Actor and comedian Michelle De Swarte to star in Sister’s darkly comic series The Baby for Sky and HBO

Monday 7 June 2021

Amira Ghazalla and Amber Grappy join De Swarte in the eight-part series as filming commences

Photo: Leo Cackett

Sky and HBO have today announced the casting of actor and comedian Michelle De Swarte (The Duchess) in the darkly comic horror, The Baby, from debut screenwriter Siân Robins-Grace (Kaos, Sex Education). Michelle, who made her acting debut as a series regular in Netflix series The Duchess is set to play 38 year-old Natasha, with Amira Ghazalla (The Rhythm Section, Sense8) and Amber Grappy also confirmed to line up alongside De Swarte. The Sky and HBO co-production which has begun filming is co-created by Robins-Grace and Lucy Gaymer (credits as Production Manager include Gangs of London, Liar) and produced by global content company SISTER (Giri/Haji, Chernobyl, Gangs of London) and Proverbial Pictures. The eight-part series will air on Sky Atlantic and streaming service NOW.

Michelle De Swarte plays Natasha, who is the friend who’s never made long-term plans. So when she is unexpectedly landed with a baby, her life of doing what she wants, when she wants, dramatically implodes. Controlling, manipulative and with violent powers, the baby twists Natasha’s life into a horror show. And as she discovers the true extent of its deadly nature, Natasha makes increasingly desperate attempts to get rid of the baby. But while she doesn’t want a baby, the baby wants her.

Making her acting debut Amber Grappy plays Bobbi, Natasha’s younger sister, a children’s magician and a ball of joy. Bobbi is everybody’s favourite. There is nothing Bobbi wants more than to be a parent, to give love and to receive it. She couldn’t be more different to Natasha if she tried. So when Bobbi sees her sister with the thing she wants most in the world – a baby – she is blinded by jealousy and unable to see the danger they are all in.

Also joining the cast is Amira Ghazalla who plays Mrs Eaves, the 73 year old enigma who has spent the last 50 years living out of her car. She seems to be everywhere the Baby is. But who is she, and what does she want with Natasha’s new arrival?

Questioning who gets to choose and who doesn’t, The Baby is a funny, raw examination of motherhood as an institution: a set of unspoken and often horrifying rules that affect women differently depending on how they’re viewed by society. If you're not scared by that, you should be.

Stacey Gregg (Here Before, Little Birds) joins the production as the director for episodes two and three, alongside Faraz Shariat (No Hard Feelings, Druck) for episodes four, five and six and Ella Jones (Back to Life S2, Enterprice S2) who is confirmed to direct episodes seven and eight.

Michelle De Swarte said: "Natasha is an emotionally arrested, flawed and 100% relatable character that I find it hard not to fall in love with as I read through the scripts. To be able to play someone I not only understand but am rooting for is a dream come true. Siân has written someone with depth, honesty and an authenticity that is as hilarious as it is heart-wrenching. I feel extremely blessed to be working with so many kick ass women on a project that is deliciously female centred."

Siân Robins-Grace and Lucy Gaymer said: “Our Casting Director Aisha Bywaters has done a phenomenal job in bringing together Michelle, Amira and Amber these three incredible actors to helm the cast. As soon as we met them it felt like the roles were written for them. We’re very excited to be working with Stacey, Faraz and Ella as directors across the show – brilliantly talented directors who will bring the episodes to life.”

Co-creator and writer Siân Robins-Grace is joined in an all-female writers room by Sophie Goodhart (Sex Education, My Blind Brother), Kara Smith (Apple Tree House), Anchuli Felicia King (White Pearl, Golden Shield) and Susan Stanton (HBO’s Emmy-winning Succession) with Bisha K. Ali (Ms.Marvel, Sex Education) as consultant.

The eight-episode first season will be produced by SISTER and Proverbial Pictures and Executive Produced by Jane Featherstone (Chernobyl, Giri/Haji), Carolyn Strauss (Chernobyl, Game of Thrones), Naomi de Pear (The Power, Flowers), Katie Carpenter (Landscapers, The Bisexual), Siân Robins-Grace (Kaos, Sex Education) and Nicole Kassell (Watchmen, The Leftovers) with Lucy Gaymer (credits as Production Manager include Gangs of London, Liar) producing. Nicole Kassell serves as lead director, followed by Stacey Gregg (Here Before, Little Birds), Faraz Shariat (No Hard Feelings, Druck) and Ella Jones (Back to Life S2, Enterprice S2). The Baby is Robins-Grace’s screenwriting debut.

