A new TV adaptation of the classic satirical novel Catch-22 is airing on Channel 4 in 2019, produced and directed by George Clooney.
The series, which boasts a stellar cast, follows the absurd and darkly comic actions of US Air Force pilots during the Second World War.
Here’s everything you need to know…
- The best TV shows airing in 2019
- How does Channel 4’s Catch-22 differ from the novel?
- 13 books you need to read before they become TV series and movies in 2019
When is Catch-22 on TV?
Catch-22 will air in the UK from Thursday 20th June at 9pm on Channel 4.
The series has already aired in the US, premiering on Hulu on 17th May 2019.
What is Catch-22 about?
Catch-22 is based on the classic 1961 novel of the same name by Joseph Heller. The book was so popular it led to Catch-22 being used as a common phrase for when people find themselves in a frustrating and paradoxical predicament.
The story centres around Captain John Yossarian, a rebellious US air force soldier in the Second World War who can’t fathom why thousands of people he has never met want to kill him.
Yossarian wants to complete his service in the army and leave, but he can’t because of Catch-22 – an absurd, bureaucratic rule dictating that pilots who feel mentally unfit to fly do not have to do so, but anyone who applies to stop flying is deemed sane enough to continue.
“I loved the book,” said series star Hugh Laurie at the UK premiere of the show. “For me, and I’m sure for many other people, it was a holy text in many ways, particularly if you read it young and you respond to Yossarian’s rebelliousness and his struggle for survival. It’s immensely appealing and powerful and it stays with you your entire life.
“It’s hard to imagine a work that speaks more directly to the frequently absurd times we live in, and to the growing sense of individual distrust of institutions, than Catch-22,” said Ian Katz, Director of Programmes at Channel 4.
Who’s in the cast of Catch-22?
Christopher Abbott (Girls) leads the cast as John Yossarian, and is joined by a stellar line-up including Hugh Laurie (The Night Manager) as the terrifying Major de Coverley, Kyle Chandler (Bloodline) as the obsessive Colonel Cathcart, George Clooney (Gravity) as inept training commander Scheisskopf, Giancarlo Giannini (Casino Royale) as Marcello and Daniel David Stewart (Kids vs Monsters) as capitalist Milo.
Catch-22 will be Oscar-winner Clooney’s first TV role since ER ended in 2009. Speaking about playing Scheisskopf, Clooney said: “The character’s name translates in German as s***head, so there wasn’t a whole lot of subtlety in what I got to do. But it’s fun because all I did was yell. There’s no great arc to my character, he just loves parades.”
At the UK premiere of Catch-22, Clooney revealed he had his reservations about the project when he was first approached, but quickly changed his mind after reading the script. “I loved the script,” he said. “We were surprised. We got a call, somebody said, ‘Do you want to do Catch-22?’ And we were like, ‘F*** no, we’re not stupid.’
“Then we read these screenplays and we thought, ‘Well, you don’t get to read many screenplays that are this good. [Creators] Luke [Davies] and David [Michôd] had really cracked the book in a way that we hadn’t thought of, which was unravelling it.”
Has Catch-22 been adapted for the screen before?
Yes – Catch-22 was previously made into a film in 1970 starring Art Garfunkel and Orson Welles.
Hugh Laurie said that, at the time, the movie “took on a resonance with the Vietnam War”, adding that now the series will take on a fresh meaning: “With a great piece of work it is born again, a new audience and a new generation brings a new interpretation to it.”
What are George Clooney’s previous directing credits?
Clooney is best known for his prolific Hollywood acting career – but he is also an accomplished director and producer.
His directorial debut was the 2002 movie Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, and he has also helmed the films Good Night and Good Luck, The Ides of March, The Monuments Men and Suburbicon. Previous executive producer credits include the Oscar-winning Argo.