Shadow and Bone

Zoë plays Baghra, a stern teacher, in this major new fantasy series based on Leigh Bardugo’s bestselling Grishaverse novels. Series one and two are streaming now on Netflix.

Criminal Record

Zoë plays the fragile mother of a young detective reinvestigating an old murder case in this crime drama series currently streaming on Apple TV+.

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Zoë filming new version of classic TV drama Bergerac

9 July 2024 17:37

This month Zoë begins filming a reimagined version of the hit 1980s detective drama Bergerac. Here she is at a read-through for the new six-part series, alongside Damien Molony. The latter has been cast as recently widowed detective Jim Bergerac, with Zoë playing another key role, Charlie Hungerford. (You can click on the photo to see a larger version.)

The press release from UKTV, the company that’s commissioned the series for its U&DRAMA channel (formerly called Drama) and streaming service, points to the difficult relationship between these two characters. ‘[Bergerac’s] mother-in-law, Charlie (Wanamaker), is concerned Jim isn’t putting his daughter Kim first’ following the tragic death of his wife.

Metro highlights the fact that Zoë, who the newspaper describes as a ‘Harry Potter legend’, is in the cast. There are also enthusiastic articles about the Bergerac reboot from the Radio Times, ITV News and Televisual, to name but a few.

In the John Nettles-led classic BBC series, Charlie (Terence Alexander) was the divorced Bergerac’s former father-in-law and a loveable rogue. It’ll be fascinating to see what effect portraying the character as a woman who (like Bergerac) is grieving in the new version will have. In another change, the updated Bergerac will feature one murder mystery rather than continuing with the one-case-per-episode format familiar to 80s Bergerac viewers.

One aspect of the show that remains the same, however, is the setting: beautiful Jersey. The new Bergerac will be made there and in the UK.

Other cast members include Philip Glenister and Pippa Haywood. The main writer is Toby Whithouse. Bergerac is a UKTV Original series produced by BlackLight TV (part of Banijay UK) and Westward Studios with support from Visit Jersey.

It’ll be screened in the UK in 2025. The press release also hints at international distribution plans.

Thanks to Janet for her help :)

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News round-up: The Big Issue, Inside No. 9, and celebrating Sam Wanamaker

25 June 2024 15:33

The Big Issue interview

Zoë is interviewed in the latest edition of The Big Issue (dated 24 June 2024), the magazine that supports homeless people in the UK.

With major elections on the horizon here and in the US, it’s not surprising that politics is the focus. Although Zoë is described as being ‘exasperated’ with the political landscape, she emphasises that kindness rather than physical/mental divisions is the way forward. ‘Our society should be helping each other [...] We can’t put walls up again.’

The article also highlights Zoë’s support for Causeway, which helps marginalised and vulnerable people. You’ll hear her voice towards the conclusion of this inspiring video for the charity’s Breaking Cyles: Building Lives campaign, which aims to help people who had deeply troubled upbringings free themselves from trauma and criminality.

The magazine is available to buy from your local Big Issue seller in the UK. You can also buy it on various digital magazine websites. (It’s currently sold out in The Big Issue’s online shop.)

Final episode of Inside No. 9

You’ll surely remember Zoë starred in a characteristically witty, weird and wonderful episode of Inside No. 9 in 2018. ‘And the Winner Is’ sees her playing Paula, an actress who’s invited to join the judging panel for a major acting awards ceremony but turns out to be less than familiar with the nominees’ work... (If you haven’t seen it, you’ll be pleased to hear you can watch the episode on the BBC iPlayer or buy it on DVD or Blu-ray.)

The final – and similarly brilliant – episode of the BBC Two series by Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton (who’s previously said Zoë gave his favourite theatre performance of all when she starred in 1994’s Dead Funny), ‘Plodding On’, was broadcast on 12 June this year. Blending fiction and reality, it takes place at a party being held to mark the end of the programme. And Zoë, appearing as herself this time, is among the party guests drawn from the nine series.

This episode is also on the BBC iPlayer.

Shakespeare’s Globe celebrates Sam Wanamaker

The beautiful Shakespeare’s Globe in London marked what would’ve been its founder Sam Wanamaker’s 105th birthday on 14 June. Here’s the theatre’s touching tribute, as well as lovely words from one of his many fans, on X/Twitter.

A fantastic interview with Zoë’s dad from a 1984 documentary came to my attention a couple of days later – on Father’s Day, in fact.

In the video, which was shared by the BBC Archive, he talks so passionately about The Globe project and bringing his vision to life. Even though building work hadn’t yet begun when the documentary was made, Sam Wanamaker emphasises that ‘I’ve seen the theatre here for 15-odd years; no, absolutely see it.’

How fortunate we are that Zoë’s dad’s vision did indeed become reality and we now have both Shakespeare’s Globe and the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse to enjoy.

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Wishing Zoë a wonderful birthday! ✧・゚: *✧・゚:*

13 May 2024 12:03

It’s 13 May, and I’m sure Zoë Wanamaker fans all over the world will want to join me in wishing our very favourite actress an incredibly happy, magical birthday!

