International Television

International Television (72)

Q&A: Mel Giedroyc Talks 'Good With Wood'

Written by 21 November, 2021

While actress and comedian Mel Giedroyc might not be a household name in the United States, she is a legitimate television star in the UK. With longtime comedy partner Sue Perkins, she has co-hosted series including Light Lunch for Channel 4, The Great British Bake Off for the BBC and chat show Mel and Sue for ITV. 

Her latest television job is hosting the Channel 4 competitive reality series Handmade: Britain's Best Woodworker, which the streaming service Discovery+ just premiered in the United States as Handmade: Good With Wood, The six-episode series pits nine talented amateur woodworkers against each other that will leave one winner with the title of the "Britain's Best Woodworker."

In this interview, Giedroyc talks about the format of the show and whether she has any woodworking skills of her own:

What can we expect from the series?
The woodworkers are extraordinary and surprised us constantly. The reason I was so delighted to be asked to do this job, I think during the lockdowns, people turned to crafts and gardening and making things and had to slow down in a way we haven’t really collectively before, and this show captures that.

Watching people work with wood, which is natural and earthy will speak to people, I hope anyway. There’s something very addictive about the method and the simplicity of it, it’s amazing. I was in awe of the contestants, they are proper artists.

Tell us about the judges, Alex and Helen. What sort of judges are they?
I don’t think either of them are going for the Simon Cowell panto villain. They’re a brilliant pairing and we’re so lucky to have them. Alex is our vigilant eye on design and aesthetic, as well as a constant champion of wood. Helen keeps us rooted to the making, the joinery, the nitty gritty of the craft. They’re an exceptional duo and legends in their fields. Alex is world-renowned in the field of architecture and Helen is an iconic woman who set up the London School of Furniture Making. Because they’re both teachers, they’re all about creative, constructive criticism

Were you impressed with the standard of the contestants on the show?
The guys are phenomenal. They had no time between episodes, which is so unusual. On Bake Off, we’d film at the weekends then the bakers would have the week to practice and relax. This was like a marathon and the woodworkers have got such grit. They’re a brilliant bunch of people and enjoyed all being together because it is usually such a solitary activity, so for them to meet others who have the same passion was wonderful.

Did you expect to see so many female woodworkers in the mix?
I was delighted to see so many women. One of our woodworkers, Michelle is a grandmother, she rides a motorbike, she does martial arts. You meet someone like that and it’s inspiring. We had another lovely lady, a mum of three, Chantal. It’s really cool, I really hope it will ignite people’s imaginations. I love to think thousands more people will be wanting to get into the woodshed to knock up a little stool or something!

The location is stunning, did it add to the atmosphere of the show?
Definitely. Our directors and producers said right from the word go that the outdoors is part of this show, and that really appealed to me because I really love being outdoors. We were in the woods, surrounded by trees and we were making stuff out of trees, it’s an amazing thing. And we were bloody lucky with the weather as well, we only had a couple of rainy days. I cycled to work every day through a forest, it felt very special. I hope it gives people watching a sense of calm and a sense of hope because we’re living in weird times.

You filmed the series in a production bubble because of the pandemic, how was that?
It felt like we were in a travelling circus, we were in this mad bubble, 59 of us and it was the most incredible time. We were in beautiful Mid-Wales, we had incredible weather, it was a bit like being at a festival, with some work obviously thrown in as well. It was wonderful working in the incredible outdoors and there were a few parties, too, with us all dancing in a field. It was such a gorgeous thing because so much of that had stopped in our lives at that time. We all felt so safe.

Do you have any practical or DIY skills?
I’m quite handy at holding a ladder up for someone else to ascend. Quite a lot of time in my youth was spent moving scenery in theatres, so I’m quite handy. I’d like to think I can handle a cordless power drill and I will strut around the place with a hard hat and a Makita in my hand. But when it comes to constructing anything, I’m not so good. I’m a good helper, I’m always happy to help, to hold something and be there in a trusty pair of dungarees.

Though I’m not bad with a paintbrush. I ran a small decorating firm with one of my best friends after we left university, called Ham Decorators, and we did up a couple of houses in Wales. We were so incredibly lazy, and it was mainly done for relatives.

