Dame Judi Dench On Her Passion For Trees

Judi Dench already has an Academy Award, a Golden Globe, and 13 BAFTAs, but there’s one award she’s never won: the Wildscreen Panda Award, the ‘Green Oscars’ of the international wildlife film and TV industry.

This may change this month, as she’s nominated as Best Presenter for Judi Dench: My Passion For Trees, now first and only on Showmax in South Africa. In her first ever documentary, Judi embarks on a magical journey to uncover the mysteries about one of her greatest passions: trees.

“My life now is just trees. Trees and champagne,” says Judi. ““I shall give up acting and lecture on trees, quite soon.”

Judi has long been fascinated with trees; ever since she was a child she has objected to anyone cutting them down. She shared her passion for trees with her late husband, the actor Michael Williams, and together they turned her six-acre garden into their own arboretum. For the past seven years she has continued to care for this woodland with her close companion, wildlife enthusiast David Mills.

Throughout this time, Judi has continually planted and named trees for dear friends and family who have passed, like Natasha Richardson and Alan Rickman.

“Planting trees is about remembering, and something that is living, that goes on,” says Judi. “So you don’t just remember loved ones and stop, you remember them and the memory goes on, and it gets more wonderful.”

In the documentary, Judi talks to some of the best tree scientists and historians in the world to unlock the remarkable secret lives of trees. With the latest scientific techniques and equipment at her disposal, she is able to truly understand how trees work, and gain an insight into their secrets.

For example, she uses a specially designed microphone to hear the trees around her pulsing with life, as water rushes up the trunks to the newly unfurled leaves, while 3D scanning technology allows her to see her favourite oak in a new light – revealing the fact that it is 200 years old, with 260 000 leaves and over 12km of branches. And by analysing NASA satellite imagery, Judi discovers just how effective trees are as carbon capture machines that are fighting to protect our planet.

“By combining cutting-edge filming techniques with real science, we helped Judi experience a side to trees that few people have ever seen before,” says producer Anthony Geffen. “Most of us pass trees every day and never give them a second thought. This film challenges us on that.”

Judi also investigates the very foundation of trees – their roots – learning about an intricate underground fungi network that connects many trees in a forest together, an incredible system known as the ‘wood wide web.’

She learns more about how trees can communicate and contribute to the forest, sharing resources with seedlings or the vulnerable. It’s confirmation for Judi that trees aren’t just trees, they are a real community that help each other, humans and the planet.

“When I plant trees in memory of my friends, I always hope that they would feel part of a community. That they would be communicating with each other,” says Judi. “And now, it’s so reassuring to find out that it’s true.”

Judi Dench: My Passion For Trees is made by the multi-BAFTA and Emmy award-winning team behind BBC hits such as Inside the Commons, David Attenborough’s Great Barrier Reef, and Galapagos.

“Working with Judi on her first documentary has been an absolute delight,” says Anthony. “Audiences will experience a side to Judi they won’t have ever seen before: her love for trees, her passion for learning and her wonderful sense of humour.”

“I shall never be able to walk nonchalantly through a woodland again without thinking about all of the incredible work that is going on under there,” says Judi. “We think we live in a society, but it is no comparison to what goes on between trees, and how these chaps live. It’s mind-blowing. It’s wonderful and very exciting. I don’t know how I lived so long without knowing more about my passion, but I know now.”

Glenn Howerton, Patton Oswalt High School Comedy Now Streaming On Showmax

In A.P. Bio, now first and only on Showmax, Glenn Howerton (Dennis from It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia) stars as Jack Griffin,  a disgraced Harvard philosophy scholar who’s forced to return to Toledo, Ohio, and work as a high school Advanced Placement biology teacher.

As he comes crashing into Whitlock High School (literally), Jack bluntly informs his students that he will not be teaching any biology.

A.P. BIO — Pilot — Pictured: Glenn Howerton as Jack — (Photo by: Ron Batzdorff/NBC)

“Here’s the deal. I do not care about biology. We’re not going to do any biology in here. And to be perfectly clear, this won’t be one of those things where, over the course of the year, I secretly teach it to you. This also won’t be one of those things where I end up learning more from you than you do from me,” says Jack, skewering two of the traditional tropes of high school teacher stories before the credits have even rolled. “I know more than all of you combined so that doesn’t make any sense.”

Instead, he continues. “I’m going to spend the majority of my time mentally breaking my nemesis, with the ultimate goal of taking his job as the head of Stanford Philosophy, and then, I’m gonna have sex with as many women as I possibly can throughout the entire state of California. But, you don’t need to concern yourselves with that.”

While not all critics thought that was a politically correct set-up for a comedy in 2018, NBC has already renewed the show for a second season. Indiewire called A.P. Bio “Smart. Surprising. Delightful. Plays against expectation to earn that A… An ensemble comedy with exciting players in every part.” And AVClub wrote, “Glenn Howerton is hilarious” and called the comedy “brisk, funny, and reliably surprising.”

Emmy winner (and stand-up comic) Patton Oswalt (Parks and Recreation, Young Adult) co-stars. “I play the principal, who is very, very excited to have a Harvard professor there, but in order to keep said professor I really have to put up with a lot from him,” says Patton. “My relationship with him is the same as a road manager with a demanding rock star. He’s the guy who’s bringing in the prestige and money so I have to put up with his insane demands.”

