International Television (32)
The new series The Watch is inspired by the characters created by Sir Terry Pratchett in his famous "Discworld" novels and it follows an unlikely group of law enforcement officers called the City Watch. Given that much of the crime has been licensed, unionized and sanctioned, the Watch don't have much to do. That changes when a new menace threatens the city and the ragtag Watch is forced to figure out how to save the world.
The cast includes Richard Dormer as the drunken Watch Captain Sam Vimes, Lara Rossi as Lady Sybil Ramkin, Adam Hugill as the naïve but heroic Carrot, Marama Corlett as the mysterious Angua and Jo Eaton Kent as the ingenious forensics expert Cheery. Also, Wendell Pierce plays The Watch's own idiosyncratic depiction of Death, Samuel Adewunmi plays Carcer Dun and Matt Berry is the voice of Wayne, a talking sword.
I recently spoke with Jo Eaton-Kent by phone about the show, the challenges of taking on the role of a beloved character and the dangers of reading comments about your work.
The conversation has been lightly edited for clarity.
Q: What was your first reaction when you read the script for the first time?
Jo Eaton-Kent: I thought..."what a crazy world." I just couldn't wait to get involved. I feel very lucky to have the opportunity to get involved with something that is so magical.
Q: Were you familiar with the 'Discworld' books before you took the role?
Jo Eaton-Kent: It wasn't "Discworld," but my Dad was involved in the theater and he put on a production of Pratchett's "Truckers." It was way back in the day, around the turn of the century. So I've been familiar with Pratchett's writings for a long time. I hadn't really explored "Discworld" properly until I landed the job. And the first thing I did was pick up "Night Watch" and I was so excited about it. I would little bits of it and think "Oh, I'm going to bring that to life!" and that was such an amazing thing.
Q: As an actor, I would think this could be a challenge. You obviously want to be faithful to the material, but this is also television. It needs to be entertaining and you also want to bring some of yourself into the character as well.
Jo Eaton-Kent: Absolutely. I think it would be wrong to treat something as though it had never existed before if it had. I stand back. But if you look at movie's like "Howl's Moving Castle," which is loosely based on a great book that is set in Wales. The movie is done by Studio Ghibli and even though it's very different from the book, it's one of the best movies of all time. You take "Jo Jo Rabbit," which is based on a book that I ended up reading during lockdown. It's again, a beautiful piece of work, but very different from the book it's based on.
That's the thing about media. Even though it's a different medium and it might be a very approach to the material, it's still the soul of it that carries through.
Q: Now that the season is done, are there any specific moments or parts of the show that you can highlight and say "this is something I specifically brought to this. This part of it is me?"
Jo Eaton-Kent: Well, I know as a trans person, I know what it's like to be Cheery. Because I see Cheery entirely as a trans allegory. And Cheery was introduced to us back in the 90s, when politics was quite different. And I think as time has gone on, we are all very aware that things change. And you have to speak to the times that you are in. And I know that the things I am experiencing - the discomfort and some of the feelings Cheery has felt in the books - I am feeling now.
I wanted to honor that and of course, I did honor that during the filming. Cheery is very similar to me in that sense. And I was very good in biology in school. So seeing Cheery as a forensic expert kind of goes hand-in-hand with me.
Q: Speaking of representation and being true to the character, it strikes me that especially in the case of 'The Watch' that is a double-edged sword. There is an audience who can't wait to see their favorite characters brought to life. But at the same time, they have very specific ideas about how those characters should be cast. I know that in the case of your Cheery and Lara Rossi's Lady Sybill Ramkin, some fans have been very vocal about their unhappiness with the casting. There were complaints the casting wasn't represntative enough or representative in the wrong way. So as an actor, how do you deal with that type of criticism?
Jo Eaton-Kent: You don't read the comments. That's the number one piece of advice. Whether their positive or negative. I think that it's very important for one's mental health to stay true to yourself and to stay true to your conscience in all of this.
I mean, I can understand people feeling anxious it. I do think though, that what we have done as a show is really something special. I think it's really good TV. I think what we've done is keep the same heart and the same joy as Pratchett's works. We have the same spirit as the books. It's got the same whimsey, it's got the same madness. And we're doing it in the best way we know how, which is filled with love.
