It also shores-up Sky Q viewers with plenty to binge should US channel HBO decide to pull the plug on its exclusive deals with Sky – a partnership that saw the likes of Big Little Lies, Game Of Thrones, The Undoing, Last Week Tonight, and more air on Sky Atlantic. In the United States, HBO now boasts its own Netflix-style streaming service, dubbed HBO Max, which offers on-demand access to its shows, movies, and documentaries. Although there’s no word on a UK launch for HBO Max quite yet, Sky is likely planning for a scenario where it loses access to some of the broadcaster’s most-anticipated shows.
Following the launch of Disney+ in March 2020 in the UK, Sky lost access to a number of channels, including The Disney Channel.
And so, the satellite firm, which is now owned by US firm Comcast, has announced its expansive slate of new shows, films and documentaries. For the first time ever, Sky Q viewers will be able to tune-in to 30 new Sky Original films and 30 new Sky Original documentaries this year, it has announced. And that’s not all. Film fans will be able to watch at least two new original films every month on Sky Cinema this year – rising to one Sky Original blockbuster each week from next year. Netflix is also rolling out an original film every week to its subscribers as part of its increase in original programming.
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Sky has added some serious star power to its line-up for the next year. Its original productions will star the likes of Judi Dench, Eddie Izzard, Hugh Bonneville, Keeley Hawes, Michael Caine, Lena Headey, Rita Ora, Raff Law, Patrick Stewart, Meera Syal, Andy Serkis, Ken Jeong, Maggie Smith, Kristen Wiig, Samantha Morton, Tom Felton, Jim Broadbent, Morgan Freeman, Robert DeNiro, Janelle Monae, Alicia Vikander, Julianne Moore, Allison Janey, Mila Kunis, Juliette Lewis, Fiona Shaw, Kate Beckinsale, Stanley Tucci, and more.
These A-listers (plus Rita Ora) will star in a variety of films, documentaries as well as new shows. Sky is on incredibly sure-footing here. After clinching the BAFTA for best mini-series for the last two years (Chernobyl and Patrick Melrose), the satellite broadcaster has commissioned four new series from acclaimed TV writers Paul Abbott (Shameless, No Offence) with Wolfe David Farr (The Night Manager) with The Midwich Cuckoos and Joe Barton (Giri/Haji, The Batman) with Extinction and Michael Winterbottom (Welcome to Sarajevo, Wonderland and 24 Hour Party People) with This Sceptred Isle.
The blockbuster schedule for 2021 is part of Sky’s commitment to more than double its investment in original content by 2024. And work is underway on Sky Studios Elstree, the firm’s new state-of-the-art TV and film studio in North London, which is set to be the most sustainable in the world when it opens in 2022, Sky claims.
Speaking about the colossal new line-up, Sky Managing Director of Content UK, Zai Bennett said: “This year on Sky and NOW TV we’ve got an epic variety of entertainment for everyone, adding a brand-new slate of Sky Original films and Sky Original documentaries to our line-up of award-winning drama, comedy, entertainment and arts series. If you love film, Sky Cinema is the place for you with the latest box office movies alongside our new and exclusive 30 Sky Original films, including A Boy Called Christmas and Save The Cinema and A-list stars from Judi Dench and Eddie Izzard through to Morgan Freeman and Robert De Niro. And if real-life stories are your thing, we’ve got compelling documentaries on everything from the drugs trade in 1980s Liverpool to the White House Farm Murders, alongside unmissable drama from world-class writers including Paul Abbott, David Farr and Joe Barton and Michael Winterbottom.”
As well as appearing on linear channels and on-demand on Sky Q, these Sky Originals will be available to stream via NOW TV. The latter offers access to Sky TV content without the need to sign-up for an 18-month contract. Instead, channels are packaged into “Passes,” which can be bought à la carte and switched each month. Sky Originals will be available across the Entertainment and Sky Cinema Passes.
As well as its original content, Sky Q will continue to offer access to HBO, ShowTime, Discovery Channel productions. Apps on the Sky Q also offer access to Prime Video, Netflix, BBC iPlayer and Disney+ too.