The half-hour comedy is created by five-time Emmy nominee Mike O’Brien (Saturday Night Live), who also executive produces with Emmy-winning SNL alumni Seth Meyers, Lorne Michaels and Mike Schoemaker, among others.

“It comes from the feeling of having grown up in the Midwest in a small town just outside of Toledo, and then working in New York for Saturday Night Live, and flying back and forth for the holidays, and feeling the contrast of those two worlds,” says Mike. “I thought it would be an interesting character trait to look down on where you come from, because you were fancy for a few years, but to be slowly won over by it again.”

“I’m always looking for a really original voice and a style of humour I’ve never seen before,” says Glenn, who’s also a co-creator and writer on It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia. “Mike really has that unique sensibility and that ability to write simple, believable yet really funny dialogue. His gift with dialogue is my favourite thing about the show.”

Patton agrees. “It’s amazing: every script is just joke-packed.” (Although Mike says a lot of the best lines came from late additions from Patton himself. “He’s hilarious as a stand-up comedian, so sometimes I tap him for an extra joke or a line,” says Mike. “He’s a really fast writer so he can think up better lines on the fly most of the time than I can.”)

The comedy-all-star directing line-up include Emmy winner Ryan Case (Modern Family) and Emmy nominees Carrie Brownstein (Portlandia), Osmany Rodriguez (The Last Man On Earth), and Daniel Gray Longino (Who Is America?), not to mention BAFTA nominees Julie Anne Robinson (Orange is the New Black) and Tristram Shapeero (Peep Show), and Sundance winner Lynn Shelton (Glow).

A.P. BIO — “Overachieving Virgins” Episode 107 — Pictured: Glenn Howerton as Jack Griffin — (Photo by: Vivian Zink/NBC)

“Praise is due to Oz Rodriguez, director of the pilot and several early episodes, for establishing an aesthetic that is instantly distinctive,” wrote The Hollywood Reporter. “There’s a highly stylized drabness typified by accentuating certain colors like teal and orange at the expense of primary colors… Admirable in a world in which so few comedies take visual risks.”

Laugh your way through all 13 episodes of A.P. Bio, first and only on Showmax.

What To Stream On Showmax: October – December 2018

WESTWORLD S2

2018 Emmy winner

Set at the intersection of the near future and the reimagined past, this Emmy-winning and Golden Globe-nominated series explores a world in which every human appetite could be indulged without consequence – until now. Season two has an 86% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes, where the critics consensus says, “Westworld builds on its experimental first season, diving deeper into the human side of AI without losing any of its stylish, bloody glory.” Thandie Newton (Maeve) won the 2018 Emmy for Best Supporting Actress. Binge now.

CHANNEL ZERO: THE NO-END HOUSE

First on Showmax

“Your memories will eat you alive. Enter the No-End House at your own peril.” The second season of Channel Zero has a rare 100% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes, where the critics’ consensus is its “central mystery is stronger and scarier than Channel Zero’s first, solidifying its status as one of TV’s scariest horror offerings.” Binge now.

Our pick for Halloween.

A.P. BIO S1

First on Showmax

When his dream job is stolen, a philosophy scholar (Glenn Howerton from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) becomes a biology teacher at Whitlock High School, run by Principal Durbin (Emmy-winner Patton Oswalt). But instead of teaching science, Jack uses his honour-roll students to get back at the people in his life who have wronged him. Creator Michael Patrick O’Brien has five Emmy nominations for his writing on Saturday Night Live. Binge now.

DR WHO S11

First on Showmax

Series 11 marks the arrival of the thirteenth Doctor (Jodie Whittaker), with three new friends (Mandip Gill, Bradley Walsh and Tosin Cole) and a new showrunner in Chris Chibnall (Broadchurch). Watch new episodes weekly from 8 October, express from the UK.

CAMPING S1

First on Showmax

Kathryn (Golden Globe winner Jennifer Garner) gathers together her meek sister, her holier-than-thou ex-best friend and a free-spirited tagalong to mark her husband David’s 44th birthday – but what was supposed to be a delightful, back-to-nature camping trip quickly becomes a weekend of tested marriages and woman-on-woman crime that won’t soon be forgotten. David Tennant (Broadchurch, Jessica Jones) and Oscar-nominee Juliette Lewis co-star in this eight-part HBO comedy from Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner (Girls). Binge from 15 October 2018.

Based on the BAFTA-nominated 2016 British series of the same name.

NOW ON OR COMING SOON

ALWAYS WANTED TO WORK AT COSMO?
The Bold Type S1 (Binge now)
Inspired by the life of former Cosmopolitan editor-in-chief Joanna Coles, The Bold Type is about three friends working at a fictional women’s magazine. The hit show has a 98% rating on Rotten Tomatoes for its “aspirational yet refreshingly realistic portrait of young women’s careers, friendships and love lives in a big city.” The Bold Type was nominated for both the Teen Choice Summer TV Show and GLAAD’s Outstanding Comedy Series awards, among others. Binge now.

FEEL LIKE A FRIGHT FOR HALLOWEEN?
Sleep Tight S1 (due 08/10)
In the tradition of The Twilight Zone, each episode pulls you inside a new nightmare as Gen Z’s favourite influencers fight to survive strange and supernatural horrors you can never unsee. From AwesomenessTV, who just sold to Viacom and also brought you Showmax favourites You’ve Been T@gged and Freakish.

