Single Handed

Simone Lahbib (Wire in the Blood, Monarch of the Glen), Matthew McNulty (Five Days, Lark Rise to Candleford) and Sean McGinley (Lewis, Closing the Ring) join Owen McDonnell, as police sergeant Jack Driscoll, to film a new series of SINGLE-HANDED.

ITV and RTÉ have commissioned Touchpaper Television, part of the RDF Media Group, to make a brand new six part series of police drama SINGLE-HANDED which will film entirely on location in the wilds of Connemara for the next 12 weeks.

This series will see Jack Driscoll facing new challenges as he continues the lonely role of policing his rural terrain in the West of Ireland.  Jack lives above the Garda station now.  His deputy, Finbarr Colvin (David Herlihy) is opportunistic and venal which often leaves Jack working single-handed with back-up a very long way away.

There are many occasions when there is no time for the due legal process; natural justice is what Jack has to impose.  And that is when he is morally tested.  The community is watching him…and judging him.

This series of SINGLE-HANDED promises yet more muscular, emotionally complex stories.  While Jack continues to delve into the secret life – and past – of his Connemara community in order to solve crimes he also has cause to look into his own family secrets.  Matthew McNulty joins the cast as Brian, a cousin Jack never knew existed.  Brought up in England, Brian returns to Ireland to discover the truth about his family. Simone Lahbib is Brian’s girlfriend Gemma who joins him on his voyage of discovery and finds herself drawn to staying in Connemara for her own reasons.

Sean McGinley is Costello, a retired Guard who has taken over Mallon’s bar but has more sinister ambitions and readily exploits former police colleagues in a bid to undermine Jack.  And award-winning actor Stephen Rea (Father & Son, Ondine) guest stars in the first two-parter.

Following its transmission on RTÉ Television to large audiences and critical acclaim SINGLE-HANDED debuted on ITV1 as a three-part drama last summer. More than 4 million viewers tuned in for its premiere, and the drama received rave reviews for its subtle depiction of rural life set against the stunning landscapes of the west of Ireland.

SINGLE-HANDED is made by Touchpaper Television, part of the RDF Media Group.  It is written by Barry Simner (The Vice, Midsomer Murders,) Clive Bradley (City of Vice) and Colin Teevan (How Many Miles To Basra).  Thaddeus O’Sullivan (Silent Witness, Into the Storm) will direct the first two-parter and Charlie McCarthy (On Home Ground, Joking Apart) the second.

It is produced by Clare Alan (The Vice, A Harlot’s Progress, Wild Decembers, A Most Mysterious Murder). Rob Pursey (The Vice, Being Human, Murderland, City of Vice) is the executive producer. 

Sunday, 16 August 2009, 9:00PM – 11:00PM

Owen McDonnell faced a bigger task than fearlessly policing the wilds of Western Ireland when he started filming SINGLE-HANDED; he had to learn to drive on the job.

“The hardest thing was the driving; I couldn’t drive very well at all!” laughs Owen. “I only had a provisional license so they had to have some poor man hide under a bit of tarpaulin in the back of the car with me to fulfil the letter of the law.

“Luckily there wasn’t a lot of traffic, but there are were a lot of scenes with me pulling up and getting out of the car, then the car rolling out of shot because I forgot to put the hand brake on, almost killing the whole crew. It is easier to pretend you can drive when you are acting, but when I was doing full days with just me in the car looking moody that was tough.”

Talking of his character in the three-part drama, Owen explains: “Jack’s father was a policeman so, not only is he a policeman himself, but at the same time he is still the ‘peelers brat’, the policeman’s son. Jack has a very moral sense of the way things should be which is sometimes difficult to reconcile with the reality he finds himself in. The fact that he has moved from Dublin, where he is very much part of a team to this new place throws up a whole new world of challenges. I think he finds it difficult to adjust to an environment where knowledge, what you know about other people, is just power. In a community where everybody knows him, it limits how much human contact Jack can have, he almost has to take a step back from everyone else.

