The Split - series three

The Split is returning for its third and final series. Created and written by Abi Morgan, The Split is produced by Sister for BBC One and co-produced with Little Chick and BBC America.

The Split will air on Monday 4 April on BBC One and BBC iPlayer

All episodes will be available on BBC iPlayer from 4 April



It was re-commissioned by Piers Wenger, Director of BBC Drama, Charlotte Moore, Chief Content Officer BBC and Kristin Jones, EVP of international programming, AMC Networks.

Series Three is executive produced by Sister Co-Founder Jane Featherstone (Chernobyl, Landscapers, This Is Going To Hurt), writer and creator Abi Morgan (River, Suffragette, The Hour), Lucy Dyke (The Split, Black Mirror, Ripper Street) and Lucy Richer for the BBC. Dee Koppang O’Leary (Bridgerton, The Crown) boards as the lead director with Sumrah Mohammed and Emma Genders producing.

Set in the fast-paced, complex world of London’s high-end divorce circuit, The Split is an authentic, multi-layered and witty examination of modern marriage and the legacy of divorce. Following the messy lives of the three Defoe sisters, Hannah (Nicola Walker), Nina (Annabel Scholey) and Rose (Fiona Button) and their formidable mother Ruth (Deborah Findlay), Abi Morgan is set to conclude the trilogy with the most dramatic and heartbreaking series to date, as we watch a divorce lawyer confronted by her very own divorce.

Adding fuel to the fire, the catalyst to the breakdown of Hannah and Nathan’s marriage, Christie (Barry Atsma), will also return to the final series, which sees Hannah and Nathan’s formerly rock-solid marriage unravel as they try to come to an amicable separation agreement.

As Hannah and Nathan begin to divide up their 20 years together, Hannah faces what she is about to lose and a shocking revelation dramatically changes the stakes. As the battlelines are redrawn, we wonder if their dream of achieving the 'good divorce' is even possible. Will they find a path through the wreckage, or is The Split simply too deep to repair?

How many episodes in series three?
6 x 60

Key Cast
Nicola Walker - Hannah Stern
Stephen Mangan - Nathan Stern
Barry Atsma - Christie Carmichael
Annabel Scholey - Nina Defoe
Deborah Findlay - Ruth Defoe
Fiona Button - Rose Defoe
Lara Pulver - Kate
Chukwudi Iwuji - Zander Hale
Damien Molony - Tyler Donaghue

Where can I watch The Split?

The third series will air on BBC One in April. The Split Series one and two are available on BBC iPlayer to stream now.

The second series, which averaged over six million viewers and over 19 million streams, became the third most watched drama series on BBC iPlayer in 2020*.

*does not include continuing drama titles

The Split will air on Monday 4 April on BBC One and BBC iPlayer

All episodes will be available on BBC iPlayer from 4 April.

Interview with Abi Morgan

Abi Morgan is the Writer, Creator and Director of The Split

You always imagined The Split as a trilogy, but now that it’s here, how does it feel to wrap up the story?

I think it’s like the end of any good relationship, it’s conflicted! I feel really happy and proud and excited to be showing this final series. I always intended it to be this three-arc structure, that was about the legacy of a marital split that permeates Hannah’s life, and then that triggers her own split within her own relationship, and then subsequent split in her marriage. Now it comes to it though, the hardest thing is letting go of the characters and the alchemy of that collaboration of actors. They’re very inspiring to write for and Nicola (Walker) at the helm in the role of Hannah really sets the tone, so I feel really sad to let go of those characters!

In many ways I think there’s more story to be told, but because it’s a relationship drama, I mean how many times can Hannah get married and divorced?! I guess it came back to that really, which was that this was always about wanting to take the sting out of divorce and look at what it means in our modern society now, how one can survive and come through the other side, and can you have a good divorce? Ultimately this show, though it’s complex and conflicted at times, it’s about the fact that divorce is manageable and possible and shouldn’t be taboo or a sign of failure.

It’s still unusual to show a messy woman in her 40s on screen, was it important for you to show life in all its complexity for Hannah and also Ruth, her mother?

