- Transmission (TX):
- TX confirmed:
Week 47 2023 : Sat 18 Nov - Fri 24 Nov
- Sun 05 Nov 2023
Full series drop on ITVX on Thursday 23 November
Four-part drama starring Jason Isaacs about the life of Hollywood’s leading man, launching on the streaming platform in November. Written by award-winning screenwriter, Jeff Pope, and produced by Etta Pictures, Pope’s ITV Studios label, BritBox International is the co-production partner.
The series is directed by BAFTA winning Paul Andrew Williams, who also serves as an Executive Producer, and produced by BAFTA winning Rebecca Hodgson.
Born in Bristol, England in 1904, to parents Elsie and Elias, Archie narrates the story of a young Archibald Alexander Leach’s troubled childhood and how extreme poverty, his father’s adultery and the loss of his older brother, John, tore the family apart and sent his loving mother into a downward spiral of grief and depression.
Jeff Pope’s scripts reveal how deceit, cruelty and one, overpowering lie shaped Archie’s life.
At 14 he auditioned for the music hall act, the Bob Pender Troupe, a band of acrobats, stilt walkers, clowns and comedians after seeing them perform at the Bristol Hippodrome. Lean and athletic, he learned the art of stilt walking, and when the troupe went on tour to the US, teenage Archie was intoxicated by the land of opportunity. Believing he was not wanted by his family in the UK, he decided to stay in the US to try to make his way in showbusiness.
With no thoughts of acting, a chance meeting with the comedian George Burns helped him find his first footing on the acting ladder and a contract with a movie studio who felt he needed to change his name, and Cary Grant was born.
The drama intercuts with scenes from 1961 when at the height of his fame, living in Benedict Canyon, Los Angeles, the legendary actor was breaking all box office records, but desperately unhappy in his private life.
With two failed marriages behind him, he began to woo an actress he’d seen on a TV show, Dyan Cannon. Thirty-three years his junior, Dyan, didn’t initially fall for his charms turning down his attempts to meet, because she didn’t feel they could ever be a match.
Dashingly handsome, suave and sophisticated, Cary continued to pursue her, with introductions to his famous friends, until they eventually wed in Las Vegas in 1965.
The series also stars Laura Aikman (Not Going Out, Gavin and Stacey) as Cary’s formidable ex-wife, actress and filmmaker Dyan Cannon, with Harriet Walter (Succession, Ted Lasso, Killing Eve) as Elsie Leach, Cary’s mother.
Dainton Anderson (Patrick Melrose), Calam Lynch (Bridgerton) and Oaklee Pendergast (Home) play young versions of Archie Leach, and Kara Tointon (Mr Selfridge, The Halcyon, Sound of Music Live) plays young Elsie.
Archie is a 4 x 60 mins drama commissioned by ITV’s Head of Drama, Polly Hill for ITVX. With the blessing of Cary Grant’s daughter, Jennifer Grant, and ex-wife Dyan Cannon, the pair serve as Executive Producers. Jeff Pope executive produces the series for Etta Pictures with Diederick Santer for BritBox International. The series will air on ITV in the UK, and on BritBox in all its territories: North America, Australia, South Africa and the Nordics.
ITV Studios are responsible for the international distribution of Archie.
58-year-old Cary Grant is lonely in Los Angeles and on his third divorce. We flash back to his troubled childhood as Archie Leach in Victorian Bristol with a bullying father and a mother grieving for the loss of his older brother.
After Archie’s father, Elias, tells him his mother is dead and sends him to live with his grandmother, Archie finds a new ‘family’ with the Pender Troupe - acrobats playing at the Bristol hippodrome. We follow teenage Archie as he journeys to New York with the Pender Troupe and his thrill at performing to an audience.
He falls in love with the vibrancy of America and its people and when it’s time to go home, he refuses because he has nothing to go back for.
Meanwhile in 1962, Cary Grant, now the most famous film star in the world, is captivated by a beautiful young actress called Dyan Cannon, who he first sees on television. Enlisting the help of his agent Stanley Fox to find her, he finally persuades Dyan to meet him at his bungalow on the Universal Studios lot. Dyan provides the breath of fresh air he needs with her infectious laughter and beautiful smile.
While filming ‘North by Northwest’ with Alfred Hitchcock, Cary confesses that he has fallen in love again. Cary invites Dyan to his house in Benedict Canyon where they laugh and sing a duet - and she experiences his idiosyncratic dining habits. But she is taken back when he announces he doesn’t want children, he wouldn’t want to bring them into his world.
