‘We are excited because we know Truelove will be talked about by everyone who watches it’

Distributor BBC Studios
Producer Clerkenwell Films
Length 6 x 60 minutes
Broadcaster Channel 4 (UK)

Written by Iain Weatherby (Humans) and co-created with The End Of The F***ing World’s Charlie Covell, Channel 4’s upcoming relationship drama bucks current scripted norms by lining up a core cast of protagonists in their late 60s and 70s.

Produced by Clerkenwell Films, Truelove tells the story of the rekindling of a lost love between former teenage sweethearts Phil (Lindsay Duncan) and Ken (Clarke Peters), who are reunited at a friend’s funeral. With their friends, they make a pact to ensure their deaths are dignified when the time is right, rather than allowing each other to decline and suffer.

BBC Studios managing director of scripted Mark Linsey emphasises that the drama is “unusual” and “distinctive”, not only because it centres around older characters, but also because it focuses on the central universal question: when is it OK to end a life?

“Particularly in the western world, the central theme is very controversial and difficult,” he says.

“Even if [euthanasia] were legal, at what point do you make that decision? This is a central group of characters who just want to take control of their lives, and this ethical question ensures that the drama is very poignant and full of heart.”

“It’s mischievous – these characters are still up for fun”

Linsey adds that the script is “beautifully written”, with dark humour and romance that brings some levity to the serious subject matter. “It’s mischievous – these characters are still up for fun,” he notes.

Despite its focus on an older group of characters, Linsey believes the series’ themes will resonate with younger audiences as well, pointing out that Channel 4 is a “youth-skewing broadcaster after all”.

“Young people are very conscious of what is happening in the world around them, and the question of when it is right to end someone’s life is a hot topic, particularly in the west,” he says. “Just because it is not necessarily at the front and centre of their lives, it does not mean they are not curious about it.

“We are excited because we know Truelove will be talked about by everyone who watches it.”

Linsey credits Clerkenwell for its track record of relationship-focused dramas that are “more than what their topline suggests”, citing last year’s Somewhere Boy (C4), which centres around the connection between two young men from very different backgrounds.

“What Clerkenwell does best is take a difficult subject and dramatise it beautifully,” Linsey explains.

He also suggests that the “strong sense of realism” and “lack of glamour” that is conveyed in the way Truelove is shot adds to its overall impact.

The series was filmed in Bristol, where Phil and her husband are downsizing into a bungalow to release some money to pay for their daughter’s home – a scenario that will resonate strongly with many viewers.

Linsey says the drama will be immediately attractive for PSBs thanks to the “important” subject matter, but as the industry emerges from the US strikes, he also predicts that streamers will remain hungry to tell local stories like this.