You’ll know Graham Norton best for his BBC chat show and Virgin radio show, he’s also a top selling novelist, with one of his books getting the TV treatment this week.
As ITV prepares to welcome Holding to our screens, here’s what you need to know about it...
What is Holding about?
Set in the insular fictional village of Duneen, West Cork, Holding is a whodunnit murder mystery based on the novel of the same name by Graham Norton. The four-part series is described as “darkly funny and inherently Irish”.
An official synopsis of the series reads: “When the body of long-lost local legend Tommy Burke is discovered, Sergeant PJ Collins is called to solve a serious crime for the first time in his career, and he finally has to connect with the village he has tried hard to avoid.”
Tommy was due to marry Bríd Riordan prior to his disappearance, but he never turned up to the church on the day, and it is up for PJ to figure out what happened to him.
Actor Conleth Hill says all the characters “have their secrets” and the reasons why they keep them will be a key theme as the series goes on.
Who is in the cast of Holding?
Conleth Hill (Game of Thrones, Dublin Murders, Vienna Blood) plays the leading role of local police officer Sergeant PJ Collins. He is described as a “gentle being” who is “one of life’s outsiders” as he hides from people and is lonely as a result. He is also said to be “a bit rubbish at his job”.
“He’s got lots of baggage and, like other characters, he’s damaged by earlier experiences, which come out through the course of the series,” Conleth says. “He’s just an ordinary man and I think that’s what appealed to me. He’s not a brilliant detective, not a brilliant policeman, he’s not a brilliant man, but they are the roles that are most challenging and exciting to play.”
Clinton Liberty (Handsome Devil, Normal People) plays Linus, an eager young detective from Cork who is “keen to make a name for himself” having been fast-tracked.
Of his character, Clinton says: “The townspeople are inconsequential to Linus at first, he’s not trying to have anything personal with anyone in Duneen. He’s trying to get the job done and doesn’t care what he has to do or who he has to go through to do it, but during the course of the story he realises that these people aren’t like any others that he’s encountered when he’s had to go elsewhere to do his job.
“They genuinely care about each other and the investigation, so it throws him off a little bit. Linus grows to love and cherish the people of Duneen and warms up to everyone.”
Siobhán McSweeney (Derry Girls, Nowhere Special, Great Pottery Throw Down) plays Bríd Riordan, who was due to marry Tommy. She is described as a “vulnerable but joyful” character.
Siobhan says: “I think Bríd is filled with shame because of her relationship with her mother, because she was ditched at the altar, and because she’s been told she was not attractive. She’s been made to feel crap about herself. I think the village is filled with people she feels talks about her all the time and keeps her in that place of feeling rejected at the altar.”
Charlene McKenna (Peaky Blinders, Vienna Blood, Bloodlands) plays Evelyn Ross, who desperately loved Tommy. Also like Bríd, she is at the heart of the local community.
“She’s so emotional, she’s so real, so flawed, so unpredictable – she’s everything,” Charlene says of Evelyn. “She’s not necessarily a sympathetic character but she is to me because I get her.”
Helen Behan (Elizabeth is Missing, The Virtues, This is England ’90) plays Evelyn’s oldest sister Abigail. She is described as “the sensible one” who has brought up her two younger sisters after the deaths of their parents.
“She’s experienced a lot of heartache and is undergoing a lot of hardship, but she’s very contained in herself,” Helen says. “She’s been through an awful lot, but she doesn’t wear it on her sleeve.”
Amy Conroy (The South Westerlies) plays middle sister Florence, who is in a relationship with Susan (Eleanor Tiernan), the Headteacher at the school where she teaches.
“I think Florence has a healthy respect for who she is and where she’s from but she’s ready for more and is ready to leave Duneen now and exist in a bigger world,” Amy explains.
Brenda Fricker (My Left Foot, Albert Nobbs, Home Alone 2) returns to television in the role of Lizzie Meany, a shy presence in PJ’s life who has been battling her own demons.
“Mrs Meany works for PJ, and she’s very fond of him, she looks after him and she’s very protective of him. Linus sometimes gets on her nerves but she’s also fond of him,” Brenda says.
Pauline McLynn (GameFace, Father Ted, Angela’s Ashes) is local shop owner Eileen, who is described as the local “busybody”. Her late husband previously did PJ’s job, with Elieen not afraid to air her views on how he’s doing.
“She is the self-appointed Mayor of the town. In her eyes she’s the only go-getter in town and the leader of the local community. But that is all in her head because formally she is neither of those things,” Pauline says. “She knows the skinny on everyone and may or may not share that information, depending on the situation.”
How involved was Graham Norton in the adaptation?
While Graham penned the original novel on which the series is based, he did not actually adapt the story for TV.
It was written by former EastEnders boss Dominic Treadwell-Collins and screenwriter Karen Cogan.
Dominic knew Graham from his time at the BBC and felt a close connection to the book as his family are all from West Cork.
Of how the series came to be, Dominic explains: “I’d read an early manuscript of the book as Graham had told me about it and I just knew this place, these people. Graham let me play around with it for the adaptation, he’s so clever and has been so involved but he also said that we could do what we needed to do to expand the world.”
Karen continues: “We met up with Graham in the early stages and had a long talk about everything and we all got on the same page about the tone etc. He’s been really kind throughout and incredibly generous, when you’re a writer adapting a novel, you don’t always get that from the original writer.”
Explaining how she came on board, Karen adds: “Dom had the rights to the book and we were already talking about other projects and I mentioned I was keen to do something about sisters who stay put and why. Dom mentioned that some of what I was talking about was at the core of this Graham Norton book he had the rights to, so I came on board.”
What changes did they make to the story?
Dom says: “What I did right at the beginning was add a bit of my personal story to PJ. My father came from here and died suddenly when I was 15 and that altered the fabric of my family and made us who we are today… I’ve made it even more personal talking about my Dad’s death and how people deal with trauma.”
How is Kathy Burke involved in the series?
The comedy legend served as the director of Holding.
Karen says of working with her: “She is everything you’d want her to be and more. Everyone knows Kath has funny bones and her comedic timing is genius but her empathy and awareness of the nuance of people’s lives and the tenderness and the darkness living next to the light comes very naturally to her.
“Above all, she adores actors, she’s an actor’s director so watching her work with the cast and build these performances with them has been really beautiful.”
When is Holding on TV?
Holding airs on ITV and ITV Hub from Monday 14 March at 9pm. It will also soon be broadcast in Ireland on Virgin Media Television, with a date to be announced.
Watch the trailer for Holding above.