Twenty-something Archie Leach is struggling to make his way in New York when a chance encounter with comedian George Burns leads him to audition for a play starring screen actress Fay Wray. After receiving rave reviews on Broadway, Archie travels to Hollywood with his girlfriend Virginia Cherril. Virginia is the one with the screen test but Archie’s good looks soon get attention. He signs a deal with Paramount Studios and is given a new name – Cary Grant. Strolling through the studio, he is spotted by screen icon Mae West and on-the-spot she chooses him to play opposite her in ‘She Done Him Wrong’.
Years later, the now successful movie star Cary Grant wakes up with a hangover and an unexpected call from his father. Elias summons him to Bristol where he finally confesses that his mother Elsie, is not dead. She’s been in Fishponds lunatic asylum all this time after he’d committed her and run off with another woman. Cary is beyond furious that his father could have done such a thing to both him and his mother. Cary goes to Fishponds where his mother has become an old lady with no idea that her son is now a famous movie star.
Meanwhile in the 1960s, Cary’s relationship with Dyan Cannon falters. When he takes her to a party at the Hitchcock mansion, Dyan tells him she wants commitment - marriage and children - and she doesn’t want to be with someone who doesn’t want that. With the help of some relationship advice from Grace Kelly, Cary persuades Dyan to join him at his place in Palm Springs and romance finally starts to blossom.
Cary takes Dyan to the beautiful apartment he has bought for his mother in Clifton, Bristol, and introduces her to Elsie – now in her 70s. He has purchased a completely new wardrobe for Dyan full of tasteful but slightly middle-aged designer clothes. But Elsie does not take to Dyan, deliberately calling her Betsy, the name of Cary’s previous wife, and humiliating her when Dyan tries to paint Elsie’s nails. Elsie is clearly jealous of Cary having another woman in his life. The encounter brings Cary and Dyan closer together and they make love for the first time, but Cary doesn’t want to take any chances with pregnancy.
Back in Los Angeles, Dyan moves in with him but their relationship falters as he finds fault with her dress sense and love of partying. She also hates his use of LSD as a form of therapy and the way he encourages her to take it with him. Dyan appears on the Danny Kaye television show, where she is well received and performs a beautiful song. However, Cary is not impressed and not happy with the afterparty in his home. Dyan overhears Cary and his agent Stanley Fox discussing whether he is too old to be in a movie with Audrey Hepburn, but Dyan says Audrey is older than her! Cary says his screen persona and real life are different, but Dyan is starting to feel oppressed by his lifestyle in comparison to hers. She leaves him.
This is the wakeup call Cary needs and when she refuses to answer his calls, he makes a very public proposal of marriage during her acting class. She accepts but a few months later, she has a different surprise for him: He’s going to be a father.
Cary is still worried about commitment but he and Dyan get married and he is thrilled with the arrival of his first and only child – Jennifer. However, he is still trying to control Dyan and cracks begin to show in their marriage as she wants to pursue her own acting career. After one final clash, Dyan leaves him – for good this time – taking Jennifer with her. But as the pain of the break-up finally settles down, Dyan is offered a play on Broadway and she asks Cary if he will look after their daughter while she is away. Spending time with Jennifer provides the family security he always craved and he retires from his stellar acting career to become a stay-at home dad.
Several years later he is on business in London working as the face of a friend’s perfume and make-up company, when he meets Barbara Harris, who is helping him with PR. Cary and Barbara bond over their love of fish and chips and a quiet life and as their loves grows, after much soul-searching he asks his now teenage daughter Jennifer whether it would be ok if he and Barbara got married.
Meanwhile 82-year-old Cary Grant is performing a series of theatre shows where he tells the audience about his life and answers their questions. He admits his ‘Audience with Cary Grant’ is turning into a therapy session as he talks about later life with his domineering mother, how he loved Dyan Cannon as best as he could and how he never knew whether Elsie accepted the person he had become. Looking back on his life he realises that it was fatherhood that gave him a purpose. Archie Leach made up Cary Grant, the perfect movie star. But Cary Grant didn’t know how to be happy away from his film sets. He tells the audience that Jennifer has provided the peace and security he has been craving all his life, and that he has finally introduced Archie Leach to Cary Grant and the two of them ‘get along just fine’.