Hopkins inspires priest in new TV drama

Jimmy McGovern was a pupil at St Francis Xavier's College
Jimmy McGovern was a pupil at St Francis Xavier's College

A new BBC One drama series set in the North West has strong Jesuit connections. The BBC has confirmed that the leading role in Broken (working title) will be played by Sean Bean. Filming of the primetime series is due to start next month, with the six episodes broadcast after Christmas.

The new drama is written by Jimmy McGovern who was brought up five minutes’ walk away from Saint Francis Xavier’s Church (SFX) and went to SFX infants and primary school. He then went on to be taught by the Jesuits at St Francis Xavier’s College in Liverpool.

The central character in Broken will be a Catholic priest presiding over a Northern urban parish named Father Michael Kerrigan (Sean Bean). The BBC has described the character as “modern and maverick, yet reassuringly flawed”, adding that he “must be confidante, counsellor and confessor to a conflicted congregation who, like himself, struggles to reconcile its beliefs with the hypocrisies demanded by contemporary Britain”. It is understood that in the first episode, Fr Michael states that he was inspired in his vocation by The Windhover, a sonnet by the Jesuit poet and priest, Gerard Manley Hopkins.

A masterful storyteller

SFX Church has been used as the backdrop for several television and film dramas, including Liam, a film set in Liverpool during the Depression of the 1930s, which was written by Jimmy McGovern and directed by Stephen Frears. Among McGovern’s many TV scriptwriting credits are Brookside and Cracker; he also wrote the screenplay for the 1994 drama Priest. He previously worked with Sean Bean in Accused, which ran on BBC One between 2010 and 2012. Bean says he is very excited at the prospect of working with Jimmy McGovern again. “His scripts are raw and real and he creates fantastic and interesting characters that resonate with society today,” he says.

Broken will be produced for BBC One by Colin McKeown and Donna Molloy for LA Productions. McKeown described it as “a state-of-the-nation piece in Liverpool”. The executive Producer will be Lucy Richer, Acting Controller of BBC Drama. “Jimmy McGovern is a masterful storyteller whose characters truly strike a chord,” she says, “and I am thrilled that the brilliant Sean Bean is taking on the lead role in his fantastic new series for BBC One."