DQ100 – Part four
In the fourth part of the DQ100 2022/23, 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.
Pop star Allen, best known for chart hits such as Smile, LDN and Somewhere Only We Know, will make her screen acting debut in Sky original comedy Dreamland. Starring opposite Freema Agyeman (Doctor Who), Allen plays Mel, a woman who makes an unexpected reappearance in the lives of her three sisters, with her very presence threatening to destabilise the entire family.
Spanish star Bernardeau will be familiar around the world to fans of Netflix’s hit series Elite, in which he played hot-headed Guzmán for four seasons. He is now set to cement his star power in a pair of new series: La Ultima for Disney+ and Zorro for Amazon’s Prime Video. In the former, Bernardeau plays an aspiring boxer called Diego, who is reunited with his former high-school classmate, wannabe singer Candela (Aitana Ocaña), in a story about love, courage and empowerment. Zorro, meanwhile, sees Bernardeau take the headline role as Don Diego de la Vega, a landowner and masked vigilante known as Zorro in a series set in 1830s LA and described as a modern retelling of the classic story. Bernardeau will also be seen in 1899, an epic mystery thriller from the creators of German Netflix drama Dark.
Already a familiar face to viewers of Alex Rider and Bridgerton, Chandran is stepping out as the lead in the upcoming adaptation of Song of the Sun God, the bestselling novel by Shankari Chandran (no relation). The actor will play Leela in a contemporary emotional thriller that explores the loves, lives and misdemeanours of three generations of a close-knit Sri Lankan family, set against the backdrop of the country’s three-decade civil war. Leela is a young Australian woman living in London, disconnected from her own culture and unaware of long-held family secrets until she embarks on a journey across three continents to find her lost aunt and uncover the shocking reason for her disappearance. Charithra Chandran will also be an associate producer on the project.
The breakout star of Oscar-winning Japanese film Drive My Car, Miura has long been a familiar face on television in Japan but is now set to land on the international stage with Elpis. The Kansai TV series, which had its world premiere at Cannes event Mipcom in October, is inspired by real cases of false accusations. It follows Ena (Masami Nagasawa), a former network news anchor whose star has faded because of scandal and now helms a late-night magazine show. When rookie director Takuro (Gordon Maeda) begins to doubt a death row conviction, he partners with Ena, make-up artist Cherry (Miura) and star reporter Shouichi (Ryohei Suzuki) to investigate the state-wide conspiracy that emerges.
Lynn Van Royen
Belgian star Van Royen counts series such as supernatural crime drama Beau Séjour and psychological thriller Tabula Rasa among her credits. Now she’s stepping into science-fiction with Arcadia, an eight-part series that imagines a world where people’s rights and privileges in society are determined by their citizen score. The story focuses on four sisters, who all have excellent scores and are living the Arcadia dream. But when their father breaks the law to keep their scores high, he is banished and the entire family is placed under permanent surveillance, with their scores drastically lowered. Van Royen’s other credits include drama series The Team, De Dag (The Day) and De Twaalf (The Twelve).
Award-winning Italian filmmaker Archibugi has picked up prizes in Cannes, Venice and San Sebastián for titles such as L’albero delle pere, La stana storia di Banda Sonora, Mignon è partita and Il grande cocomero. On television, she co-created and directed all six episodes of family drama Romanzo famigliare, which aired in 2018. Now she is helming eight-part period drama La Storia, which is based on Elsa Morante’s novel of the same name, with Archibugi overseeing filming in Rome, Naples and Lazio. Jasmine Trinca stars as Ida, a single mother of two sons who hides her Jewish heritage and fights against poverty and persecution during the end of the Second World War in Nazi-occupied Italy. Valerio Mastandrea and Asia Argento also star.
An actor with credits including Band of Brothers, Chernobyl, Time and The Responder, Barantini recently moved into directing, most notably with a single-take short film in 2019 called Boiling Point, which starred Stephen Graham as a talented chef at a restaurant where chaos reigns behind its flash façade. That short was notably transformed into an intense, attention-grabbing full-length feature last year – again shot in one take – and now Barantini is reuniting with co-writer James Cummings to bring the story to TV. Barantini will direct the first two episodes of the BBC five-parter, which will pick up events six months after the film. It focuses on former sous chef Carly (Vinette Robinson), who is now head chef at her own restaurant.
