ITV Drama ‘Karen Pirie’

ITV cold case murder drama, ‘Karen Pirie’

Juliet Stevenson

(May 2021)

Lauren Lyle to star as Karen Pirie in ITV cold case murder drama, ‘Karen Pirie’

 

Lauren Lyle to star as Karen Pirie in ITV cold case murder drama, based on acclaimed author Val McDermid’s The Distant Echo, adapted by Emer Kenny.

Outlander star Lauren Lyle will take the lead role of Karen Pirie in a new ITV drama series from the producers of Line of Duty and Bodyguard, World Productions.

True to Val McDermid’s iconic character, DS Karen Pirie is a young and fearless Scottish investigator with a quick mouth and tenacious desire for the truth.

Adapted by Emer Kenny (Harlots, Save Me Too) who will also take the role of Karen’s friend River Wilde, Karen Pirie also stars Chris Jenks (Sex Education) as Jason ‘Mint’ Murray and Zach Wyatt (Blithe Spirit) as DS Phil Parhatka.


ITV commissions cold case murder drama, Karen Pirie, (w/t) based on Val McDermid’s The Distant Echo.

Val McDermid’s series of cold case investigations, Karen Pirie (w/t) has been commissioned by ITV from the producers of Line of Duty and Bodyguard, World Productions.

Adapted by Emer Kenny (Harlots, Save Me Too) Karen Pirie is based on the novel, The Distant Echo, the first in a series of best-selling novels about the young Scottish female detective set in the beautiful Scottish university town of St. Andrew’s.

Karen is a refreshingly normal and charmingly unfashionable young woman – slick, maverick cop she is not – but her quick mouth and ingenuity make her an impressive investigator. Following her promotion to Police Scotland’s Historic Cases Unit, Karen is tasked with reopening the investigation into a murder that has been the subject of a provocative true crime podcast. When teenage barmaid Rosie Duff was stabbed to death in 1995, suspicion fell on the three drunken students who discovered her body. But despite police suspicion, the boys were never charged.

Nearly 25 years on, DS Karen Pirie is determined to uncover what happened that fateful night. Do the men know more than they previously revealed? When Karen uncovers flaws in the initial investigation, she finds herself in conflict with the very officers who led the original hunt for the killer.

Karen Pirie has been commissioned for ITV by Head of Drama, Polly Hill. Drama Commissioner Huw Kennair Jones will oversee production from the channel’s perspective.

Commented Huw Kennair Jones:

“Emer has brilliantly realised Val McDermid’s iconic detective, Karen Pirie, and the rich crime stories Police Scotland’s Historic Cases Unit investigate. We’re thrilled to be working with Simon Heath and World Productions to bring such an exciting new series to the ITV audience.”

Karen Pirie will be executive produced by Simon Heath, World Production’s CEO. World has been producing critically acclaimed, award winning drama since 1990 and was awarded Best Independent Production Company at both the Broadcast Awards and the Edinburgh TV Festival in 2019.

Commented Simon Heath:

“Emer is a new and exciting voice who brings a witty, contemporary take to Val’s brilliant and much-loved Karen Pirie novels. We’re delighted that ITV have given us the chance to bring them to the screen.”

Emer Kenny is a writer and actress whose credits include Harlots, Save Me and EastEnders.

Commented Emer Kenny:

“From the moment I read that Karen Pirie orders a Bacardi Breezer as her after-work drink (other brands of alco-pop are available) I knew that she was the detective for me. Val is the queen of crime for good reason and I’m honoured to be bringing her creation to a TV audience, especially for ITV which has been home to some of my favourite detective shows, from Broadchurch to Prime Suspect. Of course, I’m delighted to be working with World Productions again, who really know their way around a crime drama.”

The novels of celebrated crime writer Val McDermid have sold over 16 million copies worldwide. The Hill Jordan series of novels was adapted into Wire in the Blood starring Robson Green for ITV.

Commented Val McDermid:

“I’m sure this adaptation will bring Karen many new fans as well as delighting her existing ones. Karen and the Historic Cases Unit are in very safe hands!”

Filming will take place in Scotland and details of casting will be advised in the coming months.

International distribution for Karen Pirie will be handled by ITV Studios.


The Distant EchoThe series is based on Val McDermid’s first Karen Pirie novel The Distant Echo, and in the first episode Karen is tasked with reopening an historic murder investigation that has been the subject of a provocative true-crime podcast.

When teenager Rosie Duff (Anna Russell-Martin, Casualty) was found brutally murdered in the Scottish university town of St Andrews in 1996, suspicion fell on the three drunken students who were discovered at the scene of the crime, claiming to have found her body; Sigmund ‘Ziggy’ Malkiewicz (Jhon Lumsden, Pancake) Tom ‘Weird’ Mackie (Jack Hesketh, Besa) and Alex Gilbey (Buom Tihngang, Death In Paradise). But with a lack of forensic evidence, no charges were brought and the police investigation floundered.

Twenty-five years on, someone appears to be willing to risk everything to keep the secrets surrounding the case hidden. Do the three men know more than they previously revealed? How flawed was the original investigation? And can Karen uncover the truth of what happened to Rosie that fateful night?

Further cast includes Michael Schaeffer (The Salisbury Poisonings) as Tom ‘Weird’ Mackie senior, Ariyon Bakare (His Dark Materials) as Alex Gilbey senior and Alec Newman (Unforgotten) as Sigmund ‘Ziggy’ Malkiewicz senior.


Karen Pirie (3 x 120 minutes) has been commissioned for ITV by Head of Drama, Polly Hill. Drama Commissioner Huw Kennair-Jones will oversee production from the channel’s perspective.

More Info…

Val McDermid