Based on a true story, The Colour Room is the first major role for Phoebe Dynevor since starring in Netflix Regency-era hit Bridgerton. She plays pioneering ceramic artist Clarice Cliff, a young working class factory worker who started out in the potteries of Stoke-on-Trent during the 1920s and went on to become one of the greatest Art Deco designers.
The Colour Room shows how Clarice Cliff is a vivacious young factory worker in the industrial midlands of 1920s Britain. Life is tough but her creativity and ambition drives her to move from factory to factory, despite the financial impact on the household she shares with her widowed mother Ann (Kerry Fox) and youngest sister Dot (Darci Shaw). Bursting with ideas for colours and shapes, Clarice takes ever more dangerous risks – but she always manages to stay a step ahead of the workhouse and impress an eccentric factory owner Colley Shorter (Matthew Goode) with her talent and innovation.
Apprenticed to renowned art designer Fred Ridgeway (The Singapore Grip star David Morrissey) and with support from Colley and other women in the factory, Clarice fights her way through to design the unprecedented Art Deco ‘Bizarre’ range. She's also a bit of a hero of the Great Depression, as Clarice ensures the factory’s survival plus her future as one of the greatest Art Deco designers and a household name.
Phoebe says: "I was excited to be part of The Colour Room, especially in the role as one of the nations most celebrated artists, Clarice Cliff. It's truly such an honour to take on such a remarkable character.
"The script is a beautifully written contemporary take on the 20th century, and I feel proud to be working with such a strong female team, both in front and behind the camera."
The film is directed by Claire McCarthy (The Luminaries) and penned by BAFTA-winning scriptwriter from Claire Peate.
Claire McCarthy says: “It’s a film that should feel like a celebratory, fun experience to watch. You don’t have to be an art or ceramics expert to watch this movie. It really is a celebration of the human spirit.”
Here’s what we know so far about the one-off biopic The Colour Room on Sky Cinema…
'The Colour Room' release date...
The Colour Room will be released in the UK on Sky Cinema and across selected cinemas from Friday Nov. 12. We haven't any news yet on a US release date for The Color Room or elsewhere in the world. We'll be sure to update when we do hear.
'The Colour Room' trailer and filming news...
The Colour Room now has a trailer released by Sky which you can watch below. The film is an all-British production which is directed and produced by an all-female team. It was filmed in Stoke-on-Trent and Birmingham in the UK.
'The Colour Room' cast — Phoebe Dynevor on playing Clarice Cliff
Phoebe Dynevor plays Clarice Cliff, telling the story of the potter’s rise from vivacious young 1920s factory worker to world class artist. But along the way Clarice not only has impress the factory boss with her outlandish designs, but break the glass ceiling, too. Phoebe, whose mum is Coronation Street legend Sally Dynevor, began her career as a child actress in Waterloo Road, but found fame as Daphne Bridgerton/Basset in Netflix’s colourful period drama and global smash Bridgerton the second series of which starts filming later this year.
Phoebe says: "The first reason I was excited about The Colour Room was going back to my northern roots and following a real working class story of a northern woman. That’s my background. So it just felt like a story that I wanted to tell, and had connections to. Also, my dad has a few of her pieces. So I knew her work quite well, and I just found the story behind it so fascinating. I don’t think there are enough stories that are told about someone who really did come from nothing. You know, people that really break the mould.
"There were lots of challenges! There was the challenge of looking like I knew what I was doing when I absolutely didn’t. And then there was the challenge of the Stoke accent, which isn’t easy, but it was fun to give it a go. And being in Stoke, and winter, it was really cold. We were working in old factories, long days and cold. And then, I’ve never really played a character that’s so unaware of herself. All the characters I’ve played, I don’t know whether that’s being a young woman in this industry, but they are all very aware of themselves and whether that’s because they want to find a husband or because they are the ingenue, whatever that is, I’ve never played a role that wasn’t about that - 18 - at all. It was simply about her work, so that was the best time ever and actually probably one of the main reasons I wanted to take on the role."
