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Stephen Graham reunites with This is England’s Jack Thorne and Shane Meadows for new drama The Virtues

The new Channel 4 drama sees the actor playing a man confronting the consequences of his time in the care system
By Ben Dowell

This is England trio Shane Meadows, Jack Thorne and actor Stephen Graham are teaming up again on a new Channel 4 drama called The Virtues.

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The four-part series sees Boardwalk Empire star Graham – who played short-fused nationalist Andrew "Combo" Gascoigne in This is England – take on the role of Joseph, a moral yet troubled man who’s lost everything he ever held dear. He then travels to Ireland to confront his demons from a childhood spent in the care system.

There he meets the fiery and uncompromising Dinah, played by newcomer Niamh Algar (Without Name) who holds what the broadcaster described as a “secret she’s hiding from all those around her”.

Helen Behan (This is England ‘88 & ‘90) joins the cast as Anna, the sister Joseph hasn’t seen since they were separated as children, with Frank Laverty (Michael Collins, Angela’s Ashes) playing Michael, Anna’s husband. 

“At once an unlikely love story between two people cast adrift in life and an exploration of the conflict between sin and virtue, The Virtues is a visceral and beautiful paean to the human spirit,” said Channel 4.

Shane Meadows added: "The Virtues reunites me with the peerless Stephen Graham, whilst also allowing me the chance to work with a host of supremely gifted actors and some incredible new talent. It takes the biblical, almost apocalyptic levels of revenge witnessed in Dead Man’s Shoes, along with the bittersweet humour from This is England and creates a landscape like nothing else I've ever worked on.”

Beth Willis, Head of Drama at Channel 4, said: “We are so thrilled that the giant of a genius that is Shane Meadows has, with Mark Herbert chosen Channel 4 to be the home of his next extraordinary story, world and unforgettable characters. This tender love story is complex and at times dark - but always shot through with heart and a large dose of humour.”

Written by Meadows and BAFTA winner Jack Thorne (the writer for National Treasure and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child), The Virtues is directed by Meadows and produced by Mark Herbert (This Is England, ’86, ’88, ’90) and Nickie Sault (This Is England ’86, ’88, ’90).

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The drama will shoot on location in Sheffield, as well as in Liverpool and Belfast, and will air on Channel 4 in 2019.

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