EVER WANTED TO BE THE QUEEN OF ENGLAND?
The White Queen S1 (due 08/10)
It’s 1464 and two British royal houses are caught in a blood feud over who should rule. Love, lust, dreams and ambition tangle in a bloody conflict where everyone is a pawn trying to be the kingmaker in this thrilling adult drama based on Philippa Gregory’s bestselling novel. Nominated for three Golden Globes, four Emmys and a People’s Choice Award for Favourite Miniseries.

FEEL LIKE ONE OF THE BEST COP SHOWS ON TV?
Line of Duty S1-4 (due 18/10)
This hit English cop show follows AC-12, the police anti-corruption unit tasked with investigating others on the force. Season four stars 2018 Emmy-winner Thandie Newton (Westworld), who was nominated for her role in Line of Duty as Best Lead Actress at this year’s BAFTAs, where the acclaimed show was also up for Best Drama Series, The Must-See Moment Award, and Best Supporting Actor (Adrian Dunbar). IMDB Top Rated TV: #199.

NEED A SCI-FI COMEDY?
Future Man S1 (due 01/11)
Josh Futturman (MTV, Teen Choice and People’s Choice winner Josh Hutcherson from The Hunger Games), a janitor by day and a gamer by night, is recruited by mysterious visitors to travel through time to prevent the extinction of humanity. From some of the guys who brought you Sausage Party and This Is The End.

CATCHING UP ON 2018 EMMY WINNERS?
The Handmaid’s Tale S2 (due 01/11)
In a dystopian future, fertile women are forced to live as concubines under a fundamentalist theocratic dictatorship. As Moira, Samira Wiley won the Emmy for Best Guest Actress this year: the series’ tenth Emmy in two seasons, while at this year’s Golden Globes, Elisabeth Moss won Best Actress and the first season was named Best Drama.

FEEL LIKE ‘TV’S MOST ADULT SHOW?’
The Girlfriend Experience S1 (due 03/12)
Executive produced by Oscar-winner Steven Soderbergh, The Girlfriend Experience is based on his film of the same name about a high-end Manhattan call girl. In the lead role, Riley Keough (Mad Max: Fury Road) was up for Best Actress at the Golden Globes. “TV’s most adult show.” Newsday.

LOVED ‘THE WIRE?’
The Deuce S2 (due 03/12)
The Deuce chronicles that moment in time when sex went from being a back-alley, brown-paper-bag commodity to a billion-dollar industry in America. Created by George Pelecanos and David Simon (The Wire), The Deuce stars Maggie Gyllenhaal (Crazy Heart) in a Golden Globe-nominated role as a prostitite turned pornographer. The series, which is also written by award-winning novelists like Meg Abbott, Richard Price and Lisa Lutz, was nominated for a 2018 Writers Guild of America Award for Best New Series.

THINK YOUR PARENTS ARE EVIL?
Runaways S2 (due 22/12)
All teenagers have moments when they think their parents are evil. But when six teens realise their parents really are supervillains, they band together to stop them. A 2018 Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films nominee for Best Superhero Series.

This is just a small selection of the confirmed series coming to Showmax; many more will be added as contracts are finalised in the coming weeks. Please note schedules are subject to change.

Browse everything coming to Showmax in October

DStv Weekly Highlights: 29 September To 4 October 2018

PREMIUM

Whether you’re streaming live on DStv Now or watching later on DStv Catch Up, don’t miss any of the new and returning series, movies and sport this week – including Jumanji and Manifest S1.

Saturday 29 September

Apple and Onion S1

A stray cat causes Onion to fear that his friendship with Apple may be in jeopardy.

Watch online on DStv Now at 10:35 on Cartoon Network

The 100 S5

In the fifth season premiere, Clarke struggles to survive on a desolate, scorched earth, while her friends in space come across a long-awaited beacon of hope. Emmy-nominated dystopian drama.

Watch online on DStv Now at 20:00 on M-Net City

Sunday 30 September

Strictly Come Dancing S16

In the series launch, the ‘Strictly’ family dance to a medley of Nile Rodgers’ greatest hits.

Watch online on DStv Now at 18:01 on BBC Brit

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black and Karen Gillan drive this reboot of the 90s cult hit. After finding a mysterious video game, four teenagers are sucked into its virtual world.

Watch online on DStv Now at 20:05 on M-Net

Read the SAMDB review of Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.

Unlocked

Action-packed spy thriller boasting an all-star cast. A CIA interrogator is lured into a plot that puts London at the mercy of a biological attack.

Watch online on DStv Now at 20:30 on M-Net Movies Premiere

Monday 1 October

Manifest S1

In the series premiere of this mystery thriller, a plane disappears and returns years later after being presumed lost at sea. From the producer of ‘The Mysteries of Laura’.

Watch online on DStv Now at 20:00 on M-Net

Celebrity Undercover Boss S1

Three-time Olympic gold medallist Gabby Douglas goes undercover to meet up-and-coming gymnasts and inspiring coaches.

Watch online on DStv Now at 20:01 on BBC Brit

How to Get Away with Murder S5

The brilliant, charismatic Professor Annalise Keating is back for Season 5 on this masterful, suspense-driven legal thriller.

Watch online on DStv Now at 20:30 on 1Magic

Tuesday 2 October

Catfish Trolls S1

The internet catfish and the victim meet up in this special four-episode spin-off of the hit MTV show.

