Winter is Coming to SoHo Over Summer

An Arctic noir starring Stanley Tucci, Michael Gambon and Christopher Eccleston is among SoHo’s sizzling summer attractions.

Others include the sixth and final season of Justified, and new episodes of Banshee, The Americans and Last Week Tonight With John Oliver.

And on the eve of Game of Thrones’ fifth season launching in April, Sky will run another GoT pop-up channel from February 19-March 31.

But the pick of the summer dramas promises to be Fortitude.

It’s from Simon Donald, the writer of Low Winter Sun, one of those dark cable drama series that  inexplicably has yet to turn up here (its continued broadcast/streaming absence also means it’s in Blu-ray limbo, although you can order it on disc from Australia, which seems to be the only territory where it’s been released on BD).

Donald’s latest series is set in a small Arctic Circle town where a violent crime exposes an even darker side to life in this remote, fractured community.

The high-calibre cast is led by GoT’s Richard Dormer (Beric Dondarrion) as the local police chief and includes The Killing/Forbrydelsen’s Sofie Gabrol and Call the Midwife’s Jessica Raine.

Commissioned by the UK’s Sky Atlantic , the 12-part, £25 million drama was bedevilled by a major problem during shooting: “a complete absence of snow”.

Producer Patrick Spence told The Independent sudden rainfall and a temperature rise just before filming began washed away what little snow there was on location.

“We had to bring the snow to Iceland. We became the world’s largest importer of fake snow for the whole of 2014.

“We had plane loads of canisters coming over from London. We had to re-lay it across our town and mountainsides for take after take.

“This was the first time since records began, that there was no snowfall – or snow on the ground – during the six weeks we were filming across the winter.”

But the trouble may have been worth it. Forbes magazine reckons Britain’s biggest original TV drama commission in recent memory has “filmic visual ambition and a production budget to match.

“And, judging by the feature-length first episode, Fortitude is worth every penny.”

And The Guardian dubbed it “Twin Peaks in the Arctic … relentlessly unsettling and claustrophobic, a blizzard (literally) of intrigue, infidelity, corruption and murder”.

Fortitude will screen 9.30 Mondays from February 2, The Americans (S3) 8.30 Wednesday from February 25, Banshee (S3) 8.30 Monday from January 12, and Justified (S6) 8.30 Tuesday from January 27.

Also watch for The Honourable Woman, a powerhouse political drama starring Maggie Gyllenhaal, Stephen Rea, Lindsay Duncan and Janet McTeer that will screen 8.30 Sunday from January 4.

Written and directed by BAFTA winner Hugo Blick (The Shadow Line), the eight-part spy thriller was highly acclaimed on both sides of the Atlantic:

  • “a spectacularly well-constructed story–intricate, dense, demanding and rewarding–about loyalty, deception, forgiveness and revenge” (The Hollywood Reporter);
  • “an astute, sensitive and at times delicate psychological drama” (New York Times);
  • unlike most thrillers, it has put women, instead of (action) men, centre stage; engaged seriously and sensitively with one of the most confounding political pigsties of modern times, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; and told its story painstakingly slowly” (The Telegraph).
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