Casting Has Been Announced for the ITV Adaptation of Phil Rickman’s Midwinter of the Spirit
Last November ITV Studios commissioned a three-part drama for Midwinter of the Spirit, the crime drama with a supernatural twist by Phil Rickman. It was announced the series would be adapted by Stephen Volk (The Awakening) and produced by Phil Collinson (Doctor Who). The eagerly awaited casting has now been announced for the series which will begin shooting this month on Herefordshire county’s Welsh border.
Lead character Merrily Watkins will be played by Anna Maxwell-Martin (The Bletchley Circle) with David Threlfall (Code of a Killer) as Merrily’s mentor, Huw Owen. The series will also star Siobhan Finneran (Downton Abbey), Ben Bailey Smith (Law and Order: UK), Leila Mimmack (Becoming Human), Kate Dickie (Game of Thrones), Simon Trinder (Dalziel and Pascoe), Oengus MacNamara (Game of Thrones) and David Sterne (Tommy Cooper; Not Like That).
Merrily has been through the mill emotionally of late, losing her unfaithful husband Sean in a car crash and seeking refuge in a job despised by her 16 year-old daughter, Jane, whose rejection of her mother’s beliefs leads her into the path of danger. When a man is found murdered in the most horrific circumstances imaginable, Merrily becomes convinced that Satanists are operating in the city.
In the early hours of the next morning she’s called to Hereford General Hospital to perform an exorcism. The atmosphere is palpably toxic, as nurses treating a chronically ill man known for cruelty to animals and his abuse of women believe the ward has become polluted by his vileness. “They believe when he dies, that evil won’t die with him,” Sister Cullen tells Merrily before she begins to pray for his soul. As the life force in the shrivelled body begins to ebb away, Merrily feels the force of his depravity. Shaking and feeling violated by her experience, Merrily begins to wonder if the two deaths are connected.
Local police team – DCI Annie Howe and DS Franny Bliss – investigating the murder of the crucified man seek Merrily’s expertise. Merrily assists the police as their enquiries take them into a very dark and dangerous world.
When he heard the names of the actors, author Rickman said he was “delighted and relieved.” He added, “Anna Maxwell-Martin is as close as anyone could get to my impression of Merrily, and David Threlfall will just become Huw Owen – he never fails. I’m also really glad they went on the Black and White trail for the village. I was scared they’d choose somewhere more convenient but less convincing.”