I wanted to do something that was cross-generational. We’ve tracked Hannah from her mid-40s to her early 50s and I was always interested in looking at the complexities of that; a woman who, at the point when her daughter Liv is just becoming a teenager and a young woman in her own right, embracing her own relationships and sexuality, is also a point when a woman (Hannah) is menopausal and dealing with all those issues of long-term relationships and career highs and lows.

Also the sense your children are leaving you and what comes after. Then through Ruth, Hannah’s mother, I love the idea of looking at a woman in her 70s who is still vivacious, attractive and in long-term employment - because people don’t retire in the same way as they used to, certainly not when you’ve got a vocational career like law. And then also to give Ruth a lovely, romantic story as I wanted to give the show a real sense of hope, that love doesn’t die at 50 and it’s not all over when you hit the menopause!

There’s a golden thread of shared love and support and DNA through the Defoe sisters as well with Nina and Rose, so that was something I was always drawn to.

What did you want to explore with the introduction of new character Kate (Lara Pulver)?

There’s a line later on in the series where someone says to Kate ‘you’re the change’. Kate appears as a professional colleague of Hannah's, yet also comes into opposition with her personally, so that was lovely to play around with. I wanted to create a character who on one level you absolutely want to smack because she is so annoying, but then on another level she is so endearing and understandable and you could spin it and see life from Kate’s perspective, which is how terrifying to be introduced to this family dynamic!

Lara Pulver who plays Kate is such a mercurial actress; you think she’s one thing and then you give her a different scene and she spins it the other way. Watching Lara work, there are moments where you’re really rooting for Hannah, but then other moments where you totally understand where Kate is coming from.

You’re directing for the first time - why now and was it what you expected?

I’m 53 and coming through some big life changes. There have been various family illnesses and I also went through cancer just before we went into lockdown (in 2020). As a writer you are often alone, and it really hit me that I wouldn’t get that experience of being on set again, and certainly during Covid to justify being on that set, I thought, how can I get in and be with my actors and really spend time with them?

I’ve always been lucky with the directors I’ve worked with and I feel I’ve learnt a lot, but for the first time ever I felt I’ve got to see if I can understand how to make television from a different point of view. There probably isn’t a more nurturing or safer environment to try your first directing than within a show you know really well, and the only writer you can offend is yourself!

It was a revelation to me that it was so much fun. The thing that’s been most interesting is that I’d often sit in on edits as an executive producer, but I’d focus on the emotional heart of the writing. Now, to look at the show in such a technical way, that was so helpful and I have a new vocabulary of language. And I learnt not to write so many words! Write less because a lot will end up on the cutting room floor anyway and that’s a hell of a lot of time and money, so directing has changed the way I work.

We can tease that there’s a wedding to come in series three - was that inevitable in a series about divorce?

In every series the last episode has featured a wedding. In series two Tyler and Zander eloped so we gave them that great engagement party, but I wanted to end on a wedding here. This show is a collision of a family, at the best and worst of times and I always think weddings are the one thing you can go to where you can’t complain!

People go with such energy and joy, whether you believe in the ritual or not it brings together family and friends. Often it’s the collision of your professional and personal life and so dramatically that’s - thank you Richard Curtis - that’s why that world has been such a beautiful, rich environment to play with those different dynamics.

What inspired the big legal case for this series?

I guess I’ve been thinking much more about life and death in my life. I’m 53, I’ve been in a long-term relationship and the ‘what-ifs’ become more relevant. It used to be, ‘what if we have children’ and now it’s ‘what if one of us doesn’t survive?’ I wanted to ask those questions with a couple who’d had a long, strong marriage and were being challenged by something that’s very difficult to discuss and how you navigate endings from that point of change.

Was it hard to get the right ending for this final series?

Well, we’ve shot two endings! There was a lot of debate and a lot of discussion, and I think we’ll end up sharing (the other ending) eventually when we’ve decided which one we’re going for! The most important thing for us was to show Hannah in a place that was hopeful and powerful and that there was a level of optimism, if not anticipation and trepidation for the future. We wanted to play around with it for Hannah, what would be a happy ending? And I’m always thinking about the audience, and I hope that we’re giving an ending that is both realistic and romantic.

Interview with Dee Koppang-O’Leary

Dee Koppang-O’Leary is Lead Director on The Split

What is it about The Split that you find so involving from a directing stand-point?

