Starring: Bill Nighy , David Morrissey , James McAvoy , John Simm , Polly Walker , Marc Warren
Produced by: Hilary Bevan-Jones
Written by: Paul Abbott
Before the new hit movie, there was this BBC must-see mini-series. Take home the critically acclaimed mini-series the New York Times says “bristles with class tension” and includes characters of “unusual depth and complexity”.
Friendships are tested and lives are put on the line as an intricate web of lies unfolds.
Item Number: 14535
Audio Commentary (Episodes 1 and 6)
A singular season of thrills features David Morrissey (Viva Blackpool) as Stephen Collins, an
ambitious politician tangled in a web of professional alliances, sabotage and
suspicious circumstances. En route to work one morning, Stephen’s research
assistant mysteriously falls to her death on the London Underground. It’s not
long before revelations of their affair hit the headlines. Meanwhile, a
suspected teenage drug dealer is found shot dead. While these events appear
unconnected at first, they soon expose a government dancing too closely with
the corporate devil. Co-stars Bill Nighy (Gideon’s
Daughter, Pirates of the
As seen on BBC America.
Episode 1 - A political suicide starts the media guessing.
When Sonia Baker, a young political researcher, falls on the Tube tracks and is killed, it devastates her high-profile boss, Labour MP Stephen Collins. The press smells blood and questions are asked about the nature of his relationship with Sonia. The story is pursued by a leading broadsheet, and its senior reporter, Cal McCaffrey, is put on the case – his long-standing friendship with Collins considered a bonus by the editor, Cameron Foster. McCaffrey is uncomfortable with pursuing what amounts to a domestic scandal, until his colleague Della discovers a surprising link between Sonia’s death and the murder of a black teenager named Kelvin Stagg that same morning. Someone clearly wanted Sonia dead. But why?
Episode 2 - How do you get to the truth when everyone is lying?
After the murder of DI Brown, the Metropolitan Police puts the tough-minded DCI Bell on the investigation. He knows Della is withholding information and is determined to find out what she and Cal know. Meanwhile, Stephen Collins’ story becomes more complicated when an anonymous fax reveals that his affair with Sonia was far from being superficial – Stephen was going to leave his wife Anne for her. The revelation is another headache for the party’s spin doctor, Andrew Wilson, who is trying to keep Stephen’s reputation intact. It also gives Cal pause for thought – why did Stephen lie to him? When Anne leans on him for support and information, Cal finds it increasingly hard to steer a professional line. Worst still, the trust between him and Della disintegrates when she realises her life is in danger.
Episode 3 - Is the press above the rule of law, or does it have its own rules?
Cal is released from jail by DCI Bell and colludes with him in a plan to smoke out the hit man. As Cal waits it out, his team pins the author of the anonymous letters to a City wideboy named Dominic Foy. The discovery that he had a sexual history with Sonia leads the team to suspect that he is guilty. But is Stephen also hiding something from them? How did Sonia know she had the job in Stephen’s office one month before he interviewed her? Meanwhile, Cal’s personal and professional life gets hopelessly tangled when Anne Collins urges him to meet her at a hotel. Their passion is leading them towards love, but the costs of this are explosive.
Episode 4 - Betrayal lies closer to home than Stephen expected.
Cal and Anne’s affair prompts Stephen to instruct Andrew Wilson to spin the news around the press and ruin Cal’s reputation. His only supporter now is the Energy Minister, George Fergus, who wills him to succeed. Cal and his team corner Dominic Foy, who is edgy, obstructive and constantly changing his story. He is clearly running scared, but why? They discover a connection between Foy and a firm who lobby on behalf of the oil industry. Given that Stephen chairs the Energy Select Committee in the House of Commons, could there be a connection? Was Foy Sonia’s secret lover, or employer? Only Stephen can help answer that question, but Stephen will not co-operate – until he makes a sickening discovery that could end his political career. Now he needs Cal.
Episode 5 - Corporate conspiracies are brought to light.
