Samantha Morton, Jessica Brown Findlay to star in ITV / Hulu drama Harlots

Morton & Manville to play rival brothel owners

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ITV and Hulu have commissioned new eight-part drama, Harlots starring Samantha Morton (Fantastic Beasts, Rillington Place), Lesley Manville (Mum, River) and Jessica Brown Findlay (The Outcast, Downton Abbey).

Set against the backdrop of 18th century Georgian London, Harlots is a powerful family drama offering a brand new take on the city’s most valuable commercial activity – sex. Based on the stories of real women, the series follows Margaret Wells (Morton) and her daughters, as she struggles to reconcile her roles as mother and brothel owner. When her business comes under attack from Lydia Quigley (Manville), a rival madam with a ruthless streak, Margaret will fight back, even if it means putting her family at risk. Brown Findlay will star as Charlotte, Margaret’s eldest daughter and the city’s most coveted courtesan who begins to grapple with her position in both society and her immediate family.

The drama is written by acclaimed playwright and screenwriter, Moira Buffini (Jane Eyre, Tamara Drewe) and based upon an original idea by Moira Buffini and Alison Newman.

Executive Producer Alison Owen said: “In 1760s London there were brothels on every corner run by women who were both enterprising and tenacious. History has largely ignored them, but their stories are in turn outrageous, brutal, humorous and real.”

Fellow Executive Producer Debra Hayward added: “Moira and Alison’s writing doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to sex and violence, but it’s the juxtaposition of these things and the domesticity of the ‘houses’ that makes Harlots so compelling.”

Produced by Monumental Pictures, Harlots is directed by Coky Giedroyc (What Remains, Penny Dreadful) and China Moo-Young (Thirteen, Humans). Filming will begin in London in June 2016 for broadcast on ITV Encore in the UK and to stream exclusively in the US on Hulu.