Maggie Smith is returning to the London stage for the first time in 12 years. The legendary actress will star in A German Life, a new play by Christopher Hampton at the Bridge Theatre. The story is drawn from the life of Brunhilde Pomsel, a one-time personal secretary to Joseph Goebbels. Smith, alone on stage, plays Pomsel. Directed by Jonathan Kent, A German Life begins previews on April 6 with a five-week run opening April 12. Pomsel’s life spanned the 20th century. She struggled to make ends meet in Berlin during the 1930s, her many employers including a Jewish insurance broker, the German Broadcasting Corporation and, eventually, Goebbels. A German Life is drawn from the testimony Pomsel gave when she finally broke her silence to a group of Austrian filmmakers (Christian Krönes, Olaf Müller, Roland Schrotthofer and Florian Weigensamer), and from their documentary A German Life. Smith will be seen on screen later this year reprising her role as the Dowager Countess in the Downton Abbey movie.
The inaugural CDG Casting Awards were held in London on Tuesday night, honoring significant achievements of casting across theater, TV, film and commercials. The top prize winners for film and TV, respectively, were frequent Bond casting director Debbie McWilliams for 2018 BAFTA nominee Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool; and Kate Rhodes James for BBC One/Netflix’s Bodyguard. Casting Director Victor Jenkins, Chair of the CDG Board and Awards Committee, noted, “Casting is a crucial part of the creative process and we want to commend not just the alchemy of our craft, but also our unique position within the industry. We hope that this is the beginning of wider recognition for Casting Directors and will lead to the creation of a Casting category within other industry ceremonies.”
Shepperton Studios has been granted outline planning permission for the expansion of its site in Surrey. This comes after the studios submitted plans for a £500M redevelopment and expansion of the production facilities last August. As the space crunch continues in the UK, the planned improvements are expected to yield a £300M boost to the economy if granted final approval. The application will now be referred to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government. The UK film industry is expected to create around 10,000 skilled jobs over the next five years and Spelthorne Borough Council’s decision to approve the expansion of Shepperton supports that. The plans include development of new studio space, which will include sound stages, offices, workshops, backlots, car parking and additional infrastructure. Major productions to recently be housed at Shepperton include Christopher Robin, Beauty And The Beast, Mary Poppins Returns and Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again.