DQ100 – Part one
In the first part of the DQ100 2022/23, we pick 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.
Best known for her role in period drama The Tudors, Icelandic star Bríem will head the cast of local broadcaster Channel 2’s As Long As We Live, which she also created and wrote. Based on her own experiences, the show stars Bríem as Beta, a former pop queen and now struggling mum stuck in a stale marriage. When a young man becomes a part of their household and starts introducing Beta and her husband to flirting games, she is led down a path of lust and excitement that reignites their relationship but also strips their marriage to the core and threatens its entire existence.
Roles in films and TV series including The Full Monty, The World Is Not Enough, Once Upon A Time and Cobra (pictured) have made the Scottish actor one of the most recognisable stars on screen. One of his most iconic parts is that of Begbie, which he played in 1996 Danny Boyle film Trainspotting its 2017 sequel. Carlyle is now set to reprise the incendiary role once more in The Blade Artist, a television adaptation of Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh’s novel of the same name. The story picks up 20 years after that first film, at a time when Begbie – now Jim Francis – has a seemingly perfect life living in California. But when he returns to Scotland for the funeral of a son he hardly knew, he is forced to confront his dark past on the streets of Edinburgh.
One of Australia’s biggest stars, Dusseldorp takes the lead in forthcoming ABC Australia series Bay of Fires, which is due to begin production this summer. The eight-part crime thriller is set in Tasmania and centres on Stella Heinekken (Dusseldorp), whose fall from grace is as spectacular as it is life-threatening. Betrayed by her own company and in immediate danger, the single mother moves with her two young children to Misery Reef, where she soon learns the secrets of this tiny, crime-ridden community. Dusseldorp, co-creator and a producer on the series, has also recently been seen in Wentworth, Jack Irish, Stateless, A Place to Call Home and Janet King.
Barreto is among Britain’s brightest rising talents. Her first major role came in the first season of thriller Hanna, before she took the lead in Stephen Merchant’s recent crime comedy The Outlaws, which is returning for a second run. Next up is a starring role in one of streamer Paramount+’s first UK original series. Following two deeply bonded best friends, The Blue follows Lana (Abigail Lawrie) and Kitty (Barreto), who are on the run from the UK police. Together they find refuge on a romantic yacht called The Blue, crewed by a group of enigmatic, beautiful people who sail through Southeast Asia living a life of endless beaches, ocean and parties. But The Blue harbours dark secrets, and when greed and lust drive the crew to make some terrible moral compromises, it leads to the death of one of their own. The paradise and escape the girls thought they had found turns into a nightmare as Lana and Kitty find themselves far from home and in terrible danger.
Having started out in UK soaps such as EastEnders and Emmerdale and hospital drama Holby City, Toussaint-White has more recently made her name in series such as Bodyguard, The Feed and The Sister, as well as comedy GameFace. For her next role, she takes the lead in Channel 5’s four-part thriller Witness No 3, in which she plays Jodie, a single mum and a hairdresser who, while at work, momentarily sees two men walking on the other side of the road. When it emerges she has seen a killer and his victim moments before a murder, she becomes the key witness that police need to put a local gang leader behind bars – until a terrifying campaign of intimidation attempts to silence her.
Just 28 years old, award-winning Danish director Risvig has had a prolific career to date, working on a number of documentaries and local young-adult series such as Centrum, and Flokken. He has now channelled his own experiences of growing up in a small town for upcoming Viaplay series Drenge (Boys). Risvig has created and directs the eight-part ensemble drama, which focuses on the strong bond between 10 young men in Silkeborg who grew up singing together in a church choir and would then meet up to push their limits and test the forbidden pleasures of adult life. But when one of the boys drowns under mysterious circumstances, their unity and loyalty are put to the ultimate test. Risvig is now currently in production with Salsa, a new YA series airing on Denmark’s DR this summer.
