Acorn Media Enterprises – the UK based development division of U.S. streaming service Acorn TV – has teamed up with Irish broadcaster RTÉ to commission Dead Still, a six episode period drama from Deadpan Pictures, Murdoch Mysteries indie Shaftesbury and ZDF Enterprises.
Dead Still is set in 1880s Ireland in the Victorian era heyday of postmortem photography. As renowned memorial photographer Brock Blennerhasset expands his business with the help of his would-be actress niece Nancy Vickers and assistant Conall Molloy, someone with more sinister designs is getting in on the death photography game. A serial killer is cashing in on the sordid, developing taste for ‘snuff’ imagery – pictures of people in their death throes.
The murders escalate and Detective Frederick Regan of the Dublin Metropolitan Police suspects that Ireland may have its first serial murderer at large. As Blennerhasset becomes a possible suspect and his family is put in harm’s way, they must track down the serial killer before he strikes again. The six episode series is being penned by John Morton and is being directed by Imogen Murphy (Can’t Cope, Won’t Cope, Red Rock) and Craig David Wallace (Slasher, Murdoch Mysteries).
The main cast includes Michael Smiley (Wire In The Blood, Death And Nightingales) as Brock Blennerhasset, Kerr Logan (Game Of Thrones, Victoria) as Conall Molloy, Eileen O’Higgins (Brooklyn, Mary Queen Of Scots) as Nancy Vickers, and Aidan O’Hare (Jackie, Pilis) as Detective Frederick Regan. Rounding out the cast is Jimmy Smallhorne (Taken Down, Clean Break), Mark Rendall (Departure, Versailles), Peter Campion (Derry Girls, Kat And Alfie: Redwater) and Martin Donovan (Big Little Lies, Fahrenheit 451).
Acorn Media Enterprises hold rights to the series in the United States, Australia, New Zealand and United Kingdom; as well as co-premiere rights in Canada and secondary rights in Ireland. ZDF Enterprises will distribute the series in the rest of the world. It was developed with the support of Screen Ireland and Creative Europe. Production on the series is now underway in Dublin ahead of a 2020 premiere on RTÉ in Ireland and Acorn TV in the United States.
Acorn TV began life as a specialist streaming service offering their US subscriber base access to British content. After initially licensing content, they moved into co-productions and then, within the last year or so, fully fledged commissions. The first such commission was Agatha Raisin, a former co-pro that they picked up for season two after Sky cancelled it. That has been followed up on with a slew of other commissions such as London Kills (since acquired by BBC One) and Queens Of Mystery. Agatha Raisin was also recently renewed for a third season.