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Peaky Blinders: Adrien Brody and Aidan Gillen join cast for Series Four

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BBC Two’s Peaky Blinders consistently attracts high profile names to it’s acting line-up. Joining season four will be academy award winner Adrien Brody and Aidan Gillen.

Currently one of the most popular shows in the world seen in 165 different territories, filming on Peaky Blinders began this week in Liverpool with Cillian Murphy (Inception, Free Fire) reprising his role as Thomas Shelby head of the Peaky Blinders. Also returning are Helen McCrory (Skyfall), Paul Anderson (The Revenant), Joe Cole (Green Room), Sophie Rundle (Jamestown), Finn Cole (Animal Kingdom), Aimee-Ffion Edwards (Detectorists), and Kate Phillips (The Crown).

Tom Hardy returns as Jewish gang leader Alfie Solomons, alongside series regulars Natasha O’Keefe (Sherlock: The Abominable Bride) and Packy Lee (The Frankenstein Chronicles).

When he receives a mysterious letter on Christmas Eve, Thomas Shelby realises that the Peaky Blinders are in danger of annihilation. As the enemy closes in, Shelby flees his country house and returns to the streets of Small Heath, Birmingham, where a desperate fight for survival begins.

Creator Steven Knight says: “It’s fantastic to have Adrien join our team. He genuinely was the actor in my head when I wrote the part. I’m sure he will be a formidable presence in the world of the Peaky Blinders.”

Piers Wenger, Controller BBC Drama, says: “Adrien Brody is a world-class actor famous for producing mesmerising performances. I cannot wait to see him in action alongside the rest of Peaky Blinders’ superb cast, bringing Steven Knight’s extraordinary writing to life on BBC Two.”

The fourth series will be directed by David Caffrey (Line Of Duty) and will be produced by Joe Donaldson (Ripper Street).

Peaky Blinders is a Caryn Mandabach and Tiger Aspect Drama production for BBC Two, executive produced by Steven Knight, Caryn Mandabach, Will Gould, Jamie Glazebrook, Frith Tiplady, Cillian Murphy and, for the BBC, Stephen Wright.

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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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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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