Best Interests

UK 2023, 60 mins
Director: Michael Keillor

+ Q&A with Sharon Horgan, Jack Thorne, Niamh Moriarty, Michael Keillor and Sophie Gardiner. Hosted by Benji Wilson.

Best Interests is a compelling, moving, thought-provoking fictional drama from BAFTA-winning writer Jack Thorne (Help, His Dark Materials, The Virtues) for BBC One and iPlayer from Chapter One Pictures in association with Fifth Season.

Nicci and Andrew are the proud and loving parents of Marnie (13) and Katie (17). But it hasn’t been easy. Marnie has an undiagnosed form of Congenital Muscular Dystrophy, a life-limiting condition. As a family, they have learnt to adapt. They’ve stayed strong, working as a team, caring for each other and finding light in the dark moments.

Marnie’s health deteriorates to such an extent that the doctors, led by her long-time Consultant, Samantha, come to believe it is in her best interests to withdraw life-sustaining care. She is in pain, they argue. The treatments are becoming too invasive. Her parents disagree. They believe Marnie has made it this far, that she has a life worth living – or, as time goes by, maybe only Nicci feels this way. This sets in play the inexorable journey to the high court, where a judge will decide what is in Marnie’s best interests.

About the panel

Sharon Horgan is a dynamic, witty, and talented multi-hyphenate whose exceptional storytelling skills has brought her international recognition. She is an award-winning creator, writer, producer, and actor who portrays the experiences of strong, female-driven stories.

Sharon is the writer, co-creator, executive producer, and star of the ten-part comedy thriller series Bad Sisters with Apple TV+, where she has an overall deal. The series has received 29 nominations, including five Baftas, two Critics’ Choice Awards, two WGAs, and 12 IFTAs. She’s currently in production on Season 2.

Sharon is best known for her multiple award-winning sitcom Catastrophe, which she co-wrote and starred in with Rob Delaney. She won the BAFTA TV Craft Award for Best Writing in a Comedy Series in 2016 and also gained three BAFTA nominations for her extraordinary performance in the show, alongside a Primetime Emmy Award Nomination for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series.

She is also the co-founder, alongside Clelia Mountford, of the TV and Film production company Merman. Under the Merman banner, it was just announced that ABC ordered to pilot Dropoff, the American adaptation of the award-winning British hit Motherland. Ellie Kemper and Judy Greer will star in the pilot which is currently in production. Sharon co-created Shining Vale, an eight-part horror comedy series starring Courteney Cox and Greg Kinnear, which premiered on Starz and is currently in production on its third season. Sharon’s other credits for Merman include executive producing and starring in the animated comedy Housebroken on Fox, which stars Lisa Kudrow and was co-created by Clea Duvall, Jennifer Crittenden and Gabrielle Allan. Season 2 just premiered in March 2023. Sharon also executive produced Frank of Ireland (Channel 4/Amazon) and co-wrote and executive-produced the BAFTA winning Motherland on BBC. She was also an executive producer of Frayed (Sky/ABC), There She Goes (BBC/Britbox) and This Way Up (Ch4/Hulu), which she also starred in alongside creator Aisling Bea.

Sharon’s further recognition includes the BAFTA TV Award for Best Short Form Programme (2018) for Morgana Robinson’s Summer: Dreamland and an Outstanding Achievement Award for her debut short film The Week before Christmas. At the National Comedy Awards, Sharon was awarded the Caroline Ahearne Outstanding Achievement Award. She has also received two BAFTA Award nominations and two British Comedy Awards for her iconic BBC show Pulling which she co-wrote and starred in. She also wrote and directed an episode of Amazon’s anthology Modern Love. On the film side, Sharon can be seen most recently starring opposite Nicolas Cage in The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent. She also starred opposite James McAvoy in the Stephen Daldry directed film Together for BBC Two and BBC Film. In 2021, she took on the role of Miss Hedge in the BAFTA nominated feature film adaptation of the West End musical Everybody’s Talking about Jamie. She also starred alongside Rachel McAdams, Jason Bateman and Kyle Chandler in the critical and commercial hit feature film Game Night. In 2020, she starred in Military Wives opposite Kristin Scott Thomas and the Irish comedy-drama film Dating Amber, for which she won an IFTA for Best Supporting Actress.

Jack Thorne is a BAFTA and Tony Award winning British screenwriter and theatre writer known for Wonder, The Aeronauts, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, When Barbara Met Alan, The Swimmers, Help and the Enola Holmes films.

As a playwright, he has had a prolific career including the critically acclaimed The Solid Life of Sugar, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Tony Award winner), Hope, The End of History, and adaptations of Let the Right One In at the Royal Court, and Woyzeck and A Christmas Carol at the Old Vic. He has two plays premiering this year: When Winston Went to War with the Wireless, and The Motive and the Cue, directed by Sam Mendes.

