28 January 2023 The Irish Film & Television Network
James Nesbitt stars in Northern Ireland-set BBC Drama Bloodlands
10 Feb 2021 : News Desk
James Nesbitt in Bloodlands
The new BBC One series, which is set in Northern Ireland and supported by Northern Ireland Screen, is Executive Produced by Jed Mercurio, the mastermind behind Line of Duty and Bodyguard.

BBC has released further plot details on the four-part series Bloodlands, which sees award-winning Irish actor, James Nesbitt, play the lead role of Detective Inspector Tom Brannick, and an exciting Irish cast including Charlene McKenna (Ripper Street), Lorcan Crannitch (The Dig), Lisa Dwan (Top Boy), Michael Smiley (Luther), and Lola Petticrew (Dating Amber). 

When a car containing a possible suicide note is pulled out of Strangford Lough, DCI Tom Brannick (Nesbitt) quickly connects it to an infamous cold case with enormous personal significance. Bloodlands follows his dogged hunt for a legendary assassin, an explosive cat-and-mouse game where the stakes have never been higher.

Nesbitt (The Hobbit TrilogyCold Feet), from Coleraine, believes that the series will show Northern Ireland in a “different” and “exciting” light and will give viewers “a chance to see Northern Ireland in its beauty” ,he said when speaking to RTE about the show. Nesbitt has been a part of several successful Northern Irish projects including BAFTA TV Award-winner Five Minutes of Heaven opposite Liam Neeson and Oscar Nominated director Paul Greengrass’ Bloody Sunday.  

When speaking to BBC about the series, the Irish actor said the context of Northern Irish history paired with the thrilling storyline will ensure audiences are invested: “It is a cat-and-mouse thriller but the fact that it has the legacy of the Troubles brings an added depth to it. It’s also a story about a father and daughter, and of loss, so there are real human stories attached to it. At its key it’s really about relationships, I think it’s something that audiences will invest in, invest in the characters."

The show’s writer Chris Brandon, grew up in Strangford, Co Down where Bloodlands is set, and partly filmed. Previously a writer on Irish Soap Red Rock, Brandon’s own expereicnes of growing up in Northern Ireland have largely coloured his experience writing on the upcoming BBC drama.

"It is 23 years since the Good Friday Agreement, which signalled the end of the violence of the Troubles; a 30-year period of sustained bloodshed. I was a child of the 80s and 90s, when such violence was part of the day to day," Brandon explained. "The Northern Ireland we know now is a country that is mostly at peace and one that looks forward with hope. How Northern Ireland moves forward depends very much on how it deals with its past. Many feel there may be peace but there is still injustice. Many question how there can be reconciliation without truth."

"These struggles exist in Tom Brannick," he added. "As a veteran detective, he has a foot in both the past and the present. He has hope for the future in the potential of his daughter, but he is stopped from moving forward by the resurrection of an assassin myth; a symbol of police collusion in past violence that holds deep personal significance. Tom must cut out the root of this myth in order to have any hope of a peaceful tomorrow. He must confront his past to protect the future he prizes above all.”

Bloodland’s executive producer Jed Mercurio, who has overseen six seasons of the hit BBC show Line of Duty filmed in Northern Ireland, has again highlighted Northern Ireland’s capability as a filming destination “Bloodlands was mainly filmed in the rural area around Strangford Lough, a rugged and beautiful location that serves as the eerie setting for the series,” he said while discussing the series with BT TV. 

Mercurio elaborated about the series and it roots in Northern Ireland when discussing the series with BBC, saying "Bloodlands is a contemporary thriller series with one foot in Northern Ireland's emotive past. The present-day hunt for a suspect opens up the cold case of a legendary serial killer, codenamed Goliath, who evaded capture during the Troubles. In addition to being a gripping police thriller, Bloodlands explores the dilemma of whether seeking justice for Goliath's long-dead victims should jeopardise the fragile and hard-won peace of present-day Northern Ireland."

A premiere date is yet to be announced, however Bloodlands is expected to air on BBC One in the coming weeks. 

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