DQ100 – Part three
In the third 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.
Swedish actor Ardéhn’s breakthrough came in the compelling Netflix original drama Störst av allt (Quicksand), in which she played Maja, a high-school student put on trial for murder following a shooting at a Stockholm school. Now she is partnering with co-stars Tina Pour Davoy and Doreen Ndagire for Viaplay young-adult series Leva Life (Live Life), which follows three friends facing a devastating turn of events after 24-year-old Nora (Ardéhn) is diagnosed with cancer. But despite gruelling chemotherapy sessions and the constant fear of death, Nora refuses to give up on life.
For more than 25 years, Rapaport has been a household name in Sweden thanks to prolific screen career that includes leading roles in series such as Springfloden (Spring Tide), The Sandhamn Murders, Heder (Honour) and Gåsmamman, in which she plays a mother living a carefree life until she is drawn into Stockholm’s criminal underworld to save her family. She will now take the lead in Viaplay original drama Veronika, a series pitched as a psychological drama with a supernatural twist. Rapaport plays the title character, an introverted police officer and mother-of-two with a complex past and a drug addiction. When she sees a dead boy in a hospital parking lot, further visions convince her she can see the victims of unsolved crimes and that her past is the key to catching a killer still on the loose.
Currently playing dwarf king Durin in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, Scottish actor and filmmaker Mullan’s recent credits also include The North Water, The Underground Railroad, Westworld, Mum and Ozark. The award-winning actor will next star in Payback, a six-part ITV drama from executive producer Jed Mercurio (Line of Duty), in which he plays notorious crime lord Cal Morris, who becomes the target of a perilous police operation led by Lexie Noble (Morven Christie). Unaware her husband has been laundering Cal’s illegal earnings, Lexie is soon forced to work for him as the police net tightens around them.
For two seasons and eight episodes of BBC Radio 4 drama Mrs Sidhu Investigates, Syal (The Kumars at No 42) voiced the title character, an Indian ‘aunty’ and chef with a taste for crime. The actor will now reprise the role on screen in a series commissioned by streamer Acorn TV. In the four-parter, Mrs Sidhu – a sharp investigator with an instinct for the truth, a warmth with people and a persistent sense for nosiness – must juggle her new catering business with wrangling her wayward son and serving up justice to those who think they are above the law. Her forays into crime also lead to an unofficial partnership with world-weary DCI Burton (Craig Parkinson), who must reluctantly accept that together they are an unbeatable crime-fighting duo.
Fans of acclaimed drama Normal People may recognise Mullen from her role as Peggy, who enters the lives of protagonists Marianne and Connell when they both start to attend Trinity College in Dublin. The Irish actor’s credits also include to Red Rock, Vikings, Krypton, Women on the Verge, Into the Badlands and season three of Brassic, a comedy-drama following group of friends in a forgotten corner of Northern England. She can now be seen in The Peripheral, the new futuristic tech drama from Westworld creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, before she takes the lead in The Vanishing Triangle, commissioned by Virgin Media Television in Ireland and US streamer Sundance Now. Mullen plays reporter Lisa Wallance, who is working in the face of prejudice and police incompetence to investigate the mysterious murder of her own mother nearly 20 years earlier.
Danish filmmaker Johansen has been involved in making some of Denmark’s biggest television exports of recent years, from episodes of political drama Borgen and comedy drama Rita to crime series Bedrag (Follow the Money) and period show Sygeplejeskolen (New Nurses). He is now shooting Oxen, an adaptation of the book series of the same name by Jens Henrik Hensen. It tells the story of war veteran Niels Oxen (Jacob Lohmann), a former special forces soldier who must conquer his inner demons when he is framed for a series of gruesome murders.
Sex Education and Catastrophe director Taylor has moved to Disney+, where he is steering The Ballad of Renegade Nell with a cast led by Louisa Harland (Derry Girls), Nick Mohammed (Ted Lasso), Adrian Lester (Trigger Point) and Joely Richardson (Nip/Tuck). Written by Sally Wainwright (Gentleman Jack), the series is described as an action and fantasy adventure that follows Nell (Harland), a quick-witted and courageous young woman who finds herself framed for murder and unexpectedly becomes the most notorious highwaywoman in 18th century England.
A Bafta Breakthrough Brit award winner in 2016 for her directorial debut The Violators, for which she also wrote the screenplay, Walsh is now taking up dual roles again for Channel 4 drama The Gathering. The six-part drama centres on a violent attack on a teenage girl during a rave on a tidal islet and explores a group of teens from disparate backgrounds, each of whom could have committed the crime, as well as their parents who all have equal cause for suspicion. Walsh describes the series as “a twisty, state-of-the-nation take on Philip Larkin’s notorious ‘they fuck you up’ observation about parents and kids,” with a series that asks, “Who is really to blame when our kids fuck up?”