To celebrate, here’s a striking portrait of Zoë as Adriana in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s bold 1983 revival of The Comedy of Errors, which took place in what the RSC calls a ‘zany circus world’. I love the artist Amelia Hastings’ beautiful line work and flourishes. In fact, I think she’s captured not only Zoë’s likeness but also her energy and exuberance, don’t you?

(Click on/tap the picture to see a larger version.)

And there’s a lovely gesture from BBC Radio 4 Extra. The radio station is celebrating Zoë’s birthday by bringing one of her most fondly remembered radio series, The Older Woman (1993), back to the airwaves. In this witty, six-part comedy-drama, Zoë plays a tough, fortysomething teacher who catches the eye of her thirtysomething former student, who’s played by Martin Clunes. Toyah Wilcox also features.

Thanks to a scheduling quirk, the show won’t actually be on today – you can listen to episode one on Friday (17 May) instead! It’ll air at 7am, 12 noon and 6pm then 2am the following morning (all UK times) and be available on BBC Sounds. So wherever you are in the world, there’s bound to be a convenient time to catch it. The other episodes of The Older Woman will follow on subsequent Fridays.

With thanks to Zoë and Vanessa for info about the portrait

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News round-up: Constellations, Criminal Record and Central’s support for young actors

4 May 2024 10:36

Constellations on National Theatre at Home

The wait is over! Stunning play Constellations, starring Zoë and Peter Capaldi, is now available to watch worldwide on National Theatre at Home. Recorded during its acclaimed 2021 West End run, Constellations is an intimate two-hander about a couple whose relationship, by turns heart-warming and heart-breaking, is charted across multiple parallel universes. In other words, you see different versions of their story.

The plot may sound complicated, but don’t worry. The simplicity of the staging, in addition to the beauty and authenticity of the performances, will keep your feet on the ground, as you can tell from the superb clips from Constellations released by National Theatre at Home.

Reviewing the production in 2021 (in an article containing spoilers), the Evening Standard memorably summed it up as ‘a short, sharp, smart hit of first-class drama that humanises the randomness of the universe’. More recently, the show has caught the Guardian’s attention: it appears on the newspaper’s list of the best theatre to stream this month.

Criminal Record on Apple TV+

If you’d also like to see Zoë and Peter Capaldi take on entirely different roles, you won’t want to miss Criminal Record season one on Apple TV+. All eight episodes of this fresh, powerful crime drama are available to watch worldwide now.

In Criminal Record, Zoë plays Maureen Lenker, the fragile mother of sharp, up-and-coming East London police detective June (Cush Jumbo). Although proud of her daughter, Maureen’s relationship with the police is strained – she’s haunted by her late husband’s experience of institutional racism many years before June joined the force.

When an anonymous phone call casts doubt on a long-standing murder conviction, June’s investigation leads her to a formidable veteran detective, Daniel Hegarty (Capaldi) – and risks putting her family in danger.

Criminal Record’s plot is complex and rich. ‘The scenes with [June’s] mother (Zoe Wanamaker) and partner (Stephen Campbell Moore) hint at so much more to be told, so everything crossed for a new series,’ remarks The Herald. Thankfully, a second season could well be on the horizon, according to the Radio Times and other news sources.

Supporting ‘the next generation of theatre makers’ at Central

London’s Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, where Zoë trained, has announced it will no longer charge audition fees for undergraduate and diploma acting courses. The aim is to make Central’s training more accessible to students from all backgrounds.

As Central’s Vice-President, Zoë has spoken enthusiastically about the news, emphasising that greater diversity will enrich the arts as a whole:

‘I’m honoured to support Central’s initiative to eliminate audition fees and to help remove some of the financial barriers that aspiring artists face in accessing training. This will no doubt help to pave the way for a more accessible, diverse, and inclusive industry. In these difficult times we must all unite to support and empower the next generation of theatre makers and artists.’

As the Guardian points out, ‘Central is the most prestigious drama school to drop audition fees’ to date. The school will also introduce travel grants and continue to offer bursaries.

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‘For me, it’s a human right’ – Zoë speaks to Channel 5 News about assisted dying debate

27 March 2024 14:43

Zoë appeared on Channel 5 News on 22 March to discuss a cause she passionately believes in: the legalisation of assisted dying for terminally ill individuals in the UK. ‘I think people should be allowed to live their lives and end their lives as they wish,’ she explained. ‘For me, it’s a human right,’ she added.

Her support for assisted dying, and decision to become a patron of campaigning organisation Dignity in Dying, has grown out of witnessing her dad, the influential actor and director Sam Wanamaker, dying of cancer in 1993. As Zoë reflected during the interview, little has changed in the legal landscape for assisted dying since then. She feels that legalising assisted dying in this country ‘should’ve happened years ago’.

This is the second time in recent weeks that Zoë has discussed this emotive subject on TV, following her similarly powerful Sky News interview on 7 March.

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