DQ100 2023/24 – Part four

DQ100 2023/24 – Part four

November 29, 2023


In the fourth and final part of the DQ100 2023/24, DQ picks out a range of shows to tune in for and the actors, directors and writers making them, as well as some of the trends and trailblazers worth catching up with.


Siobhan Finneran
Thanks to roles in Happy Valley, Benidorm, Time and Downton Abbey, among numerous other projects, Finneran has become a household favourite since making her screen debut – classic British comedy feature Rita, Sue & Bob Too – in 1987. Often appearing in a supporting role, Finneran will take the lead in Protection, an ITV drama set in the world of witness protection. Produced by New Pictures, the six-part series follows Detective Inspector Liz Nyles (Finneran), who finds herself in the middle of a protocol breach after an affair with a colleague. As she works to restore both her reputation and that of her lover and keep her witnesses safe, Nyles must also uncover the source of corruption within her unit. Finneran will star opposite Nadine Marshall and Katherine Kelly.

Kyla Harris
Filmmaker, writer and activist Harris has partnered with fellow writer Lee Getty and prodco Roughcut TV (Stath Lets Flats, Big Boys) for BBC series We Might Regret This, a six-part comedy based on the lives and experiences of its creators. Harris will also take the lead role as Freya, a 30-something Canadian artist and tetraplegic who has moved to London to be with 50-something lawyer Abe (Darren Boyd). Their high-speed romance sees Freya move into Abe’s house but, because of her disability, living together includes having an ever-present personal assistant who is always in earshot for every romantic moment and domestic row. When they fail to find the right person, Freya offers the job to best friend Jo (Elena Saurel). As well as her acting and writing work for the screen, Harris is also a member of the Disability Screen Advisory Group for the British Film Institute, and has written a toolkit for inclusion and accessibility in documentary film with Filmmakers With Disabilities.

Tewfik Jallab
Fans of Engrenages (Spiral) will recognise Jallab from his role as Ali Amrani in the long-running French crime series, while the actor’s recent credits also include military drama Cœurs Noirs (Black Hearts) and factual story Oussekine, which dramatises the death of a young student at the hands of police officers in 1986. He will next be seen on the small screen in Pax Massilia (Blood Coast), a Netflix original series from director Olivier Marchal, in which a rogue police captain and his daredevil team attempt to take down a vicious drug dealer who is attempting to take over Marseille. Then there’s Paris Has Fallen (pictured), a Canal+ series based on the Has Fallen movie franchise (Olympus Has Fallen, London Has Fallen). Jallab stars as protection officer Vincent Taleb, who finds himself working with street-smart MI6 operative Zara Taylor (Ritu Arya) when a terrorist group attacks a high-profile event in the French capital – but they soon find the sinister plan extends to one of their security colleagues. .

Stephen Jones
Irish star Jones has appeared in Love/Hate, Kin and Red Rock, and will next be seen in Northern Lights – a project that also marks his screenwriting debut. The six-part series, produced by Deadpan Pictures for Irish-langauge TG4 and Germany’s ZDFneo, begins when Lloyd (Jones) meets Áine (Elva Trill) on Dublin’s Grattan Bridge, which spans the River Liffey. Fearing the worst, he decides to intervene, and a series of revelations, confessions, secrets and lies lead them to becoming beacons of light for each other when they need it most. Jones adapted the series, which deals with themes of grief, tragedy and hope, from his original stage play of the same name.

Siena Kelly
Kelly appeared in series such as Vanity Fair and Temple before landing a part in Adult Material, the Channel 4 series about a woman who finds her star is falling in the adult entertainment industry. She then joined the cast of Netflix’s Israeli thriller Hit & Run, about a man whose life is turned upside down when his wife is killed in a mysterious accident in Tel Aviv. Kelly is now set for her breakout role as the lead in Domino Day, a BBC drama produced by Dancing Ledge Productions that blends supernatural thriller with themes of identity and the modern dating world. She plays the title character, a young woman coming to terms with her powers as a witch while traversing modern life in Manchester, where a mysterious coven is already following her tracks.


Lulu Wang
Award-winning, Bafta-nominated filmmaker Wang is best known for feature films Posthumous and The Farewell. For her latest project, she is creator, director and executive producer on Prime Video’s Expats, a six-part series set against the vibrant and tumultuous tapestry of 2014 Hong Kong. It’s here that the lives of three American women – Margaret (Nicole Kidman), Hilary (Sarayu Blue) and Merci (Ji-young Yoo) – intersect after a sudden family tragedy, leading to an interrogation of privilege and an exploration of what happens when the line between victimhood and culpability becomes blurred. Notably, the feature-length fifth episode, Central, which centres on the hidden world of domestic workers, was screened as part of the 2023 London Film Festival ahead of the show’s launch in January 2024.

