admin     01 / 16 / 2020

The BBC released today (January 15) the first images of The Serpent. In one of the photos we can see Ellie alongside actor Billy Howle who plays her husband in the series.

The eight-part series, produced by Mammoth Screen, debuts on BBC One and BBC iPlayer in the UK and Netflix internationally.

Tahar Rahim plays killer Charles Sobhraj and Jenna Coleman his partner Marie-Andrée Leclerc, and Billy Howle and Ellie Bamber play Herman and Angela Knippenberg.

Inspired by real events, The Serpent tells the remarkable story of how Sobhraj (Rahim) was captured. As the chief suspect in unsolved murders of young Western travellers across India, Thailand and Nepal’s ‘Hippie Trail’ in 1975 and 1976, Sobhraj had repeatedly slipped from the grasp of authorities worldwide to become Interpol’s most wanted man, with arrest warrants on three different continents.
When Herman Knippenberg (Howle), a junior diplomat at the Dutch Embassy in Bangkok, unwittingly walked into Sobhraj’s intricate web of crime, he set off an extraordinary chain of events that saw Knippenberg seek to bring Sobhraj to justice for his terrible crimes.
The Serpent also features Tim McInnerny, Alice Englert, Mathilde Warnier, Gregoire Isvarine, Sahajak Boonthanakit, Fabien Frankel, Chicha Amatayakul, Surasak Chaiyaat, Ruby Ashbourne-Serkis, Armand Rosbak, Ellie de Lange, Ilker Kaleli and screen newcomer Amesh Edireweera in key roles across the series
Commissioned by BBC One, The Serpent (8×60′) is produced by Mammoth Screen, part of ITV Studios, and is a co-production between BBC One and Netflix. It is written by Richard Warlow and Toby Finlay, directed by Tom Shankland and Hans Herbots, produced by Stephen Smallwood, and executive produced by Richard Warlow, Tom Shankland, Preethi Mavahalli and Damien Timmer for Mammoth Screen.
The Serpent, filmed on location in Thailand, will premiere on BBC One and BBC iPlayer in the UK, and on Netflix outside of the UK and Ireland.

GALLERY LINK

admin     12 / 30 / 2019

‘The Trial of Christine Keeler’ premiered yesterday and today we continue with the second episode that will air at 9pm on BBC One. But before that check out what critics are saying about the show.

The Times – ⭐⭐⭐⭐

“A scandal imbued with a stylish exoticism”

“Does have two terrific actors in the roles of Keeler (Sophie Cookson is magnetic) and Mandy Rice-Davies (Ellie Bamber, recently Cosette in Les Misérables) using sex as their only card to play. They look and sound authentic, young women getting by from day to day.”

“I did like much of Amanda Coe’s script, which dropped occasional gems and evoked the dry wit of Rice-Davies.”

The Stylist

“Although this might be a story many people think they know, The Trial of Christine Keeler is shining a new light on what happened during the Profumo Affair. The show is giving its female characters a real voice, and reframing the story to put the blame where it should have been: at the hands of the grown men who threw a teenage girl under the bus to save their reputations. As Christine says in a voiceover at the end of episode one: “It’s true terrible crimes have been committed, but not by me.”

The Guardian – ⭐⭐⭐⭐

“The Trial its fallout, it remains a furiously fast, fun ride which doesn’t let the deeper, darker issues fall from its grasp.

The Independent – ⭐⭐⭐

“The Trial of Christine Keeler is a timely story of sleazy politicians.

“With six hour-long episodes to play with, The Trial of Christine Keeler has space to develop its characters beyond the headlines, and for Coe to tease out subtexts about racism, sexism, and nuclear anxiety alongside the central theme of powerful men abusing their positions. Admonished by a lover for a suit so tight that it reveals his penis, Profumo muses that after the bloodless Macmillan, the British public might be ready for a prime minister with a “working todger”. It’s a horribly timely thought.

The Telegraph – ⭐⭐⭐⭐

“Cookson was a fine Keeler: as gorgeous as the real thing, she was keenly aware of her sex appeal but already weary of the ways in which she had to deploy it in order to get by. It was easy to see why every man she met was beguiled, and also how her capriciousness sometimes led to trouble. Ellie Bamber, meanwhile, made for a perky Mandy Rice-Davies, her eye on the main chance. Both were a mix of worldliness and vulnerability.”

“Norton imbued his character with a creepiness from the moment we met him. Each addressal of Keeler as “little baby” made you shift more uncomfortably in your seat.”

“It was a compelling history lesson, and – more than that – one that might help to repair the reputation of a much-maligned young woman.

INews – ⭐⭐⭐

“It looks fantastic and the supporting cast are excellent, particularly Ellie Bamber as Mandy Rice Davies – yet to utter the immortal courtroom riposte “well he would, wouldn’t he?” but already a more worldly and far-sighted friend to Christine.”

