Concluding their rewatch of S1 of Miss Scarlet & The Duke, SanditonSisterhood hosted a Twitter Q&A with the show’s creator, head writer and show runner Rachael New. We’ve collected all questions and answers for those not on Twitter and to prevent them from getting lost.
@Scarleteers: 30°C in Belgrade today 🥵 How are you keeping cool? 🧊 Free ice-cream for the actors? 🍦 😋
Yes it’s hot here. Very hot. But unlike our brave cast who will be wearing 19th century costumes in the heat, I get to wear shorts and sandals. And yes ice cream most definitely helps. Pistachio and Choc Chip does the trick.
@AndrewGowerF4ns: Can you tease a little about our dear Rupert’s storyline in S2? 🙏🙏🙏 Just 3 words? We cannot wait to see more of @TheAndrewGower as Eliza’s best friend!
Hi Isabel. We love Rupert but the talented Andrew Gower is in great demand and sadly we just couldn’t get his and our schedules to work. But we have some amazing new characters and cast. It’s going to be a cracking season so watch this space! (sorry that was more than 3 words!)
@outlanderfan_nl: Can you share a bts sneak peek from S2 since you are now filming S2?
I would love to and I certainly will once we’re up and running. In fact myself and our uber talented director @moviegoblin will be regularly sharing lots of lovely bts pics and tweets and on Instagram too so please feel free to follow me over there on @rachjnew19
@LynnyBright: Is there a scene you wrote that turned out better then you imagined on screen?
Hello Lynny. There are so many. The one that comes to mind is when Duke is teaching Eliza how to boil an egg in the finale of Season 1. Who knew boiling an egg could be that seductive!
There are so many ways, but if someone asks me advice on how to become a writer my number one tip would be practice your craft. The more you write, the better you get and that’s when you write a spec script and secure an agent. So write, write, write!
@finestseaside: Are any of the cases inspired by true stories? Thanks so much for taking the time to answer our questions.
Myself and my writing partner Ben Edwards do a lot of research when we are plotting out the stories. The actual cases are all made up but the historical context that acts as a backdrop is generally true to the period.
@megan_koerber: Hi Rachael! Do you keep up with fan theories, fanfiction or any of the headcanon #Scarleteers come up with? If so, any hints as to what fans may have gotten right in regards to future seasons?
Hi Megan, I’m a bit of a technophobe. You’re more likely find me with my head in a book than on internet. But through my teenage children I’m very aware of the online love there is for the show & the idea that anyone takes time to write fanfiction about it is lovely!
Great question. In one word, yes. You always have the future of your characters in your mind. I love thinking about what’s in store for Eliza, Duke, Moses, Ivy and the rest. I can’t wait to share it with you all when you finally get to watch season 2
@VicsTiara: Will S2 pick up right where we left off in S1 or will there be a time jump? Thanks!!!
There’s a time jump of a couple of months.
@madame_mim: I honestly don’t really have a question. I enjoyed your series very much and am happy that it will continue. Well, maybe one question: Is there a possibility that there will be more after Season 2?
That’s lovely to hear. Yes there will be more.
@LynnyBright: Has it been good to have so much time to write season 2 or have you been as desperate to film it as we are to watch it?
It’s been wonderful for Ben & I to have the space to actually write all the scripts before shooting. That doesn’t happen often. Covid did delay things somewhat and that was a little frustrating. I’m not the most patient of people, a flaw that I channel into my heroine
I do. Eliza is a woman who wants financial independence, to pay her own bills and make her own decisions. Unfortunately it’s the 19th century and a male dominated society, so she has to work out the most productive way to operate within the limits of the time. But I think these constraints only make her an even smarter operator.
@VicsTiara: My carpe diem question: Any chance Eliza & William will kiss in S2?
Haha! I thought this question might pop up. You’ll just have to wait and see…
@katesanditon: What is your favorite scene in season 1? Thank you so much for joining us
I think it has to be in ep 4 when Duke exits the city mortuary and wants to get rid of Eliza for fear that the journalist inside will be more interested in her than him. It makes me laugh every time. Kate Phillips & @stueymartin86 are such a joy to watch & work with.
