Girlfriends

Zoë stars as Gail, part of a trio of childhood friends rocked by tragedy, in ITV's six-part drama series shown in early 2018. You can watch it on Region 2 DVD, Amazon Prime Video (UK) or Acorn TV on Amazon (US).

Britannia

Zoë stars as vengeful Queen Antedia in Sky's epic nine-part drama series, shown in early 2018, about the Romans invading ancient Britain. You can watch it on Sky Atlantic (UK), NOW TV (UK), Region B/2 Blu-ray, Region 2 DVD or Amazon Prime Video in the UK and US.

Inside No. 9

Zoë guest stars as waspish acting awards judge Paula in 'And the Winner Is...', an episode from the BBC's cult comedy-drama's fourth series shown on 30 January 2018. You can watch it on Region B/2 Blu-ray, Region 2/4 DVDAmazon Prime Video (UK), YouTube or via iTunes or Google Play.

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Are you ready for Girlfriends’ five-star 'humdinger of a finale'?

7 February 2018 19:31

Tonight the sixth and final episode of Zoë’s compelling TV series Girlfriends airs in the UK (ITV1, 9pm – don’t miss it!), and if you’re anything like me, you’ll be brimming with questions. Will we find out the truth about Linda and missing Micky’s marriage (which clearly hit choppy waters long before the latter went overboard)? How many more revelations are in store? Can Gail’s friendship with Sue and Linda survive?

Whatever happens to the troubled trio and their loved ones, one thing is certain: Gail and her best friends’ make-or-break trip to Spain will have us all on the edge of our seats. The TV Times, which has given the episode a glowing five-star review, emphasises that ‘in this humdinger of a finale, the shocks keep on coming’!

Making waves in the media

Of course, Girlfriends is not only fascinating but also ground-breaking, thanks to its focus on women of a certain age, who are too often overlooked on TV. So, just how significant is the series, created and written by Kay Mellor? Significant enough to have been featured on ITV’s News at Ten, as well as making waves elsewhere in the media, in the run up to its TV debut on 3 January. And the level of interest from the media and viewers alike in Gail and her pals’ trials and tribulations remains high.

Now, with the show’s all-important conclusion less than two hours away, let’s take a look at some of the most notable press coverage Girlfriends has received over the past six weeks...

Speaking to the Jewish Chronicle, Zoë explains what attracted her to the part of struggling lollipop lady Gail: ‘It is a very different role for me [...] That’s the joy of it, to challenge yourself. I love doing something I haven’t done before.’ She emphasises that there are an increasing number of opportunities for mature actresses on TV, as ‘more people recognise that older women are viable and people want to watch them’.

Girlfriends is easy for many modern women to relate to, as Zoë points out in Woman&Home. ‘The stories in this show are ‘‘Everywoman’’ to some extent. Like all women, my character, Gail, is multitasking all the time – she has a lot of other people to look after and isn’t necessarily looking after herself.’ In Saga, she talks about getting into the role, commenting, ‘You are trying to find the element that connects you to that person, and I do feel [Gail’s] pain. She’s in an extraordinarily difficult situation.’

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Matthew Lewis (who plays Zoë’s wayward on-screen son Tom, having first worked with her on the original Harry Potter film) is full of praise for Zoë and her co-stars: ‘They’re all just so charming and so full of humility.’ He adds, ‘And Zoe straightaway was like, ‘‘I’ve been so looking forward to it. I was so thrilled when Kay told me you were taking this role.’’’ The casting inspired a memorable headline in the Metro, ‘Harry Potter fans are freaking out that Madam Hooch plays Neville Longbottom’s mum in Girlfriends’!

The Times calls Girlfriends ‘heartfelt, perceptive and brilliantly cast’. The series is ‘real and glorious and fun’, enthuses the Guardian. For the Observer, it’s ‘ITV’s first triumph of the year’, not least because of the trio of ‘winning, vulnerable, harried, hot-flushed and heel-breaking’ main characters (isn’t that a wonderful description!).

Authentic drama loved by viewers

The show’s popularity means that the hashtag #Girlfriends often trends on Twitter when episodes are broadcast, with viewers loving the story and performances.

Own a piece of TV history!