Radio Times – ⭐⭐⭐⭐

“Ellie Bamber (Nocturnal Animals, Les Misérables) cements her rising star status as Christine’s friend Mandy Rice-Davies, of “he would, wouldn’t he?” fame.”

“The story hops all over the timeline, as every drama these days is seemingly obliged to do, gradually revealing its tapestry of sex, lies and scandal.”

“But there’s something about the characters in this particular drama that, coupled with the evocative Cold War backdrop, makes the story as compelling today as it was to the people following every twist and turn in the headlines six decades ago.

Cultura Whisper – ⭐⭐⭐⭐

“Coe shakes off these perceptions with well-researched and often sexy intrigue, all while never feeling exploitative. She emphasises an under-represented fact, not generally understood in the years prior to the sexual revolution: Christine Keeler was a teenager who enjoyed having fun.”

“Sophie Cookson conveys with vivid realism. Keeler’s loving life and she’s a joy to watch.”

“Coe shows the many horrific examples of misogyny in Christine’s life.”

“History hasn’t been kind to her, but this series gives her the empathy and respect she deserved.”

Daily Mail – ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

“Coe allowed us to glimpse the events swirling around Christine’s dysfunctional life: The arch conversations behind closed doors at MI5 or in newspaper offices.  Mostly, though, this was her story through her eyes, with many gaps that she, unlike her friend Mandy, wasn’t bright enough or worldly enough to fill in.”

“For the first time, this drama gives us an impression of who she was – reckless, naive, needy, a panicky drama princess who had been treated as a sexual object by much older men from the time she was old enough to start babysitting for their children.”

For those who reside outside the UK, you can watch BBC One live here.

admin     12 / 29 / 2019

Actors Sophie Cookson and Ellie Bamber – who play teenagers Christine Keeler and Mandy Rice-Davies in The Trial of Christine Keeler – tell Jonathan Wright about researching their characters for new BBC One drama…

Jonathan Wright: Can you tell us about the research you did?

Sophie Cookson: For me, it was all about looking at [screenwriter] Amanda Coe’s script and finding out who the true Christine Keeler really was. She wrote several books, so they were incredibly useful in getting a more rounded picture of who she was rather than this fated woman that was just surrounded by scandal.

JW: Do you think the series might set the record straight and re-establish the characters in people’s mind in a different way?

SC: I would love that to be the case. I think it’s grossly unfair the way these girls have been treated. Particularly Christine, I think. Mandy very much used the press for her own good.

Ellie Bamber: Yeah, which is quite incredible really, because she didn’t allow this event to affect the rest of her life. She was a young woman who didn’t allow men and all of these people calling her terrible names to get to her.

JW: Do you think the series might set the record straight and re-establish the characters in people’s mind in a different way?

SC: I would love that to be the case. I think it’s grossly unfair the way these girls have been treated. Particularly Christine, I think. Mandy very much used the press for her own good.

Ellie Bamber: Yeah, which is quite incredible really, because she didn’t allow this event to affect the rest of her life. She was a young woman who didn’t allow men and all of these people calling her terrible names to get to her.

JW: How were they different as characters?

EB: Playing Mandy has been a hoot and a half for me, because I’ve had so much fun. Mandy just has this amazing, gregarious, front-footed energy, she is go-get-’em all the time. Her idea of everything is she doesn’t care overly what people think of her and she goes into [things thinking], “Just keep my head high and it’ll be fine”. And I think the interesting thing with Mandy is that she’s very intelligent, but she also has this way with men that I find very interesting, which is that she knows how to manipulate them. She treats men like children that she has to placate.

They’re different in lots of ways, but they’re also quite similar deep down because, at the end of the day, they are two very young girls who haven’t had strong parental figures in their lives at all.

SC: Christine grew up in a converted railway carriage with no electricity or running water, with a stepfather who abused her, and several other people [did] as well. She induced her own abortion – that was before she’s even moved to London and when she’s still a teenager. If someone has been through that, there is no way they can be that vivacious, always-life-and-soul-of-the-party because she’s already on the back foot, she’s wary about people’s behaviour.

JW: Why was Christine Keeler so attacked?

SC: She was the epitome of what a person shouldn’t be in [some people’s] eyes and she was a disgrace. They were outraged by her presence. I think nowadays it’s quite hard to imagine the word ‘prostitute’ coming with such weight. We throw it about in everyday parlance, but it was a horrific thing to be called a prostitute and people were disgusted by both of them.

JW: What was at the root of their friendship?

SC: I think there was a real sisterhood between them.

