TG4’s six-part Dublin drama Northern Lights has been thrilling both viewers and critics. Based on Stephen Jones’s play, it tells the tale of two grieving strangers who meet when Lloyd (played by Jones) sees Áine (Elva Trill) standing on Grattan Bridge and, fearing she may jump, intervenes.
At an online Republic of Ireland event in December, Jones revealed his inspiration for the play: “I witnessed the aftermath of a guy jumping into the Liffey… and it stuck with me. I wondered what would happen if… late at night, [it’s] lashing down with rain and you pass a person several times [on the bridge].
“I had [this image] of two people and, like any writer, I guess, you think about who they are, what they are doing, where they are going, who they were in the past and what led them to this place?”
Deadpan Pictures co-founder Ailish McElmeel saw the play in 2018. “Everything we do at Deadpan is very character driven.… I was laughing and crying,” she recalled. “Very quickly we were annoying Stephen to see if he might be interested in adapting [it for TV].”
Five years later and expanded for TV – with a complex funding package involving TG4, Belgium’s Streamz, ZDFneo (Germany), Screen Ireland and Lionsgate TV in place – the English-language Northern Lights came to the Irish-language channel TG4 this November.
A second series is in development, but not yet greenlit.