EXCLUSIVE: Line Of Duty star Anna Maxwell Martin and Vigil actor Shaun Evans are to headline an ITV true crime series about a woman who escapes a near-fatal relationship with a murderer.
BAFTA-winner Maxwell Martin will star as Delia Balmer, a woman who fell for murderer John Sweeney (Evans) and overcame a horrific attack to provide vital evidence in the prosecution against her former lover.
Delia Balmer (working title) is produced by ITV Studios-backed World Productions, which made Bodyguard and Line of Duty. Based on Balmer’s book Living with a Serial Killer, the four-part series is written by Nick Stevens, who penned Luke Evans drama The Pembrokeshire Murders.
Balmer, an agency nurse, met Sweeney in a London pub in 1991. His artistic, anti-establishment persona gave way to menacingly violent attacks on Balmer, during which he confessed to killing his ex-girlfriend and dumping her body in an Amsterdam canal.
Sweeney was arrested but was granted bail after a court failiure. He pursued Balmer and subjected her to a near-fatal attack before evading capture. Balmer rebuilt her life before having to confront Sweeney seven years later after he was arrested for the murder of another girlfriend. Her fragile recovery was shattered all over again as she faced Sweeney in court, providing testimony for the prosecution.
Simon Heath, the Executive Producer for World, said: “Delia’s story is a unique and powerful one of a woman who survived terrible violence at the hands of a man who should never have been free to commit his heinous crimes. Delia’s story shines a light on the failings of the legal system to deal with male violence against women and so sadly still resonates today.”
Stevens described Balmer as a “hero” who was still suffering from PTSD more than 10 years on from Sweeney’s conviction. “[She is] a survivor whose determination to pursue the good in life – to dance, to travel, to live – is ultimately greater than her demons,” Stevens added.
Ken Horn (The Devil’s Hour) is the producer, while Julia Ford (Everything I Know About Love) directs. The drama was commissioned for ITV by Polly Hill, Head of Drama, and Huw Kennair-Jones, Drama Commissioner.
ITV Studios is distributing Delia Balmer. Filming will commence this month and the production has received support from the Welsh government via Creative Wales.
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