From starting her career on shows such as Chicago Hope, Party of Five and Dawson’s Creek, Gordon has built a reputation as a prolific television director. Other credits include Burn Notice, Goliath, Waco, Jack Ryan and For All Mankind. She is now filming all five episodes of thriller Last Light, based on Alex Scarrow’s novel of the same name. In the series, petro-chemist Andy Nielsen (Matthew Fox)’s worst fears are realised when the world’s oil supply is disrupted, setting off a chain reaction that affects everything from transportation to law enforcement. With his family now separated around the globe, each member will sacrifice everything to find one another.
Over the past five years, Moorhouse has helmed some of the biggest series in Australian television, from Wanted and Les Norton to Stateless and Wakefield, while her feature credits include The Dressmaker, starring Kate Winslet. On her next project, Savage River, Moorhouse will shoot all six episodes of an ABC Australia crime drama that promises a compelling and suspenseful mystery set in a small town. The story introduces Miki Anderson (played by Katherine Langford), who returns to her hometown in rural Victoria after eight years in prison and is determined to finally move on with her life. But the close-knit community of Savage River is not about to let her forget the past that easily. When a murder rocks the town, Miki immediately becomes the focus of everyone’s suspicion – and as the police close in, she sets out to prove her innocence, uncovering long-buried secrets that will cast doubt on everything she thought she knew.
Meadows has won plaudits for his own brand of gritty, grounded dramas and his ability to coax authentic, emotionally charged performances from his cast. He is best known for 2006 feature This is England and its television spin-offs, This is England 86, 88 and 90, all of which he also wrote. He was on double duty again on 2019 miniseries The Virtues, and is also writer and director on his upcoming BBC series The Gallows Pole. Meadows’ first period drama, it is based on the novel of the same name by Benjamin Myers and fictionalises the true story of the rise and fall of David Hartley and the Cragg Vale Coiners. As the industrial revolution looms in 18th century Yorkshire, the plot follows the enigmatic Hartley (played by Michael Socha) as he assembles a gang of weavers and land-workers to embark upon a revolutionary criminal enterprise that will capsize the economy and become the biggest fraud in British history.
One of Australia’s most celebrated Indigenous voices in film and television, Thornton’s credits include award-winning features Sweet Country and Sampson & Delilah. On the small screen, he recently helmed season two of Outback-set series Mystery Road before directing Firebite, a vampire-filled fantasy series he also created and wrote. The series stars Rob Collins and Shantae Barnes-Cowan as two Indigenous Australian hunters on a quest to battle the last colony of vampires in the middle of the South Australian desert.
A Booker Prize-winning author, James arrives on television with a debut series described as a “vivid, blistering slice of contemporary noir,” told in six parts through the eyes of six different people. Commissioned by Channel 4 and HBO, Get Millie Black introduces Millie-Jean Black, a police detective who swaps her troubled life in London to work missing persons cases for the Jamaican police force. She soon picks up the trail of an investigation that begins in the steaming streets of downtown Kingston and heads up to the hill plantations of the post-colonial elite and eventually propels her back to the UK. James’s novels include John Crow’s Devil, The Book of Night Women, Booker winner A Brief History of Seven Killings and Black Leopard, Red Wolf.
For ITV series The Confessions of Frannie Langton, former barrister Collins has adapted her award-winning debut novel that explores themes of race, class and oppression through a murder mystery. The four-parter, set against the backdrop of Georgian London, charts Frannie’s journey from Jamaican plantation to the grand Mayfair mansion of scientist George Benham and his wife Madame Marguerite Benham, where she is employed as their maid. When the Benhams are found murdered in their beds, Frannie is found lying next to Marguerite and is accused of a murder she can’t remember. Will she recall the events of that night? And if she isn’t guilty, who is?
