Chaplin. It was directed by Charles McDougall (The Good Wife) who is an exec producer with Cole, Ryan, Marney Hochman (Last Resort), Left Bank’s Andy Harries (Strike Back, Wallander, The Queen) and Suzanne Mackie (Mad Dogs, Kinky Boots). It’s co-produced with The Shield creator Shawn Ryan of Sony Pictures Television.

 

Tommy Cooper: Not Like That, Like This (ITV) has been shortlisted for best single drama in this year’s Broadcasting Press Guild (BPG) Awards.

The single film about legendary comedian Tommy Cooper, written by Simon Nye (How Do You Want Me, Men Behaving Badly) and starring David Threlfall (Shameless, Nowhere Boy) as Tommy is nominated alongside Marvellous (BBC Two), A Poet In New York (BBC Two) and Murdered By My Boyfriend (BBC Three).

This is the second award nomination for the film, Iain Erskine was also nominated for best Editing in this year’s RTS Craft and Design awards.

The BPG awards – given only for work commissioned in the UK – are highly prized by programme-makers because they are selected independently by TV and radio correspondents, critics and previewers. The 41st annual awards lunch, at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane on Friday March 13th 2015, will be attended by the winners, BPG members and leading broadcasting executives.

 

Netflix has confirmed the arrival of its first original show from the UK, a £100m biopic of the Queen.

The Crown, produced by Left Bank in association with Sony Pictures Television, is a new ten-part series which is due to land on Netflix in 2016 and forms a part of the VoD service’s push into original content.

The series  tells the inside story of Queen Elizabeth II and her relationship with post-war Downing Street. It is based on the West End play The Audience, and written by The Queen and Frost/Nixon writer Peter Morgan. The series will be directed by Billy Elliot’s Stephen Daldry.
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Cardinal Burns (Series 2) and Tommy Cooper: Not like That, Like This have each been nominated for the RTS Craft & Design 13/14 awards.

Multi-award winning comedy sketch series Cardinal Burns has been nominated for three awards, in the Photography, Music (original score) and Production Design categories, with Tommy Cooper up for best Editing.
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SIR KENNETH BRANAGH returns in his BAFTA winning role as Inspector Kurt Wallander in three new films produced for BBC One by Left Bank Pictures, Yellow Bird and TKBC, co-produced with Masterpiece, TV4, Film i Skåne and the Copenhagen Film Fund, in cooperation with ARD Degeto and with the support of the Ystad Österlen Filmfond.

The three feature length episodes are written by PETER HARNESS (Case Histories, Is Anybody There?) and JAMES DORMER (Spooks, The Fixer), and adapted from two original novels by Swedish author HENNING MANKELL.

The first film, The White Lioness, written by JAMES DORMER and directed by BENJAMIN CARON (Skins, My Mad Fat Diary, Tommy Cooper: Not Like That, Like This) is adapted from HENNING MANKELL’s third original novel in the Wallander series, The White Lioness. The story takes place in South Africa, and will be filmed on location in Cape Town.

The two final instalments in the Wallander series will be written by PETER HARNESS, also directed by BENJAMIN CARON, and adapted from HENNING MANKELL’s final Wallander novel, The Troubled Man. Haunted by his past, Wallander faces a deeply personal case whilst looking toward the future with profound uncertainty, he will have no choice but to come face-to-face with his most intractable adversary: himself. The Troubled Man will be filmed on location in Skane, Sweden; and Copenhagen, Denmark.

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ITV recommissions detective drama starring Stephen Tompkinson

22 September 2014

A new series of contemporary crime drama DCI Banks will return for a six-part series starring Stephen Tompkinson, Andrea Lowe and Caroline Catz, ITV confirmed today.

Produced by award-winning indie Left Bank Pictures, the new series will comprise 6 x 60’ original episodes inspired by the books written by acclaimed novelist Peter Robinson. Filming will take place in Yorkshire later this month.

