EXCLUSIVE: Pippa Bennett-Warner has joined the cast of Sky1’s upcoming firefighter drama The Smoke as a series regular for its 8 episode first season. Sources have described Bennett-Warner’s role to me as being the female lead, and I’m told she plays Ziggy, one of the few female fire fighters in the fire crew featured in the series. Bennett-Warner’s casting comes after TVWise previously broke the news that both Jamie Bamber (Battlestar Galactica) and Rhashan Stone (Strike Back) have also been cast in the series.
Created by Lucy Kirkwood, The Smoke follows a family of firemen and women who, no matter what, always have each other to fall back on. But being a hero isn’t easy, especially in a world that regularly disregards them, and it certainly doesn’t pay. Many crew members are forced to hold down other jobs on the side, taking some of them into the city’s after dark world. The stakes are high but, in The Smoke, it’s the very lives and souls of the White Watch crew that are at risk. Sky 1 has ordered eight episodes for the show’s first season. Kudos Film & TV is producing with Anne Mensah, Jane Featherstone and Noelle Morris serving as executive producers. Mike Barker is attached to direct.
The Smoke represents Sky1’s latest stab at a returning drama series. The broadcaster has had a number of comedy series which have been successful with both critics and viewers, but they have, arguably, had a harder time on the drama side. The channel previously had Sinbad which represented a big investment, but that series was cancelled by BSkyB executives earlier this year, citing that the series had “run its course.” Still, I hear that drama is a key genre for Sky and as they push forward with numerous drama series for sister channel Sky Atlantic (including Fleming and co-productions The Tunnel and the recently announced Fortitude), finding a returning drama series in addition to popular action series Strike Back is a key priority. To that end, Sky1 is currently developing numerous drama projects including a medical drama series from Line of Duty creator Jed Mercurio titled Critical.