A look ahead to The Mill series 2
Members of The Mill cast take a break from filming at Quarry Bank Mill
Following the success of the first series in 2013, the new six-part second series will cover the period between 1838-1842 focusing on the lives of the mill workers against a background of significant social and political changes following the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834 which made a distinction between ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ poor. This is a time of the great Chartist rallies and the birth of modern democracy with the movement for the right for working class people to vote sweeping across the country.
The drama is inspired by documents from Quarry Bank’s extensive archive describing the lives of the workers and apprentices who worked for the mill’s founder, Samuel Greg, and his family during the 19th century. ‘The Mill’ is driven by a young, spirited cast who find filming on location at Quarry Bank particularly moving: “Filming scenes in the rooms in which the events actually took place is the strangest feeling,” says Kerrie Hayes (Nowhere Boy, Kicks, Black Mirror), who plays the lead role of feisty Liverpudlian apprentice Esther Price, “We get a real sense of the history.”
Other members of the cast are enjoying the simplicity of the costumes and unanticipated benefits of not wearing make-up. “It was really freeing to experience a disregard for vanity as it can put such a pressure on women in modern life.” says Sacha Parkinson (Coronation Street, My Mad Fat Diary, Shameless), who plays young apprentice Miriam Catterall. Other returning characters from the first series include progressive young engineer Daniel Bate, played by Matthew McNulty (See No Evil: The Moors Murders, The Paradise, Misfits) with his new wife, Miriam’s sister Susannah Bate, played by Holly Lucas (Holby City, Where the Heart Is, Bronson).
Slight continuity problem encountered during filming of The Mill series 2
Series 2 will also introduce new characters, including John Howlett, his wife Rebecca and their children, economic migrants in search of work in the booming North. These key roles are portrayed by Mark Frost (Doctors, Jonathan Creek, Casualty) and Laura Main (Call The Midwife, Monarch of the Glen, The Forsyte Saga). There are new tensions with the arrival of Will Whittaker, played by TV newcomer Mark Strepan, a handsome apprentice shoemaker who catches Esther Price’s eye. And newcomer Sope Dirisu also joins the cast as Peter Gardener, a black apprentice whom Hannah Greg has brought back from the Greg Plantation in Dominica to work at The Mill.
John Fay (Coronation Street, Brookside, Torchwood), who wrote the popular first series and currently leads the writing team working on the second series, also joined the actors.
“We are delighted to be involved again with this project. Inspired by the achieve at Quarry Bank Mill, last year's drama series generated increased visitor numbers and stimulated huge interest in Quarry Bank and its history. The series led to some fascinating conversations with our visitors about the lives of the mill owners and mill workers who lived here. We look forward to series 2, and further interest in this extraordinary place, and the stories we tell here.” Eleanor Underhill, General Manager, Quarry Bank Mill.