Episodes: 24 (hour)
TV show dates: March 29, 2017 — August 28, 2020
Series status: Cancelled
Performers include: Samantha Morton, Lesley Manville, Jessica Brown-Findlay, Eloise Smyth, Kate Fleetwood, Danny Sapani, Douggie McMeekin, Hugh Skinner, Edward Hogg, Rory Fleck-Byrne, Pippa Bennett-Warner, Lottie Tolhurst, Bronwyn James, Holli Dempsey, Alexa Davis, Poppy Corby-Teuch, Rosalind Eleazar, Dorothy Atkinson, Jordon Stevens, Josef Altin, and Jordan A. Nash.
TV show description:
A period family drama series set in 18th century Georgian London, Harlots delves into the world’s oldest profession. The story follows Margaret Wells (Morton) and her daughters Charlotte (Brown-Findlay) and Lucy (Eloise Smyth), as she endeavors to balance her roles as both a mother and a brothel owner.
In 1763 London, 20% of women supported themselves by working in the sex trade. Margaret’s family has done so for generations. Now the owner of a middle-class Covent Garden brothel, she wields her sense of humor as both a weapon and a shield.
Although a fair employer by the standards of the times, Margaret does take a sizable percentage of her workers’ earnings. Still, she encourages them to avoid the pitfalls of the life, including booze, and also instructs them to save their money.
As Margaret’s eldest daughter, the beautiful Charlotte is a London celebrity. Fiercely independent, she is not one to obey. Her relationships, therefore, don’t last very long. It’s no wonder things are not easy between Charlotte and her current “keeper” Sir George Howard (Skinner).
While Margaret’s brothel is in a seedy section of the city, she’s making strides toward moving the family to a new home in the West End’s Soho neighborhood. Margaret’s goal is financial success, but sometimes, she gets tunnel vision to the detriment of all else she holds dear.
Although she has been raised her whole life to expect to join the family business. Margaret’s teenaged daughter, Lucy, cannot adapt to a life of prostitution but knows there are not many other opportunities for a girl raised in a brothel.
Lydia Quigley (Manville) is Margaret’s cutthroat competitor. Described as the “Lady Macbeth” of madams, she runs an extravagant Soho brothel, full of well-kempt, accomplished girls.
Still, she’s as much of a prison warden as she is an employer, and her workers are unhappy. The bad blood between Lydia and Margaret is long-standing. As Margaret’s success grows, Lydia resolves to cut her down. Lydia’s weak spot is her useless son, Charles (McMeekin).
Although Lydia owns one of Soho’s most successful (if miserable) brothels, she does not welcome competition. After Margaret’s brothel is raided, Margaret understands she is at war with a dangerous enemy.
A dominatrix, Nancy Birch (Fleetwood), is Margaret’s closest friend. When they were young, the two worked for Lydia — a bully Nancy loathes.
Nancy lets out rooms in her run-down house to struggling harlots. While she is hardly maternal, she has her own way of looking out for vulnerable girls.
Strong and loyal, William North (Sapani) is Margaret’s partner, lover, and bouncer, who will service female customers when need be.
Although they are not married, the two share a ten-year-old son, Jacob (Nash), who is a pageboy in the brothel. As a couple, Margaret and William are well matched.
As Blayne tightens his grip on power, Lydia is faced with a terrible choice. And with the Wells-Pincher feud coming to a head and Nancy firmly in Hal’s sights, just how far is he willing to go for revenge?
First aired: August 28, 2020.
What do you think? Do you like the Harlots TV show? Do you think it should have been cancelled or renewed for a fourth season?