Dervla Kirwan and Seána Kerslake lead a stellar cast in new RTÉ/BBC Studios thriller Smother

March 2020

RTÉ and BBC Studios announced today that filming has begun for the RTÉ commissioned drama Smother in Co. Clare and revealed the cast involved in the project.

Written by Kate O’Riordan (Mr Selfridge, and upcoming Channel 5 drama PenanceSmother is a family thriller about deeply buried secrets and their unintended consequences, set in a small town on the wild and rugged coast of Clare.

Dervla Kirwan (The Stranger, White Dragon) leads as family matriarch Val – a devoted mother who is determined to protect her family and particularly her three daughters Jenny, Anna and Grace, at any cost.

Jenny is a heavily pregnant single doctor, unsure of the choices she has made, played by Niamh Walsh (Good Omens, Jamestown). Grace, is an angry but fragile young woman struggling with mental health issues, played by Seána Kerslake (Can’t Cope, Won’t Cope, The Hole in the Ground). Anna is a devoted step-mother to two teenage boys whose birth mother has recently reappeared on the scene, played by Gemma-Leah Devereux (Judy, The Tudors).

When Val Ahern’s husband Denis played by Stewart Graham (The Cure, Hunger) is found dead at a foot of a cliff close to their home the morning after a family party, Val begins to interrogate the events that unfolded the night before. Val explores Denis’s relationships with his children, step-children and his siblings in order to find out who might have been responsible for his brutal, shocking death. The deeper Val delves into her family’s secrets the more she realises how her late husband’s controlling, manipulative behaviour had a deep affect on each member of the family.

The cast also includes Thomas Levin (Borgen), Hilary Rose (The Young Offenders) and Justine Mitchell (Cheat).

Dervla Kirwan said:  “It’s been a long time since anything this well written about an Irish family has come my way. In Smother Kate O’Riordan has created a riveting thriller that will wake the world up to contemporary Ireland and rewrite an outdated narrative that has been peddled about the Irish for years. Val is such a complex, layered character and a ferociously protective mother  and I’m really excited to be playing her in such a powerful Irish drama. Smother has so much to say about modern families, and it says it in a compelling and gripping way.”

Seána Kerslake said: “I am delighted to be a part of Smother, a compelling modern Irish family drama.  It’s great to have County Clare, one of the most beautiful and dramatic parts of our country, as a backdrop. I play Grace Ahern, a complicated and passionate character with a lot of depth and history to explore which is always dynamic and fun to play. We have a stellar cast involved and some of Ireland’s finest crew so I’m really excited to see how it all comes together.”

The twelve week shoot began on February 10th and will wrap on Friday May 1st. Shooting locations include Lahinch, Liscannor, Spanish Point, Fanore, Ennistymon and Lisdoonvarna.

Smother has been created by Kate O’ Riordan and developed by BBC Studios Drama North and Scotland in partnership with Dublin-based Treasure Entertainment, and commissioned by RTÉ. It is being produced by Rob Walpole and Rebecca O’Flanagan from Treasure with Executive Producers Tom Sherry and Michael Parke from BBC Studios and lead writer, Kate O’Riordan. Executive Producers for RTÉ are Shane Murphy and David Crean.

Other writers supporting the project include Tom Farrelly, Daniel Cullen and Ursula Rani Sarma. Smother is directed by Dathai Keane (An Klondike)

The series will be shot in Clare for broadcast on RTÉ One and is distributed internationally by BBC Studios. The production of the series has been enabled by a number of partners including Screen Ireland and WRAP (Western Region Audiovisual Producers?Fund).