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STV Studios and NBCUniversal to adapt Primal reality format

STV Studios and NBCUniversal to adapt Primal reality format

THE UNDERDOG

STV Studios and NBCUniversal to adapt Primal reality format

E4’s Alan Must Win to be retitled The Underdog in the US

STV Studios and NBCUniversal have signed a development deal to adapt Primal’s E4 reality format Alan Must Win for the audiences.

The US version, renamed The Underdog, will follow the same conceit as the UK format which was ordered a year ago from the STV Studios label behind Release The Hounds (ITV2).

A group of reality stars will live next door to a group of contestants who have big online followings and are competing in a popularity contest. They set tasks and manipulate what happens in the contestants house, in a bid to ensure that the one ordinary ‘underdog’ contestant who has no interest in being popular, wins the game. None of the cast, including the underdog, know that the reality stars controlling the game.

The US rights were secured by Universal Television Alternative Studio’s president Toby Gorman, and Universal International Studios’ senior vice president of unscripted Ed Havard, for development at NBC led by Corie Henson. Both UTAS and UIS are divisions of Universal Studio Group.

The deal was brokered for STV Studios by creative director of international development Josephine Brassey, and commercial director Camilla Cope, who joined the team as part of STV Studios’ acquisition of Greenbird Media.

Brassey said: “Primal Media have created another truly genius format which puts a unique new spin on the reality genre, so we’re delighted to be working with Toby, Ed and the talented team at NBCUniversal on developing it for the US market.

“This deal is the first secured by our newly combined business and Camilla and I are excited about the potential of our international growth strategy.”

Primal’s managing directors Mat Steiner and Adam Wood said: “Pulling the curtain back on the reality genre has been such fun, but the most revealing thing about this format is the emotional rollercoaster ride that the cast goes on. We’re sure it’ll be the same for the viewers.”

Gorman added: “This development partnership cements our ambitions at Universal Studio Group to partner with some of the best content creators on shows with global scale and appeal. This is such a unique reality format that really lends itself to adaptation for the US market.”

Outside of the US, All3Media International has been appointed as the global partner.

E4 lines up Truman Show-style reality format

E4 lines up Truman Show-style reality format

AMW

Primal Media’s Alan Must Win to task reality show celebs with controlling contestants using TV producers’ tricks

A group of celebrities will conspire to try to ensure an underdog emerges victorious from a reality competition in a Truman Show-style E4 format from Primal Media.

Alan Must Win is an 8 x 60-minute series in which a group of reality show celebs will draw on the tricks typically employed by TV producers to manipulate a popularity contest, featuring an underdog codenamed ‘Alan’.

Alan and his ‘larger-than-life’ rival contestants will live in a house next door to the celebs, who, unbeknownst to them, will set tasks, introduce format twists and use their experience of appearing in their own shows to attempt to ensure Alan triumphs.

E4 commissioning editor Mel Bezalel ordered the show from STV-backed Primal and Motion Content Group, alongside head of youth and digital Karl Warner.

Bezalel said that the Alan Must win takes the reality genre in a sneaky new direction.

This is a show that engages celebrities in an entirely different way, using their unique skillset and experiences to manipulate gameplay – with entertaining and surprising results,” she said.

Primal’s Adam Wood and Mat Steiner will executive produce alongside Motion’s Martin Oxley. Ben Riley is head of development for Primal.

Steiner said: “Pulling the curtain back on the reality genre is such an exciting prospect for us – and equally exciting is the knowledge that ‘The Chosen One’ is out there somewhere but they don’t even know it yet.”

Alan Must Win will TX in 2023.

James Norton as a disabled jazz drummer? How Jerk’s black humour is revolutionising comedy (Guardian Review)

James Norton as a disabled jazz drummer? How Jerk’s black humour is revolutionising comedy (Guardian Review)

The deliciously dark comedy about a man with cerebral palsy isback and now, celebs are lining up to star in it … and to makeyou squirm like never before.

Jerk S3,Tim (TIM RENKOW),Roughcut TV,Adam Lawrence
Jerk S3,Tim (TIM RENKOW),Roughcut TV,Adam Lawrence

Standup comedian Tim Renkow’s blacker-than-black comedy Jerk is uppingits game for its third series. The sitcom, about a man called Tim who hascerebral palsy and is a self-described terrible person, deserves a biggeraudience. It has been given more episodes, moving from four guest starsper series to six – in the form of Sally Phillips, James Norton and Big Zuu, whichshould help it to gain the recognition it deserves.