From starting out on British soaps Hollyoaks, EastEnders and EmmerdALE, Ebohon-Green has gone on to direct episodes of beloved series such as Father Brown, Call the Midwife, Grantchester, Vera and Outlander. After working on the second season of Welsh crime drama The Pact, she is now filming the second and third blocks of Candice Carty-Williams’ highly anticipated music drama Champion. Coming to the BBC and Netflix, it tells the story of rap sensation Bosco Champion, who is home from prison and ready to dominate the music industry once more. But when his younger sister Vita’s own talent is discovered by Bosco’s rival, Bulla, she steps out of her brother’s shadow to become a performer in her own right – a decision that sets the Champion siblings against one another.
Matlin is a US actor most recognisable from roles in The West Wing, The L Word, Picket Fences, The Practice and Law & Order: SVU. Back in 1987, she became the youngest winner of the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role for her work in Children of a Lesser God, while she also starred in 2021 feature Coda, winner of Best Picture at this year’s Oscars, which told the story of a young woman who is the only hearing member of a deaf family. Matlin is now set to make her directorial debut on Fox’s upcoming anthology drama Accused – becoming one of the first female deaf directors in television – on an episode that features a deaf woman who becomes a surrogate and commits a crime of advocacy and protection.
Wright is no stranger to period drama, having shot a host of acclaimed feature films including Atonement, Pride & Prejudice, Anna Karenina, Darkest Hour and last year’s Cyrano. Now, after starting his career in television (Nature Boy, Bob & Rose) and with an episode of Black Mirror (Nosedive) on his CV, he is returning to the small screen to direct M: Son of the Century – a Sky original series based on Antonio Scurati’s book about the birth of fascism in Italy and Benito Mussolini’s rise to power. Wright will direct all eight episodes of the series, which will star Luca Marinelli and is written by Stefano Bises (Gomorrah) and Davide Serino (1992).
Screenwriter and playwright Jephta hails from Cape Town and has three feature film credits to her name, including South Africa’s official 2018 Golden Globes submission Ellen: The Ellen Pakkies Story. Her stage work has also been directed by Danny Boyle for the Royal Court and has featured at the Edinburgh International Festival. On television, her work includes Trackers for Cinemax and she was recently executive producer and showrunner on African streamer Showmax’s crime drama Skemerdans. Jephta is now writing on Cape Town-set Devil’s Peak, which will air on M-Net in 2023. The crime drama follows a talented but broken detective who is tasked with tracking down a righteous vigilante killer whose crimes capture the imagination of the city. In addition, Jephta has created Catch Me a Killer, which is based on the true story of a journalist-turned-psychologist who becomes South Africa’s first serial killer profiler. She is also attached as showrunner of Hannover Street, the story of two sisters during South Africa’s Apartheid years, with Morgan Freeman among the executive producers.
Elkington will hope to land an ace with Fifteen Love, a series commissioned by Prime Video and set in the world of elite tennis. She has created and written the show, which will star newcomer Ella Lily Hyland as a dynamic young prodigy enjoying a meteoric rise in the sport, while Aidan Turner (Poldark) is her maverick coach. Together they reach the semi-finals of the French Open. But five years later, after her career ends in tragedy, Ella makes an explosive allegation against her former coach that leads them into a battle over the truth. Elkington’s previous work includes Netflix drama The Innocents and writing an episode of Apple TV+ drama The Essex Serpent.
Swedish writer Johnsen is best known for 22 Juli (22 July), the series that dramatised the terror attacks on Oslo and the island of Utøya on that date in 2011. It told the story from the perspective of five fictional characters – a journalist, a hospital worker, a police officer, a right-wing blogger and a teacher. She has now partnered with director Tomas Alfredson to bring celebrated filmmaker Ingmar Bergman’s script Trolösa to the screen. Backed by Swedish broadcaster SVT, the project explores the relationship between passion and love. David falls in love with his best friend Mark’s wife, the beautiful Marianne, and their love affair has painful consequences for two families as the characters find themselves driven by lust, jealousy, betrayal and love..
Comedy writer Moran is building an enviable CV on the back of shows such as Raised by Wolves and Hullraisers, which is returning for a second season. She has now landed her own BBC series, Henpocalypse!, in which five women are enjoying the perfect hen weekend – until they face the ultimate fight for survival. When bridezilla-to-be Zara’s hen do is interrupted by the end of the world, she and her four best mates must wait out the breakdown of human civilisation in an isolated holiday cottage in Wales. Moran promises “high drama, tons of jokes, massive surprises and lots of penis-themed pound-shop tat.”
