Love, Art & Freedom Combine in Gothic Thriller The Doll Factory

Adapted for television from the best-selling novel by Elizabeth Macneal, The Doll Factory features a story of love, art and freedom. Set in 1851 London, the drama follows Iris, who paints dolls for a living but dreams of becoming an artist; Silas, a taxidermist who hopes to find an item that will catapult him to fame; and Louis, an artist searching for his next muse. As their worlds collide, Iris is offered an opportunity to start a new life, but to do so, she must abandon her sister, sacrifice her reputation and launch herself into the unknown. Cineflix Rights is taking the six-part series out to the international market, launching the title at MIPCOM.

“Our U.K. production partner Buccaneer optioned the IP and found a brilliant, talented young writer in Charley Miles to write the series,” explains Tom Misselbrook, senior VP of scripted sales and development at Cineflix Rights. “With our close ties to Buccaneer, coupled with the obvious draw of the creativity and ambition of the series, it felt like a ***Image***straightforward investment for Cineflix Rights. It also offered our scripted slate something unique, and that variety in our lineup is important to ensure we can appeal to global audiences.”

The Doll Factory has the pace and drama of a modern-day thriller, set in the gothic grime of a heightened Victorian London. “It’s an incredible piece of television in terms of execution,” Misselbrook says. “Buccaneer and the production team have done a fantastic job to deliver a rich, vibrant 1850s London, and not like something we’ve seen on-screen before. It’s incredibly stylized but leans into the gothic elements of that time in equal measure, so it brings an intriguing balance of beauty and horror to the screen, which is completely absorbing.”

He adds that one of the things that stood out about the project to Cineflix Rights was the talent behind the camera: an all-female team, from Macneal as the author to writer Charley Miles, director Sacha Polak and executive producer Anna Burns. “The novel tackles themes of misogyny and the relentless mistreatment of women,” Misselbrook says. “It’s a story about a woman who dares to take what she wants in a world that would rather kill her. So, this fantastic ensemble of female creatives brings the characters and world to life through a uniquely female lens.”

The cast includes Esmé Creed-Miles as Iris, Éanna Hardwicke as Silas and George Webster as Louis. “It’s a young and exciting cast who bring these characters to life in an intricate and intelligent way,” adds Misselbrook. “Casting the three key roles in this story was important, not just to help elevate the series but also to ensure the chemistry of the characters, stuck in this sort of love triangle, delivered on the screen. Esmé Creed-Miles’ turn as Iris is mesmerizing and comes not long after her bow in Prime Video’s Hanna. Éanna Hardwicke’s (The Sixth CommandmentNormal People) performance as Silas is both brilliant and menacing. George Webster (Masters of the AirWedding Season) plays the charismatic Louis and is simultaneously lovable and loathable.”

He acknowledges that some international buyers can be hesitant about period drama because there may be a more limited audience for this type of series. But The Doll Factory, he says, “while having a period setting, has a sharp modern gaze and so feels very contemporary, which coupled with the twist of suspense-horror running through it and its youthful cast ensures it’s an accessible, provocative series. TVNZ and SBS Australia came on board as early partners, and we had a brilliant response to the series following the screening of the pilot episode at the LA Screenings. We’re excited to be taking it to MIPCOM ahead of the worldwide premiere on Paramount+ in the U.K. later this year.”

Above all, he says the drama is “bold, striking and original, and it’s the type of series that stays with you after you’ve watched it. We’ve seen quite a bit of discussion around anti-ambient TV recently, and we feel like this is a series that embraces that notion. We’ve always been creatively led in our decision-making across our scripted slate, a value that is at the core of the company, and The Doll Factory is the perfect addition to our lineup.”