‘Love/Hate’ makers to produce new crime drama for RTÉ

Six-part series ‘Taken Down’ by novelist Jo Spain has been awarded BAI funding

Crime novelist Jo Spain is writing ‘Taken Down’, an RTÉ drama produced by Suzanne McAuley’s Spiral Pictures.

Crime novelist Jo Spain is writing ‘Taken Down’, an RTÉ drama produced by Suzanne McAuley’s Spiral Pictures.

 

RTÉ has commissioned a new six-part contemporary drama from the makers of Love/Hate and Irish crime novelist Jo Spain.

The series, called Taken Down, has been awarded €350,000 from the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) in its latest round of licence fee funding under the Sound & Vision scheme.

Taken Down will be the first television drama for the prolific Spain, the creator of the Inspector Tom Reynolds series of novels as well as standalones such as The Confession and the forthcoming Dirty Little Secrets.

The series will be produced by Spiral Pictures, a company led by managing director Suzanne McAuley, who produced Love/Hate and was executive producer on two other RTÉ dramas, RAW and Clean Break.

Stuart Carolan

Love/Hate creator Stuart Carolan recently became a company director of Spiral Pictures Ltd, as has David Caffrey, who directed most episodes of Love/Hate and whose television credits also include Peaky Blinders and Prime Suspect 1973.

Love/Hate, made by Octagon Films, was a ratings phenomenon for RTÉ, with its audience snowballing over the course of its five seasons to an average of more than 1 million viewers.

By the end of its run in 2014, more than half of the people in the Republic watching television in its Sunday evening time slot were glued to the activities of Nidge, Fran, Trish and company on RTÉ One.

The broadcaster has struggled to match its success since, in part because the highly competitive era of “peak TV” has stepped up even further since it finished.

Finance partners

The BAI funding of €350,000 represents a maximum of 7 per cent of the total budget of the RTÉ One production, and it is likely that RTÉ and Spiral will be seeking other finance partners.

“We expect to conclude discussions on financing with the producers in the coming weeks so at this stage we can’t comment further,” an RTÉ spokeswoman said.

While Love/Hate was a massive hit with audiences, RTÉ did not make money on the series and since then it has pursued a policy of signing up international funding partners and distributors from the UK, US and Canada before proceeding with high-end drama commissions.

From Dublin, Spain is a former political adviser for Sinn Féin who began her writing career when she was shortlisted for Richard & Judy’s Search for a Bestseller competition, which led to the publication of her first crime novel, With Our Blessing, in 2015.

Earlier this year, Spain dropped hints about the “hush-hush” project on The Irish Times Róisín Meets podcast, describing it as a “very female-led” original drama.

“I wanted to write female characters and I wanted to cast really good female actresses, because the roles aren’t being written for them,” she said.