Ruth Wilson starring in BBC drama based on forgotten real-life Irish scandal

The BBC has announced details of a brand new thriller starring Ruth Wilson.

Best known for her roles in Luther, His Dark Materials, and Mrs Wilson, the 40-year-old English actress is also executive producing the six-part series.

The Woman in the Wall will examine the legacy of one of Ireland’s most shocking scandals – the inhumane institutions known as “The Magdalene Laundries.”

Usually run by Roman Catholic orders to supposedly house “fallen women,” these institutions operated from the 18th to the late 20th centuries.

The Woman in the Wall is described as “a gothic detective story shot through with dark humour and elements of psychological horror, which follows a pair of forgotten and unlikely protagonists searching for the answers they so desperately need in a place where they have been long buried.”

Creator and writer Joe Murtagh commented: “My family is from Mayo, the county in which the fictional Kilkinure is set, and it deeply frustrates and saddens me that it feels so few people have heard of the Laundries that existed across Ireland.

“I hope that by making something that has the familiarity of a genre piece we are able to shed some light on the awful things that occurred within these kind of institutions and introduce this history to the wider public, so that nothing like it may ever happen again.”

Jana Winograde, President of Entertainment at Showtime, commented: “The Woman in the Wall takes on a startling story about a notorious and heartbreaking scandal in Ireland, one that destroyed the lives of women for more than 200 years.”

Ruth Wilson will be joined by Peaky Blinders actor Daryl McCormack, most recently seen alongside Emma Thompson in Good Luck to You Leo Grande.

The official synopsis reads: “Lorna Brady (Wilson) is a woman from the small, fictional town of Kilkinure, who wakes one morning to find a corpse in her house. Chillingly, Lorna has no idea who the dead woman is or if she herself might be responsible for the apparent murder…

“That’s because Lorna has long suffered from extreme bouts of sleepwalking, understood to have manifested around the time she was ripped from her life at the age of 15 and incarcerated in the Kilkinure Convent.

“The Convent was home to one of Ireland’s infamous Magdalene Laundries, a place where women were taken when they fell afoul of the social mores of their times – from those accused of committing adultery to teenage pregnancies.

“When it finally closed its doors, a score of survivors were left suffering in its wake. Very few women were able to go on and lead relatively normal lives, and others, such as Lorna, were even less fortunate in their fate. One thing all survivors had in common, is that none of them would ever forget.

“Unluckily for Lorna, the extremely ambitious, albeit elusive Detective Colman Akande (McCormack) is now also on her tail for a crime which is seemingly unrelated to the dead woman she’s discovered in her house. Colman quickly rose through the ranks of the Garda Síochána thanks to his natural aptitude for the job. He possesses a dark and sometimes scathing wit but there is a quiet sadness to him that even he doesn’t understand, and he’s hiding his own secrets from the world…”

The Women in the Wall will premiere in 2023 on Showtime in the US, and on BBC One and BBC iPlayer in the UK.

Wilson can next be seen in new murder mystery See How The Run – here’s the trailer:


Set in London’s West End in the 1950s, See How They Run arrives in UK cinemas next month.

Netflix’s upcoming Luther movie began filming last November, but it’s currently unconfirmed if Wilson will be reprising her role as Alice in the film.

Mrs Wilson is available to watch on Amazon Prime Video.