Jimmy McGovern’s new 90-minute film for BBC One, Common (working title), set in the north west of England and based on the UK’s controversial Joint Enterprise Law will star Nico Mirallegro (The Village, My Mad Fat Diary), Daniel Mays (Mrs Biggs, Public Enemies) and Jodhi May (Ice Cream Girls, Strike Back). It will be produced for the channel by LA Productions and directed by David Blair (The Street, Accused).
Jimmy McGovern commented: “When it comes to casting you always have a ‘wish list’ – a list of actors who’d be perfect for the parts you have written. You never get them of course. They’re often too busy or away on holiday or they hate the script or whatever. But on this occasion, I got them all, every single one on my wish list. And I am over the moon.”
McGovern’s landmark single drama examines the potential for injustice with the Joint Enterprise or Common Purpose rule; a young man gives friends an impromptu lift to a pizza parlour and finds himself charged with murder.
Seventeen-year-old Johnjo O’Shea (Mirallegro) gives his cousin Tony (Philip Hill Pearson – Good Cop, United) and some mates a last-minute lift in his brother Patrick’s (Ben Smith – Hidden) car. They tell him they’re going for pizza; Johnjo doesn’t know that they’re going to ‘have a word’ with a local loudmouth who needs putting in his place. As Johnjo waits in the car, one of their number, Kieran Gillespie (Andrew Ellis – This Is England ’86), takes offence with an innocent bystander, Thomas Ward played by Harry McMullen, who is fatally stabbed.
The murder victim is the eldest child of Margaret (Susan Lynch – Monroe, The Secret Of Crickley Hall) and Tommy Ward (Mays), who has become estranged from his family after a bitter divorce. Struggling to make ends meet on her own, Margaret is nevertheless determined to fight through bureaucracy and the cool indifference of the banks to give Thomas the send-off he deserves.
When Johnjo’s parents, Coleen (May) and Pete (Andrew Tiernan – Prisoners’ Wives), find out about the lift they’re horrified, and concerned for their naive son. As they argue about what he should tell the police, Johnjo makes his own way to the police station and asks for DI Hastings (Robert Pugh – Game Of Thrones).
A career copper used to doing battle with ‘no comment’, Hastings can’t believe his luck as Johnjo lays the blame squarely with Kieran. But Hastings wants everyone possible to be tried for murder, and with the Joint Enterprise doctrine at his disposal, that includes Johnjo.
As the battle for justice continues, Johnjo’s family finds that not being present at the murder scene is no defence, and even Coleen’s sister, Tony’s mum Shelagh (Michelle Farley – Game Of Thrones, Misfits), tries to dissuade Johnjo from a ‘not guilty’ plea.
The cast also includes: Jack McMullen (Waterloo Road) as Colin McCabe and Sir Michael Gambon (Quarter, Restless) as the Royal Courts Judge.
Common, 1×90, will be made by LA Productions for BBC One and is executive produced for the BBC by Polly Hill, Head of Independent Drama. Colin McKeown (Moving On, Justice) is the producer for LA Productions and he executive produces with Jimmy McGovern. The drama was commissioned by Controller of BBC Drama Commissioning, Ben Stephenson, and former Controller of BBC One, now Director of Television, Danny Cohen.