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BBC Summons ‘The Living and the Dead’ from Creators of ‘Life on Mars’

BBC One, the U.K. pubcaster’s flagship channel, and BBC America have ordered an hourlong paranormal series, “The Living and the Dead,” from the co-creators of “Life on Mars,” Ashley Pharoah and Matthew Graham.

“The Living and the Dead” was unveiled Friday at the Edinburgh Television Festival by Charlotte Moore, the controller of BBC One, which is watched by more than 40 million viewers a week.

The series is set in the English countryside in 1888, and centers on Nathan Appleby, a gentleman farmer who is obsessed with proving the existence of the afterlife. Appleby investigates hauntings, paranormal happenings, and ghostly visitations, encouraged by the Society for Psychical Research. Soon his interest in the occult poses a threat to his family, his livelihood and his sanity.

In a statement, Pharoah and Graham said they want the show to be “moving, tender, sensual… and very, very scary.”

Pharoah and Graham’s crime drama “Life on Mars” centered on a present-day detective who, after suffering near-fatal injuries in a car-crash, awoke to find himself living in 1973. It won two International Emmys and was nominated for a BAFTA 10 times, and was remade for ABC in the States.

Pharoah and Graham also wrote “Ashes to Ashes,” which was a sequel of sorts to “Life on Mars,” with many of the same characters, but this time set in 1981, and with a different time-travelling detective.

Pharoah’s other credits include dramas “Where the Heart Is,” “Wild at Heart” and “Moonfleet.” Graham’s drama shows include “The Last Train,” “POW,” “Walk Away” and “I Stumble.”

“The Living and the Dead” will shoot in England’s West Country next year. Casting has yet to be announced.

The series, which has been commissioned by Moore and Ben Stephenson, controller of BBC drama commissioning, is a BBC Wales Drama production in association with Monastic Productions and co-produced with BBC America.

The executive producers are Pharoah and Graham for Monastic Productions, and Faith Penhale, head of BBC Wales Drama Production, and Katie McAleese for BBC Wales Drama Production. It will be distributed internationally by BBC Worldwide.

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