Watch online on DStv Now at 15:00 on MTV

Wednesday 3 October

The Witness for the Prosecution S1

In 1920s London, a brutal murder has stained the plush carpets of a handsome London townhouse. The victim is the beautiful widow Emily French and all evidence points to Leonard, a dashing young chancer.

Watch online on DStv Now at 20:00 on BBC First

Thursday 4 October

Snatch S2

In the season premiere of this crime drama, we find the gang enjoying their hard-earned fortune while hiding on a cosy vacation island. Based on the acclaimed film of the same name.

Watch online on DStv Now at 22:00 on M-Net

COMPACT

Whether you’re streaming live on DStv Now or watching later on DStv Catch Up, don’t miss any of the new and returning series, movies and sport this week – including Timeless S2 and The Good Doctor S1.

Saturday 29 September

Apple and Onion S1

A stray cat causes Onion to fear that his friendship with Apple may be in jeopardy.

Watch online on DStv Now at 10:35 on Cartoon Network

Timeless S2

Wyatt Logan, Rufus Carlin, Connor Mason and Agent Denise Christopher are all holed up with the Lifeboat in a deserted missile silo, in the season premiere of this fantasy time-travel series.

Watch online on DStv Now at 19:00 on M-Net City

The 100 S5

In the fifth season premiere, Clarke struggles to survive on a desolate, scorched earth, while her friends in space come across a long-awaited beacon of hope. Emmy-nominated dystopian drama.

Watch online on DStv Now at 20:00 on M-Net City

Sunday 30 September

Strictly Come Dancing S16

In the series launch, the ‘Strictly’ family dance to a medley of Nile Rodgers’ greatest hits.

Watch online on DStv Now at 18:01 on BBC Brit

Monday 1 October

Celebrity Undercover Boss S1

Three-time Olympic gold medallist Gabby Douglas goes undercover to meet up-and-coming gymnasts and inspiring coaches.

Watch online on DStv Now at 20:01 on BBC Brit

Tuesday 2 October

Catfish Trolls S1

The internet catfish and the victim meet up in this special four-episode spin-off of the hit MTV show.

Watch online on DStv Now at 15:00 on MTV

Thursday 4 October

The Good Doctor S1

In the series premiere of this introspective medical drama, a young surgeon with autism and savant syndrome relocates to work at a prestigious hospital. Freddie Highmore (Bates Motel) stars.

Watch online on DStv Now at 19:00 on M-Net City

DStv Now can be accessed online at now.dstv.com or through the app for tablets and smartphones. The app is free to download on the Google Play Store or Apple App Store and is available to all DStv customers. Live channels and DStv Catch Up content is available to all DStv customers

‘Trevor Noah Presents NationWild’ Now First And Only On Showmax

Trevor Noah Presents NationWild, a 13-part comedy showcase of South Africa’s brightest young comedians, is now streaming first and only on Showmax. “I’m really excited for Mzansi audiences to discover their new favourite comedians,” says Trevor.

Considering that African comedians like David Kibuuka and Loyiso Madinga have already appeared with Trevor on The Daily Show, anything’s possible next for the 13 stars he hand-picked for Trevor Noah Presents NationWild: 2018 Comics’ Choice Next Level winner Phil de Lange and Best Newcomer winner Tsitsi Chiumya; 2018 nominees Bongani Dube, Eric Jansen, Gilli Apter and Lindy Johnson; 2017 Best Intermediate nominees Noko Moswete and Mo Mothebe; and 2016 Comics’ Choice Breakthrough Comic Award winner Virgil Prins (aka Prins), not to forget rising stars Gavin Kelly, Keenan Cerff, Kraai Du Toit and Mbu Msongwela.

“This is the moment that could make or break my career,” says Johannesburg comic Eric Jansen. “This is my opportunity. It still doesn’t feel real. Me? Really? The kid from Reiger Park?”

“When I got the call, I thought it was fake news,” echoes Gavin Kelly, a Pretoria comic who also writes for the SAFTA-winning The Bantu Hour. “I still think Leon Schuster is going to pop up somewhere and say you’ve been schucksed.”

Similarly, Mbu Msongelwa, a comic originally from Mdantsane township outside East London, didn’t believe the news. “It came out on the first of April, so you have to wonder,” he says.

Pretoria comic Kraai du Toit was the last comedian to be announced, so his problem was getting other people to believe he’d really been selected. “There was a guy called TBC on the first list, so people didn’t believe me because my name wasn’t on that line-up,” says Kraai. “Now I’m thinking of changing my name to TBC.”

Each episode of Trevor Noah Presents NationWild features a short introductory set by Trevor as the host, an interview with the featured comedian about their ladder to success, followed by that comedian’s set.

One name that pops up repeatedly when these comedians talk about their career paths is Jason Goliath of The Goliath Comedy Club.

Having come to Johannesburg with a BCom Law and management degree, Prins had burned through his savings and still didn’t have a job. He was a day or two away from moving back to the Eastern Cape defeated, when Jason called him, told him not to leave, and hooked him up with a job at a call centre that allowed him to pay his rent while getting his comedy career off the ground.

Gilli Apter, who writes for comics like Nik Rabinowitz and SAFTA-winning shows like ZANews and Those Who Can’t, might also not have started performing her own stand-up, if not for Jason. “Stand-up was something I probably always wanted to do but was too scared to do,” she admits. In September 2015, she went to a corporate with Nik, and met Jason and Donovan Goliath. “They said, ‘You’re a writer. Why aren’t you performing?’ Jason said, ‘Whenever you’re ready, we’ll give you a spot.’”

