RTÉ Programme Sales has closed deals for its documentary series Great Lighthouses of Ireland (currently 8 x 60’) with broadcasters around the world and reported buoyant demand for its broader social-history slate.


Channel 5 UK, SBS Australia, APT USA, UR Sweden, Spafax In-Flight and ARTE.Tv are among some of the broadcasters who acquired Inproduction TV’s Great Lighthouses of Ireland, a visually spectacular series that examines Ireland’s mastery of lighthouse engineering, its relationship with the sea and its centuries-old battle against the elements. Featuring stunning footage, the series looks at the history, science and above all people behind these extraordinary buildings who, working in hostile and treacherous conditions, used staggering ingenuity to achieve the virtually impossible.


SBS Australia has also acquired two other shows from RTÉ’s growing social-history slate. The first, Ireland's Historic Gardens (2 x 60 mins), written and presented by author and historian Robert O’Byrne, tells the 400-year story of Ireland’s spectacular country-house gardens, and the men and women who commissioned, designed and maintained them. Also headed for SBS Australia is 60-minute documentary Sculpture: The Shape of History, which focuses on the creation of a series of sculptures on the waterfront in Hobart, Tasmania. Internationally renowned sculptor Rowan Gillespie has been commissioned to honour the female convicts and their children who were deported to Hobart from Ireland. Using local women and children as models, Gillespie creates a living link between past and present, reigniting the emotional and historic ties between Ireland and Tasmania in the process.


Edel Edwards, head of programme sales at RTÉ Programme Sales, said: “These three shows are shining examples of the fascinating stories that are hidden under the surface of the modern world — if only you know where to look. It’s a golden age for factual and we couldn’t be prouder to represent these hidden stories that throw a light on Ireland’s history and its impact on the world.”

In acquisitions news, two new premium shows have also been added to the slate, both narrated by Brendan Gleeson, the globally renowned and multiple award-winning Irish actor whose recent starring role in The Banshees of Inisherin has just received eight Golden Globe nominations.


The Irish Civil War, 3 X 60’ was produced as part of the Decade of Centenary commemorations and tells the epic and often challenging story of the origins, conflict and legacy of the civil war that took place in Ireland in 1922 and 1923. The civil war is among the most controversial chapters in Irish history and has been a rarely told tale. Even today, tensions can run high at its mention. Few however will know the intricate details of what led to the war, how the war played out across the country, nor will have heard the often-tragic personal stories of those involved.


This series goes to the heart of this history, telling it straight, teasing out the nuances and complexities, generating unprejudiced, compelling and challenging documentaries that may serve as a suitable commemoration of those troubled years.


The Dead Zoo, 1 x 60’ is the story of how the curators of the ‘Dead Zoo’, Dublin's beloved Natural History Museum, managed to get two enormous whale skeletons down from the ceiling where they'd been hanging for 150 years. The curators, Nigel Monaghan and Paolo Viscardi, took on the enormous task in the depths of covid lockdown. Using all their skill, as well as saws, drills and other unlikely tools, over a six-month period, managed to disassemble the two whales. This film shows the fascinating process involved, filled with tension and interest.


Gleeson said: ‘With the 100th anniversary of the Irish Civil War upon us we have to start talking about what happened. It’s uncomfortable because we don’t like to see ourselves in a savage light but everybody has savagery in them and we have to address it because it’s never that far away from the surface. When we were in school, we weren’t taught about it because it was still extraordinarily raw and extraordinarily inflammatory even now, I find myself being infuriated on both sides. These documentaries have gone to great lengths to try to present all sides of the story with equal emphasis.’