Renkow, who co-writes with Shaun Pye (There She Goes, The Increasingly PoorDecisions of Todd Margaret) has come up with the sort of comedy that wants you tolaugh and dares you to laugh, at the same time. This is a show that began, in 2019,with the fictional Tim pretending to wet himself in a cafe to embarrass a fellowcustomer for using the disabled toilet. This turned out to be a relatively gentle start.The first series saw Tim testing whether, as a disabled employee, he was“unsackable”, what happens when you pose as an asylum-seeker for free food, andthe surprise discovery of Nazi relatives. The second kept it breezy with methadone,going to the gym and organised religion.

The third reaches for the darkness and the light. It has found an appetite for thecasting debate, and sinks its teeth in. An up-for-it James Norton plays himself, castas a disabled French jazz drummer in an Oscar-bait film called Unbeaten. Thecasting of Norton angers activists, who stage an on-set protest, while Tim – alwayson the lookout for what benefits himself or upsets other people – decides to appearas an extra. This mess of bad PR, poor image management, do-gooders, superficialallyship and woeful ignorance ends up in a tangle of spectacularly silly slapstick.Later, Tim gets roped into politics, policy and an alternative career as a drug mule, ajob for which he turns out to be particularly well chosen, though not for the reasonshe initially thinks.

But, perhaps the bigger surprise is that, for all its sharp fangs, it has opened up itsheart, too. The friendship between Tim, his carer Ruth (Sharon Rooney) and hisformer employment officer Idris (Rob J Madin) has always been briskly sweet –though, in the world of Jerk, “sweet” usually just means marginally less brutal thanother social interactions – and it remains the framework on which the rest of thestory hangs. They each have a cross to bear – Idris semi-accidentally starts running aBlack bookshop, while Ruth corrupts a guide dog – but as a trio they shine. Tim’smother (a brash, brilliant Lorraine Bracco) still mostly appears by video call, butsteals almost every scene she’s in. “As the world’s leading internet expert oncerebral palsy, I can tell you categorically that being a pussy is not a symptom,” shetold her son in the first ever episode, making it clear where his personality comesfrom.

Bracco has more reason to appear in person this time around, as Tim is gettingmarried. Cleverly, the question of “who to?” is kept open for a while. One might beforgiven for, briefly, wondering why; there was a moment when his mothersuggested getting married for a visa. As it gradually becomes clear what’s going on,it turns into a love story, though the show is so allergic to romance that it practicallyruns screaming from it every time it gets close. Even so, the idea is intriguing.Ramping up the discomfort of a man who revels in the discomfort of others, by

exposing his potential for sentimentality and even selflessness, leads to some next-level awkwardness.

Much like Alma’s Not Normal, Jerk shows that the BBC is still capable of gettingbehind comedy that pushes at the edges of mainstream humour. It doesn’t feelsanitised, or overly considered. Despite its new romantic streak, or perhaps becausethis is Jerk doing romance, it often still feels close to the bone, which is what it doesbest. I am glad there is even more of it to squirm at.

THE TIMES : James Jackson TV review – Jerk Season 3

THE TIMES : James Jackson TV review – Jerk Season 3

jerk 1

Screenshot 2023-03-16 at 16.13.26

So much is said about how comedy today is being ruined for fear of offending someone, somewhere . . . and then Jerk comes along. Fearful is the very last thing you could accuse it of. Instead it crashes over the line of good taste without any self-consciousness. No problem, it’s made by Tim Renkow, who has cerebral palsy — he can make any damn joke about disability that he likes. It’s his superpower. Much of the humour is about the bewilderment of the world struggling to know how to react to his grinning mischief-maker. But it is also about the sight of a man with cerebral palsy playing the drums while putting on a French accent. Yes, it goes there.

 

This astonishing sight arrived in last night’s on-form returning episode, in which Renkow got work as an extra on a film set where the guest star James Norton, playing himself, was struggling to play a famous French disabled drummer. Oh Lordy . . . Yes, this led to a scene in which Norton was brainstorming with the film’s director how to play his character’s contorted movements — think different variations on Daniel Day-Lewis in My Left Foot. In one way this was the kind of mockery you hope no longer goes on in playgrounds. But then it was mitigated by Renkow joining in with the absurdity of it.