Goliath & Goliath won the Comics Choice’ Friends of Comedy award for three years in a row from 2015-2017, so these stories won’t surprise anyone in the industry. But some of the other people credited for the comedians’ success will be more surprised.

For Bongani Dube, a comic from Venda, he’s hoping Barbara, a girl from school, will be streaming his set. “I was tiny and super skinny at school,” he says. “I’d get bullied by girls. There was this one girl, Barbara. If I find her, I’d hug her and say, ‘Barbara, you made me a better comic.’ She pushed me into finding a way not to fight back, because you don’t want to hit a woman, so I had to find a way to strike her back with words.”

It’s not always simple convincing your parents that being a comedian is a viable career choice; in Lavender Hill comic Keenan Cerff’s case, his mother walked out of his first comedy set, although she did leave him Uber money.

So Mbu speaks for many of the comics when he says, “I’m looking forward to my mom seeing me on TV, being introduced on stage by Trevor Noah, to give her some perspective on the career I can have, so she can see this as an actual career.”

For Keenan, it’ll be validation for more than just himself. “I want to give the people of Lavender Hill hope,” he says. “In Lavender Hill, if there is someone who has talent, or wants to study, they often don’t have money and you have this society that pulls people down, that tells you that you can’t do this, that tells you, ‘Why don’t you just go pack at Checkers?’ I’m the shy, soft, quiet child and now I’m about to do this. So I just want people to know that whatever they want to do, they can do it. As long as they keep pushing and believing, they can achieve whatever they want. They don’t have to follow that gangster or this person or that person; they can just be themselves.”

That, ultimately, seems to be the key lesson that all the comics have learnt in their career so far: that they are funniest when they are most true to themselves. As Keenan puts it, the best advice he ever got from a comedian was to stop trying to be funny and to rather just be himself on stage and tell people his stories and where he’s from. Because in this country at least, the truth is always the best punch-line and funnier than any fiction.

Laugh your way through all 13 episodes of Trevor Noah Presents NationWild only on Showmax.

Six Reasons ‘Harlots’ Is The Best Show You’re Not Watching

Season two of Harlots, Hulu’s critically acclaimed series about warring brothels in 18th-Century Georgian England, is now first and only on Showmax. If you’re late to the show that Variety described as “Downton Abbey meets Game of Thrones,” Harlots follows Margaret Wells as she struggles to reconcile her roles as brothel owner and mother to daughters Charlotte and Lucy – while fighting off Lydia Quigley, a rival madam with a ruthless streak. GQ recently called Harlots “the best show you’re not watching… If you haven’t been keeping up, then you’re missing out.” Here are six reasons why:

1. The cast features two Oscar nominees; Lady Sybil from Downton Abbey; and now Liv Tyler

Harlots’ cast includes Oscar-nominees Samantha Morton (In America, Sweet and Lowdown, The Walking Dead) and Lesley Manville (The Phantom Thread, River) as the rival brothel owners. Screen Actors Guild winner Jessica Brown Findlay (aka Lady Sybil from Downton Abbey) plays Charlotte Wells. And now another Screen Actors Guild winner Liv Tyler (aka Arwen in Lord of the Rings) has joined the cast as Lady Isabella Fitzwilliam, heiress of Blayne.

2. You’ll realise just how bad things used to be for women – and that things are improving

In Georgian England, the age of consent was 12. If a woman (or child) married, her body was considered her husband’s property, as was her actual property. Even if she inherited money, like Lady Fitzwilliam, she couldn’t control it – a male relative would keep it for her until she married, when it would pass to her husband. So perhaps it’s understandable that one in five women made a living selling sex in London in 1763; as Eloise Smyth, who plays Lucy Wells, says, “Being a prostitute was the only way for young women to make their own money and have ownership of their money.”

3. It’s a rare show entirely written, directed and produced by women

Harlots is driven by a rare all-female creative team of writers Moira Buffini (Jane Eyre) and Alison Newman; Oscar-nominated executive producers Alison Owen ((Elizabeth, Anne With An E) and Debra Hayward (Les Misérables, Love Actually), with Alison Carpenter; BAFTA-nominated lead director Coky Giedroyc (The Killing, Seven Seconds); and BAFTA-winning producer Grainne Marmion (The Borrowers, Doctor Foster).

The result? It’s been praised for its “whore’s eye view” by Vanity Fair; hailed as “one of the few shows on television to master feminist sex scenes” by Decider; and celebrated as “a much-needed break from the male gaze” by Bustle.

As Liv Tyler says, “Harlots could go in a totally different direction, I think, if it was written by a man.”

4. Georgian England was ‘very rock ‘n roll’

“The Georgians were pretty rock ‘n roll,” says Eloise Smyth, who speaks with authority on rock ‘n roll comparisons, since her dad was Cathal Smyth – Chas Smash in the British band Madness. “It was only when the Victorians came that we got that British ‘stiff upper lip’ thing. The Georgians were pretty punk and cool and had great parties, wore lavish clothing and were quite bawdy.”

Samantha Morton agrees, adding that she’d love to see the male fashion from the era make a comeback. “I love it. I really do. I think if you are a man in society today and you want to be flamboyant, it is really suppressed. Back then it didn’t affect your masculinity at all if you had a nice jacket or a bit of a heel on the shoe. That’s why I loved Prince because he did all that. Pop musicians get away with it but for men in today’s society, they go to the shops and what is there for them?”

