BBC America gritty period drama “Copper” is in the works

I’ll be looking forward to this one. BBC America announced today the start of production on its first original drama series. Copper is “a gripping crime series set in 1860s New York City,” and stars Tom Weston-Jones (MI-5) as rough-hewn, coarse Irish-American detective Kevin Corcoran, who stalks the streets of the notoriously tough Five Points neighborhood.

Audiences have had glimpses of historically troubled Five Points before, most notably in Martin Scorsese’s 2002 Gangs of New York. A seedy, filthy and run-down area where the desperate and the destitute eked out their livings — or tried not to die, as Gangs might have described it — it’s a setting of raw and rich dramatic potential. With a dense, impoverished population, high levels of violent crime and infant mortality, it’s a perfect backdrop for human drama.

At the heart of Copper is Corcoran’s struggle to keep his sense of morality in an incredibly corrupt world. At the same time, he’s on a relentless personal quest to determine the truth of what became of his wife — who’s gone missing — and the cause of his daughter’s death. He’s assisted in the undertaking by a couple of Civil War comrades who, together, share a collective secret from the battlefield that has inextricably linked their lives forever.

Costarring with Weston-Jones among the cast are Kyle Schmid (Blood Ties) as Robert Morehouse, a well-to-do member of the social set; Ato Essandoh (Damages), who plays an African-American physician who covertly assists Corcoran in his work; Franka Potente (The Bourne Supremacy) as Eva Heissen, madam of a local brothel; and of course, a host of others.

The descent into the 19th-century slums begins when Copper premieres this summer. (Date TBA.)