Laura Carmichael and Jessica De Gouw star in 10’s thriller ‘The Secrets She Keeps’

Jessica De Gouw (L) and Laura Carmichael (Photo credit: Daniel Asher Smith).

Downton Abbey‘s Laura Carmichael and Jessica De Gouw are playing women from different sides of the tracks in Network 10’s psychological thriller The Secrets She Keeps.

Michael Dorman, who stars in Amazon Prime Video’s Patriot, Ryan Corr (Bloom) and Michael Sheasby (The Nightingale, The Luminaries) round out the cast.

Adapted from Michael Robotham’s novel by Jono Gavin and Sarah Walker, the six-part series started shooting in Sydney and the Blue Mountains today, produced by Lingo Pictures’ Helen Bowden and Paul Watters.

The set-up director Catherine Millar is directing four episodes and Jennifer Leacey is helming two.

De Gouw is Meghan, who is married to Jack (Dorman), has two gorgeous children and a third bundle of joy on the way.

Carmichael is Agatha, who is pregnant, has a much younger ex-boyfriend in Hayden (Sheasby), is estranged from her mother and admires Meghan from afar. Corr is Jack’s best friend Simon. Both women are hiding explosive secrets that could destroy everything each holds dear.

Former HarperCollins publishing director Shona Martyn was working as a literary scout for Lingo Pictures when she suggested to Bowden that the London-set novel could readily be set in Sydney.

Bowden met with Robotham at his Sydney home and outlined her vision of the adaptation. He consulted two friends, authors Marele Day (whose tome Lambs of God was turned into a four-hour drama for Foxtel by Lingo) and Christos Tsiolkas (writer of The Slap, which Bowden produced for Matchbox Pictures and the ABC).

Both gave thumbs up so the producer sent the novel to 10’s head of drama Rick Maier. A fast reader, he rang the next morning to green light development of the series.

Robotham joined Walker and Gavin in the writers room and had input into the plotting. Casting director Amanda Mitchell recommended Carmichael after being impressed with her portrayal of Lady Edith Crawley in all six seasons of Downton Abbey. She also stars in Starz/Stan’s The Spanish Princess.

As it happens, Laura is friends with the London-based De Gouw, who co-stars with Asher Keddie, Richard Roxburgh and Sam Reid in SBS’s four-part drama The Hunting, created by Closer Productions’ Sophie Hyde and Matthew Cormack.

Bowden tells IF: “The story is dark and twisty and very cleverly constructed. It’s about inequality in society, motherhood and envy and the the parallel lives of two women from opposite sides of the fence. You never lose sympathy for either despite the extraordinary things that happen.”

Maier said: “You’d be hard pressed to find a more compelling contemporary novel. This is Michael Robotham at his brilliant best and an equally stunning adaptation from Sarah Walker and Jono Gavin. No wonder it has attracted such a sensational cast. It should be a cracker.”

Jo Ford is the production designer and the DOP is Roger Lanser. Screen Australia and Create NSW are investors. The high profile cast attracted a lot of interest from international distributors. The producers decided to go with DCD Rights, which handled Lingo’s On the Ropes and The Slap.