'The Shadow Line'

5 May 2011
TV series (seven parts)
By Hugo Blick
Role: Joseph Bede (criminal florist).

TX: May 5 9:00 pm BBC Two & HD
Series pages at BBC Two w/ info & clips

Episode 1: listing & synopsis - programme page
Episode 2: l & s - page | Episode 3: l & s - page
Episode 4: l & s - page | Episode 5: l & s - page
Episode 6: l & s - page | Episode 7: l & s - page

DVD & Blu-ray: Region 2 - Jul 4
Amazon DVD - BR | BBC shop DVD - BR | at distributor 2entertain
DVD extras: 8 deleted scenes (10min. 30s. in all; class. 12 - BBFC). ETA: None w/ CE.
Trailer (Amazon)

'The Shadow Line' is also available through iTunes UK.

Gallery --- Sites at BBC --- Company Pictures --- Isle of Man Film --- IMDb


Radio interviews

The Review Show inter (also Ejiofor; May 13; alt on youtube)
BBC Breakfast inter (May 5; alt on youtube)
The One Show inter (youtube; May 2)
• Trails (youtube): Original British Drama on BBC Two | on the BBC

(w/ spoilers)
Alex's (in-house)
hashtag on twitter
The Guardian - 'The Shadow Line' episode-by-episode blog
David Lewis - Cult Box - 'The Shadow Line':
Whole series || Episode 7 review - Episode 7 teasers || Episode 6 review - Episode 6 teasers ||  Episode 5 review - Episode 5 teasers || Episode 4 review - Episode 4 teasers ||  Episode 3 review - Episode 3 teasers ||  Episode 2 review - Episode 2 teasers ||  Episode 1 review
Scott Matthewman - The Stage - Square Eyes: May 9-12 - May 23-26 - Jun 13-16
Jul 8 Joe Kennedy - The Quietus - BBC's "Primetime Hauntology" The Shadow Line Reviewed
Jun 17 Adam Sweeting - The Arts Desk - The Shadow Line, Series Finale, BBC Two
May 22 Sarah Crompton - The Telegraph - Chilly thriller is a pale shadow of 'The Wire'
Andrew Anthony - The Guardian - Rewind TV: The Shadow Line [...]
May 6 Jasper Rees - The Arts Desk - The Shadow Line, BBC Two
May 5 Keith Watson - Metro - The Shadow Line is a riddle wrapped inside an enigma
May 4 James Walton - The Telegraph - The Shadow Line, BBC Two
Gerard Gilbert - The Independent - The Shadow Line: When shots in the dark are right on target
May 1 Damien Love - The Herald - The Shadow Line, BBC Two, Thursdays / scan

For CE interviews, see Articles, and here for newest scans.

Episode 1
overnights - 2.9m (12.3%) + 190k on BBC HD; consolidated - 3.421m [2nd most viewed on BBC Two] + 294k [1st on BBC HD] + 320k on iPlayer. 
Episode 2 - 2.06m (8.8%); consolidated - 2.473m [4th] + 150k [1st; shown later, at 11pm on HD].
Episode 3
- 1.6m (7.1%) + 116k (0.5%); consolidated - 2.094m [8th] + 231k [1st].
Episode 4
- 1.8m [1.69*] (8.1% [7.4*]) + 146k (0.6%); consolidated - 2.138m [9th] + 231k [1st]. 
Episode 5 - 1.63m [1.54*] (6.9% [6.5*]); consolidated - 1.93m [17th] + 176k [3-4th]. 
Episode 6 - 1.31m (5.5%) + 142k (0.6%); consolidated - 1.77m [15th] + 190k [5th].
Episode 7 - 1.73m (7.81%) + 158k (0.7%); consolidated - 2.08m [14th] + 217k [1st].

Slot average on BBC Two had been 1.32m (6.3%). The series averaged 1.83m (7.92%).
Consolidated data doesn't include iPlayer.
(Sources: Attentional, DigitalSpy [*], Barb, Guardian)

News: (most recent first)

• 2012 May 13 BAFTA TV Craft Awards - Hugo Blick won best Director: Fiction (all winners and nominees, video). 

