Dead Still lands on Irish TV screens on 1 November, penned by (and starring) Kilkenny writer, actor and director John Morton. Skip to the end to hear the full interview.
John and I have been making work together for years under the Devious Theatre banner but when we caught up this week it was all talk about TV.
His new series – Dead Still – centres around memorial photographer Brock Blennerhasset (Michael Smiley of Luther, The Aliens and an absolutely banging role in Spaced in the late 90s/early 00s) who gets dragged into a series of murders in Victorian-era Dublin.
The show has been billed in circles as ‘the perfect blend of gallows humour and historical fiction’ and ‘a winner’, following solid reviews across the board in the US and Canada.
What’s it all about?
“It’s a six part series that centres around a memorial photographer in Dublin in the year 1880”, he began when we caught up for an on-air interview this week.
“The practice of memorial photography was kind of strange thing that they used to do where photographers would pose the recently deceased with their families in portraits that often-times made them look like they were alive.”
“It’s quite morbid in that way, but it is a thing that used to happen quite regularly back then. It focuses on Brock Blennerhasset (lead character), a very reserved. cautious photographer. There’s some trauma there in his past that we don’t really know about but he’s hiding himself in the world.”
“As it’s commented on in the show, he gets on a lot better with the dead than he does with the living. He gets embroiled gradually in a murder case. “
“There’s a detective, Frederick Regan, a G-Division detective in Dublin Castle and he’s come across this spate of suicides he thinks are actually murders. The victims are posed in the same way as Blennerhasset’s memorial photographs, so that kicks off the murder mystery element in the plot.”
Also appearing are Kerr Logan (Alias Grace, Strike), Eileen O’Higgins (Mary Queen of Scots, Brooklyn), Aidan O’Hare (Dublin Murders, Moone Boy), Jimmy Smallhorne and Rhys Dunlop.
Why should people watch it?
I’ve held off watching it in gloriously grim detail myself until the Irish release (it’s been available to the US and Canadian market and online circles since May this year). So, I put the question to John.
“I think it’s a good, very diverting show for this time of year. It’s not anything that’s too heavy or too grim. It’s got a bit of comedy, it’s got characters that are played by brilliant actors who are quite engaging. I think it will be a fun show for people to sit down, watch and enjoy – particularly if you’re interested in crime fiction or murder mysteries.”
Given it’s got murder, mystery, intrigue, comedy, dark humour, sex (yes, it’s in there, circa episode 3), a cracking cast and an Irish backdrop, there’s very few reasons why you shouldn’t give it a watch.
While John has written the six episodes for this season, the show is directed by Imogen Murphy and Craig David Wallace and produced by Deadpan Pictures.
Best advice? Take a listen to our full chat below where we walk through the origins of the show, the cast, its overseas reaction and more besides.
Listen: John Morton talks all things Dead Still
Dead Still airs on RTÉ One, Sunday nights at 9.35pm for six weeks from 1 November. Catchup will be available via the RTÉ Player service. Dead Still is a Deadpan Pictures production alongside partners Shaftesbury and ZDF Enterprises. It is an RTÉ and Acorn TV commission, made with the support of the BAI. Dead Still was developed with the support of Screen Ireland and Creative Europe.