James Norton, Jessica Brown Findlay to Star in 'Playing Nice'

James Norton as Pete holds his baby in 'Playing Nice'

James Norton as Pete in 'Playing Nice'


J.P. Delaney’s The Girl Before may have gone mainly unnoticed on HBO Max due to a criminal lack of marketing, but it was a decent-sized hit for BBC One when it was released in December 2021. It was perfect for streaming television, a four-episode/four-lead domestic thriller series based on the novel of the same name by the same writer; it was perfect for streaming television. To the surprise of no one, there’s more where that came from, with a new adaptation from another Delaney novel now underway for ITV and Studio Canal, based on the 2020 novel Playing Nice

Delaney (real name Tony Strong) has written under a multitude of pseudonyms, but in this case, he’s not attached to the project, under his name or any other. Instead, this project came together under actor James Norton (Happy Valley), who executive produces through his production company Rabbit Track Pictures, and co-founder and Managing Director Kitty Kaletsky (Rogue Agent). The two said in a statement, “Playing Nice was the first book we optioned after launching Rabbit Track, and we feel immensely proud of the project it has become.”

Norton stars in the series, which is described as a story in which two couples discover that their children were switched at birth. Like The Girl Before, this is a four-episode drama, featuring four main leads, where the plot rests firmly in the realm of domestic thriller.

Niamh Algar as Maddie holds her child in ‘Playing Nice’

Niamh Algar as Maddie in ‘Playing Nice’


Here's the series synopsis:

Set against a sweeping Cornish landscape, two couples discover that their toddlers were switched at birth in a hospital mix-up, and face a horrifying dilemma: do they keep the sons they have raised and loved, or reclaim their biological child?

Living a waking nightmare, Pete and Maddie are jettisoned into the world of the other couple; Miles  and Lucy. At first it seems all four are agreed on a solution, but it soon becomes clear that hidden motives are at play. How far can each couple trust the real parents of their child – or even each other? As Pete and Maddie are stretched to breaking point, they realise they will stop at nothing to keep their family together.

Norton and Niamh Algar (Mary and George) are Pete and Maddie, while James McArdle (Mare of Easttown) and Jessica Brown Findlay (Downton Abbey) play the other couple, Miles and Lucy. The supporting cast has not been announced, but the roles outside these four will be minimal if this is anything like The Girl Before. Grace Ofori-Attah, the writer of the ITV drama Malpractice, wrote all four episodes with director Kate Hewitt (One Day) helming all installments. 

Filming is currently underway for Playing Nice. The series does not yet have an American distributor, but that is expected to be rectified before the series airs in the U.K. in 2024.


Ani Bundel has been blogging professionally since 2010. A DC native, Hufflepuff, and Keyboard Khaleesi, she spends all her non-writing time taking pictures of her cats. Regular bylines also found on MSNBC, Paste, Primetimer, and others. 

A Woman's Place Is In Your Face. Cat Approved. Find her on BlueSky and other social media of your choice: @anibundel.bsky.social

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