Girlfriends

Zo stars as Gail, part of a trio of childhood friends rocked by tragedy, in this six-part drama series, which is available to watch on Acorn TV, the ITV Hub and STV Player. You can also preorder the Region 2 DVD.

The Birthday Party

Zo stars as seaside landlady Meg in this 5* West End revival of Pinter's darkly comic masterpiece, which runs from 9 January to 14 April at the Harold Pinter Theatre. Tickets are available from ATG.

Britannia

Zo stars as vengeful Queen Antedia in this epic nine-part drama series about the Roman invasion of ancient Britain, which is available on Sky Atlantic, NOW TV and Amazon Prime Video. You can also preorder the Region 2 DVD.

Inside No. 9

Zo guest stars as waspish awards judge Paula in 'And the Winner Is...', an episode from this cult comedy-drama's fourth series available on the BBC iPlayer and Amazon Video. You can also order the Region 2/4 DVD.

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Ground-breaking Girlfriends featured on ITV News at Ten

19 December 2017 02:55

Wow, Girlfriends status as a ground-breaking TV drama was cemented yesterday when it was featured on ITV News at Ten. The report by arts editor Nina Nannar emphasises that by focusing on women in late middle age, the series sheds light on challenges faced by a group of people who often feel overlooked by British TV.

As Girlfriends creator Kay Mellor explains, I wanted to say something about real women that are of a certain age and say this is their lives. Women who are looking after their grandchildren and elderly relatives, for example, while juggling all sorts of other responsibilities are likely to identify closely with Zos Gail and her best friends.

Mellor hints at the power of Zos performance, as well as those of her co-stars Phyllis Logan and Miranda Richardson, in The Suns TV guide: Ive got three fabulous actresses, they're like dynamite together.

Catch Girlfriends, which promises to be emotive and authentic, on 3 January (ITV1, 9pm) in the UK and 29 January in the US (Acorn TV).

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Zo chats about ITV's Girlfriends: 'it's not glossy, it's not chic, it's very real'

15 December 2017 22:11

With Girlfriends set to be a New Year TV treat, theres plenty of press coverage to enjoy, some of which reveals intriguing details about Zos character Gail Stanley and the challenges she faces with her best pals Linda Hutchinson (played by Phyllis Logan) and Sue Thackery (Miranda Richardson). The friends will need each other more than ever in the six-part drama. Everybodys in a crisis when you meet them, Zo points out in the Total TV Guide, but it all develops much more as the series goes on.

[Gail is] going through a divorce [from] a man she realises she still loves and her son Tom has just been released from prison, Zo tells the magazine. On top of this, shes juggling her job as a lollipop lady with looking after Toms young son [Ben] and visiting her elderly mother [Edna], whos developing dementia. Gail is her familys linchpin; her relatives, young and old, rely on her. Shes also supporting recently bereaved housewife Linda and Sue, who encounters age discrimination at work.

Gail is busy looking after everyone except herself...

Gail is so caught up in her nearest and dearests problems, and is trying to cope with so many different responsibilities, that shes in danger of neglecting her own needs and hopes. As Zo remarks in Girlfriends press pack, Gail puts herself furthest down the list, for looking after people. She has very little self-esteem. Although Gail has difficulty believing in herself, she possesses many admirable qualities. Zo views her as a very perceptive human being [who] isnt at all judgmental, while Miranda Richardson says that Gail is the one who shows the initiative in tough situations.

If youve watched dramas such as Prime Suspect, Love Hurts or The English Wife, youll know that Zo excels at playing strong yet vulnerable characters. Girlfriends creator Kay Mellor is evidently impressed by Zos performance in this series, as the acclaimed scriptwriter emphasises in the press pack that she is brilliant as Gail.

In its profile of this resourceful, working-class Yorkshirewoman, the press pack notes that Gail was politically active in her younger days, campaigning for a better world and singing protest songs as part of the band she formed with Linda and Sue. Now she feels like shes lost her fighting spirit somewhere along the way, the profile concludes. Will Gail be able to find it in time to save her marriage and family?

Strong storylines with mature women at the forefront

Girlfriends is a bold, emotive drama and breaks new ground by focusing on ordinary women in late middle age as they tackle contemporary issues. As Zo says in the press pack, its not glossy, its not chic, its very real [and that] was very appealing.