Rodrigo Sorogoyen
The acclaimed Spanish director and screenwriter previously partnered with broadcaster Movistar+ for Antidisturbios (Riot Police), a fictional exploration of Spain’s riot police and the country’s record of police brutality. But his latest project with the streamer couldn’t be more different. Los Años Nuevos (New Year’s Eves) follows the life of a couple, Ana and Óscar (Iria del Rio and Francesco Carril), over a decade, with each of the 10 episodes dropping into their lives at the same time of year: New Year’s Eve. Sorogoyen will direct four episodes of the show, produced by Caballo Films, and is also the co-creator and executive producer. The director’s other credits include series Offworld, while his latest feature, The Beasts, won the French César Award for best foreign film.

Ben Wheatley
Wheatley is a writer-director best known for cult feature films such as Sightseers, Kill List, High Rise and Rebecca. Generation Z now marks his first original television series, a darkly comic drama set in the fictional town of Dambury, where a chemical leak turns residents of a care home into a violent, flesh-eating army. It’s then up to a group of local teenagers to battle the zombie horde – while also dealing with the messy feelings and complex relationships that come with normal teenage lives. The Forge is producing for Channel 4.

Javier Calvo & Javier Ambrossi 
Actors, directors and producers Calvo (left) and Ambrossi – also known as Los Javis – are considered to be two of the most influential talents in Spain today, producing work that is full of emotion, humour, colour, music, diversity and LGTBIQ+ awareness. Their HBO Max coproduction Veneno, based on the life of trans icon Cristina Ortiz, drew international recognition, while they have also created theatrical musical Holy Camp! and Netflix original Poquita Salas. Their latest work, Movistar Plus+ series Las Mesías, tells the story of Enric, a man tormented by a childhood marked by religious fanaticism and a mother with messianic delusions, whose memories are triggered when a video of a Christian pop group goes viral.

Kim Hong Sun
Korean film and television director Hong Sun is taking the reins of Sky action drama Gangs of London for its third season. He was named best new director at the Blue Dragon Film Awards for his debut feature, 2012 organ-dealing thriller Traffickers, while his more recent work includes occult horror Metamorphosis (2019) and Project Wolf Hunting, an action horror about a prison transfer between the Philippines and Korea gone wrong. He now comes to Gangs of London as part of a new creative team for its third instalment, alongside Irish lead writer Peter McKenna (Kin). The story will continue to follow Sopé Dìrísù and Joe Cole as Elliot Carter and Sean Wallace, with ex-undercover cop-turned-gangster Elliot now operating as a top-level criminal and having to deal with the fallout of a spiked cocaine shipment that leads to hundreds of deaths across London.


Camille de Castelnau
Tout va bien (Everything is Fine) is the first original series from French screenwriter de Castelnau, who has previously worked on shows such as The Bureau, Standing Up and Call My Agent. Coming to Disney+ in early 2024, Tout va bien centres on an ordinary family that faces catastrophe when one of its children becomes seriously ill, shattering the lives of every one of its members – self-help author Anne, her neglected husband Pascal, their daughters Claire and Marion and son Vincent. As Rose undergoes a bone marrow transplant, life continues with its daily problems, but not without hope and humour. De Castelnau wrote the series with Gaëlle Bellan, Benjamin Adam and Christophe Régin.

Zara Hayes
Hayes is best known as the writer and director behind Paramount+ drama The Killing Kind and BBC legal thriller Showtrial, as well as documentary work including Netflix’s Captive and Nat Geo’s Sigourney Weaver-narrated Dian Fossey: Secrets in the Mist. She is now reuniting with The Killing Kind producer Eleventh Hour Films on a more permanent basis, joining the Sony Pictures Television-backed company as an executive producer and in-house writer, building her own slate of original projects – both scripted and factual.

