‘What stands out is Men Up’s ability to balance comedy and heartfelt elements’

Distributor Cineflix Rights
Producer Quay Street Productions; Boom Cymru
Length 1 x 90 minutes
Broadcaster BBC1 (UK)

Recognised around the world, the little blue pill now known as Viagra began life in a clinical trial in Swansea in 1994.

This 90-minute single drama from Quay Street Productions and Boom Cymru tells the extraordinary true story of how five men, whose impotency impacted every aspect of their lives, took part in a clinical trial for an unknown drug that would go on to change the lives of millions across the globe.

Led by ambitious Dr Pearce, with support from clinical nurse Moira, the men grapple with their own insecurities, often hiding the truth from their loved ones – including wives and partners, who are fighting their own battles – to help develop a little pill with the potential to bring back their spark.

In spite of its heavy subject matter, tackling themes such as male depression and sexuality, expert writing – led by Industry and Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina scribe Matthew Barry – is woven with heart and humour.

The universality of the drug Viagra, combined with the drama’s warmth and light comedy, is what makes Men Up really shine, according to head of scripted at Cineflix Rights James Durie.

“This worldwide phenomenon started out in Swansea,” he says. “It’s this big worldly product that began in a very localised environment” – qualities he believes will resonate with global buyers.

Durie says that what stands out is Men Up’s ability to balance “comedy and heartfelt elements to come up with something really affirming at the end of it all”.

This sprinkling of humour is something Durie says is particularly pertinent in mainland European, but he “doesn’t think there’s a market it wouldn’t work in, other than somewhere where there might be censorship”.

He adds that light, local comedies have worked well internationally, and he has high hopes for European territories buying into the storyline.

Men Up features a star-studded cast, with Iwan Rheon (Game Of Thrones; Wolf), Steffan Rhodri (House Of The Dragon), Paul Rhys (A Discovery Of Witches), Phaldut Sharma (Sherwood) and Mark Lewis Jones (Gangs Of London) playing the five men involved in the trial.

With TV powerhouses Russell T Davies and Nicola Shindler acting as executive producers, alongside Davina Earl and Rachel Evans, the delicate subjects of sexual and mental health are expertly handled.

 “We really want the film to do the talking”

The drama’s 90-minute length is another aspect that Durie believes makes it particularly attractive for potential buyers.

“There have traditionally been a lot of movie slots in the schedules,” he explains. “They work really well for broadcasters.”

Cineflix has increasingly moved into the independent film space, previously taking Amazon and ZDF original Sugar out to market and landing deals in several territories, and is now looking to do the same for Men Up.

Durie teased that there are more deals in the pipeline. “We really want the film to do the talking,” he says.