Julie Walters (National Treasure) and Clarke Peters (The Wire) are fronting a dark, irreverent drama based around a death pact for broadcaster Channel 4.
They will star in Clerkenwell Films’ six-part Truelove, which is written by from Iain Weatherby (Humans) and co-created with Charlie Covell. She wrote the tonally similar Channel 4 and Netflix drama The End Of The F***ing World — another Clerkenwell production.
With a core cast in their 60s and 70s, Channel 4 says the series “breaks the rules for older characters on screen and flips ageist tropes on their head in a series which promises thrilling twists and turns, irreverent humour and passionate romance.”
Walter will play Phil, an ex-senior police chief enjoying a comfortable if boring
retirement, and Peters plays Ken, a divorcee and ex-special forces vet who feels similarly at sea. The pair are childhood sweetheart who never quite managed to forget each other.
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At a friend’s funeral many years later, they and a gang of old friends, are reunited. At the wake, with nostalgia and booze flowing in equal measure, talk soon takes a meditative turn and the group discuss what an ‘ideal’ death might look like. They make drunken pact: rather than let each other suffer a slow and dreadful decline, they will step in and engineer a dignified death.
Sue Johnston (Help, Kiri), Phil Davis (Trying, Silent Witness), Peter Egan (After Life, Unforgotten), Karl Johnson (Too Close, Mum), Fiona Button (The Split) and Kiran Sonia Sawar (Murdered by My Father) make up a star-studded cast.
Caroline Hollick, Channel 4 Head of Drama, said: “Truelove is a unique, poignant and darkly funny series, which deals with big themes around regrets at the paths not taken, quality of life and serious illness. Beautifully written and with actors of the calibre of Julie Walters and Clarke Peters playing the leads, Truelove is an exciting addition to Channel 4’s upcoming portfolio of dramas.”
Petra Fried, Joint MD at Clerkenwell Films, added the series would be “full of emotion, edge-of-the-seat drama and pitch-black comedy,” while dealing with “a demographic that’s rarely given centre stage on television, tackling the serious issues of love, life, illness and death, and handling them with warmth, sensitivity, humour and the youthful energy of a graphic novel.”
Hollick commissioned the series along with Commissioning Editor Rebecca Holdsworth. Emile Harrison, Andy Baker and Petra Fried are executive producers for Clerkenwell, with Covell and Weatherby doing the same.
Elliot Hegarty (Cheaters, Ted Lasso) and Rachna Suri (Half Bad, Ackley Bridge) will direct and Alex Walsh-Taylor (Cheaters, Lovesick) will produce. BBC Studios, which wholly owns Clerkenwell Films, is distributing the series internationally.
Walters said: “I had basically withdrawn from acting and wasn’t sure that anything could tempt me back but then I read Truelove. I was completely bowled over by the writing — the dark humour, the love story and thriller element set against a backdrop of what happens to us all as we approach our later years. I adore the character of Phil – smart, funny and hard edged. How often does one have the chance at my tender age to play a leading lady in a TV drama? I can’t wait to start and to work with Channel 4 again, a broadcaster with a remit that is so vital to the industry and viewers.”
Peters added: “If your friend reached a soul-destroying level of decrepitude, could you help them transition, if asked? Would it be right, would it be noble, could you do it? Which of that internal triumvirate do you listen to: your head, heart or soul? You know it is illegal in law and scripture to take a life, but could you do it? Iain and Charlie’s scripts explore that moral dilemma in a way I’ve never seen before. It’s funny, it’s dark and it’s full of twists and turns.”
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