What is The Confessions of Frannie Langton based on? The real inspiration behind the ITVX period drama

Frannie Langton is on trial for murder, but what really happened?

Karla-Simone Spence as Frannie and Sophie Cookson as Madame Benham in The Confessions of Frannie Langton
(Image credit: ITVX/Future)

The year is 1826 and Frannie Langton stands in court accused of brutally murdering her former master and mistress - but all is not as it seems in this story of scandal and forbidden love.

In preparation for the launch of its new streaming service ITVX, ITV have a host of excellent new drama ready to drop when the service launches. One of the exciting new shows is The Confessions of Frannie Langton, which tells the tale of the titular Frannie - a servant and former slave. Frannie has been accused of murdering her employer and his wife in this period thriller that moves from a sugar plantation in Jamaica, to the streets of Georgian London. Karla-Simone Spence and Sophie Cookson are set to star in this intriguing drama, that is sure to get viewers talking. Read on for the inspiration behind the series, and how to watch the 4-part series when it's released on December 8.

Also new to ITVX on December 8 is a spy thriller starring Damian Lewis and Guy Pearce. A Spy Among Friends based on (opens in new tab) an incredible story, is one the new streamer's most exciting new launches. Coming to ITVX later in the month, David Tennant's Litvinenko (opens in new tab) is one for the watch list. Tennant stars in the dramatisation of the events surrounding the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko - the former Russian Federal Security Services and KGB officer, who died from Polonium-210 poisoning. If you missed the excellent crime drama Karen Pirie, it will be added to ITVX for catch up viewing. Adapted for the screen by Emer Kenny, we answer questions about what the hit show is based on (opens in new tab)

What is The Confessions of Frannie Langton based on?

The Confessions of Frannie Langton is based on a book of the same name, by Sara Collins. The novel was first published in 2019, and was Collins' debut novel.

According to Sara Collins' website (opens in new tab), she is of Jamaican descent and grew up in Grand Cayman. After graduating from the London School of Economics, she spent 17 years working as a lawyer, before turning her hand to writing novels. Following the decision to change her career, Collins obtained a Master’s degree in Creative Writing with distinction from Cambridge University, where she was awarded the 2015 Michael Holroyd Prize. 

Sophie Cookson as Madame Benham and Karla-Simone Spence as Frannie in The Confessions of Frannie Langton

(Image credit: ITVX)

Emma Donoghue, author of Room, had high praise for the book. She said "By turns lush, gritty, wry, gothic and compulsive, The Confessions of Frannie Langton is a dazzlingly page turner. With as much psychological savvy as righteous wrath, Sara Collins twists together the slave narrative, bildungsroman, love story and crime novel to make something new."

Author of The Haunting of Henry Twist, Rebecca F. John, was just as enthusiastic, adding "I loved this novel. A literary page-turner, an engrossing murder mystery, and a deep meditation on freedom, choice, and what it means to have a voice, Sara Collins’ writing is as seductive as it is elusive – just like Frannie Langton herself. For all its horrors, I could have dallied in this opium-addled world with Frannie endlessly, another addict, hooked on Collins’ words." 

The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins £8.99 | Amazon (opens in new tab)

The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins £8.99 | Amazon (opens in new tab)

Read the book now adapted into a major new series on ITVX starring Karla-Simone Spence and Sophie Cookson

What happens in The Confessions of Frannie Langton

Frannie has spent most of her life enslaved in the Jamaican plantations, and continues to be a slave when she's gifted to scientist George Benham and his eccentric wife, Marguerite Benham by her former owner John Langton. Finding herself in Georgian London, Frannie's troubles continue.  

Working as a maid in her new household, Frannie falls in love with Marguerite, and the pair embark on an illicit love affair. However, when she wakes one morning to find a murdered Marguerite beside her, and George also dead, Frannie becomes the prime suspect for the killings. 

The biggest problem is that Frannie's laudanum addiction means she has no recollection of what happened the night the Benhams died. One thing she does know, is that she'd never kill the woman she loves. From her prison cell, Frannie battles the clock to try and recall what happened, in a race against time before she hangs for the crimes. Exploring race, oppression, and classism, the show creates a mystery that will keep viewers watching until the shocking truth is revealed. 

Jodhi May as Hep Elliot in The Confessions of Frannie Langton

(Image credit: ITVX)

Where can I watch The Confessions of Frannie Langton?

The Confessions of Frannie Langton will be exclusively available to watch on ITVX for free. ITVX has replaced the original ITV catch up service, ITV hub. All four episodes of the show will be available to view from December 8. 

Anyone who already has ITV Hub downloaded doesn't need to do anything to switch to ITVX, as this will happen automatically. For those who don't have ITVX,  the basic platform can be accessed for free by signing up for an account (opens in new tab), in the same way the basic ITV Hub previously worked. Functioning as an entry-level tier, viewers can find an extensive back catalogue of ITV shows, and anything they might've missed on ITV that they'd like to catch up with. 

There will be the ability to watch live TV available with the free option, with the only downside being that all shows will include adverts to make up for the service being free. To view the catalogue without ads, ITVX will have a premium subscription service for £5.99 per month or £59.99 per year. A benefit of watching The Confessions of Frannie Langton on ITVX is that it's being shown on the streamer well ahead of landing on ITV - it will be released there at a much later date, which currently hasn't been announced. 

Patrick Martins as Laddie Lightning in The Confessions of Frannie Langton

(Image credit: ITVX)

The Confessions of Frannie Langton: Cast

  • Karla-Simone Spence (Wannabe, Gold Digger) as Frannie Langton
  • Sophie Cookson (The Trial of Christine Keeler, Red Joan) as Madame Marguerite Benham
  • Patrick Martins (Redemption, Blasts From the Past) as Laddie Lightning
  • Stephen Campbell Moore (War of the Worlds, The One) as George Benham
  • Steven Mackintosh (Wanderlust, The Pact) as John Langton
  • Henry Pettigrew (Line of Duty, The Aftermath) as William Pettigrew
  • James Alexandrou (Eastenders, Casualty) as Constable Meek

In a statement about taking on the role of Frannie, Karla-Simone Spence said "It's an absolute honour and dream to bring to life the intelligent, forward thinking, resilient woman that is Frannie Langton. Her journey truly is extraordinary and that's all thanks to Sara Collins' incredible writing of three-dimensional women. I hold Frannie dear to my heart and I'm really looking forward to unleashing her."

John Langton actor Steven Mackintosh told Memorable TV (opens in new tab) "The Confessions of Frannie Langton is so many different things told in such a brilliant way. Sara Collins has taken the classic period drama and created an incredibly fresh perspective on it. At the same time it is a murder mystery, a story of passion and sensuality, a story with its origins in slavery and oppression. It manages to do so many different things in a very exciting, fresh and powerful way."

Karla-Simone Spence as Frannie in The Confessions of Frannie Langton

(Image credit: ITVX)

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Lucy Wigley
TV writer - contributing

Lucy is a multi-award nominated writer and blogger with six years’ experience writing about entertainment, parenting and family life. Lucy has contributed content to PopSugar and moms.com. In the last three years, she has transformed her passion for streaming countless hours of television into specialising in entertainment writing. There is now nothing she loves more than watching the best shows on television and telling you why you should watch them.