Based on the books by Benjamin Black (pseudonym of award-winning Irish writer John Banville), Quirke is a new series for BBC ONE adapted by screenwriters Andrew Davies and Conor McPherson and starring Gabriel Byrne in the title role.
Quirke (we never get to know his Christian name) is the chief pathologist in the Dublin city morgue – a charismatic loner whose job takes him into unexpected places as he uncovers the secrets of sudden death in 1950s Dublin. It’s a rich and smouldering world along whose smoky streets and damp alleys Quirke goes from bars that glimmer with peat fires and whiskey to elegant Dublin houses brimming with sexual tension. It’s a time full of mystery, secrets and intrigue.
Each episode will see him investigate the death of one of the unfortunate souls who end up on his mortuary slab. But as Quirke turns accidental detective he discovers his investigations are often more closely linked to his own life than he could ever have imagined. Little by little he is forced to confront the sins of his past as he peels back the layers of his own tangled family history.
The three feature-length episodes each take their stories from different books in the series, Christine Falls and The Silver Swan by Andrew Davies and Elegy for April by Conor McPherson. Commissioned by Danny Cohen, Controller BBC One and Ben Stephenson, Controller Drama Commissioning.
John Banville says: ‘I am very excited by the prospect of seeing my character Quirke incarnated by Gabriel Byrne, a perfect choice for the part. I know both Quirke and Benjamin Black will be wonderfully served by Andrew Davies and Conor McPherson, two masters of their craft.’
John McColgan, Founding Director, Tyrone Productions adds: ‘As a friend and colleague of Gabriel Byrne over the years I am thrilled to see him bringing the brilliant mercurial character of Quirke as created by John Banville to screens worldwide. BBC Drama has brought an incredible pool of writing talent to this project and I’m looking forward to seeing their scripts going into production.’
Ed Guiney, Executive Producer, Element Pictures adds: ‘Noir Dublin in the 50s seen through John Banville’s eyes is such an appealing prospect. And who better to go on the journey with than Gabriel Byrne. We could not be more excited about being part of bringing this to the screen with the BBC and Tyrone.
James Hickey, Chief Executive, Bord Scannán na hÉireann/the Irish Film Board adds: ‘The Irish Film Board is delighted to be supporting Tyrone Productions and Element Pictures in this new drama TV series Quirke. The series will be a great opportunity to showcase Irish talent including Irish novelist Benjamin Black (John Banville), Irish screenwriter Conor McPherson and one of the great actors Gabriel Byrne in a quintessential Irish setting of Dublin in the 1950’s. The participation of the BBC in this wonderful Irish project is also greatly welcomed.’
The series is a co-production between BBC Drama Production and Dublin-based companies Element Pictures and Tyrone Productions. It is 3X 90 minutes and filming begins in Dublin later this year. The Executive Producers are Jessica Pope for the BBC, Ed Guiney for Element Pictures and Joan Egan for Tyrone Productions. Lisa Osborne is the BBC Producer and John Alexander is the director of the first film Christine Falls.