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All Change at Holby City, Lee Mead & Jaye Jacobs back on the wards

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Some sure to be popular news for Holby City fans as favourites Lee Mead and Jaye Jacobs make a dramatic return to the BBC medical drama.

Lee Mead is set to resurrect the role of his well-known Casualty character Ben ‘Lofty’ Chiltern on the Keller ward of Holby City. Last year viewers saw Lofty leaving Casualty after resigning from his post to retrain as a bereavement counsellor in palliative care and head to Australia for a break. However, despite his return, is he still running away from his problems?

Lee Mead, says: “I’m really excited to be coming back as Lofty, I’ve missed him! I’m looking forward to being in a new part of the Holby hospital and seeing what it has in store for him next.”

The Holby City team will also see the return of Jaye Jacobs as fun-loving nurse Donna Jackson who left the wards in 2011. With her new footballer husband and expensive car, she insists she is simply being a Good Samaritan coming back to work. But is all as it seems?

On returning to her role as Nurse Donna Jackson, Jaye Jacobs, says: “Donna and I have unfinished business. She’s flirty, brash and ballsy. I’ve missed her!”

Ayesha Dharker (Star Wars, Waterloo Road) will also join the cast as Ms Nina Karnik, a tough but compassionate general surgeon who also calls herself Mrs. Matteo Rossini. Ayesha’s arrival will be followed by David Ajao (EastEnders, Sunny D) as new F1 and boyishly enthusiastic Dr. Damon Ford.

Simon Harper, Acting Executive Producer for Holby City and Casualty, adds: “I’m beyond excited to welcome onto the wards two new faces, a returning face and a much loved Casualty character. It’s thrilling to bring Jaye back as the sparky, irreverent Donna, one of the most popular and iconic Holby characters ever and equally so to have Lee make the trip upstairs as Lofty. Keller Ward is going through some dark times, so Lofty’s trademark warmth and kindness will come at just the right moment. We’ve been trying to tempt the talented Ayesha with the right role for a while, and as Nina, she plays an emotionally compelling character with a mysterious past. David is a really exciting new talent who in his brilliant audition brought Damon’s energy and idealism to life.”

Lee, Jaye, Ayesha and David will start filming with the Holby City team over the next couple of weeks and fans will see them on-screen from Spring 2017.

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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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