DQ100 2023/24 – Part three
In the third 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.
The Office is making a new hire. Comedian Ward will play Hannah Howard in an Australian adaptation of the acclaimed British mockumentary comedy ordered down under by Prime Video. Howard, a modern-day David Brent, is the managing director of packaging company Flinley Craddick. When she gets news from head office that they will be shutting down her branch and making everyone work from home, she goes into survival mode, making promises she can’t keep in order to keep her ‘work family’ together. Ward will be familiar to audiences from roles in Wakefield and The Inbetweeners 2.
The British-Chinese actor recently starred in Netflix thriller Heart of Stone opposite Gal Gadot, and has also appeared in Crazy Rich Asians, Apple TV+ spy drama Argylle, DC series Pennyworth and Sky duo Gangs of London and Stan Lee’s Lucky Man (pictured). In thriller Red Eye, an upcoming ITVX drama produced by Bad Wolf, she plays DC Hana Li, a no-nonsense London officer who is charged with accompanying a man accused of murder on an all-night flight from London to Beijing – and finds herself in an escalating conspiracy. Speaking about her role, Lusi describes Red Eye as a “turning point in British Asian representation.”
A star in her native Argentina thanks to roles in Love After Loving, La Casa del Mar, Días de gallos and Argentina, tierra de amor y venganza, Chaves is set to break out in Europe thanks to her title role in Dutch royal drama Máxima, a biopic of the current Queen of the Netherlands. The series, produced by Millstreet Films in association with Beta Film for Videoland, dramatises Máxima’s first encounter with then Crown Prince Willem-Alexander on her way to becoming a public figure, highlighting her determination and ambition as well as her struggle to balance loyalty to her family and her own identity. Flashbacks also reveal her childhood growing up in Argentina.
As the lead actor in historical drama The Spanish Princess, British actor Hope played Catherine of Aragon, the woman who would become King Henry VIII’s first wife. More recently, she travelled to Cape Town to film MNet crime drama Catch Me a Killer, based on the book of the same name. Hope plays Micki Pistorius in the true story of how Micki became South Africa’s first serial killer profiler. The show opens in 1994, when Micki joins a police task force on the hunt for the notorious Station Strangler, a serial murderer who has left a trail of 22 dead boys in his wake. But as she attempts to understand and entrap the killer, Micki must also deal with a host of personal issues and overcome her status as an outsider in the police force and the community she serves.
A familiar face on screen for almost 15 years, Stewart-Jarrett’s earlier work includes Misfits and Utopia, while he has more recently appeared in the television adaptation of Four Weddings & A Funeral, fact-based drama The Trial of Christine Keeler and the big-screen remake of Candyman. He now leads an ensemble cast including Gemma Arterton, Niamh Algar, Kirby, Ned Dennehy and Eddie Izzard in Culprits, a Disney+ crime thriller set after a high-stakes heist. After a group of elite criminals go their separate ways and attempt to leave their old lives behind, a ruthless assassin starts targeting them one by one.
Award-winning French filmmaker Giannoli returned to the Venice Film Festival this year – only this time he brought his first ever television series to the floating city. Produced by Curiosa Films for Canal+, D’argent et de sang (Of Money & Blood) is based on the real life “scam of the century” that took place in France in 2009 when a gang of small-time crooks partnered with an upper-class trader to carry off an epic swindle involving carbon tax fraud. The director’s previous film credits include Superstar, Marguerite and Lost Illusions.
Spiro has shot episodes of a wide range of British dramas, including Downton Abbey, Call the Midwife, Doc Martin and Skins. More recently, she has been working in the US, where her credits have included The Plot Against America, Pieces of Her and the upcoming Netflix series 3 Body Problem. Spiro has also partnered with Netflix and writer Jack Thorne on Toxic Town, a British limited series that examines the real-life case of the Corby poisonings. The four-parter focuses on three mothers in a David-vs-Goliath fight for justice in what became the first case in the world to establish a link between atmospheric toxic waste and birth defects.
