Sky Arts has released details on its new series Urban Myths including a trailer and episode descriptions. The eight episode half-hour comedy series is based on true-ish tales of celebrities including Michael Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor, Bob Dylan, Gary Grant, Alice Cooper, and Marlon Brando. Among the actors showing up in the series’ first season are Rupert Grint, Joseph Fiennes, Brian Cox, Carrie Fisher, Stockard Channing, David Threlfall, Iwan Rheon, Eddie Marsan, Noel Clarke, and Katherine Parkinson.
“We are always looking at new ways of shining a light on the wonderfully bizarre and endlessly fascinating worlds you find across the arts, and our brand-new series of Urban Myths (or true(ish) stories from arts and cultural history) does just that, exploring those tales we’ve kind of heard and hope are true. We are delighted that some of Britain’s most talented and loved writers, directors and performers have had such a lot of fun with these tales and let their imagination and creative brilliance beam out from every frame,” said Director of Sky Arts Phil Edgar-Jones.
The Plot: Each of the eight original titles has its own unique take on an urban myth; some well-known and some that will delight viewers with their surprising stories. The films include Bob Dylan and Dave (Stewart) hanging out in Crouch End; an 18-year-old Adolf Hitler attempting to get into art school; Cary Grant and Timothy Leary taking LSD; Salvador Dali summoning Alice Cooper to sit for him; Elizabeth Taylor, Michael Jackson and Marlon Brando going on a road trip; Samuel Beckett driving Andre the Giant to school; Muhammad Ali saving a suicidal man; and the Sex Pistols and the story behind the infamous expletive-filled TV interview that announced the arrival of punk rock.
Using a generous dose of artistic license, the comedies are designed to mischievously spark viewers’ imaginations and answer the question: if these events really did happen, how might they have played out?
Urban Myths Episodes:
Urban Myths: Bob Dylan
Music legend Bob Dylan decides to pay an impromptu visit to his friend and fellow musician Dave Stewart. Unfortunately Dave isn’t home but his wife Ange reveals he will be back shortly and asks Bob if he’d like to wait over a cuppa. Sure enough Dave returns, but far from being Dave Stewart, this is Dave the plumber – and massive fan of Bob Dylan. Bob sticks around to offer relationship advice. Bob Dylan is played by Eddie Marsan, Dave by Paul Ritter and Ange by Katherine Parkinson. Written and produced by Neil Webster and directed by Ben Palmer.
Urban Myths: Samuel Beckett and Andre the Giant
Long before he went on to become a famous wrestler and film star, Andre the Giant was chauffeured to school by the playwright Samuel Beckett. Samuel steps in to help Andre, who is his builder’s son, as the lad’s size means he is already too big to be able to get the school bus. Along the journey a formative lesson in love and life ensues. Samuel Beckett is played by David Threlfall. Written by Neil Forsyth and directed by Ben Palmer.
Urban Myths: Hitler the Artist
A young Adolf Hitler pursues his passion for art, as he and his best friend August, a talented musician, live in Vienna hoping to study at the revered Arts Academy. The only problem is that young Adolf is hopeless at art and is rejected, incurring a wrath that would have far-reaching consequences. Adolf is played by Iwan Rheon and Gustl by Rupert Grint. Written by Ben Edwards and directed by Dan Zeff.
Urban Myths: Cary Grant and Timothy Leary
On the set of Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest, Hollywood heartthrob Cary Grant introduces the psychologist and drugs advocate, Timothy Leary, to LSD, resulting in an unforgettable kaleidoscopic trip. Cary Grant is played by Ben Chaplin and Timothy Leary by Aidan Gillen. Written by Ed Dyson and Roger Drew.
Urban Myths: Elizabeth, Michael & Marlon
New York, September 2001. Long-time friends Elizabeth Taylor, Michael Jackson and Marlon Brando flee Manhattan in a rental car, heading west towards Boston. The resulting road trip sees them reflecting on their lives, loves, careers and egos as they go. Elizabeth Taylor is played by Stockard Channing, Michael Jackson by Joseph Fiennes and Marlon Brando by Brian Cox, with the late Carrie Fisher as diner burger flipper. Written by Neil Forsyth and directed by Ben Palmer.
Urban Myths: Muhammad Ali
In the early 1980s, after his recent and high profile defeat to Larry Holmes, boxing legend Muhammad Ali takes it upon himself to talk a suicidal stranger down from a ledge. Using his unique brand of wit and wisdom, he succeeds in persuading the man that life is worth living, and learns a huge amount about himself in the process. Muhammad Ali is played by Noel Clarke. Written and produced by Neil Webster and directed by Ben Palmer.
Urban Myths: The Sex Pistols
The Sex Pistols’ infamous 1976 appearance on the early evening Bill Grundy show, when they outraged a nation with their four-letter tirade, heralded the arrival of punk rock. This comedy takes a wry look at the stories surrounding the appearance, from Johnny Rotten answering viewers’ complaints to Freddie Mercury’s role in giving the Sex Pistols notoriety. Casting for this Urban Myth will be drawn from the National Youth Theatre, with the film the first product of this unique Sky Arts partnership. From Sacha Baron Cohen’s Spelthorne Community Television. Written by Simon Nye. Director and cast TBA.
Urban Myths: Salvador Dali and Alice Cooper
Salvador Dali summons Alice Cooper to sit for him while he creates a hologram. A comedic exploration of the moment when these two egos – and Dali’s muse Gala – collide. Written by Roger Drew and Ed Dyson.