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TV & Film

Steve Coogan to play Jimmy Savile in new BBC drama

Coogan said the decision to portray Savile was not one he took lightly

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BBC

Actor and comedian Steve Coogan will be taking on the role of disgraced paedophile Jimmy Saville in a new BBC drama.

The Reckoning, which was announced in October last year, will recount the early years of Savile’s career as a DJ in the North of England and his rise to fame as a television host for the BBC, right up to his twilight years and his tactics to use fame and money to cover up his heinous crimes. 

It will also take a focus on the impact Saville had upon his victims, most of whom were just children at the time of the abuse.

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Middleton-born Coogan, who is best known for his role as the comedic Alan Partridge, has since spoken out about the controversial casting, noting that he ‘didn’t take the decision lightly’.

He told BBC News: “To play Jimmy Savile was not a decision I took lightly. Neil McKay has written an intelligent script tackling sensitively an horrific story which – however harrowing – needs to be told.

The Reckoning is a unique opportunity to give Savile’s survivors, the people who inspired this project, a voice. I feel sure that Steve Coogan’s powerful performance as Savile will create a debate around how the cult of celebrity cloaked him from scrutiny.”

Executive producer Jeff Pope also stressed that the role is being approached with the ‘greatest care and integrity’, saying: The purpose of this drama is to explore how Savile’s offending went unchecked for so long, and in shining a light on this, to ensure such crimes never happen again. Steve Coogan has a unique ability to inhabit complex characters and will approach this role with the greatest care and integrity.”

Yet despite these claims of authenticity, the drama has still been met with a wave of criticism, with many branding the decision to make a drama on Savile as ‘disgusting’.

One Twitter user wrote: “Could go my whole life without seeing a drama series on this. Given the Savile victims were vulnerable children & I have no doubt this still affects them now also probably many who didn’t speak out, who needs to see this misery.”

Others have also accused the BBC of hypocrisy for commissioning the programme: Jim’ll Fix It was aired on the channel and a 2016 report into his abuse found that several senior members of staff at the BBC missed numerous opportunities to stop him.

A release date for The Reckoning has yet to be announced.

TV & Film

Online stalker from Cheshire focus of new Netflix true crime documentary

It’s out this week

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Netflix & Cheshire Constabulary

A new Netflix crime documentary will retell the story of a prolific cyber stalker from Northwich, Cheshire.

Can I Tell You A Secret? will land on the streaming site on February 21st and tells the story of Matthew James Hardy – Britain’s most prolific cyber stalker.

Hardy was sentenced to nine years in prison for five counts of stalking, the longest custodial term in British history for online stalking.

Netflix

Between 2016 and 2021, Hardy infiltrated the social media accounts of women, using fake profiles so he could befriend his victims online.

Targeting mostly young women, he would then spread lies about them to create rifts among their families and friends.

On one occasion Hardy pretended to be a small business owner and on another, he spread false rumours about a woman having a sexual relationship with her father-in-law.

Netflix

He also told a woman that her late mother had been cheating on her father, and taunted her by telling her he was going to speak to her dad. And he told another woman’s fiancé, on their wedding day, that she had cheated on him.

Judge Everette said Hardy had an ‘innate criminality’, highlighted by his ‘sophisticated’ form of harassment. “Over a period of five or years, you conducted a campaign principally against young women who I am sure you researched on social media,” he said.

“They had done nothing to harm you – most, if not all, did not know who you were. You chose them at random and they had to pay for it with sheer misery.”

Cheshire Constabulary

“You sat there in your room, wherever you were, and you deliberately sent these spiteful messages. It’s difficult to imagine the fear and shock and worry that you caused to your victims and their families,” he added.

Following the sentencing on January 26th, 2022, PC Kevin Anderson from Northwich Local Policing Unit, said: “Having led on this case for more than 18 months I have seen the emotional distress and turmoil that Hardy has inflicted on his victims – he did all of this while hiding behind his computer screen.”

The two-part miniseries explores three of the women’s experiences, the police investigation, and how Hardy was ultimately brought to justice.

Netflix

The first part will relive the impact Hardy’s actions had on his victims as he reigned terror on their lives from behind his screen and keyboard.

The second part will see PC Kevin Anderson, who was assigned to the case in 2019, as he finds over 100 complaints made from 62 victims on Cheshire’s systems alone. The episode focuses on the evidence that eventually leads authorities to Hardy’s home in Forest Place, Northwich.

Can I Tell You A Secret? is available to stream on Netflix from Wednesday, February 21st.

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TV & Film

Blue Lights: Gripping police drama set in Northern Ireland shares first look of season two

Can’t wait for this!

