Unique new musical drama in production for ITV1

ITV Productions in conjunction with Globe Productions are to produce a unique musical drama that promises to be one of the television events of 2008, with music penned by Gary Barlow.

Britannia High will feature a group of super-talented young performers who sing, dance and act in a fictional performing arts school.

Viewers will be taken on a journey from the first real life casting process through to an eight part scripted drama series which will conclude with a spectacular live episode.

The Documentaries

Before the drama transmits, viewers will be given an insight into how the show is put together in two specially filmed 60 minute documentaries. These episodes will serve as an introduction to the drama itself, as viewers see how acclaimed Theatre Producer David Ian, Britannia High’s Director of Choreography Arlene Phillips, along with the Series Producer Brian Grant, and the production team select the young actors and actresses who are to be the stars of the show.

The documentary cameras also go behind the scenes to meet the writers who are creating the plotlines and shaping the characters of Britannia High. Viewers will also sneak into the recording studios where Gary Barlow teams up with some of the best song writers in the business as they compose the setpiece musical numbers. In addition, viewers will also have the chance to see choreographer Arlene Phillips in action, as she puts the young cast through their paces.

The Drama

We finally enter the world of Britannia High – a contemporary British performing arts school where students live by the motto Life Is Not A Rehearsal. Over eight hour-long episodes, we follow the lives of the group of ambitious, intelligent and charismatic pupils who are all bursting with talent and vying for centre stage in the school’s end-of-term showcase which will make up the spectacular live series finale. Each episode will be driven by the fictional scripted stories of life at Britannia High and will include original musical numbers performed by the cast, composed by Gary Barlow and his team of world renowned songwriters and choreographed by Arlene Phillips.

The Live Finale

Britannia High will climax with a 90-minute live episode, taking the form of an end-of-term Students’ Showcase, featuring performances from the cast, intertwined with drama segments that conclude the story and journey of the characters.

The Producers

Britannia High is a co-production between ITV Productions and Globe Productions, the television production arm of Universal Music.

The original idea for the series was devised by Arlene Phillips and David Ian. They are also Executive Producers.

The show was commissioned by Paul Jackson, ITV Director of Entertainment and Comedy and Michaela Hennessy-Vass ITV Commissioning Editor, Comedy.

The Co-Executive Producers are Kieran Roberts Controller of Drama ITV Manchester,

Mark Wells, Controller of Entertainment ITV Productions and Anita Land for Globe Productions.

The Series Producer and Lead Director is Brian Grant and the Head of Music is Chris Neil.

The Producer of the drama is Gareth Philips and the Documentary Producer is Sarah Woolley.

The Casting Director is Janie Frazer.

The Writers

The writers of the 8-part drama are: lead writer Tom MacRae, Damon Rochefort, Julie Jones, Harwant Bains, Kirstie Falkous and John Regier.

Paul Jackson said: ‘This is an exciting new format, not quite like anything else on British Television and we’re confident audiences are going to love it. ITV1 has lined up some of the biggest names in music and entertainment to make Britannia High. We hope to captivate viewers with the real and scripted stories of these talented young people going through the time of their lives, as they struggle to realise their dreams. For them this is most definitely not a rehearsal.’

Kieran Roberts comments: ‘Britannia High will be a brilliant, high quality British drama, with the added bonus of an innovative format integrating song and dance into the show. The preceding documentaries will follow the cast selection and drama production process, where we will find sparklingly talented new actors and base the drama around them.’

Mark Wells said: ‘This programme is a true hybrid of music, entertainment and drama. We’re delighted to have on board the exceptional talents of Gary Barlow, Arlene Phillips and David Ian, whose meticulously high standards will ensure the musical elements are spectacular.’

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  • Brian- disgusted of Tunbridge Wells

    As a 70+ man I appreciate that I am not the typical Britannia High target audience viewer. However I really enjoyed the fantastic energy and talent in the final show.What a pity it was ruined by the constant noise of the youngsters who were too rude to listen and appreciate the singing of the performers on stage.
    By all means let them express their appreciation AFTER the
    performance but why do the production team allow such behaviour to spoil it for everybody else during the actual performance.
    I also blame the sound engineers and the production team for allowing such talent to be swamped by the audience ‘participation noise’.
    Surely a balance of sound can be achieved that incorporates both the artist
    and audience enthusiasm…..try harder next time PLEASE !

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