ITV’S latest high-profile crime drama will be set, and filmed in Hereford.
In April cameras will be rolling throughout the county, filming an adaption of Hay-on-Wye novelist Phil Rickman’s ‘Midwinter of the Spirit’.
The drama – a dark mystery that puts a female vicar at the heart of a world of Satanism and murder – is the flagship show for a new, prestige channel TV Encore.
And with Mr Rickman basing the majority of the action on real-life places, including the cathedral and Hereford’s hospital, the three-episode pilot will put Herefordshire centre-stage.
“And they want to set as much as possible in Herefordshire.
“The cathedral is fairly essential to the plot, and they have already scouted a derelict church in Stretford for some of the filming.”
The Merrily Watkins series – which Mr Rickman believes is unique within crime fiction as it deals with the blurred line between demonic possession and mental health in the minds of some of its more gothic criminals – has been picked up by production companies on four occasions, but never made it to the screen.
However with the emergence of dark Scandinavian crime dramas like the Killing, and HBO’s True Detective winning over audiences both sides of the Atlantic, producers chose 'Midwinter' as the first original drama to be made by ITV Encore, a partnership between ITV and Sky.
ITV's director of drama commissioning, Steve November, said: "Midwinter of the Spirit is a contemporary and edgy drama which draws upon dark, pagan forces which are intriguing and spiritually frightening.
"We’re delighted to commission three episodes of a potentially returnable crime drama with a supernatural twist."
The project is being led by a Doctor Who producer Phil Collinson, with the text being adapted by BAFTA-winning screenwriter Stephen Volk, who made his name on shows like Afterlife and The Awakening.
And while there is no-one as of yet attached to play lead character Merrily Watkins, a female vicar trained in exorcism who assists in unpicking a grisly murder, casting for the role is due to take place before Christmas.
"I’ve got a few names in mind, actors I think would suit the role, but it would be unfair to put that out there," said Mr Rickman.
“I’ve been consulted and I have seen the script for the first part.
“They haven’t changed any of the main characters – as a writer that’s your worst fear.”
While the shows premise may seem to be nothing but fiction, the Lancastrian writer, insists it's not just the locations that are based on reality.
He said: "There are priests who are trained as exorcists in every county.
"In the last few years alone, I have heard of at least three instances of an exorcist in Herefordshire being called out - although generally they attend to 'haunted houses' as opposed to demonic possessions.
"Vicars are not what you would expect - they smoke, they swear, they are a lot more human than you might think - although now I try to avoid local vicars in case I get accused of using them in my books."
Mr Rickman, who is currently working on his latest book in the series, also has a literary programme set to hit BBC Wales' airwaves on December 21, 'Phil The Shelf'.
Producers for the ITV show will continue to scout locations in the area, however they have already approached Hereford Cathedral, which has previously been lined up as a possible Doctor Who setting.
Hereford Cathedral's Dominic Harbour said: "a The decision will now go before the Dean and Chapter, but we are always looking to put Hereford Cathedral on the map."