RTÉ and Acorn commission period post-mortem mystery Dead Still

Six-part international co-production set in 1880s Ireland now filming in Dublin

Michael Smiley, lead actor on new RTÉ co-production Dead Still. Photograph: Dave J Hogan / Getty Images.

Michael Smiley, lead actor on new RTÉ co-production Dead Still. Photograph: Dave J Hogan / Getty Images.

 

RTÉ and US-owned streaming service Acorn TV have commissioned a new period mystery, Dead Still, from Dublin-based Deadpan Pictures and Toronto-based production company Shaftesbury.

The series, which is now filming on location in and around Dublin, will air on RTÉ and on Acorn TV in the US in 2020.

The Irish-Canadian co-production is written by Irish writer John Morton and directed by Imogen Murphy and Craig David Wallace. The cast includes Michael Smiley, Kerr Logan, Eileen O’Higgins, Aidan O’Hare, Mark Rendall and Martin Donovan.

Set in 1880s Ireland, the six-part “gallows humour” drama centres on what was then the popular practice of memorial portraiture.

The plot follows a renowned memorial photographer (Irish actor Smiley) as he investigates the murders of his recently deceased subjects and begins to suspect a serial killer is cashing in on a taste for “snuff” pictures.

Germany’s ZDF Enterprises is also involved in the production, which was made with support from Screen Ireland, Creative Europe, the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, the Irish Section 481 tax credit and various Canadian tax credits.

The drama is being executive-produced by Paul Donovan, Ailish McElmeel, Christina Jennings and Scott Garvie and produced by Suzanne McAuley, who was executive producer of RTÉ dramas Love/Hate and Taken Down.

International distribution

Acorn Media Enterprises, a London-based division of Acorn TV, has the rights for the US, Australia, New Zealand and UK, as well as co-premiere rights in Canada, while ZDF will distribute the series in the rest of the world.

Acorn is owned by RLJ Entertainment, a subsidiary of television and film company AMC Networks.

“John Morton has written a truly unique series and RTÉ is delighted to work with Deadpan Pictures again and our partners at Acorn, ZDF Enterprises, and Shaftesbury. We can’t wait to introduce this mysterious and intriguing drama to Irish audiences,” said Shane Murphy, RTÉ’s group head of drama and comedy.

Mr Murphy was appointed to this role a year ago, joining RTÉ from his position as managing director of Acorn Media Enterprises. Acorn also recently worked with RTÉ on Amy Huberman comedy Finding Joy.