Shooting starts next month on new ITV drama Girlfriends, written by The Syndicate‘s Kay Mellor. Rollem Productions is producing with Miranda Richardson, Zoë Wanamaker and Downton Abbey‘s Phyllis Logan leading the cast. Acorn Media Enterprises has also boarded as the North American partner in a deal negotiated by All3Media which is handling international distribution.

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The contemporary story follows three friends struggling with the responsibilities that come with being a modern woman of a certain age. After the dramatic and sudden death of her husband Micky, Linda (Logan) reunites with childhood friends Sue (Richardson) and Gail (Wanamaker). Each is facing their own issues, from a looming divorce to the loss of a high-powered job through age discrimination and juggling the responsibilities of their grandchildren and aging mothers.

But as questions over the circumstances of Micky’s death start to be asked, accusations reveal secrets, deception and doubts that tear at the Girlfriends’ friendship.

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Mellor, who has BBC drama Love, Lies & Records on deck, calls Girlfriends a passion project. “It’s a story that I’ve been longing to tell,” she says, adding, “I’m aware that there are a lot of women of a certain age who feel like they are invisible and unheard, so I’m proud to have the chance to shine a light on their lives and give them a voice. The series is not just a platform for their voices though — there is a big, bold, dark story at its heart, which is shot through with humor. I’m hoping both men and women will love it as much as I’ve loved writing it.”

The six-part drama will air next year; it was ordered by Polly Hill, Head of Drama for ITV. Mellor is also directing and exec producing for Rollem with Hill for ITV.