True Dare Kiss

Dervla Kirwan and Lorraine Ashbourne star in True Dare Kiss, Debbie Horsfield’s sparky, raw and disturbing new drama serial – an unfolding saga of intrigue, passion, revenge and redemption.

When their estranged father, Stan, dies in unexpected circumstances, sisters Phil, Beth, Nita and Alice are reunited for the first time in 20 years.

Burdened by their own secrets, which they desperately try to hide, the four are also torn between a desire to uncover the truth behind a cataclysmic event that shattered their family 20 years before, and a need to keep it hidden.

A stranger since the events of that night, prodigal daughter Phil returns to Manchester for her father’s funeral and finds her childhood home unchanged, but her family virtually unrecognisable.

Eldest sister Nita is prepared to go to any lengths to get what she wants. She runs her business, family and home with ruthless efficiency, but her confident exterior belies a fragility born of the fear that she is second best in her husband, Nash’s, eyes. Nash and Phil are ex-lovers, and on Phil’s return, he’s eager to pick up where they left off.

Loud, foul-mouthed Beth attempts to terrorise everyone – from her fellow football hooligans to her long-suffering teenage sons. Tormented by several guilty secrets, she drinks to dull her pain, only causing her behaviour to spiral out of control.

Alice, meanwhile, is tormented by persistent, sinister nightmares since the fateful night, and has barely aged or matured. However, it is she who, inadvertently, holds the key to the entire mystery.

The sisters also have a reclusive brother, Dennis, who shares his life with strange companions. However, his peculiar coping strategies belie an even deeper dysfunction.

Forced to re-examine their actions, motives and even their memories, the siblings grapple with old rivalries and new desires in this vibrant, witty and, at times, darkly comic rollercoaster ride.

Writer Debbie Horsfield says: “True Dare Kiss is about a family with a terrible secret. It’s also about the way family feuds develop, and how time distorts the memory. People remember events in different ways and act on the basis of their own personal recollection, which may or may not be what actually happened.

“Twenty years down the line they’re now entrenched in these positions, often unable to recall what the original feud was actually about. True Dare Kiss explores the consequences of taking a stance on the basis of imperfect recollection.

“In truth, everybody in the family has a secret; there is not one person who is actually telling the truth about what’s going on in their lives. They’re all covering something up, but we don’t know how catastrophic some of these secrets are until the very end.

“The inspiration for True Dare Kiss came from The Red Devils Trilogy – three stage plays which I wrote over 20 years ago. The plays were about four friends – Nita, Beth Alice and Phil – who were school friends and, more importantly, Manchester United fans.

“Over the last 20 years, I’ve often thought about visiting those girls again to see how their lives had turned out. I decided I would take the personalities of those characters and make them into sisters, using this as reason why they had kept in touch after all those years.

“Football is still an important aspect, but, unlike the play, it is not the thing that binds them together. When I first started writing in 1978, football was the first subject I wrote about. It was something that probably got me attention as a writer because there hadn’t been any dramas about female football fans at that point.

“I have gone through various phases with supporting United, and I’ve seen the context of the game change so much over the years, and that’s one of the things I wanted to write about in True Dare Kiss.

“You’ve got Beth who is still basically a football hooligan; she hasn’t really changed since the Eighties. Whereas her older sister, Nita, who runs her own catering business, is still a fan but she’s become much more alert to the ‘corporate hospitality’ aspect of it because she knows it’s a rather trendy way of entertaining clients.

“The backbone of Nita’s catering company I took from two of my sisters – there are six of us in my family; five sisters and one brother – who run their own business doing catering on building sites. The inspiration for the family house came from the house I grew up in Manchester, which was haunted.

“I have to say I never encountered the ghost but most of my sisters and both my parents’ certainly did. We used to wonder what the story behind the ghost might be; was there a tragedy or secret to do with the house? So that is where I took the inspiration for the idea of the house having a terrible secret.

“True Dare Kiss is a very different animal to Cutting It. I actually loved writing Cutting It, which is why I ended up doing four series of it. But whereas the tone of it was glossy and aspirational, True Dare Kiss inhabits is a darker world.

“It is not a grim story, because there are moments of high comedy as well. I hope this reflects the density and complexity of family relationships.”

True Dare Kiss stars Dervla Kirwan as Phil, Lorraine Ashbourne as Beth, Pooky Quesnel as Nita, Esther Hall as Alice, David Bradley as Stan, Paul McGann as Nash and Paul Hilton as Dennis.

The series also stars Brendan Coyle, Dawn Steele, Ciaran McMenamin and Samantha Blakey.

Filmed in Manchester, True Dare Kiss is written by Debbie Horsfield (Cutting It, Sex, Chips & Rock ‘N’ Roll, Making Out, The Riff-Raff Element, Born To Run).

The producer is Marcus Wilson (Life On Mars, Cutting It) and the directors are Jeremy Webb (episodes 1, 2 and 3) and Declan O’Dwyer (episodes 4, 5 and 6).

The executive producers are Debbie Horsfield and Kate Harwood.

Every family has its secret – how far would you go to protect yours?

Dervla Kirwan and Lorraine Ashbourne star in Debbie Horsfield’s sparky, raw and disturbing new six-part drama serial True Dare Kiss, an unfolding saga of intrigue, passion, revenge and redemption coming to BBC One this Spring.

When estranged father Stan (played by David Bradley) dies in unexpected circumstances, a secret buried for two decades threatens to surface.

His son and four daughters are torn between the need to hush up the facts and a desire to uncover the truth behind one single cataclysmic event which shattered the family 20 years before.

A stranger since the events of that night, prodigal daughter, Phil (Dervla Kirwan) returns for the funeral to find her childhood home unchanged, but her family virtually unrecognisable.

Eldest sister Nita (Pooky Quesnel) runs her business, family and home with ruthless efficiency, but her confident exterior belies a fragility born of the terror that she is second best in her husband’s eyes.

Feisty and foul-mouthed Beth (Lorraine Ashbourne) contrives to terrorise everyone from her fellow football hooligans to her long-suffering teenage sons.

Reclusive brother Dennis (Paul Hilton), shares his life with strange companions, but his peculiar coping strategies belie an even deeper dysfunctionality.

Tormented by persistent and sinister nightmares, Alice (Esther Hall) has barely aged or matured since that fateful night, though it is she who, inadvertently, holds the key to the entire mystery.

And ex-lover Nash (Paul McGann) is eager to pick up where he and Phil left off, despite the fact that he’s now married to Nita.

Forced to re-examine their actions, motives and even their memories, the siblings grapple with old rivalries and new desires in this vibrant, witty and at times darkly comic, roller-coaster ride.

Debbie Horsfield says: “I’ve always been intrigued by family feuds, and the way a single event can have catastrophic and long-standing consequences.

“I’m also fascinated by the tricks memory plays, how six people can witness the same event, but each will remember it differently and will act according to their own particular interpretation – often with disastrous consequences.”

The cast also includes: Brendan Coyle as Kaz; Dawn Steele as Tanya, Ciaran McMenamin as Bryce and Samantha Blakey plays Lola.

Kate Harwood, Head of Series & Serials for BBC Drama Production, says: “We are thrilled to be producing a new Debbie Horsfield serial.

“Complex, characterful and witty with a compelling mystery at its heart, True Dare Kiss marks a new departure for a unique and much-loved voice in contemporary British drama.”

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