Britannia

Sky Atlantic's epic drama about the Romans invading ancient Britain, starring Zoë as vengeful Queen Antedia, returned for a second series on 7 November. Both series are available via Sky and NOW TV.

Worzel Gummidge

Zoë plays eccentric aristocrat Lady Bloomsbury Barton in the second episode of the BBC’s new adaptation of Barbara Euphan Todd’s classic children’s stories, which aired just after Christmas. It's available via the BBC iPlayer.

Shadow and Bone

Zoë recently finished filming this major new fantasy series for Netflix, based on Leigh Bardugo’s novels. She's been cast as Baghra, a ruthless teacher. The release date hasn't yet been announced.

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TV shows starring Zoë to watch while staying home

1 April 2020 18:01

Now that most of us are spending most of our time at home, TV features more prominently in our lives than ever.

Here’s a selection of brilliant TV shows starring Zoë to give you some much-needed escapism.

Stay home, stay safe and stay well, everyone.

Worzel Gummidge (2019)

What could be more joyous than long summer days, acres of peaceful countryside and the adventures of a talking scarecrow and his pals?

Zoë’s star turn in episode two of Worzel Gummidge, ‘The Green Man’, is sure to put a smile on your face. She plays the eccentric Lady Bloomsbury Barton – think bold colours, Doc Martens and Iris Apfel-style glasses!

Both episodes of this family favourite are available on the BBC iPlayer, plus you can preorder the DVD and Blu-ray (they’re due to be released next week).

Agatha Christie’s Poirot (2005-13)

We all love a good whodunnit, and arguably the best are by the Queen of Crime, also known as Agatha Christie.

It’s thought that Christie created the character of Ariadne Oliver, a fellow crime writer, in the spirit of self-parody. The wonderfully scatterbrained Ariadne is memorably brought to life by Zoë in several TV adaptations of Christie’s Poirot novels: ‘Cards on the Table’, ‘Mrs McGinty’s Dead’, ‘Third Girl’, ‘Hallowe’en Party’, ‘Elephants Can Remember’ and ‘Dead Man’s Folly’ (which was filmed at Christie’s own holiday home in Devon).

Ariadne is the antithesis of the meticulous, moustachioed private detective Hercule Poirot (portrayed by David Suchet), and yet the pair’s unlikely friendship endures.

Episodes are available to stream via Amazon Prime Video (look for series ten onwards to find those featuring Zoë). The DVDs aren’t readily available anymore – but you may have luck on eBay, for example.

My Family (2000-11)

Can it really be 20 years since the Harpers burst onto our TV screens?

With well over 100 episodes of this incredibly popular sitcom available for you to watch, being stuck on the sofa has never been more enjoyable.

Grumpy dentist Ben (Robert Lindsay) finds that life with his sparky wife Susan (Zoë) and their three demanding kids (as well as an inquisitive grandchild and a couple of pretty peculiar lodgers) is rather too much like pulling teeth...

If you fancy a My Family marathon, you’ll be pleased to know that you can order the complete DVD boxset. In addition, many episodes can be streamed via services such as Google Play, YouTube and Amazon Prime Video.

Love Hurts (1992-4)

This engaging, emotive series made Zoë a household name and is certain to bring back fond memories for plenty of her fans.

While the mobile phones and shoulder pads have (thankfully!) gotten smaller since the 90s, the relationship between Zoë’s charity director Tessa Piggott and flash entrepreneur Frank Carver (Adam Faith) still rings true.

The show is immeasurably enhanced by the fantastic chemistry between the two leads. As Faith wrote in his autobiography, ‘Guy Slater, the producer of Love Hurts, put Zoë and me together for a lunch and after about two and a half seconds we were firm friends.’

Tessa and Frank’s witty repartee is a delight to watch over the course of three series, while the storylines – encompassing family drama, money troubles, marriage and parenthood – tug at the heartstrings.

Every episode is included on the DVD boxset. What’s more, the show is available to stream via Amazon Prime Video.

