BritBox marks a year in SA with murder mystery and fab family fun

The Boy in the Dress - photo by Jack Barnes

IT’S a year since BritBox launched in South Africa, bringing you the best of British telly to stream at your leisure, a to celebrate this milestone, it has three new and exclusive titles launching in August, featuring some of the leading names working in British entertainment today.

The darkly funny murder mystery Holding, starring Conleth Hill, recognisable from his role as Varys in Game Of Thrones, is a four-part adaptation of TV talk show host Graham Norton’s witty debut novel of the same name, available from August 11. A compelling drama with memorable, quirky characters, exploring themes of grief, community, family, and various shades of love, it’s set in the insular fictional village of Duneen, West Cork, on the edge of Ireland, a place with its own climate and rhythms. 

Conleth Hill

Olivier Award-winning actor Hill (Game of Thrones, Dublin Murders, Vienna Blood) plays police officer Sergeant PJ Collins, a gentle soul who hides from people and fills his days with comfort food and half-hearted police work. When the body of long-lost local legend Tommy Burke is discovered, PJ is called on to solve a serious crime for the first time in his career, and he finally has to connect with the village he has tried hard to avoid.

Meet Anne and John Darwin, an ordinary couple who hatched an extraordinary plan to commit insurance fraud. Their bizarre true-crime tale – and how it unravelled in spectacular fashion – is told in the BritBox Original The Thief, His Wife and the Canoe, starring the immensely talented Eddie Marsan and Monica Dolan. Watch this limited series from August 23.

Eddie Marsan and Monica Dolan

BAFTA winner Dolan (Appropriate Adult, W1A, A Very English Scandal) and British Independent Film Award winner Marsan (Ray Donovan, Sherlock Holmes, Happy-Go-Lucky) play Anne and John Darwin; he faked his own death to claim life insurance and avoid bankruptcy, while she became complicit in her husband’s deception. 

Anne set about convincing the world, their family and friends, the police and insurance companies that he had gone missing in 2002 while canoeing, but the deception increasingly took its toll on her as she continued to lie to their devastated sons while her husband secretly lived in a bedsit next door – hiding in plain sight – until eventually, their massive fraud was uncovered.

Fans of classic cinema will be captivated by Reel Britannia (August 18), a BritBox Original documentary series that traces the illustrious history of British cinema from the 1960s to the 2010s, complete with archive footage and interviews with award-winning British directors. 

Nick Helm narrates Reel Britannia

From Alfie, Get Carter and Chariots of Fire, to A Clockwork Orange, Trainspotting and The Full Monty, it portrays how British cinema held up a mirror to society, reflecting the youth revolution of the 1960s, the grit of the 1970s, the social divide of the 1980s, the new hope of the 1990s and the disillusionment of the ’00s.

One of the most audacious crimes in history that captured the public imagination is dramatised in the rollicking two-part film The Great Train Robbery – showing this historic heist from the perspective of both the robbers and the police who hunted them down (August 4). On 8 August 1963, Britain awoke to the news of the biggest and most audacious robbery in the country’s history. The hijacking of a train 55km from central London left the country stunned and avid for details on who did it, and just how they managed to pull it off.

This two-part character-driven period drama stars Jim Broadbent, James Fox, Luke Evans, Martin Compston and Neil Maskell.

Rounding off the fresh content this month is an adaptation of David Walliams’s The Boy In The Dress – a celebration of being different and embracing individuality, and Little Boy Blue, a true-life crime drama detailing the tragic murder of a young football fan in Liverpool in 2007.

The Boy In The Dress (August 18, featured image above) is a family comedy which tells the story of Dennis, an ordinary boy who lives in an ordinary house in an ordinary street with his dad and brother, who is increasingly frustrated by the boring, grey world he inhabits. However, as he discovers, transformation can happen in the most unexpected of places. 

In Raj’s newsagent, a fashion magazine seems to be calling him. Aided by Lisa, the coolest girl in school, Dennis creates a whole new persona and puts it to the test: can a boy wear a dress, and what will the headmaster, his dad and his friends on the football team think? 

The cast includes BAFTA winner Jennifer Saunders (Absolutely Fabulous, French and Saunders), James Buckby (The Inbetweeners), David Walliams (Little Britain, Come Fly With Me) and supermodel Kate Moss.

Four-part limited series crime drama, Little Boy Blue (August 25) is set in Liverpool is based on the tragic true story of 11-year-old schoolboy Rhys Jones, who was shot dead while walking home from football practice in 2007. Stephen Graham (Snatch, Line of Duty, Peaky Blinders, Time) stars as Detective Superintendent Dave Kelly, the man in charge of tracking down Rhys’s killer.

Stephen Graham

In addition to tracing the tragic true story of a boy’s violent death, the series follows the criminal investigation and the pressure the police were under to find evidence and deliver results. Also starring Sinéad Keenan (Unforgotten, Being Human).

The BritBox app is available on Android TV, including enabled Smart TVs, Google Chromecast with GoogleTV, Nvidia Shield, MiBox and MiStick, plus Android and Apple mobile/tablets, FireTV, Samsung Smart TV and LG Smart TV. Enjoy one week’s free trial, sign up at R99.99 per month or R999.99 for 12 months, and register for email updates here.

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