Film & Movie / Television / TV

Sky 1 signs up John Simm in Skellig
Leigh Holmwood
2 September 2008

Skellig: artist's impression of Tim Roth as the part-owl, part-angel character. Photograph: Sky

Skellig: artist's impression of Tim Roth as the part-owl, part-angel character. Photograph: Sky

Sky1 has signed up Oscar nominees Tim Roth and Kelly MacDonald as well as Life on Mars star John Simm for its new feature-length drama Skellig.

The 120-minute “modern fairytale”, which is based on David Almond’s Whitbread Children’s Award-winning novel, is the first project to commence production from Sky1’s new £10m-plus drama investment fund.

Filming began today on location in Cardiff on the high-definition drama, which will also star Son of Rambow child actor Bill Milner.

Skellig is due to premiere on Sky1 and Sky1 HD in the spring next year, before being released in cinemas around the world.

Roth, who was nominated for an Oscar for 1995’s Rob Roy, will take the title role as the part-owl, part-angel who is discovered by Milner’s character Michael after he finds him in a ramshackle shed.

MacDonald, who received an Oscar nomination this year for No Country for Old Men, will play Michael’s mother; while Simm, who also starred in The Lakes and Doctor Who, will play his dad.

Sky1 commissioning editor of drama Sarah Conroy, who ordered the film, said: “David Almond’s much-loved novel is the perfect production to showcase Sky1’s drama ambitions.

“Feel Films and Annabel Jankel have delivered an exceptional script that has attracted some of the best on-screen talent and we know this project will appeal to the child in all of us.”

The drama, made by Feel Films/Taking a Line for a Walk in association with the Wales Creative IP Fund and Limelight, will principally be shot in and around Cardiff at locations including Caerphilly Castle, Wenalt Woods in the Caerphilly mountains and Canada Lakes in Llantrisant.

Skellig will be directed by Annabel Jankel, whose credits include Max Headroom and DOA, and will be executive produced by Conroy and Elaine Pyke for Sky, Linda James from the Wales Creative IP Fund, and Michael Henry from Limelight. It will be produced by Nick Hirshkom.

Sky1 is investing at least £10m in a slate of high-definition shows in what it has described as the “largest commitment to UK drama” in its history.

As well as Skellig, it will also turn former SAS man Chris Ryan’s novel Strike Back into a six-part series.

Strike Back is being made by Left Bank Pictures, the new firm set up by Bafta-winning producer Andy Harries, whose credits include The Queen and Longford.

Terry Pratchett’s Going Postal, the third novel from his Discworld series, will also air next year.

Sky1 has had success with its previous two Pratchett dramas with the Bafta-award-winning Hogfather drawing 2.9 million viewers in Christmas 2006, while The Colour of Magic launched with 1.5 million at Easter this year.

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