Northern Ireland stars to shine in autumn TV schedule

As the evenings draw in, the autumn television schedules look set to keep audiences entertained over the coming months.

rom fantasy blockbusters to factual based dramas, crime series to comedies, there are plenty of good shows worth staying in for.

Many of the upcoming offerings on the small screen star the best of Northern Ireland’s acting talent, with a few familiar faces popping up on the big screen as well.

Here’s a run-down of the local names to look out for this season.

The Oscar-winning writer, director and actor underwent a remarkable transformation to take on the role of outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson in the upcoming Sky Atlantic drama This England.

The six-parter, co-written and directed by Michael Winterbottom, sees the Belfast man don a blond wig and prosthetics to portray Johnson during the early part of his tenure as PM.

Based on first-hand accounts from Downing Street insiders and health experts, it traces the government’s struggle to tackle Covid-19 and the pandemic’s devastating impact on the country.

This England also stars Andrew Buchan (Broadchurch) as Matt Hancock, Ophelia Lovibond (Rocketman) as Carrie Symonds, Tim Goodman (Jane Eyre) as Stanley Johnson and Simon Paisley Day (Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker) as Dominic Cummings.

This England, originally called This Sceptered Isle, will launch on Sky Atlantic on Wednesday, September 21.

Susan Lynch, Happy Valley

Susan Lynch in Happy Valley

Susan Lynch in Happy Valley

Writer Sally Wainwright and Last Tango in Halifax star Sarah Lancashire team up one final time for the award-winning, Yorkshire-based crime drama Happy Valley.

The third BBC series finds Sergeant Catherine Cawood (Lancashire) on the verge of retirement. When she investigates a gangland murder in the drug-ravaged Calder Valley, it unwittingly leads back to her nemesis, Tommy Lee Royce (James Norton).

Newry actress Susan Lynch (Close to Me, Unforgotten) was a major character in series two, playing Alison, an isolated farmer, who shoots and kills her son Daryl when he admits to murdering women in the area.

Devastated by what both she and Daryl have done, she attempts to take her own life but is saved by Catherine.

Series three’s plot has not yet been revealed but the aftermath of Alison’s actions will undoubtedly play a big part.

Adrian Dunbar/Bronagh Waugh, Ridley

Line Of Duty star Adrian Dunbar is back on our screens as retired detective/now consultant, Alex Ridley in the ITV Sunday night drama Ridley.

The new crime drama sees his character team up with another Northern Irish talent, Bronagh Waugh, who plays his former protegée DI Carol Farman, who is now in charge of investigations.

When Ridley, who also runs a jazz club, is enlisted by Carol as a police consultant on a complex and compelling murder case, the investigation takes a dark and unexpected turn.

Inspired by real life retired detectives re-joining police forces in a consultancy role given increasingly over-stretched resources, Ridley sets out to explore thought provoking crime stories in an original and distinctive way.

The drama started last weekend, but viewers can catch up on the ITV hub.

Bronagh Waugh, The Suspect

Adapted by Peter Berry from the novel of the same name by Michael Robotham, The Suspect stars Poldark’s Aidan Turner as Dr Joseph O’Loughlin, a man who appears to have the perfect life — a beautiful wife, a loving daughter and a successful career as a clinical psychologist.

He’s even a hero online after rescuing a young patient who was ready to jump from the 10th floor of the hospital where Joe works.

But when a young woman is found in a shallow grave in a West London cemetery, veteran police officer DI Vincent Ruiz and his young partner DS Riya Devi are assigned to the investigation and begin to wonder if Joe is involved.

Bronagh is back in another autumn prime-time role, this time as sex worker Cara. The Suspect continues tonight on ITV at 9pm.

Colin Morgan, Mammals

Co Armagh man Colin Morgan, who starred in Merlin and The Fall, teams up with presenter/actor James Corden and Paddington’s Sally Hawkins in the UK Original comedy-drama series Mammals.

The six-parter has been created by two-time Olivier and Tony Award-winning Jez Butterworth.

Butterworth said in a statement: “You’ll like this if you enjoy James, Sally and my work. It’s a relationship drama but also a whodunnit.”

The cast also includes Melia Kreiling, Henry Lloyd-Hughes and Samuel Anderson.

Mammal’s storyline has been kept under wraps and although there has been no set release date, the six-parter is expected to arrive exclusively on Amazon Prime later this year.

Kerr Logan, North Sea Connection

Bangor-born actor and Game of Thrones/Strike star Kerr Logan plays one of the leads in new RTÉ Sunday night drama North Sea Connection.

The six-parter is set in Connemara, Co Galway and sees Kerr play businessman Aidan Kenny who runs the business side of his sister’s fishing business.

