The Third Day is no ordinary TV show. Starring Jude Law and Naomie Harris, this Sky drama is structured in a very unusual way – with a special “live theatrical event” set to air at the halfway point of the series.
The first three episodes of The Third Day are titled “Summer”, and are led by Jude Law (Sam). The final three episodes are titled “Winter”, and are led by Naomie Harris (Helen).
In episode one, Sam makes an unplanned visit to Osea Island, a small and isolated island connected only to the mainland by a tidal causeway. There, he witnesses the strange customs of the local residents which include rituals that bring his past traumas back to the surface.
The story picks up again in winter, this time following Helen’s journey – as Helen arrives on the island seeking answers.
And in-between those chapters of the story, the show’s creators are planning to broadcast a live episode – “Autumn” – in which we’ll watch The Third Day’s characters and follow the events of a single day in real time.
When is The Third Day’s live episode?
The Third Day airs weekly from Tuesday 15th September, with “Summer” airing on 15th, 22nd and 29th September and “Winter” kicking in on 6th, 13th and 20th October.
Separately from this schedule, the live episode will air across Sunday 3rd October on Sky and online.
You can watch the 12-hour-long event from 9.30am to 9.30pm on Sky Arts.
The Third Day live episode explained
As Sky puts it, “Capturing events live and in one continuous take, this cinematic broadcast will invite viewers deeper into the mysterious and suspenseful world of The Third Day, and will blur and distort the lines between what’s real and what’s not.”
The live episode is created by theatrical innovators Punchdrunk, and will be directed by Punchdrunk boss (and The Third Day co-creator) Felix Barrett. In Punchdrunk shows, “audiences roam freely across epic and sensory theatrical worlds” – and now they’ll be trying to translate that theatre concept into something that works for TV.
But, like so many things, this ambitious project has been complicated by coronavirus.
Emily Watson, who plays Mrs Martin, explained: “It’s been very uncertain as to how it’s going to proceed obviously. It was originally envisaged as a music festival, and then there were going to be tickets and people would be able to come to a music event.
“Clearly that can’t happen now, so they’ve rewritten it as a sort of festival, with the islanders staging a kind of passion play.”
Naomie Harris added: “It’s a shame that due to circumstances it’s going to be radically different to what Felix envisioned. But I’m sure he will come up with something extraordinary because he has an amazing mind.”
The live episode will feature actors including Jude Law, Katherine Waterston, Paddy Considine and Emily Watson – whose characters we will have met in the first three episodes.
However, it will not include Naomie Harris, whose character Helen is only introduced at the beginning of the next episode.
Waterston, who stars as American visitor Jess, told RadioTimes.com and other press: “We did get to work with the Punchdrunk performers a great deal in the in the episodes, so we know them, we’ve rehearsed with them, we’ve improvised with them all within the show, within Summer and Winter. And so it will feel like a reunion to get back to working with them.
“If anyone’s ever been to one of their shows, I think the actors from the from the series are going to get to kind of have this sort of heightened version of what it’s like to be an audience member in one of their immersive shows.”
Will the live episode fit into the story?
Yes and no.
We’re told you won’t need to watch the live episode in order to continue with the drama, because the actual plot is contained within the pre-recorded episodes (Summer and Winter); Autumn is all about the characters and the atmosphere.
Emily Watson explained: “You don’t need the live episode to make sense of the story. The second story happens after this event has happened, but you don’t have to have seen it to make sense of the second part. It’s just like a window into their world.”
The Third Day airs on Sky and NOW TV from 15th September 2020. Check out what else is on with our TV Guide.