The casting will worry fans of The Durrells on ITV who are still waiting to hear if their much-loved series will be recommissioned by the broadcaster.
In the meantime, Hawes, who will also be seen in The Bodyguard in the autumn on BBC1, has begun filming opposite one-time James Bond baddie Toby Stephens, son of Dame Maggie Smith in this new project.
Written by renowned TV dramatist Stephen Poliakoff, the story is set in the UK during the Cold War period and tumultuous year of 1958 when, according to producers, “fear and excitement of the future permeates the lives of all.”
“I have wanted to work with Stephen for years,” said Hawes, “so I’m delighted to be part of such a wonderful cast, and can’t wait to spend the summer with them all.”
Said Stephens: “It’s great to be working with Stephen Poliakoff again after such a long time. I loved working with him on Perfect Strangers; he’s such a unique and original voice in British television. It’s also good to be filming something back home in the UK for the BBC. It’s been a while.”
Stephens has been filming abroad recently in projects such as Netflix’s Lost in Space, and Black Sails for STARZ.
The actor plays Samuel, a 40-something, Russian Jewish émigré, inventor and designer of bespoke hearing aids, whose clients include former Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill.
The series follows Samuel and his family, wife Miriam and children Hannah and Sasha, as he is approached by MI5 to demonstrate his work.
But the spies are not only interested in his inventions.
Samuel is told to secretly obtain information about his charming, newly acquired friends Kathleen, played by Hawes and her husband Richard Shaw MP, played by Linus Roache (Vikings, Homeland) through whom Samuel also meets the impressive Lord Arthur Wallington, played by Timothy Spall (Mr Turner, The Street
As ever, the scripts are wonderful, the story is completely original and totally compelling and surprising
Actor Timothy Spall praised the stellar line-up:
“I’m utterly delighted to be working with Stephen for the third time.As ever, the scripts are wonderful, the story is completely original and totally compelling and surprising, as is the gallery of fascinating characters.
Stephen has assembled a fantastic cast as he always does.
A few of whom I have worked with in the past, I’m greatly looking forward to being part of this wonderful and unique television drama.”
Linus Roache, son of Coronation Street star Bill Roache said:
“I’ve been a huge fan of Stephen’s work for many years so I’m thrilled to get to work with him and on such a brilliantly intricate exploration of Britain’s struggle for identity in the 1950s.
“That might be 60 years ago now but Stephen’s story provides a fascinating reflection of the kind of intrigue and mistrust we find ourselves in the midst of again in the world today.
I love it when historical drama feels almost shockingly relevant.”
Lucy Cohu (Ripper Street), Mark Bonnar (Line of Duty), and Ronald Pickup (The Crown) complete the top-drawer cast.
The story will be Poliakoff’s “personal insight” into this period and is set against the backdrop of Britain testing its first hydrogen bomb.
Executive Producer Helen Flint, a long-time collaborator with Poliakoff on productions such as Close To The Enemy, Shooting The Past and Perfect Strangers, said:
“This piece set in 1958, is hinged at the pivotal point of world history where the past and future are pulling in equal strength and human beings, young and old have little control over the eventual outcome.”