Jenna Coleman, who recently starred in BBC/Netflix drama The Serpent, is taking on the role of Joan Bright, the woman who ran Winston Churchill’s secret Whitehall bunker, in a TV drama series.
Dr. Who star Coleman is attached to lead The War Rooms, created by Moving On writer David Chidlow, and comes from David Parfitt, fresh from winning two Oscars for The Father including for Anthony Hopkins’ performance and Best Adapted Screenplay, and former Content Media President of Film Jamie Carmichael.
The War Rooms will explore the untold story of the women who lived, loved and triumphed in Winston Churchill’s secret Whitehall bunker.
Bright is a former girlfriend of James Bond author Ian Fleming and was thought to be one of the inspirations behind Miss Moneypenny. Her memoir The Inner Circle: A View of War at the Top has been optioned for the series.
The War Rooms is a co-production between Atlantic Nomad and Trademark Films with Coleman exec producing alongside Simon Mirren and Chidlow. Imperial War Museums, whose The Churchill War Rooms is one of five IWM branches in the UK, will come on board as series consultant and casting is being overseen by Orla Maxwell of Casting Pictures.
The series will follow Bright and her colleagues as events and challenges unfold – creating a sense of the emotions they experience in those moments. Each season will cover 12-18 months of the war – from the shock of the war’s outbreak to sustaining the fight to the final push for victory and the battle to shape the modern Britain we know.
Jenna Coleman said, “Joan Bright was never going to live a conventional life – a young woman who lived her war days under the official secrets act, undercover and underground in the war rooms. This story is so compelling not only because of her unique and liberal mind, wryness of spirit and curiosity to live, but because of the opportunity to examine this endlessly fascinating period of time through an intimate and human lens. The closeness and proximity of days and nights lived within this small space, the carriers of the truth amidst the oblivion of propaganda above. The beauty and fragility of human connection when living through a time when no one knows what tomorrow will bring. I’m so excited to unearth these hidden lives and at a time where it feels so shockingly relevant right now.”
“I’ve always been fascinated by the courts around great leaders – places of intrigue, drama and quiet heroism. With The War Rooms, we want to shine a light on the remarkable and unheralded women who helped win a world war and contributed to shaping our modern society. To do justice to this vision, we’re building a diverse, female-led team that approaches this period and subject matter in a truly fresh, distinctive way. A team that, to better explore our historic world, looks like our modern one,” added David Chidlow.
“Jenna is one of the UK’s most loved and lauded actresses, whose career has seen her constantly stretch and redefine herself. As our lead actor and executive producer, she has been instrumental in bringing The War Rooms to life. Our intention is to build a series that takes a truly fresh view on a significant part of our collective history. A show that isn’t polite or reverential, but raw, confronting and offers fresh experiences, perspectives, narratives and faces. Ones that speak directly to our current, turbulent times and, critically, to an audience thirsty for tales of hope that help frame and make sense of today and tomorrow,” said David Parfitt and Jamie Carmichael.
Jenna Coleman is represented by CAA and B-Side Management.