Archie release date and first look at new ITV drama

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ITV has revealed the release date and first look at its new drama Archie, telling the life of Hollywood’s greatest leading man, Cary Grant.

Written by award winning screenwriter, Jeff Pope, the four-part series will star Jason Isaacs in the leading role.

Jason Isaacs said: “There was only one Cary Grant and I’d never be foolish enough to try to step into his iconic shoes. Archie Leach, on the other hand, couldn’t be further from the character he invented to save himself.

JASON ISAACS as Cary Grant
JASON ISAACS as Cary Grant

“Jeff’s brilliant scripts bring to life his relentless struggle to escape the demons that plagued him, his obsessive need for control, his fears, his weaknesses, his loves and his losses. It’s the story of a man, not a legend, and those are shoes I can’t wait to walk in.”

Archie will be released on ITV’s new free streaming service ITVX on 23 November 2023. The series will air on ITV1 at a later date.

Also on the cast are Aikman (Bluestone 42, Gavin and Stacey) as Cary’s ex-wife Dyan Cannon with Harriet Walter (Succession, Ted Lasso, Killing Eve) as Elise Leach, Cary’s mother. Dainton Anderson (Patrick Melrose), Calam Lynch (Bridgerton) and Oaklee Prendergast (Home) will play young versions of Archie Leach and Kara Tointon (Mr Selfridge, The Halcyon, Sound of Music Live) will play young Elsie.

They’re joined by Henry Lloyd-Hughes (Ragdoll), Ian Pulston-Davies (DI Ray, Coronation Street), Ian McNeice (Doc Martin), Jason Watkins (McDonald & Dodds, Des), Lisa Faulkner (EastEnders) and Niamh Cusack (The Virtues).

JASON ISAACS as Cary Grant
JASON ISAACS as Cary Grant

A teaser of the series shares: “Born in Bristol, England in 1904, to parents Elsie and Elias, Archie narrates the story of a young Archibald Alexander Leach’s troubled childhood and how extreme poverty, his father’s adultery and the loss of his older brother, John, tore the family apart and sent his loving mother into a downward spiral of grief and depression.

“Jeff Pope’s scripts reveal how deceit, cruelty and one, overpowering lie shaped Archie’s life.

“At 14 he auditioned for the music hall act, the Bob Pender Troupe, a band of acrobats, stilt walkers, clown and comedians after seeing them perform at the Bristol Hippodrome. Lean and athletic, he learned the art of stilt walking, and when the troupe went on tour to the US, teenage Archie was intoxicated by the land of opportunity. Believing he had no family to return to in the UK, he decided to stay in the US to try to make his way in showbusiness.

“With no thoughts of acting, a chance meeting with the comedian George Burns helped him find his first footing on the acting ladder and a contract with a movie studio who felt he needed to change his name, and Cary Grant was born.”

The drama is being made with the blessing of Cary Grant’s daughter, Jennifer Grant, and ex-wife Dyan Cannon who were both interviewed extensively by writer Jeff Pope amongst many sources for the show.

JASON ISAACS as Cary Grant
JASON ISAACS as Cary Grant

Dyan Cannon said: “Cary Grant touched the world with his charm, his grace and enduring vivacity, but few knew Archie Leach, the man I was fortunate to know intimately and marry. I’m so grateful Jeff Pope has captured him so brilliantly on the page, and that Jason Isaacs will do the same on screen!”

Jennifer Grant added: “My father was an extremely private man, so naturally, when Jeff Pope approached me with the idea to write Dad’s life story, I was trepidatious at best. Jeff’s thoughtfully intelligent understanding of Dad’s boyhood won me over.

“My father’s formative years as Archie Leach in Bristol, England, and the extraordinary challenges he faced, lie at the heart of ‘Archie’. Cary Grant is emblematic of charm, wit and grace, but unknown to most are the enormous challenges he overcame to create himself.”

Jeff Pope commented: “As with many of my projects, I started at the end and worked backwards. I discovered that, at the height of his fame, Cary Grant retired to look after his young daughter. Intrigued, I started to dig into why he had become a single father. What had happened?

“My journey led me to Bristol, and a young boy called Archie Leach. Cary Grant became one of the most iconic figures of the twentieth century, beloved by presidents and paupers. The key to everything, lay in his childhood.”

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