5. Despite the dark subject matter, it’s funny and warm

As AVClub says, “Rarely has a show about such wretched people been so delightful to watch… Harlots is never as dark as it could be – and is often grimly funny – because it’s never only about the fact that the fight is unwinnable. It’s about the people you can fight beside. Even in a world held under the thumb of powerful men, family is possible. Connection is possible. You can endure.”

6. Critics love it

Harlots currently has a 96% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

As Refinery29 puts its, “The show’s premise involves a difficult balancing act. It must depict sex work without glamorizing it, deliver on a world of intrigue and power struggles without getting too bogged down in historical nitpicking, underscore these ladies’ crackling wit and joie de vivre without glossing over the very real dangers they face, all with a healthy dose of camp aided by a lavish costume budget. And good thing for us, [Harlots] delivers on all of the above. Inspired by the story of real women, Harlots is a story about sex workers, yes – but it’s also about family, female friendships, gender dynamics, and money… All in all, it’s the perfect way to escape the increasingly Handmaid’s Tale world we’re living in. Forget Gilead – Georgian London is where it’s at.”

Both Vox and The Guardian described the feminist workplace drama as “addictive,” with Vox pitching it as “what would happen if The Sopranos and Gossip Girl had filthy, complicated sex” and The Guardian calling it “TV stuffed to the heaving bosom with sex, gin and glorious insults… Expertly evokes the sleaze and virginity-auctioning of the Georgian age… A fully realised, filthy and believable world, which also happens to be hugely entertaining to watch.”

You can now binge-watch Harlots first and only on Showmax in South Africa.

Two Comics Choice Winners To Appear On Trevor Noah’s New Showmax Show This Month

September is turning into a great month for comedians Tsitsi Chiumya and Phil De Lange. Not only did Tsitsi win Best Newcomer and Phil the Next Level prize at this weekend’s Comic Choice Awards, both comedians are featured in Trevor Noah presents NationWild, a 13-part comedy showcase coming to Showmax this Heritage Day, 24 September 2018.

Trevor handpicked all 13 comedians featured. Each episode features a short introductory set by Trevor as the host, an interview with the featured comedian about their ladder to success, followed by that comedian’s set. “In each episode, we’re going to meet some of the brightest emerging comedians in Mzansi,” says Trevor.

This year’s Comic Choice Awards back up that claim: to win Best Newcomer, Tsitsi beat out three other comedians featured on Trevor Noah presents Nationwild: Bongani Dube, Gilli Apter and Lindy Johnson, while one of Phil’s primary challenges for the Next Level award came from Eric Jansen, who is also featured on the show.

This is the second major award this year for Tsitsi: he also won a South African Film and Television Award (SAFTA) for Scriptwriting – TV Comedy as part of the Puppet Nation team.

The comedian hails from Lebowakgomo, a small township in Limpopo. He only “officially” learned English in 2006 when he came to Johannesburg. “I went to the only English school in Lebowakgomo; we spoke really bad English there,” says Tsitsi. “I thought I knew what English was before I came to Johannesburg, which was really embarrassing, because I had so much confidence. I’m a pretty awkward guy so it was really weird for me to start learning English, especially when you come to the big city and you always thought that you would fit in, and then you can’t speak the language that people are using to communicate…  From not being able to speak English, to the point that I’m performing with one of the biggest comics in the world, in English, it confirms to me that I’ve conquered this language.”

Phil was born and bred in Bloemfontein but now lives in Cape Town, where he co-hosts The Smile 90.4FM Comedy Hour between 9 and 10 pm on Saturday evenings with Angel Campey. His dry, self-deprecating comedy set blends stand-up and ukulele.

“My first comedy set I ever did was at the Armchair Theatre in Cape Town,” remembers Phil. “I was the first person I think  in Cape Town to ever perform comedy with a ukulele. People laughed at me, not at my jokes, because my mic kept falling out of the mic stand and I broke my ukulele on stage. I was quite terrible to be honest.”

Getting handpicked by Trevor Noah and winning the Next Level award is proof of how much that’s changed. “I don’t actually like attention at all,” says Phil, but he may need to get used to it quickly.

Considering that Trevor’s already given fellow African comedians like David Kibuuka and Loyiso Madinga regular work on The Daily Show, anything’s possible for Phil, Tsitsi and the other stars of Trevor Noah presents NationWild, who include Gavin Kelly, Keenan Cerff, Kraai Du Toit, Mbu Msongwela, 2017 Best Intermediate Comics Choice Award nominees Noko Moswete and Tshireletso ‘Mo’ Mothebe, and 2016 Comics Choice Breakthrough Comic Award winner Virgil Prins (aka Prins).

Trevor is in line for awards himself this month: on 17 September 2018, he could become the first black host to ever win an Emmy for Best Variety Talk Series for The Daily Show.

“Trevor Noah’s global success proves that  SA’s comics are among the best in the world,” says Candice Fangueiro, head of content at Showmax. “We’ve worked hard to make Showmax the home of South African comedy, so we’re delighted to add Trevor Noah presents NationWild to our lineup of hilarious shows, which includes The Roast of Somizi and comedy specials with the likes of 2018 Comics Choice Comedy G award winner David Kau and nominees like Marc Lottering and Mpho Popps.”

