ITVX thriller “Platform 7,” produced by Fremantle’s Dancing Ledge, has debuted first-look images ahead of MipCom.
Adapted from Louise Doughty’s novel, it sees young teacher Lisa wandering around a small railway station. Lisa has a secret – she is a ghost and she died right there. But even though everyone ruled it a suicide, she doesn’t remember what happened to her.
“It’s tense, fresh and engaging, with supernatural elements that combine important modern issues, resulting in an exceptional lead performance from Jasmine Jobson, who breaks new ground in this limited series,” says Fremantle’s Jens Richter, calling Doughty’s writing “phenomenal.”
The show was adapted by Paula Milne, also behind “The Politician’s Husband” and Oliver Hirschbiegel’s “The Same Sky.” Toby Regbo, Reece Ritchie, Yaamin Chowdhury co-star.
“I feel very passionately that if ghosts would really exist, they wouldn’t be just floating around in white nighties in stately homes and country houses. They would be haunting multi storey car parks, shopping centers and railway stations,” notes Doughty.
“The novel is set at Peterborough station, which is where I used to change trains. I grew up in a small town and went to university in Leeds, then moved to London. My standing joke was: ‘If I had been bad and died, I would find myself trapped on that station on a freezing November night,’” she laughs.
“That’s where the idea of that ghost came from. I love taking supernatural elements and putting them somewhere modern and ordinary.”
Lisa can’t interact with frantic commuters, however. She also can’t leave.
“That was one of the things that attracted us to Louise’s novel. Lisa is a ghost unable to control her environment, which mirrors the place she found herself in before her death,” observes executive producer and Dancing Ledge’s managing director Chris Carey, once again joining forces with Doughty after “Crossfire” and Emily Watson vehicle “Apple Tree Yard.”
“Lisa feels like such a relatable ghost. As she learns the truth, we go on a visceral journey with her into strength and ultimately into revenge. Which, I hope, is very satisfying.”
When another tragedy strikes, Lisa gets a reluctant companion. But he is also hiding things from her.
“Ghosts are traditionally unhappy souls. They are people who died in difficult circumstances and have unfinished business with the living world. So does Lisa, it’s just that she doesn’t know it yet,” says Doughty.
“The first thing you have to decide when writing a ghost story is what are the rules of the supernatural world. I knew I didn’t want her to be a poltergeist. At the beginning, she has no power and it’s such a shock when she is able to communicate with another ghost. As she discovers more about what happened to her, the angrier she gets, the more power she acquires.”
According to Carey, Lisa’s transformation allowed Jobson – BAFTA-nominated for “Top Boy,” now in her first lead role – to show her range as an actor.
“It’s a challenging role, particularly in these first episodes. You do a lot of reacting and listening, still trying to convey a relatable story. She did a sensational job of making Lisa lovable. We never get frustrated with her for not knowing these things.”
Despite Lisa’s supernatural status, “Platform 7” takes on very earthy topics. Including abuse, sexual trauma and domestic violence.
“Anyone can end up in a toxic situation like that. It doesn’t just happen to ‘wilting flowers.’ Lisa is a feisty, strong character and she is still worn down by the magnitude of this deceit,” notes Doughty.
But there is hope, as the people closest to her – and complete strangers, including those working at the station – refuse to give up and continue to look for answers.
“In our culture, we have this huge focus on romantic love. But our lives are full of all sorts of love. I am so pleased we managed to get that element in,” she says about the community that forms around the tragedy, with all the supporting characters trying to “connect and figure things out,” adds Carey.
The duo wouldn’t mind reuniting with their protagonist.
“It was always conceived as a standalone miniseries, but who knows? If there is a strong enough reaction…,” teases Carey, with Doughty entertaining the idea of Lisa becoming an “avenging angel, solving crimes against women.”
“Real life is dark – that’s the truth. But what we wanted to show was the triumph of survival,” she says.
“You see women fighting back, on a variety of levels and for a variety of reasons, and get a sense that redemption lies in ordinary humanity. It’s stronger than darkness.”