BBC drama bosses are set to spark further controversy in Whitehall with a new political thriller about the government "dancing too close to the corporate devil"

State of Play has been scripted by Paul Abbott, the writer of Clocking Off, and stars David Morrissey and John Simm

The drama focuses on a secret love affair, an investigative journalist and a high-flying member of parliament, and explores the issue of freedom of information and the government's relationship with big business

Mr Abbott, whose other credits include Linda Green, Touchingand Reckless, said: "State of Play is about the government dancing too close to the corporate devil

"By creating the link betweeen a rising star of the government and a young journalist, it looks at the way we're all fed information, the way it's laundered for mass consumption and how that translates once it makes the front page

"I fell in love with the idea of watching a tiny piece of journalistic gossip trigger an investigation that gradually unearths a scandal."

State of Play comes in the wake of a row over another BBC political drama, The Project, which charts the rise of three young New Labour spin doctors

Critics of the two-part drama - due to be screened in November - claim the main characters are thinly disguised caricatures of real people

One former aide to Tony Blair, spin doctor turned PR Tim Allan, even asked his lawyer to dispatch a letter to the BBC after he heard gossip suggesting one character was a mixture of himself and his former colleague, James Purnell, who is now an MP

However, BBC drama bosses have insisted the characters are entirely fictional

State of Play began filming last week in London and Manchester. The main cast members are Morrissey (who starred in Out of Control and Holding On), Simm (The Lakes, Crime and Punishment) Polly Walker and Kelly Macdonald (Trainspotting and Gosford Park)

State of Play is directed by David Yates, whose credits include the Bafta-winning The Way We Live Now

Jane Tranter, the BBC controller of drama commissioning, said the drama was "an intense, edgy story of deception, collusion and death whose twists and turns will keep viewers on the edge of their seats".