LUNAR NEW YEAR
U.K. broadcaster Channel 4‘s long-running series “Hollyoaks” is bringing in the Lunar New Year in style with a special episode, the first celebration of the festival in U.K. TV soap history. The episode features the Chen-Williams, the first British-East Asian family in a U.K. soap and the newest family in the show. Within the episode viewers get an insight into some of the traditions associated with the Lunar New Year and how the family choose to celebrate. Family matriarch Honour (played by Vera Chok) gifts her daughter a lucky red envelope and the celebrations peak with a lion dance and meal hosted at The Dog in The Pond pub. During the meal Honour points out that Lunar New Year celebrations are a time for families to eat and enjoy each other’s company, and not always about the commercialized aspect often seen in the Western world.
Cultural advisor Rosa Fong said: “We see very few representations of British East and South East Asians (BESEA) on our television screens. When we do, they are often not humanized. This is because the writers and directors behind their representation are not from that background. When ‘Hollyoaks’ asked me to be cultural advisor on the show, I agreed as there were British East Asians writing and directing the series. This is the right approach and necessary if we want better representation on television.”
Writer Kyo Choi said: “We’ve never seen a blended family like this before in a continuing TV drama series so the pressure I put on myself was enormous. I was supported by an incredible editorial and producing team. They listened with an open mind, and it was a truly collaborative effort steeped in mutual respect.”
“As a South Korean writing for British stage and screen today, I feel that I’m the beneficiary of the long-standing struggle that so many British East and Southeast Asian creatives fought for representation before I started,” the writer added. “As a community, we are probably the bottom of the minority pile in terms of being seen but things are changing, that locked safe is being prised open. There’s still so much more to be achieved and I’m optimistic for the future. In an ideal world, I wouldn’t be labelled as a ‘female person of color’ writer but simply a writer. That’s how I view myself.”
Director Mingyu Lin added: “Bringing to life the first Lunar New Year celebrations in British soap history has been a really special moment for me; especially because these celebrations are important to so many in the ESEA community, myself included. As with Christmas, there are many shared traditions but everyone also has ways of celebrating that are unique to their families and so it was important to me to stay true to the spirit of the festivities without exoticizing it or portraying it as rigid or prescriptive. I hope everyone enjoys joining in with the Chen-Williams’ celebrations.”
“Mainstream representation is vital to combating harmful stereotypes, and it’s important also that underrepresented communities have a chance to be involved in telling mainstream stories as a whole. I’m really heartened by the fact that ‘Hollyoaks’ has been making an effort off screen to involve more BESEA creatives across the board and not limit us to working only on ESEA-specific stories – the Lunar New Year arc was one storyline within an episode out of the three I directed and this has made me feel valued as a creative not defined by the color of my skin.”
Produced by the U.K.’s Lime Pictures, and shot in Lime’s Liverpool based studios, “Hollyoaks” has been on screens since 1995.
The BFI and BAFTA albert, an environmental organization aiming to encourage the TV and film production industry to reduce waste and its carbon footprint, have selected Wales as the location to roll out their environmental sustainability recommendations for screen productions as outlined in the Screen New Deal: Transformation Plan. Following up on a 2020 report which detailed the carbon impact of the screen industries and proposed steps to reach a zero-carbon, zero-waste future for the sector, the BFI’s Research and Statistics Fund has now awarded up to £80,000 ($107,950) in National Lottery funding for the Transformation Plan project as the next phase of work.
Through the plan, participating organizations will collect localized data to identify film and HETV-related services which already exist in the area, highlight service gaps and create a location-based transformation plan. After a year of data collection, six months will be dedicated to the development of a detailed transformation plan to be implemented thereafter, planned for mid-2023.
“A Screen New Deal provided a route-map to help the production sector reduce carbon emissions and waste. Producers and funders are looking for solutions to help them meet their net-zero targets however the fast-paced and peripatetic nature of production is challenging for individual productions trying to find how that they can achieve that,” said Harriet Finney, the BFI’s deputy CEO and director of corporate and industry affairs. “Taking this work across a screen ‘cluster’ will develop practical and sustainable outcomes that can work for all productions and help reduce the sector’s carbon footprint.”
Carys Taylor, director of BAFTA albert, added: “We’re really excited to roll out this next phase of the Screen New Deal project in Wales. The TV and Film production industry has an unparalleled opportunity to be the catalyst of change, both in front and behind the camera, and I’m delighted this collaboration will be spearheading the exploration of practical, location-based solutions for decarbonizing TV and film production.”
E4 has ordered a new, 30-episode season of “Married at First Sight U.K.,” the longest single season run yet for the popular reality format. E4 and CPL Productions – a Red Arrow Studios company – brokered the deal for the new season which will launch later this year. “Married at First Sight U.K.” was All 4’s third most streamed series in 2021, with “Married at First Sight Australia” ranking similarly high in the ratings.
Wall to Wall Media have opened a new drama hub in Manchester which will be overseen by award-winning producer Sian Palfrey, who joins Wall to Wall from Rollem Productions where she was head of development. Wall to Wall North is established with a focus on developing and producing scripted drama from the North of England and comes off the heels of the company’s announcement that its Rope Ladder Fiction co-produced drama “Waterloo” will be back on BBC One and BBC iPlayer. Palfrey’s credits include several high-profile titles including BBC Three’s “Overshadowed,” ITV’s “Girlfriends” and BBC’s “In the Club” and “The Syndicate,” and most recently a producer credit on BBC Three’s “My Left Nut.”
A+E Networks EMEA has launched History Play, an SVOD platform for documentaries and factual entertainment, in Hungary where it will be available through RTL Most+. The Hungarian launch marks the brand’s first moves in Centra-Eastern Europe, with History Play already available in the U.K., Ireland, Germany, Austria, Italy and the Netherlands. Confirmed programming at launch includes popular A+E Networks franchises such as “The Curse of Oak Island,” “Forged in Fire” and “Ancient aliens.”