Binge all 13 episodes of Trevor Noah presents NationWild only on Showmax from Heritage Day, 24 September 2018.

Five Reasons You Should Be Watching ‘The Magicians’

Season three of The Magicians, Syfy’s cult adult fantasy series, is now first and only on Showmax. If you’re late to what The Verge describes as “one of the most consistently entertaining shows on TV,” The Magicians is about Quentin Coldwater, a 20-something obsessed with a series of fantasy novels he read as a child about a magical land called Fillory. When he’s admitted to a secret, exclusive collage of magic in New York – and then discovers that Fillory is real – it’s all like a dream come true, but magic doesn’t bring the happiness and meaning that he thought it would. Here are five reasons you should be watching The Magicians, which has been nominated as Best Fantasy Series by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Movies for three years in a row.

1. It’s like Harry Potter meets Narnia for adults

The Verge described the TV series as “Harry Potter meets The Chronicles of Narnia meets the cold, harsh realities of real life.” The Magicians is based on the award-winning trilogy of New York Times bestselling fantasy novels by former Time magazine technology writer and book critic Lev Grossman. The first series felt like Grossman had asked what would happen if Harry Potter had only discovered magic was real as an adult, and if Hogwarts was a university full of twenty-somethings who liked booze and sex. Season two feels like he asked what would happen if Narnia really had been ruled by immature humans (clue: it turns out about as well as you’d expect).

2. It’s ‘the most sexually aware show on TV’

io9 praised The Magicians for “becoming the most sexually aware show on TV” with  its “smart, thoughtful and progressive portrayal of sex” in its myriad forms. “There’s no judgment on The Magicians… everything is permitted. Quentin and Eliot have openly explored their bisexuality (from opposing sexual preferences), Margo is straightforward and unapologetic about her desires, and Alice and Quentin took refreshingly open steps to help her orgasm. Group sex and orgies are a repeat occurrence, along with sessions of casual sex… Might be one of the most forward-thinking shows on television right now, because it’s exploring a great many aspects of consenting adult relationships in a remarkably honest — and mature — way.” No one ever said that about Harry Potter or The Chronicles of Narnia…

3. It’s fantasy for fantasy lovers

AVClub hailed The Magicians as “a fantasy show for people who love fantasy shows.” Not just for the way the show’s storylines seem to talk back to the fantasy canon of Potter and Narnia, but also for the pop culture references that pepper the dialogue. In a key scene in season three, when King Eliot needs to tell Queen Margo she’s being watched, they have an entire conversation in pop culture, referencing everything from Battlestar Galactica to Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Harry Potter to Game of Thrones.

4. Critics love it

The Magicians has a 87% rating on Rotten Tomatoes – 11% higher than The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe and 20% better than Prince Caspian. As Salon says, The Magicians is “probably the most entrancing fantasy available on television right now.” Or as Collider wrote, “The Magicians has fully grown into one of the most entertaining and engaging shows on TV by carving out its own identity… Darkly hilarious, emotionally complex, wildly fantastical, and a little funky—there’s nothing else like it, and that’s precisely what makes it such a joy to watch.”

5. It keeps getting better

Season three starts just after the removal of magic from the world, putting Brakebills, their university of magic, on the brink of closure. As Quentin and his friends set out on an epic quest to find seven keys that will restore magic, they’ve never been so vulnerable, which leads to the most exciting season yet. As Vox wrote, it’s “a third season that might be as big a step up over its second season as the second season already was over the first.” On Rotten Tomatoes, season three has a rare 100% critics rating – the show’s highest score yet.

SyFy has already commissioned season four for 2019 – a no brainer considering that the series has been the channel’s top performing scripted original for adults 18-49 for the past three years.

Binge season three now at www.showmax.com.

Tidal And MTN Announce Trailblazing Partnership Bringing Pioneering Music And Video Streaming Service To Millions Of Customers Across Africa, Starting With Uganda

The partnership provides MTN Uganda customers a variety of options for a data-inclusive TIDAL membership as part of their mobile plan to gain access to exclusive high-quality streaming music, videos, concerts and more

KAMPALA, Uganda, August 28, 2018/ — Partnership kicks off in Uganda with three key activities

  • Launch Press Conference on Wednesday 22nd August 2018
  • Artists Collaboration Conference on Thursday 27th September 2018
  • The MTN TIDAL Experience on Saturday 29th September 2018

Global music and video streaming platform, TIDAL (www.TIDAL.com) in partnership with the leading communications operator in Uganda offering mobile & fixed telecommunications, MTN Uganda, have today announced an exciting, first-of-its kind collaboration.

The partnership provides MTN Uganda customers a variety of options for a data-inclusive TIDAL membership as part of their mobile plan to gain access to exclusive high-quality streaming music, videos, concerts and more.

“Africa is a continent that has long been an inspiration for music heard around the world and TIDAL is excited to highlight the vibrant musicians on our platform. TIDAL is also thrilled to bring a new wave of digital music to Uganda as part of this collaboration” said Lior Tibon, COO TIDAL.

The partnership, launched in Uganda but set to be rolled out in other MTN operations across Africa comes with an array of membership options where customers can tap into one, three, seven and 30-day memberships, all of which include data and a free 30-day trial for all first-time members.

