Code-breaking thriller The Bletchley Circle returns returns to ITV with a second series, based on the lives of four extraordinary and brilliant women who worked at top-secret HQ Bletchley Park during World War II.
Set a year on from the first series in 1953, Hattie Morahan joins Anna Maxwell Martin, Rachael Stirling, Sophie Rundle and Julie Graham for two new self-contained stories, each played out across two 60-minute episodes written by series creator Guy Burt.
Episode 1: ‘Blood on their Hands – Part One’
Monday 6 January 2014, 9pm
Former Bletchley Park girl Alice Merren (Hattie Morahan) is in prison awaiting trial for murder. Jean (Julie Graham) believes her to be innocent and begins to reunite the circle to help establish the innocence of one of their own.
Susan (Anna Maxwell Martin) is reluctant to get involved after her near death experience with Crowley (series 1) and the danger it posed to her family. Lucy (Sophie Rundle) now has a clerical job at Scotland Yard. She is getting on well and keeping her head down and Millie (Rachel Stirling) is working as a German translator.
Alice is on trial for killing John Richards (Paul McGann) a former Bletchley Park colleague. Jean knows that him and Alice were once lovers and having visited Alice in Holloway she deducts that she is covering for someone else, but why?
The girls start piecing the mystery together from the clues in Richard’s house and it becomes evident there was another woman involved in this somehow. Through further investigation all clues lead to Lizzie Lancaster (Faye Marsay) a young woman who appears to have had some sort of relationship with Richards prior to his death.
The girls find a way in to Lizzie’s flat and route around for clues. They discover a classified military file and some press cuttings relating to an incident in which military personnel were injured in a chemical spill on Salisbury Plain. They then track down Lizzie, only to find someone else has been doing the same thing and they arrive just in time to push Lizzie out of the way of a car heading straight towards her. Who is trying to kill her? Before they can confront Lizzie she disappears.
They continue to investigate but Lizzie has worked out that the girls have been tracking her. She is scared for her life and dramatically confronts them. She believes they are working with Alice, that they killed Richards and are now trying to kill her. All the pieces begin to fall in to place for Susan, who works it out – who would Alice be willing to face the death penalty for?
Episode 2: ‘Blood on their Hands – Part Two’
Monday 13 January 2014, 9pm
Alice (Hattie Morahan) has now been convicted and is facing the gallows. It becomes a race against time to prove her innocence and to save her life.The girls need evidence and they quickly start the search with the documents found at Lizzie’s (Faye Marsay) flat. With a search through the records, help from Lucy’s inside police info as well as Alice’s knowledge of Richards background the clues lead them to Porton Down.
They believe that Richards was killed as part of a wider Military cover up and that Lizzie, by association, is also being set up by the same people and framed for his murder. It turns out the military hospital where the men who were injured in the chemical spillage is the same hospital Timothy (Mark Dexter) was treated at when injured in the war – they see a way in – Susan (Anna Maxwell Martin).
In the meantime Susan has been grappling with her own issues after her experience with Crowley and because she is again having to keep secrets from Timothy. She is scared and reluctant to get involved but sees that it has to be her and that this could be their only way to save Alice.
Whilst Susan heads to the hospital the others track down Professor Masters (Paul Ritter), a name that has popped up as the connection between Richards and Porton Down – he may be able to help.When they arrive at his London house, Masters pulls a gun on them – he believes them to be spies as he did both Richards and Lizzie, which is why he killed Richards and framed Lizzie.
After gaining access to the hospital and a bit of sneaking about Susan comes across a badly injured soldier who tells her the truth behind the chemical experiments at Porton Down and how he and others were lied to by their own military and used as lab rats.
Susan is caught and arrested by military police and Timothy is called. She realises the level of trouble she is and that there is no way out – she is forced to tell Timothy everything including her history at Bletchley Park that she has kept from him all this time. In doing so she is breaking the Official Secrets Act. As soon as Susan mentions Masters name the Colonel (Tim Piggott-Smith) realises how far things have gone and he sends the Military Police to save the girls in the knick of time. It is only as he is arrested that Masters realised how wrong he was.
Episode 3: ‘Uncustomed Goods – Part One’
Monday 20 January 2014, 9pm
Through a glamorous night out in a classy Soho Hotel, Millie (Rachel Stirling) introduces Alice (Hattie Morahan) to her new business sideline of import and exports as well as her business associate Jasper (Rob Jarvis). Alice is a little concerned but Millie assures her it’s all fine and just a little way of earning some money until she can get more translating work.
Drowning her sorrows following another unsuccessful job interview Alice has a little too much to drink and Millie gives her some money for a taxi home as well as a bottle of perfume to cheer her up. As she returns to her flat, Millie is kidnapped and taken to a seedy Hotel by some Soho gangster types. On discovering this Alice goes to Jean (Julie Graham) and Lucy (Sophie Rundle) to help their friend.
The girls begin to investigate Millie’s disappearance starting with a visit to Jasper. On entering his lock up it becomes clear there’s been a violent struggle but also that Jasper is a bit of a gambler.
Marta (Brana Bajic), the matriarch head of this family run operation, confronts Millie, as she believes her and Jasper have been ripping her off. Jasper admits it’s him and Millie is innocent – an admission that Marta clearly believes so allows Jasper to go on the agreement that he will pay back what he owes. Millie persuades Marta to let her take over Jaspers side of the business; she is the front of house and assures Marta she can double her profits through her connections. Marta is convinced by Millie and lets her go.
During her ordeal in captivity Millie meets Elishka (Edyta Budnik) a young, pretty eastern European girl. Millie tries to get Elishka to help her but it becomes clear that Elishka is in no position to do this. She eventually reveals that trading in perfume, cigarettes and stockings are only a small part of the business and the Hotel is in fact a cover for a human trafficking ring – the girls are brought over from Eastern Europe with the promise of a better life but in fact sold on in to prostitution.
Millie is eventually released and taken home. The following morning the girls come to find Millie who is visibly shaken by her ordeal. She tells them everything and that she can’t just leave these poor girls. They head off to find Jasper to see if he can give them more information but in the lock up they come across his mutilated body, showing how dangerous Marta and the family really is.
Episode 4: ‘Uncustomed Goods – Part Two’
Monday 27 January 2014, 9pm
The girls call the police to tell them about Jaspers murder but the next morning Ben (Nick Blood) tells Lucy (Sophie Rundle) that the tip off was wrong, there was no dead body and someone got there first. Much to Lucy’s horror they all conclude there must be corruption within vice squad so they need another way to catch them and catching them red handed is the only option.
The women decide to intercept the crime ring using Jean (Julie Graham) as cover, hoping to find out the location of the hotel they are working out of.
They visit Marta (Brana Bajic) in her restaurant, pretending that Jean is a new potential client. This becomes an opportunity for Lucy to memorise Marta’s ledger, which may be the key to the whole operation. Once Lucy has copied down what she saw the girls realise that it’s not only in Maltese but also appears to be in machine code.
The girls return to Bletchley Park. Alice’s daughter Lizzie (Faye Marsay) is now studying here part time in the teachers training college which has been established since the war. Lizzie is their way in. They find some old German Enigma machines, and with Alice’s knowledge they get them working and eventually manage to crack the code. What they have is dates, times and codenames for Marta’s shipments.
The girls make a decision to intercept a shipment and to tip off Custom and Excise in order to catch them trafficking the girls but unfortunately Marta is on to them.
Are you looking forward to Series 2? Let us know below…