Showtime has set a January premiere date for The Woman in the Wall, a tense and emotional thriller that aims to explore the legacy of one of Ireland's most shocking and inhumane scandals — the institutions known as the Magdalene Laundries,
The twisty mystery thriller stars Ruth Wilson (His Dark Materials) as Lorna, a woman who wakes one morning to discover a corpse in her house. Horrifyingly, she has no idea who the dead woman is, how the body got into her home, or whether she herself might be responsible for what looks very much like a murder. Lorna has no memory of what occurred the night before, because Lorna has long suffered from extreme bouts of sleepwalking, has done ever since she was a teenager and forced to live at Kilkinure Convent, where her daughter Agnes was cruelly taken away from her.
Lorna was the victim of one of Ireland's many Magdalene Laundries, where "fallen women" of various stripes were often put to work as punishment for having sex outside of marriage. Also known as Magdalene asylums, most women who were sent to these institutions were pregnant with illegitimate children, they were also often home to those who had been accused of adultery, prostitution, same-sex attraction, or other sexual sin. Though they sound --- and were --- barbaric, the last of the Magdalene Laundries imprisoned women all the way up until 1996, when the Gloucester Street Laundry finally closed. It was home to 40 women at the time, most of whom had developmental disabilities.
A big part of the reason these awful places shut down was the discovery of the unmarked graves of 155 women in 1993, near the site of a former Magdalene Laundry in northern Dublin. At least one of the bodies was of a woman who had died as recently as 1987. The investigation that followed resulted in a formal state apology and the establishment of a compensation scheme for survivors. However, these inhuman institutions still cast a long shadow over both the country and the lives of women still suffering in their aftermath, and that is part of what The Woman in the Wall clearly hopes to explore.
Peaky Blinders' Daryl McCormack plays Detective Colman Akande, who is now also on Lorna's tail for a crime seemingly unrelated to the body she has discovered in her house. His scathing wit hides a quiet sadness, and when he meets Lorna, he finds himself forced to confront his own haunting secrets. As Akande investigates a murder and Lorna searches for the truth about the daughter whose fate she has never known, their paths become intertwined in unexpected ways.
Alongside Wilson and McCormack, the series also stars Simon Delaney (Inside Man), Philippa Dunne (Bodies), Mark Huberman (Vikings: Valhalla), Hilda Fay (Let the Wrong One In), Frances Tomelty (All Creatures Great and Small) and Dermot Crowley (Luther: The Fallen Sun).
The Woman in the Wall is created by BAFTA winner Joe Murtagh (Gangs of London). All six episodes were written by Murtagh, with helming duties split between directors Harry Wootliff (His Dark Materials) and Rachna Suri (Children of Men). Murtagh, Wilson, and Wootliff executive produce, along with Simon Maxwell (Deep State), Sam Lavender (Saint Maud), with Lucy Richer for the BBC.
The Woman in the Wall will be available to stream on Paramount+ with Showtime subscribers on Friday, January 19, before broadcasting on Sunday, January 21 on Showtime.