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Production crews film ITV crime thriller series, Dark Heart, in Leysdown

By Chloe Holmwood

Production crews are in Leysdown today as filming started for a new ITV crime series.

Dark Heart is an emotional six-part thriller written by Chris Lang – whose work includes award-winning drama Unforgotten, Undeniable and A Mother’s Son.

It stars Tom Riley as DI Will Wagstaffe, a man haunted by the murder of his parents when he was 16.

Bristol Television and Film Services trucks were spotted in Shellness Road today
Bristol Television and Film Services trucks were spotted in Shellness Road today

Filming began this month on the highly anticipated new series and crews were seen in Shellness Road this morning – it is the same location where former Take That star Robbie Williams shot his music video Love My Life in 2016. And it is where Kiss Me First, an E4 series, was filmed the same year.

Dark Heart is inspired by characters created by novelist Adam Creed, who has written a series of books featuring DI Wagstaffe.

It will be filmed in various locations until May and shown on ITV towards the end of this year.

Tom Riley, who has starred in Doctor Who, Casualty, Monroe, and Poirot, will be joined in the series by Peaky Blinders’ Charlotte Riley and Miranda Raison, who was in Murder on the Orient Express.

The plot sees DI Will Wagstaffe, who devotes his time to his work and is also known as Staffe to his colleagues, battle personal demons.

He is haunted by the unresolved murder of his parents, which affects both his private and professional life.

Bristol Television and Film Services trucks were spotted in Shellness Road today
Bristol Television and Film Services trucks were spotted in Shellness Road today

Determined and tenacious, Wagstaffe is an exceptionally good police officer, in spite of the fact he’s been known for pushing the boundaries of what’s considered acceptable policing.

The first story opens with Staffe at London City airport when his colleague, DC Josie Chancellor (Anjli Mohindra) calls him to tell him there’s been a gruesome murder. Being the workaholic he is, Staffe abandons his personal plans and heads to the scene of the crime.

There, he is confronted by a horrific scene – Ray Collins, a man in his mid-thirties, has been tied to his own bed, choked and severely mutilated.

As the team, based at Leadengate police station in London, investigate further, they learn the victim was arrested two-and-a-half-years-ago on suspicion of sexual assault of his own daughters, Holly and Jasmine, who were just nine and eleven at the time. He was remanded in custody for three weeks but there wasn’t sufficient evidence and Collins was released.

As Staffe and his team delve deeper they speak to his ex-wife, Debbie Collins, who is mother to his daughters. She admits she is relieved to hear of his death; grateful that no other child will go through what hers did.

Tom Riley will star as DI Will Wagstaffe in new ITV drama Dark Heart. Credit: ITV Plc
Tom Riley will star as DI Will Wagstaffe in new ITV drama Dark Heart. Credit: ITV Plc

Soon after Collins’ death, a lawyer, Guy Dawlish, is brutally attacked. The style of attack is similar to the way in which Collins was killed. The similarity doesn’t end there – Dawlish was arrested two years ago following allegations of child sex abuse. There was insufficient evidence so he wasn’t charged. Staffe fears this could be just the start…

The new series of Dark Heart follows a successful pilot which aired on ITV Encore in 2016.

Screenwriter Chris Lang said: “It's such a treat to be able to re-visit the world of D.I. Will Wagstaffe.

“For me he is the most unusual of things, a TV cop whose personal story is as compelling as the cases he investigates.

“I cannot wait to dive in to both, alongside our incredibly talented creative team, and of course, the hugely talented Mr Riley.”

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