After winning the Best Script Award at the 2017 British Urban Film Festival for her screenplay Draw, Davis joined the writing teams for Killing Eve and upcoming BBC series Champion. As an actor, she has also appeared in The Secret Garden, Silent Witness and Electric Dreams. Davis is now penning Your Eyes, a timely story about family, race and identity told through the experience of an unconventionally diverse modern family. Staunch black rights activist Yinka Oppong and her Rastafarian husband Paul waited on the adoption list for years and when the call finally came, they were shocked to be presented with a white, blue-eyed baby. Sixteen years later, Paul and Yinka now have three teenagers: their adopted white son Benny and black biological twins Theo and Lola. Paul and Yinka raised their children colour-blind in their liberal, multicultural city neighbourhood, but when Paul gets a high-profile new job, the family moves to an affluent, predominantly white town miles away and must fight to stay together in a place that is trying to tear them apart.
As an actor, Banks has had numerous roles in shows such as The Thick of It, Red Dwarf, Shameless, Saxondale and Breeders, while she will also appear in BritBox’s upcoming Agatha Christie mystery Why Didn’t They Ask Evans?. In addition, she lends her voice to many kids’ series, most notably Peppa Pig, Danger Mouse and Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom. Her writing CV includes credits on Damned, Up the Women and sketch show Ruddy Hell! It’s Harry & Paul, and Banks is now adapting Nick Hornby novel Funny Girl for Sky. It stars Gemma Arterton as new Miss Blackpool Barbara Parker, who heads to London, where she finds her voice in the male-dominated world of the 1960s sitcom.
For fans of Line of Duty, Sondhi is recognisable as PC Maneet Bindra, who supports the ongoing investigations of the AC-12 team to flush out corrupt officers. With four-part thriller DI Ray, Sondhi has partnered with Line of Duty creator Jed Mercurio’s HTM Television to tell the story of Rachita Ray, a police officer who takes on a case that forces her to confront a lifelong personal conflict between her British identity and her South Asian heritage. Parminder Nagra (ER) will lead the cast of the show, which the writer says is a deeply personal project focusing on her own background as a British Asian woman.
This Antarctica-set sci-fi story is based on the book by Paul McAuley and written by Stateless’s Elise McCredie. It’s set in the year 2098, decades after the melting glaciers have given way to a new frontier of resource-rich land, where a generation of settlers from all around the dying world have converged. Austral Ferrado, one of a number of “huskies” – people who have been gene-edited to better withstand the unforgiving climate of the far south – is trapped in a society that has imprisoned her. When her escape plan quickly goes awry, she finds herself desperate and on the run.
Commissioned by French streamer OCS and filmed in English and Spanish, this eight-part sci-fi series promises a blend of action and suspense at a breakneck pace in a story that highlights the realities of eco-disasters that loom in the near future. At a time when temperatures have risen all over the planet, small groups of hardline eco-activists commit destructive actions, attacks and targeted murders in a final bid to save a world condemned by industry and ultra-capitalism. Mateo, a young CIA recruit, is sent to infiltrate one of these groups, with a mission to identify its charismatic leader, but soon loses his bearings in this desperately dangerous operation.
Fleishman is in Trouble
A star-studded cast has been assembled for this FX on Hulu series written by Taffy Brodesser-Akner (pictured), based on her novel of the same name. It centres on Toby Fleishman (Jesse Eisenberg), a recently separated 40-something who dives into the world of app-based dating with the kind of success he never had dating in his youth, before he got married at the end of medical school. But when his ex-wife Rachel (Claire Danes) disappears, he is left with the kids and no hint of when or whether she plans to return. As he tries to balance parenting, the return of old friends, a promotion at the hospital where he works and all the eligible women Manhattan has to offer, he realises he’ll never figure out what happened to Rachel until he can take a more honest look at what happened to their marriage. Adam Brody and Lizzy Caplan are also among the cast.
Based on Jules Verne’s classic 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, this 10-part Disney+ series will tell the origin story of Captain Nemo and his legendary submarine, which lends its name to the series title. An Indian prince robbed of his birthright and a prisoner of the East India Company, Nemo is determined to take revenge. But when he sets sail with his ragtag crew on board the sub, he battles his enemy and also discovers a magical underwater world.
