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9 things we learned behind the scenes of TV3's new soap Red Rock

The first new Irish-produced soap in years begins in January.

TV3 HAS REVEALED details about its forthcoming soap Red Rock, which is slated to hit our television screens in early January. While producers have been relatively tight-lipped thus far regarding the show itself, we now have a better sense of what it’s all about.

Here are 9 things we now know about Red Rock.

1. It’s set around a Dublin Garda Station in a fictional harbour town.

red_rock_image_389_5131-1 Source: TV3

The show is based around a busy Garda station in a fictional Dublin harbour town. (Though it’s loosely based on the likes of Howth, the creative team behind the show have been keen to stress that Red Rock is entirely made up.)

Each episode will contain a procedural “crime of the week” element as well as a number of ongoing storylines following the main characters.

2. The production crew consulted An Garda Siochana to ensure the set was as realistic as possible.

Production designer Alan Farquharson told DailyEdge.ie that it was important for the crew to understand how a Garda station both looked and functioned. When production commenced, they consulted An Garda Siochna in order to achieve as authentic an appearance as possible.

We had the benefit of a technical advisor, Ian McLoughlin, on the details and workings of a typical Garda Station of this size and the generosity of the Gardai at Ballymun who gave us “the grand tour” of the station there. This gave us an invaluable insight into the reality of what we were trying to achieve on screen and helped to achieve authenticity, not just in the superficial dressings but in the layout of the individual areas featured and that of the station as a whole.

3. The show is being shot in John Player Factory in Dublin 8.

phpThumb_generated_thumbnailjpg Source: Irish Film Board

Sets have been erected all around John Player Factory including a warehouse that houses the majority of the sets – living rooms, the pub, etc. – and doubles up as Harbour Haulage for exterior shots.

A Garda station, Costcutters (!), estate agent and local café were all also built for the purpose of the show.

The process of transforming John Player Factory required a quick turnaround, as Alan Farquharson told DailyEdge.ie.

We started on the design of the series in early July of this year and shooting began on the 3rd of November so the entire transformation had to be achieved within 4 months.

Construction commenced in August and set-dressing began in October, which is pretty impressive if you ask us.

4. The pub in the show is based on a real-life Dublin pub.

stoneboat Source: publin.ie

Larger pub scenes are shot on location in The Stoneboat in Kimmage, but for scheduling reasons the producton crew have painstakingly recreated the pub and smoking area. And we mean painstakingly.

Alan Farquharson told DailyEdge.ie:

We have reproduced a part of it in the studio where we can stage the more intimate scenes. This involved visiting the location and taking detail measurements of the existing walls, fixtures and fittings, matching colours and upholstery fabrics and doubling up on the dressings there. We have also created a smoking area on site that is supposedly at the rear of the pub which gives us more opportunities for pub based scenes without having to travel.

5. Great care and thought has gone into the set.

A glance around the set shows great care and detail has gone into making sure the character’s homes and surrounds feel as lived-in and authentic as possible – we’re talking cigarette butts in ashtrays and postcards hug on fridges.

How did the art department achieve this?

The dressing of the sets was very much a combined effort by the members of the Art Department. Getting the character of the sets just right for the personalities that will inhabit them was a result of many conversations between myself, the Art Director, Paula Farrell, the Production Buyer, Julie Tierney, and the Prop Master, Marie Breen. It’s a layered process starting with the “broad stokes” – colour of walls, wallpaper, type of furniture – and we work our way down to the kind of details that make them feel lived in.

They have even laid down street markings and road signs on the set, all of which serve to make Red Rock feel like “a real place”, according to Ferguson.

They were one of the last things to be put in place and in the grand scheme of things not a particularly big deal. The effect however was really striking – suddenly the disparate elements of Garda Station, café, estate agent, etc. were tied together and we had a streetscape.

6.  A family feud is at the centre of the show.

There are two main families in the show – the Hennessys and the Kielys.

The Hennessys are a local, affluent family who operate most of the businesses in Red Rock, while the Kielys are a decidedly more working-class family.

In the first episode, a long-standing feud between the two families flares up once more and sets the scene for the remainder of the series.

Oh, the drama.

7.  And here is your first look at the characters…

The Hennessys 

  • Patricia Hennessy played by Cathy Belton
  • Claire Hennessy played by Pandora McCormick
  • Michael Hennessy played by Jack Nolan
  • David Hennessy played by Adam Weafer

The Hennessys are led by fierce matriarch in the form of Patricia Hennessy who owns Harbour Haulage and the local pub in Red Rock. A widow, she has three children – Claire Hennessy, Michael Hennessy and David Hennessy.

red_rock_image_389_5132 (L-R) - Claire Hennessy, Michael Hennessy, David Hennessy, Patricia Hennessy Source: TV3

The Kielys 

  • Bridget Kiely played by Denise McCormack
  • Vincent Kiely played by Paul Roe
  • Keith Kiely played by Stephen Cromwell
  • Katie Kiely played by India Mullen

On the other hand, you’ve got the Kielys. They are decidedly less affluent than the Hennessys, but we’re told that they’re the type of family you’d “have a pint with”.

Bridget Kiely left Red Rock in a hurry eight years ago and is described as “human napalm”. Now she’s back and destined to leave destruction in her wake. Her husband is Vincent Kiely and they have two children, Darren Kiely and Katie Kiely.

red_rock_image_389_5134 (L-R) - Bridget Kiely, Darren Kiely, Katie Kiely, Vincent Kiely Source: TV3

The Guards 

  • James McKay played by Richard Flood
  • Andrea Tyrell played by Andrea Irvine
  • Sharon Cleere played by Jane McGrath
  • Brian McGonigle played by Sean Mahon
  • Paudge Brennan played by Patrick Ryan
  • Adrijan Kosos played by Boyko Krastanov

Then you have the guards, one of whom is married to a Hennessy.

We can already smell the tension.

red_rock_image_389_5130 Source: TV3

8. The team behind the camera have some pretty impressive credentials, too.

Element Pictures are on board to produce alongside Company Pictures. Element have previously produced the likes of What Richard Did and The Guard, while UK-based Company Pictures is known for shows such as Skins and Shameless.

The writing room is made up of writers from both the UK and Ireland whose collective credits include the likes of Eastenders, Teachers, Ballykissangel, The Clinic, Casualty, Holby City and Pure Mule. So we’re in safe hands.

9. But they don’t want viewers to be necessarily impressed with the level of thought and detail gone into the show.

In fact, they’d prefer if you took it for granted. Says Farquharson:

Arguably we don’t want to surprise or impress with the details of Red Rock. Rather we hope that what we have done will be unremarkable to the viewer. I think when production design is simply taken for granted as everyday reality it’s a measure of success.

Duly noted.

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About the author:

Amy O'Connor

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