Stephen Tompkinson reprises his role as DCI Alan Banks with Andrea Lowe (Love Life, Monroe) playing DS Annie Cabbot and Caroline Catz (Doc Martin) as DI Helen Morton. Well renowned actors Keith Barron and Polly Hemmingway also return as Banks’ parents, Arthur and Ida.

With a reputation for delivering credible and emotional crime stories that are firmly rooted in the Yorkshire setting, DCI Banks has become a firm favourite with ITV viewers. This fourth series will feature powerful personal stories for the lead characters, both in their private lives and in their work environment; a deeper exploration of Banks’ relationship with his parents, further complications in Annie and Banks on/off romance and a personal crisis that threatens Helen’s career.

The first story, What Will Survive, revolves around a young woman found buried alive and her connections to a man, his autistic son and a family that seem to have silenced the town. We also see Banks’ life turned upside down by tragic events in his own family. What Will Survive is written by Nicholas Hicks-Beach (Law & Order: UK, Lewis, Letters From A Killer). Home, is written by Noel Farragher (Law & Order: UK, Inspector Lewis, Above Suspicion 2: Deadly Intent) and deals with an unfolding tragedy as a well-loved young Maths teacher is run over deliberately by a car outside his school. His Muslim girlfriend suspects her own father and cousin who disapprove of the relationship and the fact she has left her husband from an arranged marriage.

In the final story Ghosts, which is written by Paul Logue (Midsomer Murders, Death In Paradise, Waterloo Road, Casualty), Helen’s past comes back to haunt her when an old flame from another Police force implies he is being framed. He begs for her help shortly before he is killed in mysterious circumstances.

DCI Banks will be produced by Radford Neville (The Game, The Borrowers, Loving Miss Hattow). Radford is also a co-executive producer alongside Left Bank Pictures Chief Executive, Andy Harries. Peter Robinson continues to be involved in the creative process, ensuring the stories are true to his characters and the spirit of DCI Banks.

The series has been commissioned for ITV by Director of Drama, Steve November and Head of Drama Series, Jane Hudson.

DCI Banks is much loved by the ITV audience and I’m thrilled a fourth series has been commissioned,” said Steve.

Jane added: “This series will see Banks pushed to the limit as he tackles his toughest crimes to date whilst dealing with a personal tragedy which turns his life upside down.”

Executive producer, Andy Harries said: “What people love about DCI Banks is the compelling stories that are drawn from real life and often inspired by real events. It’s a proper British detective show set in the heart of modern Yorkshire.”

Bafta nominated for their first series on E4, Cardinal Burns have upgraded to Channel 4 for their second. This is no mean feat for the exuberant and absurd duo, who represent sketch success at a time of some uncertainty for the genre.

At a screening of the second series last night, at the apposite venue of Bafta, Rachel Springett, Channel 4’s comedy commissioning editor, hailed Dustin Demri-Burns and Seb Cardinal’s achievements and promised a second series that was ‘more anarchic, darker and more cinematic’ than the first.

The fact that Cardinal Burns is filmed with the same camera as was used for space blockbuster Gravity may have something to do with the show’s cinematic feel, but producer Jenna Jones indicated that there is more to it that that. ‘The boys write in a very visual and ambitious way, and it was clear to me from that start that they would make the transition to TV very successfully.’

The pair met at film school and so this eye for cinematic composition perhaps shouldn’t come as a surprise. Particular examples of it include Young Dreams, their Made in Chelsea-like spoof returning from the first series, and new sketch Hashtag and Bukake, the minor adventures writ large of two Turkish minicab drivers whose style and machismo belong to the cheesier buddy movies of the 1980s.

Hashtag and Bukake and The Office Flirt, another returning sketch, have what Burns acknowledges as a ‘bromance’ quality about them. Many of Cardinal Burns sketches are long-form (inspired, in part, by their love of US sketch comedy Human Giant) and so the buddy dynamic is one of the ingredients that helps sustain an ‘epic’ quality to their output.

