We know what you’re thinking – ITV has taken Foyle’s War, cast younger actors and is hoping nobody will notice.
It’s certainly what Murder on the Home Front looks like at first glance anyway - and who could blame the powers that be if they decided to do that? After all, the Michael Kitchen vehicle has been one of the broadcaster’s biggest successes of recent years with fans at home and abroad.
Like the early series of Foyle’s War, this two-part drama is set during the Second World War and focuses on crimes committed among the civilian population. But there the similarities end and, if anything, it moves into CSI: Crime Scene Investigation territory.
“There are some projects that just stick in your mind and this was one of those,” explains executive producer Sally Woodward Gentle. “I always felt it was the one that got away, but when the rights became available again the timing was perfect and so we jumped at the opportunity.”
“The Second World War was obviously an important era in our nation’s history and one that has generated huge amounts of storytelling which I believe is the appeal,” continues her fellow exec, Gareth Neame.
“There is a perennial interest in the Second World War and this is an interesting angle put together with forensics and pathology which we know are very popular in many British and American shows.”
“It is one of those TV ideas that is very simple to explain combining forensic science pathology with the Blitz in London,” continues her fellow exec, Gareth Neame, one of the driving forces behind the mighty Downton Abbey. “It combines two subjects that audiences have a real interest in.”
Based on the memoirs of Molly Lefebure, a wartime member of the Home Office Pathology Department, and featuring a stellar cast including Boardwalk Empire’s Patrick Kennedy as Dr Collins and The Tudors’ Tamzin Merchant as Molly Cooper, the drama focuses on the inventive, controversial and occasionally taboo-busting origins of forensic science.
In the first episode, set at the height of the London blitz, a man is found murdered with a swastika carved into his head, and suspicion soon falls on a vulnerable local recluse.
However, this doesn’t ring true for Home Office pathologist Dr Lennox Collins and his vivacious secretary Molly Cooper, and they are soon applying ground-breaking techniques in the search for the real killer.
Unfortunately, their modernising ways do not meet with the complete approval of their superiors, and Collins and Cooper soon find themselves facing obstacles on both sides of the law.
“The Blitz was a wonderful cloak for all sorts of terrible behaviour”, says Kennedy. “We don’t know whether we are on the hunt for a Nazi killer at loose in London or whether there is something more going on. We have a wonderful cast of suspects.
MURDER ON THE HOME FRONT, ITV, Thursday 9pm