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Sarah Lancashire's new drama with Peaky Blinders creator sounds seriously good

Steven Knight is developing a concept from the Happy Valley star

sarah lancashire itv
Nicky Morris
TV and film writer
18 May 2023
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Sarah Lancashire is teaming up with Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight for a new drama – and it sounds amazing.

The upcoming show is based on the life of English playwright William Shakespeare and is being developed by Steven from a concept by Sarah. 

sarah lancashire bafta© Photo: Getty Images
Sarah is teaming up with Steven Knight for a new drama series

The series is a co-production between Kudos and Sarah's production company, Via Pictures, and has not yet been attached to a broadcaster.

The synopsis for the series reads: "For the first time on television, the drama will tell the complete and thrilling story of the glove-maker's son who became the greatest storyteller in history. And how one man's genius survived and thrived in an age of turmoil and terror, danger and disease.

Cillian Murphy stars in Steven Knight's BBC drama, Peaky Blinders© Robert Viglasky
Cillian Murphy stars in Steven Knight's BBC drama, Peaky Blinders

"This is the first full account of the passion, people and politics that made William Shakespeare the world's most famous dramatist and the men and women around him who loved and laboured, schemed and plotted, killed and connived in one of the most dangerous and exciting periods in history."

Sarah said: "Via Pictures are very pleased to be collaborating with Kudos and the brilliant Steven Knight to screen the remarkable story of William Shakespeare and his contemporaries. This is a thrilling project about a golden age beset by plague, Puritanism and deadly politics."

sarah lancashire happy valley© Photo: BBC
Sarah plays Catherine Cawood in the hit BBC show, Happy Valley

Steven added: "I'm excited to be embarking on what will be a landmark TV production telling the dramatic story of the world’s most accomplished writer. It's a period I love and the team that has been put together is extraordinary. It's a story that begins in the West Midlands and is close to my heart."

The news comes just months after the BBC drama, Happy Valley, drew to a close with its dramatic third season. Sarah, who played Sergeant Catherine Cawood in the series, has been widely praised for her portrayal of the character and while fans would love to see her reprise the role in the future, the 58-year-old has made it clear that she won't be returning for a fourth season.

WATCH: Catherine Cawood finds out about Faisal Bhatti in dramatic moment

During a visit to Buckingham Palace to celebrate International Women's Day in March, the actress told Queen Camilla that the grueling aspect of playing Catherine had finally caught up with her.

MORE: Inside Sarah Lancashire's early life and secret health battle

MORE: 6 Sarah Lancashire shows to watch if you love Happy Valley

"It's the right thing to do, I just cannot keep doing it," she told the royal, adding it had taken an "emotional toll" on her, before stating that continuing would "kill me".

camilla sarah lancashire© Photo: Getty Images
Sarah spoke to Queen Camilla at Buckingham Palace in March

While viewers won't be seeing Catherine Cawood on their screens anytime soon, they'll be able to watch Sarah in a very different role later this year. 

The Last Tango In Halifax star is set to appear in the second season of HBO's Julia, leading the cast in her portrayal of television chef Julia Child.

Sarah Lancashire in Julia © Seacia Pavao
Sarah Lancashire stars in HBO series Julia

For those unfamiliar with the series, which first aired in March last year, it's inspired by the life of the iconic cooking teacher and her long-running television series, The French Chef, which pioneered the modern cooking show.

MORE: Why Sarah Lancashire wasn't happy with Happy Valley's original ending

It also explores a "pivotal time in American history – the emergence of public television as a new social institution, feminism and the women's movement, the nature of celebrity and America’s cultural evolution," according to the synopsis. 

Sarah Lancashire and David Hyde Pierce in Julia© Seacia Pavao
Sarah stars opposite David Hyde Pierce in Julia

HBO has yet to announce a release date for the upcoming season.

Sarah Lancashire as Catherine Cawood © Screen Grab
Happy Valley ended with its third season
Sarah starred in three seasons of Happy Valley© Matt Squire
The season three finale aired in February

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