@FinestSeaside: In contrast to Jane Austen’s “inside job” approach to commenting on English society, you’ve put together quite the band of outliers across various dimensions. What motivated you to include such a range of characters?
A truly watchable character is one you can relate to. You don’t have to like them but if you can understand their choices and identify with them, you often find yourself cheering them on. I think most of us at some point in life have felt like an outsider, I certainly have, and relating to these characters is what’s made the show so successful.
@sararipple: I am fascinated by Moses. His character is so dark and mysterious, but deep down has a good heart. Was he always supposed to be a mysterious character throughout his storyline? It seems like Eliza sees through Moses tough dark walls. Talk about their character arcs.
I love writing the character of Moses and Ansu Kabia who plays him is such a lovely, talented man. When I was a girl I would watch all the old spaghetti westerns with my dad and brothers, my favourite was “The Outlaw Josey Wales”. So I very much had that type of character in mind when I created Moses. He’s got some cracking storylines in Season 2!
@FinestSeaside: The “hallucinated” conversations between Eliza and Mr. Scarlet are both touching & amusing. (How) do they link to her mourning and will they continue in S.2?
In season 1 Eliza wasn’t ready to say goodbye to her father. His death was unexpected and sudden, so she is hit with the full force of grief. Talking to him helped her work through that grief and once she solved the case of who killed him she found closure. So Henry Scarlet finally rests in peace and in creative terms his story came to end, so he won’t be appearing in Season 2.
@megan_koerber: Both Stuart and Kate are PERFECT in their roles and I think I remember you saying they were your first choices. What made you want to choose each of them?
They are both warm, funny, incredibly talented people and they bring that sparkle to the screen. Myself, Ben and the team of execs were always determined to have a happy show with a real team ethos. Kate and Stuart are hugely collaborative so they fitted right in.
@izzie907: On a scale from 10 to 10, how awesome is Mr Moses / Ansu Kabia? 😁
@NunyaB127: The breakout star for S1 had to be the Duke’s glorious beard. Did you have that look planned outfrom the beginning? Also, do you need a beard wrangler for S2? Thanks!
A “beard wrangler”? What a genius idea! Yes I had a very clear picture of what I wanted Duke to look like. Stuart would send me photos of how the beard was coming on. I banned all razors from his house.
@tammyr72: The lighting in the series is quite dark til we get to episode 6 then it becomes lighter brighter, is this because Eliza and William start to trust one another? Thank you for joining us, excited for season 2 of Miss Scarlet and The Duke 🥰
Yes, they have been on a journey together. That little bit of lightness is the balance they finally found. But that’s not to say there won’t still be plenty of that lovely bickering banter to come. Duke is a 19th century man. He will never agree with a woman having a job as a private detective and that discord between them is what makes the show sizzle and fizz.
@sheppardster: In an interview you mentioned that you knew you wanted Kate & Stuart for Eliza & William from the start. I’d love to know which pivotal role you saw each of them in that made them stand out to you?
Kate it was ”The Crown” and Stuart “Babylon”. They are the type of actors that you instantly engage with. They’ve just got that special something.
@scarleteers: From #Scarleteer Trina: Ha, just thought of a question for #askRachael. What threat did Eliza use with Mr. Potts in Cell 99 that he refused to repeat to William? I’d love to know…
Hi Trina, great question. The answer is it was so unspeakable that it cannot be repeated!
That was fun! I hope you love season 2 as much as we did writing and making it. I will keep you posted on all the comings and goings on the Scarlet set. Until then thank you for having me!
ETA (9 August 2021):
In a follow up question, Rachael New confirmed that neither Andrew Gower nor Matthew Malone (who plays PC Clarence Honeychurch) will be returning to the show “in the foreseeable future”.
We are filming in Serbia in August because Ireland schedules didn’t work out. We’re super excited. Belgrade is beautiful and the crews are fabulous. Can’t wait to get cracking!
(Quote: Rachael New)
Regarding to release date, there can be only speculation at this point. Season 1 of the Victorian mystery show began filming in early July 2019 and wrapped 2 months later in early September. The episodes premiered on Alibi channel (UK) on 31 March 2020. If Season 2 follows a similar path, we might be looking at a release date in April or May 2022. With PBS now helming productions, it is possible that the episodes will be shown on the American network first, or at least simultaneously to the UK and other countries.
