Today I attended a press screening in London hosted by Sky1 for their flashy new adventure series Sinbad.
Prior to the screening of the first episode we were informed that Sinbad is Sky1’s largest drama commission ever, so it’s fair to say the network has high hopes for the series.
Much of that hope rests on the shoulders Elliot Knight – a newcomer fresh out of drama school – who has been given the task of portraying the mythical figure in the 12-part drama series.
Given what I saw today, I have little doubt that Knight (who attended the screening) has a bright future ahead of him. For someone who has been thrown into a large-scale TV drama as his first major acting gig, he looks every bit the seasoned professional, both on and off-screen.
During the first half of the episode, we learn about the people close to Sinbad, mainly his brother, mother and grandmother. The death of his brother roughly halfway through the episode leads to Sinbad’s exile from his homeland of Basra at the hand of his grandmother. This is the significant event that will shape the rest of the series.
From there we meet a handful of new characters, sailor Gunnar (Elliot Cowan), jewel-thief Rina (Marama Corlett), doctor Anwar (Dimitri Leonidas), Cook (Junix Inocian) and Nala (Estella Daniels), as Sinbad illegally boards a ship and sets sail.
This rag-tag bunch of travellers form Sinbad’s crew as he voyages into the unknown in an attempt to rid himself of the curse placed on him by his grandmother when she ordered him from the city.
Former Lost actor Naveen Andrews is introduced as one of the villains of the series, after he is personally affected by Sinbad’s actions.
Overall, the first episode sets the scene nicely, with new relationships forming and plenty of interesting characters in the mix. Time will tell whether all of these characters bring anything of value to the storyline or whether they’re simply there to make up the numbers.
Visually, the episode was great. Shot on location in sun-drenched Malta, there was an authentic feel throughout and even the scenes on the ship – which we are told were shot in a studio housing a massive water tank, turntable and replica ship – were convincing.
Following the screening, a Q&A was held where Knight enlightened us on aspects of the production and the role he plays. It was here that he emphasised the series as escapism TV. He noted that audiences are looking to relax and escape from the realities of everyday life when they watch TV and he feels a series like Sinbad is perfect for this.
We were told by Sky1 that they are pitching Sinbad as a family series, one that all ages can enjoy. It must be for this reason, I suspect, that they have toned down the gore. Blood was kept to a minimum during scenes when you would expect to see the floor painted with it. After watching Game of Thrones, this is a slight change of pace.
If the first episode is anything to go by, Sinbad looks to be a light, fun adventure series that will provide easy summer viewing. It may not be a game-changer but it’s still well worth your time.
Sinbad is a 12-part drama series premiering in July on Sky1 HD and Sky1.
It is an Impossible Pictures production for Sky and BBC Worldwide and is produced with the assistance of Nine Network Australia.
Cast: Elliot Knight, Naveen Andrews, Timothy Spall, Orla Brady, Sophie Okonedo, Estella Daniels, Janet Suzman, Elliot Cowan, Marama Corlett, Junix Inocian, Dimitri Leonidas.