The award-winning Swedish director is part of the creative team behind an ambitious Finnish series that will capture the deadliest civil maritime disaster in recent European history – the sinking of MS Estonia in 1994, which killed more than 850 people. Shooting locations have included Turkey, Finland, Sweden and Estonia, while the cast and crew also shot at indoor water stages in Belgium to tell a story that follows the tragedy through the eyes of survivors, rescuers, family members, politicians, investigators and journalists. Månsson, whose credits include Chernobyl and Snabba Cash, directs with Finnish director Juuso Syrjä.
While actor and executive producer Stephen Graham is in the gym preparing for his role in period boxing drama A Thousand Blows, it’s Krishnan who will be behind the camera as lead director on the Disney+ series. Created and written by Steven Knight, the show is set in 1880s Victorian London, where best friends Hezekiah and Alec from Jamaica find themselves thrust into the vibrant and violent melting pot of the city’s post-industrial revolution East End. Drawn into the criminal underbelly of the thriving boxing scene, Hezekiah meets Mary Carr, leader of The Forty Elephants – the notorious all-female London gang – as they battle for survival on the streets, while he also becomes locked in an intense rivalry with Sugar Goodson (Graham), a seasoned and dangerous boxer, which spills out way beyond the ring. Krishnan comes to the series on the back of episodes of WeCrashed, Temple, The Mosquito Coast, Industry and The Feed.
Lost Boys & Fairies, which emerged from the BBC’s TV Drama Writers’ Programme 2019 in partnership with producer Duck Soup Films, marks James’ first original screenplay for the UK pubcaster. The series follows Gabriel, a singer and artiste extraordinaire at Cardiff’s queer club space Neverland, and his partner Andy as they adopt their first child. Gabriel has a troubled history and must embark upon a journey of self-discovery and attempt to repair his relationship with his dad before he can truly begin to parent seven-year old Jake. Previously, Welshman James has worked as a playwright, screenwriter, composer, performer and translator across theatre, radio, TV and film in both English and Welsh. His small-screen credits include Crackanory and 10 episodes of the returning Welsh-language drama Gwaith/Cartref.
London-born Irish writer Murtagh’s first feature, Calm with Horses, landed several Bafta nominations following its release in 2019, including one for Outstanding British Film. For TV, Murtagh has written on sci-fi series Origin and gangster drama Gangs of London. Now he is the creator and writer of BBC and Showtime drama The Woman in the Wall, a gothic thriller starring Ruth Wilson and Daryl McCormack. Wilson plays Lorna Brady, a woman from the fictional town of Kilkinure, who wakes up to find a corpse in her house. A chronic sleepwalker, she isn’t sure who the dead woman is or if she is somewhat responsible for her demise – and her luck deserts her further when ambitious detective Colman Akande (McCormack) gets on her tail for a seemingly unrelated crime.
Morgan is a Bafta- and Emmy-winning screenwriter known for The Split, Suffragette and The Iron Lady – but her latest project will be her most personal yet. She is set to adapt her own memoir, This is Not a Pity Memoir, after The Split producer Sister picked up rights to the book. Described as poignant and heart-breaking but unsentimental, the memoir follows how Morgan’s family life changed tragically after she returned home one morning to find her partner of 20 years had collapsed on the bathroom floor – and nothing would be the same again.
Scottish screenwriter Gibb was behind the award-winning feature-length drama Elizabeth is Missing, which is based on the novel by Emma Healey and tells the story of an 80-year-old woman battling dementia while trying to solve the mystery behind her missing friend. She is now handling another adaptation, this time turning Andrew O’Hagan’s acclaimed novel Mayflies into a two-part BBC drama. Starring Martin Compston, Tony Curran and Ashley Jensen, the story follows the relationship between two friends that ignites over summer in 1986 and a request 30 years later that will push their friendship, love and loyalty to the limit.
Vikings star Travis Fimmel takes this lead in this Australian drama commissioned by local streamer Stan. The six-part mystery drama takes place in two timelines. In 1995, the murder of 17-year-old Isabel Baker leaves her small North Queensland town shocked, with the case going unsolved. Meanwhile, In 2020, the opening of a time capsule unearths a secret that puts cold-case detective James Cormack (Fimmel) on the trail of the killer.
This haunting thriller is based on the novel by Louise Doughty (Apple Tree Yard) with The Politician’s Husband writer Paula Milne (pictured) penning the adaptation. It follows central character Lisa who, after witnessing a cataclysmic event on platform seven of a railway station, finds her own fragmented memory jogged to reveal a connection between her own life and that of the event she has just seen. The drama has been commissioned by UK broadcaster ITV for its ITVX streaming platform.
This five-part Cape Town crime thriller from writer Matthew Orton (Moon Knight) introduces Detective Benny Griessel, the character created by novelist Deon Meyer. In Devil’s Peak, Griessel (Hilton Pelser, pictured) is tasked with tracking down a vigilante killer capturing the imagination of the city, while grieving father Thobela Mpayipheli (Sisanda Henna) desperately seeks justice for the murder of his son. The series is produced by Lookout Point (Gentleman Jack) for South Africa’s M-Net and distributor BBC Studios.