The good news for Andrew Gower fans is that 4 months should be enough time to wrap filming on Carnival Row‘s Season 2.2. Czech production service company Stillking Films currently seems to be preparing for a Covid-safe return to the set of the Victorian noir series. The first half of Carnival Row Season 2 is scheduled to be released on Amazon Prime later this year and the second half can probably be expected in 2022.
There is a lot of Ezra Spurnrose and Rupert Parker to look forward to in the next 1 1/2 years!
She also mentioned what might be in store for Rupert, the character played by Andrew Gower:
I would have lots of things in store for Rupert and how he’d navigate his domineering mother, and try and have some semblance of a happy life. It would be really difficult for him because she’s a very difficult woman. I love Mrs. Parker. We would have more of her in Season 2 as well.
We’re looking forward to seeing more of Rupert Parker and his mother (played by Helen Norton) and fully support the petition for season 2 of Miss Scarlet & The Duke.
Scottish actor Stuart Martin, who plays William “The Duke” Wellington on period crime drama Miss Scarlet & The Duke spoke to Paste Magazine about the benefits of weekly episodes, Eliza’s partnership and more.
Fans will have the unique opportunity to join the Zoom meeting and ask their questions live themselves. Message the Scarleteers page on Facebook or contact us to be included in the Q&A and receive your invitation. If you prefer, you can also just send in a question and the host will ask it for you. Scarleteers are asking you to send in your questions by Monday, 7 December 2020 in order to allow them to organize them and send out the invitations.
The event will be free to view on YouTube. The link will be shared about 15-30mins prior to the live stream on the Scarleteers Twitter account and on Facebook. We will share it as soon as possible on our our Social Media outlets on Twitter, Facebook and in this post.
We are sure you can sneak in a question about Andrew Gower and his character Rupert Parker if you like!
What do you like best about Eliza Scarlet? She’s a quick thinker and a clever mind. I love her wit and her tenacity. She’s a very fun character to play.
What do you think annoys the Duke the most about Eliza? She doesn’t know when to give up and it often ends with the two on them at logger heads. She doesn’t pull her punches with him, which clearly winds him up but somehow they always manage to come together in the end.
Who was your favourite character in season 1? Rachael has created an amazing ensemble of really witty and heart felt characters and Eliza is different with everyone – each bringing out a different side of her. I particularly love her relationship with Ivy. She takes on the role of a mother figure for Eliza and between them they share a lovely balance of bickery but also tender moments.
What was your favourite scene in season 1? There are way too many to choose from but I have the best memories of filming one particular scene in episode 5. It was our last day of the shoot and Stuart and I were having to perform a scene through a small hole in a prison door. It was a very fun and fast paced scene to play as, whilst starting off quite sweetly, as ever it escalates quickly into a full blown row.
Is there something you would like to see your character do in season 2? 🤞 Action sequences. My favourite moments are when Eliza is bounding around, hair a mess, spouting some sort of pithy, cutting remark – most likely in The Duke’s direction.
What do you like best about Henry Scarlet? He loves and admires his daughter.
What do you think annoys Eliza the most about her father? He’s usually right about things.
Who was your favourite character in season 1? Eliza.
What was your favourite scene in season 1? No favourite. They were all wonderful to do.
Is there something you would like to see your character do in season 2? 🤞 Come back to life!
Lola Sattar is a young aspiring actress who is best known for playing young Eliza on Miss Scarlet and The Duke. She has also appeared in the British-German fantasy children’s television series The Worst Witch and most recently, played a guest role on The Dumping Ground, a British children’s drama series about young people living in care homes.
What do you like best about Eliza Scarlet? I like her fiery nature, sharp mind and determination as well as her compassion for those in need.
What do you think annoys her father the most about Eliza? I think the fact that Eliza is so strong minded can annoy her father as it would have been unusual at the time for a young woman to act in such a way and I think he fears what the rest of the world will take of it, especially in her future – he wants what he thinks is best for his daughter.
Who was your favourite character in season 1? Moses.
What was your favourite scene in season 1? I love the scene where Eliza begins to teach Ivy to read & write – I found it really moving.
Is there something you would like to see your character do in season 2? 🤞 I’d like to see Eliza solve more cases and build up her reputation for being a great detective.
