Urban Myths returns to Sky Arts this April, and it’ll be shining a light on yet more unlikely and unusual tall tales from the past – including everyone from Princess Margaret and Diana to Donald Trump.
Season 3 of Emmy-nominated comedy was announced last year, with Stephen Mangan confirmed to star as Charles Dickens in the story of how his ‘friend’ Hans Christian Andersen came to visit for a prolonged stay. Now, Sky has unveiled the remaining stories for the upcoming season , including the unlikely decades-long friendship between Princess Margaret and Mick Jagger, the bizarre night out shared between Freddie Mercury and Princess Diana, the day a burglar stumbled upon Grace Jones and artist Jean-Paul Goude’s New York apartment, Madonna’s short but passionate and influential relationship with Jean Michel Basquiat, the infamous trial of Joan Collins vs. Random House, how Paul McCartney was inspired to write Yesterday, and how Andy Warhol came to judge a cheerleading competition for Donald Trump.
Each of the eight episodes puts its own spin on extraordinary events, taken with more than a pinch of salt, and are performed by a selection of great actors, including Mat Baynton, Sophie Kennedy Clark, Hugh Dennis, Kelly MacDonald, Stephen Mangan, Jack McBrayer, Gloria Onitiri and David Walliams.
Phil Edgar-Jones, Director of Sky Arts, says: “You might regard our Urban Myths series as a bit of ‘Fake History’ but as all history is totally made up anyway we should regard these eight perfectly formed comedies as films of historical record, sort of. This series is one of the jewels in the crown of Sky Arts and with totally true (ish) tales from everyone from McCartney and Madonna to Dickens and Trump – our loyal band of discerning viewers are in for a treat.”
The series will premiere on 10th April on Sky Arts, but will also be released as a box set to stream on-demand alongside the broadcast of its first episode. Here’s the rundown of the eight chapters:
Urban Myths: Princess Diana, Freddie Mercury and Kenny Everett
This story is a fictionalised account of an event that’s part of the folklore of the Vauxhall Tavern. It features a night that Freddie Mercury and Kenny Everett put a disguise on their good friend, Princess Diana, and took her out for a night on the town, ending up at a club which results in a fictionalised encounter with Gareth, a drag artist with a painful secret.
Starring Mathew Baynton (Kenny Everett), David Avery (Freddie Mercury), Richard Gadd (Gareth) and Sophie Rundle (Princess Diana). Written by Pete Jackson and directed by Sean Foley. Produced by Zoe Rocha at The Fyzz Facility.
Urban Myths: Donald Trump and Andy Warhol
In 1984, property magnate and entrepreneur Donald Trump bought an American footballteam. In an attempt to stir up some publicity, he held cheerleader auditions in the basement of Trump Tower with a panel of celebrity judges, including Andy Warhol. Though initially reluctant to take part, Warhol had some unfinished business with the tycoon, who had previously commissioned some artwork which he never paid for. So Warhol decided to use the opportunity to confront the future US president about the debt.
Starring Jack McBrayer (Andy Warhol), Anthony Atamanuik (Donald Trump), Natasia Demetriou (Agnieszka), Rich Hall (Jimmy Gould), Pearl Mackie (Kay), Paul Putner (Howard) and Mike Wozniak (Leroy Nieman). Written by Ben Boyer. Produced by Charlie Laurie and directed by Molly Manners. Clelia Mountford and Sharon Horgan are the Executive Producers for Merman.
Urban Myths: Charles Dickens and Hans Christian Anderson
Bleak House Guest tells the story of when Danish author and Dickens superfan Hans Christian Andersen turned up unexpectedly on Charles and Catherine Dickens’ doorstep, quickly proving himself to be the most impossible (and unshakeable) house-guest imaginable.
Starring Stephen Mangan as Charles Dickens, Ian Hart as Hans Christian Andersen and Monica Dolan as Charles Dickens’ long-suffering wife, Catherine. The episode is directed by Robert Delamere and is a collaboration between SLAM Films and the NFTS. Louise Delamere and Catherine Gosling Fuller are the Executive Producers. Bleak House Guest is written by NFTS Screenwriting MA alumna Jess Jackson and produced by Producing MA alumni Laura Jackson, Rob Darnell and James Jose Walker. The crew includes a substantial number of NFTS students and graduates in key creative roles including producer, screenwriter, cinematographer, designer, composer and sound designer.
Urban Myths: Joan Collins
This story revolves around the trial where Joan Collins went head-to-head with Random House in the mid-nineties. The author and actor was paid a large advance for her novel, which the publishers claimed was unpublishable, leading to one of the most extraordinary – and glamorous – trials of the decade.