Stephen’s earnest defence over the hiring protocol of Sonia leads Cal to interrogate his obtuse assistant, Greer. She finally admits to being influenced, by an unexpected source. When the UK’s largest oil company gets wind of where the newspaper’s investigation is heading, Cameron finds himself under pressure from his Board and makes a startling decision. Sensing that his team is close to snaring their prey, Cal invites Stephen to listen in to an interview with Dominic Foy, hoping that, with a few well-aimed questions, the increasingly paranoid Foy will crack. His hunch is correct. Foy’s confession is a goldmine, but it sends Stephen over the edge and Foy to Casualty.
Episode 6 - As the truth finally emerges, Cal makes a shattering discovery.
Stephen is obsessed with finding out who knew Sonia to be a plant, and who is protecting George Fergus. Cal and Cameron plan to print the story, in spite of the editor’s opposition. On the morning that Cameron’s explosive headlines hit the news-stands, Cal travels to Manchester to see Anne. He is disturbed to find her supportive of Stephen when he reveals that Sonia had been planted in his office. Meanwhile, spin-doctor Andrew Wilson goes into overdrive masterminding an approach to the crisis. But Stephen is single-minded now in his obsession: who in the Government knew that Sonia was a plant? And why are they protecting George Fergus? His anger at the scale of the deception leads him to Cal once more; he wants to bring George down at all costs. His love for Sonia demands it. When the paper’s executive editor puts the brakes on the story, Cal and Cameron hatch a plan to print it. With the stakes at the highest, their story takes one final, gut-wrenching turn.
|Stephen Collins||---||David Morrissey|
|Cal McAffrey||---||John Simm|
|Anne Collins||---||Polly Walker|
|Dan Foster||---||James McAvoy|
|Adam Green||---||Christopher Simpson|
|Dominic Foy||---||Marc Warren|
|DCI Bell||---||Philip Glenister|
|Stuart Brown||---||Rory McCann|
|Deputy Chief Constable Janson||---||Nick Brimble|
|Stephen’s Lawyer||---||Peter Sullivan|
|Andrew Wilson||---||Michael Feast|
|George Fergus||---||James Laurenson|
|Professor Madeline Tate||---||Madeleine Potter|
|Louis Collins||---||Charlie Ryan|
|Karen Collins||---||Rebecca Ryan|
|Olicia Stagg||---||Maureen Hibbert|
|Sonny Stagg||---||Johann Myers|
|Kelvin Stagg||---||Gregory Poorman|
|Sheena Gough||---||Natasha Wightman|
|Susan Sagattchean||---||Susie Porter|
|Joy||---||Pui Fan Lee|
|Kirsty (Della’s double)||---||Cara Kelly|
|Mr Baker||---||Fred Pearson|
|Bob Coutts||---||David Ryall|
Written by Paul Abbott
Political Advisor: Simon Hoggart
Directed by David Yates
Produced by Hilary Bevan Jones
Executive Produced by Gareth Neame, Laura Mackie, Paul Abbott
2004 - Best Actor – Bill Nighy
BAFTA® Television Craft Awards
2004 - Best Editing (Fiction/Entertainment)
2004 - Best Sound (Fiction/Entertainment)
“Unmissable … this gripping new conspiracy thriller just might be our long-awaited, home-grown 24.” - Observer
“Great performances, taut direction, brilliant script – come year-end, State Of Play deserves to take every awardgoing.” - Guardian
“Screenwriter Paul Abbott really hit the bull’s-eye with this journalistic thriller … the script is sly, serpentine and carried along by an ensemble of BIG characters – among them David Morrissey's MP in turmoil; John Simm as the sharp reporter on the case; and a splendidly sardonic Bill Nighy – all seasoned charm and jaded wit – as the editor. Another series is slated for next year, no doubt hot on the heels of a clutch of awards.” - The Times
This original and hugely acclaimed BBC series has been adapted and released as a film starring Russell Crowe, Helen Mirren and Ben Affleck - relocated from London to Washington, DC. Read The New York Times article "Fleet Street Scoop on Capitol Hill" for more about the original series and the new film adaptation.
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