Press Centre

ITV casting announcement of The Great Fire

Published: Tue 04 Mar 2014

Andrew Buchan, Rose Leslie, Charles Dance, Jack Huston and Daniel Mays to star in ITV drama, The Great Fire - written by Tom Bradby
“If this fire destroys London, it will be the end of my reign, and doubtless my life……”
The story of humble baker Thomas Farriner and his fabled involvement in The Great Fire of London is to be dramatised by Fleming and Mistresses producer, Ecosse Films, for ITV.
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).  Thomas, played by Andrew Buchan,  (Broadchurch, Garrow’s Law, Nowhere Boy) is central to the drama which is based upon existing historical knowledge with fictional stories cleverly interwoven and written by successful novelist Tom Bradby, ITN’s Political Editor. 
Diarist Samuel Pepys, a close confidante of the King who dared to tell him “he was consumed by the pursuit of pleasure”, will be portrayed by Daniel Mays (Mrs Biggs, Treasure Island, Public Enemies) and his wife Elizabeth is played by Perdita Weeks (The Invisible Woman, Flight of the Storks).
Jack Huston (American Hustle, Boardwalk Empire, Parade’s End) plays the role of King Charles II, whilst Oliver Jackson-Cohen (Dracula, Mr Selfridge, World Without End) is his brother, James Duke of York.  Andrew Tiernan (Ripper Street, Foyle’s War, Prisoner’s Wives) plays prisoner Vincent, a forgotten soul languishing in Newgate prison, whilst Antonia Clarke (Lightfields, A Mother’s Son) is Frances Stewart. 
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, will be recreated on location in Kent, Surrey, Oxfordshire and central London.  
The drama 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 four x 60-minute 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, to be played by Charles Dance (Game of Thrones, Secret State, Strike Back) whilst the Duke of Hanford, the most powerful Catholic nobleman in the land will be played by David Schofield (Da Vinci’s Demons, Land Girls, The Shadow Line) and Sonya Cassidy (Vera, The Paradise, Endeavour) takes on the role of The Queen.  
Douglas Rae (Fleming, Mistresses, My Boy Jack) and Lucy Bedford (Mistresses, All About George, Lie with Me) will executive produce the drama for Ecosse Films with Gina Cronk (The White Queen, Tracy Beaker Returns, Wolfblood) producing.   Jon Jones (Lawless, Rogue, Mr Selfridge) is directing the drama.
“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,” said Douglas Rae. “It’s a fascinating premise for a drama and creates the perfect backdrop for Tom Bradby to be at his most creative.  We have assembled an amazing cast and production team and we’re looking forward to filming Tom’s fantastic scripts,” added Douglas.
Pyrotechnics and special effects, as opposed to CGI, will create the fire sequences as London burns.
The Great Fire has been commissioned for ITV by Director of Drama, Steve November and Controller of Drama, Victoria Fea. 
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 commences in March 2014 for nine weeks.
ITV Studios Global Entertainment will distribute The Great Fire worldwide.