Anna Maxwell-Martin and David Threlfall for ITV Encore’s Midwinter Of The Spirit

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Anna Maxwell Martin in The Bletchley Circle

We’ve detailed in the past few weeks that digital channel ITV Encore has really ramped up its original content recently, especially by broadcasting the US version of Broadchurch, Gracepoint, and the imminent Scandinavian drama Jordskott. Now we have more details about Midwinter Of The Spirit (read our original story here), an intriguing-sounding crime drama with more than a tinge of the supernatural about it. Read who will be starring in it after the jump.

Double BAFTA award-winning actress Anna Maxwell-Martin (who can absolutely do no wrong in my book) will play 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.

Joining Maxwell-Martin will be BAFTA winning actor David Threlfall, who’s currently doing good work in the excellent Code Of A Killer. Threlfall takes on the role of Rev Huw Owen, a deliverance ministry tutor and Merrily’s mentor.

Here’s a little reminder of what we can expect:

Based on the books written by successful novelist, Phil Rickman, ITV has commissioned this three-part drama for ITV Encore. Midwinter of the Spirit will be adapted by BAFTA winning screenwriter Stephen Volk (Afterlife, The Awakening, Ghostwatch) for ITV Studios, featuring Merrily Watkins as the central character.

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, whose rejection of her mother’s beliefs leads her into the path of danger.

When a man is found murdered in the most horrific circumstances imaginable, Merrily becomes convinced that Satanists are operating in the city.

In the early hours of the next morning she’s called to Hereford General Hospital to perform an exorcism. The atmosphere is palpably toxic, as nurses treating a chronically ill man known for cruelty to animals and his abuse of women believe the ward has become polluted by his vileness. “They believe when he dies, that evil won’t die with him,” Sister Cullen tells Merrily before she begins to pray for his soul.  As the life force in the shrivelled body begins to ebb away, Merrily feels the force of his depravity. Shaking and feeling violated by her experience, Merrily begins to wonder if the two deaths are connected.

Local police team – DCI Annie Howe and DS Frank Bliss – investigating the murder of the crucified man seek Merrily’s expertise.  Merrily assists the police as their enquiries take them into a very dark and dangerous world.

Filming begins this month.

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