British crime drama Deadwater Fell premieres on Acorn TV April 6. Set in the Scottish Highlands, the four-part mystery drama looks into what happens after a happy family is murdered by someone the members know. David Tennant and Cush Jumbo star.
Daisy Coulam, writer and creator, called Deadwater Fell “a giant puzzle” begging to be figured out in these trying times. “It’s a whodunit murder mystery with lots of whydunit aspects,” she added.
Coulam previously worked on detective drama Grantchester. She’s obsessed with true crime, and projects like Making a Murderer are major influences on this one. She said Deadwater Fell has “the quiet forensic feel of a documentary.”
Scripted series such as Big Little Lies and Sharp Objects are influences too.
And the title? Coulam saw Deadwater Fell on a map, and knew she wanted it for a project. “I thought it was a great atmospheric name,” she said. “It’s such an evocative set of words.”
The Scottish Highlands offer a unique setting. Coulam described them as isolated yet beautiful, with plenty of mystery lurking in the shadows.
The project was Coulam’s first opportunity to work with Jumbo, who is in the cast of The Good Fight. She plays a schoolteacher who is married to a police officer on Deadwater. “She brings a realness and a depth to her character,” said Coulam.
For fun, Coulam watches “anything light,” she said, including Parks and Recreation and Frasier. “I somehow always end up watching Frasier,” she added.
The comedies come in handy these days. “The world feels so dark,” Coulam said. “Humor is the way through it.”
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Executive producer and showrunner Dean Georgaris, speaking in February at the aTV Festival in Atlanta, called the premise “the collision of two worlds,” the ordinary world and the celeb world, and Latino culture and what he called “superstar Australian culture.”
The concept came from Israel. ABC is taking it from a half-hour format to an hour. “It’s a chance to expand it, to pay attention to the entire family,” he said. “It becomes a family show, not just a baker-and-beauty show.”
A good romantic comedy is “timeless,” Georgaris said, and plays particularly well in times like these.
“We’re going through a period right now where I think everyone wants to be reminded about what they have in common,” he added. “We all have love in common and we all have family in common.”