EXCLUSIVE: Philip Glenister and Steffan Rhodri are to front a factual-based drama for the BBC.
Filming on Steeltown Murders (working title) has begun in and around South Wales, with Life on Mars and State Play actor Glenister and Gavin and Stacey and In My Skin‘s Rhodri in the lead roles as DCI Paul Bathell and Phil ‘Bach’ Rees. Ed Whitmore (Manhunt) is the writer.
Severn Screen, one of the co-producers on ITV’s high rating 2021 series The Pembrokeshire Murders, is producing in association with All3Media International.
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The four part-drama is set in both 1973 and the early 2000s, contrasting the policing methods of the 1970s with the forensic breakthroughs of the early Noughties. It centers on the hunt to catch the killer of three young women in Port Talbot, Wales, and the how the mystery — the first case of its kind — was solved 30 years after the crimes thanks to pioneering DNA evidence.
BBC Wales co-commissioned the series, which will air next year on BBC One and iPlayer.
Joining Glenister and Rhodri are Scott Arthur (Good Omens, Borg McEnroe) and Siôn Alun Davies (The Sandman, Hidden), who play the detectives’ younger selves, respectively. Also cast are Keith Allen (The Pembrokeshire Murders, Marcella), Priyanga Burford (Industry, No Time to Die), Sharon Morgan (Yr Amgueddfa, Gangs of London), Nia Roberts (Red Rose, Yr Amgueddfa), Elinor Crawley (Vikings, Ordinary Lies), Gareth John Bale (35 Awr, Y Pris), Kriss Dosanjh (The Larkins, Casualty), Matthew Gravelle (Silent Witness, Broadchurch), Amy Morgan (Mr Selfridge, Showtrial) and Dyfan Dwyfor (A Very English Scandal, Bang).
The Pembrokeshire Murders and Hinterland‘s Marc Evans is directing, with Hannah Thomas (Hidden, I Am Not a Witch) serving as producer in association with All3Media International. Executive producers are Ed Talfan, Jon Hill and Whitmore for Severn Screen, and Rebecca Ferguson and Helen Perry for the BBC. All3Media International will distribute the series internationally, with additional funding support provided by Welsh Government through Creative Wales.
“I was drawn to this tragic true story because it’s ultimately as much about the scarring effects of an unsolved crime on a community as it is the crime itself,” said Whitmore, who has writing credits for Waking the Dead, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and Identity among other shows. “The narrative unfolds on two timelines — 1973 and 2002 — and the chance to chart the interweaving lives of our characters across this epic canvas is quite simply a gift to a dramatist.”
“The most important aspect of this project is remembering that the events of 1973 are still fresh in the minds of many people,” said Talfan. “Ed Whitmore and Marc Evans have worked on a number of challenging fact-based dramas and are working closely with our incredible cast and crew to bring this true story to the screen.”
The news marks the latest BBC commission for Severn Screen, which was a co-producer on The Pembrokeshire Murders and maker of bilingual drama Craith/Hidden.
Rebecca Ferguson, Commissioning Editor for BBC Drama said: “Steeltown Murders is an important account of the events that affected a Welsh community in 1973. The series explores the very nature of justice and what it means to live on in the shadow of such brutal tragedy. Helen Perry and I are very grateful to be working with Ed Whitmore, Marc Evans and the team at Severn Screen who are thoughtfully bringing this story to life.”
“This production also showcases Welsh talent both in front of and behind the camera,” said Creative Wales Deputy Director Gerwyn Evans. “Creative Wales’ investment into productions like this means we’re able to build on Wales’s skills base in film and television, ensuring the sector has the pipeline of talent it needs both now and in the future. I am glad to see that six new trainees have been given an opportunity to work with Severn Screen on this project and look forward to the announcement of more exciting screen projects in the near future.”
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