Q: One of the interesting aspects of the "Discworld" books for me is that there is a level of acceptance - or at least tolerance - of differences between people that you don't see in the real world. But that acceptance also brings it own problems.
Jo Eaton-Kent: That was one of the great opportunities about playing this role. You're dealing with a completely formed world of its own with its own backstory. Lara (who plays Lady Sybill) talks about this. She says that as a black person you often get cast in these roles where the DNA of the character is very much driven by the suffering of their ancestors. And that can be very limiting and frustrating for an actor.
And for me, it's a similar thing. For people who are like me, we have to undergo a lot of trauma and had to take risks in our lives not that long ago. And there is a lot of discomfort that we understand living in this world. But while things might be more accepting in this world of Moorpark, it has its own levels of discomfort. It's unpleasant, people are dying all of the time, there are dragons on the loose and there are maniacs on the loose.
And that's what I think The Watch is trying to do in their own world. They're just trying to make sense of it all. And that's not that different than what we do here. They are just banding together to try and keep the evil from overtaking everything. And that is part is a universal thing, I think.
Q: What was your reaction when you finally saw the finished episodes? I know that with a show like this, it can sometimes be hard to visualize the final results.
Jo Eaton-Kent: Well, I have only seen a couple of episodes, so I suppose I should have gotten on somebody about that.
But when you're working on the show, you don't know how it's going to turn out. Not really. It's funny, I have a habit of not thinking about what I'm doing. I just doing something and think "well, it will be okay." But it's funny to see myself in some scenes and think "Oh, it turned out okay." But also there were scenes where I would think, "wow, that turned out very different than I expected, " or "wow, I didn't know that scene existed." But I am very happy with what I've seen so far.
The Watch premieres Sunday, January 3rd, 2020 at 8:00 pm ET on BBC America.
The Thirteenth Doctor and Yaz are set to welcome a new face to the TARDIS later this year as actor and comedian John Bishop joins the cast as 'Dan.'
The 13th series of Doctor Who began filming in November 2020. Bishop has already begun filming and will make his first appearance when the 13th series starts on BBC One later in 2021.
As he becomes embroiled in the Doctor’s adventures, Dan will quickly learn there’s more to the Universe(s) than he could ever believe. Travelling through Space and Time alongside the Doctor and Yaz, he’ll face evil alien races beyond his wildest nightmares.
"If I could tell my younger self that one day I would be asked to step on board the TARDIS, I would never have believed it." said Bishop in a statement "It’s an absolute dream come true to be joining Doctor Who and I couldn’t wish for better company than Jodie and Mandip."
"It’s time for the next chapter of Doctor Who, and it starts with a man called Dan. Oh, we’ve had to keep this one secret for a long, long time," said showrunner Chris Chibnall. "Our conversations started with John even before the pandemic hit. The character of Dan was built for him, and it’s a joy to have him aboard the TARDIS."
Matt Strevens, Executive Producer, BBC Studios, said: "It’s been a total joy having John join the cast and we’ve been having a lot fun on set already. We can’t wait for you to meet Dan when the show returns later this year."
Piers Wenger, Controller, BBC Drama, said: "We are beyond thrilled to have John Bishop joining Doctor Who. Alongside Jodie Whittaker and Mandip Gill, John is a wonderful addition to the show and we have no doubt that series 13 is going to be another thrilling set of adventures for the Doctor."
Left Bank Pictures executive Suzanne Mackie, who has been working as an executive producer on the Netflix royal family drama The Crown, is leaving the company after 12 years to form her own production company.
Mackie joined Left Bank in early 2009 and was promoted to creative director in 2012. She has executive produced shows such as Sky 1's Mad Dogs, The Crown and upcoming Netflix drama Behind Her Eyes.
Her Orchid Pictures will be a London-based film and television producer and will work exclusively with Netflix on a slate of projects.
Despite her exiting Left Bank Pictures, Mackie will remain as executive producer on The Crown for its concluding fifth and sixth series.
"Having spent 12 very happy and creatively fulfilling years working with Andy Harries and the team at Left Bank Pictures, starting my own company felt like an exciting next chapter in my career," said Mackie in a statement. "The opportunity of further deepening my collaboration with Netflix presented an immensely exciting opportunity."
