Sixties-set medical drama Breathless premiered on ITV1 in the UK on Thursday night with 3.7M viewers (including +1s) for a 17.5% share in the overnights. That was consistent with the slot average and was enough for the show to top other entries at 9 PM. Co-produced by ITV Studios and Masterpiece, the six-part drama about a group of doctors and nurses working in a London hospital draws inevitable comparisons to Mad Men given the stylish period look – not to mention the tag line, “Perfect lives built on lies.” It kicks off in 1961 and focuses on the changing roles of women at a time when abortion was still illegal, the contraceptive pill was only just available to married women and moral codes were shifting. Breathless is co-created, written and exec produced by Paul Unwin who was in Cannes at the Mipcom TV market earlier this week to talk up the series along with stars Jack Davenport and Zoe Boyle. The trio agreed with the oft-touted notion that today’s is a Golden Age of television, and especially for British period drama. A veteran of shows like Casualty and Shameless, Unwin credited Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes with opening things up, especially for showrunners. Davenport, who also starred in NBC’s Smash, also cited HBO for fostering more ambitious and nimble telvision. If Breathless hits its mark, the storyline could carry on to 1968. PBS Masterpiece will air the first season in the U.S. in 2014.
Jack Davenport was given the thankless job in NBC’s canceled Smash of portraying a hotshot choreographer-director who thought Katharine McPhee was the perfect Marilyn Monroe for his Broadway production. Now he will get a much happier role playing an OBGYN in London in the 1960s-set Breathless for PBS. Masterpiece exec producer Rebecca Eaton confirmed his casting tonight at Summer TV Press Tour 2013. ITV Studios is co-producing. Eaton also confirmed Deadline’s May report that Matthew Rhys will play Mr. Darcy in PBS’s 3-part adaptation of Death Comes to Pemberley, based on the novel by P.D. James that imagines Jane Austen’s Darcy and Elizabeth six years after they marry and a body turns up at Pemberley as they’re preparing for their annual ball. Anna Maxwell Martin plays Elizabeth in the drama, timed to mark the 200th anniversary of the publication of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Origin Pictures is producing for BBC One with filming in Yorkshire. The series is expected to run during the end-of-year holidays.
Masterpiece is re-teaming with ITV Studios to co-produce Breathless, the upcoming six-part drama about a group of doctors and nurses working in a London hospital in the 1960s. Jack Davenport leads an ensemble cast that includes Game Of Thrones‘ Iain Glen, Downton Abbey‘s Zoe Boyle and Natasha Little (Kidnap And Ransom). The series is set in a busy gynecology unit in 1961, a time when abortion was still illegal, the contraceptive pill only just available to married women and moral codes were shifting. Shooting started in April. No U.S. or UK air date has been set.
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ITV’s ‘Breathless’ Rounds Out Cast
Six-part ITV drama Breathless has added cast to join the previously announced Jack Davenport-starrer. Natasha Little (Vanity Fair), Oliver Chris (One Man Two Guvnors), Zoe Boyle (Downton Abbey, Sons Of Anarchy), Joanna Page (Gavin & Stacey), Shaun Dingwall (Above Suspicion) Catherine Steadman (The Tudors, Salmon Fishing In The Yemen), Sarah Parish (Hatfields & McCoys), Pippa Haywood (Mr Selfridge) and Iain Glen (Game Of Thrones) have all boarded the ITV Studios drama about a group of doctors and nurses working in a London hospital in the 60s. Shooting is underway this month on Breathless which is produced by Jolyon Symonds with Kate Bartlett and director Paul Unwin exec producing.