he BBC is once again turning to Oscar-nominated Magic Light Pictures for its latest animation special. The studio behind The Gruffalo will bring Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s book Superworm to life with a cast including Olivia Colman and Matt Smith.
Colman will narrate, while Smith will feature as hero Superworm. They are joined by Patricia Allison (Sex Education) as Butterfly, and Rob Brydon (Gavin & Stacey) as the Crow.
Super-long and super-strong, Superworm is always on hand to help out other animals and insects, but when he is kidnapped by wicked Wizard Lizard and sidekick The Crow, his friend Butterfly must come to the rescue.
Superworm is directed by Sarah Scrimgeour and Jac Hamman, from a script by Max Lang and Suzanne Lang. The producer is Barney Goodland, with executive producers Martin Pope and Michael Rose for Magic Light. The composer is Rene Aubry, while animation services are provided by Blue Zoo Animation Studio.
Colman said: “This is such a lovely project to be involved with. When reading the script, and imagining all those goings on at the end of the garden, I could really get a feel for the pure fun and joy that the film will bring.”
Superworm is the BBC’s ninth Donaldson and Scheffler adaptation, as the stories have become fixtures of the BBC One’s Christmas line-up. Last year’s adaptation was Zog and the Flying Doctors, which was watched by 7 million viewers.
“Olivia apparently does a dance class — in the area that she lives with a bunch of friends — on a regular basis. And the last time she did the class, they had danced to that song,” Gillian Anderson, who played Margaret Thatcher in season 4 of the Netflix historical drama, said on Late Night With Seth Meyers on Wednesday, January 27. “She asked if we would happen to be interested in maybe doing it.”
“[Olivia said] she would video it, and then she would just share it only with her friends, the other dancers,” the X Files alum recalled. “It was never meant to see the light of day.”
Well, so much for that. With a sly laugh, Seth Meyers cued up the video, which was recorded between takes of a funeral scene, and played it for his late-night viewers.
In the hilarious clip, Colman, 46, enthusiastically busted a move in her Queen Elizabeth II costume as Menzies, also 46, Bonham Carter, 54, O’Connor, 30, Marion Bailey, Erin Doherty and other costars followed her lead. They ended the dance with a perfectly in-sync glide to the right (“Cha Cha Slide” style) and a collective “Woo!”
Meyers, 47, called the choreography “really good,” but Anderson was visibly mortified.
“So humiliating,” she said, shaking her head. “I mean, that look on my face. I don’t even know. There’s such delight and shame all at once.”
The TV host tried to lighten the mood, telling the Chicago-born actress that she “did a better job than Margaret Thatcher would have done.” He also acknowledged that it was “a pretty low bar,” however.
Anderson only played the late British prime minister in one season of the streaming hit, but she had a blast doing so. She shared several photos and videos with her castmates via Instagram and Twitter in 2020 as they enjoyed some rare downtime on set. In one particularly funny video that she tweeted in December, Colman reversed her car out of ditch while looking like the spitting image of the queen.
The Crown is now streaming on Netflix.
How does one sum up 2020 in fashion? It was a year in which red carpets were called off, celebrities let us inside their wardrobes at home and awards ceremonies went virtual. Fashion’s biggest night of the year, the Met Gala, was cancelled, since the Metropolitan Museum of Art itself had to close its doors—the only days that the museum has had to close to the public previously were the day after 9/11 and the day that hurricanes Irene (2011) and Sandy (2012) hit New York.
We got to see our favourite celebrities and fashion icons in a whole new way; we witnessed the royals doing work-from-home style, street style stars working a protective face mask into their outfits and the likes of Zendaya releasing their red carpet looks via an Instagram GIF instead of debuting them on an actual red carpet… it was a year the fashion industry won’t forget.
Looking back, it’s hard to believe that in January, February and March, award season went ahead as if the whole world wasn’t about to change forever. The Oscars and the Golden Globes, as well as the BAFTAs and the SAG Awards all took place before global lockdowns. Fortunately, this gave us insight into which stars were primed to make 2020 their year.