I will be honest and admit that I am not an unbiased observer when it comes to Nigella Lawson. Maybe it's her fondness for comfort foods or her dulcimer British accent. But I've always found her quite cute and charming even when she's saying something that would sound insane coming from the lips of anyone else.
On Monday evening's episode of her BBC Two series Nigella's Cook, Eat, Repeat she oddly discussed heating up food her in her microwave. Except that she pronounced it as "mick-ro-warvey."
I couldn't tell if she was pronouncing it that way as a joke or if it's just a cute affectation. But either way, I'm off to heat up some tea in my "mick-ro-warvey."
Click here to read an interview with Nigella Lawson about her series Nigella's Cook, Eat, Repeat.
I'm loving the new series of Nigella. Double buttered toast, double carbs, all the greatest condiments and the best pronunciation of microwave. Ever. pic.twitter.com/3uRdT5fJ2r— Helen (@istolethursday) December 7, 2020
Fremantle, ViacomCBS Global Distribution Group Sign Multi-Territory Deal For Local Versions Of 'Tough As Nails'
Fremantle and Viacom/CBS Global Distribution Group have signed a multi-territory format deal for the CBS original format Tough as Nails. Fremantle will take the format rights in the following territories: Australia, Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Mexico, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain and the U.K.
Tough as Nails, recently picked up for a second season, is a competition series "that celebrates everyday Americans who get their workout on the job rather than the gym, wear work boots instead of workout shoes, and consider the calluses on their hands a badge of honor."
Competitors are tested for their strength, endurance, agility, mental toughness, and life skills in challenges that take place at real job sites. One by one, they are eliminated until the Tough As Nails winner is named, but nobody goes home. Even if someone "punches out" of the individual competition, everyone stays to compete in a team competition for additional cash prizes.
The series aims to redefine what it means to be tough – proving toughness comes in all shapes and sizes. Tough as Nails is about real people in real life who are really tough, people who roll up their sleeves every day, who are not afraid to get their hands dirty to get the job done. Its launch in July 2020 was CBS’s highest new reality format launch since 2015.
"This is a reality show for 2020 and beyond," said Rob Clark, Director of Global Entertainment, Fremantle, in a statement. "Tough As Nails makes heroes of the real people who keep our countries running, and now more than ever it’s important for us all to recognize our essential workers. This format has everything – competition, tension, jeopardy, emotion, and drama. The ratings on CBS were absolutely stellar, and we have had a lot of interest in the show and look forward to launching it through our production network around the world."
"We look forward to introducing more audiences to the Tough as Nails format in Europe, the U.K., Australia, Latin America, Asia, and India," said Paul Gilbert, Senior Vice President, Formats, ViacomCBS Global Distribution Group. "This heart-warming format honors working-class men and women, which is relatable to viewers around the world and is crucial in the current global climate."
The show was created by Emmy Award-winning producer Phil Keoghan (The Amazing Race) and his producing partner, Louise Keoghan, who are also executive producers along with Anthony Carbone. Phil Keoghan also serves as host for the U.S. version. Tough as Nails is produced by Raquel Productions Inc. in association with Tough House Productions Inc. and distributed by ViacomCBS Global Distribution Group.
The Stand, a limited event series based on Stephen King’s best-selling novel, has been sold into more than 100 markets worldwide.
The series will premiere December 17th exclusively in the U.S. on the streaming platform CBS All-Access, but like other originals done for that platform, it is also being extensively distributed internationally.
Among the deals signed by ViacomCBS Global Distribution Group include sales to StarzPlay (Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latin America, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, the U.K.), HBO Nordic (Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden), HBO Portugal, M-NET (Africa), Cosmote TV (Greece), Síminn (Iceland), Wavve and Tcast Co. (Korea), Amediateka (Russia), Yes (Israel) and Viacom18’s Voot Select (India).
The Stand is King’s apocalyptic vision of a world decimated by a plague and embroiled in an elemental struggle between good and evil. The fate of mankind rests on the frail shoulders of the 108-year-old Mother Abagail (Whoopi Goldberg) and a handful of survivors. Their worst nightmares are embodied in a man with a lethal smile and unspeakable powers: Randall Flagg (Alexander Skarsgård), the Dark Man.
