Written by Matthew Barry (Industry, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina), Men Up is inspired by the remarkable true story of one of the world's first medical trials for the drug that became Viagra, held in Swansea’s Morriston Hospital in 1994.
Men Up’s stellar cast includes Iwan Rheon, Aneurin Barnard, Alexandra Roach, Phaldut Sharma, Paul Rhys, Steffan Rhodri, Mark Lewis Jones, Joanna Page, Alexandria Riley, Nathan Sussex, Lisa Palfrey, Dyfan Dwyfor and Katy Wix.
Years before the little blue pill changed the lives for millions across the globe, a group of ordinary middle-aged Welsh men underwent the extraordinary, taking part in one of the first clinical trials for an unknown drug which later became Viagra.
Meurig Jenkins (Rheon), Colin White (Rhodri), Tommy Cadogan (Rhys), Peetham 'Pete' Shah (Sharma) and Eddie O’Connor (Jones) all have one thing in common. Impotency. It’s affecting them in every aspect of their lives, as they are drowning in shame and silence.
Left feeling as failures as men, questioning their manhood, and having attempted their own fixes to no avail, the group is presented with a lifeline: a place on a trial for an unknown drug thought to cure impotence led by the ambitious Dr Dylan Pearce (Barnard) with support from clinical nurse Moira Davies (Page).
As each man grapples with their own insecurities and hiding the truth from their loved ones - including their wives and partners Ffion Jenkins (Roach) and Teresa Rigby (Palfrey) who are also fighting their own battles - will this little pill be able to bring back their spark? Mixing drama with humour, Men Up is a poignant and beautiful story in which a group of unassuming men rise to the challenge to reclaim their sex lives.
Writer Matthew Barry said: “Who knew that one of the first Viagra trials in the world took place in 1994... in Swansea! I’m beyond delighted to be working with Nicola, Russell, and the entire team to bring this extraordinary tale to the screen. People hear the word impotence, and they wait for the punchline. But this story is about so much more. And with an incredible Welsh cast, led by Iwan Rheon and Alexandra Roach, I can't wait to bring it to the screen.”
Davina Earl, executive producer for Quay Street Productions, says: “Men Up is one of those truly remarkable true stories that is a joy to be able to bring to the screen. This is the type of story that we love at Quay Street – one of heart, soul, complex characters, with humour and drama at the centre. With Matthew Barry’s fantastic script coupled with our stellar cast, audiences are in for a treat.”
Rachel Evans, executive producer for Boom, added: “This little-known story deserves to be shouted from the rooftops and Matthew Barry’s deft writing has brought a human, hilarious slice of Swansea in the 90s to life. Boom is delighted to be co-producing with Quay Street Productions to feature the Welsh men and women who pioneered the use of a drug which became known right across the globe.”
Lindsay Salt, Director of BBC Drama, says: “Men Up is a little-known chapter of our history, beautifully told across 90 minutes of poignant, funny, and life-affirming television. It’s no surprise that Matthew’s charming and intelligent script has attracted such a strong ensemble of acting talent, and I cannot wait to see them bring his words to life.”
BBC Cymru Wales Head of Commissioning Nick Andrews said: “It's almost too extraordinary to be true. And yet it is! Matt Barry's exquisite script has brought to life a precious true story, a social history, that will leave you punching the air with the sheer joy and triumph of it all. A truly Welsh story with global impact."
Gerwyn Evans, Deputy Director, Creative Wales, said: “This production is bringing high quality jobs, skills development and fair work to the local area including trainee placements as part of the Economy Futures Fund. I'm delighted to see this remarkable story from Swansea get the recognition it deserves. Supported by a cast of stellar Welsh actors, I look forward to seeing this little-known story brought to life when it arrives on our screens!”
Men Up (1x90’) is written by Matthew Barry, directed by Ashley Way (White Lines, Stella, Merlin), and produced by Karen Lewis (The Salisbury Poisonings, Years and Years, Happy Valley).