Today it was announced that Fleabag director Harry Bradbeer and Waking the Dead screenwriter Ed Whitmore have co-created a new thriller for ITV called Viewpoint, and it will be filmed in Manchester this spring.
Based on an idea by Bradbeer, the five-part series follows a police surveillance investigation into a tight knit Manchester community and explores whether it is ever possible observe the lives of others with true objectivity and zero effect.
The casting is yet to be revealed, but at the centre of the story is DC Martin Young, who decides to set up his observation post in the home of single mum Zoe Sturges when a primary school teacher Gemma King vanishes.
His reasoning is simple – Zoe’s flat commands a panoramic view of all the comings and goings in Westbury Square, but more specifically, he can see straight into the flat Gemma shared with boyfriend Greg Sullivan, the prime suspect in her disappearance.
But Martin is a man carrying his own burden of trauma and guilt and he starts to question if he can trust what he observes.
Could he be projecting his own loneliness and remorse onto the ostracized Greg? And are his developing feelings for the combative Zoe, with her own penchant for voyeurism, compromising his ability to do his job?
“It’s hard to find a crime series that feels new and fresh, which is why I am delighted to commission Viewpoint,” says ITV Head of Drama, Polly Hill.
“Martin, the police surveillance officer watching a community to discover why a local teacher has gone missing, is in Zoe’s flat who secretly watches her neighbours because she’s lonely. The lines between the two, and who can and can’t spy on us, is beautifully blurred.”
Mining the paranoid hinterland of Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window and the German drama The Lives of Others, Viewpoint delivers a contemporary, character-driven murder mystery with what’s been described as a seductively intimate feel.
But ultimately, it’s as much about friendship, trust and community as it is about solving a crime – it’s about the tension between our public and private lives and the secrets and horrors that thrive behind closed doors, especially when we think no-one’s watching.
Tiger Aspect’s Lucy Bedford, who’s worked on The Good Karma Hospital, Life in Squares and Mistresses, will executive produce the drama.
As soon as Harry told me about the true story that inspired Viewpoint, I was instantly hooked and it has been a real joy to see such a rich and fruitful collaboration spring up between him and the very talented Ed Whitmore,” says Lucy.
“Part character-driven drama and part Hitchcockian thriller, Ed’s scripts brilliantly interweave the personal and investigative into a gripping, taut, emotional story which surprises at every turn.”
Ed Whitmore won an Emmy in 2003 for his work on Waking the Dead, and has also penned the scripts for CSI, Strike Back, Rillington Place and Manhunt.
“I’ve always been eager to find a story that explored voyeurism in a fresh and innovative way, not least because it makes such compulsive and cinematic subject matter,” says Ed.
“As soon as I read Harry Bradbeer’s pitch, I could see all the tensions and conflicts arising from this clash of the personal and the professional, the juxtaposition of a crime story and the intimate environment of a domestic residence.
“And I saw a chance for a vividly different hybrid of police procedural and up-close-and-personal portrait of a community, with the crime story unfolding in both arenas simultaneously.
“I’m thrilled to be working with director Ashley Way and Lucy Bedford and her team at Tiger Aspect, and I’m greatly looking forward to filming in Manchester and seeing the scripts come to life.”