ITV commission Dark Heart drama, starring Tom Riley as DI Will Wagstaffe, following successful ITV Encore pilot broadcast last year.
“We’re thrilled Tom Riley has agreed to return as Will Wagstaffe in Dark Heart. As the central character, he has immersed himself in police work to seek some form of closure for what has happened in his past. It’s a gritty, emotionally driven thriller from Chris Lang which I’m only too pleased to re-commission from Kate Bartlett’s new drama label.” – ITV by Head of Drama Polly Hill.
Production is to start later this month on crime thriller Dark Heart. The lead character of Wagstaffe is a man haunted by the murder of his parents when he was 16 years old.
Set in London and produced by Silverprint Pictures, the series is written for ITV by screenwriter Chris Lang whose work includes award-winning drama Unforgotten, Torn, Undeniable and A Mother’s Son. This lateest offering is inspired by characters created by novelist Adam Creed, who has written a series of books featuring Will Wagstaffe. Tom is joined in the series by Charlotte Riley, Miranda Raison and Anjli Mohindra and guest cast include Claire Goose, Alex Carter, Clare Foster and Paul Kaye.
Whilst devoting his life to his work, DI Will Wagstaffe (Tom Riley), also known as Staffe to his colleagues, battles personal demons. He’s haunted by the unresolved murder of his parents, which affects both his private and professional life including his on-off romance with sometimes girlfriend, Sylvie (Miranda Raison). His closest relationship is with his sister Juliette, (Charlotte Riley) and young nephew Harry, who stays with him when Juliette has troubles with her boyfriend.
With no parents and no significant partner of his own, Juliette and Harry mean everything to Staffe. Determined and tenacious, Wagstaffe is an exceptionally good police officer, in spite of the fact he’s been known for pushing the boundaries of what’s considered acceptable policing.
The first story opens with Staffe at London City airport when his colleague, DC Josie Chancellor (Anjli Mohindra) calls him to tell him there’s been a gruesome murder. Being the workaholic he is, Staffe abandons his personal plans and heads to the scene of the crime. Staffe, along with Chancellor, DS Dave Pulford (Kobna Holdbrook-Smith) and DS Rick Johnson (Tom Brooke), are confronted by a horrific scene – Ray Collins (Mark Fleischmann), a man in his mid-thirties, has been tied to his own bed, choked and severely mutilated.
As the team, based at Leadengate police station in London, investigate further, they learn the victim was arrested two and a half years ago on suspicion of sexual assault of his own daughters, Holly and Jasmine, who were just nine and eleven at the time. He was remanded in custody for three weeks but there wasn’t sufficient evidence and Collins was released. As Staffe and his team delve deeper they speak to his ex-wife, Debbie Collins (Simone Kirby), who is mother to his daughters. She admits she is relieved to hear of his death; grateful that no other child will go through what hers did.
Soon after Collins’ death, a lawyer, Guy Dawlish (Nicholas Asbury), is brutally attacked. The style of attack is similar to the way in which Collins was killed – he was tied using knots that are exactly the same as the ones used to restrain Collins. The similarity doesn’t end there – Dawlish was arrested two years ago following allegations of child sex abuse. There was insufficient evidence so he wasn’t charged. Staffe fears this could be just the start…
In the second story in the series, Staffe and his team investigate the mysterious death of a young nurse on the London Underground. Forensics find a DNA link to a teenage boy missing and presumed dead for seven years…the trail leads them into the dark underbelly of London life. In the series finale, an online porn star is found murdered in an east London church, posed in morbid worship at the feet of The Virgin Mary. Is it the work of her recent stalker or does the answer lie in her complicated and tumultuous personal life? Staffe must dig out the truth, whilst his own life spins dangerously out of control.
The six part series is the first commission for Kate Bartlett’s new drama label, Silverprint Pictures, formerly ITV Studios Drama London, who are the team responsible for ITV’s multi-award-winning drama Vera starring Brenda Blethyn and Kenny Doughty and Shetland for the BBC with Douglas Henshall in the lead role.
“Wagstaffe is an uncompromising, contemporary drama and Chris Lang has written truly compelling and atmospheric scripts. We’re also delighted that Tom Riley is playing Will Wagstaffe.” – Kate Bartlett
Also this week ITV’s Head of Drama, Polly Hill announced a commission of relationship drama, Deep Water, to be produced by Kudos. The female-led ensemble series, set in the Lake District, is written by Anna Symon and adapted from the Windermere series of novels by critically acclaimed author, Paula Daly.
The series focuses on the lives of three women, living in and around the beautiful surroundings of Windermere. It’s a modern look at family and the pressures we put ourselves under as we juggle busy lives. In striving to do their best for their families the women are capable of making some controversial choices in an attempt to hold everything together and keep their heads above deep water.