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Danny Boyle's Channel 4 comedy-drama Babylon hits our screens

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: February 09, 2014

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BABYLON (CHANNEL 4, Sunday 9PM)

Director Danny Boyle won critical acclaim for movies such as Trainspotting and 28 Days Later, an Oscar for Slumdog Millionaire, and unofficial national treasure status for overseeing the 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony. He was even reportedly offered a knighthood, but turned it down.

But in the unlikely event that he still feels a little underappreciated, maybe he should listen to what Brit Marling has to say about him.

The actress, whose credits include The East and Arbitrage, gushes: "Danny, you feel, has the kind of curious mind and unstoppable heart that are capable of anything - exploring a distant galaxy and building a new world from scratch there for instance.

"So it's lucky for us he chose to be a storyteller in a time where we need them so desperately - to make sense of the world we are living in and how to navigate it."

Given that glowing endorsement, it's no surprise that Marling signed on for Boyle's latest project, police comedy-drama Babylon.

Written by Peep Show and Fresh Meat veterans Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong (Marling has high praise for them as well - "such great writers it's borderline dangerous"), it boasts James Nesbitt at the head of an impressive cast as Chief Constable Richard Miller, who realises that the London police force could do with a bit of a public image revamp.

And he thinks American new-media visionary Liz Garvey (Marling) is just the woman to do it. She believes that in an era of rolling news, social media and members of the public potentially filming everything on their phones, it's more important than ever for the cops to be open and transparent, an idea that Marling found intriguing.

"Danny and I spoke on the phone and I loved how he saw the story developing, and the questions he wanted to ask about how technology and the transparency it creates is changing all of our lives. How does law enforcement change when a criminal is using Twitter or Instagram? What's the future of the public's involvement in law enforcement as a result?

"And how do you create a career girl that isn't a typical ball-buster but is multi-faceted?"

Luckily, she thinks the writers cracked it. "I think [Liz] is a very interesting person, because she's been successful very young, and she's used to getting her way and things moving quickly.

"And I think she suddenly moves into this new job and it's not quite what she expected, and there's all sorts of political intrigue, and certain people who don't want her there, and she realises that changing things is going to be much more difficult than she thought.

It's not just her new colleagues putting her theories to the test though, as London is rocked by outbreaks of violence.

As visions of modern Britain go, it may not be as uplifting as the Queen jumping out of a plane with James Bond, but it hasn't put American star Marling off.

She's as enthusiastic about her co-stars (including Jill Halfpenny, Paterson Joseph, Bertie Carvel and Adam Deacon) and the city itself as she is about Boyle.

"I think I'm turning into something of an addict, I just want to be in London all the time. I'll just come over here to make anything people will hire me for."

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