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Jullie Walters has been forced to pull out of Channel 4 drama Truelove, a new six-episode drama series from the team behind BAFTA award-winning Channel 4 series The End Of The F***ing World, due to ill health.

Clerkenwell Films told Deadline: "Last year, filming on Truelove was paused while Julie Walters sought medical advice and attention for severe back pain. Subsequently, Julie has decided to step back from the project to focus on her recovery and recuperation, and so will not be returning to the role of Phil...

"We wholeheartedly support her decision, and the entire cast, crew and production team wish her the very best and a speedy recovery. We are delighted that Lindsay Duncan will be stepping into the role of Phil. We’re excited to see what she brings to this complex and captivating character when we restart filming later this year.”"

With a core cast in their late 60s and 70s, Truelove breaks the rules for older characters on screen and flips ageist tropes on their head in a series which promises thrilling twists and turns, irreverent humour and passionate romance.

Phil played by actress Lindsay Duncan, an ex-senior police chief enjoying a comfortable if boring retirement, and Ken played by Clarke Peters, a divorcee and ex-special forces vet who feels similarly at sea.

Phil and Ken were teenage sweethearts and despite life having moved on, they have never quite managed to forget each other. Cut to a friend’s funeral many years later where Phil and Ken, along with a gang of old friends, are reunited.

At the wake, with nostalgia and booze flowing in equal measure, talk soon takes a meditative turn and the group discuss what an ‘ideal’ death might look like.

Our gang make a drunken pact: rather than let each other suffer a slow and dreadful decline, they will step in and engineer a dignified death. In short, they will help each other die when the time is right. Because that, they all agree, is a sign of Truelove.

Joining the stellar line up are Sue Johnston (Help, Kiri), Phil Davis (Trying, Silent Witness), Peter Egan (After Life, Unforgotten), Karl Johnson (Too Close, Mum), Fiona Button (The Split) and Kiran Sonia Sawar (Black Mirror).

Truelove wrestles with the knottiest of ethical questions out there – is it ever right to help end a life? But it does so with a lightness of touch that is both darkly funny and profoundly empathetic. Fundamentally it is a show which focuses on a group of characters who are trying to take back control of their life in their twilight years.

And it’s also a love story, as a long-extinguished romantic flame is rekindled between two characters who missed out on each other when they were younger, offering them a second chance to experience the love of their lives before time runs out. With a killer soundtrack (plus some actual killing), it couldn’t be more relevant. ​

Petra Fried, Joint MD at Clerkenwell Films, added: “Iain and Charlie have created a truly special series full of emotion, edge-of-the-seat drama and pitch-black comedy. A story about a demographic that's rarely given centre stage on television, tackling the serious issues of love, life, illness and death, and handling them with warmth, sensitivity, humour and the youthful energy of a graphic novel."

Clarke Peters said: “If your friend reached a soul-destroying level of decrepitude, could you help them transition, if asked? Would it be right, would it be noble, could you do it? Which of that internal triumvirate do you listen to: your head, heart or soul?..

“You know it is illegal in law and scripture to take a life, but could you do it? Iain and Charlie’s story explores that moral dilemma in a way I’ve never seen before. It’s funny, it’s dark and it’s full of twists and turns. And DAMN! To tell this story, with this cast, was something I would have dreaded missing out on…Roll on “action”!”

Truelove is produced by Clerkenwell Films for Channel 4 and has been commissioned by Channel 4’s Head of Drama, Caroline Hollick and Commissioning Editor, Rebecca Holdsworth.


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