Davy Jones was responsible for the make up sfx - hi-res pic of CE alt here (spoilers).

• Nov 21 RTS Craft & Design Awards 2011
- won in Sound - Drama (full list):

Glen Marullo, Nigel Edwards, Linda Murdoch & Lee Crichlow – The Shadow Line, A Company Pictures/Eight Rooks/Baby Cow Production in association with CinemaNX and Isle Of Man Films for BBC Two

"This sound team demonstrated excellent location recording coupled with a highly detailed mix to create a subtle and yet tense atmosphere. It was the intimacy of the quiet scenes that particularly impressed the judges."
• Nov 16 The Writers' Guild Awards 2011 - won Best Television Drama Series (all winners & nominees, w/ images).

• Nov 4
Nominated in RTS Craft & Design Awards 2010/2011 for Effects - Special and Sound - Drama (ceremony Nov 21).

• Oct 2
Shown as a special preview marathon at Norrköping's film festival Flimmer in Sweden. Those who endured to the end were promised a prize, and the series producer Johann Knobel was answering questions. To be transmitted in a normal fashion on SVT in January (source).

• Sep 16
The series is shortlisted for Writers' Guild Awards - Best Television Drama Series (against 'Accused' and 'Doctor Who'; takes place Nov 16).

• Aug 3
'The Shadow Line' will be among shows presented at BBC Showcase Latin America in Rio de Janeiro (Aug 28-30; press release) - again as 8x50' and not as aired, 7x60'.

• Jun 7
FiveLightsDown (promo images) has updated with a post and also added materials to the portfolio (image by Dean Rogers, image by Nick Wall).

DVD classification: rated '15'
Ep. 1 - strong language and gory images (site), 2 - strong language and threat (site), 3 - strong bloody violence and language (site), 4 - strong language (site), 5 - strong language (site), 6 - strong language and violence (site), 7 - strong language and bloody violence (site).

• May 5
Producer Johann Knobel on shooting the series - The Shadow Line: Getting the shot (BBC tv blog).

Ian Wylie's article on the series, reporting from the BAFTA preview.

Isle Of Man News article on 'The Shadow Line' with quotes from BAFTA screening: "Mr Eccleston said: 'I was attracted to the script first, but then I met Hugo and he promised to take me to the Isle of Man! The rest is history.'"• Apr 26 New promotional images over at Blogtor Who.

• Apr 17 Guardian interview
with Lesley Sharp who plays Joseph Bede's wife Julie.

• Apr 13
Short audio excerpt from the q&a on dimming airport lights, from Ian Wylie.

Beehive City's report-cum-review from BAFTA screening of episode 1.

- BBC Press Office. CE interview from the press pack:
What were your first reactions when you read the scripts?That it was excellent and that I wanted to be part of it.

How would you describe the drama?
I would say that it is a genre piece, a thriller – a psychological thriller, a meditation on good and bad, a meditation on morality.

Can you describe your character and his moral dilemma?
Joseph Bede is a devoted husband. He is an accountant, who trained originally in insurance, and because of events in the drama he is pushed forward to lead an operation of drug smuggling. What he is trying to do is to keep himself alive materially because of his wife's illness, and at the same time keep himself alive spiritually – and, of course, the two things are not mutually complimentary. So he wades into a very grey moral area.

Bede and Gabriel work almost in parallel on the same investigation but never meet.
I think they are very different people, and I will be honest I did not study Chiwetel's character (Gabriel) as I studied my own. They work on different sides of the law for a start – I would say they are very different men. One is more introverted perhaps, Bede, because of his work. But, of course, we don't know what Chiwetel's character was like before the bullet in the brain; and indeed he doesn't know what he was like, that is part of the drama. We didn't talk about the job, I think we were aware that we were carrying two very different storylines, he wasn't aware of what I was doing and I wasn't aware of what he was doing.

Were you surprised when first reading the scripts?