‘Often the boys send me ten pages of notes on a sketch and they could be easily expandable to be their own sitcom,’ explains Jones. ‘This is why we sometimes split stories into two.’  Cardinal however, remains wary about sketches becoming ‘too soapy – that would detract from the characters’.

The vision of Cardinal and Burns and the camerawork are factors also complemented by a risk-taking approach to production.  Flying in world champion skippers for just one sketch was one such gamble, and was seen as a justifiable expense.

The creative process itself is generally more down-to-earth, however. ‘We spend a lot of time in cafes,’ says Burns. ‘Yes, we eavesdrop,’ adds Cardinal, ‘and end up taking notes from that.”’ After which the group dynamic either sees the duo ‘sitting in a room and jamming’ or assuming more prescribed roles: ‘I’m the typer, he’s the pacer,’ says Burns.

When not locked into a room the two men are still road-testing their material in live venues and will be going out on their first ever tour in September. Sometimes characters never make it from the stage to the screen. ‘A lot got dropped and a lot had to be started over again,’ admits Burns of the first series. However, the advantage of the live experience is ‘the instant feedback,’ he adds.

While there is no rulebook for what makes a Cardinal Burns sketch, there are some no-nos. ‘No sketches with two builders,’ says Burns; ‘none in a doctor’s surgery.’ adds Cardinal, ‘and they don’t do period stuff as such’, chips in Jones. Burns also suggests the pair are ‘not that good at punchlines’, but there is evidence to suggest otherwise.

Of all the things that Cardinal and Burns have in common, their French heritage could be a factor overlooked in its importance. ‘We both have French dads and our mums are from Essex,’ explains Cardinal. ‘So obviously, because of that, we thought ‘hang on, let’s put a sketch group together!’

Left Bank Pictures would like to congratulate actor Will Poulter for being awarded the Rising Star Award at Sunday night’s BAFTAS. 

The EE Rising Star Award – as voted by the British public – honours a young actor or actress who has demonstrated exceptional talent and ambition and has begun to capture the imagination of the British public.

The hotly contested accolade was won by the We’re The Millers star, who began his career as a member of after-school sketch group turned TV show School Of Comedy.

The show produced by Left Bank Pictures ran for two series on E4, from 2008 – 2010, and has been credited for launching the careers of both Will Poulter & Jack Harries. Poulter has gone on to star in films such as Son of Rambow, The Chronicles of Narnia and We’re the Millers, while Harries has gone on to start a YouTube channel named JacksGap, which currently has over 3 million subscribers and has made Harries both well-known and popular on the internet.

Will Poulter beat four other international actors on Sunday night, all nominated for their exceptional talent. The other nominees were: Dane DeHaan, George MacKay, Lupita Nyong’o and Léa Seydoux. The Award was presented by Eddie Redmaybe and previous EE Rising Star Awards nominee Alicia Vikander.

Will Poulter’s acceptance speech and backstage interview…

Congratulations to School of Comedy’s Will Poulter for his EE Rising Star nomination at BAFTA this week.

School_of_comedy_series1.12

Will Poulter, who starred in Son Of Rambow and alongside Jennifer Aniston in last year’s comedy We’re The Millers, is up against fellow ex School Of Comedy member George MacKay, whose films include the Scottish hit Sunshine On Leith.

Poulter, 20, said: “It still hasn’t really sunk in, but to be in a range of films that vary in budget and style is something I’m very grateful for and something I hope I can continue with. But to be recognised alongside these guys is phenomenal.”

MacKay said: “I’m blessed that I didn’t worry too much about it when I was a kid or overthink things, and I learned a lot unconsciously, but now I’m really ready and excited to learn as much as I can and do as much different work as I can to make a concerted effort to think for myself about what I want to do and carve a path for myself.”

The EE Rising Star award is the only one voted for by the public.

Previous winners include Juno Temple, Tom Hardy and Kristen Stewart.

Nominations for the ceremony’s other awards will be announced on Wednesday with the event taking place in London on Sunday, February 16.