Den Of Geek was pleased as punch to host a panel event at MCM London Comic Con last weekend, popping the trunk on Sky One’s upcoming street race drama Curfew. Taking to the main stage in front of a packed-out crowd, our host Jamie East interviewed cast members Phoebe Fox, Malachi Kirby, Rose Williams and Ike Bennett as well as director/co-executive producer Colm McCarthy and production designer Tom Sayer.
Curfew, which will debut on Sky early next year, follows ordinary families in an extraordinary circumstance: their only way to escape a life of fear (and a government-mandated curfew) is to win an epic street race. The champs get to swan off to an island haven, while the chumps that lose are left to fend for themselves.
To whet your appetite even further, here are some things that we learned at the Curfew panel…
1. “There’s an infection. There’s a virus. There’s an outbreak.”
Explaining the more fantastical elements of the show, director/executive producer Colm McCarthy opened up the panel by laying some groundwork. In the world of Curfew, he explained, dangerous creatures appeared after an infectious virus did the rounds in the UK.
“The creatures take over the night,” he ominously intones. “Everyone is locked up in their houses, from dusk ‘til dawn.” And the eponymous curfew is enforced rigorously in what McCarthy describes as “a martial law state.”
“But once a year there’s a crazy race… and that’s what our show is. Our show is the race.” Attendees at the panel saw some footage in the action-packed new trailer, and it looks like this race is going to be epic.
2. “It’s kind of a John Carpenter-esque creature feature”
Describing the show as a “crazy mash-up”, McCarthy touched on the various different facets at play in Curfew. The omnipresent deadly creatures give Curfew something of a John Carpenter vibe, for instance. And the mention of such an iconic horror director is sure to have piqued the interest of movie fans in the audience.
In amongst the horror of the creatures and the action of the race, McCarthy was admirably committed to putting character at the forefront. He sees the show as “an opportunity to meet lots of cool, enthralling human beings in the cars.”
Given that McCarthy previously directed the hugely character-driven zombie movie The Girl With All The Gifts, he’s certainly well qualified to find the human element in amongst fantastical mayhem.
3. “He definitely doesn’t die in episode 9”
A clip was shown where Sean Bean’s character, The General, sizes up his competitors before the race begins. “If he dies in episode 9, I’m taking you down,” joked Jamie East afterwards. McCarthy retorted by pointing out that there are only eight episodes, so Game Of Thrones fans need not be worried.
Rose Williams, whose character Faith spends most of her scenes with Bean’s General, elaborated a little on their relationship: “Faith and The General have a dark past that you learn about later on in the series, which is what brought them together. They both have lost so much due to the environment that we’re living in… before the curfew, there was a lot of death and destruction, and a lot of people lost their homes and their families, and I think Faith and The General found each other in that mess and connected on a level through that shared emotional experience. And they’re both quite tough: I think it takes a strong woman to navigate an alpha male, you’ve got to be strong in yourself to handle that kind of energy.”
“I think Faith can calm down and placate The General when he reaches that boiling point,” Williams added, leaving us to wonder whether Bean will be going into full-blown rage mode at some stage.
4. “At one point The Stig was in a wig”
Here’s a fun fact: Ben Collins, who was the original Stig on Top Gear, did a lot of the stunt driving on Curfew. “He’s the best of the best,” Williams enthused, before revealing an interesting anecdote. Presumably to double for a female character, there were apparently moments where Collins had to wear a wig while driving. Not many shows boast a Stig in a wig, do they?
“He’s a fantastic driver but he’s not very kind to gear boxes,” lamented production designer Tom Sayer, who had a team of mechanics working full-time to keep the show’s fleet of vehicles rolling.
5. “They were very accommodating of letting us do crazy ass, super dangerous shit on the streets at night.”
McCarthy explained that a lot of filming took place in Manchester and the north, where the necessary authorities were very accommodating to the show’s needs. And with this level of scale and stunts in the show, there was always a lot of work to be done.
“I remember one night we had 30-odd stunt performers, 31 action vehicles”, McCarthy recalled. “We had a set that had all these wonderful actors. Billy Zane and Sean Bean, Michael Biehn from Terminator. And we had the worst weather that there’s ever been in March in the UK. It snowed. It was The Beast From The East.”
But the show must go on! In the midst of all that outrageously inclement weather, McCarthy remembers that he “had Ben Collins doing doughnuts. Going round and round. So I was like, ‘well, just point some cameras at it I guess!’”
6. “Michael is kind of a hero but he’s not the good guy”
Malachi Kirby took the mic to chat about his character Michael. “He’s too selfish to be the good guy,” Kirby explains, “but Michael has a good heart somewhere underneath that. He’s been through a lot in his past and it’s caused him to be quite bitter and hardened.”
One character who isn’t particularly fond of Michael is Kaye, the paramedic played by Phoebe Fox who ends up an unwitting participant in the race. “It was never Kaye’s intention to take part”, Fox says, before firing dagger eyes at Kirby.
Asked what Michael did to annoy Kaye and drag her into the race, Kirby offers this response: “It’s complicated.” Cue lots of laughter from the crowd, and some intrigue about how this tense character relationship will play out.
7. “That’s post-modern, baby!”
Jamie East spotted a Radiohead lyric in one clip: “Just because you feel it doesn’t mean it’s there.” The line is used in the show while characters talk about the island, a creature-free safe haven that’s touted as the prize for the race’s winner. Not everyone is convinced that the island actually exists.
According to McCarthy, this isn’t the only post-modern piece of writing in the show. Drawing a comparison to Black Mirror’s use of lyrics and song titles in dialogue, McCarthy urged viewers to keep an eye/ear peeled for familiar lines borrowed from other media. Do let us know if you spot any!
8. “Billy Zane throwing a martini glass out the window of a camper van… what more do you want?”
In one clip of exclusive footage shown at the panel, we see all the competitors lining up to start the race. Billy Zane, in the words of Jamie East, appears to be “living his best life” in the clip.
There’s only one show on TV that has Billy Zane in a camper van lobbing martini glasses around, which is more than enough reason to get yourself hyped up for Curfew. And as we edge closer to the show’s release next year, we’ll be sure to keep you posted with all the latest updates…