Gemma Arterton reveals new look as blonde bombshell ‘Barbara Parker’ and Rupert Everett, David Threlfall and Tom Bateman join the cast of upcoming Sky Original

Tuesday 21 September 2021

Production swings into action on an adaption of Nick Hornby’s novel Funny Girl. This Sky Original sees Gemma Arterton step into the shoes of charismatic Barbara Parker. Joining Arterton on set in Liverpool are Rupert Everett (My Best Friend’s Wedding, Adult Material), as Barbara’s agent Brian Debehnam, David Threlfall (Shameless) as Barbara’s father, George, and Tom Bateman (Behind Her Eyes, Murder on the Orient Express) to star as dangerously charming actor Clive. The Sky Original comedy drama will be available on Sky Max and streaming service NOW in 2022.

Also joining the cast will be, Emily Bevans (Temple, Grantchester, Soulmates), Leo Bill (Becoming Elizabeth, Rare Beasts) and Matthew Beard (Vienna Blood, Avenue 5), alongside previously announced Clare-Hope Ashitey (Riviera, Top Boy), Arsher Ali (Informer, The Fear Index) and Alexa Davies (White House Farm, Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again!).

The new Sky comedy drama series is about a young woman from Blackpool finding her comic voice in the male dominated world of the 1960s sitcom. Bold, stylish, and courageous, Gemma Arterton stars as Barbara Parker - the force of nature who takes London by storm. Her journey from Blackpool beauty queen to comedy superstar and nation’s sweetheart is set during the cultural explosion of the 1960s.

It’s the height of the swinging 60s and Barbara Parker has just been crowned Miss Blackpool – but there’s got to be more to life than being a beauty queen in a seaside town, right? She wants to be… someone. The bright lights of London are calling, and our determined hero sets off to find out who that someone is.

The London she encounters is not as quite as swinging as the one she’d read about and seen on TV. However, after a series of setbacks Barbara finds herself in unfamiliar territory - an audition for a TV comedy show. Barbara’s uncompromising northern wit proves to be the X factor that the show has been missing. She gets the part and becomes part of a ground-breaking new sitcom which will have an impact on British comedy for decades to come.

Being a woman in a largely male environment has its own challenges, but as Barbara ‘finds her funny’ she re-defines the prevailing attitude to funny women and in the process, reinvents herself.

The series was commissioned by Zai Bennett, Managing Director of Content at Sky, Jon Mountague, Director of Comedy at Sky Studios and Tilusha Ghelani, Commissioning Editor for Comedy at Sky Studios. This comedy drama is produced by Potboiler Television and Rebel Park Productions, in association with Sky Studios. Executive Produced by Nick Hornby, Gemma Arterton, Morwenna Banks, Andrea Calderwood, Gail Egan, Jessica Parker and Jessica Malik. The series is written by multi-award-winning writer Morwenna Banks and directed by BAFTA nominee Oliver Parker. NBCUniversal Global Distribution will handle international sales of the series on behalf of Sky Studios.

For more information please contact: molly.wyatt@sky.uk / sarah.gutierrez@sky.uk

Notes to Editors

About Sky

Sky is Europe’s leading media and entertainment company and is proud to be part of Comcast Corporation. Across six countries, we connect our 23.4 million customers to the best entertainment, sports, news and arts including our own award-winning original content.

Our technology, including the market leading Sky Q, connects people to everything they love – with entertainment from Sky TV, Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video and BBC iPlayer, and apps like Spotify, YouTube, BBC Sounds, Highbrow, Peloton, Fiit, and more, in one place, easy. Our streaming service NOW brings viewers all the enjoyment of Sky with the flexibility of a contract-free service. Through our new B2B broadband provider, Sky Connect, we offer superfast broadband with business-grade 4G back-up to small businesses in the UK.

