ITV Adapting Val McDermid’s Cold Case Thriller ‘Karen Pirie’ From ‘Harlots’ Writer Emer Kenny & ‘Bodyguard’ Producer World

Val McDermid Chris Watt/Shutterstock

EXCLUSIVE: ITV is adapting Val McDermid’s series of cold case investigations Karen Pirie from Harlots writer Emer Kenny and Bodyguard producer World Productions.

The British commercial broadcaster has ordered three, two-hour drama episodes of the adaptation, which is based on McDermid’s novel, The Distant Echo, the first in a series of best-selling novels about a young Scottish female detective set in the Scottish university town of St. Andrew’s.

Karen is a refreshingly normal and charmingly unfashionable young woman. While she is not slick or a maverick cop, her quick mouth and ingenuity make her an impressive investigator. Following her promotion to Police Scotland’s Historic Cases Unit, Karen is tasked with reopening the investigation into a murder that has been the subject of a provocative true crime podcast. When teenage barmaid Rosie Duff was stabbed to death in 1995, suspicion fell on the three drunken students who discovered her body. But despite police suspicion, the boys were never charged. Nearly 25 years on, DS Karen Pirie is determined to uncover what happened that fateful night. Do the men know more than they previously revealed? When Karen uncovers flaws in the initial investigation, she finds herself in conflict with the very officers who led the original hunt for the killer.

Karen Pirie has been commissioned for ITV by Head of Drama, Polly Hill, while Drama Commissioner Huw Kennair Jones will oversee production for the channel. It will be exec produced by Simon Heath, CEO of World Productions, which also produces the BBC’s long-running police drama Line of Duty.

It is written by Kenny, a writer and actress, whose credits include Harlots, Save Me and EastEnders. McDermid’s novels, which have sold over 16 million copies worldwide, have previously been adapted for ITV with The Hill Jordan series remade into Wire in the Blood starring Robson Green. Filming will take place in Scotland with international distribution handled by ITV Studios.

Kennair Jones said, “Emer has brilliantly realised Val McDermid’s iconic detective, Karen Pirie, and the rich crime stories Police Scotland’s Historic Cases Unit investigate. We’re thrilled to be working with Simon Heath and World Productions to bring such an exciting new series to the ITV audience.”

World’s Heath said, “Emer is a new and exciting voice who brings a witty, contemporary take to Val’s brilliant and much-loved Karen Pirie novels. We’re delighted that ITV have given us the chance to bring them to the screen.”

Emer Kenny added, “From the moment I read that Karen Pirie orders a Bacardi Breezer as her after-work drink (other brands of alco-pop are available) I knew that she was the detective for me. Val is the queen of crime for good reason and I’m honoured to be bringing her creation to a TV audience, especially for ITV which has been home to some of my favourite detective shows, from Broadchurch to Prime Suspect. Of course, I’m delighted to be working with World Productions again, who really know their way around a crime drama.”

Val McDermid added, “I’m sure this adaptation will bring Karen many new fans as well as delighting her existing ones. Karen and the Historic Cases Unit are in very safe hands.”

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