Deep Water - TV adaptation of Paula Daly books commence filming in the Lake District

PUBLISHED: 00:00 08 November 2018

Anna Friel, seen here in Marcella, will star in Deep Water, based on Paula's novels Photo: Rex Features

Anna Friel, seen here in Marcella, will star in Deep Water, based on Paula's novels Photo: Rex Features

not Archant

Books by Lancashire writer Paula Daly are being filmed in the Lakes by the Broadchurch team for a six-part TV drama starring Rochdale’s Anna Friel

Leigh born novelist Paula Daly, whose novel have been adapted for a TV drama  (c) Stephen LeaLeigh born novelist Paula Daly, whose novel have been adapted for a TV drama (c) Stephen Lea

When you talk to Paula Daly there is no attempt to disguise the strong Lancashire tones and that particular brand of straight talking you get from bright northern women.

She was born in Leigh and is proud of the fact she’s from the red rose county, although she and her family decamped a little northwards to Bowness more than a decade ago. ‘We wanted to live somewhere beautiful,’ she admits.

Two of Paula’s highly successful novels – part of her ‘Windermere’ series – are being filmed in the Lakes by ITV for a new six-part psychological thriller starring another Lancashire lass, Rochdale’s Anna Friel, fresh from her appearance in the crime drama Marcella. This new series, Deep Water, is due to be screened next year with a cast that includes Sinead Keenan and Rosalind Eleazor.

Paula describes her stories as ‘family noir’ often involving a crime and its affect on women on the edge, struggling to cope with the pressures of life.

Open Your Eyes - one of Paula's highly acclaimed novelsOpen Your Eyes - one of Paula's highly acclaimed novels

This drama revolves around a group of women connected by the school gates, each with children around the same age. Friel plays disorganised mother-of-three, Lisa Kallisto, who juggles her hectic family life with running a business.

As well as exposing Paula’s work to a much bigger audience, it will be yet another chance for the viewing millions to see the delights of our region and enjoy a drama with a distinct northern voice.

‘I do find a lot of today’s writing is by middle-class ex-journalists from London,’ says Paula. Intelligent, working class women from north of Watford can be a bit in thin on the ground. ‘Northern women populate my novels – Lancashire women, in particular, who speak their minds. I went to a read through with the cast and Anna is perfect.’

Paula is luckier than many northern women, having Lake Windermere as the view from the bedroom window. This is where she created a series of novels which elicited positive reviews and a shortlisting for a crime fiction award.

‘I’ve got an office downstairs but I’d be miserable there. Up here I can see the lake. It’s good for me to look at it when I’m thinking rather than writing.’ It could also be a distraction for some but, like all professional writers, Paula is disciplined. ‘Once I start at 9am it’s hard to snap out of it. I tend to keep going until I get too tired to go on. My two eldest children are at university and my youngest is 13 so I can start writing and ignore everything else.’

Although from a working class family in Leigh, a parental split meant she spent time as a boarder at Arnold School in Lytham St Annes. She was an A grade student but didn’t show any early desire to be a writer and it doesn’t seem it was much encouraged by teachers.

‘I wasn’t a great reader either but I saw an adaptation of Anne of Green Gables and then wanted to read everything in the series.’ The Canadian novels were so influential she toyed with the idea of moving to North America with her husband, Jimmy, and their young family. ‘But I hadn’t realised just how cold it gets there,’ she says.

While she didn’t make it to Canada her insatiable appetite for reading books is undiminished. She regularly clocks up two novels a week. ‘Reading made me want to be a writer,’ she says.

‘As a youngster it just didn’t occur to me that it was something you could do for a living. I came from a working class background and that means you get a job.’

She trained for five years and ended up with her own physiotherapy practises in Bowness and near her former home in Leigh. ‘It’s not recommended,’ she says.

The business was a big success but the pressure of dashing from Leigh to the Lakes started to sound like one of her plot lines. ‘I was like any hard working mother but I knew if I carried on it was going to make me ill. I had a big waiting list and spent a lot of time trying to help people with stress-related problems.’

She and her husband, a rugby league referee and former player, moved the family to France for a year. ‘I didn’t have a burning ambition to be a writer but I really loved the thought of being in a room alone and not listening to other people’s problems all day,’ she confesses.

After reading various ‘how to’ books and listening to the experiences of other writers on Youtube, she fired up her computer. ‘I loved it from the start. I just didn’t want to stop and I was eager to make a success of it. I really got a buzz from it.’

She was lucky to get an agent at an early stage, one who was honest with her. ‘I was told my first book showed promise but wasn’t good enough to be published. I knew that.’

She kept going until she produced ‘Just What Kind of Mother Are You?’ a dark thriller about a harassed woman and a missing child. It sparked an auction among publishing houses.

The new TV series combines elements her first and the third novels but concentrates more on the lives of the women. It is being made by Kudos, the production company behind Broadchurch, but they didn’t want to do another missing child story.

Is that a problem for Paula? ‘Not really – they have made changes to the characters and used dialogue I wouldn’t necessarily have written but I’m not precious about these things. I’m just grateful they liked it so much they wanted to film it. Besides, it means I’ve been able to pay off the mortgage!’ It has also been bought by a French TV company which is making its own version. Her daughter, Grace, a performing arts student, has a small role in the British version but Paula hasn’t been along to watch the filming, even though it has been in her doorstep. ‘To be honest, that sort of thing is quite boring and you feel a bit like a spare part on the set,’ she says.

‘I went to the read through and they’ve done a really good job but it was a strange experience. I don’t listen to audio books of my work because it’s not my voice or the voice I have in my head.’

At 44, Paula is a woman who knows her own mind and you get the impression she is looking to take her writing in a slightly different direction.

‘I’m in the early stages of thinking about it,’ she says. In the meantime, she’s editing her latest book, which is tentatively called Clear My Name. It is about a woman who investigates miscarriages of justice. Will it have another northern flavour? ‘It’s based in Morecambe – a place I really like – and someone has already told me it has potential for a television drama.’

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