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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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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Zoë set to appear in major new fantasy series

1 December 2019 18:50

Zoë will have a busy festive season, as she’s filming an exciting – and major – new fantasy series for TV.

That’s all I’m allowed to say about the project at the moment. I’ll bring you more news once the broadcaster has made an announcement :-)

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News round-up: new Britannia photo, ‘magical’ theatre, why family TV viewing matters, carol services and more

29 November 2019 02:59

Behind-the-scenes Britannia photo

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Such a treat working with Zoe Wanamaker. Here she is playing Queen Antedia in Britannia season 2. #britannia #epic #fantasydrama #season2 @skyatlanticuk #zoewanamaker #queen #sophiemutevelian #setphotographer #tv #setlife

A post shared by Sophie Mutevelian (@sophiemutevelian) on

What better way to begin this news round-up than with one of the most striking photos I’ve seen of Zoë in a long time!

She’s pictured during a break from filming the second series of epic drama Britannia, which is currently available to stream via Sky and NOW TV.

The image is the work of talented film and TV photographer Sophie Mutevelian.

New interview explores the magic of theatre

‘Art is a lifeline,’ Zoë points out in an insightful new interview published by Cherwell, an Oxford University student newspaper. Without engaging with plays and other forms of creative expression, ‘our imagination dries up and shrivels’.

She describes theatre, in particular, as ‘magical’. And as the interviewer, Emily Capon, concludes, Zoë is eager to ‘share that magic with us’ through her work.

Make Believe on Broadway raises over $900k

Only Make Believe, which Zoë has long supported, is a perfect illustration of theatrical magic. Founded by actress and producer Dena Hammerstein, the charity brings interactive theatre to sick and disabled children in the US.

On 4 November, Zoë was a special guest at Only Make Believe’s glittering 20th anniversary gala, Make Believe on Broadway, which was held at New York’s Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre. She was photographed on the red carpet for Broadway World and also makes a couple of appearances in the charity’s gala photo gallery.

Make Believe on Broadway was a huge success, raising an astonishing $920,000 to fund Only Make Believe’s important work. If you’d like to support the charity, you can make a donation on its website.

Celebrating Edge of Darkness

Also celebrating an anniversary – its 34th – this month is the BBC’s landmark drama Edge of Darkness, in which Zoë starred opposite the much-missed Bob Peck. The six-part series was first broadcast in November 1985 and met with so much acclaim that it was quickly repeated.

Edge of Darkness’ popularity and longevity is due in no small part to the quality of the acting. As the Radio Times recently observed, ‘though it’s a male-heavy cast, two of its brightest lights are female,’ including ‘the feisty intelligence agent Clementine, or Clemmie, as played by Zoë Wanamaker’.

To celebrate the anniversary, Edge of Darkness has been released on Blu-ray (Region B/2) for the first time.

The importance of family TV viewing

Ahead of her appearance in a new BBC adaptation of the Worzel Gummidge children’s books this Christmas, Zoë has spoken to the Radio Times about the importance – and scarcity – of TV programmes aimed at family audiences.

‘I learnt on My Family how great it is when kids and adults can watch TV together,’ she said. ‘Too much television is violent and nasty,’ Zoë added, suggesting that broadcasters perhaps need to find a balance between shocking scenes in dramas and shows that can be enjoyed by all ages. 'Something that catches everybody's imagination is to be lauded.'

Her comments were greeted enthusiastically by Seadog TV & Film Productions, which made My Family and the Galapagos, the stunning Channel 4 wildlife documentary she leant her ‘wonderful voice’ to last year. ‘We want to make more TV accessible and enjoyable for the whole family!’ Seadog emphasised.

Zoë’s views sparked a debate on the BBC current affairs programme Victoria Derbyshire about whether the level of violence in many contemporary TV dramas is acceptable. The debate begins about 46 minutes into the 26 November edition of the programme, which is available on the BBC iPlayer for around a month.

Charity carol services

If you fancy celebrating the festive season at a charity carol service, you’ll be pleased to hear that Zoë is set to be a special guest at two this year.

On 2 December, she’ll give a reading during The Friends of Central London Samaritans’ Advent Celebration at London’s Church of St Stephen Walbrook. A small number of tickets for the event are still available.*

She’ll also read at the Royal Brompton Carols by Candlelight service, which will be held on 18 December at St Luke’s Church, also in London. You can book tickets on the charity’s website.

*1 December update: unfortunately, Zoë isn't able to take part in the Samaritans' Advent Celebration anymore, due to work commitments.

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Stream all episodes of Britannia series two from today!

7 November 2019 21:01

The highly anticipated second series of epic, trippy – and grisly – drama Britannia, set during the Roman invasion of ancient Britain, returns to TV screens tonight. You can catch episode one at 9 pm (UK time) on Sky Atlantic. The full series boxset is available to stream via Sky or NOW TV.

Britannia's ten brand new episodes will give us a chance to see how Zoë’s Queen Antedia has fared since the catastrophic events at the conclusion of series one. Is Antedia resilient and resourceful enough to claw her way back to power? Or do the gods have a rather different outcome in mind?

You can pre-order Britannia series two on region 2 DVD; it’s due to be released on 10 February 2020.

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News round-up: She Grows success, Women of the Year and Heart Research UK art auction

28 October 2019 20:26

Zoë’s thanks as TREE AID raises over £600k

Here is Zoë’s special thank you to everybody who supported the She Grows appeal organised by TREE AID earlier this year. An astonishing £638,091 has been raised to help provide women in Mali, West Africa, with the training and tools they need to turn tree products into nourishing food and goods from which to earn a living. The women will be able to ‘grow’ themselves out of poverty, as well as boost the environment, by looking after trees.

As reported by The Ecologist journal, Zoë commented: ‘Thank you so much to everyone who donated to TREE AID’s appeal. I have been a patron for over 20 years and I know that it changes people’s lives. The new She Grows project will empower one thousand women in Mali, who are adversely affected by climate change, to lift themselves out of poverty. It is about helping people to help themselves.’

To find out more about the charity’s social and environmental work, which Zoë is so clearly passionate about, or make a donation, head to the TREE AID website.

Women of the Year Awards 2019

Environmental issues were also on Zoë’s mind when she joined a host of other inspiring women at the Women of the Year Lunch & Awards, a prestigious event held at London’s Royal Lancaster Hotel on 14 October.

Speaking to the press on the red carpet, Zoë reflected on the significance of the National Theatre’s decision to part company with oil and gas giant Shell. ‘It’s a statement about what is going on in the world. It is a way for companies to listen. I think that is important.’

Anonymous HeART Project

Did you spot Zoë’s contribution to The Anonymous HeART Project charity auction? Her postcard-sized piece, called ‘Nuf Said’, features her dad, Sam Wanamaker, and Shakespeare’s Globe, the project to which he devoted many years of his life.

The art-themed fundraising appeal, which took place on eBay earlier this month and featured hundreds of decorated postcards, benefits Heart Research UK.

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