Young actors to star in TV disaster series

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Drama students from Belper pretended they had been shot by a rampaging gunman as part of a new series for Channel 4.

About 50 students from Poppies Youth Theatre and Agency travelled up to a school in Liverpool before some of them were covered in fake blood and asked to play dead.

Others took part in classroom scenes in the build-up to the massacre as part of the upcoming TV show, Utopia which follows a group a people who find a cult graphic novel that has predicted all of the worst disasters of the last century.

They were put forward for the role as extras by agency director Poppy Lloyd, who lives in Belper and runs workshops at Belper School, Robert Ludlam Theatre in Darley Abbey and Little Eaton Village Hall.

She said: “It’s quite a dark show, but they enjoyed taking part. There was lots of blood everywhere.

“The plot is that a killer comes into the school to shoot the headmaster, but some students are also caught up in the violence along the way.”

Head of Drama at Poppies, Fliss Goldsmith, said: “The new drama revolves around a series of quite dark crimes and the children involved have shown an amazing level of talent, maturity and hard work.”

The show was created by the same writing team as hit BBC 1 drama Spooks and is produced by Kudos, the company behind television hits Whitechapel and Hustle.

Paul Higgins (In the Loop, The Thick of It), Nathan Stewart-Jarrett (Misfits), Alexandra Roach (The Iron Lady) and Neil Maskell (Kill List) head up the cast of UK talent involved in the production.

Ms Lloyd, who worked in the television industry for more than 10 years as a casting director, said it was “amazing” to see local schoolchildren getting the chance to see a working TV set and get involved in the industry.

Poppies was launched last summer and runs drama workshops as well as acting as a casting agency and producing its own stage shows.

Starting with 20 children, the group now has more than 100 on its books, many of which attend Belper School and Ecclesbourne School in Duffield.

The school has previously provided actors of all ages for television programmes, including The Bill and My Parents are Aliens.

Poppy continued: “It’s great to see the children learning about the industry.

“They get to see that it is actually really hard work and that people have put in years of practice and attended drama school to get into the profession.

“They get into how it all works and can see what is required.

“Watching the children grow socially while filming on set is wonderful to see and something not many children have the opportunity to experience.”

The theatre is open to those aged from six to 19.

Youngsters can sign up to just attend the workshops, or they can do both.

Contact Poppies at for prices and more details, or ring 07795 370678.