Currently running in its second series, Playhouse Presents has been capturing wonderfully intimate stories over the last 6 weeks on Sky Arts 1 to huge critical acclaim.
The first series aired last year and featured some of Britain’s most popular actors and TV personalities: Paul O’Grady, Stephen Fry, Richard E. Grant and Trevor Eve to name a few. It even managed to attract the interest of Harry Shearer, the American comic and actor perhaps best known for his work in The Simpsons and This Is Spinal Tap.
The premise of the series is simple but genius. Each week features a different 30 minute television play with different actors, directors and cast. Often the episodes are not so much full on stories but more of a snapshot of a moment in time for the curiously crafted characters featured.
So why should you be watching Playhouse Presents?
Firstly for the stories themselves. Many feature hugely profound explorations of life, and if any drama can make you think about your own existence it has got to be worth watching. ‘The Call Out’ beautifully explores loneliness in the vast urban landscape of London through the eyes of two average police officers. Then there is the moving ‘Cargese’ which displays the friendship of two troubled teenage lads on a run-down council estate
Not all the stories are as melancholic as this however. The hilarious Stage Door Johnnies features a quirky, satirical look at the kind of folk who stay behind after shows to greet the actors. Bordering on the ridiculous, the characters are sweet-natured and like many who will be watching this series, love to be moved by great stories and actors.
Secondly the cast is top notch. The first series had a fine cast as mentioned above, but joining the bill in series 2 are Suranne Jones, Samantha Bond, Stephen Graham, Kylie Minogue and Ricky Tomlinson. With such quality stories comes quality acting, and in all the episodes you will be hard-pressed to find a poor performance.
Many of the stars of the series are behind the scenes, with some fantastic scriptwriting and some directorial debuts. Hustle star Marc Warren wrote and directed the first episode Hey Diddle Dee, whilst Matt Smith made his directorial debut in Cargese. With these episodes, it becomes clear that they have the nous to be directing more often.
As the title of the series suggests, the plays have a very theatrical quality to them, and it marks a serious investment in British drama on television. Sky have announced this second series as one of a number of projects to be aired on Sky Arts 1, with other series and dramas also helping to bring the theatre to a wider audience.
Perhaps what Playhouse Presents offers which other drama series do not is variety. So many different stories, characters and actors makes for gloriously varied viewing. There is without doubt something for everyone here, and with more episodes running throughout June, now is a good time to see for yourself just why you should be watching this.