Sarah Lancashire (Lark Rise To Candleford, Five Daughters), David Hayman (Trial And Retribution), Elaine Cassidy (Harper's Island, Fingersmith), Matthew McNulty (The Syndicate, Misfits), Joanna Vanderham (The Runaway, Dancing on the Edge) and Emun Elliott (Lip Service, Game Of Thrones) will star in Bill Gallagher's adaptation of a much loved classic French novel by Emile Zola.
Relocated to a British setting it is the story of a love affair set against the backdrop of the opening of the first department store told over eight episodes, produced by BBC Drama Productions and filmed on location in the North East of England.
Bill Gallagher, writer and creator, says: “I like writing long-run ensemble dramas because I can write for actors. Any writer would relish writing for this wonderful cast.”
Smart, ambitious and big hearted Denise Lovett (Vanderham) arrives in the city to seek work in her uncle Edmund’s shop. When he’s unable to help her, she turns to The Paradise and her eyes are opened to a whole new world of possibilities.
This impossibly glamorous store provides the catalyst for her rags-to-riches story as she falls in love with the exhilarating and dangerous charms of the modern world.
“The Paradise is the biggest BBC drama to be made in the North East,” commented Pat Connor, BBC North.
“BBC North is proud to support this production which underlines our commitment to making the very best programming here in the North for the entire UK.”
Entwined in this intoxication is The Paradise’s dashing and reckless owner, John Moray, a buccaneering capitalist, self-made, and utterly modern man, who inspires in Denise a passion and creativity she didn’t know she had.
Dudley (McNulty) is Moray’s (Elliott) right hand man in the store, and tries - with little success - to keep Moray’s feet on the ground. Despite the history and trust between the two men Moray continually ignores Dudley’s advice and cracks begin to emerge. It remains to be seen whether Dudley will be content to live in Moray’s shadow forever.
Ben Stephenson, Controller, BBC Drama Commissioning says: "A romantic relationship drama set in a bustling Northern department store where Bill Gallagher's well-crafted characters will bring an addictive mix of love and gossip to BBC One."
Machiavellian Jonas (Hayman) is on the run from his past, Moray took a chance on him and Jonas has repaid him with dogged loyalty ever since. His forensic eye for detail is useful to Moray but his authority to fire any of the girls in the store leaves them wary of his presence.
Overseeing Ladieswear is the formidable Miss Audrey (Lancashire), although an authoritarian and voice of a different generation, if one of her girls really needs someone, she’s always there for them.
In pursuit of Moray’s affections is the upper class daughter of a rich banker, Katherine (Cassidy). Determined to get what she wants, Moray is the ultimate catch for Katherine; but as they enter into a self-destructive game of cat and mouse it ultimately leads to explosive consequences.
The Paradise is an 8x60 series and will start filming on location outside Durham in June. Written and created by Bill Gallagher, it will be produced by BBC Drama Productions.
The principal cast includes: Emun Elliott plays John Moray, Joanna Vanderham plays Denise Lovett, Elaine Cassidy plays Katherine Glendenning, Patrick Malahide plays Lord Glendenning, Peter Wight plays Edmund Lovett, David Hayman plays Jonas Franks, Sarah Lancashire plays Miss Audrey, Matthew McNulty plays Dudley, Ruby Bentall plays Pauline, Sonya Cassidy plays Clara, Stephen Wight plays Sam and Finn Burridge plays Arthur.
Executive Producer for the BBC is Susan Hogg. It was commissioned by Ben Stephenson, Controller, BBC Drama Commissioning and Danny Cohen, Controller, BBC One.
I like writing long-run ensemble dramas because I can write for actors. Any writer would relish writing for this wonderful cast.”