The film, which set in the north west of England, will star Nico Mirallegro (The Village, My Mad Fat Diary), Daniel Mays (Mrs Biggs, Public Enemies) and Jodhi May (Ice Cream Girls, Strike Back).
Nico Mirallegro of The Village and My Mad Fat Diary stars in Jimmy McGovern’s BBC drama Common
“When it comes to casting you always have a ‘wish list’ – a list of actors who’d be perfect for the parts you have written. You never get them of course. They’re often too busy or away on holiday or they hate the script or whatever,” said Jimmy McGovern. “But on this occasion, I got them all, every single one on my wish list. And I am over the moon.”
David Blair (The Street, Accused) will direct the film, which is produced by LA Productions for the BBC.
The single drama examines the potential for injustice with the Joint Enterprise or Common Purpose rule, when a young man who gives his friends an lift to a pizza parlour suddenly finds himself charged with the murder they commit.
The cast also includes Philip Hill Pearson (Good Cop, United), Ben Smith (Hidden), Andrew Ellis (This Is England ’86), Susan Lynch (Monroe, The Secret Of Crickley Hall), Andrew Tiernan (Prisoners’ Wives), Robert Pugh (Game Of Thrones), Michelle Farley (Misfits, Game Of Thrones), Jack McMullen (Waterloo Road) and Sir Michael Gambon (Quarter, Restless).
Common is executive produced for the BBC by Polly Hill, Head of Independent Drama and was commissioned by Controller of BBC Drama Commissioning, Ben Stephenson, and former Controller of BBC One, now Director of Television, Danny Cohen.
Here’s the full plot, including some spoilers.
Seventeen-year-old Johnjo O’Shea (Mirallegro) gives his cousin Tony (Pearson) and some mates a last-minute lift in his brother Patrick’s (Smith) car. They tell him they’re going for pizza; Johnjo doesn’t know that they’re going to ‘have a word’ with a local loudmouth who needs putting in his place. As Johnjo waits in the car, one of their number, Kieran Gillespie (Ellis), takes offence with an innocent bystander, Thomas Ward played by Harry McMullen, who is fatally stabbed.
The murder victim is the eldest child of Margaret (Lynch) and her estranged husband Tommy Ward (Mays). Struggling to make ends meet on her own, Margaret is nevertheless determined to fight through bureaucracy and the cool indifference of the banks to give Thomas the send-off he deserves.
When Johnjo’s parents, Coleen (May) and Pete (Tiernan), find out that their son gave the killers a ride they are horrified, and concerned for their naive son. As they argue about what he should tell the police, Johnjo makes his own way to the police station and asks for DI Hastings (Pugh).
A career copper used to doing battle with ‘no comment’, Hastings can’t believe his luck as Johnjo lays the blame squarely with Kieran. But Hastings wants everyone possible to be tried for murder, and with the Joint Enterprise doctrine at his disposal, that includes Johnjo.
As the battle for justice continues, Johnjo’s family finds that not being present at the murder scene is no defence, and even Coleen’s sister, Tony’s mum Shelagh (Farley), tries to dissuade Johnjo from a ‘not guilty’ plea.