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Downton Abbey stars team up for Channel 4's new apocalypse comedy-drama – see first look

The series boasts an impressive ensemble cast

SUE JOHNSTON as Denker. MICHAEL FOX as Andy and ROBERT JAMES-COLLIER as Thomas in Downton Abbey
Nicky Morris
Nicky MorrisTV and film writer
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Downton Abbey stars Sue Johnston and Robert James-Collier are teaming up with the likes of Anita Dobson, Robert Lindsay, and Johnny Vegas in Channel 4's darkly comic series, Generation Z.

The upcoming apocalypse drama, which comes from Ben Wheatley, is a six-part series described as a "coming-of-age parable" with a "heavy dose of outlandish gore".

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Lewis Gribben (Shetland), Jay Lycurgo (Titans), Buket Komur (Our House) and Viola Prettejohn (The Nevers) also feature in the cast, alongside Suzanne Ahmet (Inside Man), T’Nia Miller (Years and Years), Sophie Stone (The Chelsea Detective), Chris Reilly (The Last Post) and D’Angelou Osei Kissiedu (Rocks).

The series follows a group of residents living in the dull fictional town of Dambury when a chemical leak sparks a zombie apocalypse.

Sue Johnston as Cecily in Generation Z © Alistair Heap
Sue Johnston as Cecily in Generation Z

The full synopsis reads: "Set in the fictional town of Dambury, the kind of place with stark opportunities and not much to do. Grey, unassuming, forgotten. It's the last place you'd expect the apocalypse to begin… But when an army convoy overturns outside a care home, a chemical leak starts to have an adverse effect on the residents there. 

"The OAPs, led by Cecily and Frank, played by Sue Johnston (The Royle Family) and Paul Benthall (The World’s End), escape the grasp of the army looking to contain their angry, violent, insatiable hunger for raw flesh.

"On the night of the outbreak, teenagers – Charlie, Kelly, Steff and Finn, played respectively by Jay Lycurgo (The Bastard Son & The Devil Himself), Buket Komur (Our House), Lewis Gribben (Somewhere Boy), and Viola Prettejohn (The Nevers) – are living normal teenage lives: tinnies, messy feelings, complex relationships and ignoring their A-Level prep. But the gang abruptly find themselves at the centre of the virus when Kelly’s nan Janine, played by Anita Dobson (EastEnders) becomes infected and attacks her."

Ava Hinds Jones as Billy and Robert Lindsay as Morgan in Generation Z © Channel 4
Ava Hinds Jones as Billy and Robert Lindsay as Morgan

It continues: "Just because it's the end of the world, it doesn't mean your home life and relationship problems comes to a halt, as the gang come up against the zombie horde, battling with their parents, friendship betrayals and old family secrets rearing their ugly heads. And life is just as complicated for the zombies, with the virus fuelling single-minded desires, bringing a whole new dimension to their zombie rampage

"Meanwhile, Finn worries for grandad-figure Morgan, played by Robert Lindsay (My Family), when she comes to the realisation that there might be more behind the chemical spill. Just what exactly was being transported?"

Jay Lycurgo as Charlie and Lewis Gribben as Steff in Generation Z © Channel 4
Jay Lycurgo as Charlie and Lewis Gribben as Steff

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The series promises to boldly satirize "a world where truth is stranger than fiction, exploring not just the political fault lines in our society but also the very real issues facing teenagers today". 

Anita Dobson as Janine in Generation Z © Channel 4
Anita Dobson as Janine

Also featured in the cast are Ellie-Mae Siame (His Dark Materials), Robin Hill (Kill List), Gareth Tunley (Kill List), John Hollingworth (The Queen's Gambit), Maanuv Thiara (DI Ray), Rebecca Humphries (The Crown),  Ellora Torchia (The Gold), Andrew Kazamia (London’s Burning), Garrick Hagon (Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope), and Mark Monero (EastEnders).

Speaking about the series, Wheatley said: "It’s been amazing working on Generation Z with The Forge and Channel 4. It’s my first original series and a project very close to my heart. I hope everyone loves it as much as we do."

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