Sky and HBO have announced the casting of actor and comedian Michelle De Swarte (The Duchess) in the darkly comic horror, The Baby, from debut screenwriter Siân Robins-Grace (Kaos, Sex Education).

De Swarte, who made her acting debut as a series regular in Netflix series The Duchess is set to play 38 year-old Natasha, with Amira Ghazalla (The Rhythm Section, Sense8) and Amber Grappy also confirmed to line up alongside De Swarte.

The Sky and HBO co-production which has begun filming is co-created by Robins-Grace and Lucy Gaymer (credits as Production Manager include Gangs of London, Liar) and produced by SISTER (Giri/Haji, Chernobyl, Gangs of London) and Proverbial Pictures. The eight-part series will air on Sky Atlantic and streaming service NOW.

Michelle De Swarte plays Natasha, who is the friend who’s never made long-term plans. So when she is unexpectedly landed with a baby, her life of doing what she wants, when she wants, dramatically implodes. Controlling, manipulative and with violent powers, the baby twists Natasha’s life into a horror show. And as she discovers the true extent of its deadly nature, Natasha makes increasingly desperate attempts to get rid of the baby. But while she doesn’t want a baby, the baby wants her.

Stacey Gregg (Here Before, Little Birds) joins the production as the director for episodes two and three, alongside Faraz Shariat (No Hard Feelings, Druck) for episodes four, five and six and Ella Jones (Back to Life S2, Enterprice S2) who is confirmed to direct episodes seven and eight.

Michelle De Swarte said: “Natasha is an emotionally arrested, flawed and 100% relatable character that I find it hard not to fall in love with as I read through the scripts. To be able to play someone I not only understand but am rooting for is a dream come true. Siân has written someone with depth, honesty and an authenticity that is as hilarious as it is heart-wrenching. I feel extremely blessed to be working with so many kick ass women on a project that is deliciously female centred.”

Siân Robins-Grace and Lucy Gaymer said: “Our Casting Director Aisha Bywaters has done a phenomenal job in bringing together Michelle, Amira and Amber these three incredible actors to helm the cast. As soon as we met them it felt like the roles were written for them. We’re very excited to be working with Stacey, Faraz and Ella as directors across the show – brilliantly talented directors who will bring the episodes to life.”

Co-creator and writer Siân Robins-Grace is joined in an all-female writers room by Sophie Goodhart (Sex Education, My Blind Brother), Kara Smith (Apple Tree House), Anchuli Felicia King (White Pearl, Golden Shield) and Susan Stanton (HBO’s Emmy-winning Succession) with Bisha K. Ali (Ms.Marvel, Sex Education) as consultant.

The eight-episode first season will be produced by SISTER and Proverbial Pictures and Executive Produced by Jane Featherstone (Chernobyl, Giri/Haji), Carolyn Strauss (Chernobyl, Game of Thrones), Naomi de Pear (The Power, Flowers), Katie Carpenter (Landscapers, The Bisexual), Siân Robins-Grace (Kaos, Sex Education) and Nicole Kassell (Watchmen, The Leftovers) with Lucy Gaymer (credits as Production Manager include Gangs of London, Liar) producing. Nicole Kassell serves as lead director, followed by Stacey Gregg (Here Before, Little Birds), Faraz Shariat (No Hard Feelings, Druck) and Ella Jones (Back to Life S2, Enterprice S2). The Baby is Robins-Grace’s screenwriting debut.

The Baby was commissioned for Sky by Zai Bennett, Sky UK’s Managing Director of Content and Gabriel Silver, Director of Commissioning, Drama at Sky Studios, who also serves as the commissioning editor. The series is commissioned for HBO by Casey Bloys and Amy Gravitt. The series is a co-production between Sky and HBO.

Jon Creamer