Maxine Peake to star in BBC drama about workplace sexual politics

It is one of a string of new commissions to expand regional drama production.
It is one of a string of new commissions to expand regional drama production.

Maxine Peake will star in a new thriller about workplace sexual politics inspired by the Harvey Weinstein scandal.

The show is one of a string of new commissions to expand the BBC’s drama output from the nations and regions.

The corporation has announced eight new shows from Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England.

BBC Stock
BBC Broadcasting House in London (Ian West/PA)

Four-part series  Rules Of The Game will star Peake as Sam, a hard-headed manager at a family-run business in the North West.

When new HR director Maya begins her job at Fly, she tries to shake up the old-fashioned lads culture and begins investigating historical cases of misconduct.

Sam bristles at the suggestion of institutional bias against women and believes things are different now that she is in charge.

But when she arrives at work one day to find a dead body in the office reception, she is forced to reckon with the murky behaviour in the present, as well as murderous secrets from the past.

Writer Ruth Fowler said: “When we conceived this show it was during the Weinstein scandal, and I was concerned it might have dated in the interim.

Harvey Weinstein
Harvey Weinstein (Ian West/PA)

“How sadly wrong I was, and I’m honoured the BBC and everyone else championing this story did not let it fade away as its relevance has become even more acute.

“Many women’s experiences (including my own) inspired this fictional show – with the added benefit that in the retelling no women were harmed, maimed or exposed to Harvey.

“I’m delighted the brave, wonderful and tenacious Maxine Peake is on board to help tell this story.”

Film producer Weinstein is serving a 23-year prison sentence after being convicted by a New York jury for the rape and sexual assault of two women.

He was accused of misconduct and abuse by scores of women, including high profile stars such as Ashley Judd and Mira Sorvino.

The BBC has also announced Blue Lights, created by the writers of The Salisbury Poisonings, Adam Patterson and Declan Lawn, which tells the story of probationary police officers working in contemporary Belfast as they learn the basics of their profession, based on the experiences of serving police officers in Northern Ireland.

BBC One will also air Better, from the writers of Humans, a redemption story set in Leeds about a corrupt police detective who undergoes a painful moral awakening and decides to put right twenty years of wrongdoing.

Series The Control Room will tell the story of Gabe, an ordinary man who works as an emergency call handler for the Scottish Ambulance Service in Glasgow, whose world is turned upside down when he receives a desperate life-and-death call from a woman who appears to know him.

Meanwhile Wolf, based on Mo Hayder’s acclaimed Jack Caffery novels, will be filmed and set in Wales, and follows a family who find themselves the victims of a terrifying psychopath’s cruel games.

BBC Three series Wrecked will be filmed in Northern Ireland, and will be a mystery thriller, mixing black comedy with slasher horror, set aboard a mega cruise ship.

BBC Three will also show Domino Day, about a powerful young witch who is haunted by her need to feed on the energy of others but attempts to start her life over in Manchester, and Grime Kids, inspired by DJ Target’s book, which explores the emergence of grime music from subculture to the mainstream.

Piers Wenger, director of BBC drama said: “Telling stories that reflect the whole of the UK is about more than meeting quotas.

“It’s about enriching and emboldening what British drama means by honouring the true range of authorship across all of our nations and regions. I want to do more to celebrate that plurality.

“I want it to become an essential not-so-secret weapon and a core part of our USP.”