What do you like best about Ivy? What I like best about Ivy is her honesty and loyalty! She always speaks her mind and she is absolutely loyal to Miss Scarlet. Even when Miss Scarlet runs into finance trouble and can’t pay Ivy, Ivy stays and remains loyal and continues to run the house. Her honesty is a joy to play. She always speaks her mind even when it’s not what Miss Scarlet wants to hear. This relationship is everything to Ivy. Miss Scarlet is the daughter, sister, best friend she never had.
What do you think annoys Eliza the most about Ivy? What annoys Miss Scarlet most about Ivy is her conservative and old ways: Ivy doesn’t believe in women’s rights. A woman’s place is in the home. But watch this space… Miss Scarlet is working her beautiful ways on her. She teaches her to write and educated her on women’s rights. I love this journey Ivy is on.
Who was your favourite character in season 1? It has to be my lovely Eliza! Kate Phillip’s portrayal of Miss Scarlet is wonderful. She has an ability to bring great masses of emotion and gear changes with the lightest of touch. It’s beautiful to watch Eliza grown through series one.
What was your favourite scene in season 1? My favorite scene to play was in ep 4 where Eliza teaches Ivy to write. Two women from opposite poles supporting each other and making their way in the world.
Is there something you would like to see your character do in season 2? 🤞 I’d love to see Ivy continue to grow with Eliza. Perhaps help Eliza in her private dectective business. What I am most confident about is that in the hands of our gifted creator and writer Rachael New, Ivy is in very safe hands.
What do you like best about Mr Potts? Pompous characters are always fun to play as they have further to fall when it all goes wrong. Mr Potts is a perfect example of that. He is a stickler for rules which are invariably broken by either Miss Scarlet or The Duke.
What do you think annoys Eliza the most about Mr Potts? See above. Also he secretly knows that she is way more intelligent than him.
Who was your favourite character in S1? What a difficult question! I’m going to sit on the fence and say all of them. Is that allowed?
What was your favourite scene in S1? Really too many scenes to choose from but the first scene in the first episode with the glass eyed moll is a fantastic opening.
Is there something you would like to see your character do in season 2? 🤞 Win the lottery. Failing that, managing to get one over on Miss Scarlet…
Dublin born and based actress Helen Norton has an impressive resumee in theatre where she hasn’t only acted but also written and directed short plays for children, and toured with her two-hander play To Hell in a Handbag (co-written with Jonathan White) across the UK and Ireland to sell-out performaces. Her television and film credits include Angela’s Ashes, Ella Enchanted and The Borgias.
What do you like best about Mrs Parker? I love that Mrs Parker pulls no punches, speaks her mind and will do whatever she thinks is best to protect her own.
What do you think annoys Rupert the most about his mother? Probably the fact that she treats him more like a child than an adult and never seems to listen to his opinions or believes he could, in fact, have any opinions of his own.
Who was your favourite character in season 1? That’s a difficult question, there were so many great characters! I loved the hapless policeman Honeychurch and also Ivy and Moses.
What was your favourite scene in season 1? My favourite scene was in Episode 1 when Mrs Parker and Rupert are visiting Scarlet and the artificial eyeball rolls into view!
Is there something you would like to see your character do in season 2? 🤞If I’m lucky enough to return in Season 2, I’d be delighted with whatever Rachael decides Mrs Parker should get up to!
What do you like best about PC Honeychurch? I think my favourite thing about him is how green he is. Honeychurch is wonderfully out of his depth starting out as a policeman, learning through his mistakes, and it’s fun to play that comedy as he struggles to keep up with Eliza and Duke.
What do you think annoys William and Eliza the most about PC Honeychurch? Probably his inexperience and his cheek. He always seems to say the wrong thing and finds it hard to see Eliza as an authority – but she shows him what’s what.
Who was your favourite character in S1? I have a real fondness for Mrs. Parker (Helen Norton). She’s straight out of Oscar Wilde and is scary and hilarious in equal measure.
What was your favourite scene in S1? There’s a scene at the end of episode 3 when Eliza starts to teach Ivy (Cathy Belton) how to read and write. There’s something really powerful about that passing on of knowledge to someone who’s cared for her for so many years, and it ties up that episode’s story really well.