Dune actor Rebecca Ferguson (pictured) stars in this Apple TV+ adaptation of Hugh Howey’s trilogy of dystopian novels written by Graham Yost (Band of Brothers, Justified). In a ruined and toxic future, a community exists in a giant silo underground, hundreds of stories deep, where men and women must live in a society full of regulations they believe are meant to protect them. Ferguson will star as Juliette, an independent and hardworking engineer.
TRENDS & TRAILBLAZERS
As if there isn’t enough original drama to watch, TV networks are increasingly opting to revive old favourites by bringing back series long consigned to re-runs. However, no longer simply reboots of old series with new casts, classic titles are returning to screens with the faces that made them famous in the first place. Most recently, Danish political drama Borgen (pictured) returned for a fourth season, 12 years after it first aired and nine years since season three ended. Iconic US legal drama Law & Order also returned after a 12-year absence for its 21st season. Last year saw the reunion of Carrie, Miranda and Charlotte in Sex & the City follow-up And Just Like That, while Dexter also returned, 10 years after the blood-spatter-expert serial killer was last on screen.
New Zealand actor, writer and comedian Matafeo scored one of the television hits of 2021 with her romantic comedy Starstruck, which charmed viewers who were otherwise contending with numerous lockdowns during the Covid-19 pandemic. With season two launching in February, viewers could reacquaint themselves with Jessie (played by Matafeo), a millennial living in East London and juggling two dead-end jobs while also navigating the complications of being romantically involved with a famous film star (Nikesh Patel).
Since the 2011 launch of Appropriate Adult, which dramatised the notorious case of serial killers Fred and Rose West, Pope has been at the forefront of a wave of British true crime dramas spanning the past decade. Whether as a writer or executive producer, he has been responsible for series including Mrs Biggs, Lucan, The Widower, Hatton Garden, Little Boy Blue, The Moorside and A Confession. In BBC miniseries Four Lives, which debuted in January and already stands out as one of the shows of the year, he partnered with frequent collaborator Neil McKay to explore the aftermath of four murders committed by Stephen Port between 2014 and 2015 and the police failings that allowed him to continue his crimes.
If you thought the prospects of shortform drama sank with Quibi when the mobile-led streaming platform crashed and burned just eight months after its launch in April 2020, this 18-part series told in 10-minute episodes proved there’s life in the format yet. Tackling themes of morality and monogamy, the BBC comedy-drama follows two strangers who share a drunken night together after their shared flight is cancelled. The next morning, both Fola and Josh admit they are in relationships with other people and that their night of passion was a mistake. But when Josh arrives home, he is horrified to find Fola has just moved in across the street.
While the majority of TV series based on existing IP come from the literary world, there is an increasing trend for magazine articles to inspire longform storytelling. Famously, Sex & the City was based on Candace Bushnell’s newspaper columns, while “polyamorous romantic comedy” You Me Her was inspired by a Playboy article. Netflix’s recent space drama Away was loosely based on an Esquire article, and a Buzzfeed long read led to true crime drama The Act. Now three new series this year have cemented magazine articles as the new go-to source for TV drama. Shonda Rhimes’ Netflix series Inventing Anna (pictured at the top of this page) was inspired by a 2018 New York Magazine article, while Hulu’s The Girl From Plainville is based on an Esquire article about a real-life homicide trial. Then there’s another Hulu series, Pam & Tommy (left), which is based on a 2014 Rolling Stone piece about the man responsible for stealing and distributing the couple’s now-infamous sex tape.
tagged in: Anita Bríem, Austral, Cheaters, Dennie Gordon, Fahrenheit, Fleishman is in Trouble, Isis Davis, Jeff Pope, Jocelyn Moorhouse, Jonas Risvig, Marlon James, Marta Dusseldorp, Maya Sondhi, Morwenna Banks, Nautilus, Nina Toussaint-White, Rhianne Barreto, Robert Carlyle, Rose Matafeo, Sara Collins, Shane Meadows, Warwick Thornton, Wool