Following the void left by Peaky Blinders, fans are reportedly set to receive a new injection of criminal underworld drama in the form of new series, Dope Girls.
The BBC are said to be working on a series based on the true story of a single mother who built up a a series of London nightspots which facilitated drug use.
At these illicit hotspots, cocaine and heroine were available freely and shockingly for the time were available to both male and female punters.
The drama is reportedly being produced by Bad Wolf Drama and is being created with a similar feel to the Birmingham-based gangster hit in the ‘same universe’.
This section of society rose up following the time of the Great War and was led by Kate Meyrick, who encouraged hedonists to participate in the ever-growing recreational drugs market.
The legacy continues! Following the void left by Peaky Blinders, fans are reportedly set to receive a new injection of criminal underworld drama in the form of new series, Dope Girls
Ringleader: This section of society rose up following the time of the Great War and was led by Kate Meyrick (pictured), who encouraged hedonists to participate in the ever-growing recreational drugs market
The character who is based on the real life criminal trailblazer, is likely to be played by a strong female lead such as Keeley Hawes, Surranne Jones or Gemma Arterton.
Meyrick created a part of society where women were safe to get their kicks using sex and booze, which otherwise would have been condemned.
She quickly garnered a reputation for being the ‘most dangerous woman in London’, and is thought to have made £500,000 (£17million in today’s money).
The drama has been inspired by Marek Kohn’s 1992 book Dope Girls. A TV insider told the Sun: ‘This is one of the most exciting TV projects in years and has lots of similarities to Peaky Blinders.
The role of Meyrick will be one of the most sought after in the industry, as she was a trailblazer for women’s independence and strength.
‘Her story isn’t well known and deserves to be in the spotlight. This isn’t just a female version of Peaky Blinders, it’s a stand-alone story that will shock millions.’
Meyricks empire will likely put Tommy Shelby’s in the shadows.
She was a ‘tiny wisp of a woman’ who presided over some of London’s most glamorous nightspots in the roaring 20s, while forging an unconventional path as a single mother-of-eight.
History: The role of Meyrick will be one of the most sought after in the industry, as she was a trailblazer for women’s independence and strength (pictured Meyrick receives a basket to welcome her home from prison)
Meyrick had a small legacy from her great aunt and a share portfolio and rental income from properties in Ireland, and after spotting an advert for a partner to run tea dances, she opened Dalton’s Club in Leicester Square in 1919.
Royals, millionaires and film stars who wanted to indulge in champagne and the Charleston, and flappers who set the trend in their feathered headbands mingled with violent characters and prostitutes at her clubs.
These venues ingored alcohol curfews while boasting of their exclusivity, and Mary found herself in prison five times for playing fast and loose with the licencing laws.
Most popular was the intimate hub the 43 on Gerrard Street, which has been recreated for an exhibition at The National Archives, The 1920s: Beyond The Roar.
Born in Ireland in 1875, the early years of Meyrick’s life were turbulent.
Having lost both of her parents by age seven, she was brought up by her maternal grandmother Isabella Bateman and two grand aunts and educated by a governess until the age of 16.
She admits in her memoir to having been a ‘thoroughly wayward child’, who preferred adventure to convention.
Perhaps in preparation for her future glitzy life of jazz clubs and rubbing shoulders with high profile individuals, Meyrick abandoned her plans to become a doctor after leaving Alexandra College in 1893 and began to network with Dublin society.
According to the Dictionary of Irish Biography, She married Ferdinand Richard Holmes Merrick, who was a good-looking, blonde, doctor specialising in psychiatric medicine, in a ceremony performed by her stepfather in St John’s church, Monkstown.
The couple soon settled down on the Hampshire coast after a short period of living in Dublin and welcomed their first child, Mary Isabel in 1900.
Two years later Kate gave birth to their second child Dorothy Elevyn, and the family for reasons unknown decided to change the spelling of their surname to Meyrick.
When Ferdinand began taking residential mental health patients as his practice grew, Kate found herself in risky situations with one patient even getting hold of a carving knife.
Despite being pregnant with their sixth child, she decided to file for divorce in 1910 accusing Ferdinand of ‘cruelty adultery’.
The couple had two more children after reconciling but once again separated with Kate initiating a divorce in 1920 and Ferdinand petitioning in 1921.