Is there something you would like to see your character do in season 2?🤞 I’d love to see Honeychurch do something right (for once!) and impress the Duke. I can imagine how surprised and chuffed he’d be at helping to solve a case.
What do you like best about DS Frank Jenkins? Frank is a thinker and everyone around him underestimates him.
What do you think annoys the Duke the most about Frank? I think the Duke dislikes Frank’s dress sense and his slopey ways.
Who was your favourite character in season 1? That’s a hard one. I loved everyone. If I was pushed I would say my favourite character has to be Rupert Parker. He is so diametrically opposite to Frank – and Andrew just made him fascinating and funny.
What was your favourite scene in season 1? I have two scenes actually. One is when young Eliza has a conversation with her father over the kitchen table and then the mirror scene to that; when adult Eliza is sat at the same table having a conversation with her father.
Is there something you would like to see your character do in season 2? 🤞 For season two I would love to dress like the Duke, Stuart Martin looked fantastic.
What do you like best about The Duke? He’s a proper old school bloke, isn’t he, from a bygone era. And Rachael doesn’t shy away from that in how she’s written him. Warts and all. He doesn’t always get it right, he doesn’t always say it in the right way or apologise quick enough when he’s got it wrong. But he does apologise, in his own way. Says what he thinks, let’s his temper and emotions flare unmoderated and unapologetically. He goes from zero to ten in a heartbeat and back to three again just as fast. That is the best and most rewarding thing to be given and to be able to play as an actor. To be able to follow those thoughts and emotions and not second guess them or dampen them before they’ve even reached the surface. To be able to have an argument and not be apologising while you’re having the argument. I’ve got a real soft spot for Duke. Hardened because of his experiences in a tough world, but caring and loving and open to change and what’s right.
What do you think annoys Eliza the most about The Duke? All of the above. He’s very much a man of his time and Eliza is ahead of her time. So their ways of thinking don’t always aline, which gives a lot of the lovely drama and comedy. They both infuriate each other because they both have such different ways of seeing the world and cases. He’s getting there. He may not be the most forward thinking by today’s standards, but I think he’s learning and trying to do what’s right and Eliza knows this and respects him for this. She just knows it may be a slightly longer journey getting him to see her way of thinking and what’s right often. But it goes both ways. It’s a brilliantly complex relationship that Rachael has crafted with a whole load of affection and love and history thrown in, that makes the characters such a joy to play and delve into.
Who was your favourite character in season 1? They are all so brilliantly crafted, on and off the page. They all have their own distinct lives and journeys, flaws and struggles. A testament to Rachael’s writing and how she’s created these characters. They all have such great moments and lives and struggles we all care about. And they will continue to grow and shine in season two.
What was your favourite scene in season 1? So many, but I loved filming episode 5 in the prison. We all did. We filmed it all near the end of the shoot in an ancient prison in Wicklow, Wicklow Gaol. It has such an amazing history of its time used in the Irish War of Independence and Civil War and before. There are so many scenes in that ep that I loved as Eliza and Duke’s relationship and working relationship has matured. The stakes are so high and tensions and emotions are so high that we really see who they are. Unfiltered. The scene between them when Duke finally finds Eliza locked in the cell, for me, sums up their whole relationship and what the shows about. Their battles and tiffs, how they wind each other up and the comedy that comes with it and is such a beautiful part of the show, their losses and fears. They both allow themselves to be very honest and open in that scene through the locked cell door. I think it was maybe 6 pages and Dec would just run it as 8 minute long takes. It was great fun for me and Kate to play out under the watchful brilliant guidance of Dec.
Is there something you would like to see your character do in season 2? 🤞 It’s funny, normally you do have a feeling of the things you want to see your characters doing more of in the next season. Something you felt was missing that would show a different side of them or could be expanded. But not with this, the way Rachael mapped out the characters in season one, you don’t feel that, we got to show so many sides to them. And although there are many sides to these characters that we are yet to see, I’m as excited as you are to see where she takes them. What I do know is that the next journey that they go on will be up a level. We’re going to go deeper and further. With the introduction of new characters and dangers and challenges that will make their worlds all that harder and ultimately dramatic and funny and heartbreaking for these brilliant characters. It’s going to be BIG.
