BBC Arts and Wall to Wall Media have joined forces for a captivating six-part series, “Bring the Drama,” airing on BBC Two and iPlayer. This groundbreaking show thrusts eight aspiring actors into the limelight, offering a rare glimpse into the world of screen drama. Hosted by the charismatic Bill Bailey, the series aims to fulfill the dreams of individuals who have long aspired to become professional actors but lacked the opportunity.
Under the mentorship of renowned casting director Kelly Valentine Hendry, responsible for casting hits like Bridgerton and Peaky Blinders, the participants undergo a six-week intensive training regimen. Real-life sets from iconic UK dramas, including Peaky Blinders, EastEnders, and Silent Witness, serve as the backdrop for the aspiring actors. Tasked with recreating iconic scenes with authentic scripts, cameras, and the time pressures faced by professionals, they navigate the challenges of the craft.
Throughout the series, established actors such as Natalie Cassidy, Genesis Lynea, Charles Venn, Ed Speleers, and Rochenda Sandall offer invaluable advice and guidance. Industry experts, from Peaky Blinders’ fight coordinator to Sex Education’s intimacy coordinator, contribute to the participants’ learning experience.
“Bring the Drama” reveals the demanding nature of screen acting, presenting new challenges and opportunities for the aspiring actors. The intense learning process culminates in casting director Kelly selecting three individuals deemed industry-ready to showcase their talents at a major industry event, with the chance to secure representation from a leading agent.
All eight actors secured their spots through an open casting call, chosen from nearly 2000 amateur actors across the UK. Selected for their raw talent and lack of formal training, these individuals face the hurdles of breaking into the professional acting scene.
Bill Bailey, the host of the show, shares insights into “Bring the Drama”:
Tell us about Bring the Drama and what audiences can expect?
Bring the Drama follows the fortunes of eight amateur actors who have been selected from thousands, who have had no formal training or professional experience, and are given the opportunity to film famous scenes from some of our best loved tv shows. Each week, the actors have to audition for the main roles in these scenes, which are filmed with a full tv crew, and then they are edited and screened by the cast. Whoever has impressed top casting director Kelly Valentine Hendry, will be named Cast of the Week, and Actor of the Week, and eventually, she will select just three actors who go through to a final showcase, and have the chance to get a top agent and pursue their screen career.
What made you want to be involved in the series?
I thought it was a great way to give some aspiring actors an amazing opportunity, and also, it’s a brilliant insight into the whole process of acting, filming and casting.
What do you hope viewers will take away from the show?
I think it will be great fun for viewers because they’ll be watching some of the most famous scenes in TV, reinterpreted by this raw and untested cast, directed and mentored by the stars of those shows.
Why do you think it’s important for the series to give these particular aspiring actors an opportunity?
Well acting is a tough business, and it can often seem almost impossible to break into. All the actors on the show have faced their own challenges which have for various reasons prevented them from pursuing their dream. They’re a terrific bunch, all from different backgrounds and walks of life, they’re all genuine, self-deprecating and grounded but they’ve all known that acting is what they’ve wanted to do, their whole lives… so it’s actually very heartening seeing them thrive on this show.
As someone who has been in the industry for a long time, what would your advice be to those starting their careers?
I think you have to be determined, and resilient. It’s a precarious profession, and there’s often setbacks, and rejection. So, you have to be quite mentally tough, and be able to keep going. And being quite realistic and grounded about things helps.
What was it like working alongside Kelly Valentine Hendry?
It was absolutely brilliant to work with Kelly – her insights into the casting process and the finer points of acting itself were fascinating. She has an unerring instinct for spotting a good performance and for challenging the actors to step out of their comfort zone, and her perception and honesty was invaluable for the entire cast.
The aspiring actors each week are coached by guest judges, what do you think they gained from the experience?
I think it was real eye-opener for our actors. I don’t think they were quite prepared for how hard the process is. The early starts, the short rehearsal time, the pressure of delivering a performance in front of a full crew was a really steep learning curve. But they responded brilliantly, and I think they all gained a huge amount from the experience.
Did you see a difference in the aspiring actors from when filming began to when they finished?
It was wonderful to see the actors improve week by week. You could see them visibly gaining in confidence, and they all worked so well together, as one supportive ensemble. Whatever they do next, I think they have all gained a huge amount of knowledge about the business, which will stand them in great stead for whatever they do next.