EXCLUSIVE: AMC Networks streamer Acorn TV has found its latest British crime series in the shape of Adrian Scarborough starrer The Chelsea Detective, which is created and co-written by Peter Fincham, the man who originally greenlit Downton Abbey for ITV.
Scarborough, a prolific English actor whose credits include Killing Eve, Gavin & Stacey, 1917, and A Very English Scandal, will take on the title role of Detective Inspector Max Arnold, who plies his trade in Chelsea, uncovering the murky underbelly of a well-heeled borough of London.
The Chelsea Detective will be co-produced by German public broadcaster ZDF, with BBC Studios-backed Expectation making the series, which consists of four feature-length episodes, each focusing on a different case.
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Expectation co-founder Fincham, who was director of television at ITV during the time that Downton Abbey became a global phenomenon, created the drama. He writes an episode, while Glen Laker (Vera) and Liz Lake (Call the Midwife) are also penning installments.
Deadline hears that the project has been close to going into production for some time, but has been delayed amid the coronavirus pandemic. Filming will finally begin next month, with Richard Signy (Death in Paradise) and Darcia Martin (Call the Midwife) directing.
The story will focus on Arnold, whose lifestyle on a battered houseboat in Chelsea’s Cheyne Walk contrasts sharply with the affluent elite whose crimes he helps solve alongside partner D.C. Priya Shamsie, played by Luther actress Sonita Henry.
Their caseload includes investigating a stonemasons’ workshop at Brompton Cemetery; a fashionable school for international students; a family-owned Italian restaurant; and a local garden center linked to Chelsea FC soccer hooliganism.
As well as solving crime, Arnold hopes to move back into the apartment he shared with his estranged wife, an art dealer named Astrid. She will be portrayed by Tin Star actress Anamaria Marinca.
Fincham, who works in London’s Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, said the location was the “perfect precinct” for a “long-running crime series,” suggesting that Expectation believes the show can have a life well beyond Season 1. “It’s known for its wealth and history, but there’s so much more to it than that,” he added.
Fincham executive produces The Chelsea Detective, while the series producer is Ella Kelly. The drama is made with the support of Catherine Mackin, the managing director of Acorn TV’s UK-based development arm Acorn Media Enterprises. Acorn TV will premiere the show in the U.S., Canada, UK, Australia, and New Zealand next year. BBC Studios distributes internationally.
Acorn TV is quickly growing its slate of UK originals, with other new shows on the way including Buccaneer Media’s Whitstable Pearl, starring Kerry Godliman, and New Pictures’ Dalgleish, starring Bertie Carvel.
Expectation’s scripted slate includes Toby Jones’s BBC Two drama Danny Boy; two seasons of Guilt, also for BBC Two; and BBC Three comedy In My Skin, which was picked up by Hulu in the U.S.
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