Ruth: Lucy Boynton to star in ITV drama about Britain's last woman to hang

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ITV has announced a brand new drama exploring Britain’s last woman to hang.

Titled simply Ruth, it will star Lucy Boynton in the title role of Ruth Ellis, sentenced to death in 1955 after being convicted of murder.

A synopsis of the series shares: “Told over two parallel timelines, Ruth reveals secret truths about the case which have remained hidden for decades, poses tantalising questions about what really happened in the months before Ruth killed her lover David Blakely, and sheds light on the life of one of Britain’s most infamous murderesses.

“The drama depicts Ruth’s entry into a dizzying upper class London world that promises so much, but ultimately delivers treachery. We follow her glamorous lifestyle as a young nightclub manageress, her abusive relationship with the man she later gunned down in cold blood, her arrest, trial and the subsequent legal fight to reprieve her before she was hanged by infamous hangman, Albert Pierrepoint, in Holloway Prison, aged just 28.”

Also on the cast, Toby Jones (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Empire of Light) will play Ruth Ellis’s solicitor, John Bickford; Laurie Davidson (Mary and George, Guilty Party) takes on the role of Ruth’s abusive lover and victim, David Blakely; and Mark Stanley (Happy Valley, Dark River) plays Desmond Cussen, Ruth’s devoted admirer and sometime lover.

They’re joined by Joe Armstrong (Happy Valley, Gentleman Jack) as DCI Davies, Arthur Darvill (Broadchurch, Sandman) as divorce lawyer Victor Mishcon, Juliet Stevenson (Truly, Madly, Deeply, Wolf) as Dr Charity Taylor, Governess of Holloway Prison and Toby Stephens (Die Another Day, Black Sails) as Melford Stevenson QC.

Lucy Boynton said: “Ruth Ellis’ story is a fascinating one. Both she and this complex case have always evoked a strong reaction, and with Kelly’s insightful scripts I’m looking forward to bringing a new perspective to both familiar audiences as well as those who are unaware of her mark on British history.”

Ruth, is based on Carol Ann Lee’s acclaimed biography A Fine Day for Hanging: The Real Ruth Ellis Story, and has been adapted by Kelly Jones (The Long Call, Des, Baptiste) and will be produced by critically acclaimed producers, Silverprint Pictures, whose portfolio includes Shetland, Vera and Flesh and Blood.

ITV’s drama commissioner Huw Kennair Jones said: “There is so much more to the Ruth Ellis story than we think we know. Kelly’s scripts brilliantly explore not only how the emotional and physical abuse she suffered drove her to commit a terrible crime but also the desperate last-minute attempt to save her as she and her supporters battled an unforgiving Establishment.

“We’re thrilled to be working with Lucy Boynton and Silverprint Pictures to bring this compelling story to the ITV and ITVX audience.”

A release date is to be announced.

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