THEY were trending on Twitter as #ladynerds during series one. Now the clever code breaking ladies from The Bletchley Circle are returning to our TV screens with the much anticipated second series.
ITV will air the first episode of the series based on Bletchley Park tonight (Monday) at 9pm.
MKWeb attended the advance screening of the first episode and the following press conference with actresses Rachael Stirling, Julie Graham, Hattie Morahan and writer Guy Burt.
Penned by Burt, who is Prince William’s former English teacher at Eton, the plot of the new series revolves again around Bletchley Park girls Susan, Millie, Jean and Lucy and of course a crime they must solve.
This time, however, it is much more personal as they need to prove the innocence of one of their own before it’s too late.
Former Bletchley Park colleague Alice Merren is in prison for murder and may face death by hanging if no evidence in favour of her defence is produced. Julie, who was Alice’s superior at Bletchley, doesn’t believe she has committed the crime, but why is Alice refusing the women’s help to find out the truth?
The first episode of the new series promises mystery drama entertainment for viewers enjoying both a good brain tease and heart-felt emotions. For a TV detective series set in the seemingly bleak post-war era, the production feels surprisingly rich. However, The Bletchley Circle is about much more than laying someone by the heels.
There is plenty of suspense but rather than hasten from one scene of action to the next, relationships are clearly the focus of this series.
The story flows beautifully, weaving together an astonishing array of themes ranging from Britain at war, capital punishment to the many facets of female friendship, strained family bonds and strong, unconventional women at a time when society was distinctly gender-stratified.
Each of these topics would be worthy of its own screenplay, and even though they all begin to unravel in the first episode already, viewers won’t be emotionally steamrolled. After all, this is 1950s stiff-upper-lip Britain. Fitting in with social expectations of the time, the protagonists are often portrayed internalising their personal feelings and dealing with them quietly.
The end of the first episode culminates in a cliff hanger, questioning the value of human life in a completely different and unexpectedly modern political context.
This complexly layered period tale comes together not because of loud hyperboles but because of subtle, often intimate performances by the cast which invite the viewer to think, to reflect and to come closer.
While the characters may be fictional, their Bletchley Park background and the implications for being involved in a top-secret government operation is not.
History serves both as backdrop and focal point for the story and character development, bringing out the strengths and weaknesses of the women’s bond.
The Bletchley Circle is a well crafted TV mystery series with three dimensional characters, believable relationships and plenty of brain power and suspense. Thoroughly enjoyable and highly recommended.