Sky has announced new two new dramas featuring some of Britain's finest actors. The broadcaster has also announced that Arctic drama Fortitude will return for a third and final series.
Multi-award-winning actress Helen Mirren will star in new four-part drama Catherine the Great. The series will explore the politically tumultuous and sexually charged court of the most powerful female monarch in history.
She wielded supreme power throughout Russia for nearly half of the 18th century. “She rewrote the rules of governance by a woman, and succeeded to the extent of having the word Great attached to her name, Catherine the Great,” said Mirren.
The series, which is due to start filming later this year, follows Catherine, the definition of the modern woman, towards the end of her reign amid intrigue, scandal and conflict.
It will explore her passionate affair with Grigory Potemkin as they develop a devoting and unique relationship of obsessive love, overcoming their adversaries and to shape Russia.
Produced by Origin Pictures and New Pictures, Catherine the Great will air on Sky Atlantic and streaming service NOW TV in the UK and Ireland, and on HBO in the US next year.
Cameron Roach, commissioning editor for Sky drama, said, “We’re incredibly excited to announce Catherine the Great and our further association with HBO, in what promises to be a definitive landmark drama. The team assembled on the project is truly world class and we look forward to Helen Mirren bringing this remarkable woman to life.”
Sky has also announced original production Curfew, an exhilarating street race drama featuring an ensemble cast.
The eight-part Sky Original stars Sean Bean (Game of Thrones,) Adrian Lester (Riviera), Phoebe Fox (Blue Iguana) and Black Mirror’s Malachi Kirby.
Their characters are ordinary people who go head to head in the ultimate contest, a fast and furious illegal night-time street race.
They all have their own reasons for entering the race and risk everything in their pimped-out weaponised vehicles as they race from London to Scotland.
Curfew is written and executive produced by Matthew Read (Hammer of the Gods), who said, “I couldn’t be more pleased by the creative team that has been assembled to deliver a story that we have filled with as much excitement, emotion and dynamism as possible.”
Sky’s head of drama Anne Mensah said, “When Sky does dramas about car races, we do them like no other broadcaster. Funny, emotionally truthful, visceral and above all fast, Curfew is the perfect Sky One show."
Mensah also announced the return of much-loved Arctic thriller Fortitude, with Dennis Quaid (Far From Heaven) and Richard Dormer (Game of Thrones) reprising their roles.
Key cast members Sienna Guillory (Stan Lee’s Lucky Man), Luke Treadaway (A Street Cat Named Bob), Alexandra Moen (Strike Back), Mia Jexen (Happiness) and Bjorn Hlynur Haraldsson (Jar City), will also return and new faces will be announced at a later date.
The four-part series picks up where series two finished, with the death of Governor Munk hanging over the town.
Two police officers are sent to Fortitude from Oslo to investigate the murder and soon realise Fortitude’s population have plenty to overcome.
Sky will be hoping series three can build on the success of the first two series’, which were sold to more than 200 broadcasters internationally.
"Fortitude has gripped my imagination like an icy blast to the heart. It’s wonderful to be back for a last dance under the blizzard stars in the cold, dark night and find out who lives, who dies and who goes completely, barking arctic crazy,” said series creator, Simon Donald.
Sky’s head of drama Anne Mensah added, “this four-hour special event is the perfect ending to the most enigmatic, surprising, shocking and emotional series we’ve ever had on Sky Atlantic.”
With so much in the pipeline at Sky, 2018 looks set to be another record breaking year for the broadcaster.