danny boyle, babylon, peep show

Joining the ranks of highly regarded film directors making their way to TV screens, Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours and the 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony) is directing his first TV show since 1993’s Mr Wroe’s Virgins.

No, me neither.

Hopefully this one will have slightly longer lasting appeal.

As if Danny Boyle directing for TV wasn’t exciting enough, the new show, Babylon, is a collaboration with writers Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain — the geniuses behind British comedies Peep Show and Fresh Meat. If you haven’t seen Peep Show, you owe it to yourself to take a look.

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So, that’s two of Britain’s best comedy writers teamed up with one of its finest dramatic directors. Naturally enough, the result doesn’t neatly fit either the comedy or drama labels. Star Brit Marling said of the series, “When I read the script the first time, of course I was laughing – Sam and Jesse are very funny writers. But also it reads as a dramatic piece – there are very high stakes, and there’s really intense stuff going on in there.”

Those high stakes revolve around a fictionalized London police force, with Marling the American PR expert brought in to change the force’s public image. James Nesbitt (The Hobbit, Jekyll) is the chief constable running the force, while Paterson Joseph (The Beach, Peep Show) is another member of the police force. It’s a strong cast, matched by an even stronger team behind the camera, and the UK’s Channel 4 clearly have high hopes for the show – on the strength of this Sunday’s feature length pilot, they’ve already commissioned six more episodes to air this autumn.

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Boyle won’t be back to direct any of those episodes, but will be on board as an executive producer, and you can expect marketing materials to make a big fuss about the director’s involvement.

Babylon promises to be a very modern — and very British — take on policing, coming at the time when British police have been hit by scandal after scandal, from the phone-hacking enquiry to the infamous ‘Plebgate’ row — in which London police officers falsely accused a government minister of verbally abusing them. Despite all that, Scotland Yard have supposedly given Babylon their seal of approval — so it probably won’t be making them look too bad.

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