The Baby was commissioned for Sky by Zai Bennett, Sky UK’s Managing Director of Content and Gabriel Silver, Director of Commissioning, Drama at Sky Studios, who also serves as the commissioning editor. The series is commissioned for HBO by Casey Bloys and Amy Gravitt. The series is a co-production between Sky and HBO.

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About Michelle De Swarte

Michelle De Swarte is an actress, comedian, writer and TV Presenter. Born in South London, Michelle was spotted by a model scout at the age of 19 and moved to New York, where she became heavily involved in the comedy scene for many years. Michelle’s comedy has always mixed her growing up in London with her life in America. Since returning to London she has made her acting debut as a series regular in Netflix series The Duchess, and has signed a development deal with Various Artists Limited (for Channel 4) for her own autobiographical comedy series.

About Amira Ghazalla

Amira Ghazalla was born and bred in Cairo, Egypt and currently lives in London. On television, Amira recently shot a recurring role in the upcoming season of Carnival Row for Amazon and can be seen opposite Julia Stiles in Riviera for Sky Atlantic. Amira also played a central role in the Sense8 finale directed by Lana Wachowski for Netflix. Other television credits include recurring roles in 4 Blocks (TNT Serie), Hatton Garden (ITV), Tyrant (Fox), The Last Post (BBC), with guest roles on Vera (ITV), No Offence (Channel 4), Hugo Blick's The Honourable Woman (BBC) and Season 1 of HBO’s hit Game of Thrones.

In film, Amira has carved out a career across big budget features and independent cinema alike, including Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi, directed by Rian Johnson, The Flood opposite Lena Headey and The Rhythm Section, directed by Reed Moreno for Paramount Pictures.

About Amber Grappy

Amber is currently training at The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, where she is in her second year. Before training she previously worked for Theatre Royal Stratford East and Guildford Shakespeare Company.

About Siân Robins-Grace

Siân acted as Co-Executive Producer for showrunner Charlie Covell on her upcoming Netflix series Kaos. Prior to this Siân worked at Eleven as Head of Development where she developed the hit Netflix series Sex Education with Creator Laurie Nunn and worked on Sky hit series The Enfield Haunting.

About Lucy Gaymer

Lucy has been working as a freelance Line Producer/Production Manager. Previous credits include The Witchfinder (BBC2), Wonderdate (BBC3), Living in Fear (Sky), Gangs of London (Sky), Liar (ITV) and True Horror (C4). She also worked in house at Carnival (Downton, The Last Kingdom, Stan Lee) and Eleven (Sex Education, Gap Year, The Enfield Haunting).

About Sky

Sky is Europe’s leading media and entertainment company and is proud to be part of the Comcast group. 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 HBO

HBO® is one of the most respected and innovative entertainment brands in the world, serving iconic, award-winning programming through the HBO linear channels and the direct-to-consumer streaming platform, HBO Max®. Internationally, HBO-branded services are available in more than 85 countries across Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean. A part of WarnerMedia, HBO is the world’s most successful pay TV service with an extensive array of programming that includes some of the most notable television titles, including dramas like “Succession,” “Watchmen,” “Westworld,” “Big Little Lies,” “Game of Thrones,” “The Sopranos,” “Band of Brothers” and “The Wire,” as well as comedy series “Barry,” “Insecure” and “Sex and the City”.

About SISTER

SISTER was co-founded by Jane Featherstone, Elisabeth Murdoch and Stacey Snider to develop, produce and invest in visionary creators. SISTER builds upon Featherstone’s Emmy and BAFTA Award-winning scripted indie, Sister Pictures, an independent, modern studio with offices in London and LA. It unites the expertise of the founders alongside a team of renowned creatives to make breakout stories across all forms of media. As well as producing hit shows including Chernobyl (Sky/HBO), Gangs of London (SKY/ AMC) and Giri/Haji (BBC/ Netflix), SISTER has made a series of bold investments in new creator-led businesses including Zando, an ambitious new publishing venture from Molly Stern, The Springhill Company, founded by LeBron James and Maverick Carter, Campside Media, a podcast studio, and AWA Studios, a comic book and digital media publisher. To learn more about SISTER and it’s work, visit www.sister.net

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