Bill Bailey is to host Bring the Drama, a new six-part series from BBC Arts and Wall to Wall Media for BBC Two and iPlayer opening up the world of screen drama to eight people “who have always dreamt of becoming professional actors but have never had the opportunity.”
The eight aspiring actors are mentored over six weeks by casting director Kelly Valentine Hendry, who has cast shows including Bridgerton, Gangs of London, Ghosts and Broadchurch. In each episode, the aspiring actors are welcomed onto some of the real-life sets from UK dramas such as Peaky Blinders, EastEnders and Silent Witness and tasked with working together to recreate iconic scenes with the real scripts, real cameras and the real time pressures that professional actors face. As they gain experience in different forms of screen acting they are given advice and guidance from established actors including Natalie Cassidy (EastEnders); Genesis Lynea (Silent Witness, Champion); Charles Venn (Casualty, Dream Team); Ed Speelers (Downton Abbey, You) and Rochenda Sandall (Line of Duty, The Rig), as well as working with industry experts from the Peaky Blinders fight co-ordinator to the intimacy co-ordinator from Sex Education.
At the end of the process, casting director Kelly selects three actors she feels are industry-ready to present their showreel at a major industry showcase for the chance to secure representation from a leading agent.
All eight actors secured their place in Bring The Drama through an open casting call process and were selected from almost 2000 amateur actors from across the UK. None have been to drama school or found a way to break into acting professionally, “having held back by a variety of factors and access issues.”
Bill Bailey said: “It has been a delight to work on Bring The Drama and witness first-hand how the actors have grown in confidence and skills over the weeks. What I particularly liked was the way it shows the whole process of making TV – being on an actual set, with a real crew to help you learn what it’s really like. It was great fun but also a brilliant insight into how casting works and a fascinating glimpse behind the scenes of some of our most popular tv shows.”
Kelly Valentine-Hendry, casting director, said: “Historically it has been much easier to break into the industry if you come from a privileged background and the more we can do to change that, the better. This series is a brilliant way to emphasise and celebrate that great talent can come from anywhere. And above all, it’s a real insight into all the hard work that goes into bringing great drama to screen. It’s not easy – in fact, I think people will be surprised by how challenging it is!”
Suzy Klein, Head of Arts TV at the BBC, said: “We conceived Bring the Drama to shine a light on the fascinating world of being an actor – to show the expertise and skills needed to succeed and the challenges of breaking into such a fiercely competitive industry. Our acting cohort, like many people in the UK, have a real passion for drama but none of them have had the opportunity to go into the profession. With input from some of the UK’s leading drama schools, we developed a series that would really get under the bonnet of what it takes to become an actor, and were privileged to get onset with some of the country’s biggest TV dramas.
“To accompany the series, we have created the Bring the Drama Festival so that anyone who wants to get into the many offscreen roles in theatre, film and TV can find an event near them, to introduce them to the magical world of working in the creative industries. There is so much talent across Britain and making world-class movies, TV shows and theatre is one of our greatest global exports – working with more than 100 partner organisations, the Festival promises to lure in the next generation of brilliant creatives.”
Bring The Drama (6×60) is produced by Wall to Wall Media UK. The executive producers are Emily Smith (Creative Director UK at Wall to Wall) and Alan Brown. It was commissioned by BBC Arts and BBC Factual Entertainment for BBC Two and BBC iPlayer. The commissioners are Suzy Klein (Head of Arts and Classical Music TV) and Clare Mottershead (Commissioning Editor, Factual Entertainment and Events TV).
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