I was puzzled at first, it takes two or three reads. Drama scripts are not really meant to be read, drama scripts are meant to be broadcast and watched with all the visual clues and information that one gets from television and film. It's very complex, it is like a Swiss watch really – the complexity and the way that things interlock, plots parallel each other. I was very, very intrigued.

How would you describe working with Hugo?

Well I would stop short at the word "genius" because knowing Hugo as I do I don't think he would want anyone calling him a genius! He is very, very talented to have written these scripts and to direct them in the way he has done with the attention to detail. What's definite is that the atmosphere on set was as good as I have known amongst cast and crew and that came down to Hugo's leadership, which was impeccable, light and funny. What you want from a director is: firstly to know exactly what they want; and secondly you want that to be of good taste – and that is true he's got great taste and he leads well. It was a great experience.

Did Hugo give a back story, or does your character start from the page?

No, there is a modesty to Hugo which is why I think actors and crew work so well for him. He doesn't presume that he knows everything and he allows room for the actors' imagination and the crew's imagination otherwise there is no point in us turning up really. So there are intuitions that an actor can have about a character, and indeed a cameraman can have about how to shoot the scene, which Hugo gives room for.
He does an interesting thing in that he speaks about the script as though it was written by somebody else, which I think is quite interesting. When he is the director on the floor he has the director's head on and he sometimes says: "I can't remember why I wrote that." It's all very collaborative.

Had you seen any of his other work?

Yeah, I watched Marian And Geoff and I watched Sensitive Skin before accepting the job. I liked them very much.
The Shadow Line feels quite different to those? Very different, that's what I was intrigued by, and I completely understand it. They can't nail Hugo down to belonging to any particular area, which I think is very acute of him.It's an incredible cast – had you worked with any of the other actors before? I had worked with Lesley Sharp before, who plays my wife, we worked together on Second Coming. I was in great company and have seen some fantastic performances emerge during the course of the shoot.

Were you surprised by any of them?

No, I knew they were all quality, actors but sometimes actors will do things in front of your eyes that will take your breath away and that happened a lot – with Malcolm Storry in particular, and Stephen Rea.

When you read the scripts and found out who was cast were you surprised?
No, because I know that very well written scripts in drama in this day and age are very thin on the ground. And I know when actors see them they jump on them, because the bottom line is no matter how good an actor is, if you haven't got the script you are not going to be very good. This was an easy job for the actors because the scripts were so well written.Can you compare The Shadow Line to anything else?I can't compare it to anything else and it is difficult when you have been so closely involved in something to actually say what it is. I think the most important thing about it is that it credits its intended audience with great intelligence, it does not offer simplistic plot twists, and it doesn't offer simplistic takes on human psychology. It has taken a world entirely of its own. It is going to be very stylish and intelligent, and I think that's quite rare.
• BBC TWO SPRING 2011 TRAIL - on youtube or at Guardian.
• Hugo Blick
@ BAFTA's q&a from Broadcast:

Blick: BBC2 is "our HBO"
13 April, 2011 | By Lisa Campbell

The drama community should think of BBC2 as "our HBO", according to Shadow Line writer Hugo Blick.

"That's what we really should be thinking about. It we don't do that, we'll always be looking across the water," he added.

Speaking at a Bafta screening of the film noir-style thriller last night, Blick said it was important to bring big, intelligent and uncompromising drama to the screen and said that the BBC had reciprocated his ambition when it grew from a two-room drama to a complex conspiracy thriller exploring the worlds of drugs barons and cops.

He acknowledged that it was a significant shift from his previous work, Marion and Geoff, which took place inside a car, but added that both pieces are similar in their exploration of morality.

"Marion and Geoff had big themes," Blick said.

"It was an epic that just happens to take place in a car. With The Shadow Line we're taking that further by looking at what it means to be heroic. It’s the same themes, but a bigger template."

Passionately committed

BBC2 controller Janice Hadlow welcomed the extra investment in BBC2 drama that has resulted in a strong slate, including The Crimson Petal and the White, The Hour, White Heat and The Line of Duty.

Hadlow said: "The channel is passionately committed to nurturing the ambitious, the complex, the surprising and the unexpected."

