Sheridan Smith, Robert Glenister, Eddie Marsan to star in ITV’s Isolation Stories
James R | On 23, Apr 2020
Sheridan Smith, Robert Glenister, Tom Glenister, Darren Boyd, Angela Griffin, David Threlfall, Eddie Marsan and his sons Blu and Bodhi will star in Isolation Stories, ITV’s new lockdown series.
The four short dramas will depict life in lockdown, and have come up with innovative ways to film it while under lockdown themselves. Assembled in conditions the production company has never faced before, it sees each actor’s partners or families join in to operate sanitised equipment delivered to their home, help behind-the-scenes and even act alongside them.
Produced by Jeff Pope, and his factual drama label at ITV Studios, each episode will be 15 minutes in duration and will reflect what families are going through after weeks of isolation. Each of the directors – Paul Whittington, Paul Andrew Williams, Louise Hooper and David Blair – watched footage via their mobile phones and gave advice to the actors and their family members about camera positioning, scene composition and lighting as they recorded the scenes.
Smith says: “I am heavily pregnant and have been isolating at home so I jumped at the chance to make a drama about the massive drama going on all around us right now. I think it’s really important to try and reflect what’s happening to us whilst it is still actually happening.”
The series will air nightly starting at 9pm on Monday 4th May, with ITV making a donation to NHS charities as a consequence of recording the dramas. Isolation Stories: Behind The Scenes will air on Thursday 7th May at 11pm and will reveal the making of the shorts.
Here’s the line-up:
Mel – 4th May
Sheridan Smith stars in the first episode entitled Mel, written by Gaby Chiappe (The Level) and directed by Paul Whittington (White House Farm, Little Boy Blue). Alone, heavily pregnant, and fed up with life, Mel (Sheridan Smith) faces having to go through birth without the married father of her child – who has chosen to stay with his wife and family – and without her own family, who have given her the cold shoulder. She might be the only person in the country who doesn’t mind isolation. At least everyone else will understand what it’s like to be miserable…
Ron & Russell – 5th May
Robert Glenister and his actor son, Tom Glenister, appear in Ron and Russell written by Jeff Pope and directed by Louise Hooper (Flesh and Blood, Cheat). Ron (Robert Glenister) is ill with the virus and is confused about where he is and what’s happening to him. One of his sons, Russell (Tom Glenister), is trapped and isolating with him. Their relationship is already strained and old wounds are reopened as they are forced to spend all their time together. Russell becomes increasingly frantic as he tries to help Ron through the illness.
Mike & Rochelle – 6th May
Darren Boyd and Angela Griffin appear in Mike and Rochelle written by William Ivory and directed by Paul Andrew Williams (A Confession, Broadchurch). The worst fears of paranoid, self-absorbed hypochondriac Mike (Darren Boyd) have come true. There is an unstoppable virus that affects us all, and you can catch it just by breathing! He insists on an online session with his psychiatrist Rochelle (Angela Griffin) who must try and talk him down from the precipice. But who really is the patient, and who is the shrink?
Karen – 7th May
Eddie Marsan, his sons Blu and Bodhi, and David Threlfall star in Karen written by Neil McKay and directed by David Blair (The Block). A grandad (David Threlfall) resolves to bring his broken family together by…being a grandad. Able to pass by his son-in-law’s house on the way to the grocery store, he stops off outside their window to lark about and make his grandkids smile. But his son-in-law (Eddie Marsan), still suffering after his wife Karen left him, doesn’t welcome these daily visits.
Isolation Stories: ITV commissions four drama shorts from Jeff Pope
18th April 2020
ITV has commissioned a series of four short dramas from Oscar nominated writer and producer Jeff Pope, inspired by true stories and reflecting life in lockdown across the country.
Isolation Stories, produced by Pope’s Factual Drama label, comprises four 15-minute episodes. Each episode, written by award-winning screenwriters, and assembled in conditions that the production team has never faced before, will reflect what families are going through after weeks of lockdown, featuring moments that are funny, sad, heartwarming and poignant.
Jeff Pope (Philomena, Stan & Ollie, A Confession, Little Boy Blue) is executive producing the series along with Tom Dunbar (A Confession) and has also written one of the episodes. Gaby Chiappe (The Level), Neil McKay (The Moorside, Appropriate Adult) and William Ivory (Torvill & Dean, Burton and Taylor) have each written one episode.
Paul Whittington (White House Farm, Little Boy Blue) and Paul Andrew Williams (A Confession, Broadchurch) will each direct an episode. The series will be filmed observing the strict rules of lockdown with actors and their families filming the scenes themselves, watched remotely by the directors.
Pope says: “Like everybody else I have been isolating at home, and in my case watching my wife suffering badly with the virus. I wanted to do something to catch the mood. I knew it would be very difficult to try and shoot dramas in these circumstances, but I felt the public would understand if things were a little rough and ready, if we at least had a go.”
ITV’s Head of Drama, Polly Hill, commissioned the series, which will air in the next few weeks.
“It’s amazing that Jeff has managed to make these short films so quickly, to reflect the times we are living in,” says Hill. “These are moving and funny tales of isolation with an incredibly talented team on and off screen. They are stories told from isolation to an audience in isolation. It’s not often drama can be made this quickly so huge thanks to everyone involved in making this happen and I hope they bring some joy to the audience, in what we know are difficult times.”
Casting information and details on each episode will be announced shortly.