A NEW historical TV drama exploring the key role the Forest of Dean played in Britain’s Industrial Revolution is being developed by award-winning filmmakers. 

Midlands-based production company Checklist Films is adapting a novel by local author Keith Thomas, ‘The Iron Rose’, for the small screen, with much of it set to be filmed here in the Forest.

The Iron Rose’ tells the story of steel pioneer Robert Forester Mushet, his family, the people, life and industries of the Forest during the 1800s. 

The book has been withheld from publishing for the time being with Keith set to work with Checklist on the series as Creator and Executive Producer.

Also signed on the work on the show are screenwriter and novelist John F. McDonald, and BAFTA-winning film and TV editor Nick Arthurs, who worked on Netflix’s ‘The Witcher’ and Paramount’s ‘The Alienist’, which starred Luke Evans and Dakota Fanning. 

Nick will serve as a Development Producer for the six-part series. 

Checklist says ‘The Iron Rose’ will be “an epic Victorian family saga” set in the midst of the industrial revolution, “in the competitively fought coal mines and iron furnaces where fortunes were made and lost.”

A description reads: “Told through the eyes of the family business successor Robert Forester Mushet from his youth, The Iron Rose tells the story of love, hate, loyalty and jealousy, ambition and despair, deception and dishonour, during a time when Britain was rapidly changing, and families strived – and feuded - to stay ahead or get forgotten about to the annals of time.

“Descending from a family of power spanning generations, Robert Forester Mushet is an ambitious man, obsessed with the innovative and technological advances of the industrial age, and making a name for himself. 

“As hot as the molten metal he produces and as tough as the steel he goes on to invent, he is risking it all by putting his personal happiness and fortune on the line to pioneer the next big thing. 

“But as success descends upon the family, he soon tastes the betrayal and deceit as other ambitious men circle to capitalise on his inventions and finds himself battling the dreaded Mushet curse, which plagues his family.

“The Iron Rose mixes passion, intrigue and love affairs with the ruthless ambitions of the 1800’s Iron Masters jostling for position and power. 

“This little-known slice of history is set to grip audiences across the globe.

The series is to be filmed at locations throughout Gloucestershire, including in the Forest. 

The Checklist team recently conducted a preliminary visit to one of the filming locations, Clearwell Caves.  

Creator and author Keith Thomas said: “Robert Mushet has been a part of my life for over 30 years as I have studiously researched his and his family’s fascinating story and impact on the steel industry and revolution. 

“It’s incredibly exciting to now be bringing these tangled stories to life on the screen. 

“And, in comparison to those dark satanic industrial days, we now live in a time of ecological fragility, and I am very proud to be working with Checklist Films, for its genuine ethical commitment and pioneering policy of sustainability.”

Keith, whose background is in precision engineering, began researching the Mushets when he moved to Coleford in 1989.

He has since played a key role in commemorating the family locally having helped to secure a £50,000 prize for Coleford in the late 90s, some of which was used to name the town’s Mushet Walk and create the archway in the town centre, which he designed and helped build.

Keith added of the TV production: “Rather than using the Forest as ‘just a film location’, such as Star Wars, Dr Who, The Huntsman, etc, ‘The Iron Rose’ will be about the Forest and people and will bring benefit and opportunities to the area. Thanks must go to The Coleford Partnership, The Dean Heritage Centre, Clearwell Caves , Hopewell Colliery and others of the Forest for their time, knowledge and assistance to achieve this.”

Keith also recently published a children’s novel, ‘Bodkyn and the Dragon Gang’, about two young ‘billy boys’ working in the iron mines of the Forest of Dean, which is available to buy now from all major sellers.

The publication of ‘The Iron Rose’ will coincide with the release of the TV series.