Utopia is a British black comedy-conspiracy thrilled drama series. It showed between 2013 and 2014 over two seasons, and in October 2014 it was announced there would not be a third series.
HBO had planned to make an American version of the show that year, but budget disputes led to this not happening. However, Amazon gained the rights to the series in 2018, and the show went into production in 2019.
The plot of Utopia is centered around a graphic novel called The Utopia Experiments, which some believe has predicted disastrous epidemics in the past. There is a sequel which isn’t published, but it contains even more information which could be vital to humankind’s survival. This has led to various people searching for the manuscript. Some want it to find out the hidden truths, while others wish to cover up secret identities and conspiracies.
Two hitmen kill anyone standing in their way as they hunt for the manuscript, asking repeatedly for a Jessica Hyde. Five people from a forum designed for fans of The Utopia Experiment decide to meet so they can discuss the manuscript. However, only three of them make it.
It emerges that an organisation called The Network is behind the killings. Meanwhile, Jessica Hyde tracks down the forum fans and teaches them how to hide. It turns out Jessica is the daughter of the manuscript’s author, and they discover a huge secret which could wipe out the human race.
Cast and characters
- Jessica Hyde – Fiona O’Shaughnessy
- Post-grad student Becky – Alexandra Roach
- IT consultant Ian Johnson – Nathan Stewart-Jarrett
- Conspiracy theorist Wilson Wilson – Adeel Akhtar
- Troubled 11 year old boy Grant Leetham.- Oliver Woollford
- Senior civil servant Michael Dugdale – Paul Higgins
- Arby, a killer for The Network – Neil Maskell
- MI5 agent Milner – Geraldine James
- Younger Milner – Rose Leslie
- ‘Anton’ – Ian McDiarmid
- Jen Dugdale – Ruth Gemmell
- School girl Alice Ward – Emilia Jones
- Politician Geoff Lawson – Alistair Petrie
- Lee, killer for The Network – Paul Ready
- The Assistant – James Fox
- Conran Letts – Stephen Rea
While Utopia is set in London, filming locations were primarily in Merseyside and Yorkshire. The panning shot of the Mercury Hotel which can be seen in the series pilot was filmed in Westhoughton. The reason for this choice of filming location was given by producer Bekki Wray-Rogers – she claimed that no other UK area could have provided the same variety of locations.
The office of Conran Letts was filmed at Scarisbrick Hall near Omskirk. Other filming locations include Alsop High School in Walton, Woolton Hall, TC’s Cafe & Takeaway near the village of Mere Brow, Crosby, Skelmersdale, the offices of the Liverpool Echo newspaper, the Cunard Building, Barnsley Interchange, Temple Works, The Chocolate Works, the Yorkshire Dales National Park, The Hepworth Gallery and Leeds City Centre.
The trailer for Utopia opens with a radio news announcement, followed by two men placing a mask over another man’s head. One of them says ‘It’s just gas, you’ll go to sleep.’ A person wearing a cartoon rabbit head is seen outside a closed shop while eerie music plays.
Various cartoons are shown alongside an unfinished English breakfast, with one depicting a boy shaking some pills into his hand. Then an explosion takes place on a runway as a person walks away.
Channel 4 announced in 2012 that they had commissioned a drama called Utopia, which had six episodes. Dennis Kelly wrote the series, and it was produced by Kudos Film and Television. This company approached Kelly with an idea about a conspiracy hidden inside a graphic novel. Kelly took on part of the idea, and the series was worked on for two years. While Kelly said he doesn’t believe in conspiracy theories, he is fascinated by them.
Episodes and reception
Both seasons of Utopia have six episodes. Season one first aired in January 2013 and last aired in February 2013. Season two first aired in July 2014 and last aired in August 2014.
At the time of writing, Utopia has a rating of 8.4 out of 10 on IMDb. TV.com gives it 8.8 out of 10, and 93% of Google users reported liking this show.
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