Mad Dogs is a British black comedy and psychological thriller television series created by Cris Cole that started broadcast on Sky1 on 10 February 2011. It was produced by Left Bank Pictures, and co-produced by Palma Pictures. The series stars John Simm, Marc Warren, Max Beesley and Philip Glenister, with Ben Chaplin and María Botto serving as additional cast. It follows four long-time, middle-aged friends getting together in a villa in Majorca to celebrate the early retirement of Alvo, a fifth friend. However, the group find themselves caught up in the world of crime and police corruption after Alvo is murdered.
The idea behind Mad Dogs came from the friendship between the four main actors, who wanted to work together for a television project, as well as Cris Cole and executive producer Suzanne Mackie. The four initially wanted to make a story about a rock band, but decided that making programmes about bands have been “done to death.” To write the series, Cole was influenced by the works of David Lynch and the Coen brothers as inspiration to the kind of storytelling that is “never quite what you think it is going to be.”
The series initially gained interest from major terrestrial networks such as the BBC and ITV. However, Max Beesley and Philip Glenister grew frustrated with the comments from the commissioning teams from the networks. Glenister stated “the problem with the BBC and ITV is more people coming in and telling you what to do. We are grown up and big enough to know where the boundaries are.” They ultimately settled for Sky, as the network was “the one that we believed would let us do what we wanted.” Later in January 2012, Glenister believed their decision to go with Sky was “vindicated,” as the terrestrial networks would restrict its content, violence and language. The actor further stated that the restrictions would not make the series “the show it is and it wouldn’t be the show we wanted to make.” Head of Sky Drama Elaine Pyke had an immediate interest in the project, as she was “immediately grabbed by how thrilling, scary and funny it is,” believing it to be “the perfect show for Sky1.” In a separate interview, Beesley stated “Andy [Harries] basically put the show out to a few of the networks and Sky said ‘Bang! Here’s the money, go and make it and we’ll give you notes later on, but really do have the freedom to make it,’ which is great, and there’s not a lot of that happens nowadays.”
Filming took place on location throughout the island of Majorca starting May 2010, and took around four million euros and 44 days to make. The main themes are friendship and growing older; Glenister said it is about ageing and “getting closer to death.” Photographer David LaChapelle directed three 30-second advertisements for the series. Mad Dogs opened with 1.61 million viewers, the 17th highest rated programme ever for Sky1, and attracted generally positive reactions from critics. They noted similarities with British gangster films, more predominantly the 2000 film Sexy Beast. The second series, also shot in Majorca, premiered in January 2012. The third series shot in and around Cape Town in South Africa was broadcast on Sky in 2013. The fourth series - 2 part finale was broadcast at the end of 2013.
Image courtesy of SkyTV. Directed by: Adrian Shergold. Producers: Spencer Campbell (Producer), Andy Harries, Suzanne Mackie and Elaine Pyke (Executive Producers). Writing: Chris Cole Produced by Left Bank Pictures