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The Couple Next Door writer reveals 'unwritten rules' in real-life suburbia inspired Channel 4 thriller

Sam Heughan stars in the Leeds-set drama alongside Eleanor Tomlinson

Sam Heughan, Jessica De Gouw, Alfred Enoch and Eleanor Tomlinson as Danny, Becka, Pete and Evie in The Couple Next Door
Nicky Morris
Nicky MorrisTV and film writer
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The Couple Next Door has been keeping viewers glued to their screens ever since it first premiered on Channel 4 last month. 

The psychological thriller follows schoolteacher Evie (Eleanor Tomlinson) and struggling journalist Pete (Alfred Enoch), who are expecting their first child together as they move into a beautiful new home. They instantly connect with their new neighbours, Becka (Jessica De Gouw) and Danny (Sam Heughan), but as their friendships grow deeper, things become more and more complicated. 

The steamy series sees one fateful night threaten to change all four of their lives forever. But what was the inspiration behind the drama? And is there any truth to the story? 

WATCH: Sam Heughan stars in new Channel 4 drama The Couple Next Door

The drama is loosely based on a Dutch series called New Neighbours and while there's no truth to the story, writer David Allison explained that he was keen to make a drama about the "curtain twitching" and unwritten moral rules in real-life suburbia. 

Sam Heughan as Eleanor Tomlinson as Danny and Evie© Channel 4
Sam Heughan and Eleanor Tomlinson as Danny and Evie

Speaking to HELLO! and other journalists at a recent press event, David explained: "I'm actually kind of obsessed with suburbia and a lot of us have grown up in cul de sacs or little streets where everyone is curtain twitching and I've always wanted to write about that because I think there's strange unwritten rules about the morals and what is and isn't allowed on the street. So it was just the perfect project."

He continued: "I wanted to delve into those unwritten rules about what is acceptable and what we understand is acceptable when we live in a place. Also, to write about monogamy and non-monogamy and make sure we're not being condemnatory."

In a separate interview with Channel 4, David clarified that the series is not adapted from Shari Lapena's best-selling novel of the same name, and is in fact loosely based on a Dutch TV series called New Neighbours. 

Sam Heughan as Danny in The Couple Next Door© Channel 4
The series is loosely based on a Dutch TV series

"For a long time, I've wanted to find a vehicle to explore the ideas of what suburbia is because I think a lot of us grew up in suburbia," he said. "Mine was a bit more down market than this one, but there are interesting unwritten boundaries and rules that everyone understands."

During the press event, David added that he was keen to set the show in his hometown of Leeds. "I really wanted it to be set in Leeds because I'm from Leeds, I live in Leeds and it's lovely seeing that on screen," he explained. 

Alfred Enoch and Jessica De Gouw as Pete and Becka© Channel 4
Alfred Enoch and Jessica De Gouw as Pete and Becka

READ: Sam Heughan talks filming very intimate scenes for racy new series alongside Eleanor Tomlinson

While the show may be set in Yorkshire, a lot of the scenes were shot in Belgium.

Eleanor Tomlinson as Evie in The Couple Next Door© Channel 4
The series is inspired by the 'unwritten rules' of suburbia

Director Dries Vos told Channel 4: "A lot is filmed in Belgium because we are a Belgium based company, but we couldn't find the right street there and filmed the external shots in a street in the Netherlands."

He continued: "The area has different quarters, each supposedly representing a different country, so it's wonderful because it's the perfect place. There's a French quarter, there's an American quarter, there's an Italian quarter and there's an English quarter. It is extraordinary."

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