ITV’s brand new drama Deep Water started this week – TV journalist James Leyfield has spoken to the creators of the show and the cast to find out why we should be watching.
The Lake District scenery is extraordinary, it’s almost too perfect, it is a stunning, beautiful part of the world.
1. Anna Friel leads the star-studded female cast
ITV clearly know they are onto a good thing with Anna Friel. Following on from dramas Marcella and Butterfly, Deep Water has all the ingredients to land the channel a hat-trick of successes.
The former Brookside star plays mother-of-three Lisa Kallisto, who has a hectic family life and spends all hours of the day running a kennels. Anna, Sinead Keenan (Roz Toovey) and Rosalind Eleazar (Kate Riverty) play the three lead characters, mothers who are connected by the school gates and are all desperately trying to keep their heads above water. But between them they have a web of secrets.
“I think all three women in this drama are recognisable to the audience,” Anna said. “Lisa often puts herself down and the story, in part, is about her finding some self-worth. It was also good to work with Sinead Keenan and Rosalind Eleazar.”
While Rosalind recognises the 'importance' of having three female lead characters, she insists the emotional thriller is very much aimed at everyone. “The mothers in Deep Water want the same things, the way they go about getting it is what becomes problematic,” she added. “It’s a great cast and important to have three female leads but this is not a drama just for women.”
2. There is a triple threat of secrets and lies to keep you guessing
While a number of great dramas tend to focus on a main family and the consequences of their actions, Deep Water has a three-pronged attack in the form of strong, female protagonists Lisa, Roz and Kate. Their attempts to deal with ethical and moral dilemmas keep viewers guessing right up until the end.
“All three women have secrets,” Sinead said. “Had Mike Leigh not already taken the title Secrets and Lies that could very easily have been the title of this show. You have no idea what is going on behind closed doors, Deep Water takes a peek behind those closed doors. Happy families may not be so happy, they rarely are.”
3. It’s set against the beautiful backdrop of the Lake District
While Anna, Sinead and Rosalind may be seen as the main stars of the show, the Lake District would have something to say about that. The gripping drama is set in England’s majestic, yet imposing, mountainous region – but is it too perfect? “The final star of our show is the Lake District itself,” writer and executive producer Anna Symon said. “Nothing prepared me for falling in love with the landscape as I did throughout the shoot.
There was every type of weather in one day, which did create problems at times, but, whether in mist or brilliant sunshine, there was always the majesty of the hills and, of course, the deep waters of the lake to enjoy.” Sinead added: “The Lake District scenery is extraordinary, it’s almost too perfect, it is a stunning, beautiful part of the world.”
Although some who tune into Deep Water may not know much about the area, it was well known to Friel, and one of the reasons she signed on the dotted line. “I’ve been coming to the Lake District for over 20 years because my godparents moved back here,” she added. “They live in Troutbeck. So when I saw a character description that read, ‘Lisa Kallisto, who lives in Troutbeck, which you’ve probably never heard of,’ I said, ‘Actually, that’s the one place I go to every single year to visit my godparents.’ ”
4. The story is adapted from the Windermere novels
The six-part series is adapted from Paula Daly’s wonderful Windermere books. The screenwriter Anna Symon was such a fan she weaved two of the author’s novels together to make up the TV series. After reading Paula’s 2012 debut novel, Just What Kind of a Mother Are You?, she craved more material, so used Paula’s third book, The Mistake I Made, while penning the script.
“Our first challenge was to enlarge our world,” Symon said. “We loved Just What Kind of a Mother and wanted more. We decided to weave a second of Daly’s Lakes-set novels, The Mistake I Made, into the series. This meant that we could create one ensemble cast, whom an audience would (hopefully) fall in love with and want to return to.”
Game of Thrones star Faye Marsay certainly seemed to benefit from the addition as her character, DC Joanne Aspinall, appears in both books, meaning she became an integral character in the TV series. Symon added: “Although this is by no means a police procedural show, Joanne became a key link between our stories. We were off.”
5. The weather is a character in itself
As Symon says, the weather played a big part in the production, and the elements are effective at adding a mysterious and haunting feel to the drama and reflecting aspects of some dark plots.
“We had all sorts of weather during filming – hail, strong winds, rain,” Rosalind said. “I think it mirrors what’s going on in the story.” It took the cast 'weeks' to film one hill scene involving Roz, Kate and Lisa due to the chaotic climate, resulting in them having to use a special Gator vehicle usually reserved for rough terrain. Friel added: “The Lake District is a wonderful location but it’s a very different thing working here than it is to have time off. It can be a logistical nightmare. The weather at the start of filming was absolutely horrific. Then we got really lucky with blue sky and then it just got cold.”
So, why not sink into your sofa of a summer evening and do as Symon says: “Plunge in. I hope you enjoy it."