Olivia Colman is currently enjoying the aftermath of her awards season success thanks to her many nominations at this year’s Golden Globes and the upcoming BAFTA and Academy Awards, but the actress is already gearing up for her next big project.
The Oscar-winner, who is beloved for her many credits including The Crown, Broadchurch and The Favourite, will be starring as the lead in Sam Mendes’ upcoming blockbuster, Empire of Light.
It’s not yet confirmed who Olivia will be playing, but the film itself marks a special milestone as Sam Mendes, the director behind Skyfall and 2020 awards season giant 1917, has penned the film without a co-writer for the first time and is reportedly thrilled to have Olivia on board.
According to Deadline, the movie is described as a romantic story set around an old cinema in the South coast of England in the 1980s. We can’t wait to hear more!
The James Bond director said in a statement: “I have long been an admirer of Searchlight and the dynamic way they have produced and released some of my favourite theatrical releases of recent years. This project is very close to my heart, and I couldn’t be more delighted that it has found its ideal home.”
Meanwhile, Olivia is hoping to win big at this year’s Academy Awards. The actress is nominated in the Supporting Actress category for her role as Anne in The Father which also stars Anthony Hopkins and Mark Gatiss.
Olivia also received a nod at this year’s Golden Globes in the same category, however she lost out to Jodie Foster who won for her part in The Mauritanian.
Olivia was also nominated in the TV category for her part as Queen Elizabeth II in Netflix’s huge hit, The Crown. The actress’ nomination was no doubt bittersweet as it marked ending her time on the streaming series on a high before waving goodbye to her role as the monarch. In the show’s upcoming fifth season, Imelda Staunton will be taking over the play Her Majesty in the next chapter of the drama.
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.
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.
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.’
OLIVIA has been a committed supporter of Unicef UK since 2015, helping to raise awareness and funds for Unicef’s work supporting children and families around the world.
She has supported campaigns for children affected by conflict in Syria, as well as leading many successful appeals, more recently for the children of Yemen and as part of Soccer Aid for Unicef in 2019, the same year she became an official Unicef UK Ambassador.
During this time, Olivia has also visited schools in the UK to highlight the work Unicef is doing to create safe and inspiring places for children to learn.
Sacha Deshmukh, Executive Director of Unicef UK said:
“Over the past five years, Olivia has shown an incredible dedication to children around the world, demonstrating an ongoing passion to support Unicef’s work addressing the needs of the world’s most vulnerable children and young people. I am thrilled that as Unicef UK’s President Olivia will be able to be an even more powerful voice on behalf of children around the world at a time when Unicef’s work is more important than ever.”
Olivia Colman said:
“I feel honoured to be taking on this role at Unicef UK, a charity I am so committed to and passionate about. The scale of the work Unicef delivers never ceases to impress me: supplying vital medical equipment, supporting health, water, education and social services for children around the world. I can think of nothing more important than keeping children healthy and happy, something which is even more important now that children’s lives are being impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Ultimately Unicef provides hope as we seek to protect children now and build a better future together and I am excited to be part of that.”
Olivia will take up her appointment as President of Unicef UK with immediate effect.
The wonder of the natural world and a simple celebration of humanity are at the heart of three documentaries narrated by Olivia Colman, Tom Hiddleston and Paul Rudd and streaming on Apple TV+ later in 2020.
The Apple Original series will showcase “never-before-seen footage, groundbreaking technology and dynamic storytelling”, according to Apple.
Tiny World – narrated by Paul Rudd
Narrated by Golden Globe nominee Paul Rudd (Ant-Man), Tiny World takes a unique perspective on the natural world, exploring the ingenuity and resilience of the smallest animals on the planet. Brand new camera technology will allow the viewers to see the world through the eyes of the tiniest creatures and find out how they survive. The first six episodes of Tiny World will premiere on Friday, 2nd October.
