Harlots, a brand new eight-part series will air on ITV Encore in the UK and stream exclusively in the US on Hulu as part of the Hulu Originals slate. Acclaimed actresses Samantha Morton (Fantastic Beasts, Rillington Place, The Last Panthers, Minority Report, Cider with Rosie), Lesley Manville (Mum, River, Maleficent) and Jessica Brown Findlay (Victor Frankenstein, The Outcast, Downton Abbey) star in the series, which is produced by Monumental Pictures.
Set against the backdrop of 18th century Georgian London, Harlots is a powerful family drama offering a brand new take on the city’s most valuable commercial activity – sex. Inspired by the stories of real women, the series follows Margaret Wells (Morton) and her daughters, as she struggles to reconcile her roles as mother and brothel owner. When her business comes under attack from Lydia Quigley (Manville), a rival madam with a ruthless streak, Margaret fights back, even if it means putting her family at risk. Brown Findlay will star as Charlotte, Margaret’s eldest daughter and the city’s most coveted courtesan who begins to grapple with her position in both society and her immediate family.
Written by acclaimed playwright and screenwriter, Moira Buffini (Jane Eyre, Tamara Drewe) and created by Moira Buffini and Alison Newman, Harlots is the first commission for Monumental Pictures, the independent company founded by Oscar nominated producers Alison Owen (Suffragette, Tulip Fever) and Debra Hayward (Bridget Jones’s Baby, Les Misérables).
The series was filmed in London during 2016 and has been directed by Coky Giedroyc (What Remains, Penny Dreadful), China Moo-Young (Thirteen, Humans) and Jill Robertson (Brief Encounters, Vera, Grantchester). Alison Owen and Debra Hayward serve as executive producers alongside Alison Carpenter, Moira Buffini and Alison Newman, and Lawrence Till (Shameless) produced.
Commenting on the commission of Harlots, Executive Producer Alison Owen said: “In 1760s London there were brothels on every corner run by women who were both enterprising and tenacious. History has largely ignored them, but their stories are in turn outrageous, brutal, humorous and real.”
Fellow Executive Producer Debra Hayward added: “Moira and Alison’s writing doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to sex and violence, but it’s the juxtaposition of these things and the domesticity of the ‘houses’ that makes Harlots so compelling.”
Harlots was commissioned for ITV by Controller of Drama Victoria Fea, who said: “Harlots is an exploration of family, power and brutal economics in a vibrant booming world full of colour and noise. We’re delighted to be commissioning the series for ITV Encore. Moira and Alison’s scripts are shocking, fascinating and compelling.”