New British TV show (filmed in Ireland) focusing on deaf woman moves into primetime slot

Monday, May 10, 2010

New British TV show (filmed in Ireland) focusing on deaf woman moves
into primetime slot

From the Irish Film & Television Network:

The broadcast date for Dearbhla Walsh’s latest television drama, ‘The
Silence’, which filmed on location in Dublin, has been moved to a
prestigious “Event TV” primetime broadcast slot following a preview
viewing of the first episode by BBC Scheduling head, Jay Hunt.

The latest drama from the Emmy award winning Irish director was
scheduled to start its broadcast on Monday, May 10th on BBC1 but the
head of BBC Scheduling, Jay Hunt watched the first episode of the
series last week and was so impressed that he wants to broadcast the
four parts on consecutive nights as ‘Event TV’ – similar to Stephen
Butchard’s ‘Five Daughters’ which received the same style of broadcast
in late April.

Dearbhla Walsh voiced her delight at the move, telling IFTN: “It’s
brilliant in that it’ll go out on four consecutive nights,” before
adding, “but it’s a pain that we don’t know when because it was too
late in the day to make that decision and all the broadcasting slots
were full for next week. It could be mid-summer, it could be September
– the only guarantees we’ve got is that it won’t be during the World
Cup and it won’t be during Wimbledon. We’ve no idea.”

‘The Silence’ sees deaf actress Genevieve Barr (pictured) play the
role of Amelia Edwards who has recently been fitted with a cochlear
implant, enabling her to hear. Breaking free from her over-protective
parents, played by Gina McKee (In The Loop) and Hugh Bonneville (Lost
In Austen), she goes to stay with her party-loving cousins, homicide
detective uncle Jim, played by Douglas Henshall (Collision) and aunt
Maggie played by IFTA winning actress Dervla Kirwan (Ondine). Amelia
witnesses the audacious murder of a policewoman, and is reluctantly
propelled further into a loud and frightening world.

Dearbhla describes the shoot for the series was one of her more
frantic experiences: “It was supposed to be shot in Bristol, where
it’s set but we managed to get it shot in Dublin with an all-Irish
crew. However, with the change in the sterling/euro we lost a week’s
shooting so everything has been very high pressure, high octane.”

‘The Silence’ marks the TV acting debut actress Genevieve Barr, who
gave up her career as a teacher to take on the role. Walsh had to
tailor her directing approach somewhat for her lead actress’ hearing
disability. “It meant having to be incredibly clear, there was no
shorthand,” she explains. “Normally on a set you can shout things
across the floor in half sentences, but there was none of that. It
meant that she and I spent a lot of time beforehand in one-on-one
rehearsals. I would go through each of the scenes with her and then,
during cast rehearsals, I would get her to interact with the rest of
the cast to break any presumed boundaries. So it just involved working
harder really – being more prepared and more clear.”

And the production faced other, more unexpected challenges along the
way also: “Genevieve doesn’t sign,” Dearbhla tells us, “so she had to
learn sign for certain scenes when she was working with deaf actors
who do sign. And the sign teacher had to come from Britain because
British sign is different to Irish sign. And I couldn’t understand the
sign teacher so Genevieve had to be my translator, which she found

One of the most intriguing features that ‘The Silence’ boasts is its
sound effects which look to copy the sound environment that people
with cochlear implants experience. This production aspect proved
intricate and challenging and called for several pre-production
sessions at Screen Scene and Ardmore Sound and saw Peter Blayney and
Michelle Fingleton locked up in an editing suite for days in Screen
Scene to perfect the sound. Wash describes the effect she was looking
for: “It’s about converting sound frequencies. There are many levels
of hearing but with a cochlear implant there are only six levels.
People with cochlear implants can’t hear certain sounds – and if a
sound is particularly high it sounds like nails on a blackboard. The
most shocking and awful sound for someone with a cochlear implant is
the sound of a toilet flushing because they don’t know where the sound
is coming from or what it is – because it’s a sound they can’t pin
down, it’s like white noise. And this is all central to ‘The

‘The Silence’ is a co-production between Company Pictures and Element
pictures. It is written by Fiona Seres (Love My Way, The Surgeon) and
produced by Eleanor Greene (Party Animals). Executive producers are
Charles Pattinson (The Life and Death of Peter Sellers) and George
Faber (Persuasion) for Company Pictures and Polly Hill (Inspector
George Hill) for BBC One.