BBC Four has acquired the award-winning series Man In Room 301 from the co-producer and distributor About Premium Content (APC).
Shot in Finnish, Man In Room 301 weaves between the past and present to tell the story of the Kurtti family, whose lives are irrevocably changed when two year-old Tommi is killed by a gunshot. Whilst on their family holiday in Greece 12 years later, they come across a man that looks just like the boy’s alleged killer. Gripping, fast-paced and tense, the series keeps the audience on edge until the final reveal.
"We are delighted that Man In Room 301 is our very first series from Finland," said Sue Deeks, Head of Programme Acquisition, BBC in a statement. "It is a tense psychological drama set between Finland and Greece that will keep BBC viewers intrigued and engrossed to the very end."
The series is the first Finnish Language drama acquisition for BBC Four. The 6-episode series has just been nominated for four prestigious Golden Venla Awards in Finland for Best Drama, Best Director, Best Actress and Best Actor.
Produced by Warner Bros. International Television Production Finland and Wall to Wall Media, the psychological thriller is written by the UK’s award-winning Kate Ashfield (Born To Kill, Shaun Of The Dead) and directed by Finland’s Mikko Kuparinen for Elisa Viihde.
This Christmas, three celebrity couples will join Miranda Hart from the comfort of their own homes for a virtual raucous night in of festive games and challenges. The celebrities are Strictly Come Dancing’s Head Judge Shirley Ballas and her partner Danny Taylor, football pundit and presenter Jermaine Jenas and his wife Ellie, along with singer-songwriter and entertainer Robbie Williams and his drummer Karl Brazil. Viewers can also expect another mystery celebrity special guest who will be joining in on the fun and mayhem.
An expert in the art of homemade mischief, Miranda Hart says: "I'm very excited for the lovely BBC One viewers to see the ridiculous games my guests threw themselves into on this new Christmas show. It certainly brought me many laughs; I'm still giggling now. And not just any guests either - some of our most beloved famous faces. All shall be revealed, and indeed much was!"
The Thirteenth Doctor and "the fam" will kick-off 2021 with a new episode of Doctor Who entitled "Revolution of the Daleks" set to air on BBC America on New Year’s Day.
The special episode will include a number of guest stars, including John Barrowman who will be reprising his role as Captain Jack Harkness alongside Chris Noth who will be back as the disgraced Jack Robertson. Chris Noth previously appeared in the season 11 episode "Arachnids in the UK." Dame Harriet Walter will also be making her Doctor Who debut alongside actor Nathan Stewart-Jarrett who has recently appeared in The Trial of Christine Keeler.
Viewers last saw the Thirteenth Doctor at the end of season twelve where her fate was left hanging in the balance as she was locked away in a high-security alien prison with no hope of escape. In the upcoming special, Yaz, Ryan and Graham are far away on Earth and having to carry on with their lives without her. However they soon discover a disturbing plan forming. A plan which involves a Dalek. How can you fight a Dalek without the Doctor? Even with Captain Jack’s help, the gang are set to face one of their biggest and most frightening challenges yet…
Chris Chibnall, Executive Producer, said in a statement: "We’ve crammed this year's Doctor Who festive special with an explosion of extraordinary acting talent. Where else would you get British acting royalty, a globally renowned US screen star, an (inter)national treasure of stage and screen and one of Britain's hottest young actors - just in the guest cast! Put those together with Jodie Whittaker, Bradley Walsh, Mandip Gill and Tosin Cole (and Daleks! Did I mention Daleks!) - and you get a cast to be exterminated for. And things will explode. Promise."
After two hugely successful seasons of Bulletproof, Noel Clarke and Ashley Walters are reprising their roles as cop buddies, Pike and Bishop, for a special event, Bulletproof: South Africa. The three-part special, produced by Vertigo Films, sees the duo take a much-needed vacation from their London day-job and head to Cape Town, South Africa.
