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.’
If there’s anyone who knows how to captivate us with the subtle and magnificent power of performance, it’s Olivia Colman.
One of Britain’s best-loved actors drew us in with a series of pitch-perfect roles in Peep Show, Broadchurch, The Queen, The Night Manager – and of course, her Oscar-winning turn in 2018 period comedy The Favourite.
Clearly, this is a woman who knows how to get under an audience’s skin with raw, emotive and inherently believable storytelling.
So it’s music to our ears to hear that Coleman’s performance in a new film about a father’s struggle with dementia is being hailed as one of her greatest yet. The trailer for the drama has just been released, offering a glimpse of what the film critics are so excited about.
The Father, based on an award-winning French play of the same name, sees Colman play Anne, the daughter of larger-than-life Anthony (Anthony Hopkins), who is suffering a slow and baffling decline from dementia.
Anthony’s battle with the degenerative illness is all the more gut-wrenching because of the kind of charming, cantankerous and ebullient person that he is. The audience sees first-hand his frustration at the worried reactions of those around him, including his daughter (Colman), his nurse (played by Imogen Poots) and a third woman (Olivia Williams) who appears to become his daughter.
“The way you keep looking as if something is wrong, everything is fine,” he snaps at his daughter at one point, as she herself is heard saying: “I saw it in his eyes, he didn’t know who I was. It was like I was a stranger to him.”
The new film is written and directed by French novelist Florian Zeller, who also wrote the play. But those expecting a one-dimensional drama about the tragedy of memory loss are in for a surprise.
As well as drawing back the curtain on the more heartbreaking aspects of dementia, The Father brings moments of farcical comedy in the mix – along with a thriller-esque feel of unreality. The viewer is invited to experience dementia from an inside perspective, so they are never really sure whose version of reality is correct, or where/in whom danger lies.
Amid this creeping sense of unease, Colman takes commanding lead as a woman who is struggling to balance the demands of her increasingly erratic father with her own life, and her relationship with husband and maybe-bad guy Paul (Rufus Sewell).
The play on which The Father is based won the prestigious Molière award; an honour that the film version now seems likely to emanate. After airing at Sundance earlier this year, several critics tipped Zeller’s adaptation for Oscar success next year (LA-based critic and writer Donny Sheldon hailed Colman’s performance as “the most empathetic, heartfelt work of her career”).
Just under a million people suffer from dementia in the UK according to Alzheimer’s Society, and that figure is set to rise to 1.6 million by 2040.
With the condition still widely misunderstood and coated in confusion – not least from the perspective of those who have it, and their loved ones – The Father plays an important role in driving the narrative around dementia forward (and in that sense, it’s not dissimilar to Emma Healey’s hit thriller novel Elizabeth Is Missing, which was also based on a protagonist with dementia).
One thing’s for sure: with the powerhouse duo of Colman and Hopkins at the helm, this twisty and harrowing film is sure to be top of your watch list when it comes out in 2021.
Do you need support with a loved one suffering from dementia? Get expert help and guidance at DementiaUK
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.”
Fans of Peter Rabbit, Mrs Tiggy-Winkle and Jemima Puddle-Duck are in luck – Penguin Random House is releasing a new audio edition of Beatrix Potter: The Complete Tales featuring a star-studded cast.
In honour of the British author’s birthday, the likes of Olivia Colman (The Crown), Mandip Gill (Doctor Who), Tom Hardy (Taboo) and Lily James (Cinderella) will be narrating 23 of Beatrix Potter’s classic stories, from The Tale of Mr. Tod (Hugh Bonneville) to The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies (Jenna Coleman).
The cast of Beatrix Potter: The Complete Tales, which will be available in audio download and physical CD on 17th September, also features The Stranger‘s Richard Armitage, Absolutely Fabulous’s Joanna Lumley, Homeland’s David Harewood, Broadchurch’s David Tennant, Doctor Who’s Pearl Mackie, This Way Up’s Aisling Bea, Doctor Foster’s Suranne Jones, Peep Show’s Robert Webb, Grantchester’s James Norton and The One Show’s Matt Baker among other stars.
Downton Abbey’s Bonneville said: “Reading The Tale of Mr. Tod again after many decades, I was delighted to discover that the animals that Beatrix Potter loved, drew and wrote such entertaining stories about have stood the test of time. Mischievous creatures, family calamities – action packed!”
“I was so thrilled to be asked to read The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck as I was a huge Beatrix Potter fan as a young girl and my son was gifted the whole Peter Rabbit library when he was born too,” said Jones. “The night before I went to record the story we all read it together which was incredibly sweet. I’m glad the characters have been committed to audio so many more families can share in their adventures.”
Beatrix Potter wrote all 23 children’s tales, including The Tale of Peter Rabbit and The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin, between 1901 and 1930, before dying aged 77 in 1943.
Various films about her life and her iconic stories have been made in recent years, including 2006’s Miss Potter, starring Renée Zellweger, and 2018’s Peter Rabbit, with James Corden voicing the eponymous bunny.
Beatrix Potter: The Complete Tales will be available to buy in CD form or download from 17th September. You can also order The World of Peter Rabbit – The Complete Collection from Amazon. If you’re looking for more to watch, check out ourTV guide.