Filming commences on ITV drama Dark Heart starring Tom Riley

Filming commences on gripping crime thriller Dark Heart from Silverprint Pictures starring Tom Riley 

Filming begins this month on the highly anticipated new series of ITV and Silverprint Pictures compelling crime thriller, Dark Heart. Tom Riley stars as DI Will Wagstaffe, a man haunted by the murder of his parents when he was 16 years old. 

Set in London and produced by Silverprint Pictures, the series is written for ITV by acclaimed screenwriter Chris Lang whose work includes award-winning drama Unforgotten, Torn, Undeniable and A Mother’s Son.  Dark Heart is inspired by characters created by novelist Adam Creed, who has written a series of books featuring Will Wagstaffe. 

Tom is joined in the series by Charlotte Riley (Peaky Blinders, Close To The Enemy), Miranda Raison (Murder on the Orient Express, Silk) and Anjli Mohindra (Bancroft, The Boy with the Topknot) and guest cast include Claire Goose (The Coroner, Unforgotten, Waking The Dead), Alex Carter (Cuffs, Emmerdale, Hollyoaks), Clare Foster (Taboo, Sherlock, The Crown) and Paul Kaye (Game of Thrones, Three Girls). 

The 6 x 60 series is the first commission for Kate Bartlett’s new drama label, Silverprint Pictures, formerly ITV Studios Drama London, who are the team responsible for ITV’s multi-award-winning drama Vera starring Brenda Blethyn and Kenny Doughty and Shetland for the BBC with Douglas Henshall in the lead role. 

Whilst devoting his life to his work, DI Will Wagstaffe (Tom Riley), also known as Staffe to his colleagues, battles personal demons. He’s haunted by the unresolved murder of his parents, which affects both his private and professional life including his on-off romance with sometimes girlfriend, Sylvie (Miranda Raison).  His closest relationship is with his sister Juliette, (Charlotte Riley) and young nephew Harry, who stays with him when Juliette has troubles with her boyfriend. 

With no parents and no significant partner of his own, Juliette and Harry mean everything to Staffe. Determined and tenacious, Wagstaffe is an exceptionally good police officer, in spite of the fact he’s been known for pushing the boundaries of what’s considered acceptable policing. 

Chris Lang has written the first two-part story, Ben Harris (Marcella, The Musketeers) joins Chris writing the second two-part story with Chris writing episodes five and six. 

The first story opens with Staffe at London City airport when his colleague, DC Josie Chancellor (Anjli Mohindra) calls him to tell him there’s been a gruesome murder.  Being the workaholic he is, Staffe abandons his personal plans and heads to the scene of the crime. 

Staffe, along with Chancellor, DS Dave Pulford (Kobna Holdbrook-Smith) and DS Rick Johnson (Tom Brooke), are confronted by a horrific scene – Ray Collins (Mark Fleischmann), a man in his mid-thirties, has been tied to his own bed, choked and severely mutilated. 

As the team, based at Leadengate police station in London, investigate further, they learn the victim was arrested two and a half years ago on suspicion of sexual assault of his own daughters, Holly and Jasmine, who were just nine and eleven at the time.  He was remanded in custody for three weeks but there wasn’t sufficient evidence and Collins was released. 

As Staffe and his team delve deeper they speak to his ex-wife, Debbie Collins (Simone Kirby), who is mother to his daughters.  She admits she is relieved to hear of his death; grateful that no other child will go through what hers did.   

Soon after Collins’ death, a lawyer, Guy Dawlish (Nicholas Asbury), is brutally attacked. The style of attack is similar to the way in which Collins was killed – he was tied using knots that are exactly the same as the ones used to restrain Collins.  The similarity doesn’t end there – Dawlish was arrested two years ago following allegations of child sex abuse. There was insufficient evidence so he wasn’t charged. Staffe fears this could be just the start… 

In the second story in the series, Staffe and his team investigate the mysterious death of a young nurse on the London Underground. Forensics find a DNA link to a teenage boy missing and presumed dead for seven years...the trail leads them into the dark underbelly of London life. 

In the series finale, an online porn star is found murdered in an east London church, posed in morbid worship at the feet of The Virgin Mary. Is it the work of her recent stalker or does the answer lie in her complicated and tumultuous personal life? Staffe must dig out the truth, whilst his own life spins dangerously out of control. 

The series has been commissioned for ITV by Head of Drama Polly Hill. 

Commented Polly Hill: “We’re thrilled Tom Riley has agreed to return as Will Wagstaffe in Dark Heart.  As the central character, he has immersed himself in police work to seek some form of closure for what has happened in his past. It’s a gritty, emotionally driven thriller from Chris Lang which I’m only too pleased to re-commission from Kate Bartlett’s new drama label.” 

The drama will once again be executive produced by Chris Lang, Kate Bartlett (Vera, Shetland) and Michael Dawson (Vera, Holby City). The producer is Letitia Knight (Vera) and the director is Colin Teague (Jekyll & Hyde, Da Vinci’s Demons). 

Commented Kate Bartlett: “Wagstaffe is an uncompromising, contemporary drama and Chris Lang has written truly compelling and atmospheric scripts. We’re also delighted that Tom Riley is playing Will Wagstaffe.” 

Commented Chris Lang: “It's such a treat to be able to re-visit the world of D.I. Will Wagstaffe. For me he is that most unusual of things, a TV cop who’s personal story is as compelling as the cases he investigates. I cannot wait to dive in to both, alongside our incredibly talented creative team, and of course, the hugely talented Mr Riley.”

ITV Studios Global Entertainment will distribute Dark Heart internationally.  

NB – The new series of Dark Heart follows the successful pilot which aired on ITV Encore during 2016.  The pilot makes up the first two episodes of the new series.     

March 16, 2018 12:42pm by ITV Press Centre  

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