The Finnish film director makes his English-language television debut with Alice & Jack, which debuted at the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival and will air on Channel 4 in the UK and PBS Masterpiece in the US in 2024. Described as a love story for the ages, when Alice (Andrea Riseborough) and Jack (Domhnall Gleeson) first meet, they’re bound by a connection so powerful it seems nothing can break it. But will their path lead them to a place of happiness and togetherness? Or will life and their own emotional complexities get in the way? Kuosmanen’s previous credits include TV series Zone B and Kakarat and films Compartment No 6 and The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki.
Mystery Road: Origin and Robbie Hood’s River is helming Thou ShalT Not Steal, an upcoming Australian road series that boasts a cast including Sherry-Lee Watson, Will McDonald, Noah Taylor and Miranda Otto. River is also co-creator of the drama, which is set in Central and South Australia during the 1980s. It follows Robyn (Watson), a young Aboriginal delinquent searching for the truth behind a mysterious family secret, who escapes from detention and reluctantly teams up with awkward teenager Gidge (McDonald). Together they flee her small central desert community on a perilous journey across the outback, finding answers and learning some hard life lessons along the way. Hot on their heels are Maxine (Otto), a sex trafficker whose taxi Robyn stole, and Gidge’s domineering father Robert (Taylor), a fraudulent preacher.
Carey’s debut feature film Deadly Cuts premiered at the Dublin International Film Festival in 2021, winning the Discovery award. She is now lead director on The Hardacres, a six-part period drama commissioned by the UK’s Channel 5 and produced by Playground, the makers of All Creatures Great & Small. Based on CL Skelton’s Hardacre novels, the series chronicles the sweeping rags-to-riches story of the Hardacre family in 1890s Yorkshire as they move from a grimy fish dock to a vast country estate. When an accident at work on the docks lands Sam and Mary Hardacre – along with their three kids Joe, Liza and Harry, and Mary’s inimitable mother Ma – unemployed and destitute, they have to think fast. In a bid to avoid the workhouse, the driven and determined family put their last penny into a radical business venture they hope will free them from their harsh existence on the quays of the North Yorkshire coast.
He’s best known for starring on screen in series such as Patrick Melrose, Ten Percent, Doctor Foster, The Crown and Critical. A former junior hospital doctor, Puwanarajah is now part of the writing team behind Breathtaking, an ITV medical drama that follows a consultant working on the front line of the Covid pandemic. He writes the scripts with fellow doctor and writer Rachel Clarke and fellow former doctor Jed Mercurio (Line of Duty), with the series based on Clarke’s personal memoir. Furthermore, Puwanarajah’s award-winning debut feature film Ballywalter was released in cinemas in September.
Australian writer Miller has recently won international acclaim for Prima Facie, the one-woman stage play starring Killing Eve’s Jodie Comer that has played to packed houses in London’s West End and on Broadway. She has also written the film adaptation, which will star Cynthia Erivo in the lead role, and is developing a feature based on another of her plays, Dust. Her current TV slate includes original television series in the UK and Australia for Drama Republic, Matchbox Pictures, Curio and Synchronicity. For Film Art Media, Suzie is adapting Heather Rose’s novel Bruny
A Ghanaian film director, producer and screenwriter, Amarteifio created the award-winning series An African City, which was released on YouTube in 2014. It follows the lives of five friends who have moved back to Africa after living abroad as they navigate love, careers and nightlife in the Ghanaian capital, with frank discussions about sexuality. Amarteifio later adapted the show into a feature film and book series. Her first feature film, Before the Vows, premiered at the Seattle International Film Festival in 2018, and most recently, she was in the writers room for comedy drama The Best Man: The Final Chapters for Peacock – a series that became the US streamer’s first original project to land in Nielsen’s Streaming Series Top 10.