The Global Seed Vault, described as a backup hard drive of global nutrition, is central to this six-part thriller that is being filmed in Spitsbergen in Norway, Munich in Germany and Prague in the Czech Republic. Heino Ferch plays German detective Max, who partners with Ingrid Bolsø Berdal’s Norwegian police officer Thea to find Max’s missing nephew Victor (Jonathan Berlin) in Spitsbergen. But it soon becomes clear his disappearance may be connected to the explosive takeover of a seed company that is subject to a lot of controversy in Brussels. Thea and Max then find themselves plunged into a web of intrigue and political interests that puts Victor’s and their own lives in danger. NRK Norway and German’s ARD Degeto are the commissioning broadcasters.
The Burning Girls
Based on CJ Tudor’s novel of the same name and adapted by Bron (The Bridge) creator Hans Rosenfeldt, this six-part Paramount+ series blends psychological horror and small-town mystery for a story set in a village haunted by a dark and turbulent history. Samantha Morton (The Serpent Queen) plays Reverend Jack Brooks, a single parent haunted by a tragedy at her previous church and who bears the burden of her husband’s death. When she arrives with her 15-year-old daughter in Chapel Croft with the hope of a fresh start, they soon find the village rife with conspiracies and secrets relating to a bloody past.
TRENDS & TRAILBLAZERS
In an era of prequels, perhaps this spin-off from long-running detective drama Inspector Morse is the one to beat. Endeavour, which takes its title from the first name of its leading protagonist, was only designed to be a one-off special in 2012 to mark the 25th anniversary of Inspector Morse’s television debut. But since then, a further 32 films have been produced – with three more in production that will bring the curtain down on the adventures of young Morse after 10 years. The ITV series has also been sold into more than 200 territories, making series stars Shaun Evans and Roger Allam familiar faces around the world.
An amazing quirk of television scheduling is how two shows with similar stories can appear within weeks of each other, a phenomenon that is only likely to happen more often now viewers can easily access shows from around the world. In April, Norway’s Made in Oslo landed on Viaplay and introduced Elin (Pia Tjelta), a doctor who runs a fertility clinic where she offers patients a chance to become parents. But more than anything, Elin longs for the chance to become a parent herself and, as her frustration grows, she becomes prepared to risk her relationships and career to start her own family. Then in June, Netflix debuted Danish series Skruk (Baby Fever), which took a more humorous approach to the subject as fertility doctor Elin drunkenly inseminates herself with a sample from her ex-boyfriend – starting a chain reaction that has both personal and professional consequences.
Where sports documentaries have led the way with series such as the All or Nothing franchise, the NFL’s Hard Knocks, Last Chance U, Welcome to Wrexham and The Last Dance, dramas are quickly following – much like what has happened with true crime. Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty this year dramatised the story of how the LA basketball team became one of sport’s most dominant dynasties on and off the court in the 1980s, while Mike explores the wild, tragic and controversial life of former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson. In addition, an upcoming Sky film will chart the life of German football legend Franz Beckenbauer, set against the backdrop of games and tournaments from the 1960s to the 1980s, with Klaus Steinbacher taking the lead role. And last year, Colin in Black & White charted the high-school years of NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick and the experiences that led him to become an activist.
As if the real world weren’t scary enough, two recent British dramas have shed a light on current and future worlds where technology has the power to shape and influence geopolitical events. Set in 2024, Peter Kosminsky’s series The Undeclared War follows a team of analysts working within the secretive world of UK intelligence service GCHQ to ward off a series of cyber attacks in the run-up to a general election. When a routine stress test of internet infrastructure goes awry, GCHQ intern Saara Parvin (Hannah Khalique-Brown) finds herself on the front line of cyber warfare. This year also saw the welcome return of The Capture (pictured), Ben Chanan’s timely and topical surveillance thriller that portrays a world in which deepfake videos and real-time video manipulation are common – if highly secretive – practices employed by governments to suit their own needs or upset the ambitions of others.
There’s no question 2022 has been the year of epic fantasy dramas, most commonly adapted from bestselling novels that take viewers into imagined worlds far from our own. The undoubted highlight has been the long-awaited release of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power – Prime Video’s series based on JRR Tolkien’s beloved novels and set thousands of years before his most recognisable works, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. The show’s release followed on the heels of House of the Dragon, HBO’s prequel-sequel to its mega-hit drama Game of Thrones and again based on material from George RR Martin. Not to miss out, Netflix entered the fray with The Sandman, a series based on Neil Gaiman’s graphic novel series. Together with Prime Video’s previous entry into the genre, The Wheel of Time, numerous Netflix efforts like Shadow & Bone and The Witcher, and the impending return of BBC and HBO drama His Dark Materials, there’s certainly no shortage of opportunities for fantasy fans to leave the real world behind.
tagged in: Abi Morgan, Alexandra Rapaport, Andrea Gibb, Ben Taylor, Black Snow, Daf James, Devil’s Peak, Endeavour, Hanna Ardéhn, Helen Walsh, India Mullen, Jannik Johansen, Joe Murtagh, Måns Månsson, Meera Syal, Peter Mullan, Platform 7, The Burning Girls, The Seed, Tinge Krishnan