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Filming wraps on Netflix's Shadow and Bone

1 March 2020 20:44

Zoë recently finished filming Shadow and Bone, the epic Netflix series based on Leigh Bardugo’s hugely successful fantasy novels.

The series now has official Twitter and Instagram accounts to help us stay up to date.

No photos have been released yet of Zoë's Baghra or the other characters, but this lovely pic caught my eye. It shows Zoe with two of her co-stars, Sujaya Dasgupta (who plays Zoya Nazyalensky) and Jessie Mei Li (Alina Starkov).

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ZOYA. ALINA. BAGHRA. OMG IM IN TEARS \ud83e\udd7a \u2022 Tags: #jessiemeili #leighbardugo #shadowandbonenetflix #zoewannamaker #sujayadasgupta #alinastarkov #shadowandbone #grishaverse #sanktaalina #generalkirigan #inejghafa #grisha #genyasafin #wylanvaneck #seigeandstorm #ruinandrising #leighbardugo #malyenoretsev #sixofcrows #thedarkling #matthiashelvar #sunsummoner #generalkirigan #shadowandbonecast #kazbrekker #zoyanazyalensky #jesperfahey #sturmhond #ninazenik #crookedkingdom #nikolailantsov #kingofscars

A post shared by stan jessie mei li (@jessiemeiliupdates) on

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Head back to the Galapagos with Zoë and the Halls family

1 March 2020 20:02

After a hugely popular first series in 2018, wonderful wildlife programme My Family and the Galapagos is back for four more episodes, again with Zoë lending her vocal talents to the narration.

Two years on since biologist Monty Halls and his family originally explored the Galapagos Islands, they head back to discover how this paradise-like part of the world is faring now in the fight against plastic pollution and other environmental issues.

The final episode airs in the UK on Channel 4 tonight at 8 pm. In addition, you can watch series one and two via the All 4 catch-up service.

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News round-up: Worzel Gummidge DVD, Such Rotten Luck, TheatreVoice and more

30 January 2020 17:54

I hope 2020 is off to a fantastic start for you.

The other day I realised that I've now been a fan for 20 years. I feel fortunate to have discovered Zoë's work when I did, aged 14; I've grown up with it - it's always been a wonderful, positive presence in my life.

Now I'm trying to think of how best to celebrate this milestone anniversary. Let me know if you have any ideas :)

While we wait to hear more about Zoë's role in Netflix's epic Shadow and Bone, there are plenty of other things to enjoy.

Worzel Gummidge comes to DVD

Wasn't the BBC's adaptation of the Worzel Gummidge children's stories a total delight?

If you missed Zoe's star turn in episode two as the eccentric Lady Bloomsbury Barton (complete with Doc Martens and Iris Apfel-style glasses!) over Christmas, brighten up a wintry evening by catching up on the iPlayer.

Both episodes - 'The Scarecrow of Scatterbrook' and 'The Green Man' - will be made available on DVD and Blu-ray, though we have a little while to wait. The release date is currently 6 April.

Another chance to hear Such Rotten Luck

Making a welcome return to BBC Radio 4 Extra is Such Rotten Luck (1989), the witty comedy-drama starring Zoë and Tim Pigott-Smith.

Zoë plays Gila, the exasperated wife of a second-rate writer, Woodhouse.

You can listen to episode one on BBC Sounds. Further episodes will air on Wednesdays at 9:30 am (UK time) then be repeated a few times during the week (check the schedule for details).

It's not clear yet whether series two will be broadcast as well (it hasn't been heard for several years, which is a pity), but let's hope so.

Fascinating TheatreVoice interview

There's no denying that Zoë has a wonderful, distinctive voice. If you'd like to hear more of it, I highly recommend her recent interview with TheatreVoice, which you can stream online or download as a podcast.

As you'd expect, the interview is a deep dive into Zoë's performances on stage, as well as her lifelong love of watching theatre. It encompasses everything from the 'idyllic' time she spent in Stratford as a child to appearing in the award-winning 2010 revival of All My Sons.

