After weeks of rumours, ITV Encore has confirmed that Da Vinci’s Demons star Tom Riley has been set as the lead in Dark Heart, their one-off two-hour drama from Chris Lang and ITV Studios which is based on Adam Creed’s Wagstaffe novel Suffer the Children.
“Chris Lang has written a truly compelling and atmospheric script,” said ITV Studios Creative Director Kate Bartlett. “Adam Creed created a fascinating character in Will Wagstaffe with so many layers, and Chris has brilliantly brought him to screen. We’re thrilled that Tom Riley is playing him.”
Dark Heart follows DI Will Wagstaffe (Riley), a man tortured by his past, as he investigates the gruesome murder of Ray Collins. As the team investigate further, they learn Collins was a suspect paedophile who has previously been investigated by the police. Before long, Guy Dawlish, who was also investigated for child sex abuse, is brutally attacked in almost exactly the same way. With two unconvicted paedophiles attacked within days of each other, Staffe fears this could be just the start.
Joining Tom Riley in the cast of the two-hour drama is Charlotte Riley (London Has Fallen) as Juliette, Wagstaffe’s sister; Miranda Raison (24: Live Another Day) as Sylvie, Wagstaffe’s love interest; Anjli Monhindra (Cucumber) as DC Josie Chancellor; Kobna Holdbrook-Smith (The Last Panthers) as DS Dave Pulford; and Tom Brooke (Preacher) as DS Rick Johnson. Mark Fleischmann, Simone Kirby, Nicholas Asbury, Joseph Teague and Edward Akrout also star.
“As Will Wagstaffe investigates gruesome crimes it’s hard to believe that his personal life could be as complex as his day job, but as we get to know Staffe we realise he’s utterly haunted by his past”, said ITV’s Controller of Drama Victoria Fea, who commissioned the one-off earlier this year. “Viewers will be left guessing not only who is behind the murders that Staffe is investigating, but also wondering what history lies behind Wagstaffe’s family.”
Dark Heart, which is envisioned as a pilot for what could become a series of two-hour similar to Maigret or Poirot before it, was adapted for television by Chris Lang, the writer behind such ITV dramas as Unforgotten and Undeniable. ITV Studios are producing, with Chris Cloough on-board as the producer, while Da Vinci’s Demons helmer Colin Teague is attached to direct. The executive producers are Chris Lang, Kate Bartlett and Michael Dawson. Production begins later this month in and around London.