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FIRST LOOK Men Up

The BBC have released a number of new images from their upcoming 90-minute drama, about five ordinary Welshmen who embark on an extraordinary journey when they take part in the trial of a new drug which would later become Viagra.


Written by Matthew Barry, produced by Quay Street Productions and executive produced by Russell T Davies, Men Up has been inspired by the trial for Viagra which was held in Swansea’s Morriston Hospital in 1994.


Years before the little blue pill changed the lives of 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.


The real 1994 trial not only transformed the lives of the medics and patients involved; but also changed the lives of millions worldwide. The drug quickly became one of the most controversial and profitable in history, reshaping how we talk about sexual and mental health in the process.


Iwan Rheon, Steffan Rhodri, Paul Rhys, Phaldut Sharma and Mark Lewis Jones star as Meurig Jenkins, Colin White, Tommy Cadogan and Peetham 'Pete' Shah who all have one thing in common. Impotence.



In this fictionalised account, Iwan Rheon plays Meurig, who yearns for intimacy with his wife, Ffion, played by Alex Roach. He loves her with all his heart but feels trapped by his inability to rekindle the spark in their marriage. He’ll do anything to reignite the flames. Anything but talk to her.


Paul Rhys plays Tommy, a gay man who desperately lies about his sexuality because the trial was set up for straight sex. Spurred on by his friend and clinical nurse Moira Davies, played by Joanna Page, how far will his lies go to find happiness?


Steffan Rhodri plays Colin who lives an isolated life with his crossword puzzles after his wife’s death. He thinks he’s found the one in Teresa, played by Lisa Palfrey, his phone pal from the Lonely Hearts column. But when she asks to meet in person, fear sets in. It’s been so long since he’s been with a woman. What if she wants to consummate their budding romance?


Phaldut Sharma plays Peetham ‘Pete’ Shah who has a seemingly perfect middle-class existence. A nice job, a wonderful wife in Alys, played by Alexandria Riley, who has a new lust for life hosting lingerie and sex toy parties. But they’ve lost their spark. Blaming his impotency, he sees a fix-all problem in this tiny white pill (which didn't become blue until much later). Can it shrink the gulf between them?


And Eddie, played by Mark Lewis Jones. is a bulldog of a bloke. A seemingly strong man but beneath the surface is a vulnerability. Desperate to please his wife, can this trial fix his problems?


Men Up promises to mix drama with humour as it tells the poignant and beautiful story in which a group of unassuming men rise to the challenge to reclaim their sex lives. It explores the fragilities of theses characters in pursuit of their ultimate reward... the return of a romantic connection in their lives.


But as the drug brings the hope of a return to that once-lost intimacy, the men realise the hard work has only just begun. The trial will take them to some very unexpected places and force them to re-assess their lives.


Man Up is executive produced by Russell T Davies alongside Nicola Shindler and Davina Earl for Quay Street Productions, Rachel Evans for Boom alongside Matthew Barry and Rebecca Ferguson for the BBC.


Made for BBC One, Man Up is a co-commission with BBC Wales and has received Welsh Government support via Creative Wales.


Men Up will air later this year on BBC One

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