Controller drama commissioning Ben Stephenson added: "We wanted to do something to signal the BBC's commitment to drama in this country. The Shadow Line is one of the most complete authored and auteured pieces of work I've ever seen."

The Shadow Line reveals how characters on both sides of the law negotiate the repercussions of drug baron Harvey Wratten's death and how the question of which side of the line they stand on becomes increasingly blurred.
• Mar 16 Has been announced BAFTA PREVIEW of episode one (of seven) and q&a with Hugo Blick and CE - Apr 12 - see this post.

• TX
: While Amazon's DVD release date (April 18) is no longer possible, Guardian mentions that the series is supposed to air "later this spring". ETA: Current date is Jun 6; this new Guardian article suggests six-part (sic) series starts in May.

• Mar 9
The Guardian article mentions among the drama coming during the year to BBC Two "seven-part conspiracy thriller The Shadow Line".

• Feb 22
'The Shadow Line' is among the titles BBC Worldwide is taking to this year's Showcase export fair in Brighton (27th February - 2nd March) - press release. The series is now of eight 50 min episodes.
[50 min could theoretically be an international variation of UK 60 min episode, but the episode count - could it be a typo? The press release indicates dramas with different cuts for domestic and international markets by presenting alternatives, it isn't the case with this series. - ATBN]
• Feb 3
BBC press release, with more precise plot details and the fact that the series now consists of seven (still hour-long) episodes:
The Shadow Line is a major new drama serial created by Hugo Blick for BBC Two. A sophisticated conspiracy thriller in seven parts that brings to life a cinematic world of blurred morality and the conflicted characters who inhabit it, it features a star-studded cast, including: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Christopher Eccleston, Sir Antony Sher and Stephen Rea.

When police officers discover the body of a man, shot at close range, they soon realise the victim is Harvey Wratten, head of one of the UK's largest crime organisations. Having served two years of an 18-year sentence for his part in importing £11m worth of heroin into the country, Wratten had only just been released from jail under the very rarely obtained royal pardon.

Assigned to investigate Wratten's death is Detective Inspector Jonah Gabriel (Ejiofor), in his first case since being shot during a botched police operation that left his partner dead. He has amnesia, caused by the bullet still lodged in his brain, which leaves him doubtful of his own moral compass and his colleagues regard him with suspicion. Gabriel has to follow an increasingly complicated line of investigation, all the while wondering whether he can trust anyone, not least, himself.

On the other side of the line is Joseph Bede (Eccleston), an associate of Wratten's, who has built up a legitimate fruit and flower business during Harvey's time in prison. Now, driven by a profound personal tragedy, Joseph finds himself planning one last deal: a massive drugs operation that he is desperate to see through, so he can retire and step out of the business for ever.

Watching from the shadows is the brilliantly lethal puppet master – Gatehouse (Rea). He knows how to find people. He knows their secrets and he'll find them when they are at their most vulnerable.

As Gabriel begins to unravel the threads around Wratten's organisation, the web of intrigue becomes more complex – and the line that divides the players becomes increasingly blurred.

Hugo Blick's unique style has brought together a star-studded cast including: Chiwetel Ejiofor (American Gangster, Endgame), Christopher Eccleston (Lennon Naked, Doctor Who), Sir Antony Sher (The Wolfman, Primo, God On Trial), Stephen Rea (The Crying Game, Breakfast On Pluto), Rafe Spall (Pete Versus Life, Desperate Romantics, He Kills Coppers), Kierston Wareing (Fish Tank, The Take, Five Daughters), Lesley Sharp (Afterlife, Clocking Off), Sean Gilder (Shameless), Freddie Fox (Worried About The Boy), Malcolm Storry (The Knock), Richard Lintern (The Bank Job), David Schofield (The Take, Pirates Of The Caribbean), Stanley Townsend (Zen, Sherlock Holmes) and Eve Best (The King's Speech, Nurse Jackie).

Hugo Blick says: "The Shadow Line is about a murder investigated by both sides of the line – cops and criminals – and the opposing methods they use to solve it. But the real line is the morality within each character and how far they will go before they cross it".

