International Television

International Television (32)

Q&A: Jo Eaton-Kent Talks 'The Watch'

Written by 03 January, 2021

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.

Last modified on Sunday, 03 January 2021 17:24

John Bishop Joins The Cast Of 'Doctor Who' For Season 13

Written by 01 January, 2021

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."

Last modified on Friday, 01 January 2021 20:41

'The Crown' Exec Suzanne Mackie Exits Left Bank Pictures

Written by 26 October, 2020

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."

Last modified on Tuesday, 08 December 2020 22:20

Nigella Lawson’s Bizarre Pronunciation Of 'Microwave’ Lights Up British Social Media

Written by 08 December, 2020

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.

Last modified on Tuesday, 08 December 2020 09:58

Fremantle, ViacomCBS Global Distribution Group Sign Multi-Territory Deal For Local Versions Of 'Tough As Nails'

Written by 07 December, 2020

Fremantle and Viacom/CBS Global Distribution Group have signed a multi-territory format deal for the CBS original format Tough as NailsFremantle 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.

Last modified on Monday, 07 December 2020 06:38

ViacomCBS Sells 'The Stand' To More Than 100 Markets

Written by 04 December, 2020

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.

Last modified on Saturday, 05 December 2020 15:53

BBC Acquires Its First Finnish Language Drama Series

Written by 04 December, 2020

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.

Last modified on Saturday, 05 December 2020 14:10

Three Celebrity Couples Announced For BBC One's 'Miranda’s Games With Showbiz Names'

Written by 01 December, 2020

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!"

Last modified on Tuesday, 01 December 2020 07:44

'Doctor Who' Returns On New Year’s Day With Dalek-Filled Special

Written by 29 November, 2020

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.

John Barrowman MBE as Captain Jack Harkness steps through the door of the TARDIS

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."

Last modified on Sunday, 29 November 2020 14:23

Noel Clarke And Ashley Walters Return In Three-Part Special 'Bulletproof: South Africa'

Written by 24 November, 2020

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.

Last modified on Tuesday, 24 November 2020 23:47
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