As always, this year’s best dressed list isn’t only about the red carpet moments that blew us away with their glamour. We like to say it’s also a nod to the people serving us style every day, and in every way. And this year, that was more important than ever. Scroll on to see Vogue Australia’s best dressed of 2020.
The Queen herself was also our queen of fashion this year. The English actor was here to reign over each red carpet she attended for her role as Queen Elizabeth II in season three and four of The Crown and her regal looks would have made the monarch herself proud.
The stars will perform from the safety of their homes for the Comic Relief special, which airs on Christmas Eve and will be brought to life with illustrations from iconic children’s illustrator Quentin Blake.
Colman plays the fairy godmother, while Bonham Carter features as the wicked stepmother Lady Devilia. Meanwhile, the breakout star of Netflix series The Queen’s Gambit, Anya Taylor-Joy, will play the title role.
Other cast includes The Night Manager star Tom Hollander and Guz Khan as Baron Hardup and Buttons respectively. Daisy May and Charlie Cooper, the stars and creators of This Country (which is currently being remade by Fox), have been cast as the evil step-sisters. The pair are siblings in real-life.
Written by the Dawson Brothers, and based on an original script by Ben Crocker, Cinderella: A Comic Relief Pantomime for Christmas will be a retelling of the timeless panto classic. It is made by Crook Productions.
The executive producers for Crook Productions are Matt Crook, Richard Curtis, and Colin Hopkins. The director is Matt Lipsey. It was commissioned by Patrick Holland, Jo Wallace and Katie Taylor.
Curtis said: “It’ll be very funny and merry — and also a great seasonal opportunity to raise crucial funds for the projects that will help the most vulnerable people, at home and abroad — especially now when Covid has made things harder than ever for many.”
The BBC has promised other starry cameos, including an “incredibly famous person wearing an incredibly unconvincing horse costume.”
The National Theatre, in partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies, has launched National Theatre at Home, a new streaming platform.
The service launches with productions including the first ever National Theatre Live, Phèdre with Helen Mirren, Othello with Adrian Lester and the Young Vic’s Yerma with Billie Piper, new titles from the NT’s catalogue of filmed theatre will be added to the platform every month.
In addition to productions previously broadcast to cinemas by National Theatre Live, a selection of plays filmed for the NT’s Archive will be released online for the first time through National Theatre at Home, including Lucy Kirkwood’s Mosquitoes with Olivia Colman and Inua Ellams’ new version of Chekhov’s Three Sisters (a co-production with Fuel).
Viewers can choose a monthly or annual subscription to access the full catalogue and exclusive backstagecontent, or can opt to rent single plays for a 72-hour window.
National Theatre at Home’s digital streaming offer was first made available during the UK’s first COVID lockdown when theatres and cinemas were closed. This resulted in over 15 million views for 16 productions over four months and reached 173 countries around the world.
Lisa Burger, Executive Director and Joint Chief Executive of the National Theatre, said: “We were overjoyed to have had 15 million views for National Theatre at Home earlier this year and to discover we had reached so many audiences new to theatre both in the UK and worldwide. At a time when many people were isolated at home, it was uplifting to see audiences recreate the shared experience of visiting the theatre. From homemade tickets to interval drinks, NT at Home was a way of making people feel more connected. And so, since the last stream finished in July, we have been determined to find a way to give our audiences access to these stunning filmed productions online once again. With the agreement from artists, we are now able to showcase an extraordinary range of fantastic NT Live productions and, for the first time, some treasured plays from our NT Archive. This is a really exciting day for the National Theatre as we launch a major, online streaming destination for our filmed theatre productions which we hope will continue to provide audiences with the power and joy of theatre for as long as it is needed. We want National Theatre at Home to once again bring people together from all over the world after what has been a very tough 2020for so many.”