Inevitable bonus question: How was working with Andrew Gower?
Kate Phillips: Well, you know better than anyone what an amazing actor he is. Working with Andrew is heaven. He’s unbelievably talented and his comic timing is genius. There is one scene in episode 6 that I wasn’t sure we would ever be able to complete because we were both laughing so much.
Kevin Doyle: I didn’t get to work with Andrew but I did get to watch his work and I thought it was a wonderful, sensitive, intelligent and funny performance. I also thought he was a lovely human being.
Lola Sattar: Really good, he made me feel so welcome on set!
Cathy Belton: Working with Andrew Gower was a joy! He is a gifted actor. Hardworking but such fun. We laughed a lot. It was hard to keep a straight face in scenes with Andrew. His comic timing is extraordinary.
Simon Ludders: Unfortunately I didn’t get to work with Andrew as we were never in any scenes together. However, I’ve battled against him in a few Zoom quizzes over lockdown and it hurts me to say that he’s rather clever. Ish. Kind of.
Helen Norton: Andrew was Gorgeous to work with, it’s difficult to launch into a Mother/Son relationship when you don’t know the other actor well but we had some interesting character chats and playing our scenes was great fun!
Matthew Malone: I never crossed over with Andrew on set, but I really enjoyed his performance as Rupert. His comic timing brings so much to his scenes.
Danny Midwinter: Andrew Gower is the next John Hurt.
Stuart Martin: Just brilliant. He’s one of my favourite people. Lovely and funny and brilliant and generous on and off screen. Nothing better than finding a wee old pub in a wee town in Ireland to have a few pints of Guinness after a long day shooting, and no better person to have there with you, both talking rubbish, than Andrew.
Scottish actor Stuart Martin spoke to The Scotsman about life in lockdown and period crime drama Miss Scarlet & The Duke, starring Kate Phillips as Victorian London’s first female detective Eliza Scarlet and Andrew Gower as her friend and financier Rupert Parker.
Michael Pickard (editor of Drama Quarterly) visited the set of Miss Scarlet and The Duke in Dublin last year and spoke to the cast and crew of the new Victorian crime drama. His article contains a lot of interesting information about the development of the show and the characters from show creator Rachael New with additional quotes from director Declan O’Dwyer as well as the cast.
If you want to remain completely spoiler free, we advise you to stop reading now.
Rachael New on Rupert Parker:
[…] to operate beyond her limits in 1880s London, [Eliza] leans on three male characters for support. […] Rupert Parker is a rich, privileged man who proposes to Eliza. To his relief, however, she turns him down because he doesn’t want to be married, only proposing under the pressure of his domineering mother Mrs Parker. “The reason why he doesn’t want to get married – as he reveals to Eliza – is he is secretly gay, something that in this period of time would destroy your life and your reputation. They bond over this and he invests in her agency,” New says.
Andrew Gower plays Miss Scarlet’s best friend Rupert Parker, a mild mannered and slightly nervous young man who invests in Eliza’s agency and is one of her few supporters.
Rachael New and Declan O’Dwyer
Kate Phillips and Stuart Martin
ETA (31 March 2020):
In this episode of A Stab In The Dark, Mark Billingham talks to Kate Phillips and Rachael New. Kate and Rachael discuss with Mark the enduring appeal of the Victorian era when it comes to crime fiction and drama and explain why Eliza Scarlet is the female Sherlock Holmes.
We had the great pleasure of speaking to the wonderfully talented Rachael New, creator of the upcoming drama Miss Scarlet and The Duke. We talked about her work on the 6 part series, the challenges of writing in a period setting and her plans for the future.
The British screenwriter’s impressive CV consists of a wide variety of drama and comedy series, both in contemporary and historical settings. In 2009 she wrote and co-created comedy drama series Monday Monday (starring Tom Ellis and Miranda Hart) for British channel ITV. She’s well-known for her work on The Mallorca Files (BBC), which also features a male and female detective clashing on how to investigate, and period drama Grantchester (ITV). Miss Scarlet and The Duke is the first time she serves as creator, writer and show runner.
What are you most excited about for fans to discover about Miss Scarlet and The Duke?
