Based on The Ladies’ Paradise, the classic French novel by Emile Zola, the eight part series relocates the story of a love affair set against the backdrop of the opening of the first department store to a British setting.
Gallagher commented: “I like writing long-run ensemble dramas because I can write for actors. Any writer would relish writing for this wonderful cast.”
Ben Stephenson, Controller, BBC Drama Commissioning added: “A romantic relationship drama set in a bustling Northern department store where Bill Gallagher’s well-crafted characters will bring an addictive mix of love and gossip to BBC One.”
Also starring Elaine Cassidy (Harper’s Island), Matthew McNulty (Misfits), Joanna Vanderham (The Runaway) and Emun Elliott (Lip Service), The Paradise will begin filming on location outside Durham next month.
BBC North’s Pat Connor revealed: “The Paradise is the biggest BBC drama to be made in the North East.”
The official synopsis reads: “Smart, ambitious and big hearted Denise Lovett (Vanderham) arrives in the city to seek work in her uncle Edmund’s shop. When he’s unable to help her, she turns to The Paradise and her eyes are opened to a whole new world of possibilities.
“This impossibly glamorous store provides the catalyst for her rags-to-riches story as she falls in love with the exhilarating and dangerous charms of the modern world.
Entwined in this intoxication is The Paradise’s dashing and reckless owner, John Moray, a buccaneering capitalist, self-made, and utterly modern man, who inspires in Denise a passion and creativity she didn’t know she had.
“Dudley (McNulty) is Moray’s (Elliott) right hand man in the store, and tries – with little success – to keep Moray’s feet on the ground. Despite the history and trust between the two men Moray continually ignores Dudley’s advice and cracks begin to emerge. It remains to be seen whether Dudley will be content to live in Moray’s shadow forever.
“Machiavellian Jonas (Hayman) is on the run from his past, Moray took a chance on him and Jonas has repaid him with dogged loyalty ever since. His forensic eye for detail is useful to Moray but his authority to fire any of the girls in the store leaves them wary of his presence.
“Overseeing Ladieswear is the formidable Miss Audrey (Lancashire), although an authoritarian and voice of a different generation, if one of her girls really needs someone, she’s always there for them.
“In pursuit of Moray’s affections is the upper class daughter of a rich banker, Katherine (Cassidy). Determined to get what she wants, Moray is the ultimate catch for Katherine; but as they enter into a self-destructive game of cat and mouse it ultimately leads to explosive consequences.”
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