Ben Stephenson
, Controller, Drama Commissioning, says: "As we continue our drive to build a bold and exciting drama story on BBC Two with commissions like Crimson Petal and The Hour, I am thrilled that we have attracted such world class talent to Hugo Blick's thrilling scripts. Chiwetel and Chris are two of our finest actors and we couldn't be more excited to have them, and the rest of the amazing cast, on board for this original and epic seven-hour series."

Written, produced and directed by Hugo Blick (Sensitive Skin, Marion And Geoff), produced by Johann Knobel (Shameless, Inspector George Gently), executive produced by George Faber and Charles Pattinson (Shameless, Skins, The Devil's Whore, Generation Kill), Henry Normal and Lindsay Hughes (Sensitive Skin, Marion And Geoff, Gavin And Stacey), Marc Samuelson and Steve Christian (The Disappearance Of Alice Creed, Me And Orson Welles) and Polly Hill for the BBC.

The Shadow Line was commissioned by Ben Stephenson, Controller, Drama Commissioning, and Janice Hadlow, Controller, BBC Two.

The Shadow Line is a Company Pictures/Eight Rooks Ltd/Baby Cow/CinemaNX production for BBC Two in 2011.
• Jan 15 Five Lights Down has published an early release image. See it here. Quote: "This shot was taken by John Wright back in September but has only been released very recently. We did a whole days studio photography with Chiwetel Ejiofor, Christopher Eccleston & Stephen Rea and the main shots are being worked on as we speak! More details on the tech coming soon..." (post) Visit 'The Shadow Line' section of the artist's portfolio for more info. Also, from Dec 10, 2010:
"The week kicked off with some in depth head scratching over the key publicity images for upcoming BBC drama Shadow Line. The scripts on this seriously kicked ass and I loved Hugo Blick's complex Hitchcock'esque thriller from the outset :) The studio shoot was done way back in September with John Wright and all the material looks gorgeous (and dark, which I love but am not allowed to by the 'powers that be'). Anyway, the task now is to bring the key composite image together from John's material. Getting the balance of the 3 key characters is proving tricky but I'll post results as soon as I can. Watch this space!"
• Jan 1 2011 The Guardian's TV preview for 2011 (also article on commissioning from Sep 25, 2009).

• Jul 15
CE's INTERVIEW FOR 3FM, on his character and series.
• Jul From Ex-isle, Isle of Man casting agency:
Also coming over in July is a 6 part BBC Drama Called "The Shadow line" which is set in London in present day, so we are looking for multi-national people, also people with bright colour hair, goth's punks and any weird & wonderful looks including Afro Carribean, Asian, Mediteranean, Eastern European. We are looking for an Afro Caribbean Male 5ft 10" who can be available for approx 8 weeks as a stand in for the main actor. Also an eighteen month old boy of Afro Caribbean/Caucasian birth along with a baby born eo July beg Aug also of Afro Caribbean/Caucasian birth.
• Jul 6 Filming starts (Gov.im, Isleofman.com):
Mrs Clare Christian MLC, Department member with responsibility for film and media said: "We are thrilled to welcome the wonderfully talented cast and crew of The Shadow Line to the Island.
"This week sees the culmination of many months of hard work and collaboration between CinemaNX, Isle of Man Film, Company Pictures and the BBC.
"The production will be filming at various locations around the Island over the next 10 weeks and we’re very much looking forward to working with the production throughout their stay on the Island."
• Jul 5 (back-dated to 3rd Jul) BBC Press Release:
Chiwetel Ejiofor (American Gangster, Endgame, Talk To Me), Christopher Eccleston (Lennon Naked, Doctor Who), Sir Antony Sher (The Wolfman, Primo) and Stephen Rea (The Crying Game, Breakfast on Pluto) are to star in The Shadow Line, BBC Two's landmark noir thriller written, produced and directed by Hugo Blick (Sensitive Skin, Marion And Geoff).