A Golden Globe winner thanks to her work on The Affair, screenwriter and playwright Marnich has also written on shows such as Big Love, The Big C, Low Winter Sun, The OA and The Son. She has now been tapped to adapt author Jonathan Franzen’s epic novel Freedom. Described as a laugh-out-loud, emotional knockout, the story follows the journey of Patty and Walter Berglund, pioneers of old St Paul who are now living in an ever-more confusing world. In the new millennium, they are left to question why their teenage son moved in with the aggressively Republican family next door, why environmental lawyer Walter is now working for Big Coal and why their neighbour has turned into the local Fury.
An epic fantasy series that has been commissioned by RTL+ in Germany and will also be released as a movie, Hagen is pitched as a reinterpretation of Nibelungenlied, a legendary poem written around 1200 that recounts the escapades of heroes and warriors. In the series, Burgundian weapon master Hagen von Tronje is keeping his crisis-ridden kingdom together with an iron fist while suppressing his love for the king’s daughter, Kriemhild, and his own dark past. But Hagen faces a choice between love and loyalty to the king when Kriemhild falls in love with famous dragon slayer Siegfried von Xanten, whom the king has asked to help him force dangerous Valkyrie Brunhild to become his queen. Gijs Naber stars as Hagen, alongside Jannis Niewöhner (Siegfried), Lilja van der Zwaag (Kriemhild) and Dominic Marcus Singer (King Gunter).
Tierra de mujeres (Land of Women)
Desperate Housewives star Eva Longoria executive produces and stars in this Spanish Apple TV+ series, in which she plays one half of a mother-daughter duo alongside Carmen Maura (Volver). From the team behind the streamer’s Now & Then and based on Sandra Barneda’s novel of the same name, Tierra de mujeres (Land of Women) follows Gala (Longoria), a New York empty-nester who is forced to flee her home after her husband implicates the family in financial improprieties. Together with her ageing mother Julia (Maura) and her college-age daughter, she moves to the northern Spain town Julia fled 50 years earlier. Starting over with new identities proves to be more complicated than they expected in a community where secrets don’t stay secret for long.
After worldwide hit Spanish crime thriller La Casa de Papel (Money Heist) came to an end, it was inevitable that writers Esther Martínez Lobato and Álex Pina would find a way to keep the story alive. The result is Berlin, a prequel series based on one of the most popular characters in the original series, who is once again brought to life by actor Pedro Alonso. This time, however, he is surrounded by a new gang that will help him pull off some of his most extraordinary heists.
In 2004 feature Troy, Diane Kruger played Helen, the woman at the centre of the Trojan War. Now the Inglourious Basterds and In the Fade actor is set to play another iconic figure, Marlene Dietrich, in a series inspired by the movie star’s life as an artist, lover, German emigrant and mother. Marlene is based on a biography by Dietrich’s daughter Maria Riva and will show her not only as a cinematic icon but also as a woman in exile and a resistance fighter. Writer-director Fatih Akin is behind the project.
Deutsches Haus (German House)
Filming is underway in Poland on this Disney+ adaptation of showrunner Annette Hess’s novel Deutsches haus (German House), which tells the story of a young interpreter who is confronted with the shocking truth of the Holocaust during her work at the first Auschwitz trial in Frankfurt in 1963. She relentlessly uncovers what has been suppressed during the German economic miracle and hidden under the German ‘cosiness’ of the time: crimes, suffering, guilt and the entanglements of her own family in German history. Directed by Isa Prahl and Randa Chahoud, the five-part series boasts a cast headed by Katharina Stark, Anke Engelke, Hans-Jochen Wagner and Ricarda Seifried.
TRENDS & TRAILBLAZERS
Maybe it’s because of the World Cup – in fact, it probably is – but there’s a notable number of football-based dramas coming to AIR. While sport is notoriously difficult to recreate on screen, that hasn’t put off commissioners from ordering stories highlighting an often darker and murkier side of the beautiful game. First came The Window, which charts one summer in the life of a 17-year-old wunderkind who has gatecrashed the global stage, kickstarting a power struggle for control of his career and a share of his earnings from his first professional contract. Meanwhile, Klaus Steinbacher will star as German football legend Franz Beckenbauer in a film biopic called Der Kaiser (pictured). But most ambitious is The Net, an interconnected web of series from Germany, Austria and Italy that each explore a different story, with characters that cross over between the different shows. Other series to watch include Sky Italia’s agent-focused The Great Game, Mexico’s Club de Cuervos, Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes’ The English Game and Emmy favourite Ted Lasso, while Munich Games explores a threat against a match between Germany and Israel on the 50th anniversary of the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre.