Israeli psychological drama Night Therapy is the first series from creator and writer Caspi. The 10-parter, from producers Yes TV, Eight Productions and distributor Yes Studios (Fauda), stars Yousef Sweid (Munich Games) as Louie, an Arab-Israeli psychologist struggling to raise his two children after the suicide of his Jewish-Israeli wife. To strike a better work-life balance and support his kids during the day as they rebuild their lives, he decides to shift his practice to receive patients at night. Unorthodox actor Shira Haas will play one of his patients – a computer genius who rarely leaves her home, preferring to lead her life in the virtual world. Meanwhile, flashback scenes will show Louie as an unseen observer of his patients’ problems.
English city Bradford will take centre stage in Virdee, a BBC series written by former pharmacist Dhand and adapted from his own crime novels. Sacha Dhawan will play Detective Harry Virdee, a Bradford cop disowned by his Sikh family for marrying Saima, who is Muslim. Harry struggles with the abandonment, constantly attempting to reunite with his family. With his personal life in chaos, he must hunt down a killer targeting the Asian community. When the murderer kidnaps a local MP’s daughter in Bradford and holds the entire city to ransom, Harry realises that he is going to need the help of his brother-in-law Riaz, a drug kingpin who runs the largest cartel in the county. Pulled together in an alliance that could ruin them both, Harry must make a choice: save himself and his family or save his city. He will not be able to do both.
This MGM+ crime thriller tells the story of Roman Compte, a Cuban exile, CIA operative and general manager of the Mutiny Hotel, the glamorous epicentre of the Miami cocaine scene of the late 70s and early 80s. Described as “Casablanca on cocaine,” the Mutiny was a glitzy nightclub, restaurant and hotel frequented by Florida businessmen and politicians, international narcos, CIA and FBI agents, models, sports stars and musicians. Compte was at the centre, doing his best to keep it all going and fulfil his own American dream. From Chris Brancato (Godfather of Harlem, Narcos) and Guillermo Navarro (Pan’s Labyrinth), the eight-part series is set to star Danny Pino, Mark Feuerstein, Michael Chiklis (pictured) and Yul Vazquez.
Lennie James will star in this adaptation of Bernadine Evaristo’s novel, produced by Fable Pictures for BBC One. James plays exuberant protagonist Barrington Jedidiah Walker – Barry to his mates, trouble to his wife, his daughters and his lover. Seventy years old, Antiguan-born, exuberant Hackney personality Barry is renowned for his dapper taste and fondness for retro suits. Carmel, his wife of 50 years, senses that Barry has been cheating on her with other women. Little does she know what’s really going on: a secret, decades-long, passionate affair with his best friend and soulmate, Morris. Now entering the next chapter of his life, Barry has big choices to make that will force his whole family to question their own futures.
The Red King
A six-part series commissioned by UKTV’s Alibi, The Red King is a character-driven mystery-thriller that combines a knotty police investigation with chilling, atmospheric folk-horror through an island’s eerie past devotion to a pagan god called the Red King and the cult of the True Way. Smart, capable and by-the-book Grace Narayan (The Lazarus Project’s Anjli Mohindra, pictured) was flying high as an inner-city police sergeant before being forced into a ‘punishment posting’ on the small, antiquated island of St Jory. Confronted by the forgotten and unsolved case of missing teenage boy Cai, Grace quickly discovers that she must overcome scarce evidence, extraordinary local characters and the island’s strange cult history to uncover the truth. The cast also includes Adjoa Andoh, Marc Warren, Jill Halfpenny and Mark Lewis Jones.
The Famous Five
Enid Blyton’s timeless characters are reimagined for a new generation in this BBC series from executive producers Nicholas Winding Refn (Drive) and Matthew Read. Made in coproduction with Germany’s ZDF, the show follows five daring young explorers – George, Julian, Dick, Anne and their bearded collie cross Kip – as they encounter treacherous, action-packed adventures, remarkable mysteries, unparalleled danger and astounding secrets in an unforgettable odyssey that evokes the power of camaraderie between the fearless young heroes.
