Hugo Blick is to move away from comedy and into fully blown crime drama with a major series for BBC2.
He will write and direct The Shadow Line, a cliffhanger-laden drama that BBC2 controller Janice Hadlow described as having the same scope and ambition as such BBC2 landmarks as Our Friends in the North, Smiley’s People and Edge of Darkness.
Hadlow told Media Guardian: “The narrative takes place partly in the world of the police, who are investigating a murder. There is a parallel story … in the criminal world.”
It is understood that the drama will not follow the usual conventions of the genre, though Hadlow declined to unveil further details.
The Shadow Line is planned as a 6 x 60-minute series and is earmarked for a 9pm weekday slot. It will not tx until at least 2011.
Meanwhile Doctor Who and Torchwood writer James Moran is to make his directorial debut with a web-only crime thriller.
Girl Number 9 stars Joe Absolom as a man arrested for the brutal murder of seven girls. But the police team have limited time to uncover his guilt, and become embroiled in his sick mind-games.
The series plays out over 6 x five-minute episodes. Moran, who has also written for Spooks and penned the movie Severance, wrote the screenplay and is directing parts four to six, with Dan Turner directing the first half.
The series was produced by Martin Baker and Pete Coogan, veterans of the Jim Henson Company, who set up their own indie, Baker Coogan Productions, in 2006 and subsequently produced Disney’s first large-scale international production, Bunnytown.
The indie self-funded production of Girl Number 9 with Elstree Film Studios. It will be launched online at www.canyousaveher.com at the end of October.
Step up, Anne Cleeves.
Crime writer Ann Cleeves’ novel Hidden Depths is to be made into an ITV murder mystery starring Brenda Blethyn.
The drama is set in modern day Northumberland and Blethyn, star of Pride and Prejudice, Atonement and Secrets and Lies, will play the role of a lonely detective inspector investigating the murder of two young people found in the water.
Adrian Shergold, who has worked on He Kills Coppers and Dirty Filthy Love, will direct the drama, while Paul Rutman, who has written for Marple and Lewis, will adapt the series. Elwen Rowlands has been named as producer and while controller of drama Kate Bartlett will work as executive producer of the series at ITV Studios.
ITV director of drama Laura Mackie said: “Ann Cleeves’s skilfully crafted mystery is a real page-turner, full of intrigue and emotion, and I’m thrilled we’re bringing it to ITV, especially with Brenda Blethyn taking on the central role. It is a great addition to our strong slate of crime drama.”
ITV Studios controller of drama Kate Bartlett said: “We’re delighted to be in production on a new character-driven crime drama, set in the North East. It is also wonderful to be working with the exciting new writer Paul Rutman on his first original commission.”
Cracker star Robbie Coltrane is to return to ITV crime drama in a new thriller told from three different perspectives.
Written by David Pirie (Murder Rooms, Woman in White) and produced by RDF Media's Touchpaper Scotland, each episode of the 3 x 60-minute Murderland will be dominated by a different character.
The first focuses on the victim's 13-year-old daughter Carrie and the second on Coltrane's detective, Hain. The third episode will return to the same characters in the present day, a decade after the murder, and will offer the point of view of the victim through a series of flashbacks.
Producer Kate Croft said: “It's as much a ‘whydunnit' as a whodunnit and is not a conventional police procedural. Each episode peels the onion further. It is an intelligent but emotional thriller that, a bit like Unforgiven or Place of Execution, is about extraordinary events that happen to ordinary people.”
The drama will also examine the relationship between Hain and Carrie, who grow close in the aftermath of her mother's death, and will ask how “terrible, unexplained events” that happen to a child can affect them as an adult.
TX is planned for 2010.