On the eve of its 60th anniversary in 2023, iconic British sci-fi series Doctor Who proved it still has the power to entertain and amaze audiences. As Jodie Whittaker, the first female Doctor to lead the show, bowed out in a feature-length episode that pitted her against famous foes including the Daleks and the Cybermen, viewers were expecting to see her regenerate into Ncuti Gatwa (pictured), following the announcement that the Sex Education star would be be taking over the role. Returning showrunner Russell T Davies had different ideas, however, and fans were stunned to see David Tennant emerge as The Doctor for the second time, for what we now know will be three special episodes airing next year. Gatwa will then join the show. Until then, just one thing is certain: Davies will ensure Doctor Who’s birthday will be one to remember.
Happy birthday Beeb
UK pubcaster the BBC celebrated its 100th birthday in 2022, at a time when traditional networks are being drowned out – financially and artistically – by international streaming platforms and the sheer weight of content now available to watch from around the world. But the importance of the BBC cannot be underestimated, in the past, present and the future. Where else would you find such an eclectic slate of acclaimed and award-winning dramas, beloved not just in the UK but around the world? Titles such as Line of Duty, Sherlock, I May Destroy You (pictured), Fleabag, Small Axe, Peaky Blinders, Gentleman Jack and Happy Valley would make any must-watch list – and they’re just some of the most recent series. Go back further and you can find I, Claudius, Doctor Who, Our Friends in the North, Pride & Prejudice and Dennis Potter’s musical The Singing Detective. After 100 years, the BBC’s legacy should never be undersold, just like its future.
While Westerns are a part of classic cinema and television history, they are becoming an increasingly common sight across the modern TV landscape. Shows such as Hell on Wheels, Justified, Hatfield & McCoys and Longmire paved the way for contemporary series such as Godless, The Son and Wynonna Earp. Last year saw the reinvention of Japanese anime Cowboy Bebop, while Taylor Sheridan’s Yellowstone continues to be one of the biggest shows on US TV. Spin-off 1883 debuted at the end of last year, with a further extension called 1923 launching in December. Another show in the franchise, 6666, has also been ordered. Vikings creator Michael Hirst brought his take on Billy the Kid to screens this year, while Hugo Blick drama The English (pictured) paired Emily Blunt and Chaske Spencer on a journey across 1980s America as Blunt’s Cornelia seeks revenge for the death of her son. Django, a reimagining of Sergio Corbucci’s 1966 Italian film of the same name, also arrived this year.
These blood-thirsty beings are never far from our screens, but this year has seen a number of new additions to the TV vampire catalogue. Let the Right One In is a remake of the acclaimed Swedish film and book of the same name, plus the US film remake called Let Me In, while Interview with the Vampire (pictured) brought Anne Rice’s gothic horror novel to the small screen almost 30 years after the feature adaptation starring Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt. Vampire Academy, based on the novel by Richelle Mead, also aired this year, as did First Kill, while Legacies – part of the Vampire Diaries universe – came to an end after four seasons. Meanwhile, Spider-Man’s ‘Guy in the Chair’ Jacob Batalon took the lead in Reginald the Vampire, a supernatural drama based on Johnny B Truant’s Fat Vampire, which aims to subvert the genre as Reginald crashes into a world populated by beautiful, fit and vain vampires while navigating numerous obstacles in his new undead life.
tagged in: Amy Jephta, BBC, Berlin, Caroline Moran, Charithra Chandran, Christiana Ebohon-Green, Deutsches Haus, Doctor Who, Francesca Archibugi, Hagen, Hania Elkington, Interview with the Vampire, Joe Wright, Let the Right One In, Lily Allen, Lynn Van Royen, Marlee Matlin, Marlene, Melanie Marnich, Miguel Bernardeau, Philip Barantini, Sara Johnsen, Tierra de mujeres, Tōko Miura, Vampire Academy, Westerns