The new Sky Original TV shows and films announced this week are ~
- Wolfe: Babou Ceesay (Guerilla, Rogue One) stars as a lauded forensic pathologist in this new drama written by Paul Abbott (Shameless, No Offence, Clocking Off). Coming Autumn 2021
- The Midwich Cuckoos: John Wyndham’s classic science fiction novel is given a modern adaptation for the screen by David Farr (The Night Manager). Coming in 2022
- Extinction: A propulsive action thriller about a man who joins an organisation that can turn back time in order to save the planet from catastrophic events. Written by Joe Barton (Giri/Haji) and starring Paapa Essiedu (I May Destroy You), Tom Burke (Strike), Anjli Mohindra (Bodyguard) and Caroline Quentin (Men Behaving Badly). Coming in 2022
- This Sceptred Isle: BAFTA and Emmy award-winning actor Kenneth Branagh will play U.K. Prime Minister, Boris Johnson. The five-part drama will chart the events surrounding the U.K. Prime Minister, the government, and the country in the face of the first wave of the global pandemic. Coming in Autumn 2022
These new series join a line-up of high-quality Sky Original dramas already coming in 2021 including Landscapers starring Academy Award-winner Olivia Colman, new prison break drama Intergalactic and returning favourites Britannia and Temple.
- Liverpool Narcos: In the 1980s, Liverpool became the epicentre of a drugs boom that was to change Britain forever. With unprecedented access to some of the biggest players, this is the story of how drugs went mainstream and dealing became a multi-billion pound business. Coming in Spring 2021
- The Bambers: Murder at the Farm: Using first-hand testimony and unseen archive footage to re-examine the shocking events at White House Farm, this documentary explores evidence that has emerged since the original trial of Jeremy Bamber. From Executive Producers Louis Theroux and Arron Fellows. Coming in 2021
- Positive: Positive marks Britain’s 40-year struggle with HIV/AIDS, through interviews with some of the earliest HIV patients and real-life heroes. Coming in Winter 2021
- Gangs of Macaque Island: A light-hearted animal docu-soap, following the daily lives of rival black-crested macaque troops in the remote forests of Sulawesi’s Tangkoko National Park in Indonesia. Coming in Winter 2021
- Chernobyl 86: Chernobyl ’86 tells the story of Chernobyl through newly discovered archive footage and original interviews with those who were there. Directed by Emmy Award winner James Jones. Coming in 2022
These five new Sky Original documentaries join a raft of factual programming already coming to Sky Documentaries, Sky Crime and Sky Nature in 2021, including Murder at the Cottage, Bruno v Tyson, and Shark with Steve Backshall.
Original Entertainment and Comedy~
- Safe Space: A psychotherapist in a small market town dispenses advice to his clients to suit his own desperate need to control them. Starring, written and created by BAFTA-winning comedian Greg Davies. Coming in 2022
- Russell Howard’s Back To The Future Stand Up Show: Russell Howard will be travelling around New Zealand and Australia in this new travelogue punctuated by stand-up comedy. Coming Summer 2021
These new Sky Original commissions join returning comedy favourites Breeders (Martin Freeman, Daisy Haggard), Code 404 (Stephen Graham, Daniel Mays) Intelligence(David Schwimmer, Nick Mohammed), and Brassic (Joe Gilgun, Michelle Keegan), as well as BAFTA Award-winning A League of their Own (Jamie Redknapp, Freddie Flintoff, Romesh) and The Russell Howard Hour.