Earlier this week, Girlfriends’ production company, Rollem, gave fans in and around Leeds the chance to own clothes and accessories worn by Zoë and her castmates in a huge charity sale. The proceeds will benefit three worthy causes: Breast Cancer Haven, the NSPCC and Shelter. What’s more, Mellor will match the total raised.

UK DVD release and US run

While Girlfriends draws to a close in the UK today, we can look forward to every episode being released on a two-disc Region 2 DVD boxset on 26 February. (There's no word on DVD extras yet, so let's just keep our fingers crossed!) If you’d like to be in with the chance of winning a copy, check out the competitions from Female First, WhatCulture, London-Olios and Win Something.

Girlfriends has just begun its run in the US on streaming service Acorn TV and looks set to be a hit there too, with The New York Times, no less, drawing attention to it as a cultural highlight. And as US TV critic Ken Tucker points out in his Yahoo Entertainment review, ‘What could be more timely than a new show about female friendship and unity?’

With thanks to Karoline, Victoria and Janet for their help.

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Brand new look for the website to celebrate a momentous year

2 February 2018 23:01

If you've visited this website before, you'll no doubt have noticed that things are looking a little different round here today! The website has been given a fresh new look, courtesy of my brother Robert's design skills, in celebration of a momentous period for Zoë and her fans.

In the past few weeks or so, we've had the pleasure of watching Zoë act in three unforgettable TV dramas, Girlfriends, Britannia and Inside No. 9, as well as Harold Pinter's deliciously dark masterpiece The Birthday Party.

The new design aims to give the website, in my brother's words, 'a modern and professional look with clean lines, and a bold colour palette that invokes Zoë's striking performances'.

And let's hope we'll see many more of those this year and beyond!

With thanks to Robert for all of his hard work, as well as Zoë and her PA Vanessa for their feedback on the new design.

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Zoë's episode of cult hit Inside No. 9 comes to BBC2 on 30 January

26 January 2018 02:46

'And the Winner Is...', the episode of cult comedy-drama Inside No. 9 in which Zoë guest stars, will be broadcast on 30 January (BBC2, 10pm). The show finds Zoë's character Paula (pictured above) on the judging panel for a prestigious acting awards ceremony. 'Will it be the star, the dame, the girl-next-door or the ingenue? Only one of them can win. Join the jury in their deliberations for the Television Awards,' says the BBC in its tantalisingly brief summary.

If you've watched Inside No. 9 before, you'll know that an eye-catching, cinema-style poster is designed to accompany each episode. Here's the poster for 'And the Winner Is...', designed by Andy Bottomley and shared on Twitter by Reece Shearsmith, who created, writes and stars in Inside No. 9 alongside the equally multi-talented Steve Pemberton.

The clips released so far (one on YouTube and another on the BBC's website) suggest that the episode will be a real treat - satirical, funny and sharply observed.

As TV & Satellite Week explains, Paula is 'an old-school American actress [...] who has no idea who any of the nominees are'! Noel Clarke, who plays director Gordon, the judging panel's voice of reason, told the magazine, 'I've met quite a few people like Zoë's character - she's not so over the top, those people are out there!'

While there's tension between the judges, the atmosphere between the cast members during filming was much more relaxed. 'We were definitely laughing a lot,' Clarke emphasises. 'I'm sure they could do a good half-hour of outtakes with us cracking up. It was a fun few days for everyone in the room.'

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'Zoë Wanamaker is absolutely terrific' – The Birthday Party receives fantastic reviews

21 January 2018 23:06

Following The Birthday Party’s opening night on 18 January, this 60th anniversary production of Harold Pinter's classic has received fantastic reviews, with Zoë’s performance as endearing seaside landlady Meg being praised time and again as 'superb'.

Here's what theatre critics are saying about the landmark show.

‘Ian Rickson’s superlative revival […] confirms afresh that it’s a darkly comic masterpiece’ – Dominic Cavendish, Telegraph, 5*

‘Pinter’s classic play is minted fresh in this perfectly cast production […] Zoe Wanamaker is superb as Meg’ – Paul T. Davies, BritishTheatre.com, 5*

‘[I]t is immediately clear that the performances are outstanding. Wanamaker and Wight are a completely convincing old married couple’ – Aleks Sierz, TheArtsDesk.com, 5*

‘[Y]ou couldn’t have wished for a better revival than this […] Zoë Wanamaker is absolutely terrific as Meg’ – Ann Treneman, The Times, 4*

