Press Centre

The Great Fire

  • Episode: 

    1 of 4

  • Transmission (TX): 

    Thu 16 Oct 2014
  • TX Confirmed: 

    No
  • Time: 

    9.00pm - 10.00pm
  • Week: 

    Week 42 2014 : Sat 11 Oct - Fri 17 Oct
  • Channel: 

    ITV
  • Status: 

    New
The information contained herein is strictly embargoed from all press, online and social media use, non-commercial publication, or syndication until Thursday 2 October 2014.
 
Episode one
 
It’s the summer of 1666. Thomas Farriner is the King’s baker, supplying bread and biscuit for the Navy, who are currently at war. A widower and single-father, Thomas works alongside his daughters Mary and Hannah, with a little help from his sister-in-law, Sarah Farriner, in his Pudding Lane bakery. 
 
Times are hard and Sarah’s wayward husband (and Thomas’ brother) has been missing at sea for many months. Although she’s unable to move on, there’s no denying the crackle between Thomas and Sarah as she departs to prepare for the return of her employer, the Duke of Hanford. 
 
Thomas heads off with the Navy delivery and when he arrives at the Navy yards, it quickly becomes clear he’s not going to be paid for all the work he’s done. Thomas discusses his lack of payment with Navy official Samuel Pepys and is dismayed to learn there is no hope of payment due to the expense of the war. However, Pepys is able to help Thomas in another way and he sends him away with a letter confirming the fate of Will Farriner.
 
Across the city in the palace of Whitehall, the King is at a stately dance, enjoying his many spoils and women in full view of his wife, the Queen. Amidst the reverie a terrifying assassination attempt is foiled by the King’s Intelligence Officer, Lord Denton. Under interrogation, the assassin reveals he’s a Catholic fanatic and a former employee of Sarah’s boss, the Duke of Hanford, who Denton has under surveillance. Is there some kind of larger Catholic plot in the works? The King registers concern but surprisingly his brother, James Duke of York, stands up for Hanford. 
 
Samuel Pepys enjoy a game of Pall Mall with the King but returns home to find his wife Elizabeth with her dance teacher. Jealous and hurt, he slips away to visit a prostitute. 
 
At the bakery, a troubled Thomas leaves his daughter Hannah in charge and heads to his sister-in-law with a heavy heart. Meanwhile, Sarah is visited by a ‘Mr Wickes’, supposedly a kindly man from church, but who reveals himself to be Lord Denton. He asks that she act as an informant on her employer, Hanford. And gives her a couple of hours to decide. Seeing Denton from afar, Thomas assumes Sarah is courting the so-called ‘Mr Wickes’ and decides against delivering her the letter from Pepys. 
 
Thomas returns home to Pudding Lane to find the bakery ablaze and his two daughters asleep upstairs, blissfully unaware of the fire below. Thomas scrabbles to get the girls out, only just escaping the flames by climbing across the roof, before his home is completely consumed. He sends the girls to Sarah’s lodgings while he attempts to contain the fire. But upon receiving them, Sarah goes to look for Thomas. Out on the street, she is snatched by Denton’s men and thrown in the back of a prison carriage…
 
Series overview
 
The story of humble baker Thomas Farriner and his fabled involvement in The Great Fire of London is coming to ITV this Autumn in new drama, The Great Fire. 
 
Andrew Buchan (Broadchurch, Garrow’s Law, Nowhere Boy) plays the role of Thomas in the 4 x 60 minute drama, produced by the makers of Fleming and Mistresses, Ecosse Films, and written by successful novelist Tom Bradby, ITN’s Political Editor. 
 
Inspired by the historical events of 1666 and with the decadent backdrop of King Charles II’s court, The Great Fire focuses on the circumstances which led to the catastrophic fire, Thomas Farriner’s family life at the bakery in Pudding Lane, the playboy King’s extravagant lifestyle, and Farriner’s complex relationship with his fictional sister in law, Sarah played by Rose Leslie (Utopia, Game of Thrones, Downton Abbey). 
 
Jack Huston (American Hustle, Boardwalk Empire, Parade’s End) plays the role of King Charles II and Diarist Samuel Pepys, a close confidante of the King who dared to tell him “he was consumed by the pursuit of pleasure”, is portrayed by Daniel Mays (Mrs Biggs, Treasure Island, Public Enemies). Pepys wife Elizabeth is played by Perdita Weeks (The Invisible Woman, Flight of the Storks).
 
Also starring is Oliver Jackson-Cohen (Dracula, Mr Selfridge, World Without End) as the King’s brother, James Duke of York, Andrew Tiernan (Ripper Street, Foyle’s War, Prisoner’s Wives) as prisoner Vincent, a forgotten soul languishing in Newgate prison, and Antonia Clarke (Lightfields, A Mother’s Son) as Frances Stewart who famously captured the King’s heart. 
 
The Great Fire will unfold over four consecutive days as the fire indiscriminately takes hold of the city and the people desperately attempt to overcome the flames.  The episodes will capture the most prosperous city of its age as fire rages and engulfs dwellings and businesses like the bakery on Pudding Lane.  Terrified and bewildered, the people are thrown into chaos, and with each day they become increasingly desperate to seek safety away from the city.    
 
Other key roles include Lord Denton, an emissary of the King’s, played by Charles Dance (Game of Thrones, Secret State, Strike Back) whilst the Duke of Hanford, the most powerful Catholic nobleman in the land is played by David Schofield (Da Vinci’s Demons, Land Girls, The Shadow Line) and Sonya Cassidy (Vera, The Paradise, Endeavour) stars as The Queen.  
 
Douglas Rae (Fleming, Mistresses, My Boy Jack) and Lucy Bedford (Mistresses, All About George, Lie with Me) are the executive producers for Ecosse Films. The producer is Gina Cronk (The White Queen, Tracy Beaker Returns, Wolfblood) and the director is Jon Jones (Lawless, Rogue, Mr Selfridge).
 
“In 1666 London was the greatest city in the world with a population of 300,000.  In just four days The Great Fire destroyed nearly half the city and threatened the monarchy. It’s a fascinating premise for a drama and creates the perfect backdrop for Tom Bradby to be at his most creative.” Said Douglas Rae.
 
Tom Bradby (Shadow Dancer – film/novel, Blood Money, The God of Chaos - novels) writes the first three episodes whilst episode four is co-written by Tom Bradby, Chris Hurford (Doc Martin, Ashes to Ashes) and Tom Butterworth (Doc Martin, Ashes to Ashes).  
 
Filming took place in in Spring 2014 in Kent, Surrey, Oxfordshire and central London, when the sights and sounds of Europe’s greatest metropolis in the 17th Century, Pudding Lane, the Palace of Whitehall, Pepy’s dwelling, Fish Street Hill, Newgate Prison, Moorfields, and the River Thames were recreated for the drama. Pyrotechnics and special effects, as opposed to CGI, were used to create the fire sequences as London burns. 
 
ITV Studios Global Entertainment will distribute The Great Fire worldwide.