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Break out the red lights, Hulu picks up new sex-trade drama Harlots

Hulu has given U.K. ITV series Harlots, based on the 18th-century sex trade in London, a straight-to-series order, reports Variety.

Set to air in the U.K. on ITV Encore, the eight-part series will exclusively stream through Hulu in the U.S. as part of Hulu’s original series lineup. The period drama will tackle family issues and work roles within the sex trade during that era. It will be centered around Margaret Wells, a mother and brothel owner played by Samantha Morton (Minority Report) who comes under attack by a rival madam Lydia (Leslie Manville, Maleficent), who is described as “ruthless.” Jessica Brown Findlay (Downton Abbey) will star as Charlotte, Margaret’s eldest daughter, who is a popular high-class prostitute with the city gents who faces struggles with her family and with her social status. It is reportedly based on stories from real women from that time period.

Harlots will be produced by Monumental Pictures, and is written by Moira Buffini, a playwright and screenwriter best known for projects like Jane Eyre and Tamara Drewe. Buffini conceived the idea alongside Alison Newman. Coky Giedroyc (Penny Dreadful), China Moo-Young (Thirteen), and Lawrence Till (Shameless) will produce. On the executive producing team will be Alison Owen, Debra Hayward, and Alison Carpenter, along with Buffini and Newman. ITV Studios Global Entertainment, which was founded by Owen (Tulip Fever) and Hayward (Bridget Jones’s Baby, Les Miserables), will handle distribution of the series outside of the U.S. and the U.K.

Filming will commence in June in London.

In addition to heading up the cast on this project, Morton will also soon appear in BBC One’s upcoming three-part series Rillington Place, based on infamous serial killer John Christie. Morton will play Christie’s wife Ethel, one of many of his murder victims. Tim Roth has been tapped to play Christie.