As the lead in the Hulu/BBC drama and one of the year’s most anticipated TV shows, the rising British talent is having a major career moment, one that she’s been experiencing from the confines of her London flat.
Having your big Hollywood break in the middle of a global pandemic is a curious experience.
Whereas many rising stars about to be jettisoned into the public eye thanks to a TV show or movie might expect to be shepherded by teams of publicists between late night talk show sofas, photographer’s studios, magazines and newspaper offices, hotels for press junkets and perhaps even a few long-haul flights, for Daisy Edgar-Jones the COVID-19 lockdown has seen the usual media circuit stripped back to whatever can be achieved from her bedroom.
Not that it’s made the promotional work any less hectic for the star of the 12-part Hulu/BBC drama Normal People.
Thanks to the phenomenal buzz surrounding the show, based on the word-of-mouth sensation that was Sally Rooney’s 2018 novel about the four-year on-and-off romance of a young Irish couple, the 21-year-old has been conducting near back-to-back interviews over the phone and via Zoom from her shared flat in the north London borough of Haringey. And while there may be less pampering and travel, promoting the show from home is certainly making things a little less complicated when it comes to getting herself ready for each video call.
“I only have to dress up from my upper half, because that’s the only thing onscreen,” she says with a laugh. “It’s jogging bottoms on the lower half … it’s great.”
The streaming service boasts an impressive line-up of British television to choose from.
BritBox has stolen our hearts during lockdown, with the relatively new streaming service providing a healthy dose of nostalgia and a mix of comedies and serious dramas.
The streamer is a collaborative effort between the BBC, ITV and Channel 4, and it brings together the best content from those broadcasters for the price of £5.99/month.
Shows available to watch as boxsets include the likes of Downton Abbey, Midsomer Murders, Gavin & Stacey, Wolf Hall, and The Vicar of Dibley, with more shows set to join their ranks on the platform.
Read on for the best BritBox television picks from the RadioTimes.com staff, from Love Island to Miss Marple.
The Vicar of Dibley
This sinfully funny sitcom was one of our top Lockdown Binges earlier in the year, and with good reason – Dawn French answers all our prayers as Geraldine Granger, a left-leaning vicar and bonne vivante who rocks up to the sleepy village of Dibley and turns it upside down.
The series first aired back in the mid-90s when female vicars were still a novelty, but new viewers will find that the show still provides laughs aplenty, alongside sneaking in some still-prescient messages about sexism and body positivity.
When hit Netflix series Sex Education (hopefully) returns to production this summer, it will be one of the first major shows to do so following the coronavirus shutdown.
Asa Butterfield, who plays lead character Otis, is looking forward to it. “We’re going to be paving the way, potentially, for how things are done for the next while,” he says. “They want to get it right – there will be a lot of safety protocol put in place.”
Shot predominantly in south Wales, the high school drama’s sun-kissed visuals require long days of light. It was scheduled to film season three in May, before lockdown intervened; the restart is now tentatively scheduled for August, according to Sony, parent company of the show’s UK-based production company Eleven.
The option of quarantining a full cast and crew has been floated as a solution to Covid-19 transmission concerns in the industry. “If that’s what needs to be done, then that’s what needs to be done,” says Butterfield of the possibility that Sex Education could adopt such a measure. “I’m lucky that Wales isn’t that far from home – it’s in the same time zone and relatively similar. I’ve been staying in my apartment for the last few months so it wouldn’t be all that different – it’ll just be a different apartment!”
Whatever social distancing measures are required on set, he is naturally keen they don’t alter the essence of the show. “The foundation of this show is relationships, friendships, and intimacy, and it gives such a positive message. Otis and [best friend] Eric are always hugging and jumping around – we can’t change that. I would rather we all quarantined and we keep the heart of the show than lose that.”
Butterfield hopes the detailed work the industry is doing for a post-pandemic return as a chance to adopt greener shooting practices. “People are realising what’s important and what’s necessary, and then what’s just being wasteful. I know Sex Education is really pushing to minimise waste; taking that even further would be something that could come out of this.”
For his role as amateur sex therapist, the charming star of Netflix’s hit teen sex comedy found a valuable resource close to home.
When it premiered on Netflix in 2018, “Sex Education” immediately resonated with audiences for its clever comedy, sex positive message, heart-wrenching romance, and exceedingly likable and relatable characters. While the show’s second season expanded the ensemble to ever more colorful characters, the heart and soul of “Sex Education” will always be fumblingly sweet, sometimes self-involved, but generally kindhearted Otis Milburn. Played to charismatic teenage boy perfection by Asa Butterfield, Otis is the epitome of boy next door charm coursing with a gentle current of hormonal teenage angst. There’s no question why both Maeve (Emma Mackey) and Ola (Patricia Allison) are in love with him, and why he has the coolest best friend in town (Ncuti Gatwa’s Eric) — Otis is, to put it plainly, a total peach.
Perhaps you want to fight viruses with viruses. Here are some recommendations for movies in which the disease is the star.
Contagion (2011) is Steven Soderbergh’s cautionary thriller, with Matt Damon, Laurence Fishburne, Kate Winslet, Marion Cotillard, Jennifer Ehle, Elliott Gould and others working together to fight a spreading pandemic. Call it Illness Eleven. (Netflix, Amazon, iTunes)
Pontypool (2008) is a very Canadian horror flick from Bruce McDonald, in which the virus might require everyone to learn French. Equal parts funny and disturbing, or amusant et inquiétant. (Amazon, iTunes)
12 Monkeys (1995), Terry Gilliam’s dark sci-fi thriller, features Bruce Willis as a man sent back in time to stop a virus before it spirals out of control. (Amazon, iTunes)
I Am Legend (2007) is one of several adaptations of Richard Matheson’s end-of-the-world novel (others are 1971’s Omega Man and 1964’s The Last Man on Earth) but worth watching for the blissful first half, in which Will Smith hunts deer and otherwise camps out in a depopulated New York City. It gets messy when the inevitable zombies show up, however. (Amazon, iTunes)
Shaun of the Dead (2004), because the end of the world doesn’t have to be gloomy. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost keep calm, carry on and battle zombies. (Netflix, Amazon, iTunes)