John McKay introduces ‘We’ll Take Manhattan’

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Written and directed by John McKay (Life On Mars, Robin Hood), We’ll Take Manhattan stars Karen Gillan in her first lead role since starring as Amy Pond in Doctor Who.

Airing at 9pm on Thursday 26th January on BBC Four, We’ll Take Manhattan explores the explosive love affair between photographer David Bailey and 1960s supermodel Jean Shrimpton. Focusing on a wild and unpredictable 1962 Vogue photo shoot in New York, the drama brings to life the story of two young people falling in love, misbehaving, and inadvertently defining the style of the Sixties along the way.

Here John McKay introduces the one-off drama…

“I guess the idea for We‟ll Take Manhattan came to me in 2007 when I read that Bailey was publishing a book about the New York 62 session. The pictures were so beautiful, so romantic and atmospheric, and there was the sniff of a story behind them – young love, bad behaviour, a kind of revolution in the air.

“Convinced there was something here, I approached Bailey and made him a proposal: if he gave me six months, I was sure I could set the project up. Jane Featherstone at Kudos saw the potential right away – and the rest is development.

“The key thing with biographical material is to get away from the “birth to death” model; luckily, Bailey and Jeanʼs trip to New York provided an ideal vertical slice into their love affair, the dawn of the Sixties, fashion, photography, class conflict, sexual politics – everything.

“Itʼs been amazing to finally get into production; and to begin to sense peopleʼs enthusiasm for the characters and their time. Bailey is a giant of British culture in the late twentieth century; and Jean was the face, the ordinary girl, who allowed everyone to believe that fashion might be for them, not just for the super-rich.

“Neither is naturally inclined to look back, but if my film reminds us a little of what they achieved, while they were falling in love and having fun, then it will be worthwhile.

“Weʼve been exceptionally lucky to gather so impressive a cast for such a low budget drama: Aneurin Barnard is mesmerising as Bailey, moving entirely beyond impersonation and making the young troublemaker entirely his own; Karen Gillan has brought amazing charm and sexiness to the reticent, shy Jean Shrimpton; and Helen McCrory rattles the firmament as their bete noire, the formidable fashion editor Lady Clare Rendlesham.”

> Buy Jean Shrimpton’s autobiography on Amazon.

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