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Wednesday 24 Sep 2014

Press Release

Stellar cast announced for BBC Two's The Night Watch

Anna Maxwell Martin (South Riding), Claire Foy (Little Dorrit), Jodie Whittaker (Accused), and Harry Treadaway (Fish Tank) will star in a tragic and tender adaptation of Sarah Waters' best-selling novel, The Night Watch.

Adapted by award-winning British writer, Paula Milne (Small Island, Endgame, The Virgin Queen and The Politician's Wife) and made by BBC Drama Production.

Paula Milne said: "One of the themes which attracted me to Sarah Waters' delicate and haunting novel The Night Watch is its theme of invisibility – how in the Second World War, under the deathly mantle of darkness as the air raid sirens wailed, her characters found an invisible arena to explore their sexuality. In that sense it is truly a noir novel. Add to that its wayward structure, jettisoning the story from the present back into the past, it was simply a challenge I couldn't resist."

Set against the turbulent backdrop of Forties London, The Night Watch tells the stories of four young Londoners inextricably linked by their wartime experiences. In a time when the barriers of sexual morality and social convention have been broken down, Kay (Anna Maxwell Martin), Helen (Claire Foy), Viv (Jodie Whittaker) and Duncan (Harry Treadaway) enjoy a freedom never experienced before as they engage in secret liaisons and passionate trysts.

The drama opens in 1947 as the country is trying to rebuild itself after the war; we find Kay mysteriously roaming the streets, haunted by some traumatic personal loss. Meanwhile, Helen and Viv run a marriage bureau, helping people rebuild their shattered lives by finding love. But their own complicated love lives are less easy to solve. Helen obsessively clings to her tumultuous and volatile relationship with Julia while Viv is continuing an affair with a married man whom she seems unable to break free from. Viv's vulnerable young brother Duncan harbours a terrible secret, when a face from his past re-appears which threatens his fragile existence.

Moving back in time through the Forties into the maelstrom of the Blitz, the lives, loves and losses of these four central characters are unravelled. For them, the post-war victory is bitter sweet, for it returns them to the margins of society from which they hoped they had been liberated. In order to build their future they must each make peace with their past.

Hilary Salmon, Executive Producer, says: "We are very proud to be making this ambitious film for BBC Two, bringing to our audience the untold stories of ordinary people as they struggle to find love and tenderness during the uncertain nights of the London Blitz. Paula's beautiful script has vividly brought to life Sarah Waters' astonishing and revelatory novel. We are delighted with the outstanding cast we've assembled who represent some of the best young talent in the UK today."

The supporting cast includes: Julia Standing played by Anna Wilson-Jones (Hotel Babylon), Reggie played by Liam Garrigan (Holby City), Nancy played by Claudie Blakley (Lark Rise To Candleford) and Mr Mundy played by Kenneth Cranham (Tess Of The D'Urbervilles.)

Kate Harwood, Controller of Series and Serials, adds: "BBC Drama Production are very happy to be bringing this wonderful Sarah Waters' novel to the BBC following on from productions of Fingersmith and Tipping The Velvet. This surprising, romantic and sexy novel peels away the clichés of the Blitz spirit and shows us Londoners at their most vulnerable and tender. A wonderful team and cast led by Hilary Salmon, Executive Producer of Five Days and Criminal Justice will shortly be shooting in the West Country."

Filming begins this week on this 1x90-minute drama commissioned for BBC Two by Ben Stephenson, Controller of BBC Drama Commissioning and Janice Hadlow, Controller of BBC Two. The BBC executive producer is Hilary Salmon, produced by Annie Tricklebank and the director is Richard Laxton (Accused, Hancock And Joan.)

This announcement further demonstrates BBC Two's commitment to re-establish its reputation as the home of intelligent and ambitious drama reflecting the new strategy and investment for drama on the channel.


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