Most fans of actress Ruth Wilson know her as either Alice Morgan, the antagonistic foil to Idris Elba in Luther, or as the titular character in the 2006 BBC adaptation of Jane Eyre. This year, however, viewers will get to see her tackle the most personal project she's ever taken on, Mrs. Wilson, the story of a woman named Alison Wilson, who discovers upon the death of her husband Alec that he was living a secret double life, including an entire second family with a wife and children.
Except Alison Wilson isn't just anyone. She's Ruth's grandmother, and the story of what happened is based in reality.
Alexander Wilson, Ruth's grandfather, didn't just have two wives, he had four altogether, though, over the course of the story, Alison doesn't find all of them. His work in the British Secret Intelligence Service, where Alison met him, was far more undercover than she ever knew. These marriages and relationships were all tied up in the work he was doing as a spy for the U.K., and to this day the full files on him are still deemed too sensitive by the Foreign Office to release to the extended families. It wasn't until 2007 that the full sets of Wilson relations from his various marriages all met for the first time.
Here's the show's official synopsis:
Set in 1940s and 1960s London and 1930s India, the series follows Alison Wilson, who thinks she is happily married until her husband, Alec, dies and a woman turns up on the doorstep claiming that she is the real Mrs. Wilson. Alison is determined to prove the validity of her own marriage – and Alec’s love for her – but is instead led into a world of disturbing secrets.
Mrs. Wilson brings together an all-star cast, starting with Ruth as her maternal grandmother, who worked hard to hide the scandal from her family, as well as find peace upon discovering the man she'd thought was her husband and hers alone for 22 years was not what he seemed. Alec Wilson is played by Iain Glen (Game of Thrones, Downton Abbey), and the other Mrs. Wilsons he married are played by Elizabeth Rider (Doctors, Informer) as Gladys, the first to come out of the woodwork, and Keeley Hawes (The Durrells, Bodyguard), as Dorothy, the second one Alison undercovers.
Mrs. Wilson was a smash hit when it aired in the U.K. last fall on BBC One, and has been nominated for multiple BAFTA TV awards, including for Lead Actress for Ruth Wilson and Supporting Actress for Keeley Hawes. Reviews so far in the states are also praising the story, especially Ruth's turn as the lead. We'll be recapping here at Telly Visions, so check back on Sunday to discuss the series with us.
Mrs. Wilson arrives with a double episode on Sunday, March 31, at 9 p.m. ET on most PBS stations and concludes on Sunday, April 7, at 9 p/m. ET ahead of the premiere of Unforgotten Season 3. As always, check your local listings.