EB: The story of how they met is really amazing. They were in [Soho club] Murray’s together and apparently, they didn’t like each other to begin with. They were a bit, “Hmm, there’s Christine, I’m not going to talk to her.” And Christine did something like take one of Mandy’s eyeliners, and Mandy got very cross about that. She grabbed a handful of talcum powder – she knew there was a fan spinning in Christine’s room, and she’d just put fresh cream and makeup on her face – so she ran into the dressing room and threw talcum powder at the fan. Christine was covered in the powder and they apparently then burst into laughter, and that’s how they became friends.

JW: What do you make of Stephen Ward? He’s an ambiguous figure.

SC: I think Stephen is ambiguous and I think Christine would have said the same. In [a] Sue Lawley interview [for chat show Wogan in 1989], she says: “If Stephen were still alive today, we would be living together, we would be with each other but not in the conventional sense people understand, that a woman and a man have to be in a sexual relationship,” which they were not. And she clearly loved him deeply, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t an aspect of his character that she wasn’t quite sure of, and she did feel at moments like he was being a bit oppressive or wanted to escape but didn’t quite know how. I have no doubt that there was nothing but love for him there.

The Trial of Christine Keeler starts tonight at 9pm on BBC One.

See Ellie as Mandy Rice-Davies by clicking on the thumbnails below.

GALLERY LINK

admin     12 / 16 / 2019

BBC Media Center shared their exclusive interview with the cast of ‘The Trial of Christine Keeler‘.

In my opinion, the importance of this story is that it demonstrates the shift in how female sexuality is viewed by society. Christine and Mandy were two young girls who turned what was socially accepted of them on its head

Interview with Ellie Bamber, who plays Mandy Rice-Davies.

What was it that made you want to play Mandy Rice-Davies?
Amanda Coe’s scripts are incredible. She is so witty and has a passion for the characters that shone through in her scripts. We are playing real life people and they really do come across as real life characters within the scripts. Mandy has this incredible hunger for success that guides her through life. She simultaneously cares quite a lot about what people think of her but, at the same time, she just keeps going with this tunnel vision to success regardless of anything. She’s ballsy, a lot of fun and has a real hunger for knowledge.

She sees men as being quite infantile and she placates them. On the surface she seems to give them everything that they want, when actually she’s getting what she wants. Mandy is a very well-oiled machine and someone that has a business head on at all times. She knows what she wants and she just keeps going.

Mandy Rice-Davies seemingly navigated the pressure of the trial better than Christine. What would you say were the differences between Mandy and Christine?
Mandy manipulated and took advantage of the bad situation she found herself in and used it to her advantage. In many ways I think that’s pretty heroic. I think that was probably to do with the fact that she had such a thick skin and, compared to Christine, had a fairly easy and normal childhood.

Can you tell us about Mandy and Christine’s friendship?
Mandy was younger than Christine but had this coping mechanism, which sometimes meant she could be perceived as being quite fickle, but it allowed her to stay in control. She could get quite emotional in the heat of the moment but was able to forget about it fairly quickly. Whereas Christine let things build up – she was a free spirit and slightly chaotic. They’re different in that way but it led to Mandy taking on a maternal role towards Christine. Mandy is very proper and believes things should be conducted in a proper way, whilst Christine is reactive and in that sense very human.

Why do you think now is the right time to tell Christine and Mandy’s story?
In my opinion, the importance of this story is that it demonstrates the shift in how female sexuality is viewed by society. Before Christine and Mandy’s story, men were allowed to sleep around whilst if women did the same they were labelled as prostitutes. Christine and Mandy were two young girls who turned what was socially accepted of them on its head, and because they discarded the social norms of the time the government punished them. They also punished Stephen Ward. I think they created this moment that made society question whether it was right for men in power to continue to do whatever they wanted. People started to realise it was wrong and to question their politicians and moral leaders.

We now look back at that time through a very different lens. Do you think the audience will view their story in a different way?
Mandy and Christine were totally manipulated. Both the police and media coerced them into saying things that they otherwise wouldn’t have. I don’t believe Christine or Mandy knew what else to do. They were both so young and were backed into a corner by people with more experience, authority and power. It must have been very demoralising as they were facing a trial and prison sentences whilst also being labelled as prostitutes and call girls in the media. I think we might have a far more advanced moral understanding of their situation now and might be able to comprehend that these girls were young, having a good time and actually not doing anything wrong. They weren’t married or cheating on their other halves like the men in this story.

Did you do any of your own research for this part?
I read Mandy’s book, Mandy, and I really loved it. The book is all her own story and from her own point of view (as it always is with Mandy!). She has an incredible energy to her and it helped me to slowly understand her as a person. With Mandy what you see is what you get. She has this honesty to her; she’s very open about the fact that all she wants to do is to become a famous actress, find a nice husband and settle down with lots of money. She’s very clear and so there is no underlying nastiness to her, she is just driven.

