ITV has commissioned four new episodes of code-breaking thriller The Bletchley Circle starring Anna Maxwell Martin, Rachael Stirling, Sophie Rundle and Julie Graham.
The series, based on the lives of four extraordinary and brilliant women who worked at top-secret HQ Bletchley Park during World War II, will feature two self-contained stories each played out across 2 x 60 minute episodes written by series creator Guy Burt.
The first series of three episodes launched on ITV with an average audience of 5.6m and a 23% share of the available audience making it the best performing new drama series from a share perspective throughout 2012. Amongst new drama titles, only single film Endeavour garnered a higher audience share in 2012.
The first series recently screened in the US to rave reviews. Broadcast by PBS, The Bletchley Circle was given a prestigious Sunday night scheduling slot by the broadcaster alongside Call The Midwife and the first series of ITV’s Mr Selfridge.
Set a year on from the first series in 1953, the ladies are reunited for their second case in the first two-part story when former Bletchley Park colleague, Alice Merren (Hattie Morahan) is accused of murder. Jean (Julie Graham) methodically sets to work examining the evidence and is intent on helping Alice after a distinguished scientist is discovered shot through the heart in the study of his home with Alice, gun in hand, standing over him.
The evidence is stacked against her, but Jean’s instincts tell her differently and she goes to visit Alice in Holloway Prison. Alice is quietly resigned to the fact she will hang. But why has she offered no defence and why does she refuse to talk?
Jean calls on the ladies to reunite, but will they share her faith in Alice’s innocence?
Susan (Anna Maxwell Martin) is still shaken by the trauma of last year’s events and fears for the safety of her young family.
Millie (Rachael Stirling) has secured a highly regarded position translating for German businessman – the old enemy.
Now working for Scotland Yard as a secretary, Lucy’s (Sophie Rundle) ability to process and recall data (eidetic memory) is vital if the ladies are to investigate Alice’s case.
Will the women overcome their fears and risk their burgeoning careers to save Alice’s life as the days to the hanging countdown? And what danger will they face as they uncover not only Alice’s secret, but also a much darker one at the heart of the British Army?
In the second of the two-part stories Millie’s black market dealings with charming rogue Jasper lands her in jeopardy when she becomes caught up in the murky world of people trafficking, bringing her face to face with hard-bitten Marta, a Maltese businesswoman whose family isn’t to be crossed.
Abducted by Marta’s henchmen, Millie is shocked by what she discovers. But with her own life under threat can Millie escape and help the imprisoned young women, whose misery her “innocent” side-business has helped fund. And will the rest of the Circle forgive and help her?
The Bletchley Circle will be produced by Trevor Hopkins (Kidnap and Ransom, The Prisoner) and executive produced by Jake Lushington (The Devil’s Whore, Mysterious Creatures) for World Productions. Guy Burt will write the scripts and filming will take place at Bletchley Park and in Greater London. Jamie Payne (The Hour, Dr. Who) is lead director who will shoot the first two-part story. Sarah Harding (Compulsion, Torn) will direct the second.
The Bletchley Circle has been commissioned for ITV by Director of Drama Commissioning, Steve November.
“The Bletchley Circle is a wonderful addition to our drama slate last year and we’re delighted that it’s returning to ITV with two new and exciting stories,” said Steve.
Executive Producer, Jake Lushington for World Productions added:
“World is thrilled that after the fantastic audience and critical response last year The Bletchley Circle has been re-commissioned by ITV with more hours and two exciting new stories for our former Bletchley code-breakers. In this series as well as unlocking the sinister forces at work in 1950’s Britain, Susan, Millie, Jean and Lucy are attempting forge their own place and identity as women in that era. The combination of these heroic women’s personal stories and a compelling period thriller has already marked itself out as a winning combination both in the UK and internationally, with its recent US Premiere garnering rave reviews from the American press.”