UKTV’s Alibi channel has ordered The Diplomat, a six episode drama series set in the British Consulate in Barcelona that hails from COBRA creator Ben Richards and Line Of Duty and Bodyguard indie World Productions. It is eyed for a 2021 premiere.
The Diplomat follows Laura Simmonds and her Barcelona Consul colleague and friend Alba Ortiz as they fight to protect British nationals who find themselves in trouble in the Catalan city. Mixing the roles of lawyer, counsellor and cop, Laura and Alba’s diplomatic skills are stretched to the limit by the stream of cases that walk through the Consul’s doors.
The series opens on the unexplained death of a young British barman working around Barcelona’s notorious marina. While Laura supports the boy’s angry father, neither the Spanish police nor the Foreign Office are keen to pursue a murder enquiry. As Laura and Alba uncover the events surrounding the barman’s death, they discover links not only to organised crime, but also to the British security services. Laura’s quest for justice places her in real jeopardy, as she threatens to expose secrets that the British and Spanish will go to any lengths to keep hidden.
The executive producers are World Productions’ CEO Simon Heath, UKTV’s Philippa Collie Cousins, and BBC Studios Director of Drama Martin Rakusen. Production will get underway when it is safe to do so. UKTV said that casting and the director will be announced at a later date. “We’re delighted to be working for the first time with Philippa, Emma, the UKTV team and BBC Studios Distribution to bring to the screen Ben Richards’ smart and original take on Britain’s complicated relationship with Spain’s most visited city”, Simon Heath said.
This marks the third scripted original for Alibi, following in the foot-steps of both Traces and We Hunt Together. All three have been green-lit under a new commissioning model, in which UKTV and BBC Studios Distribution co-commission scripted dramas that BBC Studios can then exploit on the international market. The model has proven to be a successful one. Traces and We Hunt Together proved to be strong rating performers for Alibi, while BBC Studios also recently concluded a major U.S. deal for We Hunt Together with Showtime.
“The Diplomat draws back the curtain on the multi-layered world of a British consul – dealing with everything from a daily stream of distressed British nationals to international crime and political intrigue”, said Alibi Channel Director Emma Ayech, who ordered the series for the broadcaster. “Ben Richards has created a sharp, witty script with a warmth and lightness of touch that is perfect for Alibi. This series will add to Alibi’s growing slate of fresh and original crime drama.”
While UKTV Drama Commissioner Philippa Collie Cousins, who commissioned The Diplomat alongside UKTV’s Head of Scripted Pete Thornton, added: “Laura and Alba are contrasting professional working women dealing with murder, abductions and organised crime alongside managing their careers and love lives while avoiding diplomatic hierarchies and maintaining a tight friendship. It is “The Good Wife meets Spooks” for 2021, a feisty workplace drama set in Barcelona with cracking dialogue, abundant crime and a surprising series arc. Television to stay in for by the very talented Ben Richards. I am very excited to work with such an expert lead writer as Ben, but equally excited to add talented up and coming writers to the writing team.”