Sunday evenings used to be a time for cosy drama. Heartbeat. The Royal. Or maybe a nice, soothing literary adaptation. You know the kind of thing.
But these days? Well, anything goes. The Woman in the Wall could certainly never be described as ‘cosy’. In fact, if you’re looking for something to ease you gently into the working week, it is not going to do the trick. However, if hard-hitting and thought-provoking are more your bag, you’re in for a treat.
It’s the brainchild of Joe Murtaugh, the Bafta-nominated writer of acclaimed movie Calm with Horses, whose CV also includes the TV series Gangs of London. Taking the lead role of the troubled Lorna is Ruth Wilson, who is also among the executive producers.
“It’s a real pleasure to announce this remarkable new series for BBC One and iPlayer,” said Ben Irving, the Acting Director of BBC Drama back in August last year. “Joe Murtagh’s scripts are surprising, moving, and continually compelling.”
The six-part gothic thriller begins in terrifying fashion as Lorna, who has PTSD-related sleepwalking issues, awakes to find a dead woman in her home. Due to her regular nocturnal blackouts, she has no idea whether or not she’s responsible for the stranger’s demise.
It’s just another in a long line of issues stemming back from when Lorna was 15, ripped from her home and deposited at Kilkinure Convent, where she was forced to work in one of the country’s notorious Magdalene laundries, places in which women accused of anything from committing adultery to falling pregnant while unmarried, were incarcerated to atone for their ‘sins’.
“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,” explains Murtaugh. “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.”
All Lorna’s problems may have been caused by the cruelty she suffered as a young woman, but her issues in the present are about to be compounded by the ambitious Detective Colman Akanda, played by Daryl McCormack of Good Luck to You Leo Grande, Peaky Blinders and Bad Sisters fame. Sharp with a dark wit, Akanda has risen quickly through the ranks of the Garda Síochána and suspects Lorna has committed another crime unrelated to the dead woman. However, his own life is beset by secrets he doesn’t want to reveal…
“Lorna Brady is a complex and fascinating character and I’m thrilled to help bring her to life,” adds Wilson. “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.”
Sunday evenings may never be the same again…