The BBC and Showtime have commissioned new 6×60’ gothic thriller The Woman in the Wall, led by BAFTA Award winner Ruth Wilson (Mrs Wilson, The Affair, Luther) and co-starring Daryl McCormack (Good Luck to You Leo Grande, Peaky Blinders, Bad Sisters).
Produced by Motive Pictures (an Endeavor Content backed company), Wilson will also executive produce with series creator BAFTA Award-nominated Joe Murtagh (Calm With Horses) and BAFTA Award-nominee Harry Wootliff (True Things, Only You) who will direct multiple episodes. Rachna Suri (Half Bad) joins as second block director. The new drama, which will air on BBC One and iPlayer in the UK and on Showtime in the US and be distributed by Paramount Global Content Distribution in all other territories, will examine the legacy of one of Ireland’s most shocking scandals – the inhumane institutions known as “The Magdalene Laundries”.
Lorna Brady (Wilson) is a woman from the small, fictional town of Kilkinure, who wakes one morning to find a corpse in her house. Chillingly, Lorna has no idea who the dead woman is or if she herself might be responsible for the apparent murder… That’s because Lorna has long suffered from extreme bouts of sleepwalking, understood to have manifested around the time she was ripped from her life at the age of 15 and incarcerated in the Kilkinure Convent. The Convent was home to one of Ireland’s infamous Magdalene Laundries, a place where women were taken when they fell afoul of the social mores of their times – from those accused of committing adultery to teenage pregnancies. When it finally closed its doors, a score of survivors were left suffering in its wake. Very few women were able to go on and lead relatively normal lives, and others, such as Lorna, were even less fortunate in their fate. One thing all survivors had in common, is that none of them would ever forget.
Unluckily for Lorna, the extremely ambitious, albeit elusive Detective Colman Akande (McCormack) is now also on her tail for a crime which is seemingly unrelated to the dead woman she’s discovered in her house. Colman quickly rose through the ranks of the Garda Síochána thanks to his natural aptitude for the job. He possesses a dark and sometimes scathing wit but there is a quiet sadness to him that even he doesn’t understand, and he’s hiding his own secrets from the world…
Creator and Executive Producer Joe Murtagh says, “My family is from Mayo, the county in which the fictional Kilkinure is set, and it deeply frustrates and saddens me that it feels so few people have heard of the Laundries that existed across Ireland. I hope that by making something that has the familiarity of a genre piece we are able to shed some light on the awful things that occurred within these kind of institutions and introduce this history to the wider public, so that nothing like it may ever happen again.”
Ruth Wilson who serves as Executive Producer adds, “Lorna Brady is a complex and fascinating character and I’m thrilled to help bring her to life. In “The Woman in the Wall” Joe has created both an enthralling gothic thriller and a moving examination of the legacy of The Magdalene Laundries. It’s a privilege to bring this story to screens.”
Sam Lavender and Simon Maxwell, Executive Producers for Motive Pictures add “Joe Murtagh has crafted a brilliantly inventive and emotionally powerful exploration of the personal and collective traumas experienced by the survivors of the Magdalene laundries and Mother & Baby Homes. It’s a testament to the unique quality of Joe’s scripts that this series/show has attracted the extraordinary talents of Ruth Wilson, Daryl McCormack and director Harry Wootliff to work with us to bring this profoundly relevant story to audiences around the world.”
Ben Irving, Acting Director of BBC Drama, says: “It’s a real pleasure to announce this remarkable new series for BBC One and iPlayer. Joe Murtagh’s scripts are surprising, moving, and continually compelling, with two lead characters who I cannot wait to see brought to life by the extraordinary talents of Ruth Wilson and Daryl McCormack. With Harry Wootliff in the director’s chair, audiences are in for six incredible hours of drama.”
Jana Winograde, President of Entertainment, Showtime Networks, says: “The Woman in the Wall takes on a startling story about a notorious and heartbreaking scandal in Ireland, one that destroyed the lives of women for more than 200 years. We are thrilled to bring the incomparable Ruth Wilson back to SHOWTIME with such a powerful, moving series that is also incredibly relevant to our culture today.”
Director Harry Wootliff says: “I am thrilled to be collaborating with Joe on this show and also to be reunited with Ruth, to work on something that is beautifully written, profoundly moving, and so fresh and unique in its delivery that it’s almost impossible to define.”
Produced by Motive Pictures for the BBC and Showtime, The Women in the Wall will be Executive Produced by Sam Lavender (Saint Maud, The Lobster, ‘71), Simon Maxwell (Get Millie Black, Deep State), Joe Murtagh, Ruth Wilson and Harry Wootliff. Rachna Suri joins as second block director. The series was commissioned by Charlotte Moore, BBC Chief Content Officer, and Piers Wenger, Former Director of BBC Drama, and Jana Winograde and Gary Levine for Showtime.
Photography credit: Pip
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