The Rising is a murder mystery story with a supernatural twist, following the restless soul of murdered teenager Neve Kelly (Clara Rugaard) as she attempts to uncover her killer.


Living in a small village in the English countryside, one would think that the suspect list would be short, but it soon emerges that several people in this close-knit community are hiding dark secrets.

To mark the show's launch on Sky Max and NOW, a publicity stunt was staged in which a ghostly holographic projection of Neve could be seen emerging from the banks of Derwentwater in the Lake District, stunning early morning walkers.

A holographic projection of The Rising's Neve Kelly (Clara Rugaard) can be seen emerging from Derwentwater, Lake District
A holographic projection of The Rising's Neve Kelly (Clara Rugaard) can be seen emerging from Derwentwater, Lake District Sky

Those who sought out The Rising would find further surprises in the eight-episode series, which ends in dramatic fashion as the truth is revealed about Neve's fate.

The Rising writer Pete McTighe (Doctor Who, The Pact) spoke to about the season finale, covering everything from Neve's extraordinary journey to casting and that moving soundtrack.

Be warned: there are major spoilers ahead!

The Rising ending explained

While it initially seemed that stern, intimidating William Wyatt (Nicholas Gleaves) was responsible for Neve's death, it later emerged that the true culprit was his brother, Michael (William Ash) – and this isn't his first unspeakable crime, either.

Through flashback, we learn the heartbreaking story of Victoria Sands (Laura Aikman), first wife to Daniel (Alex Lanipekun), who had struggled with mental illness in the months leading up to her sudden disappearance.

For years, Daniel believed that she had taken her own life, but Neve discovers that Michael actually murdered her in a fit of rage after she rejected his sexual advances.

Speaking to, writer McTighe explained that the casting of Ash and Gleaves in these roles was one technique used to throw viewers off the scent.

William Ash in The Rising
Michael attempts to bully his brother into bailing him out once again. SEAC

"He's a lovely guy in real life and that's kind of what we needed," he said. "Someone who was lovely and just a nice guy and an everyman. That would come across on-screen and, therefore, he would be at the back of your list of suspects.

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"And you've got someone like Nicolas Gleaves, who just has this edge to him and his performance constantly. So you're constantly drawn to him and watching him and suspecting him."

William is not innocent in all this either, having helped his brother cover up the evidence all those years ago, believing the incident to be a terrible mistake – which left him feeling partly responsible for Neve's grim fate too.

With help from Alex (Nenda Neururer) and Maria (Emily Taaffe), Neve is able to bring Victoria's remains to the attention of authorities, providing answers to her surviving relatives who have long yearned for them.

Michael flees to the motocross club, where he hopes to find the most incriminating evidence against him, but is confronted by Neve's father Tom (Matthew McNulty), who strangles him to death.

Fortunately, his ex-wife (and Neve's mother) Maria is on the scene to perform CPR, which succeeds in bringing Michael back and sparing Tom a lifetime behind bars – as well as having one other unintentional side effect.

The Rising season finale: The Sands family finally get closure.
The Rising season finale: The Sands family finally get closure. SEAC

As explained earlier in the episode, the people who can see Neve are those who have had near-death experiences, with this fact forming the foundation upon which the events of the finale were built.

McTighe continued: "I felt that it was really important that Neve had a proper confrontation with her killer at the end of the show, and for that to happen, it meant that he had to die and then be brought back to kind of tie into the rules of the world... Once I worked that out, that was a moment when everything fell into place."

After catching a glimpse of her when he regains consciousness, Michael's formal confrontation with Neve comes as he's detained in a prison cell, where she is finally able to get closure for the terrible fate he forced on her.

Yet remarkably, Neve chooses a non-violent path, which was another important part of her journey to McTighe.

"To get to the point of being able to kill him and to not do that, for her humanity to win out in the end… that's kind of a double victory for her," he began.

"But then, for me, I was like ‘that's not enough. I want this man dead’. And it's great that we had Victoria, who could then kind of step in and you get that great shock ending."

Indeed, the spirit of Victoria Sands is not so merciful, exacting brutal revenge on Michael for tearing her away from her family, using her terrifying supernatural form to induce a fatal heart attack.

William Ash in The Rising
Michael meets his maker. SEAC

All things considered, Neve's ending is relatively upbeat.

Of course, there is the underlying tragedy that the life she could have led has been cruelly snatched away, but with answers found and justice served, she finds the strength to leave her small village as she aimed to do in life.

McTighe explains that he always wanted this first season to be neatly wrapped up, suggesting that viewers committing to all eight episodes are owed answers to the mysteries therein.

"It was really important to me that [Neve] had a ‘happy ending’, as happy as it could be. And also that we gave the audience a reasonably closed ending as well," he said.

"It was important for this particular first series, for me, that the ending was a satisfying one, and that we didn't have a terrible cliffhanger at the end where we still don't know who the killer was," continued McTighe.

"I think these days, an audience devoting eight episodes of their life to something, they deserve a bit of a payoff. So I wanted to give people all those payoffs, and leave it on a really uplifting, bittersweet, emotional note."

The emotional heft of the ending is aided by the moving soundtrack, composed by BAFTA-nominated musician Carly Paradis, who also penned the instantly recognisable theme song to Line of Duty.

For The Rising, in addition to 27 other atmospheric songs, she contributed title track 'Heart Rides On', which also features producing duo Eli & Fur.

The song may initially strike viewers as surprisingly optimistic in tone for a show with an otherwise bleak premise, but McTighe reveals it was designed with the ending in mind.

He added: "I knew that I wanted the end to be hopeful. And particularly those first few episodes, when you are dealing with quite heavy emotional material, you do want to know that you're not going to be steeped in grief and crying for eight episodes.

"And the theme was a really important part of that. It had that kind of eeriness about it, but also does have that hopeful quality which connects it to the end of the story."

Read more: The Rising creator already has "exciting" plan for season 2

The Rising airs Fridays on Sky Max – get Sky TV now or stream all episodes on NOW. Check out more of our Drama coverage or visit our TV Guide to see what's on tonight.


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