Zai Bennett

Sky reaches for the stars with 2021 content line-up

Intergalactic (credit: Sky)

The prospect of a brand-new Michael Winterbottom drama starring Kenneth Branagh as a pandemic-­beleaguered Boris Johnson has already got mouths watering among audiences and critics alike, and This Sceptred Isle is just one of Sky’s bumper line-up of 125 new Sky Originals promised for 2021.  

Keeley Hawes, Rita Ora and Dame Judi Dench are among the other big names bringing star power to Sky, with the broadcaster announcing 30 exclusive original films and 30 documentaries, all part of an impressive roster that promises 50% more original content than last year.  

Zai Bennett: Why Sky’s shows are now world class

“Up until then we’d been making pretty good telly – and we continue to make amazing telly – the year before Chernobyl we won the BAFTA for Patrick Melrose.     

“But I think Chernobyl was the moment everybody said: ‘We’ve got to take you guys really seriously.’ We’re shoulder to shoulder with the very best people in the world now.” 

To date, Chernobyl has won seven RTS awards and numerous other prizes. 

What commissioners want

Michaela Coel in Black Earth Rising

Take three very different commissioners, all united by a common purpose: securing and showing content that satisfies their audiences. But achieving that simple aim is rarely straightforward in an increasingly complex media environment.

First things first. Picking up from Tony Hall’s impassioned plea that policy makers act to protect the BBC, session chair Kirsty Wark asked Georgia Brown and Zai Bennett – from Amazon Studios and Sky, respectively – whether public service broadcasting was still necessary in these content­rich times.