Arthur Darvill and Lydia West star in online James Graham drama

Last Updated on 21 May 2021 by Showcall Editorial Team

Sonia Friedman Productions and the Financial Times have released a “theatrical” short film written by James Graham exploring the intrusion of the data state into people’s lives

Arthur Darvill and Lydia West star in a new online drama written by James Graham examining the growing influence of big data and algorithms on our day-to-day lives.

The “theatrical” film, People You May Know, or “We know what you did during lockdown”, has been created by theatre producers Sonia Friedman Productions with the Financial Times, which is streaming it from today via its website and YouTube channel for free.

Directed by Juliet Riddell, it investigates how the response to Covid-19 has accelerated the intrusion of the data state into people’s private and emotional lives and what it might mean for our future.

It revolves around the interrogation of a junior barrister, played by Lydia West (star of Channel 4 drama It’s A Sin), by Arthur Darvill (Doctor Who and Broadchurch), a data analyst from a private software firm, about her behaviour during lockdown, as monitored by her internet-connected devices.

As part of the research for the film, James Graham, along with representatives of Sonia Friedman Productions, met a group of leading Financial Times tech journalists and experts to discuss the role of data and the reach of algorithms in society today.

Friedman said: “Drama, like journalism, exists to ask important questions of the contemporary world and one of those questions is our relationship to data.

“The advantages of our information age have rarely been as overt as in this extraordinary year, but as James Graham’s potent and unsettling theatrical short film People You May Know makes clear, they are not without disconcerting and complicated trade-offs.

“James is a writer with the keenest of moral compasses, and his astute dramatic eye – along with pinpoint performances by Lydia West and Arthur Darvill – brings a flush of feeling to the Financial Times’ rigorous journalistic enquiry.”

The cinematographer is Franklin Dow, the editor and associate producer is Tom Hannen and set design is by Benny Casey and Soraya Wright. Sound is by Andy Hewitson and Ben Metsers with music by Tristan Cassel-Delavois aside from credit music, “Alphabet”, by Kreidler. Casting is by Lotte Hines.

It is supported by Luminate, a global philanthropic organisation with the goal of empowering people and institutions to work together to build just and fair societies.

About Mark Ludmon 318 Articles
Mark Ludmon has been a journalist for over 20 years, specialising in theatre, hospitality and drinks after starting in regional daily newspapers. He has an MA in early modern literature and history, focusing on Elizabethan and Jacobean drama, and a theatre studies MA from Royal Central School of Speech & Drama. He is a former panellist for the Olivier Awards. He tweets at @MarkLudmon.