Adi Hasak
The US writer is best known as the creator of Jennifer Lopez crime drama Shades of Blue, but he’s also steadily built a reputation for English-language series across Europe. Hasak was behind an English-language adaptation of Norwegian drama Øyevitne (Eyewitnesses), and later created Swedish psychological thriller The Box, and now he’s turned German crime drama Tempel into Arabic series Karantina for Middle Eastern broadcaster MBC. Produced with Dynamic TV and Asacha Media Group, the eight-part family crime drama tells the story of Dahab (Yaqoub Al Farhan), a fighter and the muscle for a Beirut-based American crime boss played by James Franco (pictured on set with Hasak). When he’s released from prison, he promises his wife and daughter he will put his life of crime behind him – but when they are put in danger, he returns to his past to keep his family together. Other upcoming projects from Hasak include medical procedural The First 24 and Margeaux, a reimagining of the aftermath of the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre.

Daniel Lawrence Taylor
As an actor, Taylor has built up an extensive list of comedy credits that includes appearances in The Inbetweeners, Hunderby, Cockroaches, Uncle and Timewasters – the latter an ITV series about a time-travelling jazz band that he also created and wrote. His latest project sees him partner with BBC Three and Studio Lambert (The Nest) for Boarders, a six-part series that follows the lives of five talented, under-privileged black students from inner-city London who win scholarships to an elite boarding school. Taylor is the creator and lead writer, and was joined in the writers room by Emma Dennis-Edwards, Yemi Oyefuwa and Ryan Calais Cameron. He will also star in the series, playing a mentor to the five students.

Cat Jones
Playwright and screenwriter Jones broke into television writing on British series including Doctors, Waterloo Road and EastEnders, before joining the writing staff of Will, Harlots and Wolfe. Her first original series has now landed at the BBC, with Jenna Coleman set to start in The Jetty. In the four-part miniseries, Detective Ember Manning must work out how a devastating fire at a holiday home is connected to a podcast journalist investigating a missing persons cold case and an illicit love triangle between a man in his 20s and two underage girls. But as Ember gets closer to the truth, it threatens to destroy her life and everything she thought she knew about her past, present and the town she calls home. Firebird Pictures (Wilderness) is producing.


Out There
Martin Clunes reunites with Ed Whitmore and Marc Evans, the team behind Manhunt (pictured), for this six-part crime drama commissioned by ITV in the UK. Exploring the phenomenon of county lines drug dealing, the series stars Clunes as a farmer and widowed father who is confronted with dark forces seeping into his rural community and decides to make a stand against the urban gangs using the countryside as a field of operation, moving drugs and money between their inner-city hubs and provincial areas. Produced by Buffalo Pictures, it is written by Whitmore and Evans, who is also the lead director.

This eight-part Finnish series is set on the real-life Utö Island, the outermost inhabited island in the Finnish archipelago in the Baltic Sea. When the local population is suddenly cut off from the world by an extraordinary – and unexplained – event, residents are left fearful of what will happen next as food and water supplies begin to dwindle. Produced by Lucy Loves Drama and distributed by One Gate Media, Isolated is created and written by Lassi Vierikko and Petja Lähde, directed by Teppo Airaksinen and stars Elena Leeve, Pihla Viitala, Ville Virtanen and Turkka Mastomäki. It is due to launch in early 2024.

Winter Palace
The first coproduction between Switzerland’s RTS and Netflix, this English- and French-language period drama begins in the summer of 1899, when ambitious hotelier André Morel imagines opening a palace in Switzerland for the entire winter season. But with difficult conditions, boorish staff and demanding guests, will the risky venture be worth it? Manon Clavel and Cyril Metzger star in the series, which is shooting in Montreux and the Alps ahead of its launch at the end of 2024. Oble and Point Prod are producing.

Sofía Vergara makes her dramatic debut – and undergoes an equally dramatic transformation – in this true crime drama launching on Netflix in January 2024. The Modern Family star plays the title character, Griselda Blanco, a savvy and ambitious Colombian businesswoman and devoted mother who created one of the most profitable cartels in history. With her blend of unsuspected savagery and charm, she expertly navigated between business and family, leading her to become known as ‘the Godmother.’ Vergara is also a co-creator and executive producer on the series alongside Eric Newman (Narcos) and director Andrés Baiz. Catherine Zeta-Jones previously played Blanco in 2018 Lifetime movie Cocaine Godmother.

The Turkish Detective
Based on the series of novels by Barbara Nadel, this warm-hearted, thrilling detective drama follows the adventures of Inspector Cetin Ikmen and Detective Mehmet Suleyman, set against the backdrop of Istanbul. Suleyman, of Turkish heritage but raised in London, is in his 20s and takes himself and his work deadly seriously, whereas Ikmen, his superior, a family man in his 60s, is counterintuitively playful, an anarchic presence who nevertheless quickly reveals himself to be an extraordinary crime fighter. Ikmen and Suleyman solve a unique case across each set of two episodes, with each one showcasing a different and intriguing facet of this one-of-a-kind city. Blending English and Turkish languages, the series stars Haluk Bilginer as Ikmen, Ethan Kai as Suleyman and Yasemin Kay Allen. It is produced by Miramax and Ay Yapim, in association with Paramount International Television Studios, and distributed by Paramount Global Content Distribution.


