The final episode of the current series of Silk will be the last ever, RadioTimes.com can reveal.
The BBC1 legal drama starring Rupert Penry-Jones, Maxine Peake and Neil Stuke will end with series three this month because Peake, and the show's creator Peter Moffat, are keen to go out on a high.
Hinting that a shocking twist will come at the end of the final episode on Monday 31 March, Moffat confirmed the show’s demise in a statement to RadioTimes.com.
“It has been a complete joy to work with a group of actors as good as this and with a lead actress who I consider to be the best there is," said the writer.
“The main characters in Silk all have personal and professional stories which are coming to a natural conclusion at the end of this current series – it would be dishonest as a writer, and unfair to the integrity of the show and everyone involved in it, to prolong the series beyond what I hope is a powerful and compelling denouement."
Peake added: “I've had a fantastic three years playing Martha Costello. Peter Moffat has created a role I'm so proud to have played”.
The final storyline will unfold over two episodes, beginning on 24 March and concluding on 31 March. And it appears that Peake’s character, the feisty QC Martha, will be at the centre of things right up until the end.
According to the BBC “viewers will see Martha's growing personal disillusionment force her to question everything she stands for. Her instability takes her to a dangerous place, but will logic prevail?”
Peake and Moffat will be appearing on BBC Breakfast tomorrow [21 March] to talk about the final two episodes and explain their reasons for calling time on the show.
News that Silk is to end is likely to be greeted with disappointment by fans of the show, which has regularly pulled in audiences of more than 5 million according to overnight figures.
However there is some small comfort in the news that Mick Collins, one of the writers behind the TV series, will be bringing three new dramas focusing on the show’s clerks to Radio 4 next month.
Stuke will be leading the team as the charismatic Head Clerk Billy Lamb, with Bethany (Amy Wren), Jake (Theo Barklem Biggs) and John (John MacMillan) also appearing.
It is understood that the lead barristers played by Penry-Jones and Peake will not be in the new audio episodes, but that practice manager Harriet Hammond (Miranda Raison) is likely to feature.
The radio dramas begin on Tuesday 1 April at 2:15pm, the day after the TV series concludes. The subsequent two episodes will air in the same time slot on 8 and 15 April.
In this first programme, Jake's best friend is arrested for ABH. In the second, Bethany's private ambitions of becoming a barrister come under the spotlight when she is forced to drag an under-performing barrister through a trial.
And in the final play, John (John Macmillan) sees his professional and private lives collide when Billy and Harriet embark on a battle to bring his barrister girlfriend to the chambers at Shoe Lane.
Kate Harwood, head of BBC drama production England added: "We are immensely proud to have produced three series of Peter Moffat's highly appreciated legal drama Silk. Maxine Peake's iconic portrayal of heroic, complex, truth-seeking barrister Martha Costello has won her huge admiration and a loyal following and Martha will be bowing out with one of the biggest and most personal cases of her life in which the personal and professional collide.”
Silk, which was commissioned by BBC drama head Ben Stephenson, and then BBC1 controller Danny Cohen, was first shown on BBC1 in 2011. It was Bafta nominated for its second series.