Parfitt will produce via his Trademark Films alongside Jamie Carmichael (“Fishtank,” “Black Book”) for Atlantic Nomad.
Created by David Chidlow, “The War Rooms” is the untold story of the women who lived, loved and triumphed in Winston Churchill’s secret Whitehall bunker. The series is based on the true story of Joan Bright (Coleman), who started WWII as a secretary and ended it organizing the great Allied conferences. Ian Fleming was her friend and it is rumored that Bright was the template for the iconic Miss Moneypenny character in the James Bond novels and films. Bright’s memoir “The Inner Circle: A View of War at the Top” has been optioned for the series.
“Joan Bright was never going to live a conventional life — a young woman who lived her war days under the official secrets act, undercover and underground in the war rooms,” Coleman said. “This story is so compelling not only because of her unique and liberal mind, wryness of spirit and curiosity to live, but because of the opportunity to examine this endlessly fascinating period of time through an intimate and human lens.
“The closeness and proximity of days and nights lived within this small space, the carriers of the truth amidst the oblivion of propaganda above. The beauty and fragility of human connection when living through a time when no one knows what tomorrow will bring,” said Coleman. “I’m so excited to unearth these hidden lives and at a time where it feels so shockingly relevant right now.”
Coleman will also executive produce the series alongside Simon Mirren (“Spooks”) and David Chidlow (“All or Nothing: Manchester City”). Casting is being overseen by Orla Maxwell of Casting Pictures. Imperial War Museums (IWM) will be series consultant. The Churchill War Rooms is one of five IWM branches in the U.K.
Parfitt and Carmichael said, “Our intention is to build a series that takes a truly fresh view on a significant part of our collective history. A show that isn’t polite or reverential, but raw, confronting and offers fresh experiences, perspectives, narratives and faces. Ones that speak directly to our current, turbulent times and, critically, to an audience thirsty for tales of hope that help frame and make sense of today and tomorrow.”
Chidlow said, “I’ve always been fascinated by the courts around great leaders — places of intrigue, drama and quiet heroism. With ‘The War Rooms,’ we want to shine a light on the remarkable and unheralded women who helped win a world war and contributed to shaping our modern society. To do justice to this vision, we’re building a diverse, female-led team that approaches this period and subject matter in a truly fresh, distinctive way. A team that, to better explore our historic world, looks like our modern one.”
Each season will cover 12-18 months of WWII.