New detective drama McDonald & Dodds (previously titled ‘Invisible’), starring BAFTA-winner Jason Watkins alongside Bristol Old Vic Theatre School graduate Tala Gouveia (Cold Feet), begins on ITV this Sunday after filming at The Bottle Yard Studios last year.

All images courtesy of ITV / Mammoth Screen

Produced by Mammoth Screen (Poldark, World On Fire, The Pale Horse), the new series of feature length crime mysteries filmed over ten weeks from August to October last year, using The Bottle Yard as production headquarters and also building substantial sets at the Studios for the show’s central police station (pictured above) and interiors of a police incident trailer.

Whilst much of the exterior filming took place in Bath where the drama is set, Bristol Film Office also assisted the production team to shoot at a number of Bristol locations including Goldney Hall in Clifton, Wills Memorial Hall on Park Street, the Marriot Hotel on College Green and Queen’s Square.

Lead actor Jason Watkins is no stranger to Bristol’s Bottle Yard having filmed The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies and Trollied there previously. Speaking about getting into character as DS Dodds, he revealed how local crew played a key role. He says: “He has a local accent; that was quite important to get right because he’s born and bred in Bath. A lot of the crew were all local to Bath and Bristol, so I had to really keep my eye on the accent in the first week or two. But then after a while, if there was a particular word I wanted to check I’d go to a couple of the crew and ask them to say it.”

Managing Director of Mammoth Screen, Damien Timmer says: “It was an absolute pleasure to shoot McDonald & Dodds against the backdrop of modern Bath and Bristol, and we’re hugely grateful to the local communities for being so welcoming. The location takes centre stage in the series, and has provided us with a wealth of varied sites – from impressive Grade II listed buildings, cathedrals and gardens; to hospitals, libraries and gyms. In addition, it was wonderful to return to The Bottle Yard Studios to shoot an array of the interior scenes for the series. As such an easily accessible and versatile space to work in, it was the ideal base for the drama.”

Fiona Francombe, Site Director of The Bottle Yard Studios says: “We were fortunate enough to welcome three Mammoth Screen productions to The Bottle Yard last year; McDonald & Dodds, Poldark’s final series and the recent Agatha Christie thriller The Pale Horse. The fact that such a prolific and well-respectd company like Mammoth is embracing Bristol and the West Country for their productions is just fantastic for our region’s filming profile.”

Left: Tala Gouveia, episode one director Laura Scrivano &  Jason Watkins celebrate the wrap of filming in Bristol in October. Right: Filming in Bath.

McDonald & Dodds follows the wildly ambitious DCI McDonald (Gouveia), as she is paired with the shy, modest DS Dodds (Watkins). While McDonald has transferred from the mean streets of South London to leap up the career ladder, Dodds has happily languished on the shelf for most of his working life. McDonald is a tough, driven, battering ram of a cop who cracks cases through sheer force of will; Dodds – the tortoise to her hare – is quiet, unassuming and enigmatic. But thrust back into frontline action for the first time in a decade, he discovers a hidden talent for deciphering puzzles.

Each film takes us into a new story world – from a greed-fueled murder in the upper echelons of Bath society to an unexplained death in a private hospital for recovering addicts. With a classic crime story at its heart, McDonald & Dodds combines intriguing plots and the journey of two mismatched detectives with warmth and humour.

James Murray (Age Before Beauty, Primeval) stars as Chief Superintendent John Houseman, alongside Pearl Chanda (Motherland, Endeavour) as DC Laura Simpson and Jack Riddiford (Poldark, Murder On The Orient Express) as DC Darren Craig. Guest actors appearing in the first episode include BAFTA, Tony and Oliver Award winner Robert Lindsay (Bounty Hunters),

Ellie Kendrick (Game Of Thrones), Susannah Fielding (This Time With Alan Partridge), Rosalie Craig (Company) and Navin Chowdhry (Next Of Kin), whilst the second episode features Joanna Scanlan (No Offence), Hugh Dennis (Fleabag), Caroline Catz (Doc Martin), Freddie Fox (White House Farm), Michele Dotrice (Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em) and Kiran Sonia Sawar (Black Mirror).

McDonald & Dodds is executive produced by Robert Murphy and by Preethi Mavahalli and Damien Timmer for Mammoth Screen. Amy Thurgood has produced the series, whilst Richard Senior directed the first episode and Laura Scrivano the second. ITV’s Drama Commissioner, Huw Kennair Jones, has overseen production of the drama from the channel’s perspective. ITV Studios Global Entertainment will distribute McDonald & Dodds internationally.

McDonald & Dodds will air its first two-hour episode on ITV at 8pm on Sunday 1st March.