When the BBC's House Productions announced a new crime drama, Sherwood, from James Graham, the writer behind Brexit: The Uncivil War, it was understandable most assumed it was another Robin Hood-focused series. But, despite the show's title and a couple of arrows, the drama, which debuts on BBC One on June 13, had little to do with the 14th-century English myth. Instead, the series is a true crime dramatization of the pair of 2004 Nottinghamshire murders and the historic divisions it inflamed, reviving three-decade-old resentments as the search dragged on.
The six-part series is a fictionalized retelling of real-life events in the mining village of Annesley Woodhouse, only a few miles from where Graham grew up. Nowadays, the area is commonly referred to in British politics as a "red wall" town, working class-dominated districts in the North Midlands and Northern England that form a "red wall" of Labour-centric results on election maps. It's also famous for being the central heart of the 1980s miner's strike, which Thatcher ruthlessly broke and undermined labor unions decades after. (For Americans, it was the UK's equivalent of Reagan breaking the air traffic strike in 1981.
The repercussions of Thatcher's ruthless behavior and the failed strike are part of the town's history which these murders dredge back up and feed into the resentments that divide the area. It also colored the two murders in political terms that they might not have gained otherwise had they happened separately or had the search for the killers been more efficient. It was also one of the first significant preludes to the eventual "Spy Cops" scandal that broke big in 2014, where undercover officers were directed to date, marry, and even have children with unsuspecting members of leftist political groups targeted by the authorities.
Here's the BBC's official synopsis:
Inspired in part by real events, set in a Nottinghamshire mining village at the heart of Sherwood lie two shocking and unexpected killings that shatter an already fractured community and spark a massive manhunt.
The cast for this series is practically epic. Robert Glenister (Suspicion) plays DI Kevin Salisbury, and David Morrissey (The Missing) is DCS Ian St Clair, the cops assigned to solve the two murders. Lesley Manville and Claire Rushbrook (both from Magpie Murders) also co-star, as do Kevin Doyle, Joanne Froggatt, and Perry Fitzpatrick (all from Downton Abbey), and Lorraine Ashbourne, Adeel Akhtar, and Phaldut Sharma (all from Unforgotten). Also in the cast: Clare Holman and Andrea Lowe (both from Inspector Lewis), Sean Gilder and Mark Frost (both from Poldark), Philip Jackson (Agatha Christie's Poirot), and Alun Armstrong (Tom Jones).
Sherwood debuts on Monday, June 13, with the second installment following on Tuesday, June 14, on BBC One and will follow that weekly pattern for the next three weeks. Hopefully, by then, it will have been picked up by PBS or one of the British-focused streamers and have a release date for this side of the pond.