This New ITV Thriller Promises To Fill The Happy Valley Shaped Hole In Our Hearts
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This New ITV Thriller Promises To Fill The Happy Valley Shaped Hole In Our Hearts

Looking for a new psychological thriller to sink your teeth into?

Happy Valley was arguably one of the most nail-biting, addictive and utterly brilliant British TV shows to grace our screens in the last few years. When it came to an end, fans were bereft – but ITV is sweeping in with a new psychological thriller for us to enjoy, and it even stars Happy Valley‘s frontman James Norton. Here’s everything we know so far.

Playing Nice: Everything We Know So Far About ITV’s Upcoming Thriller

James Norton holding a toddler in ITV's new drama, Playing Nice

Image courtesy of ITV

What Is Playing Nice About?

Set in a sea-swept Cornish landscape, Playing Nice tells the story of two couples who discover that their toddlers were switched at birth. This creates a terrifying dilemma: does each couple keep the sons they have raised, or reclaim the child that is biologically theirs? 

Based on J.P Delany’s bestselling novel of the same name, the two couples quickly become entangled in each other’s lives as they try to find a solution. With tension rising and hidden agendas beginning to surface, each character starts to question whether they can trust the real parents of their child – as well as whether they can trust each other.

The official synopsis from ITV reads:

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 (James Norton) and Maddie (Niamh Algar) are jettisoned into the world of the other couple; Miles (James McArdle) and Lucy (Jessica Brown Findlay). 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.

Playing Nice will appear on ITV as a four-part series directed by Kate Hewitt (director of One Day) and produced by STUDIOCANAL in collaboration with Rabbit Track Pictures, the production company founded by James Norton and Kitty Kaletsky. On the show’s announcement, Norton said: ‘Playing Nice was the first book we optioned after launching Rabbit Track and we feel immensely proud of the project it has become. To be working with ITV, STUDIOCANAL, wonderful Grace Ofori-Attah [who adapted the novel for the screen], visionary Kate Hewitt [the director], our unbelievable cast and the whole rest of the production team is a huge privilege. We’re thrilled and very excited.’

‘Playing Nice is an enthralling thriller with a knotty moral dilemma at its heart,’ adds Helen Perry, ITV’s drama commissioner. ‘Not only will viewers be hooked, they’ll be left questioning, “what would I do…?” as Grace Ofori-Attah’s superb script raises questions about the nature of parenting and how far we’ll go for those we love.’

Niamh Algar holding a toddler in ITV drama Playing Nice

Image courtesy of ITV

Who Will Star?

Happy Valley and A Little Life star James Norton heads up the cast of Playing Nice as Pete, alongside Mary and George’s Niamh Algar as his wife Maddie. Jessica Brown Findlay (The Flatshare, Black Mirror) plays Lucy, one half of the show’s second couple, with James McArdle (The Mare Of Easttown) as her husband, Miles.

Where Was It Filmed?

Filming reportedly took place in Cornwall in November 2023.

When will Playing Nice be released?

Playing Nice will air in 2024, though we don’t have a specific date just yet. Stay tuned for updates.