Sports, gangsters and an OAP B&B on Virgin Media autumn schedule
Thriller by Derry Girls creator Lisa McGee to be screened by broadcaster in months ahead
Lisa McGee and Toby Beer at Virgin Media Television’s autumn launch in Ballymount, Dublin on Wednesday. Photograph: Brian McEvoy.
Sport looks set to be the main attraction for Virgin Media Television viewers in the coming months with soccer, rugby and racing at the forefront of the broadcaster’s autumn schedule.
The company will be showing the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League, Euro 2020 Qualifiers, Heineken Champions Cup Rugby, The Six Nations and the Cheltenham and Aintree Grand National Festivals. It is also introducing a new sports news and opinion programme.
Derry Girls creator Lisa McGee will return to the small screen with her first television thriller The Deceived, an original commission on which Virgin Media has partnered with Channel 5.
Speaking at the company’s Ballymount studios on Wednesday, McGee said her new thriller is a complete departure from Derry Girls.
“It’s a dark story about a young Cambridge student who falls in love with her Irish lecturer and follows him to Donegal. However there’s a mysterious death and everything she thought she knew about him starts to fall apart,” she said.
The success she has enjoyed with Derry Girls has not made her complacent, she said. “The story has to be good. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done before, if the story’s not interesting or engaging people won’t watch.”
Her husband and co-writer, Tobias Beer said it was the first time they have worked together. “We wanted to create a modern long form version of a typical classic gothic thriller like Rebecca or Gaslight and hopefully update them a little. In terms of the female character we wanted to create a young heroine that was little more active than the more traditional victim.”
New Irish gangster drama Darklands, from Cardboard Gangsters writer Mark O’Connor, will feature a range of new Irish talent.
Dane Whyte O’Hara, who plays the lead character, a 16-year-old who dreams of becoming a professional MMA fighter, says this is his first ever acting job.
“I saw the post on Facebook from the casting studio that they were looking for an MMA fighter for a TV series, little did I know it was the lead,” he said.
“My character is getting dragged left, right and sideways into this world of gangland and drugs, all of the things a boy his age shouldn’t be involved in.”
Other new original Irish content will include OAP B&B, First Loves and Rich Man’s World. Lucy Kennedy will return with a series of Living with Lucy and there will be a second season of Blood, which features Adrian Dunbar. Red Rock will also return for a concluding two-part series.
In current affairs, The Tonight Show returns as Matt Cooper and Ivan Yates deconstruct the news, while Pat Kenny also returns with Pat Kenny’s Big Debate.
Speaking at the event, Director of Content, Bill Malone said: “Today we announce a schedule with more news, more sport, more Irish drama, more Irish made programming and more investment in Irish content than ever before. And that is set to increase further as we build connections with international distributors to launch new Irish formats with global ambition.”