ITV’s Midwinter of the Spirit is a new crime drama with a supernatural twist.
Based on Phil Rickman’s books, the three-part drama has been adapted by screenwriter Stephen Volk (Afterlife, The Awakening, Ghostwatch) and produced by Phil Collinson (Doctor Who).
Anna Maxwell-Martin (The Bletchley Circle) leads the cast as Merrily Watkins, a single mother who isn’t your average country vicar, alongside David Threlfall (Shameless) as Rev Huw Owen, a deliverance ministry tutor and Merrily’s mentor.
The cast also includes Siobhan Finneran (Happy Valley), Ben Bailey Smith (Law and Order: UK), Leila Mimmack (Home Fires), Kate Dickie (Game of Thrones), Simon Trinder (Without You), Oengus MacNamara (What If) and David Sterne (Tommy Cooper: Not Like That, Like This).
Wednesday 23 September 2015, 9pm
Merrily’s newly acquired training has put her on the dark side of the pulpit. She has become one of the few women clergy working in the area of deliverance ministry – a job considered important by the modern church and operating in every diocese but rarely publicised due to the confidential nature of cases. David Threlfall takes on the role of Rev Huw Owen, a deliverance ministry tutor and Merrily’s mentor.
Merrily is deeply human in her doubts and scepticism, but her knowledge of the paranormal underworld brings her to the notice of local police who need her advice in the investigation of a grisly murder. Merrily has been through the mill emotionally of late, losing her unfaithful husband Sean in a car crash and seeking refuge in a job despised by her 16‐year‐old daughter, Jane, whose rejection of her mother’s beliefs leads her into the path of danger.
When a man is found murdered in the most horriﬁc circumstances imaginable, Merrily becomes convinced that Satanists are operating in the city. In the early hours of the next morning, she is called to Hereford General Hospital to perform an exorcism.
The atmosphere is palpably toxic, as nurses treating a chronically ill man known for cruelty to animals and his abuse of women believe that the ward has become polluted by his vileness. As the life force in the shrivelled body begins to ebb away, Merrily feels the force of his depravity. Shaking and feeling violated by her experience, Merrily begins to wonder if the two deaths are connected.
The local police team – DCI Annie Howe and DS Frank Bliss – investigating the murder of the cruciﬁed man seek Merrily’s expertise. Merrily assists the police as their enquiries take them into a very dark and dangerous world.
Wednesday 30 September 2015, 9pm
A murder, a desecrated church and the apparent ‘suicide’ of a clergyman, sends Merrily on a quest for answers. Although she suspects a Satanic group may be at work, nothing can prepare Merrily for what she uncovers next.
Despite the evidence, Merrily doesn’t believe for one minute that Dobbs’ took his own life and when her services are required to bless a desecrated church, she can’t help but think that, after Dobbs and the crucifixion, this sacrificial act is more than just coincidence. DCI Annie Howe, on the other hand, doesn’t feel that a dead crow is a police matter. As Huw Owen guides Merrily through the ceremony of lesser exorcism she ‘sees’ the evil Denzil Joy and runs from the church. Shaken.
Dobbs’ cleaner claims that Dobbs was a good man who deteriorated after a visit from a bearded stranger. She would hear chanting coming from the TV and he forever had his head in a book about Medieval Hereford Bishop, St Thomas Cantilupe. Having promised to return Edna’s key, Merrily lets herself into Dobbs’ home in search of clues. What she discovers sickens her to the core and prompts the police to step up their investigation and order a new post mortem for Dobbs.
After a shaky start, Merrily confides in Lol; her workload is taking its toll on her home-life. Lol’s ears prick up at the mention of a crow at the desecrated church; his client, Rowenna, found a crow on her doorstep just days earlier. When he confronts her, Rowenna is blasé about the whole thing, claiming an affinity with the creatures. His concerns far from put to rest, Lol delves into Rowenna’s past, which is disturbed to say the least.
Fearing that she is losing her daughter Merrily has it out with Jane, demanding to know just who she is hanging out with. Jane tells her that she’s dating Hereford’s ‘Boy Bishop’, James Lyden. She thought her mother might be pleased about that, but no! The questioning only serves to drive a bigger wedge between the two of them. Jane delivers some home truths leaving Merrily broken. Merrily seeks solace in the church, alone in prayer, or is she?
Wednesday 7 October 2015, 9pm
When her runaway daughter refuses to come home, Merrily goes to the police who, given Jane’s age and status, remain powerless to act. At the station, Social Worker, Lol Robinson spots something on the incident board that sheds new light on the entire murder investigation. This new information prompts DCI Annie Howe to call in Lol’s client, Rowenna for a ‘chat.’ Might she hold key information that could lead them to the killer?
Meanwhile, Merrily’s mentor, Huw learns that St Thomas Cantilupe, the Saint that Dobbs was trying to communicate with, was baptised in the church where the crow was sacrificed. What is the connection between murder victim Paul Sayer, the desecrated church, Denzil Joy and Canon Dobbs? Huw believes that old “Tommy Canty” holds the answers. Together, he and a depleted Merrily learn the importance of St Thomas Cantilupe; medieval fighter of demons, with a history of protecting Hereford Cathedral even after his death. They discover that his tomb is in a state of disarray, his bones removed, leaving the Cathedral defenceless against spiritual attack for the first time in centuries.
Now convinced that a Satanic group is at work, Merrily and Huw are trying to second guess their next move when Lol calls to say that Jane is being led into the cathedral by Angela and Rowenna. It dawns on Merrily that today is the crowning of the “Boy Bishop”, James Lyden, who also happens to be Jane’s boyfriend. Not only is the cathedral missing its ancient protector, today it’s without its spiritual head, the Bishop, rendering it more vulnerable and open to evil than ever.
All roads point to a showdown at the impending ceremony. Suspecting that both the cathedral and Jane could be in danger Merrily ignores Huw’s advice to stay away and heads for Hereford. If she is to save her daughter’s soul she must be prepared to fight her biggest battle yet.
Watch the trailer…
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