Entertainment & Arts

Helen McCrory to star in ITV drama from Homeland writer

Helen McCrory at A Little Chaos film premiere Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption McCrory recently played Aunt Polly in Peaky Blinders

Helen McCrory is to star in an ITV legal thriller from Homeland writer and executive producer Patrick Harbinson.

She will play campaigning defence solicitor Emma Blunt in the six-part series, which is described as an "exciting, visceral political thriller".

Harbinson said it was a legal thriller "but one that's written in the crash zone where law and politics collide."

The Peaky Blinders actress said she was "thrilled" to be leading the new drama.

"When l was at drama school l was inspired by Prime Suspect, watching as Britain led the way in creating strong female characters to lead their dramas," she said.

"It's a thriller that starts deceptively small, then begins crossing borders to different cultures and continents."

'Complex and contradictory'

She said she knew and admired Harbinson's writing for Homeland, which starred her husband Damian Lewis in its early series, and can't wait to start filming.

The drama will follow Blunt as she investigates the killing of a schoolgirl in East Anglia and tries to free the man she thinks was wrongly convicted of the girl's murder.

As part of her investigation she starts to sense that forces in the police and the intelligence services want to stop her uncovering the truth.

Harbinson, who was also an executive producer on 24 and Person of Interest, said he was "delighted" that McCrory had agreed to play the lead role.

"She is a complex and contradictory character, and I am incredibly lucky to have someone of Helen's wit, warmth and intelligence bringing her to life," he said.

Harbinson said he immediately said yes when he was asked if he was interested in writing a legal series inspired by the work of campaigning lawyers like Gareth Peirce, who helped gain the release of Guildford Four member Gerry Conlon, and Helena Kennedy.

"Much of the work I've done in America in the last 10 years (24, Person of Interest, Homeland) has been about life in the post 9/11 (and post 7/7) world," he said. "The so-called war on terror has put serious stress on the ordinary workings of the law.

"National security justifies all sorts of police and state over-reach - and the great majority of us are prepared to accept this.

"So I wanted to create a character who challenges these assumptions, who fights for those outside the normal run of society, and who is uncompromising, difficult, and completely indifferent to unpopularity and danger. The result was Emma Blunt and Fearless."

Filming will begin in London and East Anglia in September.

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