Acorn Media and RTE Entertainment Commission Period Mystery Series 'Dead Still'

The cast of "Dead Still" (Photo: Acorn TV)
The cast of "Dead Still" (Photo: Acorn TV)

Acorn Media Enterprises and RTE have joined forces to commission new period drama mystery series Dead Still, which will focus on the world of Victorian-era memorial portraiture.

The six-part series will be set in Ireland in the 1880s, during the peak of the “postmortem photography” craze. This process, in which people commissioned photos of their dead relations to commemorate their lives, generally featured disturbingly elegant posed photos of the recently deceased, sometimes also involving their living family members.

Dead Still will follow the story of a renowned memorial photographer as he investigates the murders of his deceased subjects.

Luther’s Michael Smiley will star as the series’ famous photographer Brock Blennerhasset, alongside Eileen O’Higgins (My Mother and Other Strangers) as his niece Nancy Vickers and Kerr Logan (Alias Grace, Victoria) as his assistant Conall Malloy. Other familiar faces in the cast include Aidan O’Hare (Jackie), Mark Randall (Versailles), Martin Donovan (Big Little Lies) and more.

The official synopsis promises a much darker series than you might imagine – even for a show about photographing dead people.

Dublin, 1880. The practice of memorial portraiture is at the height of its popularity – that is, the portrait photography of the recently deceased. As renowned memorial photographer Brock Blennerhasset (Smiley) expands his business with the help of his would-be actress niece Nancy Vickers (O’Higgins) and assistant Conall Molloy (Logan), someone with more sinister designs is getting in on the death photography game. A serial killer is cashing in on the sordid, developing taste for ‘snuff’ imagery - pictures of people in their death throes. The murders escalate and Detective Frederick Regan (O’Hare) of the Dublin Metropolitan Police suspects that Ireland may have its first serial murderer at large. As Blennerhasset becomes a possible suspect and his family is put in harm’s way, they must track down the serial killer before he strikes again.

“We’re thrilled to commission a first-rate period drama with our friends at RTÉ,” said Catherine Mackin, Managing Director of Acorn Media Enterprises. “With its fascinating setting, gallows humour, inventive storylines and stellar cast, Dead Still will offer a fresh take on the genre and is sure to interest fans of international dramas.”

To be fair, Dead Still certainly does sound like nothing I’ve ever seen TV tackle before. (And the utterly weirdo period drama premise means I’m definitely planning to give it a try.)

How about you? Does Dead Still sound like something you’d watch? Let’s discuss in the comments.