Matthew Rhys plays Beth’s stepfather, Billy Winters, in Death and Nightingales (BBC)
What is Death and Nightingales about?
Death and Nightingales (BBC)
If you thought this might be a sweet, coming-of-age story, think again — the synopsis sounds pretty ominous: “As decades of pain and betrayal finally build to a devastating climax, Death and Nightingales is a powerful and gripping drama that follows a woman struggling to control her own destiny and will illuminate tensions that tear both families and nations apart.”
Although when a show has ‘death’ in the title, that might be an initial clue.
“It’s a complex novel that has at its heart a kind of twisted love story and triangle,” explains writer and director Cubitt.
Death and Nightingales. Picture Shows: Liam Ward (JAMIE DORNAN) – (C) Night Flight Pictures Ltd 2018 – Photographer: Teddy Cavendish
“Billy Winters is… a very troubled man,” Rhys adds, “who lost his wife ten years ago in a horrific accident and raised his step-daughter on his own, sadly we’re not quite sure when, but his feelings for his step-daughter have crossed over into a slightly dark place.”
Death and Nightingales – Billy Winters (MATTHEW RHYS), Beth Winters (ANN SKELLY) (BBC)
On joining the cast, Dornan says: “I’m thrilled to be reunited with Allan and his brilliant scripts to play such an intriguing character like Liam Ward.”
Skelly added: “Playing such a strong character as Beth Winters is truly an actor’s dream, and a fantastically intense challenge to be given the opportunity to play. And to get to work with such brilliant actors like Matthew and Jamie, and a director like Allan Cubitt, is just surreal to me. I can’t wait to start!”
Where was Death and Nightingales filmed?
Set in County Fermanagh, the landscape is almost its own character in both Cubitt’s BBC2 series and McCabe’s original novel.
“Beth has a huge attachment to the land,” Ann Skelly told RadioTimes.com, “because I think she associates [it] with her mother… That becomes a huge conflict for Beth in the plan she and Liam hatch together, because Billy is also associated with that [the land], and I think Beth has a huge tie and bond with Billy, even if they don’t like each other sometimes.”
So when it came to filming, “half the trick to pulling [the series] off was finding locations that would really work,” according to Cubitt, who was keen “not make it dark, cold, Northern Ireland”.
Springhill House (Getty)
The Winters’ home, where Beth and Billy live along with their servant Mercy, was mostly filmed in Springhill House Moneymoore. The seventeenth-century Northern Ireland property, owned by the National Trust, was closed for much of May and June to accommodate the show’s filming schedule.
Filming took place across a range of locations, including Myra Castle in Strangford, Downpatrick, and the National Trust-owned Mid Island, near Portaferry.