'The Colour Room' cast — Matthew Goode on playing Colley Shorter
Matthew Goode stars as eccentric factory boss owner Colley Shorter, who’s impressed by Clarice’s talent and innovation. It’s thanks to his support that Clarice goes on to design the art deco "Bizarre" range, making her a household name and ensuring the factory’s survival. Colley also later becomes her husband. Matthew was most recently seen in Sky One’s fantasy-romance A Discovery of Witches, based on the book trilogy series by Deborah Harkness. He also played Henry Talbot in the final series of Downton Abbey, Finn Polmar in The Good Wife and the Earl of Snowdon in The Crown.
Matthew says: "I didn’t know a huge amount about the story behind The Colour Room. I knew the name as I think my Aunty Eileen, who was my mother’s stepmother, had a teapot in her kitchen that was by Clarice. I remember the pattern but I didn’t know how influential she’d been on potteries and indeed in design, so it was quite thrilling to be a part of this. We’re very much in a time, thankfully, that things are changing for women in general: we suddenly have this poster child from the past. It’s very inspiring. I didn’t know anything about Colley Shorter, obviously, but that’s quite nice that he’s behind the scenes - it gives me slightly more leeway with how we wanted to go about portraying him.
"So, there were two brothers, Guy and Colley and they had taken over their father’s business, which was Wilkinson’s, and they owned several factories. They had come to prominence, and their father was sort of a self-made man in the mid-nineteenth century when he started [the factory] and the boys took it over with varying degrees of success. Colley, my character, he’s about being bold and wants to take chances and risks because that’s how you grow a company, and Guy wasn’t, so they were at loggerheads. And when we join the film, a lot of factories are being closed down, the potteries are in trouble, and if you’re losing money, surely, you should concentrate on the old stuff that you know makes money.
"Colley was very eccentric. Combustible and eccentric. A wonderful combination. So, he often would be found wearing this fox fur that he’d given his wife. I think, the fox fur – this is my [explanation] because it’s never been explained. I was like, “Why would he do that?” – maybe he might have killed the fox because he obviously loved that sport because I felt he had that sense of adventure. It wasn’t seen as a reprehensible thing back then. It was just seen as entertainment and fun."
'The Colour Room' cast — who else is starring?
David Morrissey (The Singapore Grip) is Clarice’s mentor, the renowned art designer Fred Ridgeway, while Darci Shaw (the young Judy Garland in Judy) is her sister, Dot, and Kerry Fox (Shallow Grave, Last Tango in Halifax) as her widowed mother, Ann. Also look out for Luke Norris (Dr Dwight Enys in Poldark), among the cast.
David Morrissey says: "Fred Ridgeway works at a quite successful and prestigious ceramics factory in Stoke called Wilkinson’s, and he is the head designer, and he has been there for many many years. So he is very well respected. He treads that line of being an artist, but also he’s a worker as well. He’s not pushy, he is gentle. And he’s been there for a long time and as you know, you could say he was stuck in his ways, but he’s someone who’s got a lot of respect in the industry and has been a real pioneer in his time, I would say."
Darci Shaw says: "Dot has her own identity as a Paintress at Wilkinsons, she does contrast Clarice in the sense of what they want their lives to be. Dot wants to have a family, to be settled and married whereas Clarice has these wild dreams of designing and success that neither Dot nor Ann can really understand. When I first walked on set and saw their bedroom I remember thinking how well it represents their relationship; Dot’s side is tidy, pretty, just so, and Clarice’s side is bursting with colour and ambition."
The true story behind 'The Colour Room'
Anyone who’s ever watched The Antiques Roadshow on BBC1 will have heard of Clarice Cliff, whose bold and colourful designs can fetch thousands. But the British potter came from humble beginnings and started working in the pottery industry at the age of 13 adding gold lines to ceramics. After launching her famous "Bizarre" wares in 1927, she became one of the most celebrated designers of her time and ended up marrying her boss Colley Shorter in 1940.
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I'm a huge fan of television so I really have found the perfect job, as I've been writing about TV shows, films and interviewing major television, film and sports stars for over 25 years. I'm currently TV Content Director on What's On TV, TV Times, TV and Satellite Week magazines plus Whattowatch.com. I previously worked on Woman and Woman's Own in the 1990s. Outside of work I swim every morning, support Charlton Athletic football club and get nostalgic about TV shows Cagney & Lacey, I Claudius, Dallas and Tenko. I'm totally on top of everything good coming up too.