A major new political drama for BBC One written by David Hare, Roadkill is a four-part fictional thriller about a self-made, forceful and charismatic politician played by Hugh Laurie.
Peter’s public and private life seems to be falling apart - or rather is being picked apart by his enemies. With his enemies so close to home, can Peter Laurence ever out-run his own secrets to win the ultimate prize?
Other cast includes Helen McCrory (Peaky Blinders, MotherFatherSon), Sidse Babett Knudsen (The Accident, Westworld), Saskia Reeves (Us, The Child in Time), Sarah Greene (Dublin Murders, Normal People), Patricia Hodge (A Very English Scandal, Miranda), Ophelia Lovibond (W1A, Hooten & The Lady), Iain De Caestecker (Us, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D), Katie Leung (Chimerica, Strangers), Olivia Vinall (The Woman in White, Apple Tree Yard), Pippa Bennett-Warner (Harlots, MotherFatherSon), Shalom Brune-Franklin (Our Girl, Bad Mothers), Pip Torrens (Poldark, Preacher), Millie Brady (The Last Kingdom) and Danny Ashok (Deep Water, Capital).
Introduction from David Hare
Please correct my maths if you can, but by my calculation I’ve lived almost 50 years under Tory rule.
Considering that they’ve formed our last six governments, it’s amazing how little fiction Conservatives have generated. There are a couple of good plays about Harold Macmillan, and during the 1980s there was a huge amount of satirical vituperation against Margaret Thatcher.
At that time, I wrote a film called Paris By Night in which Charlotte Rampling played a Thatcherite MP. But I’m typical among the writers of my time in having rarely looked closely at the appeal of Conservative values.
In Roadkill, I wanted to ask what happens when you put ideals of freedom and personal responsibility above all other virtues. I was also interested in the effect of believing that every one of us is alone responsible for the destiny and progress of our own lives. But to inquire into these questions, it was essential to me to invent. I wanted to imagine what it would be like if a Conservative politician, naturally gifted with a mix of charm, intelligence, charisma and high humour, managed to find his path from a working-class household in Croydon right into the heart of Westminster.
So much television drama is now based on documentary events that it is hard to remember the primary trigger for fiction is meant to be the imagination. My hero, Peter Laurence, is not based on anyone. Nor are the other characters. Mine is a parallel world to the real one, and there is no secret passage between the two. You will be wasting your time if you think that the purpose of the series is to work out who everyone is ‘meant to be’. In Roadkill, neither Covid nor Brexit consume every politician’s waking hour.
The first series I wrote for television was Collateral, shown in 2018, with Carey Mulligan leading a wonderful cast. I found the four-part format excited me, because the challenge was to cram as much as I could into as short a space. I loved roaming freely throughout society, last time among illegal refugees and dodgy boat-runners, this time behind the scenes in women’s prisons as well as in Downing Street.
Such compacted epics depend for their vitality on high-octane actors. That’s why this time you will see Hugh Laurie, Helen McCrory, Saskia Reeves, Pippa Bennett-Warner, Sarah Greene and Olivia Vinall - among many other equally live wires - working their formidable magic. The tone of the series is controlled impeccably by the director, Michael Keillor. It was George Faber and Mark Pybus as producers at the Forge who first guided me when I wanted to learn a new skill so late in life. And it is they who have trusted me to try and repeat the trick. Writing about the Tories has given me an immense amount of fun, and pushed me towards conclusions which I hope are unexpected. With luck, television drama won’t wait quite so long to put Conservatives under the microscope again.