Baz Ashmawy
While Ashmawy is best known as a TV and radio presenter – he has fronted quizshow The Fanatics and travel series 50 Ways to Kill Your Mammy – he’s now moving back to his acting roots after writing and starring in his first series, Faithless. The series, produced for Ireland’s Virgin Media TV, draws on his own experiences in a single-parent family to tell the story of Sam (Ashmawy), a father who is left to raise his three daughters on his own after a tragic accident. The Irish-Egyptian star was also inspired by his family background to tell a story set in modern-day Ireland where cultures mingle together.

Meet the New8
As economic uncertainty tapers the ambitions of broadcasters and streaming platforms alike, one group of European networks have struck up a deal they hope will see them weather the financial storms ahead while ensuring their viewers continue to be offered a smorgasbord of high-end drama. Coproduction has been commonplace among Scandinavian networks for many years, but public broadcasters DR (Denmark), NRK (Norway), RUV (Iceland), SVT (Sweden) and YLE (Finland) have now expanded their union to partner with NPO (The Netherlands), VRT (Belgium) and ZDF (Germany) to create a group now known as New8. The partnership will see them each invest in eight new dramas every year, with no stories or genres off limits but with a remit to appeal to younger audiences in particular. Viewers will no doubt tune in to see what emerges from this partnership, while the rest of Europe will be watching to see if the new model is a recipe for creative success.

Script to unscripted
The scripted boom of the past decade has led to an untold number of stories being brought to the screen – and now they’re being adapted into reality, adventure and challenge series. The global success of Netflix’s Squid Game resulted in a green light for not only a second season but also a spin-off, Squid Game: The Challenge (pictured) in which real members of the public get to don the iconic green tracksuits made famous by the Korean show and play the same games for the chance to win US$4.56m – the largest cash prize in reality television history. Thankfully, this version won’t be a matter of life or death for the contestants who fall by the wayside. Meanwhile, 007: Road to a Million is a Prime Video adventure series that sends nine pairs of everyday people on a global adventure through a series of James Bond-inspired challenges in an attempt to win a life-changing sum of money. What could be next?

The ultimate director’s cut
The idea of a director releasing a new version of a feature film is nothing new, particularly if their original vision for the project didn’t quite match the one that ultimately ended up in cinemas. But Baz Luhrmann is now taking that idea to the next level. His 2008 movie Australia was an epic romance story that ran to 165 minutes – but he felt its original running time couldn’t adequately contain its intricate plot or sweeping vistas of the Australian outback. So much so that he has now reimagined the film as a six-part episodic series, called Faraway Downs (pictured), that launched on Hulu in the US, Star+ in Latin America and Disney+ worldwide in late November. The story follows an English aristocrat, Lady Sarah Ashley (Nicole Kidman), who travels halfway around the world to confront her wayward husband and sell an unusual asset: the titular million-acre cattle ranch. Following the death of Sarah’s husband, ruthless cattle baron King Carney (Bryan Brown) plots to take her land, and she reluctantly teams up with a rough-hewn cattle drover (Hugh Jackman) to protect it. Luhrmann’s move isn’t unprecedented, but he’s certainly the biggest name to bring a film to TV in this way. If it succeeds, expect more Hollywood directors to follow his lead.

Sort Of
The third season of Canadian breakout comedy Sort Of brings to a close this Peabody Award-winning series that sought to push the boundaries of gender and sexual diversity on screen. Created by Bilal Baig and Fab Filippo (pictured), the show also stars Baig as Sabi Mehboob, a non-binary, gender-fluid millennial who faces up to the different identities they carry with them – from sexy bartender at an LGBTQ bookstore/bar to the youngest child in a large Pakistani family and the de facto parent of a downtown hipster family. Produced by Sphere Media for CBC, Sort Of debuted in 2021 and has been sold around the world via distributor Abacus Media Rights. But it wasn’t just on screen that Baig and Filippo were able to promote diversity. Trans and non-binary writers and directors were also involved in making the series, while training schemes were set up to provide increased opportunities for diverse talent among the crew, in partnership with Canada’s Trans Film Mentorship. .

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