When Mike Bartlett sent actress Victoria Hamilton the script for his latest television series, Life, she felt a bit confused at first. “I was reading this wonderful character Belle, and I suddenly thought, I know this woman! I emailed Mike and told him she really reminded me of Anna, my character in Doctor Foster. Mike sent me back a very short email, ‘Yes, it is Anna. Anna Belle.’”
The six-part series, which kicks off on BBC One later this week, explores the lives of journalists at two rival papers – left-leaning broadsheet The Herald and tabloid The Post.
Charlotte Riley leads the cast as the Herald’s Deputy News Editor Holly Evans, with Ben Chaplin plays the Post’s charmingly amoral Editor Duncan Allen, and Priyanga Burford as the Herald’s Editor Amina Chaudury.
Theatre playwrights and TV screenwriters tend to be different animals who spend most of their time in one cage. Sir David Hare occasionally takes a break between National Theatre commissions to write a TV series, such as BBC Two’s recent Collateral, and Dennis Potter did a single theatre play, Sufficient Carbohydrate, but these were recognisably excursions from their main creative space.