New TV plays fuel millennium fears

CHANNEL Four's film production arm, Film Four, has commissioned a special series of television dramas inspired by the millennium, to be scripted by acclaimed new writers.

Eight psychological thrillers will explore society's "low-level hysteria" about the future and the growing pre-millennial tension, it says. The project has a budget of about pounds 6m and is a departure for Film Four, which normally makes feature films; this is the first time it has collaborated on television drama with Channel Four.

The dramas are seen as harking back to a Seventies genre of films such as Demon Seed and Don't Look Now, portraying the psychological turmoil of a society that feels dehumanised by technology.

Elinor Day, deputy head of production for Film Four, says the dramas, on which filming is expected to start next spring, will address such themes as the threat to identity from cloning and gender selection.

"They are aimed at capturing the deep-seated fear surrounding the millennium from a personal and psychological perspective," she said.

"There is a general sense at the moment of low-level hysteria which has not been explored yet in television drama. Everyone is groping towards this milestone but we do not know whether there will be anything on the other side.

"There is also a sense of urban paranoia, with people feeling detached from each other and alienated. Society tends to project its fears on the future and the millennium is a peg for this. It is the fear of meeting yourself in the dark one day, because of science creating things like Dolly the sheep and tampering with genetics."

The writers include Michael Marshall Smith, who has won numerous awards. His novel Spares is under development by Steven Spielberg. This will be his first television drama script, based on his short story The Owner, about a single woman in her thirties who has just come out of a long- term relationship and finds herself isolated from friends and society. She moves into a rented flat and becomes paranoid about the strangers who also live in the building.

Mr Marshall Smith, a Cambridge Footlights contemporary of David Baddiel and Nick Hancock, turned to futuristic thrillers after writing comedy for the BBC. He claims the sense of alienation his heroine feels is one shared by many people as the millennium approaches. "This millennial tension operates on a number of levels," he says. "We are surrounded by people we do not know. The friends we do have are sprinkled all over the place if you are in London and it takes a long time to visit them. In the last couple of years both men and women have felt their biological clocks ticking. We inherit timescales from our parents and we find we get panicky when we go past them."

He says he is not unduly worried about the millennium, but can empathise with others' fears. "I'm fairly relaxed about it but I think it would be a really odd person who would not wonder if everything was going to go black as we count in the year 2000. But of course, we will wake up and probably feel disappointed that everything is the same as before."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Lou Reed distorted the truth about his upbringing, and since his death in 2013, biographers and memoirists have added to the myths
musicThe truth about Lou Reed's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths
News
people
News
Ed Miliband received a warm welcome in Chester
election 2015
Life and Style
Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the Apple Watch during an Apple special even
fashionIs the Apple Watch for you? Well, it depends if you want it for the fitness tech, or for the style
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own