Ṣọpẹ́ Dìrísù on how Mothering Sunday let him “flex a different muscle”

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Mothering Sunday was an opportunity to flex a different muscle and explore a different part of my craft,” says Ṣọpẹ́ Dìrísù, explaining what drew him to his latest film, a 1920s-set period romance co-starring Odessa Young and Josh O’Connor. “It requires a different sort of discipline or a different sensibility: I think lots of things are like muscles where if you don’t use them, you’ll lose them.”

“I think it’s interesting to see how far we’ve come from times, and also how far we haven’t come as well,” continues Dìrísù, talking about why he enjoys period drama. “Part of the magic of performance is being transported, and you get that a bit more viscerally when you’re doing a period drama than when you’re doing a modern-day piece.”

Key to this is Dìrísù’s interest in “the lived experience, and either documenting that or interrogating it.”

“A big one that I can’t escape is race, and race relations, racial politics. Donald [Dìrísù’s Mothering Sunday character], in the time 1920s-1940s, had a very specific experience and interrogating how he had to navigate that compared to how I navigate it today is creatively interesting.”

The first part of a three-part interview with Ṣọpẹ́ Dìrísù, who was a really enthusiastic, thoughtful interviewee. Enjoyed doing this one, nice to share it finally (this was, I think, done in early October?)

You can find more of my interviews here, and follow me on twitter @morelandwriter. If you enjoyed reading this piece – or if you didn’t – perhaps consider leaving a tip on ko-fi?

Class cast & crew on their Doctor Who spinoff, cancellation woes, & Series 2 plans

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“I loved every minute of it,” says Patrick Ness of his Doctor Who spin-off Class. “I’d be doing it now if they’d let me.”

Following a group of students at Coal Hill school, Class was Doctor Who’s third spin-off since its 2005 revival. With a celebrated young adult author at the helm, Class was a series in the same vein as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, always bursting with ideas and deeply invested in its characters. After the success of The Sarah Jane Adventures and Torchwood, Class seemed set to reach similar heights – until it didn’t.

Five years since the show was first released on October 22nd 2016, creator Patrick Ness, director Ed Bazalgette, and stars Greg Austin, Sophie Hopkins, and Jordan Renzo look back on Class – reflecting on its complicated relationship with Doctor Who, their experiences making the show, its untimely cancellation, and the series two episodes we never saw. 

My latest piece for Radio Times, and one I’m personally very excited about: a fifth anniversary retrospective for the Doctor Who spinoff Class, including a number of never before revealed behind the scenes production details about both the show’s early development and its unrealised second series, from the BBC’s suggestion it might star Frank Skinner to just what Patrick Ness had in mind for the Weeping Angel civil war.

Class was one of the first series I wrote about professionally, many years ago; I was very fond of the show back then, to the point that when I was writing this article, trying to cite the claim it was a well-received show, I just kept running into my own old reviews. Made me laugh, that.

I’m still fond of it now: I rewatched the first episode, For Tonight We Might Die, as part of my preparation for this piece, and I loved it. Certainly, it’s not without its problems, little details here and there that I’m inclined to criticise, but on the whole I loved it – to me it felt like a show full of ideas and bursting with energy. In fact, I’d love it if the Chibnall era of Doctor Who was a little bit more like Class.

Somewhere in this show there’s the first draft of the future, I think. Or a future, anyway.

Related:

Doctor Who Review: Series 12 Overview

You can find more of my writing about Doctor Who here, and follow me on twitter @morelandwriter. If you enjoyed reading this review – or if you didn’t – perhaps consider leaving a tip on ko-fi?

Peter Bowker on The A Word, how it compares to other depictions of autism on television, and more

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What’s interesting about The A Word is it grew out of an Israeli series, Yellow Peppers. That family dynamic, I thought was a brilliant set-up. Obviously it’s grown away from that as the series has gone on, but I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Yellow Peppers. But the other thing Yellow Peppers did was I felt it gave me permission to be a little less literal in the way I might depict autism, so there’s whole idyll that Joe has built for himself, around the headphones, and the morning walk.

And obviously it drove people f***ing mad, imagine Twitter saying, “Why’d they let that child walk down the middle of the road?” You know? But it’s kind of symbolic as much as anything. So, I think it allowed me that, it gave me permission to do that. The other thing was that, because I’d written Marvellous before this, I’d already seen that you can be playful with the form while still being true to the emotions of this. I think those two things helped.

A companion piece to yesterday’s interview with Christopher Eccleston: here’s me talking to Peter Bowker, writer of The A Word, all about how the show is changing in its third year, his creative influences, and more.

This I think is one of the best interviews I’ve ever done – a really interesting look at how Peter writes and what shapes his writing. We also spoke at length about what Peter thinks about the rest of television, which is always a really interesting thing to get into with a writer. Very pleased with how this one turned out!

(And I should also note that the above picture of Peter was taken by Amy Sussman, and I took from Getty Images.)

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Composer Anne Nikitin on American Animals, finding her voice, and more

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I’ve always had, and now talking to other composers, had a sort of hang-up that I didn’t have my own singular voice that was instantly recognisable as being me. I think that, you look at some of the Hollywood composers like Thomas Newman or Hans Zimmer, you instantly recognise their music.

I know myself and my composer friends, we always talk about that. Do we have a voice and what is it? Are we instantly recognisable? I’m thinking, I bet mine’s not being instantly recognisable. I much prefer being able to write in a variety of styles. I find it much more fun and adventurous and challenging.

Anne Nikitin was absolutely lovely to speak to, and we had a fascinating talk about music composition. Check it out!

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