ITV orders new 8-part period-drama
ITV has commissioned Jericho, a new eight-part drama starring Jessica Raine (Fortitude), Hans Matheson (Tess of the D’Urbervilles) and Clarke Peters (The Wire).
Created and written by Steve Thompson (Sherlock, Doctor Who), Jericho is set in the Yorkshire Dales in the 1870s and will focus upon the shantytown of Jericho – home to a community of pioneers, settlers and outcasts, people with secrets to hide and those looking to start again, that will live, thrive and die in the shadow of the viaduct they’ve been brought together to build.
Annie Quaintain (Raine), is a woman who refuses to let tragedy define her. Shattered by her husband’s death and penniless as he has gambled away everything they owned, Annie is turfed out of her home and shunned by former friends and neighbours. Together with her two teenage children, Annie leaves for Jericho in the hopes of re-building their lives.
Disembarking from the train at the end of the line, they carry their meagre possessions across a wild terrain. As they reach the brow of a hill a sprawling collection of awnings and huts, bustling with life, lies before them. Beyond that, rising up from the floor of the valley the first two arches of a magnificent railway viaduct teeming with muscled workers.
Among those Annie first meets in Jericho is Ralph Coates (Peters); a self-styled railway agent whose finest skill is reading other people and seeing beneath their façade. The truth is he has a past that keeps him looking over his shoulder. He offers Annie a helping hand, and although reluctant, she accepts. It is Coates who makes Annie realise that Jericho is a rare place of opportunity and relying on her only skill as a homemaker, she opens a boarding house for the navvy labourers. She and her children will be sharing a home with rough-handed, dirt ingrained men, with a deservedly formidable reputation, who toil to construct the viaduct.
One of Annie’s first tenants is Johnny Jackson (Matheson); a dark and handsome navvy who, despite only just arriving in Jericho, has already got himself into a fight. In the aftermath of an accident on the line, events will bind Annie and Johnny together. Events they will both wish to try and forget, but that will haunt them forever.
Mark Addy (Atlantis) will play gang leader ‘Happy’ Jack Laggan, the burly, craggy faced, cracked voice navvy labourer who takes no prisoners and works hard for his money.
Jericho’s resident prostitute Lace Polly, played by Lorraine Ashbourne (The Syndicate) is also a neighbour. Her lace and fineries will dazzle Annie’s daughter Martha, played by Amy James-Kelly (Coronation Street) and her choice of livelihood will give Annie something to struggle with.
Daniel Rigby (From There to Here) plays Charles Blackwood, the visionary behind the viaduct. His dream is to fill a previously impassable gap that falls between railway lines, which will take seven years to complete. Railways are the future and Charles hopes his viaduct will bring prosperity to the area after taking an almighty risk investing his family’s wealth in the venture and, together with engineer Ezekiel Shaw, he runs the company responsible for the construction. His mission to find investors for the next stage of the build brings feisty Isabella Lambton, played by Jeany Spark (Da Vinci’s Demons), a woman he’s not seen for nearly ten years, back into his life.
ITV Studios Director of Drama and Executive producer, Kate Bartlett (Vera, Marchlands), said: “We’re delighted to be embarking on the production of Jericho, an epic character driven drama set in the visually striking landscape of a frontier community. We’re also thrilled that we have a wonderful cast with Jessica Raine, Hans Matheson and Clarke Peters in the leading roles.”
ITV’s Director of Drama, Steve November said: “Jericho focuses on the creation of a community from nothing and the human stories and epic struggles of survival that will emerge. We’re grateful to Steve Thompson for creating such wonderful and intriguing characters and to Kate Bartlett and her production team.”
Jericho is an ITV Studios production and will Egan filming later this month (May 2015) in North Yorkshire.