Ioan Gruffudd-fronted crime drama Harrow, which is the first international drama production for Disney’s ABC Studios International, is working up a second season as it prepares to debut. Gruffudd tells Deadline that he is already beginning to work on a sophomore run of the show after Australian broadcaster ABC, which launches next month, commissioned development of a second season.
Co-created by Secrets & Lies writer Stephen M. Irwin and producer Leigh McGrath and written by Irwin, the 10-episode Harrow tells the story of Dr. Daniel Harrow (Gruffudd), who is no ordinary forensic pathologist. Brilliant. Unorthodox. And a murderer? Harrow’s total disregard for authority and his unfailing empathy for the dead help him solve even the most bizarre of cases. He is driven to give victims a voice and will bend every rule to get to the truth of what happened to them. But when a terrible secret from his past threatens his family, his career and himself, Harrow needs all his wit, wile and forensic genius not to solve a crime but to keep it buried.
Gruffudd tells me Harrow is a “brilliant three-dimensional character and Stephen’s writing leaps off the page. It has a great case of the week and Harrow has a brilliant relationship with his ex-wife and estranged daughter and gallows humor with his assistants”.
“The antihero now is very attractive, which is great for an actor who is getting older because they’re not looking for youthful leading man. He has an element of House, he’s a bit curmudgeonly and there’s a little bit of Castle,” he says, adding that the backdrop of Brisbane gives it a uniqueness.
Gruffudd says that he was initially reluctant to play another forensic pathologist, after playing one on ABC’s Forever but changed his mind as soon as he read the script. “When I’m on set playing Harrow, I was able to help them block the scenes because I’d done it for nine months and I knew what worked but that was the only comparison [to Forever].”
The Fantastic Four star said the five-month shoot was much more civilised than a U.S. network shoot, where you can find 20 hour shoots. “The working hours were more civilised compared to a U.S. show, where you work until you drop and you never have a Friday night or Fraturdays as we’d call them.”
The show is produced in association with Australian producer Hoodlum Entertainment, which has had a relationship dating back to working on Lost: Dharma Wants You webseries.
Hoodlum Entertainment’s Tracey Robertson said, “I’ve done U.S. remakes and saw the differences when you produce a show with the budget and the access to talent and I was very determined to make a show that was as good as a U.S. show. We’ve stayed in the Disney fold, not really on purpose but now it seems that it was always meant to be.”
Disney Media Distribution is selling the show internationally and Gruffudd and Robertson presented to foreign buyers at a showcase in London this week. A British broadcaster is expected to be announced shortly, while there is currently no U.S. deal.
“Harrow was on the one sheet for the showcase alongside Black Panther so [Disney is] clearly excited about the show and there was clearly a buzz from [international broadcasters] wanting to buy it and which have already bought it. They’re missing their smart procedurals and we’ve hit that,” he says.
Gruffudd could start shooting season two of Harrow later this summer ahead of the second season of Liar, the ITV/Sundance TV rapist drama where he plays Andrew Earlham, a renowned surgeon with a dark side. “We are victims of our own success [on Liar]. I expected it to be critically acclaimed and for it to become a populist hit is overwhelming. We’re all signed up to season two in principal, I’m going to go and do season two of Harrow first so we won’t start shooting until next January. We want to give [Harry and Jack Williams] a chance to create something unique and special because I looked pretty dead there at the end.”