Award-winning producer's lockdown short comedy film

Paul Bradley, Clare Calbraith and Denise Black star in Hidden Door Productions' lockdown short film The Man at the Bottom...

Paul Bradley, Clare Calbraith and Denise Black star in Hidden Door Productions' lockdown short film The Man at the Bottom of The Garden. - Credit: Supplied by Hidden Door Productions

An award-winning Hertfordshire film producer has made a lockdown comedy short featuring a former Coronation Street star and an ex-EastEnders favourite.

Karen Newman, who grew up in St Albans and now lives in Essendon, produced The Man at the Bottom of The Garden, which stars Denise Black, Paul Bradley and Clare Calbraith.

The film was released online today (Tuesday, March 16).

You can watch it as https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HkJCB60w2gY

Karen Newman, producer of The Man at the Bottom of The Garden

Karen Newman, producer of The Man at the Bottom of The Garden - Credit: Karen Newman

The comedy short film is about a family living through lockdown, and Karen says it reflects the situation we are in "but gives it a comedy spin".

It features Denise Black, known to audiences for Coronation Street, Emmerdale and Bad Girls, as well as her portrayal of Hazel in Russell T Davies' iconic Queer as Folk.

Denise Black appears in The Man at the Bottom of The Garden

Denise Black in The Man at the Bottom of The Garden - Credit: Hidden Door Productions

She plays Marji in The Man at the Bottom of The Garden.

Playing her husband, Joe, is Paul Bradley, known to millions as Dr Elliot Hope in Holby City and before that lovable loser Nigel in EastEnders.

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He has also appeared in classic TV comedies Red Dwarf and The Young Ones.

Paul Bradley in The Man at the Bottom of The Garden.

Paul Bradley in The Man at the Bottom of The Garden. - Credit: Hidden Door Productions

Most recently seen in ITV's Unforgotten, as well as Vera, Baptiste and Downton Abbey, Clare Calbraith plays their daughter Jess.

Filmed remotely, The Man at the Bottom of The Garden sees Jess video calling to check in on her parents.

Clare Calbraith in The Man at the Bottom of The Garden.

Clare Calbraith in The Man at the Bottom of The Garden. - Credit: Hidden Door Productions

She is greeted by her mum, Marji, who informs her that dad, Joe, is in isolation at the bottom of the garden.

He’s displaying symptoms of COVID-19.

However, without giving too much away, not everything is as it seems.

Clare Calbraith and Paul Bradley in a still from The Man at the Bottom of The Garden.

Clare Calbraith and Paul Bradley in a still from The Man at the Bottom of The Garden. - Credit: Hidden Door Productions

Bolton-based writer and director Paul Blinkhorn said: "The past year has been a difficult one for many and our ambition has been to make a short that offers audiences some comic relief and a brief respite from the stresses and strains of lockdown living."

The script, which includes references to toilet roll stockpiling, Brexit and Welsh programmes on TV,  was originally written as an entry to a BBC Writersroom competition last year, where it made the final 50 out of almost 7,000 submissions.

Writer/director Paul Blinkhorn.

Bolton-based writer and director Paul Blinkhorn. - Credit: Paul Heyes Photography Limited

Despite only eight scripts being selected to go into production, Paul remained undeterred, so set about making the film himself.

This saw his him team up with Herts-based producer Karen Newman. 

The duo, who first met at Bolton Film Festival three years ago, set to work assembling their team and navigating the world of remote filming. 

Ben Cogan was brought in to cast the piece.

Clare Calbraith and Paul Bradley in The Man at the Bottom of The Garden.

Clare Calbraith and Paul Bradley in The Man at the Bottom of The Garden. - Credit: Hidden Door Productions

Karen’s previous short films include Lady M starring Samantha Bond, which was partly filmed in St Albans, Bertie with Alison Steadman, and Down with Amanda Donohoe.

They have been screened extensively on the festival circuit as well as being BAFTA longlisted.

Managing director of Hidden Door Productions, Karen left St Albans for drama school in London when she was 19. 

She moved in to producing following a successful career in global events management in the City of London.

Her former training as an actor, combined with her exceptional organisational skills and financial acumen, make her an outstanding creative producer.  

Karen moved back to Hertfordshire in 2010, and now lives in Essendon, near Hatfield.

The Man at the Bottom of The Garden stars Denise Black.

The Man at the Bottom of The Garden stars Denise Black. - Credit: Hidden Door Productions

Her debut feature film, Just Charlie, achieved critical acclaim around the world and won a number of accolades, including the prestigious Audience Award at the Edinburgh International Film Festival, and most recently the Grand Prix in the Ecran Juniors in Cannes 2019.

It has been sold to many territories internationally, including Amazon in the USA and Sky Cinema in the UK.

Karen is president of the Timothy Welling Bursary, an award and mentoring scheme set up with E15 Drama School designed to support and nurture a student in their final year of training.

She is currently producing several projects including Love Without Walls, written and directed by Jane Gull and starring Shana Swash and Niall McNamee.

For more on Hidden Door Productions, visit www.hiddendoorproductions.co.uk

The making The Man at the Bottom of The Garden

Behind the scenes of The Man at the Bottom of The Garden - Credit: Hidden Door Productions

Behind the scenes of The Man at the Bottom of The Garden

Behind the scenes of Hidden Door Productions' short comedy film The Man at the Bottom of The Garden. - Credit: Hidden Door Productions

Behind the scenes of The Man at the Bottom of The Garden

Behind the scenes of making The Man at the Bottom of The Garden. - Credit: Hidden Door Productions


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