Thorne began his TV career writing on Shameless and Skins, before writing Cast Offs in 2009. His original series credits include Glue, The Last Panthers, Kiri, and The Accident. He has won five BAFTA awards: Best Mini-Series for This Is England ‘88, Best Drama Series for The Fades, Best Single Drama for Don’t Take My Baby, Best Mini-Series for This Is England ‘90, and Best Mini-Series for National Treasure. In 2022 he won the RTS Single Drama, The Rose D’Or and an International Emmy for Help, his mini-series that starred Jodie Comer and Stephen Graham. That year he also won the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain award for Outstanding Contribution to Writing and the Royal Television Society’s award for Outstanding Contribution to British Television.

In August 2021, Thorne gave the MacTaggart Lecture at the Edinburgh TV Festival and used the prestigious platform of the speech to discuss the issue of the television industry’s failings in the treatment and representation of the disabled community.

Niamh Moriarty is an incredible young actress. As well as playing the role of Marnie in Best Interests, she also played a featured role in the Amazon feature film, Silver. The writers went back into the room to rewrite this role to suit Niamh as she is in a wheelchair. Niamh has experience on stage also, playing Tiny Tim in A Christmas Carol in the Gate Theatre, Dublin. Niamh is a beautiful actress and everyone who meets her is amazed by her ability.

Michael Keillor’s passion for bold and ambitious projects has drawn him to work with a talented mix of writers who share his appetite for pushing boundaries while entertaining audiences. Prior to Best Interests, he directed David Hare’s four-part political drama Roadkill, which charted the rise of a corrupt and self-serving politician played by Hugh Laurie and Chimerica, a four-part adaptation of Lucy Kirkwood’s Olivier award-winning play. Michael first stepped onto a film set after finishing law school, learning his craft on the floor, before building on this experience directing ads, pop promos and shorts films, graduating to continuing drama and then a string of hit shows including the third series of multi award-winning thriller Line of Duty, JK Rowling’s Strike: The Cuckoo’s Calling and Critical from Jed Mercurio. Other credits include Silk, Mr Selfridge, Young James Herriot and Shameless. While primarily known for directing, Michael also writes and develops his own feature films and long form projects with the same energy and drive for originality which informs all of his filmmaking.

Sophie Gardiner joined Chapter One at its launch and has built a slate that reflects the ambitions of the company: to produce author-led, entertaining, and original work. Since then she has been Executive Producer on Chapter One’s Best Interests, by Jack Thorne for the BBC and Fifth Season, and Boy Swallows Universe (with Brouhaha and Anonymous Content) for Netflix (Australia). Whilst at C4 she commissioned many shows including Run, Southcliffe, Utopia, The Mill and My Mad Fat Diary. She went on to Executive Produce projects including Howards End, Little Women, Chimerica all whilst at Playground. Her previous producer credits include The Battle of Orgreave for C4; Eureka Street for BBC2; and Totally Frank for C4.

Benji Wilson is a journalist and TV critic for The Sunday Times, the Telegraph and Radio Times. He is also a London correspondent for USA Today and the Sydney Morning Herald, specialising in television and the media.

BEST INTERESTS (episode 1)
Written by: Jack Thorne
Directed by: Michael Keillor
Produced by: Jenny Frayn
Production Company: Chapter One Pictures
In association with: Fifth Season
Executive Producers: Sharon Horgan, Michael Sheen, Toby Bentley, Sophie Gardiner, Michael Keillor, Jack Thorne
Executive Producer for the BBC: Lucy Richer
Line Producer: Emma James
Location Manager: Susie Booker
Casting by: Amy Hubbard, Amy Jackson, Tamsyn Manson
Script Supervisor: Mia Sands
Script Editors: Kiren Dhadwal, Lexie Hamblin
2nd Unit Director: Martin Smith
1st Assistant Director: Peter Agnew
Director of Photography: David Raedeker
Editor: Dominic Strevens
Production Designer: Alison Butler
Costume Designer: Sheena Napier
Make-up & Hair Designer: Amy Stewart
Composer: Stephen Rennicks
Production Sound Mixer: Dylan Voigt

Sharon Horgan (Nicci)
Michael Sheen (Andrew)
Noma Dumezweni (Samantha)
Alison Oliver (Katie)
Niamh Moriarty (Marnie)
Des McAleer (Eddie)
Gary Beadle (Frank)
Melissa Collier (Alice)
Billie Gadsdon (young Katie)
Daisy and Poppy Lemon (young Marnie)
Kevin Eldon (Dr Sendak)
Buffy Davis (Gladys)
Chizzy Akudolu (Mercy)
Jonathan Rhodes (Dr Heath)
Mica Ricketts (Hannah)

UK 2023
60 mins

Total running time: 110 mins

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Programme notes and credits compiled by the BFI Documentation Unit
Notes may be edited or abridged
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