BBC One announces new Northern Ireland drama series

BBC One announces a new pre-watershed drama series written by Barry Devlin (Ballykissangel, Darling Buds of May). This 5x60-minute series is set in Northern Ireland during World War Two and will be made by BBC Northern Ireland with funding from Northern Ireland Screen.

Published: 22 May 2015
This drama is great news for Northern Ireland. We’re very excited about the new partnership with Northern Ireland Screen. It opens up fantastic opportunities for us to work with teams here, and showcase their stories to audiences across the UK – and worldwide.
— Tony Hall, Director-General, BBC

My Mother And Other Strangers follows the fortunes of a rural family, the Coynes, and their neighbours in the village of Moybeg on the shores of Lough Neagh in County Tyrone, as they struggle to maintain a normal life after a huge USAAF airfield with 4,000 service men and women – complete with a handsome and charming liaison officer, Captain Dreyfuss - lands smack-dab in the middle of their parish in 1943.

The drama commission is the first to be announced since the publication in March this year of the BBC and Northern Ireland Screen Partnership Agreement. This joint agreement will see the BBC and Northern Ireland Screen work together to invest financially and creatively in developing an internationally competitive screen industry in Northern Ireland.

BBC Director-General, Tony Hall, says: “This drama is great news for Northern Ireland. We’re very excited about the new partnership with Northern Ireland Screen. It opens up fantastic opportunities for us to work with teams here, and showcase their stories to audiences across the UK – and worldwide.”

Richard Williams, Chief Executive of Northern Ireland Screen, says: “A Second World War love story set in Northern Ireland with 4,000 American service men and women as the backdrop. That is the perfect historically based premise to produce strong drama set here but for international audiences as well as UK and Irish audiences. It is therefore perfect for our internationally focused partnership agreement with the BBC. I wish Barry Devlin and Stephen Wright every success in producing what I know will be a fantastic show.”

In the drama, compelling weekly stories - many of them based on events of the time - are held together by an ongoing love story that enfolds and imprisons Rose and Michael Coyne and Captain Dreyfuss in a dangerous love triangle. Meanwhile, Rose’s children Emma (16), Francis (10) and Kate (7) have no idea of the strains under which their parents’ marriage creaks.

The executive producer is Stephen Wright, Head of Drama for BBC Northern Ireland and the series will film in and around Northern Ireland. Casting will be announced in due course.

Writer Barry Devlin says: “I wanted to write a series that had an exotic love story at its heart but that was set in a place I recognise. So I'm delighted that the BBC has commissioned the series. It's really great to be part of a story about Northern Ireland that is entirely originated and filmed here.”

My Mother And Other Strangers has been commissioned by Charlotte Moore, Controller of BBC One and Ben Stephenson, out-going Controller of BBC Drama Commissioning.

Note to Editors

  • The BBC and NI Screen partnership agreement was signed in March of this year. The agreement stated that BBC Drama and Northern Ireland Screen would build on and renew the current successful Northern Ireland-produced BBC Drama slate (including The Fall and Line Of Duty), with BBC and Northern Ireland Screen co-financing productions; increase Northern Ireland-produced network commissions on BBC One and BBC Two; and identify opportunities to produce television drama series in Northern Ireland, which are capable of attracting international co-financing.
  • The agreement recognised the importance of local production ownership and creative talent in the long-term development of a sustainable sector. The agreement also stated that BBC Drama would invest a minimum of £200,000 per year during the term of the partnership in the development of local writing, directing, performing and production talent.
  • Further information on the BBC Northern Ireland and Northern Ireland Screen partnership agreement can be found here: bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/latestnews/2015/bbc-ni-screen-partnership
  • The agreement in full can be found here (PDF).

JM4