Becoming You – narrated by Olivia Colman
Academy Award and BAFTA winner Olivia Colman (The Favourite) will narrate this series about global child development, which explores how the first 2000 days on Earth shape the rest of our lives. A hundred children from around the world, from Nepal to Japan and Borneo, feature as the documentary investigates how children learn to think, speak and move from birth to the age of five. Becoming You will premiere around the world on Friday, 13th November.
Earth At Night In Colour – narrated by Tom Hiddleston
Golden Globe winner Tom Hiddleston (Thor) narrates this natural history series which uses next-generation cameras to reveal the nocturnal lives of animals, in colour, for the first time ever. Filmed across six continents, from the Arctic Circle to the African grasslands, it follows the moonlit dramas of animals at night, revealing what goes on when the lights are out. Earth At Night In Colour will premiere globally with six episodes on Friday, 4th December.
The three new documentary series will join Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman’s Long Way Up, the epic new motorcycle series that is an adventure in both travel and friendship, which premiereson Apple TV+ on Friday, 18th September.
Apple’s original catalogue is expanding rapidly and also includes Fireball, an original feature documentary directed by Werner Herzog and Professor Clive Oppenheimer; the 2020 Sundance US Grand Jury Prize award-winning documentary, Boys State; the acclaimed, five-time Emmy nominated, Beastie Boys Story; and the Emmy-nominated docu-series Home.
Apple TV+ is available on the Apple TV app on iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, iPod touch, Mac, select Samsung and LG smart TVs, Amazon Fire TV and Roku devices, as well as at tv.apple.com, for £4.99 per month with a seven-day free trial.
Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Olivia Colman have welcomed a donation from Amazon Prime Video to a fund which the actors launched to help support theatre professionals whose livelihoods have been threatened by the pandemic.
Amazon said it would give $6m to support the European film, TV and theatre production community get through the crisis.
The first awards are £1m to a Covid-response fund created by the film and TV charity; and £500,000 to the theatre community fund spearheaded by Waller-Bridge, Colman and their Fleabag producer Francesca Moody.
In a joint statement the three women said: “We’re utterly blown away to have such an extraordinary level of support from Amazon.
“Our theatre community has never been more threatened or fragile and this donation, alongside those from other industry individuals, is a game changer for its future. On behalf of the theatre community fund we extend a huge thank you to Amazon for the acknowledgement of the value and power of UK theatre and how we as an industry will survive anything when we hold each other up in times of crisis.”
Waller-Bridge is a hugely powerful figure in the film and TV industry whose career began, like countless others, in live performing arts – one of the sectors hardest hit by the pandemic. Fleabag, her breakthrough, was first performed at the Underbelly at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2013.
The fund was launched at the end of July with a £1m pledge of donations by its founders and from other star names including Gillian Anderson, James Corden, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Daisy Ridley, Daniel Radcliffe and Meera Syal.
The Amazon money will help in the fund’s two strands offering grants of up to £3,000. The first is hardship grants to freelancers in immediate need. The second is innovation and creation money to help artists produce work.
The other donation, of £1m, will go to the film and TV charity, which has so far distributed more than £3.3m in financial support to thousands of workers in the industry. The Amazon money will, it said, “kick-start a second wave of support including a major new grants scheme that will focus on supporting diverse talent as the industry recovers and production resumes”.
The donations can arguably be traced back to an intervention made by Sam Mendes in June. In the Financial Times he wrote of the irony of Netflix and Amazon Prime “making lockdown millions from our finest acting, producing, writing and directing talent, while the very arts culture that nurtured that talent pool is allowed to die”.
He called on the streaming giants to use “a fraction of their Covid-19 windfall to help those who have been mortally wounded”.
Jennifer Salke, head of Amazon Studios, said: “The creative community in Europe has been vital to our success in producing high-quality Amazon original TV series and movies for our global audience, and it is essential for us to help that community through this pandemic.”
The money was welcomed by the UK government. Caroline Dinenage, culture minister, said: “We recognise that the last few months have been difficult for many people in the performing arts and screen industries given the impact of Covid-19.
“This donation from Amazon adds to the unprecedented support from the UK government to help secure these brilliant industries’ future and help them thrive once more.”