EXCLUSIVE: I’ve learned that accomplished director James Hawes has been tapped to helm Channel 4’s long gestating mini-series The Mill. My sources tell me that Hawes has been attached to the project since Spring 2012. Hawes has recently come off of helming the second season of Sky1’s dramedy series Mad Dogs and just recently signed on to direct the (as yet untitled) BBC/Science Channel docu-drama about the Challenger disaster, which is currently being shot on location in South Africa.
The Mill, originally commissioned in November 2011, is a four part mini-series written by John Fay. The mini is based on the real life story of multitude of workers employed at the Quarry Bank Mill in Cheshire. Set during time of immense social and industrial change, The Mill tells the story of the Quarry Bank Mill, which represented the shining light of modern thinking; the brain child of the financially driven but philanthropic Greg family. Located in the heart of the countryside it is very different to the mills of nearby overcrowded Manchester. Employing hundreds of people, Quarry Bank recruited children as young as nine as unpaid apprentices from orphanages and workhouses; migrants from as far afield as London, Ireland, Scotland and Norfolk flocked to Quarry Bank with its purpose-built village, school, church and surgery. The real drive for the Gregs was profit. Hours were long and hard in dangerous and unhealthy conditions and for many of this emerging working class, this was their first experience of rules and authority. Hard work was rewarded, with one young apprentice eventually becoming the manager of the Mill, but dissension was punished ruthlessly.
Despite receiving a commission in late 2011, with a projected production start in early 2012, progress has been slow on the mini-series. That said, I hear that casting is currently underway for the project with a projected January 2013 production start. The four-part mini-series is being produced by Darlow Smithson Productions – who were just recently commissioned to produce a two hour factual drama titled One Day Like This for BBC Three. Domic Barlow will executive produce, with Caroline Levy serving as producer.