I think with any good series it's a testament to the writing and acting, but I just fell in love with the characters. Totally hook, line and sinker! You feel like you know them. I had such a reaction to this when I properly started delving into it. I felt like I knew these characters and their relationships and how they would react to each other.

Plus everything is so relatable; even if you’re not a top-class lawyer in London, there’s so much nuance in Abi’s writing and it doesn’t matter where you’re from or your background, there’s a commonality. It might be sibling rivalry, or love, or divorce or affairs, there’s so much in there. On paper you might think it’s quite a female show, you assume that women might enjoy watching it more than men, but Damien (Molony) who plays Tyler, said when he was travelling up and down from Manchester for Brassic, that he’s never been stopped by more male lorry drivers at service stations asking about The Split!

How do you keep the balance and rhythm between what’s not said and what’s written in the script, and all that emotion?

Something I was taught early on, and spoke to Abi, Jane and Lucy about, as well as to Jess Hobbs who directed the first series of The Split, who said to me "it’s about what’s not said" and also "what’s Hannah thinking?" - and that importance of always bringing it back to Hannah and how she’s reacting to any given situation.

So at times the action may be happening in the background, but we’re watching Hannah’s reaction to it. But also these actors know their characters so well, they’ve been playing them for five years, which means that they give you so much extra!

We can tease that there is a wedding to end this series, was that a total joy to film or actually a nightmare?

Equally both! Obviously the wedding scenes were amazing to shoot, but imagine it’s the hottest day of the year, 36 degrees Celsius, during Covid, and we were shooting in Harrow on the Hill, on top of a hill! Getting equipment up there… I mean it was beautiful and amazing and the weather looked gorgeous, but it was so hot! Everyone was absolutely boiling and we had to film these group wedding photograph scenes, and everyone in three-piece suits!

How collaborative was it sharing directing duties with Abi Morgan?

It was wonderful because it felt like my directorial debut as well, as I come from a second-unit background. The Split was my first time as lead director, so the first time I was in charge of a whole episode, let alone a series. No pressure!

Abi was incredible. When I first came on board we met up and went for this mammoth three-hour walk around Hampstead in the snow, and I got to quiz her and ask her about everything to do with The Split. I had a lot of support from her on story, structure, being across a whole series, and I’d WhatsApp her on my way to set to check in on the tone and feeling. And I think it was lovely because then I could help her with the directing side of things and talk her through the technicalities of that. It was such a joyful, collaborative experience because we had each other’s backs with this! Plus it’s complicated filming in Covid times so we were very much there for each other if schedules changed last minute and things had to be swapped. We’d tag in and tag out! Amazing strong, female team.

There is a Morning TV cameo in this series that features your husband Dermot O’Leary, was that just fun to set up?

You never want it to feel nepotistic, but it was scripted that one of the characters is interviewed on a breakfast TV show, and it was one of those funny things where I felt it’d be so weird to get someone else! So I said, "I might have someone I know who’d be up for this!"

Dermot is such a huge fan of The Split anyway, he was so over-excited to be part of it. I recently got to show him his section - and I mean it’s a tiny cameo - but he was very excited. We’ve got some really good cameos this season, from Lily Cole to Tom Rhys Harries to Lindsay Duncan, it’s amazing!

Hannah and Nathan’s house looks beautiful on screen but apparently is tricky to film in?

Yes! It’s gorgeous and feels very apt for Hannah and Nathan, and is lovely on screen, but filming across the floors, and during Covid, filming for 45 minutes then stopping to air out the room and open all the windows, wearing masks, and having to be conscious of zones and who you’re coming into contact with, it was incredibly hard. Just finding space to rehearse as well when you’re in a busy house with a big crew is quite tricky!

But I can’t complain, we were very lucky to be able to go back as it’s someone’s actual house, so when The Split started five years ago I’m not sure the owners knew how often we’d be back! But working on a show set in London, you want to celebrate the city and show it off. You want it to feel big and glossy, living in this luxurious high-end world. And we’ve always got to see Hannah walking across Millennium Bridge as well! That hustle and bustle of commuting to work, showing off that London skyline is always fun. I’m excited for everyone to see this series.

Source BBC One

March 31, 2022 5:00am ET by Pressparty  


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