RTS Midlands

Misfits in the Midlands: the creators of Phoenix Rise on the third series of their hit teen drama

Phoenix Rise is a hit teen drama about a group of outsiders who help each other to fit in, so it’s good to hear the same thing was happening behind the scenes. Eloise Pennycott arrived in series 2 as Daisy, when the cast had already been working together for three months, but she was quickly welcomed – thanks to her new friends learning British Sign Language (BSL).

Steven Knight's This Town celebrates the midlands music scene

The new BBC One drama This Town opens with the streets of Birmingham ablaze with violence during the Handsworth riots of 1981, before the action moves to council estates.

But its creator, Steven Knight, wants to make it clear that his working-class tale is not bleak or tragic, but set in a vibrant world full of energy and promise. He even manages to make tower blocks and Spaghetti Junction look beautiful.

RTS Midlands looks at Disney's new F1 documentary series with Keanu Reeves

New documentary Brawn was described as “Succession with racing cars” at an RTS Midlands event in November. Executive producer Neil Duncanson said of the thrilling story: “Conspiracy theories, money, power, betrayal – it’s all there.”

Brawn: The Impossible Formula 1 Story, a four-part Disney+ series, tells how an underfinanced team bought for £1 managed to defeat the greatest names in F1. And it certainly appeals to far more viewers than just motor racing fans, as director Daryl Goodrich explained.

Richard Armitage and Shaheen Baig win at the RTS Midlands Television Awards

Birmingham-born Baig, who cast shows including Peaky Blinders and Man Like Mobeen, was awarded the Baird Medal for Off-screen work by Mobeen actor Tolu Ogunmefun.

Armitage, who starred in The Hobbit and most recently Netflix’s Obsession, received the Baird Medal for On-screen work. It was presented by real-life SAS soldier Billy Billingham, chief instructor on Channel 4 show SAS: Who Dares Wins.

RTS Midlands Student Awards celebrate new talent

students stand with awards in front of banner

The Nottingham Trent University student’s film, Orange Striped Socks, which also won in the Animation category, was chosen by the Dudley-born comic and actor, who praised its “extraordinary craftsmanship”, calling it “very moving and beautifully well done”.

The night’s other principal awards were shared around the region’s universities.

Theo Johnson and Summaya Mughal hold court at the BBC Academy masterclasses

Theo Johnson has already achieved an impressive amount – not least making a film for £200 that has been seen by 1 million people – and he is only just beginning.

The amiable 29-year-old was a hugely inspiring figure for the young audience at the RTS Midlands Student Awards (see page 35) last month. As well as hosting the ceremony, he was part of the BBC Academy masterclasses before the event.