New programming from Sky – including a raft of female-led stories – has been welcomed by stars including Caroline Quentin and Keeley Hawes.
The broadcaster has announced a wave of upcoming drama, comedy and original film projects.
It’s their biggest slate yet with 200 Sky Originals due to be released this year – a 60% increase on 2021.
Quentin, who is in the upcoming time loop series The Lazarus Project, told Sky News she’s noticed an emphasis on strong female storylines.
“We’re more than 50% of the population, so we’re actually really glad to see ourselves reflected on the screen.”
She added that she’s seen real progress during her career.
“The whole world of television and film has changed so much,” she said.
“And I feel that for someone of my generation, I’m actually getting the chance to do some of the things I’ve always wanted to do, but now I can get my teeth into something a bit more substantial.”
“And it seems to be that there is an element of respect for that and for one’s longevity and for one’s skill, I suppose.”
One of the new projects announced is a new modern adaptation of A Christmas Carole.
It will star Gentleman Jack’s Suranne Jones, who is soon to start filming on it and said she’s been keen to focus on female-led stories lately.
“We have our own production company – I have it with my husband – and we’re just dedicated to building those stories now,” she said.
“I’ve taken a bit of time out and we’ve just been developing since January to now and I’ve loved it because we’re really looking in detail at what stories we can tell.”
“Meaningful stories as well, and then the fun ones like this one that I’m doing, which is great to play a female Scrooge, I think we can have fun with that.”
Hawes, whose new series The Midwich Cuckoos has updated its main character from a man to a woman – played by the star – says progress is definitely being made.
“More and more, [but] there’s still a way to go,” she said.
“But yes, things are changing, as we’ve seen here tonight – the list of female talent, I looked at the list of who was here and I was like ‘this is brilliant’, it’s a real step in the right direction.”
Among the new drama titles announced are an adaptation of Heather Morris’ bestselling novel The Tattooist of Auschwitz, and the return of acclaimed shows I Hate Suzie Too starring Billie Piper and COBRA: Rebellion starring Robert Carlyle.
Other new programmes on Sky’s slate include comedies starring Sheridan Smith and Katherine Ryan.
And the company also announced that one of the first things to be filmed at their new studios in Elstree will be the much-anticipated big screen version of the musical Wicked, starring Ariana Grande and Cynthia Erivo.