Joe Layton (New Worlds, Father Brown) and Theo Barklem-Biggs (Silk, The Inbetweeners Movie) have been cast as Kyle Connor and Paul ‘Budgie’ Griffiths – the lead roles in BBC AMERICA’s new drama Tatau. Set in the Cook Islands, the (8×60) series, written by Richard Zajdlic, is co-produced by Touchpaper TV (Being Human) and New Zealand’s largest screen production company, South Pacific Pictures, for BBC Three and BBC AMERICA.
Tatau follows Kyle (Layton) and Budgie (Barklem-Biggs), two twenty-something friends from London that set off to travel the world. Ahead of the journey, Kyle gets a Maori-style tattoo to celebrate their eventual destination: the Cook Islands.
When snorkeling in a lagoon, Kyle finds the dead body of a local girl, Aumea, tied up underwater. Returning to the lagoon with the police, Kyle finds her corpse has disappeared. But Kyle knows what he saw. Desperate to uncover what happened, Kyle and Budgie find themselves sucked deeper and deeper into a world of Maori myths, symbols, and hallucinatory visions… until finally the full meaning of Kyle’s tattoo is revealed.
Joe Layton commented: “I’m thrilled to be part of this original British drama. With such a talented production team behind it, I can’t wait to help bring Richard’s fantastic scripts to life.”
Theo Barklem-Biggs said: “I’m so excited to be a part of this unique project. The script is based on real Maori mythology; it has everything in it – romance, comedy, smuggling, mystery. I’m also really looking forward to working with such a great team – everyone from the producers to the directors, right down to the cast are spot on. Not to mention we’re filming in paradise!”
Joe and Theo are joined by Dutch actor, Barry Atsma, as well as various New Zealand actors. These include actresses Shushila Takao, Cian Elyse White and Tai Berdinner-Blades, and actors Temuera Morrison, Alex Tarrant, Rawiri Jobe, Kirk Torrance and Rangimoana Taylor.
Executive producer Rob Pursey said: “We are so excited to have a cast that combines some of the UK’s brightest new acting talent with the very best New Zealand actors including a large Polynesian contingent.”
Matthew Read, executive producer for the BBC added: “It is wonderful to be working with such a talented team and with such new and promising cast to bring this fantastic original series to BBC Three and BBC AMERICA.”
Richard De Croce, SVP Programming, BBC AMERICA, said: “Tatau is backed by a hugely talented group of partners and brings something totally new, vibrant and provocative to the channel’s upcoming programming slate. Tatau is definitely going to spice things up on BBC AMERICA.”
Richard Zajdlic, creator and writer, and Rob Pursey are the executive producers for Touchpaper TV, John Barnett and Chris Bailey for South Pacific in New Zealand and Matthew Read for the BBC. John Rushton is producer and Wayne Yip is lead director.
Filming started in September 2014 with production taking place in the Cook Islands and New Zealand.
Tatau is part of BBC AMERICA’s slate of new upcoming dramas including The Game, A Poet in New York, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, The Living and the Dead and The Last Kingdom.