Segunda muerte (Second Death)
This Movistar Plus+ original series, filmed in Cantabria, stars Georgina Amorós and Karra Elejalde. The thriller follows police assistant Sandra (Amorós), daughter of recently retired police officer Tello (Elejalde), who finds herself involved in a criminal investigation in a quiet Pasiego town when she discovers the body of a woman who was supposedly buried years earlier. But with a complicated personal life, she tries to stay away from the ensuing investigation as Castro, her partner and the father of her son, is about to be released from prison, while she also cares for Tello, who is in the early stages of dementia. However, an unexpected turn will pull Sandra into a case that threatens to have implications for her and her hometown.
TRENDS & TRAILBLAZERS
It was a narrative device made famous by US drama 24, with the show’s ticking clock keeping viewers on the edge of their seats as Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) raced against time to stop a string of deadly terrorist attacks. Now a number of dramas are being set in real time to amp up the intrigue and tension. Apple TV+’s Hijack (pictured) is set on a plane that is hijacked as it travels from the Middle East to the UK, and upcoming BBC series Nightsleeper sees an unknown enemy take control of a sleeper train travelling from Glasgow to London. Breathtaking, an ITV medical series, also introduces real-time elements in a story that follows a hospital consultant working on the front line of the Covid-19 pandemic. Other series to use real time include James Nesbitt’s Suspect and Dutch drama Storm Lara, about a radio host dealing with a mystery caller.
Streamers getting soapy
When Australian soap Neighbours ended in July 2022, an all-star cast reunited to say goodbye to the residents of Ramsay Street after almost 9,000 episodes since 1985. Four months later, however, Amazon Freevee announced it was stepping in to restart the daily drama, and the show duly returned in September this year. But more than another tile on a seemingly endless carousel of content, is Neighbours – or soaps in general – what streaming platforms have been missing? Traditional broadcast networks have been built on viewers coming back every day to check in with the latest adventures of their favourite characters. Maybe streamers need to find their own soaps as a way to hook in viewers and keep those subscriptions coming. Neighbours’ performance on Freevee could provide the answer.
Ella Lily Hyland
In her first lead role, Hyland smashed it out of the court with her emotionally demanding performance as former tennis prodigy Justine Pearce in Prime Video series Fifteen-Love. When Justine accuses her former coach (Aidan Turner) of sexual assault, it opens up a story of love, betrayal and power as writer Hania Elkington’s story shines a spotlight on the world of elite tennis. Hyland previously appeared in TV miniseries Intruder.
Not one but two new factual dramas from the UK are set to explore the Lockerbie bombing. On December 21, 1988, flight Pan Am 103 was travelling from Heathrow to JFK when a bomb exploded in its hold over the small Scottish town of Lockerbie, killing 270 people, including 43 British citizens and 190 Americans. It was the worst ever terror attack on British soil and the first major one on US citizens. The BBC and Netflix have partnered on Lockerbie, a six-part series based on the events surrounding the incident and the Scottish-US investigation that sought to bring the perpetrators to justice. Meanwhile, Sky and Peacock are behind a five-part series, also called Lockerbie, that is inspired by the fight for justice by Dr Jim Swire and his wife Jane, who lost their daughter Flora in the attack. Jim Sheridan (My Left Foot) and Kirsten Sheridan (In America, pictured) are the writers.
When the British television prizes are handed out next year, don’t be surprised to see Timothy Spall’s name among the runners and riders. The actor – known for such films as Mr Turner and Secrets & Lies – is widely recognised to have turned in a career-best performance in true crime drama The Sixth Commandment, which debuted on BBC One earlier this year. He played Peter Farquhar, a much-loved teacher who is befriended by Ben Field, who would eventually be convicted of Peter’s murder. Episode one of the four-parter is painted as a gentle portrait of Peter’s life and his loneliness, and Spall gives an acting masterclass.
tagged in: AA Dhand, Charlotte Hope, Delfina Chaves, Dylan River, Ella Lily Hyland, Felicity Ward, Hotel Cocaine, Jing Lusi, Juho Kuosmanen, Minkie Spiro, Mr Loverman, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, Nicole Amarteifio, Prasanna Puwanarajah, Raanan Caspi, Rachel Carey, Second Death, Segunda muerte, Suzie Miller, The Famous Five, The Red King, Timothy Spall, Xavier Giannoli