Starring Victoria Hamilton (Joan Collins), David Walliams (Monty, Joan’s boyfriend), Mark Heap (Ken Burrows), Haydn Gwynne (Joni Evans) and Leo Wringer (judge). Written by David Walliams & Dawson Bros. Produced by King Bert Productions
Urban Myths: Grace Jones
This is the story of a burglar who stumbled into Grace Jones and artist Jean-Paul Goude’s New York apartment, armed with a very small gun. When he inadvertently chose to break into Grace and Jean-Paul’s home (with a little interruption from Debbie Harry and Andy Warhol), he ended up with more than he bargained, having to deal with these two flamboyant, volatile lovers. Veering from desperate and dangerous to awe-struck and bemused, this was an afternoon which none of the three were expecting, least of all the burglar.
Starring Gloria Onitiri (Grace Jones), Joshua McGuire (Jean Paul Goude), David Ajala (The Burglar), Emily Atack (Debbie Harry) and David Mills (Andy Warhol). Written by Grace Ofori-Attah. Produced by Tom Thostrup and Michael Livingstone at 2LE Media.
Urban Myths: Madonna and Basquait
Before she was famous, Madonna had a short but passionate and influential relationship with Jean Michel Basquiat, a pioneer and darling of the 1980s New York art scene. Basquiat was riding high while Madonna was a coat check girl, but she already had the self-belief to know she had something special. This myth takes place across one night on the New York subway, just before she infamously door-stepped music producer Seymour Stein at his hospital bedside where he signed her on the spot. This is a poignant moment, before Basquiat’s untimely death and just before Madonna broke through to “take over the motherfucking world”.
Starring Sophie Kennedy Clark (Madonna), Calvin Demba (Basquiat), Paul Kaye (Tramp) and David Bamber (Drunk). Written by Sarah Solemani. Directed by Adam Wimpenny and Sarah Solemani. Produced by Adam Morane-Griffiths & Joe Hill at Wildcard Films.
Urban Myths: Paul McCartney
Telling the incredible tale of how Paul McCartney dreamt the melody of ‘Yesterday’. With a dollop of creative licence from writer Simon Nye, this is a heartfelt comedy drama showing how one of the greatest songs of the 20th century came to be. A deeply affectionate look at one of the greatest musicians, and his partnership with John Lennon, examining the cracks that may have changed their musical partnership forever.
Starring Tom Connor (Paul McCartney), James Coward (John Lennon), Joran Scowen (Ringo Starr), Simon Goron (George Harrison), Rosie Day (Jane Asher) and Hugh Dennis (Richard Asher). Written by Simon Nye, produced by Spelthorne Community Television and directed by Simon Delaney.
Urban Myths: Mick Jagger and Princess Margaret
Examining the decades-long friendship between Mick Jagger and Princess Margaret, we find out that Tony Blair submitted Jagger’s name for the Queen’s Honours’ List annually, from 1997 to 2002. However, every year the Queen turned him down. This comic tale travels from London to the Caribbean and dives head-first into the worlds of rock and royalty to ponder exactly why that was.
Starring Jamie Campbell Bower (Mick Jagger), Kelly MacDonald (Princess Margaret). Written by Neil Forsyth. Directed by Ben Palmer. Produced by Jane Bell at Happy Tramp.
Sky teams up with NFTS for Urban Myths Season 3
31st December 2018
Sky Arts has greenlit Urban Myths for a third season.
The anthology series, which takes an offbeat look at real people through imagined scenarios, has seen such notable outings as Gemma Arterton playing Marilyn Monroe, Noel Clarke as Muhammad Ali, Anna Maxwell Martin as Agatha Christie, David Suchet as Salvador Dali and Noel Fielding as Alice Cooper.
Now, some equally creative decisions are taking place behind the camera. The next episode of the series will see students from the National Film and Television School (NFTS) take over the creative reigns. The NFTS have been commissioned to make Season 3’s opening chapter as part of the school’s Bridges to Industry scheme.
The instalment, titles Bleak House Guest, will star Stephen Mangan as Charles Dickens. It will join the already announced Mick and Margaret, which charts Princess Margaret’s 30-year friendship with Mick Jagger.
Morwenna Gordon, commissioning editor for Sky says: “We’re incredibly proud of Bleak House Guest and thoroughly enjoyed the process of working with SLAM and the NFTS on this project. With Stephen Mangan, Ian Hart and Monica Dolan in front of the camera, and a talented crew of NFTS alumni, It will make a world class addition to our next series of Urban Myths.”
Jon Wardle, NFTS director, adds: “We are extremely grateful to Sky Arts for giving our graduates and students this opportunity to create an episode for such a high-profile series. Our Bridges to Industry scheme is such an important aspect of what we do at NFTS, and we couldn’t give our students and graduates this career enhancing experience without the continued support of our industry champions like Sky.”
Bleak House Guest is written by NFTS Screenwriting MA alumna Jess Jackson and produced by Producing MA alumni Laura Jackson, Rob Darnell and James Jose Walker. The crew includes a substantial number of NFTS students and graduates in key creative roles including producer, screenwriter, cinematographer, designer, composer and sound designer. The episode is directed by Robert Delamere and made in collaboration with Slam Films. It stars Stephen Mangan as Charles Dickens, Ian Hart as Hans Christian Andersen and Monica Dolan as Charles Dickens’ long-suffering wife, Catherine. It will air in spring 2019.