There is so much I’m looking forward. The characters have been so much fun to write. My protagonist Eliza Scarlet is a force of nature – an ambitious, independent woman living at a time where women had little or no rights. This creates lots of lovely conflict which you need to create a cracking story. I also think the tone of the series is quite a fresh take on the period genre. It’s a drama but punctuated with lots of comedy. I think this is something that will feel quite new and exciting to watch.
There’s no release date yet but can you maybe roughly hint at when we can expect to see it?
Great news, especially for everyone this side of the pond. Thank you!
How much research went into your work on Miss Scarlet and The Duke?
A lot. I wanted the world to feel as authentic as possible so that Eliza’s struggle could cut through. It wasn’t a chore. I love history, and curling up on my sofa with a pile of books, cup of tea (or g&t) usually with a blanket or a cat on my lap, is my idea of heaven.
That sounds really heavenly indeed! Is Miss Scarlet based on historic events? Was there a real “Miss Scarlet“?
The character of Eliza Scarlet is fiction – there were no female detectives in 19th century London – however the world she inhabits is very much an authentic one. I felt it was important to research as much as possible. The 19th century was very much a male dominated society and at its core the premise of Miss Scarlet and The Duke is a woman in a man’s world trying to stay in the game.
What was your inspiration for Miss Scarlet, as a character and as a series?
We have a female Doctor Who so I wanted to write a female Sherlock Holmes, but unlike Holmes Eliza Scarlet is more human and less super hero. And where Holmes would be celebrated for his brilliance, Eliza has to work a hell of a lot harder for any kind of respect or recognition.
Haha! There is a lot of me in Eliza – her determination, her impatience, her lack of culinary skills – I’d rather be digging in the garden covered in mud than in the kitchen baking. But Kate Phillips (who plays Eliza) has brought so much to the role that now I’m writing season 2 I just think of her. She is sensational.
Can you share anything about the casting process? What were you looking for in the actors portraying Eliza, the Duke, and Rupert?
I was looking for that spark, a connection that the actor has with the script. As soon as I met with Kate (Eliza), Stuart (Duke), Andrew (Rupert), Ansu (Moses) and Cathy (Ivy) I knew immediately that’s who I wanted. Each are very special actors. They’ve brought magic to the screen and I feel extremely lucky to have them on the show.
Standard and inevitable question: how was working with Andrew Gower?
Andrew’s funny, smart, intuitive and just a lovely person to hang out with. Rupert Parker is a complex character and Andrew did a beautiful job of playing those nuances with such subtlety. He manages to make you laugh as well as move you all at the same time. He’s a class act.
We couldn’t agree more!
How old were you when you started writing? Has writing always been a passion for you?
I always loved writing as a kid and a teen but never really thought about making a living out of it. It was later when I had my first baby (who is now almost 18!) that a stranger actually paid me for a piece of writing. I haven’t stopped since.
Do you enjoy writing historical stories or contemporary ones? And why? What are some pros and cons of each genre?
I’m a period drama junkie so that is my preference both to watch as a viewer and to write. There are many cons of writing period – it’s costly and it’s tricky when out on location to cover up the signs of our modern age – satellite dishes, telephone lines, street lights… but it’s worth the hassle. I love diving into a world that isn’t recognisable as my own. To me that’s true escapism and what storytelling is all about.
Miss Scarlet and The Duke was the first time producing your own show. How did that feel?
It was exhausting, stressful, relentless… and I loved every minute of it. Working with director Declan O’Dywer was a real career high for me. I’ve found a friend for life as well as a trusted colleague who I’ll definitely be working with on other projects. I don’t want to big him up too much or he’ll get a big head and it’s already pretty big – that and the fact that someone else might snap him up if they realise just how good he is.
Show Running Miss Scarlet has been incredible but I had an awesome team behind me. Ben Edwards who over the years has often been my writing partner on other shows (and who rather conveniently also happens to be my husband) wrote a couple of the episodes and helped me break the stories. Then there’s my formidable exec producer team headed up by Patty Ishimoto at Element 8. It was a massive team effort.
What’s your next project? Anything you can share?
I’ve got a Tudor thriller that’s an itch I’m going to scratch at some point, but at the moment it’s all Miss Scarlet. I’m in the middle of writing the first two episodes of season 2.
