Derry Girls star Saoirse-Monica Jackson in new thriller The Doll Factory

The Doll Factory stars Esmé Creed-Miles as frustrated artist IrisThe Doll Factory stars Esmé Creed-Miles as frustrated artist Iris
The Doll Factory stars Esmé Creed-Miles as frustrated artist Iris
Tuesday: The Doll Factory (Channel 5, 10pm)

Paramount+ brought us the first two episode of The Doll Factory in November, with the rest of the series becoming available to stream on December 1.

Now there’s a chance for Channel 5 viewers to see what all the fuss is about as it broadcasts the opening instalment.

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Adapted from the best-selling novel by Elizabeth Macneal and set in London in 1851, The Doll Factory stars Esmé Creed-Miles (who took the title role in the TV version of Hanna) as frustrated artist Iris. By day, she works alongside her twin sister Rose (Mirren Mack) making mourning dolls. For the uninitiated, those were likeness of deceased children commissioned by grieving families during the Victorian era.

By night though, Iris manages to give the watchful Mrs. Salter (Pippa Haywood) the slip and escapes to the cellar where she can let her imagination run riot and create her own paintings. Her favourite subject is herself as she paints naked self-portraits.

Meanwhile, Silas (Éanna Hardwicke) is a taxidermist who hopes to one day find an item so unique it will make him famous, and Louis (George Webster) is a painter and member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in search of his next muse.

In the build-up to the Great Exhibition, Iris’s world collides with those of Louis and Silas, giving her a chance to start a new life.

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However, to take advantage of these opportunities she must sacrifice her sister – and her reputation. That may seem a price worth paying to explore her sexuality, challenge the patriarchy and generally achieve the ambitions that had previously seemed like impossible dreams. But as Iris pursues her newfound independence, a story of dark obsession begins to unfold.

The results should please fans of the book – the author Elizabeth Macneal is certainly very pleased with the way her book has been brought to the screen.

She says: “It might sound like a cliché, but to have my novel turned into a TV series is a dream come true. It has been an extraordinary process to see ideas that once existed only in my head, coming to life on set and now on screen.

“Each scene has been perfectly rendered – from the artist Louis Frost’s lavish painting studio, to the doll shop where twins Iris and Rose paint the faces of china dolls.

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“[Production company] Buccaneer has been a joy to work with, and Charley Miles’s script excited me from the very first page. I can’t wait to share this story with viewers!”

Buccaneer Executive Producer Anna Burns, added: “We are so excited for viewers to enter the world of The Doll Factory. We couldn’t be more proud of what our incredible creative team have created, and of our phenomenally talented cast.”

That impressive cast also includes Sharlene Whyte (Stephen), newcomer Reece Kenwyne-Mpudzi, Freddy Carter (Shadow and Bone), Saoirse-Monica Jackson (Derry Girls), Laurie Kynaston (The Sandman), Jim Caesar (The Witcher), Akshay Khanna (Chloe), Aysha Kala (The Undeclared War) and Nell Hudson (Outlander).