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BBC Begin filming on Call The Midwife Christmas special and series 7

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The BBC and Neal Street Productions have begun filming the 2017 Christmas special of Call The Midwife as well as an 8 episode seventh season to air in 2018.

Joining as a new cast member is Leonie Elliott (Wonderous Oblivion, Danny And The Human Zoo, Black Mirror), who plays Nurse Lucille Anderson, the first West Indian midwife to feature as a regular character in the series. Elegant, funny and clever, Lucille is swift to settle in and brings a fresh new energy to life at Nonnatus House. Through her eyes we explore the experiences of Caribbean nurses who came over in the 1960s to support the growing NHS.

Written by Heidi Thomas, the Christmas Special opens with Poplar under a thick blanket of snow, as the midwives face the challenge of the coldest winter for 300 years. The winter of 1963 saw temperatures plunge to a record low and the whole country brought to a standstill due to the severe weather. Battling against snow, ice, power cuts and frozen pipes, the midwives strive to provide the best possible care for their patients.

Valerie helps a young couple, newly arrived in London, who experience a traumatic birth, and Sister Julienne strives to reunite a family torn apart by a tormenting father. Anita Dobson guest stars as Mabel.

In series seven the nuns and nurses find themselves tested both personally and professionally as never before. All around them they see the old East End vanishing, as slum clearances make way for bold new tower blocks to accommodate expanding communities. Their work brings them into contact with a wide range of challenging issues, from Leprosy, Tokophobia and Stroke, to Huntingdon’s Chorea, Cataracts, and unmarried mothers.

Trixie’s romance with Christopher continues to develop, whilst Tom and Barbara enjoy life as a married couple. Nurse Crane finds her authority questioned from an unexpected quarter, and Sister Monica Joan is forced to accept her failing faculties. And life for the Turners is turned upside down when Shelagh decides to employ an au pair!

Additional series seven cast include: Jenny Agutter (Sister Julienne), Linda Bassett (Nurse Crane), Judy Parfitt (Sister Monica Joan), Helen George (Trixie), Laura Main (Shelagh Turner), Charlotte Ritchie (Barbara), Victoria Yeates (Sister Winifred), Jennifer Kirby (Valerie), Stephen McGann (Dr Turner), Jack Ashton (Tom), Cliff Parisi (Fred), Annabelle Apsion (Violet), Max Macmillan (Timothy) and Jack Hawkins (Christopher).

Executive Producer Pippa Harris says: “We can’t wait to introduce the audience to our new midwife Lucille, played by the hugely talented and captivating Leonie Elliott. From her first audition Leonie managed to embody the essence of this elegant, intelligent, witty character whom Heidi Thomas has created with her customary skill. Lucille is a fantastic addition to the Nonnatus House team and we know she will be warmly welcomed by the nuns and midwives.”

Heidi Thomas, Creator, Writer and Executive Producer, says: “The friendships, struggles and triumphs of women remain at the heart of Call the Midwife as we swing into 1963. With new mums ranging from a stripper to an Asian child bride, series seven will see our beloved Nonnatus House team stretched to the limit, as they face a series of medical, social and emotional challenges.”

Call the Midwife is created and written by Heidi Thomas, Executive Producers are Pippa Harris and Heidi Thomas. Executive Producer for the BBC is Elizabeth Kilgarriff, with Ann Tricklebank as Producer. The Christmas Special and episode one will be directed by Syd Macartney (Last Tango In Halifax, The Syndicate, A Love Divided).

Call the Midwife is a Neal Street Production for BBC/PBS.

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BBC-2, Feud: Bette and Joan to air this Christmas

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The fabulous 8 part series Feud: Bette and Joan will get an airing on BBC Two this Christmas. Created by Ryan Murphy and starring Susan Sarandan as Bette Davis and Jessica Lange as Joan Crawford, the series is a gorgeously realised glimpse into the golden age of Hollywood and the long running rivalry that developed between the two stars. The stellar cast also features Alfred Molina as film director Robert Aldrich, Stanley Tucci as mogul Jack L. Warner, Catherine Zeta-Jones as Olivia de Havilland, Judy Davis as gossip columnist Hedda Hopper and Kathy Bates as Joan Blondell.

They are joined by Jackie Hoffman as Mamacita, Crawford’s housekeeper, and Alison Wright as Pauline, Aldrich’s assistant. The series also stars Dominic Burgess as Crawford and Davis’ co-star Victor Buono, Sarah Paulson as Geraldine Page, and Kiernan Shipka as Bette Davis’ daughter, B.D.

