Brighton detective Roy Grace to hit the screens as filming gets under way

Filming has now started in Brighton on the highly anticipated new crime drama, Grace.

John Simm
John Simm

John Simm will star as Brighton detective Roy Grace, the creation of Sussex based writer Peter James across a series of massively successful thrillers.

Filming was due to begin in May this year but was postponed because of the pandemic.

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Peter is delighted that it is now finally underway – and absolutely delighted with the attention to detail Simm and all the crew are going to be bringing to it.

“John Simm is the most brilliant guy,” Peter said. “He really is taking it incredibly seriously.

Just to give you an example… The first time we meet Roy Grace is in the book Dead Simple. Ever since his wife Sandy disappeared nine years before, Grace has not been out with another woman, and his mate Glenn Branson has set him up with a blind date. The first time we see Roy Grace in the series he is turning up for this blind date.

“And John Simm emailed me the other day to ask whether Roy Grace would be wearing his wedding ring. I said I thought that just before he went into the pub he would look at the ring and slip it off and put it into his pocket. John said that he thought the same.”

Peter finds the whole exchange hugely encouraging, an indication Simm’s and ITV’s commitment to detail: “I have had book adaptations before in the past, but I have never worked with a company that is so good at communicating and so determined to get it right. They know how much of a stickler I am, and they have even got my original Roy Grace – (his real-life inspiration) Dave Gaylor – on the payroll to make sure they get it right.”

Filming on the first two books will run until November – and then they will film three or four more next year, Peter said. He is unsure yet when they will be screened.

“John Simm, who actually looks like the Roy Grace of my imagination, is inspired casting! With John in the lead, the brilliant scripting by Russell Lewis, and our wonderful production team, I’m confident that fans of my novels and of TV crime dramas in general will be in for a treat.”

The series comes from acclaimed screenwriter and Endeavour creator, Russell Lewis.

Co-produced by Second Act Productions, Tall Story Pictures, part of ITV Studios and Vaudeville Productions, the 2 x 120 screenplays narrate the first two stories in the popular Roy Grace series, Dead Simple and Looking Good Dead.

Joining John Simm, as filming began in Brighton, are Richie Campbell (Liar, Blue Story, Top Boy) who takes the role of DS Glenn Branson and Rakie Ayola (Noughts + Crosses, Shetland, No Offence) as ACC Vosper.

Laura Elphinstone (Game of Thrones, Chernobyl, Line of Duty) is DS Bella Moy, Amaka Okafor (The Split, Vera) plays DC Emma Jane Boutwood, and Brad Morrison (National Theatre Live; Twelfth Night) takes the role of DC Nicholl.

Rebecca Scrogs (Alex Rider, Flack, Scarborough) plays Branson’s wife Ari, Alexander Cobb (Doctors, Vera) plays Kevin Spinella and they are also joined by Adrian Rawlings (Chernobyl, Girlfriends, Innocent), Natasha Joseph (Get Even, Doctors, Sex Education), Tom Weston-Jones (Warrior, The Terror, Dickensian), Matt Stokoe (Cursed, Jamestown, Bodyguard), Alisha Bailey (Save Me, Chewing Gum) and Maggie O’Neill (White Lines, The Split, Shameless).

The first film, Dead Simple, opens with Grace running enquiries into long forgotten cold cases with little or no prospect of success. He’s fixated by the disappearance of his beloved wife, Sandy, which haunts his thoughts. His unorthodox police methods have come under scrutiny once again and Grace is walking a career tightrope and risks being moved from the job he loves most.

With so much at stake, his colleague Detective Sergeant Glenn Branson knows he has more to give and asks him for help with a case. When a stag night prank appears to go wrong and the groom goes missing, Branson calls upon Grace to unravel events that led to the mysterious disappearance three days before his wedding to his beautiful fiancé.

A successful property developer with everything to live for, there is no trace of the missing groom. Is this a case of stag night shenanigans gone badly awry? Or is this something more sinister?

With nothing but instinct, a lingering suspicion and his obsessive nature, Grace doggedly pursues the groom’s disappearance and becomes uneasily close to the bride to be…

Executive producers are Andrew O’Connor and Paul Sandler for Second Act Productions, Patrick Schweitzer for Tall Story Pictures, Michael Vine for Vaudeville Productions, and Russell Lewis and Peter James. The first film, Dead Simple, is directed by John Alexander (Belgravia, Trust Me, Jamestown) with the second film, Looking Good Dead, directed by Julia Ford (Sticks and Stones, The Bay II, Safe).

Writer Russell Lewis is also known for his work on Morse, Lewis, Murphy’s Law, Sharpe’s Peril and Kavanagh QC.

Russell Lewis said: “I’m thrilled and honoured to be involved in bringing Peter James’ brilliantly gripping series of Roy Grace novels to ITV. Each story is a fantastic, hair-raising, twisting, switch-back of a roller-coaster ride that grips the reader from first to last, and the opportunity to translate that best-selling magic to television is like all one’s Christmases and birthdays come at once. As his millions of fans and admirers are well aware, Peter's meticulous research and eye for detail is the stuff of legend. His long established, close relationship with the police, taken together with a knowledge of Brighton and the South Coast that is the sole preserve of the born and bred lends his stories an unimpeachable veracity of place and procedure. That John Simm will be breathing flesh to the bones of Roy Grace really is the cherry on a dark, and troublingly encrimsoned cake…”

ITV’s head of drama, Polly Hill, and drama commissioner, Huw Kennair Jones have commissioned Grace for the channel. Huw will oversee production of the drama from the channel’s perspective.

Tall Story Pictures, Second Act Productions and Vaudeville Productions, for Grace are adhering to the TV and film production industry wide guidelines published in May and the guidance developed by all UK broadcasters, the Association of Commercial Broadcasters and On-Demand Service (COBA) and Pact covering how pairs and small groups of actors can interact closer than two metres safely on set. This guidance is also complementary to the British Film Commission guidelines on managing the risks with film and high-end TV drama production.

The new health and safety measures implemented to ensure filming on high-end dramas can resume include regular coronavirus testing of cast and crew and temperature checking before filming. Social distancing will be adhered to by crew members, and the actors and production teams will observe closed cohort guidelines which limits contact with other individuals whilst filming. COVID Supervisors will also be employed on set to ensure health and safety protocols are adhered to.

Camera and sound equipment will be fully sanitised at the end of each filming day and make-up will be applied by technicians wearing full PPE. Hand sanitisation facilities have also been installed for frequent hand washing and crews will wear masks throughout filming.