Unfortunately for the two holidaymakers, things don’t quite go to plan. While trying to relax after a tough year, Bishop, Pike and his family soon find themselves caught up in the frightening kidnap of a young girl. Having befriended the young girl’s parents earlier that day, Bishop and Pike decide it’s their duty to use their expertise to help the couple win their daughter back. The kidnappers demand an unreasonable reward for the safe return of the girl, but have no idea who they’re now up against.
Paul Gilbert, Executive Producer for Sky, said: “We’re really excited to see TV’s favourite cop duo back in action, but transported from the mean streets of London to one of the most beautiful coastlines on the planet. Played brilliantly by Noel and Ashley, Bishop and Pike will offer a New Year thrill ride to die-hard fans of the show and new viewers alike, as they navigate their way through an unfamiliar world to seek justice in their inimitable style.”
Allan Niblo, co-founder of Vertigo Films, said: “I’m thrilled to have Bishop and Pike burst onto our TV screens with a ray of sunshine to brighten up any dull January. Expect carnage, mayhem and comradery as they take on formidable new enemies.”
Bulletproof: South Africa is to air in the UK on Sky One on Wednesday January 20th, 2021.
The new streaming service Discovery+ launches today in the UK, replacing the current dplay streaming service. According to the company, Discovery+ is launching with more than two dozen originals and an overall 17,000 hours of content. That would make it the third largest SVOD platform in the UK for content.
Beginning on November 19th, SkyQ customers will be able to access Discovery+ for 12 months at no cost.
Original shows available at launch include Faking It: Jimmy Savile and Prince Andrew, Maxwell & Epstein, and Salvage Hunters: Design Classics. The service also ordered Donald Trump: A Faking It Special and the series Four Men Four Wheels, both of which will be available in December.
"The launch of our streaming service Discovery+ is a milestone moment for Discovery UK and marks a new era as we bring our premium brands and content together under one roof for the first time," said James Gibbons, executive vice-president, general manager UK & Nordics.
ITV Head of Drama Paula Hill announced on Tuesday that the network had ordered a sequel to the drama Manhunt, which was the highest rated new drama on any channel in the U.K. in 2019.
In the four-episode drama Manhunt II: The Night Stalker, Martin Clunes returns as DCI Sutton, a character based on the diaries of Colin Sutton. The season will tell the real-life story of the police pursuit of a notorious rapist whose 17-year reign of terror left thousands of elderly people in southeast London living in fear.
Manhunt II The Night Stalker is written by Ed Whitmore (Silent Witness, Rillington Place, Strike Back), who also wrote the first season of Manhunt, which told the real life story of how the 2004 murder of Amelie Delagrange on Twickenham Green was eventually linked to the murder of Marsha McDonnell in 2003 and the abduction and murder of Milly Dowler as she travelled home from school in 2002.
Both dramas are produced by Buffalo Pictures. The executive producer is Philippa Braithwaite, the producer is Jo Willett, the co-producer is Evie Bergson-Korn, the director is Marc Evans. The stories are by Colin Sutton and Ed Whitmore, who is also an executive producer.
"I’m delighted that Martin Clunes will play DCI Colin Sutton once again, taking on a case that had gone unsolved for almost two decades," said Polly Hill in a statement "The team behind the first Manhunt - Ed Whitmore, Marc Evans, along with Buffalo and Philippa Braithwaite - will make sure this is another compelling and respectful dramatization of a truly shocking crime that affected so many families."
"We are very pleased that ITV have given us the opportunity to dramatize another important case that Colin Sutton was involved in just before his retirement from the Force," added Philippa Braithwaite. "This inquiry has a very different emphasis to the Bellfield case; the victims were elderly and the crimes were unsolved for many years. The drama explores how Colin came late to the inquiry and helped solve it in a matter of weeks, taking an in-credibly dangerous serial rapist off the streets."
Manhunt II: The Night Stalker will premiere in 2021.
The BBC announced early Monday morning that it has commissioned a true crime drama based on the death of Peter Farquhar and the extraordinary events that unfolded over the following three years.
The Sixth Commandment tells the story of how the meeting of an inspirational teacher, Peter Farquhar, and a charismatic young student, Ben Field, who bonded over their love of books and involvement with the Church of England, set the stage for one of the most complex and confounding criminal cases in recent memory.
