Following the success of period dramas Downton Abbey, Mr. Selfridge and Call the Midwife on both sides of the pond, ITV and MASTERPIECE on PBS/WGBH have teamed up to co-produce a new medical drama set in the 1960s: Breathless.
Breathless opens in 1961 and follows a group of doctors and nurses working in and around the gynecology unit of a London hospital—a place where “lies and guilty secrets driven by love, ambition and sex” operate below the surface, at a time when abortion is illegal, the contraceptive pill is only just available to married women, and moral codes are shifting.
The series stars Jack Davenport (Smash, FlashForward) as “a brilliant surgeon who believes he can make a difference in womens’ lives.” Costarring in the ensemble cast are Zoe Boyle (Downton Abbey, Sons of Anarchy), Iain Glen (Game of Thrones, Jack Taylor), and Natasha Little (Case Histories, Kidnap and Ransom).
Said Tobias de Graaff, Director of Global Television Distribution, ITV Studios Global Entertainment:
“Breathless has all the characteristics of a drama with strong global appeal: a captivating story, a charismatic and talented cast, including the internationally-renowned Jack Davenport, and sumptuous production values.”
Added MASTERPIECE Executive Producer Rebecca Eaton:
“Television dramas that tell good stories about womens’ lives in the 20th century are endlessly interesting to me… and apparently to lots of other people—look at the appeal of Call the Midwife and Mad Men. We’re all fascinated by the enormous changes that happened just a short time ago. Breathless is a sharp, visually-rich portrait of a group of people on the cusp of change – the 1960’s.”
Breathless was co-created and written by Paul Unwin (Shameless, Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple and Poirot), who also directs the first two of the six hour-long episodes of the series. It is executive produced by Kate Bartlett for ITV Studios and Rebecca Eaton for MASTERPIECE with Paul Unwin.
Premiere dates have not yet been announced, but it is expected that Breathless will air in 2014 on ITV in the UK and in the U.S. on PBS’ MASTERPIECE.