A major source of drama in put-upon Gails life is petty criminal Tom, whos released from prison in episode one (to save face, shes been pretending that he has a job in Thailand). The tension between her wayward son and his step-father Dave is the reason why Gails marriage is on the rocks. Its difficult to envisage her attempts to rekindle her romance with Dave succeeding unless Tom can be persuaded to change his attitude drastically.

Thankfully, there was no drama with Tom off-camera. I last met Matthew [Lewis] when he was in Harry Potter [playing accident-prone wizard Neville Longbottom], so it was a shock to see him now, as a gorgeous hunk! Zo laughs in TV Choice.

Celebrating female friendship on and off-screen

She enjoyed a great working relationship with her co-stars as well, and that close bond enriches the scenes they share. As Kay Mellor points out in the press pack, One of my favourite scenes has to be towards the end of episode one when the three women are in the kitchen and they all come together. It kind of encapsulates whats going on in their lives and the friendship, that theyre there for each other. You can see it, its palpable, you can touch it, the warmth is there, genuinely, you know. I think Zo and Miranda and Phyllis had bonded at that time and there was genuine affection there for one another and they end up all hugging each other.

Id never met Phyllis before but it has been lovely. Miranda and I worked together a long time ago [in 1989s quirky Ball-Trap on the Cte Sauvage] and weve often bobbed into each others lives, so this is terrific, Zo tells the TV Times.

Female friendship is celebrated in the Radio Times Girlfriends feature, for which Zo and her co-stars took part in a glamorous, festive photoshoot. Reflecting on what having friends of the same gender means to her, Zo highlights the importance of female solidarity: When I went out into the world and started working, I was young and vulnerable, so I formed immediate strong bonds with women along the way.

Zoe Wanamaker totally nailed it wearing the Stardust dress in antique gold in the latest issue of the Radio Times #gold #golddress #eveningwear #eveningdress #designerdress #fashion #stylist #fashionista #instafashion #designer #designerdress #cool #cooldress #moderndress #cool #cooldress #fashionshoot #photoshoot #style #glamour #luxury #happy #instadress #actress #zoewanamaker

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Gail and her friends will always be there for each other

Gail, Linda and Sue got to know each other at a youth club, enjoying exactly the kind of immediate strong bonds Zo experienced early in her career. (The fact that the first letter of each character's name appears in the drama's title is a nice touch and underscores the trio's closeness.) As she remarks in the Total TV Guide, if you have that kind of connection [with your friends], it never goes away. Time passes and lives change, but true friendship endures.

The drama's producer Josh Dynevor sums up what's in store brilliantly in the press pack when he says that [the trio have been] knocked back and this is them fighting back. Its no wonder that Girlfriends, with its compelling plot and characters, is one of Metros top festive TV shows and among the Radio Times Christmas and New Year highlights! This big boiling pot of a drama, as the latter magazine describes it, begins on 3 January (ITV1, 9pm) in the UK and 29 January in the US (Acorn TV).

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Check out ITV's extended trailer for Girlfriends

11 December 2017 21:43

ITV has today released this extended version of the first trailer for drama series Girlfriends, which is due to begin on 3 January.

Zo's character, Gail, surely speaks for many women trying to cope with the pressures of modern life when she says, 'I just want to feel like I used to feel, like I'm alive.' Gail's words suggest that there'll be plenty the audience can relate to in her experiences.

With thanks to Karoline for bringing the trailer to my attention.

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First Girlfriends trailer airs on ITV - expect laughter, tears and drama!

8 December 2017 23:56

The brand new trailer for Zo's drama series Girlfriends made its debut on ITV1 tonight. 'Three best friends trying their best to get through life' was its clear, compelling message about the eagerly awaited six-part show, which sees a trio of childhood friends, including Zo's Gail, reunited by tragedy.

Fellow cast member Rhea Bailey spoke warmly about Zo when sharing the trailer on Twitter. As you can see, there'll be plenty of highs and lows, laughter and tears, for Gail and her family and friends.

Fans in the UK can catch Girlfriends' first episode on 3 January (ITV1, 9pm). There's great news for those of you in the US, too: the series will be streamed on Acorn TV from 29 January. Not long to wait now for what promises to be a first-class drama!

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The Birthday Party in rehearsals, Britannia release date, Girlfriends photos and much more!