Bake Off inspired lots of people to get into the kitchen and Pottery Throwdown got more people taking ceramics classes. Do you think Handmade will have the same result for woodwork?
I love the idea of that, suddenly the sales of cordless power drills go up. It would be lovely to think of that happening. When times are strange and difficult, which they are, people need comforting, reassuring things, nostalgic things, maybe, and I think this falls into that category. We’ll see, I’m excited.

Season one of Homemade: Good With Wood premiered Friday, November 19th, 2021 on Discovery+.

Last modified on Sunday, 21 November 2021 14:26

AMC+ Picks Up 'That Dirty Black Bag'

Written by 19 November, 2021

AMC+ has acquired the rights to the spaghetti western drama series That Dirty Black Bag for launch in the U.S., Canada and Australia in 2022.

The eight-episode series stars Dominic Cooper, Douglas Booth, Niv Sultan, Guido Caprino, Christian Cooke, Travis Fimmel and Aidan Gillen. It was produced by BRON Studios and Palomar was filmed in Italy, Spain and Morocco.

"With its propulsive script and incredible ensemble cast, AMC+ is proud to partner with BRON and Palomar on this innovative reimagining of the classic Western," said Courtney Thomasma, general manager for AMC+, in a statement. "We’re also excited to bring AMC+ subscribers another thrilling, high-stakes adventure of love and bloodlust in the Old West, following the enduring popularity of our AMC original series Hell on Wheels and The Son."

"We are delighted to be launching That Dirty Black Bag, our reinvention of the classic spaghetti western, with AMC+," said David Davoli, president of BRON Television. "With their proven eye for innovative storytelling and their commitment to supporting the growth of international television, AMC Networks is the ideal partner to be unveiling this genre-bending epic series with. We look forward to sharing this electrifying and daring new series with their subscribers in the U.S. and around the world."

Last modified on Tuesday, 23 November 2021 11:25

Netflix Orders New Russian Drama Series

Written by 11 November, 2021

Netflix has ordered as untitled Russian drama series, starring Russian actor Alexander Petrov.

The series follows the story of a celebrity who finds himself in the center of tragic events that destroy his personality, and about his desperate struggle to become himself again.

Eduard Oganesyan will serve as showrunner alongside screenwriters Eduard Oganesyan, Alexey Kamynin and Marsel Shaikhattarov. Producers include Mikhail Vrubel, Alexander Andryushchenko, Olga Kochetkova, Fedor Bondarchuk, Vyacheslav Murugov, and co-producers Alina Tyazhlova and Mila Rozanova Eduard Oganesyan.

"The story embraced us the instant we read the script and we are truly excited to team up with incredible Russian talents to bring this second Russian Netflix series to life," Anna Nagler, Director, Local Language Originals, CEE and Russia, said. "This is a special story, providing a unique perspective on how life can take mind-blowing twists and turns. We look forward to Netflix members in Russia and worldwide enjoying this complex character-driven drama."

"Partnering with Netflix - an entertainment service that creates new trends, enhancing the level of quality content – gives us an important production and creative experience," said producer Fedor Bondarchuk. "This is an opportunity for me to work again with a dream team to embark on a new and interesting journey

Last modified on Saturday, 13 November 2021 14:45

Netflix India Producing Live-Action Musical 'Archies' Movie

Written by 10 November, 2021

In another example of how the global television business is reinventing IP in all kinds of unexpected ways, Netflix India has announced it is producing a live-action musical movie featuring the animated characters The Archies.

The film will be a coming-of-age story set in the 1960s India and will be directed by directed by Zoya Akhtar.  Shah Rukh Khan’s daughter Suhana Khan, Sridevi and Boney Kapoor’s younger daughter Khushi Kapoor and Amitabh Bachchan’s grandson Agastya Nanda will make their debut with the film.

“It’s a huge source of pride that the Archie Comics characters and stories resonate with fans globally, and especially in India, for more than 50 years. We are thrilled to partner with Netflix and trust Zoya Akhtar and her creative team to deliver a truly unique and exciting take on Archie and friends through the lens of Indian cinema. We know that these characters have global appeal and translating them into other settings and cultures is just the start of what we have planned for future multimedia adaptations," Jon Goldwater, CEO of Archie Comics, said in a statement.

