The new six-part gothic thriller has been created and written by Joe Murtagh.
This new drama, reportedly sensitively crafted, will examine the legacy of one of Ireland’s most shocking scandals, the inhumane institutions known as “The Magdalene Laundries”.
Ruth Wilson, who will also executive produce with series creator Joe Murtagh, plays Lorna Brady, 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, played by Daryl 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…
Described as distinct, stirring and revelatory, The Woman in The Wall is a gothic detective story shot through with dark humour and elements of psychological horror, which follows a pair of forgotten and unlikely protagonists searching for the answers they so desperately need in a place where they have been long buried.
Speaking about the new drama, Ruth Wilson said "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."
To which Creator and Executive Producer Joe Murtagh added "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."
The series was commissioned by the BBC and Showtime and will be produced by Motive Pictures and will air on BBC One and iPlayer in the UK and on Showtime in the US.
Executive Producers for Motive Pictures, Sam Lavender and Simon Maxwell said "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."
And BBC Drama's Acting Director Ben Irving added "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."
Multiple episodes will be directed by Harry Wootliff, with Rachna Suri joining as second block director and Sam Lavender, Simon Maxwell, Joe Murtagh, Ruth Wilson and Harry Wootliff serving as executive producers.
Speaking about The Woman in the Wall, director Harry Wootliff said "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."
The Woman in the Wall will air on BBC One