‘The Bletchley Circle’ spin-off producer reveals why they chose San Francisco

The Bletchley Circle is back with a new sequel series set in San Francisco in the mid-1950s.

Continuing the world of ITV’s popular post-WW2 crime drama, which was cancelled in 2014, The Bletchley Circle: San Francisco features two of the original British lead characters.

The transatlantic spin-off sees Julie Graham and Rachael Stirling return as Jean and Millie, where they join up with two American codebreakers to investigate a string of new murder cases in four two-part standalone stories.

Watch the trailer:

The show’s executive producer and showrunner Michael MacLennan has explained why the makers decided to set the new series in San Francisco:

“One of the great things about setting the series in San Francisco is that it’s a city with incredible diversity, particularly in the mid 50’s. You have neighbourhoods of everything from Pacific Heights mansions, to the urban, south of market area where Hailey lives, and you have Russian Hill where Millie and Jean live, with its view of Coit Tower.

“One of the more important neighbourhoods for us, especially in the early telling, is where Iris and her family live, and that’s the Fillmore district. If you went to the Fillmore district today, you wouldn’t see anything that bears a resemblance to what was going on in the 50’s. This was a neighbourhood that was once a Jewish neighbourhood and became over time a Japanese American neighbourhood.

“With the war, virtually all the Japanese who lived in California were sent off to internment camps and lost their homes. Unable to keep them up, they were snapped up for pennies on the dollar, and this was largely done by another previously marginalized group, African-Americans.”

MacLennan added: “When we start out story in the mid 50’s, the Fillmore is going through yet another change, in which the African-Americans who are there are slowly being encroached out to less desirable neighbourhoods in San Francisco, and even across the bay to Oakland. It’s a story about gentrification, it’s a story about the racial politics and those with power who try to prevail over those without.

“You just have these other amazing worlds, everything from Golden Gate park and legendary beaches. The Presidio today is a tourist attraction, but at the time, was just wrapping up its work as a Naval Base, which is where many of our women worked. Crissy Field was the air strip.

“It’s a city with an amazing set of neighbourhoods stitched together with these cable cars, and an array of fascinating characters.”

The first two seasons of The Bletchley Circle are available to buy on DVD now.

The Bletchley Circle: San Francisco is currently airing at 9pm on Wednesday nights on ITV in the UK and is available in the US exclusively on Britbox.