The characters, adventures and friendships in Archies have found fans across the world for generations,” Pratiksha Rao, director, films and licensing, Netflix India, said in a statement. “With Archie Comics, Graphic India and Tiger Baby, we have an extraordinary opportunity to recreate the world of Archie comics, this time as a live action musical. Zoya has an incredible and unique ability to make stories and the characters in them relatable, making them feel like they are an extension of our own self. We are thrilled to partner with her in bringing to life the world of Archies to fans and our members in India and around the world.”

Last modified on Thursday, 11 November 2021 12:00

Netflix Productions Spend £130m In SW UK

Written by 04 November, 2021

According to a new report released by Netflix, the streamer's productions have generated £132m of investment in England’s south west over the past two years. That translates to creating more than 1,000 jobs across 500 businesses.

Netflix shows produced in the region include Bridgerton, David Attenborough: Our Planet and Breaking Boundaries: The Science of Our Planet, along with the movies Persuasion, Robin Robin and Rebecca. Overall, the UK is Netflix’s biggest production hub outside of the US, with an estimated £730m set to be spent on British content in 2021.

A "highly skilled and versatile workforce, sumptuous landscapes and state of the art facilities make it a natural home for Netflix productions: from agenda-setting natural history documentaries to the most talked-about drama," said Netflix’s vice president of physical production Anna Mallett in a statement.

Last modified on Sunday, 07 November 2021 18:11

Review: 'Hostages'

Written by 14 October, 2021

If the premise for Topic's new series Hostages sounds familiar, it's because it is based on a show that was originally produced in Israel (which was also the basis for a short-lived CBS series of the same name starring Toni Collette).

This version of the premise is one that was produced in 2019 for the Indian streaming service Hotstar and all three versions of the premise share a lot of the same details.

In this case, four masked men break into the home of a well-known surgeon and hold her family hostage. She is set to operate on the Prime Minister and she is told she has to make sure he dies if she hopes to save her family. She figures out a way to briefly delay the surgery as she struggles to figure out a way to save both her patient and her family. 

It's easy to see why this idea has been so popular globally. The stakes are high, there are plenty of opportunities to flesh out the many hidden secrets of the family and of course, the motives of the gunmen are more complex than you might first suspect. 

The challenge for viewers is that the season sometimes feels a bit padded as the show is forced to go on a couple of sidetracks to keep everything up in the air until the final moments of the season finale. And there are moments that can feel a bit ludicrous as various family members seem poised to contact the outside world or escape but decide not to do so for reasons that don't make a lot of sense.

But if you are a fan of procedurals that will keep you guessing until the very end, you'll enjoy Hostages. The acting is solid overall, with Tisca Chopra (Dr. Mira Anand) and Ronit Roy (SP Prithvi Singh) dominating every scene they're in. The tension remains high the entire season and while the direction of some scenes isn't ideal, there is nothing jarring enough to knock the viewer out of the moment. 

Hostages isn't the most amazing series you'll watch this year. But it's the perfect show if you're in the mood to just sit back and get caught up in a high-stakes battle of the wills.

Hostages premieres Thursday, October 14th, 2021 on Topic.

Last modified on Thursday, 14 October 2021 10:03

Sony Pictures Television Set To Acquire Bad Wolf

Written by 11 October, 2021

Sony Pictures Television is set to acquire the production company Bad Wolf in a deal worth an estimated £60m.

Bad Wolf was co-founded in 2015 by Jane Tranter and Julie Gardner. Its productions include His Dark Materials, A Discovery Of Witches, Industry and I Hate Suzie. Bad Wolf was also recently named as a partner on BBC Studios’ series Doctor Who, following the end of the Chris Chibnall era.

According to Broadcast, existing minority shareholders Access Entertainment and Sky/HBO are expected to have their respective 24.9% and 10% stakes bought out as part of the agreement, leaving Sony as sole majority shareholder.

A higher bid was reportedly rejected by the company, whose executives felt Sony was a better cultural fit. It likely also helped that Tranter and SPT president of international production Wayne Garvie had worked together in the past.

The pair worked together at the BBC in the early 2000s in drama and entertainment respectively, and again at BBC Worldwide (now BBC Studios) in 2009, after Tranter began heading up the production arm's US operations.

Last modified on Monday, 11 October 2021 08:17

Trio Of 'Sopranos' Stars Unveil 20th Anniversary UK Tour Dates

Written by 08 October, 2021

A trio of actor from The Sopranos have announced a UK tour to celebrate the TV drama's 20th anniversary.

