Irish actor Gabriel Byrne is set to star in a three-part series of BBC crime thrillers based on novels by Booker Prize winner John Banville
The Dublin-born actor, who is currently filming History Channel TV series ‘Vikings’ in Co Wicklow, will play the title character in three episodes of ‘Quirke’, which is about a pathologist in 1950s Dublin.
All three episodes will be shot in Dublin later this year as part of an Irish/ English co-production involving BBC Drama Production and Dublin-based companies Element Pictures and Tyrone Productions. The series is also being supported by the Irish Film Board.
’Quirke’ is one of a number of BBC series to be shot in Ireland this year and the second major BBC series to involve both Element Pictures and the Irish Film Board following ‘Ripper Street’, which wrapped shooting in Dublin in July.
Two of the 90-minute episodes - ‘Christine Falls’ and ‘The Silver Swan’ - will be written by acclaimed scriptwriter Andrew Davies (Pride and Prejudice), while the third, ‘Elegy for April’, will be written by Irish director and playwright Conor McPherson (Saltwater).
The first film in the series – ‘Christine Falls’ – will be directed by John Alexander. Lisa Osborne will produce, while the executive producers are Jessica Pope for the BBC, Ed Guiney for Element and Joan Egan for Tyrone.
The series is based on the books by award-winning Irish writer Banville, which he wrote under the pseudonym of Benjamin Black. It marks the second major TV adaptation of Banville’s work set to go into production later this year. Earlier this month, IFTN exclusively revealed that an adaptation of ‘The Sea’ will begin filming in Co Wexford next month.
‘Quirke’ follows the chief pathologist in the Dublin city morgue, a charismatic loner whose job takes him into unexpected places as he uncovers the secrets of sudden death in 1950s Dublin. The series synopsis describes “a rich and smouldering world along whose smoky streets and damp alleys Quirke goes from bars that glimmer with peat fires and whiskey to elegant Dublin houses brimming with sexual tension. It’s a time full of mystery, secrets and intrigue.”
Each episode will see him investigate a death as the accidental detective discovers his investigations are often more closely linked to his own life than he could ever have imagined.
The series was commissioned by Danny Cohen, controller BBC One and Ben Stephenson, controller drama commissioning.
Novelist John Banville said of the casting: “I am very excited by the prospect of seeing my character Quirke incarnated by Gabriel Byrne, a perfect choice for the part. I know both Quirke and Benjamin Black will be wonderfully served by Andrew Davies and Conor McPherson, two masters of their craft.”
John McColgan, founding director, Tyrone Productions added: “As a friend and colleague of Gabriel Byrne over the years I am thrilled to see him bringing the brilliant mercurial character of Quirke as created by John Banville to screens worldwide. BBC Drama has brought an incredible pool of writing talent to this project and I’m looking forward to seeing their scripts going into production.”
The Irish Film Board supported project was offered a production loan of €450,000 in the last round of IFB funding. IFB chief executive James Hickey “greatly welcomed” the BBC series saying that the IFB was “delighted to be supporting Tyrone Productions and Element Pictures in this new drama” adding that the series will “be a great opportunity to showcase Irish talent including Irish novelist Benjamin Black (John Banville), Irish screenwriter Conor McPherson and one of the great actors Gabriel Byrne in a quintessential Irish setting of Dublin in the 1950’s.”