Stage and screen stars including Sir Kenneth Branagh and Olivia Colman have lent their voices to an audio play of Peter Pan in support of Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) Children’s Charity.
Author JM Barrie donated the copyright of the works to the hospital in 1929, but with theatres closed and Christmas shows on hold due to Covid-19, its charity is missing out on its annual income from royalties and donations.
The retelling will feature contributions from Sharon D Clarke, Joanna Riding, Bertie Carvel, Jane Horrocks, Jason Flemyng, Clive Rowe and more.
Adapted by Shaun McKenna, the production will also feature an original score by Annabelle Brown.
Barrie’s tale of a free-spirited young boy who never grows up will be presented in four 30-minute chapters, all rehearsed over Zoom and recorded remotely.
Members of the GOSH Young People’s Forum, including patients currently undergoing treatment and former patients, will also perform alongside the professional cast.
Money from the production will go towards the GOSH Charity to fund medical research, equipment, support services for children and families and rebuilding and refurbishment.
Liz Tait, director of fundraising at GOSH Charity, said: “We are so grateful to the many stars who lent their voices to this creative audio adaptation of the timeless story of Peter Pan, alongside children and young people from the hospital whose contribution helped bring this tale to life in such a unique way.
“One hundred per cent of proceeds from the downloads of this adaptation will help us support seriously ill children from across the UK who are cared for at Great Ormond Street Hospital, and we truly hope that the families listening in the lead up to Christmas enjoy the comfort of storytelling together, after the challenging year everyone has faced.
“Thank you to everyone who downloads this adaptation, and to all those involved in its creation.”
The audio play is available on iTunes from Sunday December 20.
Since the global pandemic broke out earlier this year, we’ve seen stars all across the world use their platforms for good – taking part in everything from virtual auctions to show-stopping concerts. But this latest charitable endeavour, featuring some of Britain’s best-loved stars, might just be the most entertaining yet.
Led by actress Maxine Peake, celebrities including Olivia Colman, Dame Emma Thompson and Gemma Arterton, have teamed up to spoof stuntwoman Zoe Bell’s American Boss B**ch Fight YouTube sensation. If you haven’t seen the original, think Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore and a whole host of other Hollywood movie stars partaking in a virtual fight.
The brand new British spoof, Keep Fighting, has been shot entirely on smartphones (yes, really!) and whilst the American version is all high impact stunts, this one is well, a little more tongue in cheek. Jodie Whittaker, Sienna Miller and Rita Ora are all among the stars who feature, with each putting on a unique – and rather brilliant – performance!
But of course, it’s not just about the entertainment. The goal is to raise £1 million for the Intensive Care Society – a charity dedicated to supporting staff working in Intensive Care Units. The ICS focuses on educating and supporting the staff who look after patients and with the outbreak of Covid-19, their work is now more crucial than ever.
The inspiring campaign is the brainchild of musician and actor Collette Cooper, who wanted to create something that would raise money for health care workers. She also wrote and directed it, with Mike Hanson on board as executive producer and Pip Gill of Pip Gill Management co-producing.
“I lost a close friend in March and then lockdown happened, so it was a very strange time,” Collette says. “I knew I wanted to do something for the NHS, but I didn’t know how. Then my friend sent me the American Boss B**ch Fight video and the idea just came to me. I thought, ‘This is it!’”.
Collette explains that she was inspired by the comedy series Shameless and the long-running Carry On films and wanted to create something “very British and very funny”. So she set to work, gathering talent with the help of her colleagues and friends, and relentlessly sending out scripts to them over the course of six months. Her highlights? “Everyone is so good in it, but Kelly Hoppen and Alan Carr still make me howl” she says.
But what it’s really about, she explains, is helping make a difference. “The ICS is an incredible charity and I hope it will raise awareness during such a difficult time. I really hope we can raise fulfil our mission and raise the £1 million because they need the extra support right now.”