They remained married in name only after these unsuccessful attempts to dissolve their union.
The canny businesswoman rightly set her sights on making the most of the burgeoning nightlife industry, with women eager to make the most of newfound independence that came with getting jobs after the war.
World War One had just ended, spiraling the nation into social unrest and protests, but people found comfort in the golden age of the nightclub fueled by jazz music and cabaret.
Stars and aristocrats alike were drawn to the rebellious excitement of venues that ignored alcohol curfews while boasting of their exclusivity.
Kate invested the equivalent of £25,000 in Dalton’s Club according to Women Who Meant Business, which attracted an elite guestlist including the King of Denmark, alongside violent characters and prostitutes.
Then came The 43 Club opening in 1921 after a change in the Licensing Act stated that drinks could be served until 12.30am if accompanied by food.
Kate was repeatedly fined for pushing the boundaries with her clubs, so she decided to get men to front her businesses while she remained a hands-on boss.
Despite being ‘a tiny wisp of a woman’ she kept her eye on guests as they entered her 80-capacity venue to refuse entry to anyone who she found suspicious.
Trailblazer: Kate was repeatedly fined for pushing the boundaries with her clubs, so she decided to get men to front her businesses while she remained a hands-on boss (pictured with two of her children)
Nightclubs were seen as immoral by some but that didn’t stop the Prince Christopher of Greece Augustus John, Joseph Conrad, Prince Carol of Romania, the Dukes of Manchester, Leeds and Norfolk from visiting The 43, according to Tatler.
Oxbridge rowers and rugby players filled the club to celebrate their victories, and even the Romanian royal family mixed with the ‘Bright Young Things’ of London.
Millionaire Jimmy White once supplied the club’s patrons with champagne all evening after arriving with six Daimlers, while Rudolph Valentino was mistaken for a waiter because he was carrying a tray of cocktails.
Kate, who had eight nightclubs in London and one in Paris, ran The 43 for the longest period despite having to change the name of 43 Gerrard Street, Soho numerous times due to raids.
Her frequent fines for breaking licensing laws, eventually led to her first prison sentence of six months in 1924.
Kate went on to have a series of short prison sentences before suspicions about her hiatus in prosecutions revealed that she had been offering bribes to Sergeant George Goddard.
She wrote to the Home Secretary from prison, claiming Goddard had blackmailed her.
He was dismissed from the police force for ‘neglect of duty and failing to give any satisfactory explanation of his receipt of large sums of ready money from an unknown source.’
In and out of jail: Kate went on to have a series of short prison sentences before suspicions about her hiatus in prosecutions revealed that she had been offering bribes to Sergeant George Goddard (pictured with two of her children)
Meanwhile, Kate emerged from Holloway Prison two stone lighter and visibly frail after serving just 12 of the 15-month prison sentence with hard labour that she was given.
Having returned to work in the clubs, she went on to be sent to prison twice in the next two years.
Kate finally agreed to end her work in nightclubs after a further court appearance and decided to write her relatively discreet book about her career to generate income. She claimed the high running costs of her VIP clubs and school fees took a large amount of her finances.
The National Archives have been able to get a wealth of information about Kate from her records.
Despite repeatedly breaking the law, Kate was seen as an icon of the 1920s having frequently made headlines while successfully providing for her eight children.
Running until June, the exhibition has the recreation of The 43 nightclub at its heart complete with a stage, piano and chairs set to the sound of 1920s jazz.
Profits: Kate, who died aged just 57, used the profits from her nightclubs to send her daughters to Roedean and sons to Harrow. Pictured: Kate with four of her eight children
Kate wrote about her interest in people in her book Secrets of the 43, claiming: ‘It is at night that people become alive and real to me.’
She died of pneumonia aged 57, having sent her daughters to Roedean and her sons to Harrow using profits from the clubs.
Estranged husband Ferdinand attended her funeral at St Martins-in-the-Fields, with the West End lights briefly dimming that day in Kate’s honour.
Their children went to have well-connected unions with second daughter Dorothy marrying the 26 Baron de Clifford in 1926 and a year later, her eldest, May, wed the 14 Earl of Kinnoull. Eileen married Edward Fitzroy St. Aubyn, an ex-Grenadier Guards officer in 1933, while Irene married Lord Craven in 1939.
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