Essex Boys - ITV Press Release

Last Update: 27 June 2000

30 March 1999

Source: ITV


Bob Hoskins, Sean Bean, Brenda Blethyn, Brooke Shields and John Hurt are among the stars of a raft of new feature films already completed, in production or in development for the ITV Film Initiative, it was announced today.

The £100 million scheme was launched jointly by the ITV companies in 1996 to inject vital funds into the British film industry. To date, a total of seven films have been completed, of which three have already had a theatrical release, and three are to be released this summer. Two more are currently in production and several are at the development stage. Part of the funding for each film is provided by ITV Network Ltd in return for premiere television transmission rights.

Supported by the largest ITV shareholders - Granada Media Group, Carlton Television, United News & Media and Scottish Media Group - the film initiative is designed to provide ITV with its own movie premieres at a time when mainstream films are increasingly being shown first on pay television.

Commenting on the new film projects, ITV's Chief Executive Richard Eyre said, "We are enthusiastic about British film and keen to play a part in its renaissance through this investment and by providing big audiences for new talent. I believe this is a constructive response to the DCMS's original challenge on behalf of British creative arts."

ITV's Director of Programmes David Liddiment said, "Investing in mainstream British films, to which we have the first transmission rights, is now a key part of our programming strategy. It means we can have our own world television premieres, and at the same time get around the problems raised by the escalating price of Hollywood film rights."

Granada Film, under Head of Film Pippa Cross, has completed three new films for the ITV Film Initiative, which will be released theatrically this summer and have their television premieres on ITV in the year 2000. A fourth is in production, and the company also has a substantial slate of projects in development.

Heart, written by Jimmy McGovern, stars Christopher Eccleston, Saskia Reeves, Rhys Ifans and Kate Hardie. A mother who loses her 19-year-old son in a tragic accident develops a sinister obsession with the man who receives his heart by transplant. The director is Charles McDougall, and the producer Nicola Schindler.

Captain Jack stars Bob Hoskins, Sadie Frost, Gemma Jones, Anna Massey and Peter McDonald in Jack Rosenthal's story of a sea captain who retraces the steps of his nautical hero by sailing from Yorkshire to the Arctic with an eccentric, inexperienced crew. It is directed by Robert Young and produced by John Goldschmidt.

The Misadventures Of Margaret features Parker Posey, Jeremy Northam, Craig Chester, Elizabeth McGovern and Brooke Shields. A novelist, growing increasingly restless with her marriage, re-discovers her sexuality and zest for life through translating an 18th century memoir of sexual manners. Written and directed by Brian Skeet, it is produced by Ian Benson.

Essex Boys - written by Jeff Pope, who produces and Terry Winsor, who directs - is currently in production. Sean Bean, Alex Kingston, Charlie Creed-Miles and Tom Wilkinson star in this story of a naïve young minicab driver who chauffeurs for a psychotic ex-con and his ambitious wife, and finds himself caught in a deadly web of intrigue and deceit.

Carlton, under its Director of Drama & Co-Production Jonathan Powell, has one project in production for the ITV Film Initiative and others in development.

Complicity, produced for Carlton by Talisman Films, stars Jonny Lee Miller as an Edinburgh journalist investigating a series of bizarre deaths, who suddenly finds himself the prime suspect. Dramatised by Bryan Elsley from the book by Iain Banks, it also features Keeley Hawes, Brian Cox and Bill Patterson. Gavin Millar is the director and Richard Jackson the producer.

Chairman of United Productions Vernon Lawrence, the driving force behind the company's involvement in the ITV Film Initiative, has one project completed.

Night Train stars Brenda Blethyn and John Hurt in a story about a loner who has done time for embezzlement who finds friendship and love with the spinster daughter of his landlady. Produced by Tristan Lynch for Subotica Films, it is written by Aodhan Madden and directed by John Lynch.

Under the stewardship of Acting Managing Director Darrel James, Scottish Television Enterprises has one project in development.

True North is a psychological thriller written by Taggart creator Glenn Chandler. It centres on an outward bound course for managers, which becomes a terrifying ordeal when a psychopathic personality emerges within the group.

In addition, to these new projects, the first three films produced as part of the ITV Film Initiative have already enjoyed theatrical releases.

Girls' Night, produced by Granada Film, is the story of two sisters-in-law, one dying of cancer, who fulfil a lifelong dream of going to Las Vegas. Written by Kay Mellor, it stars Brenda Blethyn, Julie Walters and Kris Kristoffersen, and was directed by Nick Hurran and produced by Bill Boyes. Critically acclaimed when it was released theatrically in 1998, Girls' Night has its television premiere on ITV after Easter.

Waking Ned, produced by Tomboy Films and brought to ITV by United Productions, stars Ian Bannen, David Kelly, James Nesbitt, Susan Lynch and Fionnula Flanagan in a witty story written and directed by Kirk Jones. A small rural community in Ireland goes into overdrive when a villager wins the lottery and dies before he can claim the money. The film, which was produced by Glynis Murray and Richard Holmes, has already enjoyed great success at the American box office, where it has grossed $23 million. It had its British release a fortnight ago, and took nearly £1 million over its first weekend, making it one of the hits of 1999 to date. It transmits on ITV next year.

Up On The Roof, produced by Granada Film, features Billy Carter, Clare Cathcart, Adrian Lester, Amy Robbins and Daniel Ryan in the story of a group of students who performed together in a college band. Written by Jane Prowse (producer) and Simon Moore (director), it was released theatrically in the autumn of 1997 and transmits on ITV this summer.

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