Over in the U.K., Sky Arts HD last year ran a fascinating new strand of programming called “Playhouse Presents” which did fantastically well for the channel and attracted some highly impressive talent. The series of 11 self-contained plays began airing on the channel in April and featured a diverse range of acting talent which included David Tennant, Harry Shearer, Lucy Punch, Brenda Blethyn, Emma Thompson, Stephen Fry, Hayley Atwell, Stellan Skarsgard, and even the singer Tom Jones. The strand extended over the Christmas period to include “The Young Doctor’s Notebook,” the mini-series starring Daniel Radcliffe and Jon Hamm, and there’s also a mini-series planned to spin-off from the play “Nixon’s The One” which starred Harry Shearer as Richard Nixon.
Sky Arts are now gearing up for a second series of self-contained plays under the “Playhouse Presents” banner, and yet again they’ve attracted some great talent. This time the actors involved will include Kylie Minogue, David Harewod, Anna Friel, Stephen Graham, Peter Serafinowicz (playing Andy Warhol, no less) and Vanessa Redgrave. Interestingly though, two well-known actors will also be making their directorial debuts on this new series…and those two actors are none other than Luther and The Doctor. Sorry, we mean Idris Elba and Matt Smith.
Smith will direct a play called “Cargese” which will star Craig Roberts (“Submarine”) and up and coming British actor Joe Cole. Elba, meanwhile, will step behind the camera for the first time on “The Pavement Psychologist,” which is based on a script he’s also written. Anna Friel will star as a woman whose world is turned upside down after meeting a homeless man, while Stephen Fry’s Sprout Pictures will produce. The programs will start to air on Sky Arts in March, and we’ll be looking forward to see how these two in particular fare as directors. [Deadline]