Beginning with Davis and Crawford’s collaboration on What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? and continuing long after the cameras stopped rolling, Feud: Bette and Joan explores with great style and wit how the two stars endured ageism, sexism and misogyny while struggling to hang on to success and fame in the twilight of their careers.

Speaking of playing such an icon as Bette Davis, Susan Sarandon said ” it was intimidating because Bette was so eccentric in terms of the way she talks, idiosyncratic in the way she does and says everything. It wasn’t just about getting the accent – she stressed very odd words all the time and she also had a very odd walk. I had to think, how do you take that character that everybody is acquainted with the most extreme version of, and how do you ground her and make her a real person? That’s what was scary. You can learn an accent but when you’re paying attention to that – and Jessica felt the same way – you know, how do we make these real women, who were so over the top, seem like real people and not just a caricature? And that’s what terrified me. But then, I’m always drawn to things that terrify me.”

Feud Susan Sarandon

And on wanting to play Joan Crawford, Jessica Lange said “I knew that it would provide a lot of opportunity and Ryan Murphy knows me well enough at this point to know what I like to do and what my strong points are as an actor and the kind of part that I gravitate toward. I trust him. I wouldn’t have been involved in television the way I am, I only did that because of him.”

Episode one starts in 1962, Hollywood legend Joan Crawford (Jessica Lange) realises that good roles are not being written for women of her age, so she decides to find one for herself. Coming across the novel What Ever Happened to Baby Jane by Henry Farrell, she knows that she has found the perfect part. She convinces director Robert Aldrich (Alfred Molina) to champion the movie, but now she needs to bring her bitter Hollywood rival and star of equal magnitude Bette Davis (Susan Sarandon) on board the project.

Sparks are about to fly.

The full series of Feud: Bette and Joan will be available to watch as a full series on BBC iPlayer from Saturday 16 December at 10pm, after episode one premieres on BBC Two at 9pm.

Ryan Murphy serves as Executive Producer along with Executive Producers Tim Minear, Alexis Martin Woodall and Dede Gardner of Brad Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment. The series is produced by Fox 21 Television Studios and distributed by 20th Century Fox Television Distribution.

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HBO, Big Little Lies to get Season Two

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Big Little Lies HBO

No surprises here as it was one of the best dramas of the year but HBO will be giving the Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon starring, Big Little Lies a second run of episodes.

It will again be a limited series of just 7 episodes with Kidman and Witherspoon both starring and exec producing. David E. Kelley will be writing scripts. The first season was based on the novel by Liane Moriarty and season two will again be based on a concept by Moriarty. Andrea Arnold will direct.

Casey Bloys, president of HBO programming said: “I’m excited to announce the return of Big Little Lies, David Kelley wrote beautiful scripts and Reese and Nicole were, once again, a force to be reckoned with, reuniting the cast and recruiting the talented Andrea Arnold to direct. We look forward to working with this amazing group of artists.”

Reese Witherspoon said “I’m thrilled to be bringing back this talented team of artists. It gives us the opportunity to delve deeper into the lives of these intriguing and intricate Monterey families and bring more of their stories back to the audience who embraced and championed them. I’m beyond excited to be working with talented and acclaimed director Andrea Arnold, who will be at the helm. Andrea’s unique storytelling style will be a welcome addition to the filmmaking team.”

Nicole Kidman also added: “This is inspired by the overwhelming response by audiences around the world, conceived once again by Liane Moriarty, realized by David Kelley and now in the hands of visionary filmmaker Andrea Arnold. What a journey this has been.”

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Netflix, The Crown Season 2 Premieres Fri 8 Dec

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The Crown Season 2

Season 2 of acclaimed Netflix drama The Crown premieres on Friday 8 December. Beginning with soldiers in Her Majesty’s Armed Forces fighting an illegal war in Egypt, and ending with the downfall of her third Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan after a devastating scandal, the second season bears witness to the end of the age of deference, and ushers in the revolutionary era of the 1960s.

The Crown continues to chronicle the major political and global events that have defined and shaped the second half of the twentieth century – a series that is unprecedented in its scale, ambition and creative vision.

The series, created by Peter Morgan, tells the inside story of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign, as the fragile social order established after the Second World War breaks apart. The series reunites creator/writer Peter Morgan (The Queen, Frost/Nixon) with director Stephen Daldry (Billy Elliot, The Hours) and producer Andy Harries (The Queen). Claire Foy and Matt Smith star.

The Crown is a Left Bank Pictures/Sony Pictures Television production for Netflix.

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