It also focuses on how suspicions around Ben’s relationship with Peter’s deeply religious neighbor Ann Moore-Martin, also targeted by Field, unlocked a series of stunning revelations, culminating in a headline-grabbing trial.
The mini-series is written by Sarah Phelps, and produced by Wild Mercury Productions (a Banijay UK Company) and True Vision Productions.
The Sixth Commandment captures the initial seductions, the extreme gaslighting, the gripping police investigation and Peter’s killer finally being brought to justice four years after his untimely death. While poignantly highlighting the damaging effect of isolation and loneliness, it also celebrates both Peter and Ann’s lives as cherished mentors, much loved relatives and adored friends.
Sarah Phelps, writer and Executive Producer, says: “This is such a shocking and brutal case; how a murderer hid his manipulation and malevolence in plain sight of a small community, how he insinuated his way into the lives of his victims. It’s a heartbreaking story of such desperate longing and loneliness but even within the darkness, there is the most astonishing blazing love and courage. I’m honored to have been asked to write this drama and to be trusted with the memories and experiences of Peter and Ann’s families."
Piers Wenger, Controller of BBC Drama, says: “The death of Peter Farquhar and the grooming of Ann Moore-Martin at the hands of Ben Field shocked the small church-going community in which these crimes took place. Who better than Sarah Phelps, with her vivid imagination and forensic understanding of the criminal mind, to tell this tragic story and to honor the memory of its victims.”
Derek Wax, Executive Producer for Wild Mercury, says: “I feel honored that Wild Mercury have the opportunity to tell this extraordinary story. Working with True Vision, who have formed strong bonds with both Peter and Ann’s families, the BBC, who are pioneers of factual dramas, and, of course, the brilliant Sarah Phelps, we will aim to get the heart of this deeply disturbing criminal case.”
Brian Woods, Executive Producer for True Vision says: “Having followed the police investigation over 3 years we were delighted when the families of both Peter and Ann agreed to support this powerful story being serialized. This drama will show how these two vibrant and complex souls were groomed and manipulated by an evil predator. And we hope this series will raise awareness of how vulnerable those living alone can sometimes become."
The Sixth Commandment is a Wild Mercury and True Vision production for BBC One. The mini-series is executive produced by Sarah Phelps, Derek Wax for Wild Mercury Productions, Brian Woods and Jezza Neumann for True Vision Productions and Tommy Bulfin for the BBC. The Sixth Commandment (w/t) is being distributed internationally by Banijay Rights.
Casting and filming dates will be announced at a future date.
Nigella Lawson is returning to BBC Two with a new series, Nigella's Cook, Eat, Repeat.
Nigella will get to the heart of how food is woven into our everyday lives and the connections it provides. Along the way, she'll offer up mouthwatering dishes that range from indulgent chocolate peanut butter cake to the rich luxurious crab mac'n’cheese, and the life-affirming fear-free fish stew - all beautifully shot to bring a weekly serving of comfort and cheer into the nation’s lives.
During the series, Nigella will spend time explaining where she finds inspiration for her recipes, from delving into her collection of vintage cookbooks to exchanges of ideas on social media.
In this interview, Lawson talks about what it's like to produce a cooking show during a pandemic and what she hopes the viewers will respond to her recipes:
Q: How does it feel to be back doing a new series after such a crazy year?
Nigella Lawson: It feels really lovely to be back. I’m lucky enough to work with a team I love, and have worked with forever. It feels really wonderful to be able to share my new recipes. Of course, for all of us, there was a bit of culture shock at first having been living and working remotely for so long suddenly finding ourselves on set, but after two days it felt like we had been doing it forever.
Q: How did you make the series Covid secure?
Lawson: Well, the BBC has a whole raft of measures in place, and I won’t itemize them all. In some senses, the biggest difference from our usual set up is that we all had to keep two meter's distance from one another and were reminded of this regularly - in the nicest possible way.
Plus there was a two meter rod that could be brought out if at any time it looked as if we were inching towards one another. This was wielded somewhat teasingly, and yet we knew it was done for serious reasons. I think we were all grateful for the strict list of safety regulations, even though it of course made an impact on how we filmed. I have to say I felt very protected by them.
Q: How was the filming with these new rules in place?
