Tony Way, Sophie Thompson Join UK Indie Pic ‘The Unreason’; BBC Expands NHU To LA; BBC Comedy Initiative; Abacus Reps ‘Masked Singer UK’

Tony Way, Sophie Thompson Join UK Indie Pic ‘The Unreason’
EXCLUSIVE: Tony Way, known for his roles in After Life and Game Of Thrones, will star with Sophie Thompson (Feel Good) in UK time-travel comedy The Unreason. The film follows real-life best friends Ruth and Megan, who run a vintage shop in leafy Muswell Hill. After stumbling across a time machine, they embark on trips to the past, ‘borrowing’ items to sell in the present with no idea of the irreparable damage they’re causing to the fabric of the universe. Way is playing an off-beat inventor working in obscurity in Muswell Hill’s underground scientific community, while Thompson is playing the lead antagonist, the jail-keeper of the hellish dimension the unreason. Chris Reading is directing the feature, an adaptation of his own short film of the same name. Producers are UK outfit Shakespeare Sisters. Filming is set to start in 2021. Sophie Thompson is represented by Independent. Tony Way is represented by United Agents. Chris Reading is managed by 3 Arts Entertainment.

BBC NHU Heads To America
The BBC’s Natural History Unit is setting up a Los Angeles office for the first time in its 63-year history. The world-renowned production unit behind hits including Planet Earth is launching the U.S. office to serve local buyers and nurture new natural history talent. The multi-Emmy winning division has 25 shows in production, including PBS co-pro Green Planet and Frozen Planet II, which is being made for BBC America. The NHU’s LA team will report into the Bristol headquarters. BBC Studios director of factual Tom McDonald said: “Our work for the BBC in the UK and our co-production partners worldwide continues to be of vital importance to the NHU, but this expansion in the US will allow us to strengthen our US relationships, forge partnerships with new platforms, and expand our network of makers, scientists and talent. This is a really significant moment in the NHU’s history.”

BBC Reboots ‘New Comedy Awards’
The BBC is rebooting its New Comedy Awards after 18 years as part of a wide-ranging plan to support new British comedy talent. The gongs, which have previously helped boost the careers of top UK comedy stars including Peter Kay and Alan Carr, will return to BBC One and BBC Three next year having recently run on radio. The New Comedy Awards are the centerpiece of the BBC Comedy Association initiative, which is also creating a BBC Comedy Festival taking place in a yet-to-be-named City of Comedy. The British broadcaster is also anointing a Young People’s Comedy Laureate and committing to four production bursaries and a First Time Fund, which will finance four non-TX shorts from emerging directors or producers. Shane Allen, BBC controller of comedy commissioning, said: “The BBC Comedy Association is dedicated to creating extra opportunities that keep the industry afloat and more vibrant than it has ever been to safeguard the future of British comedy.”

Abacus To Sell ‘The Masked Singer UK’
In a competitive situation, Abacus Media Rights has landed the rights to sell The Masked Singer UK internationally. Based on the Korean format, the UK version is made by Argonon-owned Bandicoot Scotland for ITV. A second season will launch on December 26, hosted again by Joel Dommett.

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