BBC Two has acquired the rights to period drama Harlots after striking a deal with international distributor ITV Studios. The deal, which was brokered by the BBC’s Head of Programme Acquisition Sue Deeks, covers all three seasons of the show. Seasons one and two will air back-to-back on BBC Two later this year, with the third and final season airing at a later date.
This is an interesting acquisition. Harlots originally began its life as one of ITV Encore’s few original series, but after the closure of the channel, ITV ended their involvement and Hulu commissioned the second and third seasons by themselves. StarzPlay subsequently secured UK rights to the show and previously made all three seasons available on this side of the pond.
It also marks the latest scripted acquisition for the BBC. Just yesterday, the Beeb inked a deal with Disney Media Distribution for the UK rights to The Fosters spin-off Good Trouble and supernatural drama Fort Salem for BBC Three. “Aided by a truly magnificent cast, Harlots brings 18th Century London to life with enormous style, wit, intelligence and humour”, Sue Deeks said. “BBC viewers will become immersed in the gripping lives of business women Margaret Wells and Lydia Quigley, as they make their way in London’s grimy, decadent world.”
Harlots follows Margaret Wells and her daughters, as she struggles to reconcile her roles as mother and brothel owner. When her business comes under attack from Lydia Quigley, a rival madam with a ruthless streak, Margaret will fight back, even if it means putting her family at risk. The drama series is produced by ITV Studios label Monumental Pictures and stars Samantha Morton, Lesley Manville and Jessica Brown Findlay. Harlots was penned by Viceroy’s House scribe Moira Buffini and is based on an original idea by Buffini and Alison Newman. The executive producers are Alison Owen, Debra Hayward, Alison Carpenter, Moira Buffini and Alison Newman.