‘There’s the overarching murder mystery, but suffused with a darkly comic element reminiscent of Killing Eve’

Distributor APC Studios
Producers APC Studios; Tua Films (Magamedia)
Length 6 x 60 minutes
Broadcasters Hulu (US); RTÉ (Ireland)

Kilraven, a small fishing village in the west of Ireland, is the fictional setting for this black comedy-drama about a serial killer who works as an obituarist for the local paper.

“It’s such a strong and simple concept,” says executive producer Laurent Boissel, joint chief executive and founder of Paris-based independent production and distribution company APC Studios.

The crime thriller was created for Disney-owned streamer Hulu, with Irish broadcaster RTÉ pre-buying. AMC Networks International in Spain has also pre-bought the series, for which APC holds worldwide rights outside those territories.

“The show has an Irish flavour but its story and themes are universal,” says Boissel. “Hulu was the first to commit. They fell in love with the material.”

Boissel says Obituary offers something “completely different” from other crime series. “There’s the overarching murder mystery across the six parts, but suffused with a darkly comic element, reminiscent of Killing Eve, Dexter and Fargo.”

Boissel was pitched the concept in 2020 by Paddy Hayes of Tua Films, the indie behind 2022 Irish Oscar entry Foscadh and TV drama Corp & Anam.

“They only had a few pages from writer Ray Lawlor – who was on no one’s radar at the time – but we shared an instinct that this could be something special, and we knew instantly that Ray was a fantastic writer,” Boissel says.

The drama, which was set up as a 50-50 co-pro between Tua (also known as Magamedia) and APC Studios UK, went through a year of development culminating in a pilot. Hulu boarded shortly afterward.

“Because we had that major signature quite early on, it gave us a lot of confidence in financing the show,” says Boissel. The support of Screen Ireland was also “essential” he says.

The series was written by Lawlor (Le Ceangal), directed by John Hayes (Dublin Murders; Bancroft) and produced by Nell Green (The Outfit; The Undeclared War).

Renowned Irish TV and theatre actress Siobhán Cullen (The Dry; The Long Call) plays the lead role of underpaid obituarist-turnedmurderer Elvira Clancy.

 “Obituary comes hot on the heels of Wolf. We’re having a fantastic 2023. Both shows are unique and like no others in their respective genres”

Prep started towards the end of 2022 and location photography in Ballyshannon, County Donegal, took place between January and March this year. “We shot in winter but we didn’t want a Nordic noir-looking show,” says Boissel. “We didn’t want the gloom. This is not social realism. It is beautiful and edgy. As our lead character says in the show: ‘So much weird shit happens in the village’.”

The title comes to market with APC Studios enjoying recent success with The Light In The Hall and BBC1 crime drama Wolf. But Boissel says Obituary could surpass its predecessors.

“The degree of excitement in the APC team is one I have rarely seen in our 10 years of existence,” he says. “Obituary comes hot on the heels of Wolf. We’re having a fantastic 2023. Both shows are unique and like no others in their respective genres.”

The premiere date for Hulu is still to be confirmed. RTÉ began airing the show in September.