ITV's thirst for more supernatural continues...

ITV commissions supernatural crime drama Houdini & Doyle for ITV Encore

ITV commissions supernatural crime drama Houdini & Doyle for ITV Encore from Big Talk Productions and Shaftesbury. Stephen Mangan and Michael Weston headline the cast.

Great Minds. Twisted Crimes.

ITV announces the commission of a new 10-part drama, Houdini & Doyle, which will premiere in the UK in 2016 exclusively on ITV Encore; a channel dedicated to unmissable drama.

This bold and thrilling new crime drama series is Executive Produced by House creator David Shore, and written and created by his long-time collaborator David Hoselton, and leading Canadian screenwriter David Titcher.

A UK/Canada treaty co-production, the drama will be produced by leading independent producers Big Talk Productions (UK) and Shaftesbury (Canada) in association with David Shore’s production company, Shore Z. Sony Pictures Television will handle International distribution of the series which will air on Global in Canada and will be broadcast exclusively in the US on FOX.

Stephen Mangan (Episodes) plays Sir Arthur Conan Doyle alongside Michael Weston (Six Feet Under, House) as Harry Houdini, two of the most fascinating and iconic characters of the early 20thcentury: real-life friends, real-life adversaries, real-life crime solvers.

Harry Houdini: master magician, escape artist, born penniless and now the highest paid performer in the world and he wants everyone to know it. He refuses to believe in the paranormal. As a professional magician and master of illusion he knows there’s nothing supernatural about magic. To him, everything unexplained is a trick, a gimmick, or a fraud.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is the creator of the greatest detective of all time - Sherlock Holmes - but is also a passionate believer in the paranormal. Because, having lost someone very close to him, he desperately wants to find a way of communicating with them.

This fundamental difference between the two men leads to conflict... and humour... and competition. High-minded competition in the pursuit of the truth and ridiculous petty competition because they’re... guys. But despite all this, they need each other. Doyle needs Houdini because he is gullible. Houdini needs Doyle because he is wrong.

Houdini & Doyle will draw heavily on the rich history of the period. At the turn of the 20th century the Metropolitan Police, mired in the ways of the 19th century, were overwhelmed with bizarre and often inexplicable cases so they turned to outsiders including, believe it or not, Houdini and Doyle, who collaborated with New Scotland Yard on some unsolved and inexplicable crimes.

What can we believe? What should we believe? Is cynicism to be admired or is it what makes us human? Is reason the antithesis of hope?

Joining the international cast of new and established talent are exciting new Canadian actress Rebecca Liddiard as Constable Adelaide Stratton, whose character in the series is the first female PC ever to work for the London Metropolitan Police Force, Tim McInnerny as Inspector Horace Merring, fast rising star Adam Nagaitis as Sergeant George Gudgett.

Multi award winning Director Stephen Hopkins (24, Californication) is the lead director and Adrian Sturges (The Enfield Haunting) will produce the series.

Executive Producers are David Shore, David Hoselton, David Titcher for Shore Z, Kenton Allen, Luke Alkin and Matthew Justice for Big Talk Productions and Christina Jennings, Scott Garvie and Maggie Murphy for Shaftesbury.

Houdini & Doyle was ordered by Controller of ITV Encore, Angela Jain and commissioned by ITV’s Director of Drama Steve November and Controller of Drama Victoria Fea.

Steve November said: "We are delighted to be commissioning Houdini & Doyle, a series inspired by two of the greatest characters in the 20th century. We are looking forward to working with such a brilliant team to bring this unlikely, real-life friendship to our ITV Encore audience."

Big Talk Productions CEO Kenton Allen added: “Our spectacularly talented writers, who are all conveniently called David, have conjured up brilliant scripts based on this remarkable real-life relationship that have attracted an incredible cast and creative team. I can’t wait for audiences around the world to enjoy the rollercoaster ride we’re about to take them on.’

David Shore, Executive Producer said: "I've long been intrigued by both Houdini & Doyle; men who were ahead of their time, each fascinating in their own right. But the idea that these two, seemingly so different, could have been friends is almost too perfect. In Michael and Stephen, we have found two incredible actors that embody the intelligence, humour and mystique of these men, who even when viewed through the lens of history, are larger than life.”

Principal photography is due to commence in Manchester and Toronto in Summer 2015.

ITV Encore, a channel dedicated to drama, is exclusively available on Sky platforms and NOW TV.


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