It’s amazing to have a character so driven and hell-bent on making the best life she can for herself. There is a funny story about Mandy attending a Mini Cooper convention in her hometown. She turned up uninvited, wearing just a bikini and posed for photographs on the cars, as she wanted to be a model. That’s Mandy! She had this determination within that’s so admirable. She is unapologetic and outrageous. I also listened to interviews that she’d given, read newspaper articles and a book called An English Affair, by Richard Davenport-Hines, that gave me a lot more background on the scandal.

Andrea Harkin has been at the helm of this drama. What was it like working with her and what did having a female director bring to the production?
It was brilliant working with Andrea. We clicked from the start and she has a real love for each of the characters that was amazing to see. I loved crafting Mandy with Andrea – she had an incredible knowledge of the case and such an eye for detail. She would often remind us of the wider story before we started a scene, which was really helpful because often you can get lost in a scene and it’s easy to forget the context, especially when you’re shooting six episodes.

Can you tell us about how you worked with costume designer Pam Downe, and hair and make-up designer Inma Azorin to create Mandy’s look?
Inma and Pam went to such incredible lengths to recreate authentic looks, as well as sourcing original looks. The colour palette for Mandy contained a lot of pastel pinks and blues, a reflection of her energetic personality. For Mandy, her hair, make-up and choice of clothes are a mask for her; they’re her battle armour to get her into Mandy mode. We created a look for Mandy that is playful but also very pristine. Pam created these incredible suits for the court scenes. One is like a Chanel suit and the other is a beautiful blush pink and they were incredible. I want to wear them every day and don’t understand why women don’t dress like that anymore! I’ve totally fallen in love with 1960s fashion.

What is the world like that Mandy inhabits?
Mandy and Christine have this close relationship that is so gorgeous. We see at the beginning how they are just two young, free-spirited girls having fun together, and nowhere more so than at Stephen Ward’s home at Wimpole Mews. The team created such an incredible set for it. The level of detail that the production design team have gone to is incredible. Even down to fine details such as what’s in the fridge or cupboard. When you open the fridge or the cupboard in one of these sets it’s fully dressed with plates that Mandy might have or food in the fridge that Stephen might have. There has been so much thought put into that and a real understanding of each character and how they might live.

What was Mandy’s relationship with Stephen and Christine?
There is one particular scene, which I think is my favourite, where Mandy is teaching Christine and Stephen how to get out of a sports car. I think it’s just this youthful, careless and free relationship that they have with each other where they can just talk for hours on end about their dreams, their hopes, inane and silly things and just be themselves. It’s not conventional or what people might perceive as normal, but in that was incredible beauty.

Christine and Stephen met first, and then Christine later introduced Mandy before the three of them moved in together. Stephen and Mandy slept together once but as I recall from the book, and who knows if this is true, but at one point Mandy claims that her and Stephen once talked about how it might be mutually convenient for them to marry. Not in a way that they were in a sexual relationship with each other – I think that part of their relationship was very fleeting – but they got on well and thought they might as well marry!

What do you think Mandy made of Christine’s affair with John Profumo?
I don’t think Mandy could comprehend how Profumo could possibly walk away from it all unscathed but Christine could not; how Christine’s name would be dragged through the mud. Mandy’s feeling was that he was equally responsible for the affair, so why was Christine the only one being punished for it? Mandy saw it as something that could have been used as a career move, she was constantly pushing Christine into taking it as an opportunity for modelling and acting because all Mandy wanted to do was be an actress. An interesting thing about Mandy is that when she sees Christine being offered screen tests, instead of being jealous, she actually encourages her and was excited for her.

How did you and Sophie Cookson collaborate on building the chemistry between Christine and Mandy?
I originally saw Sophie as Christine when we first read together, and I thought  it was incredible how she inhabited the character. I’ve loved watching her work and really learnt from her process, but other than that we’ve become really good friends. When we first met the two of us went out for dinner. We had a really interesting conversation with one of the drivers on set who was there to drive the vintage cars and he had actually met Christine and Mandy and had been close to them. That was really interesting and a really special moment to talk to someone who had actually known the women.

What do you think audiences who might not be familiar with the Profumo affair will make of this drama?
I think that people are always fascinated by real-life stories and understanding how things actually happened through uncovering new information. I also think it’s a story about abuse of power and that is something people are interested in: how corruption does exist within our society and there is abuse of power which is awful, particularly towards young women.

It seems that this was a chapter in Mandy’s story rather than something that dominated her life, as it did for Christine.
Mandy did very well. She moved on and really made something of herself. She went to Israel and she helped with the war effort and did some incredible things. She opened her own clubs and had her own fashion label – this was a woman who went from being called a prostitute in all the newspapers to becoming a self-made millionaire. I think that is a nice story, that in the face of adversity she was able to take control and push forward. She had a husband for a time but for a lot of her life she was single and became this woman who was known for her ability to connect people.

The Trial Christine Keelerwill premiere on Sunday 29th December at 9pm on BBC One.