 

I’m not sure  Ricky Gervais would get away with that kind of thing in a BBC sitcom any more (the set-up here was very Extras) and the overall near the- knuckle feel won’t be for everyone. Yet, either way, the targets here were really the spy authenticity and the paranoia around the “optics” of the movie. That led to Norton being demoted in the cast to play a Ugandan character (!) and Renkow promoted to the lead role of the drummer in his early years before disability took hold. And so we had the irony of a disabled actor trying to play an able-bodied character. Were we allowed to laugh at this? Of course, or at least I hope so, because I was.

First look image released as James Norton joins guest cast for third series of the BBC Three Comedy series Jerk starring BAFTA nominated Tim Renkow

First look image released as James Norton joins guest cast for third series of the BBC Three Comedy series Jerk starring BAFTA nominated Tim Renkow

p0f27p0w“BBC Three’s critically acclaimed comedy series Jerk, produced by Roughcut TV and Primal Media, returns this Spring for a third series following the life of Tim, a man who knows that having cerebral palsy means that he can get away with almost anything.

Tim Renkow says: “It was great to be back with the old crew and some new faces, they were all unbelievably excellent and so much fun to work with”

The series will also star James Norton (Happy Valley, Rogue Agent, Little Women) and Lee Ridley (Christmas Comedy Club With Lost Voice Guy, The Royal Variety Performance, Britain’s Got Talent: The Champions), plus Sally Phillips (Bridget Jones’s Diary, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies) also joins the cast alongside Lydia Fleming (In from the Cold) and Gary Beadle (Andor).

Jerk was co-created, co-written by and stars BAFTA nominated Tim Renkow (Funny Festival Live, Bobby and Harriet Get Married) as Tim, appearing alongside a raft of comedy talent. Returning to star with Tim in series three is the Academy Award and Emmy-nominated actress Lorraine Bracco (The Sopranos, Goodfellas), Sharon Rooney (Dumbo, My Mad Fat Diary) and Rob Madin (Man Like Mobeen, Carters Get Rich). Saida Ahmed (Brassic, Unprecedented: Real Time Theatre From a State of Isolation) also joins the cast with musical artist, Mysie, making her acting debut.

Co-written by Renkow and Shaun Pye (There She Goes, Frankie Boyle’s New World Order), series 3 sees Tim further bulldoze the sensitivities of modern life with a lead role in a movie, a stint as a drug mule, a job advising government on disability and generally attacking anything that takes itself too seriously. Series 3 also charts a touching love story as Tim falls for a disability activist with an agenda. Is that the sound of wedding bells, as Tim finally meets his match…

Critical reception for series two of Jerk

Daily Telegraph ★ ★ ★ ★

“Tim Renkow’s sitcom about a disabled character is bags of fun and can get away with things that others might not dare attempt.”

The i ★ ★ ★ ★

“It’s hard not to admire Tim Renkow’s commitment to being as dark as possible as Tim, a man with cerebral palsy who also happens to be a cynical narcissist.”

The Guardian ★ ★ ★ ★

“Tim Renkow is back as a sociopathic puppeteer with cerebral palsy – who now identifies as able-bodied – in this superbly awkward comedy about society’s discomfort with disability.”

Chortle ★ ★ ★ ★

Tim Renkow’s Jerk is a clear example that anything’s up for mockery, just as long as it’s done with clear, uncruel intention.

All previous episodes of Jerk are available to watch now on BBC iPlayer 

Award Nominations

Jerk won the Representation of Disability Award at the Mipcom Diversify TV Excellence Awards in 2020 and has been nominated for the following awards:

  • Breakthrough Act nomination – RTS Awards 2020
  • Comedy-Drama in Sitcom – Rose D’Or 2021
  • Best Multichannel Programme Category – Broadcast Awards 2021
  • Best Actor nomination for Tim Renkow – BAFTA Awards 2022
  • Best Comedy Programme nomination – Broadcast Digital Awards 2022
  • Best Short Fiction Programme – Rockie Awards 2022

Jerk returns to BBC Three this Spring, with exact broadcast details set to be announced in due course.

Jerk is a co-production between Roughcut TV and Primal Media for BBC Three and iPlayer. It is co-created by Stu Richards, produced by Khaya Castagnoli and directed by Tom McKay. The executive producers are Tim Renkow, Alex Smith and Ash Atalla for Roughcut TV and Mat Steiner for Primal Media. The commissioning editor for the BBC is Seb Barwell.”