Newen Connect is building up its English-language scripted slate with timely, high-concept titles, including “Wagatha,” a dramatic reconstruction of the viral court case involving Coleen Rooney and Rebekah Vardy, the wives of high-profile British footballers. Newen Connect has also acquired the Australian supernatural bromance “Limbo,” and the inclusive British mystery thriller “Blindspot.”
Written by Chris Atkins, “Wagatha” charts the High Court case which stemmed from alleged leaked Instagram stories in 2019 and opposes Rooney and Vardy. Produced by Chalkboard and commissioned by Channel 4, “Wagatha” stars Chanel Cresswell, the BAFTA-winning actor of “This is England,” Natalia Tena (“Game of Thrones”) and Martin Sheen (“The Departed”). Filming just wrapped in September.
The case which has been coined #WagathaChristie in reference to the English detective novelist Agatha Christie, has already been thoroughly covered on social media and in the press, especially in the U.S., but this “TV event will go further, immersing audiences inside the courtroom and will dramatize for the firs time the court transcripts,” explained Karine Atlan, the EVP of acquisitions and international co-productions at Newen Connect. Atkins is best-known for having produced and directed the undercover Dispatches special “Celebs, Brands and Fake Fans” which explored the behind the scene of social media.
Atlan said Sheen came on board the project immediately after reading the script. The executive pointed “Wagatha” will be highly engaging even for people who haven’t heard about the case because “there’s humor in it, as well as great actors and it says something about our times,” said Atlan. “Wagatha” will be sold by Newen Connect as a two-hour drama.
Another highlight on Newen Connect’s roster, “Limbo” is a six-part series exploring mental health issues with male protagonists played by Ryan Corr (“Game of Thrones: House of the Dragon”) and Bob Morley (“Neighbours”).
Created by Lucas Taylor for ABC Australia, “Limbo” tells the story of Nate, a seemingly happy family man who commits suicide. His grieving best friend, Charlie, sees Nate return the next day as a ghost. Stuck in limbo, Nate enlists Charlie’s help to undo some wrongs before he can cross into the afterlife. Emma Harvie (“The Letdown”) stars as Nate’s widow. The series was penned by Taylor and Tamara Asmar, and produced by Bunya Productions. Trent O’Donnell, whose credits include the popular TV series “Ghosts,” is directing the series with David Stubbs (“Black Hands”).
Now in post, “Limbo” will be introduced by Newen Connect with a trailer at Mipcom. Atlan said she was drawn to the project at script stage. “Men’s mental health is a hot topic and I thought it was interesting to look at it from the perspective of a family man,” said Atlan, adding that the show has a “different tone and breaks down stereotypes.”
“Blindspot,” meanwhile, will be directed by Jordan Hogg (“Death in Paradise”) and with a cast led by a wheelchair-using actor whose name will be revealed at a later stage. She will play a disabled woman who sets off to solve a murder she witnessed on a rough estate. “Blindspot” was produced by Clapperboard and is commissioned by Channel 5 U.K.
“Blindspot” is currently in development. Atlan described the series as having a “Hitchcockian plot in the veins of ‘Rear Window’ featuring a modern-day avenger.” The executive also said Newen Connect aimed at representing more series like “Blindspot” which reflect society with diverse characters and actors.
These three shows will be sold internationally by Newen Connect. The outfit has hired Phil Sequeira, former Mercury and BBC Studios executive, to head up its sales operations across the U.K. and North America.
Newen Connect is part of Newen Group, which is owned by France’s leading commercial network TF1 Group. The banner brings together the commercial activities of Newen Group, TF1 Studio and ReelOne International with a library of 1,000 films and more than 6,000 hours of programmes.