Lucy Boynton starring in 1950s true crime drama ‘Ruth’ for ITV

ITV has ordered a new mini-series about the last woman to be hanged in Britain.

The gripping story of Ruth Ellis is being turned into a four-part drama by Silverpoint Pictures, the makers of Vera, Shetland and Mr Selfridge.

Set in 1955, Ruth will be told over two parallel timelines and “shed light on the life of one of Britain’s most infamous murderesses.”

The series is described by ITV as “a compelling legal and emotional rollercoaster which explores Ruth’s arrest and trial and the subsequent race against the clock to reprieve her.”

Leading the cast as Ruth Ellis is British-American actress Lucy Boynton.

Best known for playing Mary Austin in 2018’s Bohemian Rhapsody movie, she’s also appeared in Why Didn’t They Ask Evans? and last year’s The Ipcress File adaptation.

You might also recognise her from roles in Murder on the Orient Express, Endeavour, Miss Potter, The Pale Blue Eye and Lewis.

“Ruth Ellis’ story is a fascinating one,” said Lucy Boynton.

“Both she and this complex case have always evoked a strong reaction, and with Kelly’s insightful scripts I’m looking forward to bringing a new perspective to both familiar audiences as well as those who are unaware of her mark on British history.”

Ruth is based on Carol Ann Lee’s acclaimed biography, A Fine Day for Hanging: The Real Ruth Ellis Story, with Kelly Jones (The Long Call, Des, Baptiste) writing the scripts.

“There is so much more to the Ruth Ellis story than we think we know,” commented ITV’s Drama Commissioner, Huw Kennair Jones.

“Kelly’s scripts brilliantly explore not only how the emotional and physical abuse she suffered drove her to commit a terrible crime, but also the desperate last-minute attempt to save her as she and her supporters battled an unforgiving Establishment.”

Filming is set to begin later this year, with Lee Haven Jones (The Long Call) directing all four episodes.

The official synopsis reads: “The powerful mystery of what compelled Ruth Ellis to take the life of the man she was in a passionate but toxic and volatile relationship with will reveal that there was more to this crime of passion than Ruth was prepared to say.

“Her silence, and resistance to speak of what happened between her and dashing racing driver, Blakely, is far more complex than she admitted.

“Ruth’s solicitor, the low-status but intelligent and sensitive John Bickford, starts to realise some of what she has suffered and believes they must make a case for provocation.

“With stakes that could not be higher, literally life or death, Bickford begins his own investigation and uncovers details that could have saved her life had those facts been aired in court.”

Lucy Boynton can currently be seen in biographical period drama Chevalier, in cinemas now – here’s the trailer:

Ruth will premiere in the UK on ITV1 in 2024, and the series will also be streaming on ITVX.

There’s no news on international broadcasters yet, but we expect it’ll end up on BritBox over in the US.

Carol Ann Lee’s book A Fine Day for a Hanging: The Real Ruth Ellis Story is available on Amazon.