When ITV announced last week that it was axing The Halcyon, there was a collective wail of surprise from its devoted fans. The period drama's showrunners were taken aback, too, having already started on scripts for series two and planned out five years' worth of wartime drama. Will we ever find out what happens next?
There remains for now a glimmer of hope for the future of London's most glamorous fictional hotel, which was struck by a bomb in a dramatic cliffhanger at the end of series one.
The good news? Left Bank, the production company that made The Halcyon, is on the hunt for a new home for the Second World War drama, producer Chris Croucher tells RadioTimes.com ahead of the series one DVD release.
The bad news? They are in a race against time.
“Andy Harries, [CEO] at Left Bank hopes that there might be somewhere else that we could go,” former Downton Abbey producer Croucher explains. “Nothing is confirmed at the moment. I believe he is trying.
“It's difficult with timeframes, because actually our option period on the actors is about to run out, and we have our beautiful hotel standing in West London, and every week that's costing us and that adds up.
“So I think a decision would need to be made very quickly.”
Explaining its “tough decision” not to recommission The Halcyon, ITV said in a statement that it was looking “to ensure the right balance and range together with the best mix of returning series and new dramas.”
That means ITV is saying goodbye to The Halcyon – but keeping hold of dramas like Good Karma Hospital. (“I did nearly throw my phone across the room when I heard that the Good Karma Hospital got a recommission last night,” Croucher admits. “But that is the way the cookie crumbles.”)
But a RadioTimes.com poll of more than 2,200 readers found that 87.76% felt the drama should not have been cancelled, as it still had more to give. There's even a petition titled 'Get ITV's The Halcyon a Series 2!' which has attracted more than 1,200 signatures so far, on the basis that “it's too great not to be continued.”
“Honestly the fan base for the show has been truly wonderful. I saw that online petition and such an outpour by the fans who just really do love it,” Croucher says. “So there is a want for it, and ultimately we were getting 5.5 million viewers consolidated each week. That is a large number of people that were coming back week in week out to watch the show.”
While The Halcyon works as a standalone series, many viewers were left on the edge of their seats at the end of the series finale. Did Kara Tointon's character Betsey Day survive? What next with Toby and Adil? And will Lady Hamilton get away with murder?
“I think with any of these things, you always hope that it could continue,” Croucher explains.
“Our plan was to see if we could do a five-year series, with each series being another year of the war. We had storylines for the entire second series and we actually had two scripts ready to go.
“We knew who survived, we knew who didn't and we had a plan moving forward. The plan was always a five year series.”
Will we ever get a chance to check in to The Halcyon again? As the hotel stands empty and the actors wait for news, time will – very quickly – tell.
Season One of The Halcyon will be released on DVD on Monday 20th March