The Bletchley Circle is back!
Set in America in 1956, The Bletchley Circle: San Francisco follows four remarkable women who, years after secretly serving during WWII as code-breakers, turn their skills to solving murders overlooked by the police.
The follow-up to ITV’s hit British series sees original stars Julie Graham (Doc Martin) and Rachael Stirling (Detectorists) return as Jean McBrian and Millie Harcourt alongside two American codebreakers to investigate a string of new murder cases in four two-part standalone stories.
The two new main cast members are Crystal Balint (Prison Break) as Iris Bearden, a gifted mathematician and cryptographer, and Chanelle Peloso (Level Up) as Hailey Yarner, who never lost her passion for tinkering after designing combat and defense tools in the War.
Take a look at this brief character profiles clip:
Here are more detailed descriptions of The Bletchley Circle: San Francisco‘s characters:
Jean is wise, measured and tenacious, having served as the supervisor of younger women at Bletchley Park during the war. The experience and connections she garnered from managing Hut 4 have equipped her with a unique constellation of skills at uncovering secrets and information.
When the war ended, Jean found purpose as a librarian, but as the series picks up, she’s hoping to fulfil her dream of serving in Her Majesty’s Diplomatic Service. However when her application is rejected (by a young man with no clue what Jean accomplished during the war) Jean accepts Millie’s proposal to travel to San Francisco in pursuit of Justice for a fallen colleague.
After working at Bletchley Park under Jean McBrian during the war, Millie traveled the world to escape the social pressure of reverting to the dull, ordinary life expected of women. Upon her return home to London, she found a renewed sense of purpose by joining her former Bletchley Park colleagues in solving crimes. Through her myriad adventures, Millie has developed a keen enthusiasm and adaptability that balances well against Jean’s even temper, and has lead to a fast friendship.
At the start of the season, Millie reads of a murder in San Francisco that echoes the eerie details of the death of another Bletchley girl fourteen years prior. Resolved to stop the killings in America, she enlists Jean’s help and leads her friend to a life in the new world.
A gifted mathematician and cryptographer, Iris is capable of swiftly analyzing data and deftly divining complex patterns. Despite her brilliance, after serving the Signal Intelligence Service during the war, Iris taught piano while raising her two children, and now toils at Berkeley as an under-appreciated research assistant, all the while hoping to one day see her patented encryption inventions permitted to be brought to market.
She has found greater satisfaction on the family front, happily married to her army husband Marcus, and mother of two children (Dennis, 17 involved in the nascent civil rights movement, and Cadence, 9).
Iris enjoys a tidy if modest life in the city’s Fillmore District, which like so much of the city, is seeing profound change. She tells herself this is the most she can expect out of her gifts and education, but when a murderer strikes in her community, Iris joins Millie and Jean in a desperate bid to end the killing.
Hailey was just sixteen when she fled the vast Canadian prairies which despite its big skies, offered exceedingly limited possibilities, landing in San Francisco where she lied about her age and finagled her way into the Office of Strategic Services. There for the last eighteen months of the war, she helped design combat and defence tools — and saw her world expand. To this day she has never lost her passion for tinkering.
Brash and fearless, her irrepressible love of life has drawn her into the margins of the city’s nascent beatnik scene. But underneath her bravado are roiling insecurities borne out of a hardscrabble past… and a growing realization that it’s not just her skills that are unusual — it’s her heart as well.
Detective Bill Bryce
Bryce is a ruggedly handsome detective navigating the perilous waters of the San Francisco homicide division. As a regular visitor into the city’s darker corners, Bryce has only his wits and his own moral compass to rely on.
Although suspicious and dismissive of Millie when she first approaches him with evidence, in time he comes to appreciate her abilities and independent spirit. He becomes an ongoing resource for the women, enjoying a particularly prickly rapport with Millie… one that in time, grows into something more.
Marcus is happily married to Iris and the proud father of Cadence and Dennis. A Special Forces Sergeant, Marcus is one of the few who knows that his wife was a wartime cryptologist. Still on active duty, he values the Fillmore community that supports his family in the times when he’s deployed.
His marriage with Iris is a true partnership, as she holds down the home-front while he is overseas, but it’s still hard for them to be apart for so long. And with the threat of deployment looming, even his time at home has its challenges.
Olivia is one of the rare Japanese-Americans not interned during the war, who (while her parents and siblings were held in California’s Manzanar Camp) in fact serve the SIS in its de-encryption efforts as a translator and cryptologist. Despite her efforts, when the war ended, her family’s home and life had been taken away. Since then, she has worked to help her family recover from the loss, to carve out a new future.
Olivia has kept a distance from her wartime colleagues, carrying the pain of their time working together. Instead, she’s put her focus into her family and job as an assistant secretary at the San Francisco Police Department’s homicide division.
The Bletchley Circle: San Francisco began last night on ITV in the UK and launches in the US on Britbox today.
The first two seasons of The Bletchley Circle are available to buy on DVD on Amazon.
Originally airing between 2012 and 2014 in the UK, the mystery drama series told the story of four women who worked as codebreakers at Bletchley Park, England in the early 1950s.