They are joined by Rafe Spall (Desperate Romantics, He Kills Coppers), Kierston Wareing (Fish Tank, Five Daughters), Lesley Sharp (Playing The Field, Clocking Off), Sean Gilder (Shameless), Freddie Fox (Worried About The Boy), Malcolm Storry (The Knock), Richard Lintern (The Bank Job) and David Schofield (The Bill).

The esteemed cast play Jonah Gabriel (Ejiofor), Joseph Bede (Eccleston), Peter Glickman (Sher), Gatehouse (Rea), Jay Wratten (Spall), Lia Honey (Wareing), Julie Bede (Sharp), Robert Beatty (Gilder), Rattalack (Fox), Maurice Crace (Storry), Chief Superintendent Patterson (Lintern) and Sergeant Foley (Schofield) – diverse individuals whose worlds become interwoven after the murder of drug baron Harvey Wratten.

From the cop with a bullet in his brain, whose amnesia leaves him doubtful of his own moral compass; to the drug-lord driven by a profound personal tragedy, risking it all on one last deal; to the brilliantly lethal puppet-master who gradually emerges from the shadows to bring the story to its shocking climax – The Shadow Line explores the morality of these characters as they negotiate the repercussions of Wratten's death and attempt to navigate the fine line between right and wrong.

As the thread around Wratten's operation begins to unravel, the web of intrigue becomes more complex – and the question of which side of the line they stand on becomes increasingly blurred.

An intelligent and gripping conspiracy thriller that delves to the heart of human morality, The Shadow Line will have audiences enthralled over six taut and thrilling episodes. Faced with similar dilemmas, on which side of the line would you stand?

Ben Stephenson, Controller, Drama Commissioning, says: "As we continue our drive to build a bold and exciting drama story on BBC Two with commissions like Crimson Petal and The Hour, I am thrilled that we have attracted such world class talent to Hugo Blick's thrilling scripts. Chiwetel and Chris are two of our finest actors and we couldn't be more excited to have them, and the rest of the amazing cast, on board for this original and epic six-hour series."

The Shadow Line is a Company Pictures/Eight Rooks/Baby Cow production in association with CinemaNX. It begins filming in the Isle of Man at the beginning of July, with location shoots also taking place in London.

The series is written, produced and directed by Hugo Blick, with Johann Knobel (Shameless, Inspector George Gently) co-producing. Executive producers are George Faber and Charlie Pattinson for Company Pictures (Shameless, Skins, The Devil's Whore, Generation X), Henry Normal and Lindsay Hughes for Baby Cow (Sensitive Skin, Marion And Geoff, Gavin And Stacey), Marc Samuelson and Steve Christian for CinemaNX (The Disappearance Of Alice Creed, Me And Orson Welles) and Polly Hill for the BBC.

The Shadow Line was commissioned by Ben Stephenson, Controller, Drama Commissioning, and Janice Hadlow, Controller, BBC Two. The series will be broadcast in 2011.
This is CinemaNX's first foray into TV - Tim Adler / Deadline:
The Isle of Man-based equity investor has announced its first TV drama, a six-part thriller for the BBC. Until now CinemaNX has invested in features, covering up to 100% of the budget. Company Pictures (Skins) is making The Shadow Line, starring Chiwetel Ejiofor (Children of Men) and Christopher Eccleston (Doctor Who). Stephen Rea and Anthony Sher also feature. The writer/director is Hugo Blick (Marion and Geoff), who also produces. Company is making the conspiracy thriller with Blick’s regular producer Baby Cow. The Shadow Line will screen in 2011.

CinemaNX is always the lead investor in projects, which must shoot a minimum of 50% of their schedule in this small island off Liverpool. Ecosse Films is currently making romantic comedy The Decoy Bride on the Isle of Man, starring David Tennant, another ex-Doctor Who. [...]
• Jul 2 Christopher Eccleston has been cast in BBC Two six-part thriller series 'The Shadow Line'. Initial reports:
BBC News - Christopher Eccleston to play drug lord in TV thriller
Digital Spy - Ejiofor, Eccleston cast in 'Shadow Line'
Scotsman - Eccleston goes from Time Lord to drug lord