- Save The Cinema: Samantha Morton, Jonathan Pryce, Adeel Akhtar, Susan Wokoma and Tom Felton star in this new British film based on true events. Liz Evans makes it her mission to stop her local cinema from being demolished. Coming Winter 2021
- The United States v Billie Holiday: In the 1940s, the US government targeted beloved jazz icon Billie Holiday as part of their war on drugs, to prevent her from performing her heart-wrenching ballad “Strange Fruit,” a defiant cry against lynching. Directed by Lee Daniels, written by Suzan-Lori Parks and starring Andra Day. Coming February 26
- A Boy Called Christmas: An ordinary young boy called Nikolas sets out on an ex-traordinary adventure into the snowy north in search of his father who is on a quest to discover the fabled village of the elves, Elfhelm. Based on the bestselling book by Matt Haig, starring Jim Broadbent, Maggie Smith, Kristen Wiig, Sally Hawkins and Toby Jones, produced by Blueprint Pictures and StudioCanal and directed by Gil Kenan. Coming Winter 2021
- Kindred: A psychological thriller about a vulnerable mother-to-be who is taken in by her recently deceased boyfriend’s mother and stepson, who seem increasingly obsessed with her every move. Starring Fiona Shaw (Killing Eve), Tamara Lawrence (The Long Song) and Jack Lowden (Mary Queen of Scots, Dunkirk). Coming Summer 2021
- Creation Stories: Written by Irvine Welsh and Dean Cavanagh, Creation Stories charts the true story of the rise and fall of Creation Records and its infamous founder Alan McGee, who signed generation-defining bands such as Oasis and Primal Scream. Coming 20 March 2021
- Breaking News in Yuba County: A dark and twisted comedy that explores the outrageous lengths some people will go to in order to garner some much-desired attention. Starring Allison Janney, Mila Kunis and Awkwafina. Coming Spring 2021
- Six Minutes to Midnight: Emmy Award-winner Eddie Izzard and Academy Award® winner Judi Dench battle to protect a group of students from the grip of Hitler in this World War II thriller. Coming 26 March 2021
- The Comeback Trail: Two movie producers who owe money to the mob set up their aging movie star for an insurance scam to try and save themselves. Starring Robert DeNiro, Morgan Freeman, Tommy Lee Jones and Zach Braff. Coming Summer 2021
- Antebellum: A terrifying new thriller with a kiss of horror from the producer of the acclaimed films Get Out and Us, starring Janelle Monáe. Coming April 2021
- The Glorias: The Glorias is the female-led story of feminist icon Gloria Steinem; known for her world-shaping activism, guidance of the revolutionary women’s movement, and writing that has impacted generations. Written and directed by Julie Taymor. Coming 7 March 2021
- Every Breath You Take: Academy Award-winning actor Casey Affleck stars as a psychiatrist who finds his life in turmoil following the sudden suicide of his patient. When he invites his patient’s surviving brother (Sam Claflin) into his home to meet his wife (Michelle Monaghan) and daughter, his family life and career are suddenly torn apart. Coming Summer/Autumn 2021
- Flummels: Extinct Op and Ed are two adorable doughnut-shaped animals who accidentally time-travel from 1835 to modern-day Shanghai. Starring Rachel Bloom, Adam Devin and Ken Jeong. Coming Summer 2021
- Monster Family 2: To free Baba Yaga and Renfield from the clutches of Monster Hunter Mila Starr, the Wishbone Family once more transforms into a Vampire, Frankenstein’s Monster, a Mummy and a Werewolf. Starring Jason Isaacs, Emily Watson and Nick Frost. Coming October 2021
- The Secrets We Keep: In post-WWII America, a woman rebuilding her life in the suburbs with her husband kidnaps her neighbour and seeks vengeance for the heinous war crimes she believes he committed against her. Starring Noomi Rapace, Chris Messina and Joel Kinnaman. Coming Spring 2021
- Jolt: A female-driven action-comedy that follows Lindy (Kate Beckinsale), a bouncer with a murderous anger management problem that she controls with the help of an electrode-lined vest to shock herself back into normalcy whenever she feels homicidal. Starring Stanley Tucci and Laverne Cox. Coming – date TBC
- This new line up of Sky Original films joins Twist with two-time Academy Award winner Sir Michael Caine, Dragon Rider, voiced by Felicity Jones and Patrick Stewart and To Olivia starring Hugh Bonneville and Keeley Hawes.