“He tends to do things by the book, but unfortunately he finds that stuff done by the book is not necessarily the way that his superiors would have it done. As he investigates the first case, he discovers things not only from his father’s past, but from his past as well which are not necessarily palatable. I think fundamentally he is a good person, he has a genuine vocation for what he does and he feels he has this moral responsibility that comes with the job.”

Owen continues: “The fact of the series is that Jack is a policeman; it is about the person and the problems that his personal life and the job throw at him. It very much concentrates not on finding out the solution to whatever mystery is going on but how it affects him as a human.

“You can put on a uniform and the way people interact with you is completely different, they talk to the uniform not to you. I realised that I did exactly the same but when you are doing a job like this you get to talk to the people behind the uniform and they are as varied as any other walk of life.”

“Wearing the uniform did make me feel different because it does give you a sense of power…apart from the enormous hat. The way that people interact with you is very strange and you can see how people could abuse that power. When we first started shooting people wouldn’t know if I was a policeman or not when I walked into a shop. You saw people getting off their mobile phones and throwing their seatbelts on when they drove past.

“When I put on those clothes I get a certain feeling and physicality. You are there in your big boots, dressed for protection and action. I did have to appeal to the director that I didn’t wear the hat too much though because it looked stupid. I have a peanut head and the hat was huge!”

In the final episode when Sergeant Jack Driscoll (Owen McDonnell) receives a midnight call to investigate activity on an isolated beach, he unwittingly stumbles into the middle of an undercover police operation.

Daniel O’Malley, the son of a local trawlerman, dies in Jack’s arms that night, but Jack’s quest for justice meets resistance from the Dublin detectives as they seek to bring down a bigger National prize.

To complicate matters, MAURA DOOLEY (Marcella Plunkett), the love of Jack’s life, and the reason he was forced to leave Dublin, is one of the undercover operatives. Things between them were never properly resolved, and Maura’s relationship with her handsome and ambitious undercover colleague, D.S. Pat Casey (Padraic Delaney) only serves to increase the tension between the former lovers.

SINGLE-HANDED is made by Touchpaper Television, part of the RDF Media Group. It is written by Barry Simner (The Vice, Midsomer Murders, Holby City), directed by Colm McCarthy (Spooks, Murphy’s Law) and Anthony Byrne (Wild Decembers) and produced by Clare Alan (A Harlot’s Progress, Wild Decembers, A Most Mysterious Murder). Rob Pursey (Being Human, Murderland, City of Vice) is the executive producer.

Sunday, 9 August 2009, 9:00PM – 11:00PM

Caroline Catz decided to ask Doc Martin co-star Martin Clunes for advice on playing a TV doctor in the second episode of SINGLE-HANDED, before remembering her own dad was a GP.

“I did speak to Martin hoping to get some handy hints about dialogue and how to behave like a doctor – he reminded me isn’t actually a real doctor! Then I remembered my dad was a GP so I gave him a call instead. He was really helpful but he wasn’t a TV doctor…”

Filming SINGLE-HANDED reunited Caroline with the team behind The Vice, an ITV drama in which she starred for five series.

“I was so pleased they asked me to do the role. There are resonances of The Vice in Single-Handed in that they are dark, psychological tales based on things that are very real. But there is also a lot of humanity and warmth underneath all of that. It is not just bleak for the sake of bleak. There is always something in it which is human and brilliant. I think Barry Simner is a fantastic writer.”

Talking about the rgion where they filmed, Caroline says: “They are amazing people, really welcoming and warm. There are some fantastic pubs, and what I loved about them was that they all had these peat fires, and were burning these clods of peat. The smell of the peat fire… I had never had that experience before. The warmth is different too. When I got home I managed to find some peat briquettes to burn on our fire at home. It really did bring back those memories. What I didn’t realise was that all families that live in Connemara have their own piece of bog, and each family go and take as much peat as they need , dry it out and use it on their fire.”

So, are there any similarities between Dr Maggie Hunter, her character in SINGLE-HANDED, and head teacher Louisa Glasson who she plays in ratings winning Doc Martin.

