Makers of Breaking Bad and Mad Men film new TV drama in York

Revving up for Shambles… actor Tom Hollander
17 Jun 2014 @ 8.27 pm
| News
Revving up for Shambles… actor Tom Hollander
Revving up for Shambles… actor Tom Hollander

The US production company behind smash hits Mad Men, Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead is shooting a new TV drama in York this week.

Knifeman, starring Tom Hollander, best known for hit BBC sitcom Rev, rolls into town on Thursday, June 19.

Scenes for the drama will be shot on Shambles and Chapter House Street, which will double up for late 18th century London.

Knifeman is inspired by Wendy Moore’s biography of John Hunter, The Knife Man: Blood, Body Snatching And The Birth Of Modern Surgery.

It tells the story of John Tattersal, a charming, arrogant genius who challenges society’s norms to turn his visions into cutting-edge medical discoveries.

He makes a living running an unlicensed operating theatre at his home. But Tattersal has a macabre sideline – harvesting human organs for his brother Julian, the prized doctor from St Stephen’s teaching hospital.

York on screen again

Shambles will be closed between 6pm and 9pm on Thursday, June 19 to facilitate the filming.

Production vehicles will park on King’s Square from 5.30pm, with the permission of the city council.

“York is fast becoming the go-to location for high quality period dramas such as this and it’s only possible with the support and understanding of those residents and businesses that reside in the city,” said Matt Bowden, location manager for Knifeman.

Matt is from York and was instrumental in bringing the BBC’s big Christmas drama, Death Comes To Pemberley to the city.

Talented team

Co-star: Daniel Mays
Co-star: Daniel Mays

In Knifeman, Tom Hollander plays the charismatic quack Tattersal. Daniel Mays, whose movie credits include The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret Of The Unicorn, The Bank Job and Atonement, is the prim and proper Julian.

Joanna Page, who became the nation’s sweetheart playing Stacey in the popular BBC romcom Gavin & Stacey, also stars.

For those who only know Tom Hollander as parish priest Adam Smallbone in Rev, this show looks like a departure for the actor.

But he has played many darker roles, including the ruthless Lord Cutler Beckett in the Pirates Of The Caribbean films, and the troubled poet Dylan Thomas in BBC One’s A Poet In New York.

By the same makers: Breaking Bad
By the same makers: Breaking Bad

Knifeman is made by US TV hit-makers AMC, the award-winning company behind addictive dramas like Breaking Bad, about a teacher turned drug dealer, Mad Men, the story of an 1960s advertising agency and The Walking Dead, a post-apocalyptic zombie horror.

The director is Brian Percival, who directed 2013 movie The Book Thief as well as episodes of Downton Abbey. It is written by Rolin Jones, best known for another US TV drama, Friday Night Lights.

Matt told YorkMix that Knifeman has it’s dark side too, particularly the lead character.

“He’s very keen to be a surgeon so he acquires bodies post mortem for surgical experiments in his house. It’s quite dark and quite grungy,” he said.

Mostly filmed in London, this is a pilot show but he hopes that it gets made into a series – which might mean the cameras returning to our city.

“I was born and bred in York so it’s great to see these streets used in something like this,” he said.