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Is Deep Water the British Big Little Lies?

Is Deep Water the British Big Little Lies?

Anna Friel and the rest of the cast reveal why this new female-fronted ITV drama is set to make a splash

Are you ready to take the plunge?

Deep Water, Wednesday 14 August, 9pm, ITV/HD (CH 103/113). Also available as a Box Set in On Demand > ITV Hub

Paula Daly has been hailed as “the UK’s answer to Liane Moriarty”, the author of Big Little Lies. And it’s easy to see why. New ITV drama Deep Water, an adaptation of Daly’s Windermere series of novels, also features complex, relatable female leads, all of whom are connected by a tragic event. The Big Little Lies series hides its secrets in its beautiful Monterey, California setting, while Deep Water’s secrets bubble away in the environs of the Lake District.


“What an amazing show Big Little Lies is,” says Deep Water writer Anna Symon (Mrs Wilson). “There is such a thing as a zeitgeist and people are starting to say, “we want to hear female stories, we want to hear truthful stories about women, but ones that also have this exciting thriller plot.”” Deep Water was produced by women, written by a woman, directed by a woman (don’t let the name Harry Wootliff fool you) and stars an incredible female cast.

The six-part series introduces Lisa Kallisto (Anna Friel, Marcella), Kate Riverty (Rosalind Eleazar, Howards End) and Roz Toovey (Sinéad Keenan, Little Boy Blue), three women with distinct personalities, parenting styles and problems.


Lisa is always rushed off her feet, running a dog kennel during the day while her taxi driver husband Joe (Steven Cree, Outlander) works nights. Kate seems to have it all and lives in a big house overlooking Lake Windermere with her husband Guy (Alastair Mackenzie, Wolf Hall).


Roz Toovey (Sinéad Keenan), Lisa Kallisto (Anna Friel) and Kate Riverty (Rosalind Eleazar) in Deep Water

That’s why their hair is so big – it’s full of secrets.

Physiotherapist Roz works every hour god sends to make up for the fact her partner, recovering gambling addict Winston (Charlie Carrick, The Devout), isn’t bringing much in. “It really is an exploration into a class system and that whole wanting what everybody else has and thinking it’s so attractive, but in reality, you should be careful what you wish for,” Friel says.


Lisa, Kate and Roz are not unlike the ducks on the lake: calm on the surface, but paddling like hell underneath. One day, Lisa forgets to pick up Kate and Guy’s 14-year-old daughter, Lucinda, at the school gates, and she’s nowhere to be found. The police are already at the Riverty’s home when Lisa arrives. One of the police officers investigating the case is Roz’s neighbour, Detective Constable Joanne Aspinall (Faye Marsay, Game Of Thrones) – small towns, eh?


Dress up for History Day, they said. It will be fun, they said.

“What kind of mother are you?” Kate’s sister shoots at Lisa, the accusation lingering in the air like an unwanted guest. Interestingly, Just What Kind of Mother Are You? is the name of one of the books in the Windermere series.


Symon says, “Everything Daly spoke about was juggling, this busyness, this feeling of inadequacy, this complete overwhelmed feeling of family life. You’ve got the combination of a really relatable character [Lisa] and an extraordinary story that talks a lot about what it’s like to be a woman today, what it’s like to be a parent, a friend.”


“How are you?” “Oh, I’m fine. You?” “Yeah, fine.” – Lisa and Roz were not fine.

In one scene, Lisa is on the phone, her two sons are arguing, her daughter is trying to get her attention and her husband Joe is just sitting at their kitchen table. “I’m juggling too much,” Lisa says. “Then drop a ball” is Joe’s helpful retort. But for lots of women, this simply isn’t an option. 


“Juggling motherhood and having a full-time job and maintaining a relationship in this day and age is becoming harder and harder, and seems more and more unachievable,” says Friel.


“Lisa represents that. Perhaps she isn’t as secure as those around her, but aren’t we all insecure? We have to put on that suit of armour or our lipstick every day to show how strong we are – so we can survive.”


Deep Water, Wednesday 14 August, 9pm, ITV/HD (CH 103/113). Also available as a complete series Box Set in On Demand > ITV Hub

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