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BBC / Two Cities Television

The BBC has shared a first look ahead of the second season of the hit police drama Blue Lights.

The broadcaster has also confirmed which cast members will return as well as the fresh faces who have joined the series for new episodes.

Set in Belfast, the drama followed a batch of new constables as they navigated a post-conflict Northern Ireland.

Before the first series came to an end, a second series had already been commissioned. The new series will follow on one year later.

BBC / Two Cities Television

Reprising her star role as Grace Ellis is Sian Brooke, also joined by Martin Mccann as Stevie Neil, Katherine Devlin as Annie Conlon, Nathan Braniff as Tommy Foster and Joanne Crawford as Helen McNally.

Also returning are Andi Osho as Sandra Cliff, Hannah McClean as Jen Robinson, Paddy Jenkins as Happy Kelly, Desmond Eastwood as Murray Canning, Andrea Irvine as Nicola Robinson, Aoibhéann McCann as Geraldine Gilroy and Abigail McGibbon as Tina McIntyre.

New cast members joining the show are Frank Blake (Sanditon) as new Constable Shane Bradley, along with Seamus O’Hara (An Irish Goodbye) as Lee Thompson, and Seána Kerslake (Bad Sisters) as his sister Mags.

As well as Craig McGinlay (Cobra) as Craig, and Dan Gordon (Bloodlands) playing Mags and Lee’s Uncle Rab.

BBC / Two Cities Television

At the end of the last season, viewers watched on as the team lost Gerry, who tragically died after being shot by Sully, and the McIntyre Crime Gang collapsed.

In new episodes the new recruits, Grace, Annie and Tommy, are now fully fledged officers who have to face new turmoil as rival gangs try to fill the void after the downfall of the McIntyre’s.

More drama is promised in season two, as the synopsis continues: “Constable Shane Bradley is drafted in to help, but his motivations are unclear. Tommy is dangerously seduced by the world of intelligence policing, while Grace struggles to deal with her son’s absence, and growing feelings for fellow officer Stevie. 

“As a young loyalist threatens to take over the city, the officers face a major gangland feud – culminating in a violent and devastating confrontation.”

BBC / Two Cities Television

Commenting on the series and teasing the upcoming episodes, writers and directors Declan Lawn and Adam Patterson, said: “Blue Lights is a very personal project for us, set in the city where we live, so for us making this show is a special kind of privilege. 

“In series two we join our officers exactly a year after the events of series one, and now they’re facing a whole new set of professional and personal challenges. We’re very excited indeed about bringing you this next chapter of the Blue Lights story. Take a beat!”

Season one landed on screens in March 2023 and received a slew of five-star reviews as well as more than 7 million viewers (28-day figure). 

BBC / Two Cities Television

It was in the top ten new drama series of 2023 across all broadcasters and streamers, and the biggest drama series in Northern Ireland in 2023. More than half of the 28-day audience (56%) came from BBC iPlayer.

The BBC has not yet announced a release date for series two, but as filming took place over summer 2023 we expect it to come out some time this spring.

If you haven’t seen it yet or need to refresh your memory, season one is still available to watch on iPlayer.

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TV & Film

Gavin and Stacey set to return after five years for Christmas special 2024

What’s occurring?

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Best loved Welsh comedy Gavin and Stacey is set to return to TV screens after five years away for another Christmas special.

Here’s what’s occurring, a Gavin and Stacey Christmas special is officially ‘in the works’ and is expected to land on screens this festive season.

According to a new report, the beloved TV show will be returning for a Christmas special, with actors including James Corden and Ruth Jones set to be in the cast once again.

BBC

Filming for the one-off episode is due to take place in the summer, according to Deadline, who broke the news of the show’s comeback.

The last time the beloved BBC series aired was for another festive special in December 2019, where the episode saw Nessa (Ruth Jones) get down on one knee and propose to Smithy (James Corden).

But it ended on a cliffhanger and left fans wanting more as they wondered what happened to them next.

BBC

Well hopefully, viewers will soon be able to tune in to find out if they got their happily ever after or not.

The show will be produced by Steve Coogan’s Baby Cow, Jones’ Tidy Productions and Fulwell 73, which is co-owned by Corden. 

It has aired on the BBC for almost two decades and the last Christmas special was the most-watched show in a decade with more than 18 million viewers.

BBC

It is understood that James, 45, and Ruth, 57, had been discussing another Gavin and Stacey just last year.

According to Deadline, the majority of the main cast are likely to reprise their roles as well, despite cast members expressing doubts of a return in the future.

As of yet, further details about the reported special remain under wraps, so stay tuned for more updates.

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