Actress to play lead role in drama series set against an international political backdrop.

Maggie Gyllenhaal is to play the lead role in Hugo Blick’s drama series The Honourable Woman for BBC Two and Sundance Channel.

Shooting starts in July in London on the thriller set against an international political backdrop written and directed by BAFTA award winner Blick. The Honourable Woman is set in the UK, the Middle East and America, and will film on location.

It will be broadcast on BBC Two and the Sundance Channel in 2014.

Following the murder of a Palestinian business man, Nessa Stein (Gyllenhaal) and her brother Ephra find themselves placed under the scrutiny of both Whitehall and the Secret Intelligence Service. Nessa is then forced to confront the true nature of her business empire, inherited from her father who was a Zionist arms procurer.

Gyllenhaal commented: “I couldn’t put the scripts down. Nessa is such an exciting and intricate character. I can’t wait to begin filming.”

Polly Hill, head of independent drama for the BBC, said: “Maggie Gyllenhaal will be a perfect Nessa Stein, and I am delighted that she has agreed to play her. Hugo Blick has created a complex character in Nessa, with an extraordinary story and the combination of Hugo’s stunning scripts and Maggie Gyllenhaal in the lead role is an exciting and powerful combination.”

Commissioned by the controller of BBC drama Ben Stephenson with controller of BBC Two Janice Hadlow, The Honourable Woman is the first project for new production company Drama Republic, alongside Blick’s Eight Rooks Productions and co-produced by Sundance Channel.

The Honourable Woman is scintillating drama: it is both a tightly plotted international political thriller and a superbly wrought character piece about hope, compromise, guilt and families. The talent both behind and in front of the camera is remarkable, we are so excited to present this brilliant and wildly entertaining mini-series to our viewers,” added Sundance Channel president Sarah Barnett.

BBC Worldwide holds international distribution rights; Jemma Adkins, SVP scripted sales and co-productions, brokered the deal.

Blick, Greg Brenman (Drama Republic) and Hill executive produce, with Abi Bach (Small Island) producing.