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Clare ‘a beautiful & dramatic backdrop’ for new RTÉ/BBC drama Smother

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*Action from the South of Ireland Golf Championship in Lahinch. Photograph: Brian Arthur

Co Clare has been hailed as a “beautiful and dramatic backdrop” for Smother, a RTÉ and BBC Studios drama which is currently being filmed in parts of North Clare.

Written by Kate O’Riordan (Mr Selfridge, and upcoming Channel 5 drama Penance) Smother is a family thriller about deeply buried secrets and their unintended consequences, set in a small town on the wild and rugged coast of Clare.

Dervla Kirwan (The Stranger, White Dragon) leads as family matriarch Val – a devoted mother who is determined to protect her family and particularly her three daughters Jenny, Anna and Grace, at any cost.

Dervla Kirwan is taking on the lead role as Val Aherne.

Jenny is a heavily pregnant single doctor, unsure of the choices she has made, played by Niamh Walsh (Good Omens, Jamestown). Grace, is an angry but fragile young woman struggling with mental health issues, played by Seána Kerslake (Can’t Cope, Won’t Cope, The Hole in the Ground). Anna is a devoted step-mother to two teenage boys whose birth mother has recently reappeared on the scene, played by Gemma-Leah Devereux (Judy, The Tudors).

When Val Ahern’s husband Denis played by Stewart Graham (The Cure, Hunger) is found dead at a foot of a cliff close to their home the morning after a family party, Val begins to interrogate the events that unfolded the night before. Val explores Denis’s relationships with his children, step-children and his siblings in order to find out who might have been responsible for his brutal, shocking death. The deeper Val delves into her family’s secrets the more she realises how her late husband’s controlling, manipulative behaviour had a deep affect on each member of the family.

Thomas Levin (Borgen), Hilary Rose (The Young Offenders) and Justine Mitchell (Cheat) are also included in the cast.

“It’s been a long time since anything this well written about an Irish family has come my way. In Smother Kate O’Riordan has created a riveting thriller that will wake the world up to contemporary Ireland and rewrite an outdated narrative that has been peddled about the Irish for years. Val is such a complex, layered character and a ferociously protective mother and I’m really excited to be playing her in such a powerful Irish drama. Smother has so much to say about modern families, and it says it in a compelling and gripping way,” leading lady Dervla Kirwan said.

Séana Kerslake felt the backdrop of Co Clare has added to the drama. “It’s great to have County Clare, one of the most beautiful and dramatic parts of our country, as a backdrop. I play Grace Ahern, a complicated and passionate character with a lot of depth and history to explore which is always dynamic and fun to play. We have a stellar cast involved and some of Ireland’s finest crew so I’m really excited to see how it all comes together.”

The twelve week shoot began on February 10th and will wrap on Friday May 1st. Shooting locations include Lahinch, Liscannor, Spanish Point, Fanore, Ennistymon and Lisdoonvarna.

Smother has been created by Kate O’ Riordan and developed by BBC Studios Drama North and Scotland in partnership with Dublin-based Treasure Entertainment, and commissioned by RTÉ. The series will be shot in Clare for broadcast on RTÉ One and is distributed internationally by BBC Studios. The production of the series has been enabled by a number of partners including Screen Ireland and WRAP (Western Region Audiovisual Producers Fund).

The crew is comprised of;
Writers: Kate O’ Riordan, Tom Farrelly, Daniel Cullen and Ursula Rani Sarma
Director: Dathaí Keane
Producers: Rob Walpole and Rebecca O’Flanagan from Treasure
Executive Producers: Tom Sherry and Michael Parke for BBC Studios
Executive producers: Shane Murphy and David Crean for RTÉ
Cinematographer: Cathal Watters
Post house (Sound and Pic post): Windmill Lane Pictures
Editor: Dermot Diskin and John O’ Connor
Costume Designer: Triona Lilis
Production Designer : Mark Kelly
Hair & Make-Up: Lindzi Herron and Carroline McCurdy
Line Producer: Cathleen Dore

Páraic McMahon is Head of News & Sport with The Clare Echo. The Newmarket-on-Fergus native also writes for national papers including The Irish Examiner, The Irish Independent and The Irish Times along with doing work for RTÉ, Today FM, TheJournal.ie and The42.ie. A graduate of Mary Immaculate College, Páraic was previously employed by The Clare Herald and Clare FM. If you have a story, tip or some feedback for him then send an email to - paraic@clareecho.ie

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