“They are both very principled characters. Maggie is having a relationship with the local sergeant, Jack Drsicoll. Not everybody knows about this relationship between the two of them. It is early stages and she makes the decision not to tell him something important about two of her patients because she is protecting them through patient confidentiality. In the end that gets in the way of their relationship because it is a vital piece of missing information about the case. They want to try and have a relationship, but there’s no way of him disengaging from the intensity of his job. So, another troubled romance; another similarity with Louisa.”

In the penultimate episode of SINGLE-HANDED when a toddler is snatched from his home, Sergeant Jack Driscoll (Owen McDonnell) is handed charge of the investigation three days after a county-wide search is scaled down.

As concern for the boy mounts, Jack is shocked to discover that his new lover, Dr Maggie Hunter (Caroline Catz), has concealed information about the toddler’s parents, on the grounds of patient confidentiality.

Meanwhile, a national Tribunal into allegations of police corruption has reached this remote corner of Western Ireland, and Jack’s father, former Garda Sergeant Gerry Driscoll (Ian McElhinney) has been called to account. Gerry’s life is further complicated when an unwanted ghost from the past, Malachy Doran (Mark Lambert), turns up.

It is Jack’s diligence and compassion that ultimately cracks the case. Gerry meanwhile feels the noose of his own making tightening around his neck…

SINGLE-HANDED is made by Touchpaper Television, part of the RDF Media Group. It is written by Barry Simner (The Vice, Midsomer Murders, Holby City), directed by Colm McCarthy (Spooks, Murphy’s Law) and Anthony Byrne (Wild Decembers) and produced by Clare Alan (A Harlot’s Progress, Wild Decembers, A Most Mysterious Murder). Rob Pursey (Being Human, Murderland, City of Vice) is the executive producer.

Sunday, 2 August 2009, 9:00PM – 11:00PM

Jack Driscoll (Owen McDonnell), a Sergeant with the Irish police, is completely at home in his new patch; he ought to be as he was born and brought up there. He knows the people, he knows the West of Ireland and, more importantly, he knows how the two fit together. But this is no cushy posting; Jack’s ‘patch’ stretches from the Atlantic coast in the West to the glacial lakes in the East, from Galway City in the South to Killary harbour in the North – he’s on call 24-hours a day and, more often than not, he’s single-handed.

From the team that brought you ITV’s award winning drama The Vice, SINGLE-HANDED explores how policing a rural community differs from city policing. Your precinct is vast, the terrain extreme and the community lives on the edge. You are always on duty. There’s nowhere to hide.

Stationed more than 40 miles from his superior officers and with specialist backup hours away, Jack is used to thinking on his feet. In circumstances like these, normal procedures are always under pressure and often bypassed altogether, but Jack has the shadow of his predecessor hanging over him. His father Gerry (Ian McElhinney – Little Dorrit, Closing the Ring, Rough Diamond) has only recently vacated the position and Jack’s methods are not necessarily the same…

The job has taught Jack one invaluable lesson – when the going gets tough, the only person you can rely on is yourself. Fortunately, the life suits him.

Guest starring in SINGLE-HANDED are Caroline Catz (Doc Martin), Charlene Mckenna (Raw), Stuart Graham (Hunger) and Ruth McCabe (The Street).

Writer Barry Simner explains: “I live in the mountains of Wales and although culturally quite different from Ireland I knew it was a perfect fit for someone working on their own, like Jack Driscoll. The area we filmed in feels quite Frontier like in its remoteness. And what is wonderful is trying to get under the skin of another country with different tensions, history and cross currents, without going for the superficial, the obvious.”

Barry found the region in the west of Ireland to be a very secretive place.

“This is the only northern European country with a Mediterranean crime problem and these rural officers really face some of the most violent criminals often armed only with their nouse, wit and the ability to talk their way through a situation with no backup, in the middle of nowhere.

“Jack’s patch is a stunning piece of countryside, but the landscape he polices conceals very dark secrets. Jack’s investigations often bring to the surface mysteries that everyone would prefer to have kept hidden. It’s such a secret place on so many levels. There are many wrongs that have never been put right. This area of Ireland is where the famine hit hardest and these people have an acute awareness of their history, the pain it has caused and the problems that have ensued yet they continue to say very little about any of it.”

