BBC on Bailey in We'll Take Manhattan

David Bailey at ATVThe BBC has announced the commission of single drama, We’ll Take Manhattan, which explores the explosive love affair between photographer, and ATV documentary producer, David Bailey and sixties supermodel Jean Shrimpton.


Set predominantly in 1962, but also exploring the story of how Bailey and Shrimpton first met, this one-off drama reveals how a young, visionary photographer refused to conform. He insisted on using the unconventional model Jean Shrimpton on an important photo shoot for British Vogue and, over the course of a freezing week in Manhattan, threw out the rule book and made startling, original photographs.

Richard Klein, Controller BBC Four, says: “The story of David Bailey and Jean Shrimpton is classic territory for BBC Four – a moment in time, a fusion of talents, that had a huge impact on cultural life. It is a drama that is all about being alive and taking a chance, being young and kicking down the statues, and yet it is also a beautiful love story. And if you want to know why our world looks like it does, then this is the drama that tells you.”

We’ll Take Manhattan is the story of that wild week, of Bailey and Jean’s love affair, and of how two young people accidentally changed the world forever.

Focusing on a wild and unpredictable 1962 Vogue photo shoot in New York, the drama brings to life the story of two young people falling in love, misbehaving, and inadvertently defining the style of the Sixties along the way.

Karen Gillan will play Jean Shrimpton, in her first lead role since starring alongside Matt Smith as Amy Pond in Doctor Who. The drama is produced by Kudos Film and Television for BBC Four.

Karen said: “Jean Shrimpton is an icon of the Sixties and I am so excited to be playing somebody who had such a lasting impact on the fashion world. I can’t wait to take on the challenge of bringing Jean and Bailey’s fascinating love story to life. Sixties here I come!

David Bailey created three documentary specials for ATV Network in the 1970s, which met with some controversy at the time.

With his standing among this artistic community Bailey was given unprecedented access to his interviewees, photographer Cecil Beaton, Italian film director Luchino Visconti and pop art legend Andy Warhol. The Appeal Court infamously banned the latter documentary when a complaint was lodged about its content by then sportcaster and Record Breakers host Ross McWhirter (later to be assassinated by the IRA).

Originally due to be broadcast in January 1973 it was pulled from schedule just hours before it was due to be shown when a court injunction was taken out against the production on the grounds that it was offensive and indecent. It took two months, unprecedented media coverage and the triumph of common sense over small-mindedness to finally show the documentary on the TV channel that originally commissioned it.

The Bailey interviews for ATV have since been released on DVD by Network, the release also includes a new chat with Bailey on his career. Filming of the BBC drama starts in May.