EXCLUSIVE: Samantha Morton (The Last Panthers), Jessica Brown Findlay (Downton Abbey) and Lesley Manville (Malificent) have been set to star in Harlots, a co-production between Hulu and ITV. The eight-part drama is getting a straight-to-series order. Harlots will air on ITV Encore in the UK and stream exclusively in the U.S. on Hulu as part of the Hulu Originals slate. Alison Owen and Debra Hayward’s Monumental Pictures is producing.
Harlots is written by Moira Buffini (Jane Eyre) and based upon an original idea by Buffini and Alison Newman. The series begins filming in London in June and will be directed by Coky Giedroyc (Penny Dreadful) and China Moo-Young (Humans). Lawrence Till (Shameless) will serve as producer of the series,, and Alison Owen and Debra Hayward serve as executive producers alongside Alison Carpenter, Buffini and Newman.
Set against in 18th century Georgian London, Harlots is a family drama offering a new take on the city’s most valuable commercial activity: sex. Based on the stories of real women, the series follows Margaret Wells (Morton) and her daughters as she struggles to reconcile her roles as mother and brothel owner. When her business comes under attack from Lydia Quigley (Manville), a rival madam with a ruthless streak, Margaret will fight back, even if it means putting her family at risk. Brown Findlay will star as Charlotte, Margaret’s eldest daughter and the city’s most coveted courtesan who begins to grapple with her position in both society and her immediate family.
The deal was negotiated by ITV Studios Global Entertainment, who will distribute the drama internationally.
“In 1760s London there were brothels on every corner run by women who were both enterprising and tenacious,” said Owen. “History has largely ignored them, but their stories are in turn outrageous, brutal, humorous and real.”