One of a Kind
Paramount+ drama The Killing Kind delves into a hidden part of London to tell the story of barrister confronting her relationship with a troubled former client. DQ visits the set to discover the secrets behind this adaptation of Jane Casey’s novel.
Coffee in one hand and designer bag in the other, an elegant young woman in a long camel-coloured coat strides purposefully across a beautiful courtyard in central London.
Largely concealed from the wider public, this architecturally pleasing square is tucked away between Fleet Street and the River Thames. The woman is part of a hidden world that most Londoners know nothing about. She is a barrister.
In this scene from The Killing Kind, a gripping new Paramount+ thriller based on the bestseller by Jane Casey, the barrister, Ingrid Lewis (played by The Witcher’s Emma Appleton), is dashing out of her chambers. They are in the Temple, slap bang in the middle of the Inns of Court, where all the most prestigious London barristers work.
A high-flying defence barrister with an acute understanding of the troubling divide between justice and the law, Ingrid represented the charming yet highly manipulative John Webster (Merlin star Colin Morgan). He was accused by a former girlfriend of coercive control, but Ingrid succeeded in getting him acquitted.
After the trial, however, Ingrid ill-advisedly became involved with John. When she tried to leave him, he became extremely vindictive and her life collapsed.
As Ingrid is painstakingly attempting to piece her world back together, John suddenly materialises again, warning her that her life is in danger and claiming that only he knows how to save her.
Trapped in a lethal game of cat and mouse and motivated by a burning desire to discover the truth, Ingrid must make a crucial decision: is John a stalker or a saviour?
The Killing Kind gives us all a chance to peruse – like an assiduous barrister scrutinising a particularly complex brief this often-opaque area of the legal profession.
Executive producer Eve Gutierrez details why she was drawn to the mysterious realm of the bar (the legal, not the boozy version) as the backdrop for this drama: “It was an opportunity to go into that fascinating world of the Inns of Courts. It is such a filmic world that the general public has very little awareness of.
“Even as a Londoner born and bred here, you can very easily walk down the streets and miss those worlds. You can miss the entrances to the places where those people live quite different lives from us. I’ve always found that really fascinating.”
Gutierrez goes on to explain how the production secured permission to film at such an apparently inaccessible location: “The Inns of Court are open to filming; they just have very restrictive hours. That’s the nature of it – obviously, their day-to-day business comes first. But we were very lucky that we were able to go and film there at the weekend.”
The resultant scenes shot at the Inns of Court endow The Killing Kind with a rare sense of authenticity, a realistic texture that could not be replicated on, say, the back lot of Pinewood.
The legal setting allows the six-part drama, which is produced by Eleventh Hour Films for Paramount+ and Channel 5 and distributed internationally by Sony Pictures Television, to explore the moral dilemmas inherent in being a barrister.
Fellow EP Paula Cuddy says: “The premise was very attractive to us. When I started reading Jane’s novel, I really fell for the female protagonist. Ingrid is such a compelling, modern character. As a company, we are very interested in female-centric stories.
“Also, I hadn’t seen a female defence barrister on television before. As I was reading it, I remember the feeling of, ‘Oh, she’s a woman, and she’s defended a man who’s up on a stalking charge. How does that sit with me personally?’ Drama is the stuff of conflicts and intriguing moral questions, so that was something to lean into as well.”
The Inns of Court are not the only memorable London location featured in The Killing Kind, which is scripted by Zara Hayes (Showtrial, Battle of the Sexes), who also directs, and Jonathan AH Stewart (Devotion).
The extremely photogenic Southbank, a site beloved of filmmakers down the years, also plays a key role in the series. “It’s a brilliant setting,” Cuddy says. “Just seeing Emma Appleton and Colin Morgan playing those roles at night on the Southbank is pure magic. It gives the show an authenticity, and it’s also a way of making it feel epic and rich.
“But it always goes back to character and story, and this location is so important to the drama because it is the place where Ingrid has met Webster in the past and also the place where she’s going to find out whether he is indeed back in her life, whether he’s friend or foe. It’s a beautiful coming together of all those elements – pictures, story, character and emotions.”
The River Thames also acts as a crucial character in The Killing Kind. Gutierrez says: “The Thames is, of course, an iconic location that translates across the world. We are trying to showcase the river as the heart of London and as a place that threads through Ingrid’s life.”
She adds: “The Thames is an image we come back to a lot within the show. There’s a feeling of Ingrid being constantly pulled towards the river, in terms of both her early relationship with John Webster but also the reality that the Inns of Court sit incredibly close to the river.”
Like the films of Richard Curtis or the novels of Charles Dickens, The Killing Kind is a love letter to London, but with a twist. Given the sinister nature of the story, the locations sometimes take on a darker hue.
Cuddy says that during production, “we talked about the love letters that have been filmed and written to London, the iconography of the locations and how we use that.
“Of course, with Ingrid and Webster, it is a messed-up love story, and so this was a London seen through a different kind of loving lens.”
Cuddy pinpoints the kind of tone that The Killing Kind, which debuts on Paramount+ on Thursday, is hoping to strike: “We have always loved watching dramas like Fatal Attraction, Jagged Edge and Big Little Lies; those big, compelling psychological thrillers. We’re after that great roller-coaster ride. We want to make a popcorn thriller, but with bite.”
What does Cuddy hope audiences will take away from The Killing Kind? “I hope they really enjoy the ride. When we were at the scripting stage, we talked about giving the audience a ride in terms of the story construction, the thrills and spills, the twists and turns, the mystery, the unravelling, the red herrings. There’s a joy in all that.
“That’s why we all read stories, watch telly, go to the movies. I hope viewers will find the drama riveting and propulsive and relish the buzz of watching it.”
A beat. “I also hope they eat a lot of popcorn.”