5 December 2017 21:31

There's been an extraordinary, dizzying amount of news over the past few weeks or so (my head's still spinning!). Much of it suggests that 2018 will be a particularly exciting year for Zo and her fans.

There's so much to look forward to; I've done my very best to bring together all the relevant details here, so you won't miss a thing...

Zo sparkles at ES Theatre Awards

On 3 December, Zo and her husband Gawn Grainger attended the London Evening Standard Theatre Awards at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. They were photographed looking fantastic on the red carpet for Getty Images and Zimbio. In fact, one of the shots made it onto Popsugar's list of must-see photos from the star-studded event.

The Birthday Party opens next month

Theatre is likely to be very much on Zo's mind at the moment, as Sonia Friedman Productions' major West End revival of The Birthday Party, in which she'll appear as seaside boarding house owner Meg, begins in a matter of weeks. The prestigious, 60th anniversary production has been in rehearsals since late November.

This stunning publicity photo shows the darkly comic play's full cast. The show will be performed at the Harold Pinter Theatre, named after The Birthday Party's legendary writer, from 9 January to 14 April 2018. Tickets are on sale now and going quickly.

Sky to release Britannia in January

On 18 January (the same date as The Birthday Party's press night, in fact) all ten episodes of Britannia, Jez Butterworth's epic historical drama series, will be made available as a boxset to viewers of Sky Atlantic and streaming service Now TV. The series, in which Zo stars as the formidable Celtic Queen Antedia, was filmed in the Czech Republic and Wales back in 2016, and now the wait is almost over!

In this new publicity photo, Antedia comes face to face with invading Roman general Aulus Plautius (David Morrissey). As is clear from the photo, as well as the trailer, Britannia looks spectactular!

Zoe's character, in particular, is bound to be an unforgettable element of the show. 'I'm channelling Tina Turner in Mad Max!' she quipped when Empire Magazine went behind-the-scenesIn The Times' words, '[Antedia's] face is tattooed, she swears like a trooper and her hair deserves a Bafta to itself'!

Appropriately enough, BAFTA in London provided the setting for Britannia's press screening, held at the end of November. Zo joined Morrissey and Butterworth for a panel discussion at the event.

Girlfriends is coming to ITV very soon

Zo attended another press screening in early December this time for ITV's brand new drama series Girlfriends. Also present were her co-stars Miranda Richardson and Phyllis Logan, as well as Girlfriends' creator Kay Mellor. They all took part in a panel discussion at the London event.

According to the Radio Times website, Girlfriends begins on 3 January (ITV, 9pm). No clips so far, but the newly released publicity photos give us a sense of the three very different, distinctive women at the heart of the series, including Zo's Gail.

Filmed in Yorkshire over the summer, the series sees the trio of childhood friends reunited in the aftermath of a tragedy while tackling all sorts of problems in their lives. Gail certainly has a lot on her plate: she's helping her son Tom make a fresh start after his time in prison while also trying to rescue her marriage to Dave.

Actor Chris Fountain, who's also in Girlfriends' cast, is full of praise for Zo and her co-stars. Interviewed by What's on TV magazine, he said, 'I'm totally in awe of them. Just watching them work is like doing an acting masterclass.'

If you've seen any other dramas by Mellor, you'll know that she's a brilliant storyteller. Expect punchy but warmhearted plots and dialogue. In fact, Zo's talent for bringing tough yet vulnerable characters to life seems absolutely tailor-made for Girlfriends.

Death of a Salesman returns to Radio 3

BBC Radio 3 gave listeners another chance to hear the stunning 2015 production of Arthur Miller's masterpiece Death of a Salesman, which stars Zo and David Suchet and was directed by the late Howard Davies, on 26 November.

As Zo pointed out when it was originally broadcast, 'the drama is so brilliantly constructed, you dont realise the power of it until you perform it'.

You can listen to Death of a Salesman on the BBC iPlayer for the next few weeks.

Zo helps Samaritans #GivetheGift of listening

The charity Samaritans, which offers emotional support to people going through tough times, is auctioning an elegant scarf kindly donated by Zo. The item is one of a number of scarves and similar accessories from well-known individuals that you can bid for on eBay as part of Samaritans' #GivetheGift Christmas fundraising campaign.

You have until 10 December to bid for Zoe's scarf. Good luck!

With thanks to Janet, Karoline, @KellyReillyWeb and Ilona for their help.

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