However, Aidan’s ambitions soon put all the family’s lives in danger when he starts working with a Swedish drug cartel. Meanwhile Aidan and wife Adamma are in the process of trying to adopt a baby, so he’s facing pressures from all sides.

Lydia McGuinness and Sinéad Cusack also star in this contemporary thriller. North Sea Connection airs Sunday nights on RTÉ One at 9.30pm and on RTÉ player.

Jimmy Nesbitt, Bloodlands

Jimmy Nesbitt in Bloodlands

Jimmy Nesbitt in Bloodlands

One of Northern Ireland’s most prolific actors Jimmy Nesbitt returns to our screens this September in the second instalment of the action-packed, critically-acclaimed drama Bloodlands.

Created and written by Chris Brandon, Jimmy reprises the lead role of DCI Tom Brannick alongside Charlene McKenna (Peaky Blinders, Holding), Lorcan Cranitch (The Dig), Lola Petticrew (Dating Amber) and Chris Walley (The Young Offenders).

Victoria Smurfit joins the cast for the second series in the role of Olivia Foyle, an enigmatic widow at the centre of Brannick’s latest case.

When the murder of a crooked accountant unravels a trail of greed that threatens to expose his identity as legendary assassin, Goliath, DCI Tom Brannick and Olivia Foyle must keep each other dangerously close.

The second series of Bloodlands, which filmed around Strangford and Belfast, will air on BBC One and iPlayer this September.

Thaddea Graham, Wreck

Thaddea Graham in Wreck
Thaddea Graham in Wreck

Co Down actress Thaddea Graham, of Dr Who and The Irregulars fame, stars in new BBC3 comedy/slasher six-part series Wreck.

Filmed in Northern Ireland, the grisly show follows 20-year-old Jamie (Oscar Kennedy), who is desperate to find his missing sister. She was working aboard the ship, The Sacramentum, on a tour and vanished mid-charter. So Jamie signs up as a new recruit and must infiltrate the 3,000-strong crew to find clues to his sister’s disappearance.

Jamie becomes embedded into life aboard The Sacramentum where he is initiated into the mysterious ways of cruising crews and gets a crash course on the tribes within the staff.

As the crew indulges in major partying and excess Jamie discovers that a number of grisly murders are taking place on the ship which everyone else seems oblivious to. Jamie is forced to turn sleuth in an attempt to discover who is responsible. Thaddea plays shipmate Vivian in Wreck, which will be shown on BBC3 as part of the BBC’s autumn TV schedule.

Ensemble Cast, Hope Street

Following the success of series one of police series Hope Street, the daytime drama, filmed in and around Donaghadee, is expected to return to BBC One NI later this year.

Set in the fictional Northern Irish town of Port Devine, the cop show stars an array of local actors including Ciarán McMenamin as Inspector Finn O’Hare, Brid Brennan (Concepta O’Hare), Des McAleer (Barry Pettigrew), Kerri Quinn (Marlene Pettigrew), Niall Wright (Callum McCarthy), Aaron McCusker (Clint Dunwoody), Niamh McGrady (Nicole Devine), Rachel Tucker (Siobhan O’Hare) and new cast member Stephen Hagan.

Series one ended on a cliff hanger and fans of the show will be keen to find out what is next in store for the residents of Port Devine.


Adrian Dunbar, Emily

The Fermanagh man, best known for playing Superintendent Ted Hastings in Line Of Duty, reappears on our list for his role in the upcoming Emily Bronte biopic.

Written and directed by Frances O’Connor, Emily depicts the brief life of the Yorkshire author who wrote the classic novel Wuthering Heights. The novel was deemed shocking and scandalous at the time and Emily died at the age of 30, before its widespread success.

Emma Mackey plays the role of the writer — one of three famous literary sisters — while Adrian portrays their Co Down-born father, Rev Patrick Bronte.

Emily is set to have its world premiere at the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival this month, before going on general release in the UK in October.

Ciaran Hinds, The Wonder

Star of Branagh’s Belfast and Oscar nominee Ciarán Hinds joins Florence Pugh in the upcoming Netflix drama The Wonder, based on Emma Donoghue’s bestselling novel of the same name.

Set in Ireland in the Midlands in 1862, the creepy story follows a well-educated young English nurse (Pugh) who arrives in a small, deprived Irish village to observe 11-year-old Anna, who claims to have eaten nothing for months, but miraculously, appears to feel completely normal.

As tourists and pilgrims gather to witness the girl, the plot reveals whether she is indeed an other worldly saint or if the village is harbouring a dark, ominous secret. Toby Jones also stars.

The Wonder premieres at the Toronto Film Festival on Tuesday, September 13. The movie is also slated to be released on Netflix in December 2022.

TrendsCHK is formed by a group of editors of different ages, ethnicities and countries that seek every day to bring relevant information about fashion, beauty, behavior, experiences, news, technology, finance, travel and wellness.

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