For a sneak peek of the action, watch the trailer above. The full campaign will go live on Wednesday November 11 at 7.30pm, and you can watch here for as little as £5. All proceeds will go to the Intensive Care Society. Branded face masks designed by Gresham Blake are also available, with proceeds going to the ICS.
Find out more about the ICS and support its important work HERE.
Olivia Colman’s South Of The River Pictures and its commercial partner Sister are launching a comedy writer competition, with at least one winner getting the chance to develop a TV script with the companies.
The Screenshot initiative will be spearheaded by Debo Adebayo and will focus on comedy writer-performers from a theatre background. The aim is to help them take their work from the stage to the screen in much the same way as competition judge Phoebe Waller-Bridge did with Fleabag.
Joining Waller-Bridge on the panel will be Colman, actress Lolly Adefope, comedian Rosie Jones, BBC comedy commissioner Kate Daughton, Channel 4 head of comedy Fiona McDermott and Sky commissioner Tilusha Ghelan. Longlisted candidates will pitch their projects to the panel.
Winners will go into paid development, while shortlisted candidates will also receive a contribution towards the development or budget of their next live theatrical show. The competition is a direct response to the devastating impact coronavirus has had on the performing arts industry.
Colman and South Of The River partner Ed Sinclair said: “We’re delighted to be able to offer a new outlet for the thwarted creative energies of our brilliant writer-performers and look forward to discovering and supporting some amazing new talent.”
Sister executive producer Naomi de Pear added: “We hope this scheme, in some small way, can be an outlet for some of the incredible talent that has had opportunities snatched away this year. So if you’re currently driving your flatmates/partner/mother/ grandad/ kids potty with your one-person show this is the place for you. It’s the spirit of live comedy and theatre and the intensity of writer-performer driven work that makes it so special so don’t hold back.”
You may know her best as an Oscar-winning actress, acclaimed for her roles in The Favourite and The Crown, but national treasure Olivia Colman has added a new string to her bow – taking off her Queenly garb to collaborate with the Kanneh-Mason family on their new album.
The gifted group of seven siblings, who range between 11 and 24-years old, consists of Isata, Braimah, Sheku, Konya, Jeneba, Aminata and Mariatu. Sheku may be familiar to royal fans as the young cellist who made waves with his moving performance at the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s wedding in 2018.
For those expecting Colman to showcase previously unknown operatic skills, however, it’s worth noting that she’s speaking, rather than singing, on the new album. It features brand-new poems from renowned author Michael Morpurgo, read by the author himself, with the help of Colman. Morpurgo reads the role of Grandpa, for example, in his Grandpa Christmas story, with Mariatu, the youngest Kanneh-Mason, playing his granddaughter.
Recorded at London’s famed Abbey Road Studios, the Kaneh-Masons have brought new life to the musical suite, ‘Carnival of the Animals’, by French composer Camille Saint-Saëns, which is interspersed with readings. As well as Morpurgo and Colman lending a hand, guest musicians joined the family to complete the ensemble for the suite.
The album also includes the Kanneh-Masons’ own arrangement of Bob Marley’s Redemption Song, paying tribute to the artist 40 years on from the song’s original release in 1980. Special artwork was commissioned from illustrator Emma Chichester Clark, who created a whimsical world of friendly animals, keeping the seven Kanneh-Mason siblings and their instruments company.
Morpurgo said of the Kanneh-Masons: ‘These young people are remarkable, not because they are young, not because they are the seven siblings from one family, but simply because they make magnificent music together, and it is evident they love doing it. Hear them and you know it. See them and you know it.’
The Kanneh-Masons commented: ‘This album has grown from our passion as a family for making music together. This has been a heart-breaking time for musicians and performing artists. We want to share our love of music and our passion for communication. As young children, the power of combining music with storytelling is truly magical and we are honoured to have collaborated with Michael Morpurgo, Olivia Colman and the wonderful musicians who joined us, to create music that celebrates our connection with the natural world. Together, we want to inspire children and adults to listen more closely, to value our world and all the diversity within.’