Thank you so very much, Ms New, for taking the time to answer our questions. We are even more excited to see Miss Scarlet and The Duke now and are loving the idea of a second season!
A) I’ve just wrapped on a project called “Miss Scarlet and the Duke.” A new TV series by A and E that will air on PBS in the new year. It’s a detective show set in Victorian London that follows a young woman, Eliza Scarlet, trying to establish herself as a respected female detective. It’s wonderfully punchy and witty. I can’t wait for people to see it.
What can fans expect from Miss Scarlet and the Duke? How would you describe the overall tone of the series?
Miss Scarlet and the Duke is the story of the first female detective in Victorian London. Conjured from the mind of Rachael New. The show doesn’t take itself too seriously – but it does expose the prejudices society put on women in the Victorian era and draws many parallels to society today. But, all that said – it is a fun show – with the relationship between Miss Scarlet, and the Duke at its core.
In a comment I read someone saying Miss Scarlet sounds like “Remington Steele in Victorian times”. Would you say this is an appropriate comparison?
Ha! I’d not heard that one. If comparisons have to be drawn (they always will) I would say it’s more like a Victorian Moonlighting. But hey, I loved Remington Steele – and it’s another good reference.
Can you tell us a little about Rupert Parker, the character Andrew Gower is playing? Who is he? And I must add that the moustache is fabulous!
At the moment, I can tell you very little about Rupert Parker I’m afraid. I will say only this, he is a man ‘out of time’ with Victorian London.
Inevitable question: how was working with Andrew Gower?
What’s it like to work with Mr Gower? Well, first and foremost he’s a beautiful human being – so it was always a joy having him on set. He’s a proper laugh to have around – always brought amazing energy. He’s a grafter as well, the consummate, consummate professional. I’d jump through fire to work with him again, any day of the week, twice on Sunday.
Do you have a story about filming that you can share? Something that was especially challenging, something funny that happened, or a favourite set?
Too many to mention. And probably many I can’t, or shouldn’t – in a good way. The schedule was extremely challenging. We shot all six episodes in 51 days. We often had to shoot up to 7 pages a day. That’s very tough on a crew (especially shooting a period piece) but it is especially tough on the actors (imagine memorising 7 pages of dialogue – day in day out). Kate Phillips lead from the front. She was amazing. Always on it. Never complained. (and she’s brilliant in it).
I have to say, despite the schedule pressures (we shot the show in Dublin, doubling for Victorian London) the crew were magnificent and the set was an absolute giggle.
On Miss Scarlet you basically worked with two leading ladies: show creator Rachael New and Kate Phillips, who plays Miss Scarlet.
Haha. Yes! They are one in the same. Miss Scarlet is the very thinly veiled alter ego of Rachael New. It wouldn’t surprise me if Rachael is wearing Miss Scarlet’s costume right now as she writes series two.
Rachael is the creator/Showrunner (she’s in charge basically) and has built this fantastic world for us to play in. Kate brings Eliza Scarlet to life (as Stuart does with The Duke). And they are a really great fun to watch. Their chemistry and relationship is magic. They got on like a house on fire also, so that helps.
But yes – two leading ladies. I consider that an honour.
How do you feel about women taking over and being more and more in control in film business?
I’ve never known it any different to be honest, Isabel. Throughout my career I’ve always worked alongside and for amazing female writers, producers and executives. The change I can see, and it’s a very positive one, is more stories come from the female gaze. And that can only be a good thing.
You’re a director, a writer and a producer. Do you have a preference?
Directing. Hands down. I hate writing. I only ever started writing – because I wasn’t getting offered the kind of scripts I wanted to make. Rather than moan about it – I wrote stuff. I was very fortunate, people liked it. It opened doors in Hollyweird. (Not a typo).
Have you always wanted to be a director?
No, I aways wanted to be a movie star. Not an actor – a movie star. But I can’t act for toffee. Best for everyone that I stay behind the camera – and aim it at people like Andrew Gower.
Is it true that you always wear a tuxedo on the first day of filming?
Yes – the tuxedo thing on the first day is true. Be it in jungle or desert, rain or snow. It harks back to my very first directing gig. It was an in-joke with the crew, about being out at an awards ceremony the night before – and going straight to work.