Viacom International Studios (VIS) has signed a quintet of first look deals with emerging British talent as part of a drive to hand more opportunities to diverse creators.

Morgan Bailey, Bec Boey, Chris Bush, Iman Qureshi, and Kaamil Shah will spend the next two years pitching five ideas to ViacomCBS’ in-house producer and VIS has committed to commissioning at least two projects to the treatment stage of development, and taking one of those to script.

VIS Vice President Kate Laffey and VIS UK Head of Development Claire Sowerby-Sheppard are overseeing the program, which will be repeated with another set of under-represented writers at some point in the near future.

VIS said the 5 were chosen “based on their proven scriptwriting talent, their variety of interests and writing styles, and potential to collaborate on distinctive development projects intended for (new streamer) Paramount+.”

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Netflix Commissions Five UK Series: Rapman Superhero Show; ‘One Day’ Adaptation; Abi Morgan Thriller

Netflix has announced five new scripted series that it has commissioned out of the UK, all of which will shoot in the country in 2022.

On the list is Supacell, a superhero drama following a group of seemingly ordinary people from South London who unexpectedly develop super powers, with no connection between them aside from them all being Black. The six-part show is written by Rapman (aka Andrew Onwubolu), of Blue Story fame, who will also direct, Mouktar Mohammed and Henrietta Lee of New Wave are executive producer and associate producer respectively.

The streamer has also commissioned an adaptation of David Nicholls’s romance novel One Day. It will follow protagonists Em and Dex as they meet up on one particular day year after year. The show is a Drama Republic Production with Universal International Studios and Focus Features. One Day was previously made into a feature starring Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess.

There is also the Ripley Parker-penned The Fuck It Bucket, which will follow a schoolgirl who is released from hospital after a battle with anorexia nervosa, from The Crown producer Left Bank Pictures.

Finally, Netflix has officially greenlit End Of The Fucking World creator Charlie Covell’s Kaos, a contemporary spin of Greek myths, also from Sister, which was first revealed in 2018.

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Ashley Walters and Sunetra Sarker (credit: Channel 4)

Ackley Bridge to return to Channel 4 for fifth series

Channel 4 has announced that school-set drama Ackley Bridge will return for a fifth series in 2022.

With more mad-cap adventures, high-jinx plans and scams in store at Ackley Bridge and on the estate, the series will pick up with Johnny (Ryan DeanThe Gentleman), Kayla (Robyn CaraLife) and Fizza (Yasmin Al KhudhairiHilda) navigating the second half of the school year.

Drama abounds for Kayla, as her rebellious younger brother Kyle (Adam LittleYears and Years) joins the school as the new troublemaker fresh out of juvie, while her Queen Bee popular sister Marina (Megan MorganHollyoaks) finds life is getting more complicated by the day.

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Riz Ahmed Is Changing the Culture, One Project at a Time - Variety

Riz Ahmed to Receive Top British Independent Film Awards Honour

Riz Ahmed is set to receive the British Independent Film Awards’ top honour, the Richard Harris Award, at this year’s ceremony.

The prize, given to an actor or actress who has “contributed significantly to British films throughout their career,” will see Ahmed join the ranks of previous honourees, including Kristin Scott Thomas, Judi Dench, Vanessa Redgrave, Daniel Day-Lewis, Helena Bonham Carter

I am grateful to the British Independent Film community for their immense support throughout all these years,” said Ahmed, who has also become one of the most prominent British advocates for diversity on screen, recently launching a new initiative for Muslim representation in media. “To receive the Richard Harris Award at the BIFAs this year is a true honour, I hope to be able to continue to learn from those who came before me while encouraging the rising generation to follow their creative dreams.”

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The shows must go on: inside Netflix's race to restart filming | Financial  Times

Anne Mensah named 2nd Respected Commissioner -Commissioner’s Survey

Anne Mensah has been named 2nd most respected commissioner after Ben Frow on Commissioner’s Survey! Respondents name the commissioner they most respect. Execs from every PSB were cited, as well as those from UKTV, Sky and the major streamers. These are the three who received the most votes: Ben Frow (1st Director of programmes, Channel 5/ViacomCBS), Anne Mensah (2nd Vice-president of UK originals, Netflix) and Phil Edgar Jones (3rd Director of Sky Arts/head of entertainment, Sky).

Next in line were a handful of other commissioners, in alphabetical order:

Dan Grabiner, Head of UK originals, Amazon
Patrick Holland, Director of factual, BBC
Lucy Murphy, Director of kids content, Sky
Alisa Pomeroy, Senior commissioning editor, factual, Channel 4

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