Building on the success of Sky Originals like Chernobyl, Gangs of London and Brassic, we are doubling our investment in original content by 2024 through Sky Studios. Sky News provides impartial and trustworthy journalism for free, Sky Arts is the UK’s only dedicated free-to-air arts channel making the arts accessible for everyone and Sky Sports, our leading sports broadcasting service, brings customers some of the biggest and best global sporting events from the Premier League to Formula 1 and everything in-between. Our new TV and movie studio, Sky Studios Elstree, which will open in 2022, is expected to create over 2,000 new jobs and generate an additional £3 billion of production investment in the UK over the first five years.

We believe that we can be a force for good in the communities in which we operate. We’re committed to being Europe’s first net zero carbon entertainment company by 2030 and we’re proud to be a Principal Partner and Media Partner of COP26. We take pride in our approach to diversity and inclusion: we’ve been recognised by The Times and Stonewall for our commitment to diversity and we’ve set ambitious 2025 targets to continue to increase diversity and representation. We’re also committed to investing £30million across our markets over three years to improve our approach to diversity and inclusion, and to tackle racial injustice.

About NOW

NOW is the home of brilliant entertainment. We’re one of the UK’s leading streaming platforms with critically acclaimed shows, new and exclusive movies, unmissable sport and epic kids TV – all with no contract. Join in with an Entertainment, Cinema, Sports, Kids or hayu Membership to stream instantly across TV, mobile, desktop and over 60 other devices. Watch on the go and even offline with our app by downloading shows and movies.

Entertainment Members can enjoy critically acclaimed dramas, documentaries and comedies, Emmy award-winning shows, the best of HBO and exclusive Sky Originals. Cinema Members can discover over 1000 brilliant movies, from the latest blockbusters and classic favourites and a new premiere every day. Sports Members cheer on unmissable Premier League, international cricket, F1, golf and more – all live, across 11 Sky Sports channels.

Plus, members can enhance their experience with NOW Boost – that’s full 1080p HD, Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound and streaming on up to 3 devices at once, for an extra £3 a month.

For super-fast broadband, members can enjoy a contract-free connection with a NOW Brilliant Broadband, Fab Fibre or Super Fibre Membership.

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About Potboiler Productions

Potboiler Productions is lead by producing partners Andrea Calderwood and Gail Egan. Between them they have produced over 60 international award-winning feature films and TV series to date. Notable past projects include the Oscar and BAFTA award-winning films The Last King of Scotland and The Constant Gardener and David Simon’s Emmy-winning HBO series, Generation Kill. Recent film projects include Sarah Waters’ The Little Stranger directed by Lenny Abrahamson; Yuli, inspired by the life of Carlos Acosta and written by Paul Laverty; and Chiwetel Ejiofor's acclaimed directorial debut The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, which reached tens of millions of audience members worldwide on Netflix. In 2018, Potboiler established Potboiler Television, developing high end drama series with international partners and a diverse range of top level talent. Potboiler recently produced Akinola Davies Jr.’s short Lizard, which took the Sundance Grand Jury Prize for 2021.

Website: www.potboiler.co.uk

About Rebel Park Productions

Rebel Park Productions, set up by Gemma Arterton, Jessica Malik and Jessica Parker focusses on female-led content whilst also supporting women behind the camera, aiming to achieve 50/50 crew across all productions. Their development slate includes ‘Enter The Dragons’, a co-production with Jeva Films, which will star Gemma and be led by award-winning director Marjane Satrapi. Also in development are Brit List screenplay ‘A Pail of Air’ by Alistair McDowell, and a musical feature with EMI’s Mercury Studios. Their short film, ‘Leading Lady Parts’, written and directed by Jessica Swale, starring Gemma alongside Catherine Tate, Emilia Clarke, Lena Headey, Wunmi Mosaku, Florence Pugh, Gemma Chan and Tom Hiddleston, addressed gender and racial inequality amongst actors, and was a viral hit amassing over 50 million views.

Website: www.rebelparkproductions.com

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