‘It’s beautifully acted […] powerfully revived and gripping from start to finish’ – Christopher Hart, The Sunday Times, 4*

‘[A] starry, meticulous, beautifully considered revival which demonstrates the play's undiminished power to disconcert […] Zoe Wanamaker and Peter Wight are superb’ – Paul Taylor, Independent, 4*

‘[T]his is a production that does rich justice to this strange, elusive play, and it is packed with illuminating detail’ – Michael Billington, Guardian, 4*

‘Ian Rickson’s immaculate production […] Zoë Wanamaker plays the randy landlady of the dingy boarding house with delicate, unexpected wistfulness’ – Susannah Clapp, Observer, 4*

‘Wanamaker is superb, catching [Meg’s] fussy flirtatiousness and hinting at the possibility that she’s sliding into dementia’ – Henry Hitchings, Evening Standard, 4*

‘As landlady Meg, there’s poignancy in Wanamaker’s repetitive prattle about cornflakes, her eagerness to please, and in her tottering, giggling tipsiness’ – Natasha Tripney, The Stage, 4*

‘Ian Rickson’s production is almost definitive […] Wanamaker is very good’ – John Nathan, Jewish Chronicle, 4*

‘The characters are […] clearly delineated in a series of beautifully-detailed performances. Zoë Wanamaker invests Meg with an ever-hopeful energy’ – Sarah Crompton, Whatsonstage.com, 4*

‘[A] really powerful and entertaining revival of a modern classic’ – Mark Shenton, LondonTheatre.co.uk, 4*

‘Pinter’s 1957 masterpiece is given a wonderfully dark revival at his eponymous theatre, where the air is thick with menace’ – Steve Dinneen, City A.M., 4*

‘Peter Wight and Wanamaker superbly convey […] ingrained marital patterns, in a lighter version of the play's later double-act interrogation […] it's a terrifically entertaining and oddly moving piece of theatre’ – Marianka Swain, BroadwayWorld, 4*

A party for The Birthday Party

The Birthday Party’s after party was held at chic restaurant Mint Leaf. Zoë looked sophisticated in an embroidered jacket as she posed for photos with her castmates, which you can see on the show’s Facebook page and Whatsonstage.com.

This is the second revival of Pinter’s Birthday Party in which Zoë has appeared, though her memories of the first are hazy. ‘I played [Meg’s vibrant neighbour] Lulu in 1970-something but I’d forgotten it,’ she told the Evening Standard at the after party. ‘It was a British Council tour of Asia, we went to Hong Kong and Sarawak so I remember that but not a thing about the part.’

In an insightful, detailed interview with BroadwayWorld, Peter Wight explains that a great deal of work has gone into Petey and Meg’s backstory. ‘Zoë Wanamaker and I have thought about this couple's history, their boarding house, about them having children or not – that's very resonant.’ He adds that the cast visited Eastbourne, where Pinter found ‘the seed of the play’, as part of their research.

If you’d like to watch Zoë's 5* hit, you’ll be pleased to know that some tickets are still available. Catch The Birthday Party at London’s Harold Pinter Theatre until 14 April.

Thanks to Janet for her help.

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Britannia available from today and The Birthday Party opens tonight!

18 January 2018 18:31

Yes, the wait is finally over! You can now watch Zoë playing a formidable (and fabulous!) warrior queen, Antedia, in Jez Butterworth's epic historical drama Britannia. All nine episodes in this compelling series are available to stream now from Sky and NOW TV.

Alternatively, if you'd like to watch the episodes on a week-by-week basis, tune into Sky Atlantic on Thursdays at 9pm, starting today.

As if that wasn't exciting enough, Zoë will take to the stage in a matter of minutes for The Birthday Party's opening night. If you've been fortunate enough to attend a preview of the production, you'll know that Zoë and her co-stars (who include Toby Jones, Pearl Mackie and Stephen Mangan) give stellar performances in Harold Pinter's darkly comic, disturbing classic.

Zoë's character, boarding house owner Meg, is fragile and endearing.

Whatsonstage.com has a great selection of production photos. As you can see, the set is brilliantly atmospheric.

Tickets are available for this landmark show, which celebrates the play's 60th anniversary and runs until 14 April at London's aptly named Harold Pinter Theatre.

Let's wish Zoë and everyone else involved with The Birthday Party all the very best for tonight!

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