Happy Valley creator Sally Wainwright has penned a new period drama

First look at Happy Valley creator Sally Wainwright’s new period drama coming to Disney+ next year – and you might recognise the main character

  • Renegade Nell will launch on streaming service Disney+ next spring
  • READ MORE: The greatest 100 TV shows ever made REVEALED (and number 1 will come as no surprise!)… but does YOUR favourite make the list?

After Sally Wainwright’s hit BBC series, Happy Valley, concluded at the beginning of 2023, many fans of the Yorkshire-born writer’s work have been left wanting for another one of her creations.

But luckily for Sally stans, there isn’t very long left to wait, as her new period drama is set to land on Disney+ next year.

The Ballad of Renegade Nell is a series set in the 18th Century about a young woman who finds herself framed for murder and subsequently goes on the run to become a highwayman.

It stars Derry Girls’s Louisa Harland in the titular role, alongside other familiar names including Adrian Lester and Joely Richardson.

The stellar cast is also being led by Ben Taylor, who directed Netflix’s smash hit Sex Education. 

Louisa Harland stars in new Sally Wainwright drama Renegade Nell, which will launch on Disney+ next Spring

Renegade Nell, slated for release on the streaming platform in the spring, will likely follow Wainwright’s trend of putting complex female characters at the forefront of her stories – particularly when it comes to period dramas.

The plotline of Gentleman Jack, Wainwright’s other period drama, depicts, among other things, a love story between two women as she subverts the traditional love stories told by writers in stories from that time.

Speaking about the BBC and HBO hit starring Suranne Jones, Wainwright told the Guardian historical dramas in their traditional sense are not her favourite genre.

Among the supporting cast is Joely Richardson who stars as newspaper magnate Lady Eularia Moggerhange

Adrian Lester stars as the Earl of Poynton, a power-hungry character who pursues the fugitive Nell

As Nell journeys across the country she is accompanied by her two younger sisters

She said: ‘There has been this slavish adaptation of things like Jane Austen, which I just find irrelevant. They seem to be obsessed with: ‘Can you find a man? Are you pretty enough to find a rich man?’ As if that’s all women care about. 

‘It leaves me cold.’ 

According to streaming service Disney+, Renegade Nell will see Louisa Harland’s Nell go on the run after she’s accused of murder – becoming a notorious highwayman in the process.

As she travels the country as a fugitive, Nell is visited by a spirit named Billy Blind (played by Ted Lasso’s Nick Mohammed) who helps her realise she has a bigger destiny.

She is accompanied by her close friend and loveable rogue Charles Devereux (Frank Dillane) while the pair are pursued by a power-hungry duo of the Earl of Poynton (Adrian Lester) and Sofia Wilmot (Alice Kremelberg).

Also in the supporting cast is Joely Richardson, who plays newspaper magnate Lady Eularia Moggerhange.

According to the streaming platform, the series will be made up of eight 45 minute-long episodes and will land next spring.

Louisa Harland, best known for playing Orla McCool in Derry Girls, is currently starring alongside Woody Harrelson and Andy Serkis in a West End play.

Ulster American, written by Belfast playwright David Ireland, follows the story of playwright Ruth Davenport and takes on dark subjects in relation to The Troubles.

Speaking to the Guardian this week ahead of the play opening, Harrelson described his co-star Louisa as: ‘frickin phenomenal’.

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