On the importance of MTN’s partnership with TIDAL artist-owner Damian Marley noted:

“I remember hearing stories about my father‘s records being destroyed once they got to Africa. They didn’t want the people to hear the message in the music. What a beautiful day it is now when Africa will not only have access to my family’s music but to all music that exists”

Speaking about the launch of the partnership, Jason Kpana, SVP Artist & Label Relations, shared:

“I’m really looking forward to connecting with Uganda’s musicians and helping to bring the TIDAL music streaming experience to fans across the country. We know MTN customers will love the diverse playlists, livestreams, videos and original content available on TIDAL.”

The content on TIDAL offers a deeper look into not only the repertoire of artists, but the music that inspires the work they do. Editors across the globe showcase the hottest tracks across all genres and create soundtracks for key cultural moments – life, death, civil revolutions, works of literature, and movies that have caught the cultural zeitgeist.

.In celebration of the Ugandan music industry and the start of a digital music revolution, TIDAL and MTN Uganda announced advanced plans in organizing an exclusive Collaboration Conference and ‘The MTN TIDAL Experience’ which will be held on 27 and 29 September respectively. MTN Uganda Chief Marketing Officer, Olivier Prentout, gave more details about it:

“The Collaboration Conference will exclusively be attended by artists, music producers and promoters. The conference aims to bring artists together to learn about the evolution of the music industry across the globe and how to expand locally along with the help of TIDAL. Following the conference, “The MTN TIDAL Experience”, featuring dancehall artist Kranium, Nigeria’s DJ Spinall, our very own Beenie Gunter and local DJs are set to host the experience which will be held at the MTN Headquarters”.

“At MTN we believe that everyone deserves the benefits of a modern, connected life. This partnership with TIDAL further demonstrates our strategic vision to lead the delivery of a bold, new digital world to our customers by making music more available on their smartphones. One product innovation MTN will add to the TIDAL subscriptions is the inclusion of data. MTN subscribers will be given the choice between daily, weekly and monthly packages payable only via Mobile Money (MoMo).” added Olivier.

More information can be found on TIDAL.com/MTN

About MTN Uganda

Launched in 1998, MTN Uganda (www.MTN.co.ug) is the leading communications operator in Uganda, offering Mobile & Fixed telecommunications, Mobile Money Services and Internet Service Provisioning. As at 30th June 2018, MTN Uganda recorded 10.5 million subscribers across Uganda. Visit us at www.MTN.co.ug  or follow us on www.YouTube.com/mtnug and www.Twitter.com/mtnug or www.Twitter.com/mtnugpro for assistance.

About the MTN Group

Launched in 1994, the MTN Group (www.MTN.com) is a leading emerging market operator, connecting subscribers in 22 countries in Africa and the Middle East. The MTN Group is listed on the JSE Securities Exchange in South Africa under the share code: “MTN.” As of 30th June 2018, MTN recorded 223.4million subscribers with 24.1 million active Mobile Money users and 71.2 million active Data users across its operations in Afghanistan, Benin, Botswana, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Guinea Republic, Iran, Liberia, Nigeria, Republic of Congo (Congo-Brazzaville), Rwanda, South Africa, Sudan, South Sudan, Swaziland, Syria, Uganda, Yemen and Zambia. Visit us at, www.MTNBusiness.com, www.MTN.com and www.MTNMMO.com

Sci-fi Procedural ‘Reverie’ Now On Showmax

Reverie, a new sci-fi procedural, is now available to binge, first on Showmax in Africa.

The series is named after a customisable and immersive virtual reality experience that scans users’ memories and social media footprints to help them bring their dreams to life.

REVERIE — Pilot — Pictured: (l-r) Sarah Shahi as Mara Kint, Dennis Haysbert as Charlie Ventana — (Photo by: Sergei Bachlakov/NBC)

“It’s so real that when you go in, it’s hard to distinguish it from real life,” says actress Jessica Lu (Awkward, American Horror Story), who plays the tech genius behind Onira-Tech and its ground-breaking technology. “The problem is, for some people, their Reverie is better than their real life, so they choose to stay.”

Enter Mara Kint (Sarah Shahi from The L Word and Person of Interest), a failed hostage negotiator, who’s brought in to save people from themselves.

“It’s almost like Inception meets Alice in Wonderland,” says Shahi, although media have also compared it to a more mainstream version of Black Mirror and Forbes described it “The Matrix meets cop show.”

Golden Globe nominee Dennis Haysbert (President David Palmer on 24 and Nelson Mandela in Goodbye Bafana) co-stars as Charlie Ventana, Onira-Tech’s head of security, while Sendhil Ramamurthy (Heroes) is an expert in dreams and Kathryn Morris (Cold Case) is a venture capitalist.

Indiewire called Reverie “a dazzling and poignant summer diversion,” praising the “gorgeous… brisk and arresting pilot” with its “imaginative take on various mental and psychological playgrounds,” “vibrant visuals and lush virtual landscapes,” and “hints of unexpected side effects and bugs.”

The Verge called it “refreshingly idealistic… fresh and timely,” while Slash Film said “the story is interesting, the acting is great, and the premise remains intriguing.”

Reverie is created and executive produced by Mickey Fisher, who worked with Steven Spielberg to create Extant and with Guillermo del Toro as a writer on The Strain. Directors include Daisy von Scherler Mayer (The Walking Dead), Jaume Collet-Serra (The Shallows), John F Showalter (The 100), Kenneth Fink (The Expanse), P.J. Peske (Supernatural) and Wendey Stanzler (Arrow).

Binge now, only on Showmax in Africa.