ITV COMMISSIONS MIDWINTER OF THE SPIRIT FROM ITV STUDIOS
A CRIME DRAMA WITH A SUPERNATURAL TWIST
Merrily Watkins isn’t your average country vicar. Her newly acquired training has put her on the dark side of the pulpit.
She’s become one of the few women priests working as an exorcist - a job increasingly mistrusted by the modern Church and rarely talked about, even though it operates in virtually every diocese in the UK.
Merrily is deeply human in her doubts and scepticism, but her knowledge of the paranormal underworld brings her to the notice of local police who need her advice in the investigation of a grisly murder.
Based on the books written by successful novelist, Phil Rickman, ITV has commissioned a three-part drama for ITV Encore, Midwinter of the Spirit, to be adapted by BAFTA winning screenwriter Stephen Volk (Afterlife, The Awakening, Ghostwatch) for ITV Studios, featuring Merrily Watkins as the central character.
Merrily has been through the mill emotionally of late, losing her unfaithful husband Sean in a car crash and seeking refuge in a job despised by her 16 year-old daughter, Jane, whose rejection of her mother's beliefs leads her into the path of danger.
When a man is found murdered in the most horrific circumstances imaginable, Merrily becomes convinced that Satanists are operating in the city.
In the early hours of the next morning she’s called to Hereford General Hospital to perform an exorcism. The atmosphere is palpably toxic, as nurses treating a chronically ill man known for cruelty to animals and his abuse of women believe the ward has become polluted by his vileness.
“They believe when he dies, that evil won’t die with him,” Sister Cullen tells Merrily before she begins to pray for his soul. As the life force in the shrivelled body begins to ebb away, Merrily feels the force of his depravity. Shaking and feeling violated by her experience, Merrily begins to wonder if the two deaths are connected.
Local police team – DCI Annie Howe and DS Franny Bliss – investigating the murder of the crucified man seek Merrily’s expertise. Merrily assists the police as their enquiries take them into a very dark and dangerous world.
Midwinter of the Spirit will be produced by Phil Collinson (Doctor Who, Coronation Street, Sea of Souls) and executive produced by Creative Director, ITV Studios in Manchester Kieran Roberts (The Trials of Jimmy Rose, Blue Murder, Coronation Street). Kieran said: “We’re very excited to be working with Stephen Volk to bring Phil Rickman’s gripping and chilling novel to the screen. We’re also thrilled to be making one of the first original commissions for ITV Encore.”
The drama has been commissioned for transmission on ITV Encore by ITV’s Director of Drama Commissioning Steve November and Controller of Drama Victoria Fea.
“Midwinter of the Spirit is a contemporary and edgy drama which draws upon dark, pagan forces which are intriguing and spiritually frightening,” said Steve. “We’re delighted to commission three episodes of a potentially returnable crime drama with a supernatural twist,” he added.