Lawson: I think we all felt so fortunate to be working that we really didn’t focus on the constraints. But of course it did have an impact editorially, not least in the sense that we couldn’t have our usual eating scenes with friends. But I made the supreme sacrifice and ate everything myself!
Q: How would you describe the new series?
Lawson: At its heart, it’s a celebration of the power of food to transform every single day: while Cook, Eat, Repeat re-dates the pandemic as a project, I think we all learnt over lockdown that thinking about what to eat, cooking it, sitting down to what we’ve cooked, really gave a focus to our lives that we were grateful for. But the series is also a passion project, delving into the ingredients I love, the recipes I always return to, and the pleasure of cooking and eating.
Q: What does the series have in store for us?
Lawson: It’s full of recipes that celebrate my favorite ingredients and tell the story of what I’m cooking now: from a spicy broth with noodles, fried chicken sandwich with major crunch factor, brown butter colcannon and meatballs with a difference, a lemony chicken cooked whole with carrots, leeks and orzo pasta, my new favorite thing to cook with fish fingers, crab mac’n’cheese, fear-free fish stew, and so many recipes to make your cooking pleasurable and eating blissful!
And those with a sweet tooth haven’t, of course, been forgotten either! I can’t wait to share my chocolate peanut butter cake, Basque burnt cheesecake, rice pudding cake, and a luscious creme caramel for one.
Q: Let’s talk about the first episode, which sees you cook a recipe combining fish fingers, chilli, onion, garlic and ginger…
Lawson: Yes, this is an absolute joy! I can’t stop making it. There is so much to love about it, but more than that, I feel it shows the alchemy of cooking: all the ingredients in this recipe are familiar, and yet the finished dish is for many of us so completely new.
Q: And the noodles with lamb shank and aromatic broth?
Lawson: This dish is something I’ve been making for a while, but it became very important to me in lockdown. It is so soothing and yet a real feast at the same time. There is something about the aromatic broth (which, incidentally, is incredibly simple to make) that makes you feel warm, safe and at peace. And again, it shows the power of food to sustain us physically and emotionally.
Q: Tell us about the chocolate tahini pudding.
Lawson: It’s a cross between a cake and a pudding: warm, chocolatey and squidgy, and gratifyingly easy to make. It’s not large - perfect for two - but could be stretched to three or four. But it’s great for one, since leftovers can be microwaved for a treat another day. No one has a huge crowd around their kitchen table these days for obvious reasons, so a small-scale, simple but special pudding is just right. And the tahini could easily be substituted with peanut butter.
Q: You also make a curry using banana skins…
Lawson: I can’t bear throwing anything away! And when I found out that you could eat banana skins, I couldn’t get in the kitchen fast enough. It’s a revelation. And for those who feel hesitant about the idea, I assure you that you would never guess my banana skin curry had banana skins in it. You wouldn’t even think bananas. I love that this is a dish made with something that would normally go in the bin, although that wouldn't be enough to justify its presence in the program. It’s there because it is just a glorious thing to eat.
Q: Let’s chat about other recipes later in the series, such as crab mac and cheese.
Lawson: The crab mac’n’cheese is just luscious. It’s a strange thing, it manages to be both rich and delicate at the same time. Maybe this is what makes it so beguiling. It’s comfort food that is also a sumptuous treat. But I’ve got so many recipes in this series that I could describe like that: mood-boosting, life-enhancing and warming dishes that are needed in a dark and difficult winter.
Q: Are you pleased a lot more people have taken up cooking during lockdown?
Lawson: I think the reason a lot of people are nervous about cooking is they think there is one perfect way and they are frightened of getting it wrong. Lockdown showed people who don’t consider themselves confident cooks, that cooking is all about improvisation. It gave them confidence. You are not talking about making showstoppers; you are talking about cobbling things together to make supper!
Q: And finally, tell us a little about your Christmas special...
Lawson: Well, Christmas presents shouldn’t be opened early so I will only say a very little! But Nigella’s Christmas Comforts certainly did feel special to make. It is really about revelling in the season, a total immersion in Christmasiness. In common with lots of people, I haven’t been away anywhere this year, and won’t be, so this is about travelling at the table, with some of my favorite Christmas recipes from abroad, as well as home-grown treats.