Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Midwinter of The Spirit

20 year old newcomer Sally Messham, a final year student at RADA, has been cast as Jane Watkins, the daughter of exorcist Merrily,  in ITV Encore’s new three-part drama Midwinter of the Spirit.

Sally (represented by Curtis Brown), will leave RADA early to take up the role alongside the double BAFTA award-winning actress Anna Maxwell-Martin who leads the cast as Merrily Watkins, a single mother who isn’t your average country vicar.

Merrily’s 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. 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 (played by Sally) whose rejection of her mother's beliefs leads her into the path of danger.

Sally, who is originally from Stockton-on-Tees, commented on her casting: ‘I'm so excited to start learning from some really experienced, exceptional actors and I'm going to lap up every opportunity to soak it in - in front of and behind the camera. It's a great script and a real challenge as my character evolves dramatically over the course of the show.’

The three-part series is based on the books written by successful novelist, Phil Rickman, and has been adapted by BAFTA winning screenwriter Stephen Volk for ITV Studios, featuring Merrily Watkins as the central character.

The series also stars BAFTA winning actor David Threlfall as Rev Huw Owen, a deliverance ministry tutor and Merrily’s mentor.

Also in the cast are Siobhan Finneran (Happy Valley, Downton Abbey, Benidorm), Ben Bailey Smith (The Four O'Clock Club, Law and Order: UK), Leila Mimmack (Home Fires, Becoming Human), Kate Dickie (Game of Thrones, The Frankenstein Chronicles), Simon Trinder (Dalziel and Pascoe, Without You), Oengus MacNamara (Game of Thrones, What If) and David Sterne (Tommy Cooper; Not Like That, Like This).

Midwinter of the Spirit will be directed by Richard Clark and filming is about to begin in Hereford.

It will be one of the first original productions to be screened on the new channel ITV Encore.

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