The show’s police advisor Peter Murray, himself once a rural Guard in Western Ireland, says: “When based in a small village on the west coast we used to joke that our nearest backup was the NYPD across the ocean. In theory with these postings you have the resources of the national police force, in practice at 4am the nearest help could be 40 miles away. At extremes the job is about survival; sometimes discretion is the better part of valour. We have similar problems as the cities just with a different slant. You can get the drug of your choice in any small village and the resulting problems. We have a saying that rings true in the drama too… ‘local arrangements will apply’.”

In the first episode of SINGLE-HANDED Jack Driscoll (Owen McDonnell) is transferred from Dublin back to his birthplace in the remote west of Ireland, as Garda Sergeant, the role recently vacated by his father, Gerry (Ian McElhinney).

Jack’s first major case is an investigation into the death of a young woman, found in an isolated caravan. Jack is frustrated in his attempts to identify the woman as the community closes ranks. And what looked at first like accidental death takes on an increasingly sinister hue. Jack uncovers a tangled web of blackmail and sexual abuse, involving the farmer whose field the caravan occupied, a local hotelier, a builder with a reputation for violence and a property developer – one of his father’s oldest friends.

Jack’s relentless pursuit of the truth dredges up long buried crimes and pits him against his new Inspector and his father Gerry, who looks increasingly to hold the key to the mystery. Throughout all of this there is one glimmer of hope: a romance with a young Dublin nurse, Saoirse (Laura Brady) visiting relatives in the area, but increasingly attracted to the landscape – and Jack.

Filmed entirely on location in the majestic region of Connemara in the West of Ireland, ITV’s new three-part drama reflects one policeman’s quest to serve a rural community – Single handed..

Jack Driscoll (Owen McDonnell), a Sergeant with the Irish police, is completely at home in his new patch; he ought to be as he was born and brought up there.  He knows the people, he knows the West of Ireland and, more importantly, he knows how the two fit together.  But this is no cushy posting; Jack’s ‘patch’ stretches from the Atlantic coast in the West to the glacial lakes in the East, from Galway City in the South to Killary harbour in the North – he’s on call 24-hours a day and, more often than not, he’s single-handed.

From the team that brought you ITV’s award winning drama The Vice, SINGLE-HANDED explores how policing a rural community differs from city policing.  Your precinct is vast, the terrain extreme and the community lives on the edge.  You are always on duty.  There’s nowhere to hide.

Stationed more than 40 miles from his superior officers and with specialist backup hours away, Jack is used to thinking on his feet.  In circumstances like these, normal procedures are always under pressure and often bypassed altogether, but Jack has the shadow of his predecessor hanging over him.  His father Gerry (Ian McElhinney – Little Dorrit, Closing the Ring, Rough Diamond) has only recently vacated the position and Jack’s methods are not necessarily the same…

The job has taught Jack one invaluable lesson – when the going gets tough, the only person you can rely on is yourself.  Fortunately, the life suits him.

Guest starring in SINGLE-HANDED are Caroline Catz (Doc Martin), Charlene Mckenna (Raw), Stuart Graham (Hunger) and Ruth McCabe (The Street).

Rob Pursey, managing director of Touchpaper TV, says: “Touchpaper are delighted to be launching a new series on ITV1.  Single-Handed brings an ITV audience the wonderful, atmospheric landscape of Western Ireland, three intriguing stories – and a fascinating new lead actor in the form of Owen McDonnell.”

SINGLE-HANDED is made by Touchpaper Television, part of the RDF Media Group.  It is written by Barry Simner (The Vice, Midsomer Murders, Holby City), directed by Colm McCarthy (Spooks, Murphy’s Law) and Anthony Byrne (Wild Decembers) and  produced by Clare Alan (A Harlot’s Progress, Wild Decembers, A Most Mysterious Murder). Rob Pursey (Being Human, Murderland, City of Vice) is the executive producer.  

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