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ITV dismissed Harlots as "women in skirts", says Samantha Morton

Harlots was too "ahead of our time" for a broadcaster like ITV, says Harlots star Samantha Morton.

Harlots, Samantha Morton
BBC Pictures
Published: Tuesday, 28th July 2020 at 12:01 am

Harlots star Samantha Morton has criticised ITV for never broadcasting the show, adding that she believes the channel would have done so "if it were a show with a load of dudes in it".


Harlots was an original show for the now-defunct channel ITV Encore. After ITV Encore closed, the period drama never aired on ITV's main channel - unlike other former ITV Encore shows like Dark Heart or The Frankenstein Chronicles (both fronted by men).

However, the period drama about 18th century brothels was a hit across the pond on Hulu, and has now found a UK broadcasting home with BBC Two - albeit three years after the first season premiered.

Speaking to and other press, Morton said that she believed ITV dismissed the drama as "women in skirts".

"I suppose what I felt at the time was that ITV for whatever reason just didn't launch the show, didn't do anything with it at all. And I don't know why, and I don't know if we were ahead of our time, certainly," she said.

Samantha Morton and Lesley Manville in Harlots

The cast included several big names from film, including both Morton and Lesley Manville (both Oscar nominees), but Morton added that ITV would have been more interested if the cast featured male film stars.

She said, "I feel, if I'm honest, that if it were a show with a load of dudes in it, like, let's see, you've got someone amazing, Colin Farrell or Liam Neeson, they're making this show for ITV, and you have these film stars with Moira writing it, and you have people with the backgrounds of the production company... it's a no brainer.

"So part of me did think, Come on. They [ITV] just think it's women in skirts. They don't understand what they've made." contacted ITV for a response to Morton's comments but the broadcaster did not reply.

Harlots will air on BBC Two from Wednesday 5th August at 9pm, starting with a double-bill. Series one and two will air back-to-back.


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