“This town – it’s all secrets. Everyone knows something you don’t”
ITV has commissioned three-part contemporary drama The Town from Big Talk Productions.
BAFTA winner Andrew Scott will star alongside an outstanding ensemble cast including Julia McKenzie, Charlotte Riley, Gerard Kearns, Kelly Adams and Martin Clunes.
The Town is Big Talk’s first 60-minute drama commission and is also the first television series by Laurence Olivier award-winning playwright Mike Bartlett.
Following a shocking incident amongst an otherwise normal family, 30 year-old Mark Nicholas (Andrew Scott) returns to the town where he grew up. After ten years away, coming home to Renton is harder than Mark could ever have imagined. He always had a strained relationship with his parents, his grandmother Betty (Julia McKenzie) is now living in his childhood bedroom and he barely knows his teenage sister Jodie (played by 16 year-old newcomer Avigail Tlalim in her first ever screen role).
Mark starts to be drawn back into the life he left behind. Most of his school friends still live in the town but he finds it hard to re-connect with them. Hardest of all is meeting his first love Alice (Charlotte Riley) who stayed behind when he left. They still have strong feelings for each other but Alice is now married with a child.
Mark struggles to decide whether he should stay permanently to be with his family. But a new life is difficult to build in the place you used to call home and it now feels like you barely know it.
“We’re thrilled to be making our first original drama series for the fantastic team at ITV. At the heart of The Town will be a family struggling to come to terms with change. It’s also our hope to paint a picture of contemporary Britain through the magnifying glass of an ordinary market town. The story takes place in a landscape familiar to most of the UK. Most of the population live their lives in a place like Renton,” said Big Talk’s CEO and The Town’s co-executive producer Kenton Allen.
“These communities are desperate for a sense of purpose and direction. They face the same challenges we all do. A shrinking economy, under-employment, crime and a struggle to educate our children. Mike’s real skill is to craft a compelling and entertaining drama at the heart of such a world,” added co-executive producer Simon Curtis.
The Town will be produced by Big Talk’s Luke Alkin (Dirty War, Grow Your Own), and executive produced by Kenton Allen (Rev, Him & Her) Matthew Justice (Attack the Block) and Simon Curtis (My Week With Marilyn, Cranford). Simon introduced the project to Big Talk after identifying Mike as an exciting new writer via his work at the Royal Court Theatre. Colin Teague (Doctor Who, Shirley) directs.
Thrust into the complicated lives of his former neighbours once more, it’s not surprising there are awkward moments as Mark becomes reacquainted with his past, including his old friends ‘down the pub’ Lucy (Kelly Adams), Carly (Aisling Bea), and Jeff (Sam Troughton).
Running parallel with Mark’s story, we get to know the local Mayor, alcohol-soaked Len, played by Martin Clunes. With his world falling in around him, Len is struggling to keep his life together. He’s stumbling from one PR disaster to another, but fortunately his right-hand woman is very together and keeps him on the straight and narrow. Without efficient and organised Shireen (Goldy Notay), Len would have committed career suicide a long time ago. His heart’s in the right place, but Len attracts trouble like a magnet attracts metal.
Interweaving with life in the Nicholas household, is the story of wayward Jodie’s friendship with posh boy Harry (Toby Regbo), Lucy’s complicated love life and friendship with fellow florist Carly, and Betty’s attempts to hold the family together. As we get to know the community, we’re also introduced to the enigmatic Inspector Franks from the local police force whose links to the family are stronger than it first appears. He’s ever present in their lives and will have a lasting influence on what happens to them.
The Town has been commissioned for ITV1 by Drama commissioning team Laura Mackie, Sally Haynes and Victoria Fea.
“Mike Bartlett is a hugely exciting new talent and I’m delighted that ITV has commissioned his first project for television,” said Laura. “His characters are real and instantly engaging and his dialogue is natural and funny even in the darkest of moments.”
The Town begins filming in High Wycombe from 17 June for six weeks.
BBC Worldwide are handling International Distribution
Press contact: Janice Troup Tel: 0161 952 6220