Shadow and Bone

Zoë plays Baghra, a stern teacher, in this major new fantasy series for Netflix, based on Leigh Bardugo’s bestselling Grishaverse novels. Release date: 23 April.


Zoë stars as physicist Marianne, opposite Peter Capaldi, in the Donmar Warehouse's revival of Constellations at the Vaudeville Theatre, London. The play explores a relationship through a cosmological lens. Performances: 23 June to 24 July. Tickets from Nimax Theatres.


Filming for the third series of Sky Atlantic's epic drama about the Romans invading ancient Britain, starring Zoë as vengeful Queen Antedia, took place in 2020-21. Release date TBA.


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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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

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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