Channel 5 has greenlit a primetime thriller with the working title of The Cuckoo (4 x 60’) from Clapperboard Studios. Filming has begun on location in Ireland and the series is expected to air on Channel 5 in 2024.

The series was ordered for Channel 5 by Sebastian Cardwell, Deputy Chief Content Officer, UK at Paramount.  Barunka O’Shaughnessy (The Teacher, Motherland, Deadline) created the series and will Executive Produce alongside Clapperboard’s newly appointed Senior Executive Producer Suzi McIntosh (Silent Witness, Peaky Blinders), Clapperboard MD Mike Benson, and Abacus Media Rights MD Jonathan Ford.

O’Shaughnessy will also pen the first episode of the series with Rebecca Wojciechowski (Silent Witness, Death in Paradise, Holby City) on board as writer for episodes 2, 3 and 4. Brian O’Malley (The Ex-Wife, That Dirty Black Bag, Alex Rider) will direct. Abacus Media Rights will distribute the series internationally.

Jill Halfpenny (The Long Shadow, Everything I Know About Love, The Holiday) will lead the cast as Sian, a woman who inserts herself into the lives of married couple Nick and Jessica and their adopted daughter Alice. Lee Ingleby (The Long Shadow, The Serpent Queen, The Hunt for Raoul Moat) will star as Nick with Claire Goose (The Bay, Unforgotten, Waking the Dead) as Jessica and Freya Hannan-Mills (Swimming Home, Hereafter) starring as their daughter Alice. Marjorie Yates (Shameless, Moving On, Allelujah) will also feature as Aunt Fay.

The series follows the story of Sian, a lodger who is taken in by Nick and Jessica. They have just bought the house of their dreams, a grand doer-upper in the countryside town that Jessica grew up in. However, as the financial crisis hits the family fall on tough times and suddenly their home is on the line. They are forced to pull their adopted teenage daughter, Alice out of her private school and into the local comprehensive. Nick finds another job, but it’s still not enough to make ends meet. With no other choice, Jessica decides they need to take in Sian as a lodger to help.

Sian is beautiful, flirty, and mysterious. She immediately begins sowing discord within the family – acting too familiar with Nick, borrowing Jessica’s clothes, and building an increasingly inappropriate rapport with Alice. Jessica quickly realises something more insidious and twisted is going on and Jessica, Nick and Alice will be forced to fight for each other and their own lives.

Sebastian Cardwell, Deputy Chief Content Officer, UK at Paramount said: “We’re thrilled to be teaming up again with Clapperboard to bring this tense and twisty series to our viewers. Equipped with a gripping script and household names Jill Halfpenny, Lee Ingleby, Claire Goose and Marjorie Yates as our lead cast, The Cuckoo is another brilliant addition to our expanding drama slate.”

Suzi McIntosh, Senior Executive Producer at Clapperboard, added: “I could not be more excited to be gathering such a fantastic and dynamic cast and crew to make this thriller that will keep us on the edge of our seats throughout. Watch this space, we are all in for a treat.”

Michael Burns

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