ITV is expanding their drama slate.
The commercial broadcaster has given the green-light to four new drama series, which hails from such auspices as Doctor Foster creator Mike Bartlett, The Syndicate and In The Club scribe Kay Mellor, husband and wife team Paul Rutman and Natasha Narayan, and newcomers Mark Denton & Jonny Stockwood.
These four series are the first drama projects to be commissioned by ITV’s Head Of Drama Polly Hill since she joined the broadcaster from the BBC earlier this year, following her brief stint as the BBC’s Controller of Drama Commissioning. They span a range of genres and topics from medical drama, to relationship drama, conspiracy thriller and contemporary family thriller.
“I’m delighted to have commissioned four outstanding new dramas for ITV. All four are authored contemporary pieces, from wonderful writers who have a compelling story to tell”, Polly Hill said in a statement. “I think audiences are looking for drama with real authorship, and I am delighted that I start at ITV with a mix of great experience and new voices. It’s a great time to be leading ITV drama and this is just the start of what I hope will be an exciting journey for us and the audience”.
Full details of ITV’s new drama commissions follow below:
Trauma is a drama set in the trauma department of a central London hospital and tells the story of 15 year old Alex Reynolds who sadly dies under the care of high-achieving trauma consultant Jon Stephens. Alex’s father, Dan, believes Jon is responsible for Alex’s death and as he strives for justice, he begins to unpick the very fabric of Jon’s life. Trauma questions what makes a man good and explores the idea that sometimes the very institutions established to protect us can let us down.
Mike Foster (Doctor Foster, The Town) created the three-parter and is penning the scripts. ITV Studios label Tall Story Pictures, the newly created ITV Studios label founded by Creative Director Francis Hopkinson and Executive Producer Catherine Oldfield. is producing with Catherine Oldfield set as the series producer. ITV Studios Creative Director Francis Hopkinson will executive produce. Production is set to commence next Summer in London. ITV Studios Global Entertainment will handle international distribution.
“I feel hugely lucky to be writing a brand new series for ITV,” said Mike Bartlett. “Trauma is a story about two fathers with very different lives, locked in conflict. I hope the series will be moving, terrifying and timely…If we increasingly mistrust institutions and experts, what happens when we desperately need them?”
From Kay Mellor (whose BBC series In The Club and The Syndicate were just put “on hold”), Girlfriends tells the story of three women who are dealing with major life crises: Linda, Sue and Gail are each pushing 60 and struggling to cope with what life has to throw at them. Girlfriends explores the importance of friendship in all our lives and how no matter what life throws at you friends will help you through. The six episode series is set up at Mellor’s indie Rollem Productions. Yvonne Francas is the producer, while Kay Mellor will direct and executive produce. Production is set to commence next Summer in Leeds, York and Harrogate.
“I’m delighted that after a long time away I’m once again working for ITV. I love working with Polly Hill; you always feel like you’re her number one writer and she gives you and your project 100% of her attention. Girlfriends is a topic that’s dear to my heart being a woman of a certain age. I did a conference recently where there were a lot of women saying that they felt invisible, both in life and on screen. There was nothing on television that they could relate to; older women were playing characters that were mothers or grandmothers of the main protagonists”, Kay Mellor said.
“So I wanted to change things around a bit and put them centre stage – to make the invisible, visible. Linda, Sue and Gail are in the autumn of their lives and in many ways their lives should be sorted, but instead each year brings another set of problems”, she continued. “There are plenty of secrets, lies and revelations that send shockwaves through their friendship – it’s a delicious drama to write and I hope the audience enjoy watching it as much as I’m enjoying writing it.”
An “ambitious” conspiracy thriller, White Dragon tells the story of Professor Jonah Mulray, whose life is turned upside-down when his wife is killed in a car-crash in Hong Kong. Although she lived and worked there half the year, Jonah’s never been. He lives a small, sheltered life, and his fear of flying has kept him in London. But now he has no choice but to cross the ocean to identify the body of the woman he loved. Not long after arriving in Hong Kong, Jonah makes a shocking discovery about his wife. Over the course of the series Jonah is drawn deeper and deeper into a web of conspiracy as he comes to terms with this utterly alien and unfamiliar environment, battling to uncover the truth about his wife’s death.
The series is being produced by Two Brothers Pictures, the indie set up by Harry and Jack Williams which is being the hit BBC/Starz drama The Missing, and was created by newcomers Mark Denton and Jonny Stockwood. Production is set to commence next Autumn on location in Asia, with ITV eyeing a 2018 premiere. “We are thrilled to be working with Two Brothers and ITV on this exciting new drama – we hope it will keep audiences gripped”, Denton and Stockwood said.
“We’re delighted to be bringing Mark and Jonny’s incredible debut series to life”, added Harry and Jack Williams, co-founders of Two Brothers Pictures, who will also serve as executive producers on White Dragon. “Their writing is rich and intelligent and combines a narratively taut thriller with a characterful emotional journey that we hope will draw audiences in.”
Next Of Kin
Described as a contemporary family thriller, Next Of Kin follows whip-smart psychologist Mona Mirza. She lives a charmed life at the heart of a loving family living in London, nut is left grief-stricken when her much-loved brother is brutally murdered whilst working for a medical charity overseas. As the death brings buried family secrets to light, Mona is drawn deep into a tangle of betrayal, conspiracy and murder. One way or another, she must find a way of protecting herself, her family and her career as they are all put at risk…
The six-part series was written and created by husband and wife team Paul Rutman (Indian Summers, Vera) and Natasha Narayan and is set up at independent production company Mammoth Screen (Poldark, Victoria). The indie’s Managing Director Damien Timmer and Preethi Mavahalli will serve as the executive producers. Casting for Next Of Kin is already underway, ahead of a projected early 2017 production start.
“We are thrilled to be involved in this first collaboration between Paul and Natasha; they make a formidable writing team,” said executive producer Preethi Mavahalli. “With clever storytelling that will have viewers hooked, this ambitious contemporary thriller will be one not to be missed.”