In Chivalry, Channel 4's new comedy-drama, sexual politics and an unlikely romance make for strange but intriguing bedfellows.
In the six-part satire Steve Coogan and Sarah Solemani join forces to play an out-of-touch Hollywood producer and an up-and-coming feminist director.
During the series, which they also wrote together, sparks fly after rising star Bobby Sohrabi (Solemani) is hired by a big bucks studio to detoxify A Little Death, a controversial film produced by Cameron O’Neill (Coogan). They butt heads from the beginning, so when there’s a sizzle of attraction, both parties are perplexed.
Here Steve Coogan (star of Alan Partridge, The Trip, and BBC1's upcoming Jimmy Savile drama The Reckoning) and Sarah Solemani (Him & Her, Bad Education, and No Offence) guide us through the starry satire…
Chivalry season 1 release date
Chivalry season 1 lands on Channel 4 with a double bill on Thursday, April 21 2022 at 10 pm. The full series is available on All4 from midnight on Thursday, April 21 2022. eE'll update here if a US or international release date is announced.
Steve Coogan and Sarah Solemani on the premise of Chivalry
Steve Coogan and Sarah Solemani play two very different film-makers in Channel 4’s new comedy drama, Chivalry, which they co-wrote together.
Sarah says: “Steve and I were doing the film Greed when Me Too happened. We started talking, arguing, making each other furious and also laughing.
"We started thinking, what if we put two opposing characters in dialogue? What happens if romance stems from that?”
Steve says: “We'd have these vociferous debates! They were heated, but never antagonistic. I enjoyed this robust fencing match! The whole basis for the show became, let’s tell a story about two people in the midst of this landscape who fall in love.”
Chivalry — the plot
In the opening episode, old-school ladies' man Cameron O’Neill is dumped by his twentysomething girlfriend, and Bobby Sohrabi isn’t shy about her thoughts on the matter.
He quickly finds himself on the backfoot. Bobby rebuffs his charms, challenges his behavior and hires an intimacy coach to re-shoot the film’s sex scenes. As the project gets underway, however, Bobby, who has a partner and child back home, finds her own beliefs tested as the unlikely romance develops.
Steve: “In the beginning, Cameron’s pretty unreconstructed. But we keep it open — he’s not a villain and Bobby’s not this angel of mercy. Your sympathies are constantly shifting. Cameron starts to awaken, partly through falling in love with Bobby. And with Bobby, her principles sometimes bump into her feelings.”
Sarah: “Bobby begins to find herself in a different power dynamic than she’s used to. As they get closer it surprises her. She’s conflicted because she’s really drawn to him. Their relationship takes a lot of unexpected twists and turns.”
Is there a trailer for Chivalry?
There is - and it leaves us wanting more!
Chivalry season 1’s star studded cast
Chivalry is a who’s who of Hollywood stars and British comedians. Sienna Miller (The Loudest Voice, Anatomy of a Scandal) plays actor Lark, Wanda Sykes (Curb Your Enthusiasm, Black-ish) stars as shrewd executive Jean Shrill, Lolly Adefope (Shrill, Ghosts), plays Ama, Cameron’s PA, Aisling Bea (Quiz, This Way Up) is Tatiana, the film’s intimacy coach, John C. Reilly (Boogie Nights, Moonbase 8) pop’s up as Cameron’s friend, while Paul Rudd (Ant-Man, The Shrink Next Door) makes a cameo as himself.
Sarah: “I’ve worked with Aisling and Sienna before. Paul and John are Steve’s mates.
“We sent scripts and asked, do you want to come and play with us? We were thrilled when they said yes.”
Steve: “And the decision with the cameos was, basically, who did we know who would do it for nothing!”
Location, location, location. From LA to London
Chivalry was filmed in Los Angeles and London.
Sarah: “We filmed at iconic locations, the Universal lots, at the Bates Motel, Boyle Heights, and with Ron Finley, the gangster gardener, who works with former gang members. It’s not just glitzy, palm tree Hollywood, but some of the shadier areas, as well.
“Hollywood is such a heightened, extreme place. There's a reason the Me Too movement started here. So it felt like a natural base for it. But it was very important to us that it didn't feel like an in-joke. Actually, any public-facing business has to deal with these issues. It can be any workplace where you're juggling this new, chaotic landscape where what you say can sometimes feel policed. Hopefully, people will relate to it, even if they don't have any knowledge of Hollywood.”
Steve: “I think in terms of Hollywood, what to me, is interesting about it is that, ultimately, the bottom line decisions in Hollywood - even decisions that appear to be ethical or moral decisions - are ultimately underpinned by what is a commercial decision. And so, that idea of enlightenment in Hollywood - is it enlightenment that will give a dividend to shareholders? Hollywood co-opts ethics and co-opts morality in a way that they can monetize. So that is already a conflict.
“There’s a further episode, later on, that deals with Cancel Culture, and you feel that both Bobby and Cameron are doing that cynical Hollywood thing of waiting to see which way the wind blows before they declare what their moral position is. I think we’ve seen quite a lot of that in recent days…”
Steve and Sarah on working together in Chivalry
Steve: “It was fun! Writing with Sarah is like spending time with a friend every day. It was a really enjoyable process because you're the puppet masters. I felt safe with Sarah. I trusted her judgment implicitly when I didn't always trust my own!”
Sarah: “Steve really makes me laugh. He also shared some of his colorful past with me. It was fascinating getting insight into behind-the-scenes secrets!”
Their feelings on tackling this topic through a comedy-drama
Sarah: “You have to keep it suspenseful with all the twists that drama demands, but also find the humor. The tightrope is satirizing gender relations without undermining what Me Too is. We wanted to shine a light on it, but also let some of the tension out.”
Steve: “The fun part about using comedy within a drama is we could use it to take the curse off difficult conversations. If people laugh, they tend to open up a bit more and realize it's not a scary conversation.”
And last, but not least… Could there be a second series?
Steve: “Well, I love this show. It’s not cynical. It's acerbic at times, but ultimately it’s about love. And it goes in surprising directions. We don't tie things up with a nice neat bow at the end…”
Sarah: “There’s a big climactic finale. Bobby has decisions to make. We have a whole idea of what we want to do next and are talking to Channel 4!”
So there you have it, Chivalry season 2 sounds like it could be given the green light! As soon as we know more we'll post an update here.
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With twenty years of experience as an entertainment journalist, Elaine writes for What’s on TV, TV Times, TV & Satellite Week and www.whattowatch.com covering a variety of programs from gardening and wildlife to documentaries and drama.
As well as active involvement in the WTW family’s social media accounts, she has been known to get chatty on the red carpet and wander into the odd podcast.
After a day of previewing TV, writing about TV and interviewing TV stars, Elaine likes nothing than to relax… by watching TV.