Michael Imperioli (aka Christopher Moltisanti), Steven R Schirripa (aka Bobby Bacala) and Vincent Pastore (aka Big Pussy) will be appearing on stage at venues throughout the UK next year in a Q&A stage presentation being called "In Conversation With."

During the events, no questions will be screened ahead of time and the tour's promoters promise that "no topic is off-limits."

The tour was originally announced two years ago, but it was postponed due to COVID-19 restrictions.

"I was so disappointed that we had to postpone our planned UK tour but I cannot wait to make it up to you," Imperioli said in a statement to Sopranos fans.

"I can't wait to finally get to the UK to meet our fans there... and answer any questions. See you next year," Pastore added, with Schirripa also saying: "Watch out UK we are coming for you."

Tickets for The Sopranos 20th Anniversary: In Conversation stage shows are available 24 hours a day by calling 0844 249 2222.

June 10, London The Palladium

June 12, London The Palladium – Sold out

June 13, Nottingham Royal Concert Hall

June 15, Newcastle O2 City Hall

June 16, Hull Bonus Arena

June 18, Birmingham Symphony Hall

June 20, Leicester De Montfort Hall

June 21, Edinburgh Festival Theatre

June, 22, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall – Sold out

June, 23, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

June 25, Liverpool Philharmonic Hall

June 27, Southend Cliffs Pavilion

June 29, Manchester Bridgewater Hall

Last modified on Friday, 08 October 2021 15:56

Spanish Language Streamer Pantaya Now Available On YouTube TV

Written by 08 October, 2021

The Spanish-language streamer Pantaya is now available on YouTube TV as a premium $5.99 add-on to the basic programming package.

Pantaya is subscription streaming service offering massively popular first run series such as El Juego de las Llaves and De Viaje con los Derbez as well as an unparalleled collection of Spanish-language blockbuster movies, critically acclaimed films, documentaries, concerts, and children’s programs. 

Pantaya’s varied catalog includes world-class original titles from Pantaya’s production arm, Pantelion, as well as titles from major producers and distributors, including Hemisphere, Lionsgate and Televisa. 

"We are committed to being where our viewers are and are delighted to expand our overall partnership with Google by joining forces with YouTube TV, who share our values of serving Hispanic consumers with high-quality, culturally relevant content," said Alan Sokol, President and CEO of Hemisphere Media Group, Inc., Pantaya’s parent company. "We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to bring our audiences the shows they love anytime, anywhere, now via YouTube TV."

The Pantaya app is also available for Roku and Apple TV, Android, Chromecast and iOS.

Last modified on Friday, 08 October 2021 06:33

Amazon Launches IMDb TV In The UK

Written by 29 September, 2021

Amazon launched its free ad-supported streaming service in the UK this week and company executives are already planning on launching some UK-produced content.

IMDb TV launched in the UK on Wednesday, September 29th and it includes several thousand licensed TV shows and movies. The service is also premiering three IMDb TV original documentaries to the UK: the music docuseries Luke Bryan: My Dirt Road Diary, the sports true crime doc Moment of Truth and the basketball docuseries Top Class: The Life and Times of the Sierra Canyon Trailblazers.

In an interview with Broadcast, Lauren Anderson and Ryan Pirozzi, co-heads of content and programming for IMDb TV told the magazine that the logical next step would be to consider some IMDb TV originals that originate in the UK.

In the last year, IMDb TV has launched two UK-centric series in the US: Alex Rider and the ITV comedy Timewasters.

"Our priority is launching the service here and helping customers familiarize themselves with our content offering, but as we all know UK content and storytelling performs well in the US," said Pirozzi.

According to the executives, IMDb TV will include a wide range of genres, but the service does plan to "lean into" both scripted and unscripted crime and investigative programming.

"We’ve really seen reality start to pop in the UK in a major way," Anderson explained. "We wanted to make sure we were a service that had that content right away. Audiences are really calling for that, and it’s bringing younger and female customers in."

Available to Amazon Prime and non-Prime members in the UK, audiences will be able to access the IMDb TV content via the Prime Video app, with a standalone IMDb TV app coming to Fire TV in the coming weeks.

Last modified on Wednesday, 29 September 2021 10:43
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