One of the most insightful parts of the interview, for me, comes when Zoe explains what she means by 'hovercrafting' when playing a character on stage - a sense of freedom 'when you feel that you are it and it is you'. Your performance 'just flows out of you' then.

The interview runs to almost 40 minutes and is well worth hearing.

Watch The Cherry Orchard with Drama Online

Talking of powerful theatre, I was thrilled to learn that the National Theatre's 2011 production of The Cherry Orchard, starring Zoe as Ranevskaya, is available to watch online for the first time, thanks to Drama Online.

As far as I can tell, Drama Online is aimed at students and educational institutions. If you're at university, for instance, you may be able to access the service through the library.

I wish The Cherry Orchard was more widely available, but it's good to know it's still being watched and appreciated several years after it graced the NT's stage.

Shakespeare's Globe on Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Last year Zoë's dad appeared as a character in Quentin Tarantino's 60s-set Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, portrayed by Nicholas Hammond (best known as Spider-Man).

In a recent blog article, Shakespeare's Globe explores how accurate the film is about Sam Wanamaker's life and career.

As the theatre concludes, the depiction of Zoe's dad on the big screen is 'a playful and unexpectedly touching tribute to [its] founder'.

Carol concert photo

And finally, Zoe is pictured on Twitter taking part in the Royal Brompton Carols by Candlelight service on 18 December.

Christmas feels like a long time ago now, doesn't it!

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Zoë stars in Worzel Gummidge this Christmas – and is currently filming Shadow and Bone

24 December 2019 23:35

BBC One's Worzel Gummidge – ‘The Green Man’

Here’s the latest trailer for the BBC’s eagerly anticipated adaptation of Worzel Gummidge, which Zoë filmed over the summer. She appears as Lady Bloomsbury Barton in episode two of this family TV show, ‘The Green Man’. Fans in the UK can catch it on 27 December (BBC One, 7-8 pm).

Do those giant glasses remind you of anyone? At the press screening on 10 December, Zoë revealed that Lady Bloomsbury Barton’s look is inspired by style icon Iris Apfel (as reported by @WHGummidge, a Twitter account devoted to Worzel Gummidge). ‘We had the idea that she’d be [one of those] completely upper-class people who have no money,’ Zoe said, describing how she and the team behind the show developed the character's appearance. ‘She’s a creative. She’s an eccentric.’ (There’s surely a hint of Poirot’s friend Ariadne Oliver about her too!)

Lady Bloomsbury Barton is ‘the village free spirit’, in the BBC’s words. ‘The Green Man’ finds her ‘busy organising a charity fundraiser that includes a prize for the best-looking scarecrow. Worzel sees a chance to put his “good looks” to use.’

Look out for a couple of Zoe’s Britannia co-stars in the cast, Mackenzie Crook (who plays Worzel Gummidge and also wrote and directed the show) and Steve Pemberton (in the role of grumpy farmer Mr Braithwaite).

This ‘funny, exciting, cheeky, magical, feel-good’ programme has already earned a 5* review from the Radio Times. The review says that ‘Zoë Wanamaker is [...] great value as the local lady of the manor – with whom Worzel takes tea, despite having no insides within which to absorb it’!

Shadow and Bone on Netflix

I dropped a hint about this TV project recently and am now allowed to discuss it in more detail (hooray!)... Zoë is working on Shadow and Bone, an epic, eight-part Netflix series based on Leigh Bardugo’s hugely successful fantasy novels.

As the entertainment website Deadline explains, ‘Shadow and Bone is set in a world cleaved in two by a massive barrier of perpetual darkness [...]. A young soldier [Alina Starkov, played by Jessie Mei Li] uncovers a power that finally might unite her country, but as she struggles to hone her power, dangerous forces plot against her.’

Zoë will appear as Baghra, Alina’s ‘ruthless teacher and trainer’. There's high praise for this casting choice from Leigh Bardugo herself, who describes Zoë as ‘PERFECTION’.

Filming for Shadow and Bone is taking place in Budapest. It’s not yet known when the series will be available to stream, so watch this space :-)

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