Northern Ireland’s film and television industry shifts from ‘strength to strength’ despite pandemic challenges

Northern Ireland’s film and television industry continues to grow, with Netflix and Paramount among the latest US studios to bring projects to the region.

While Line Of Duty and Bloodlands were some of the highlights of 2021, Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast and the third and final season of Derry Girls are already building excitement for 2022.

The national agency Northern Ireland Screen has also listed successes in animation, games and interactive content despite the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.

Belfast Harbor Studios became home to streaming giant Netflix in 2021, while Titanic Studios was occupied by Paramount Pictures, attracting high profile celebrities to the filming of The School For Good And Evil and Dungeons And Dragons.

The epic Viking saga The Northman, shot at Belfast Harbor Studios at the end of 2020, is set to hit theaters in April 2022.

Meanwhile, Belfast, which had its Irish premiere in the city in November, was nominated for seven Golden Globes and 11 Critics Choice Awards. It hits theaters on January 21.

Among the highlights of the small screen in 2021 was the third series of crime drama Marcella, starring Anna Friel, while Sunday evenings were dominated by the drama Bloodlands, starring James Nesbitt.

Bloodlands became the BBC’s biggest drama news launch since June 2020 with an average of 8.2 million viewers, and in Northern Ireland the first episode had a consolidated audience share of 52%, making it makes the top rated BBC drama to launch locally. The second series is slated to be shot in early 2022.

Line Of Duty returned for its sixth series and set an audience record, with 12.8 million viewers tuning in to the final episode to find out the identity of the mysterious H. He won the Returning Drama and Specials Recognition Awards at this year’s National TV Awards.

The comedy series Frank Of Ireland, starring brothers Brian and Domhnall Gleeson, aired on Channel 4 in April, while The Windermere Children, based on a true story in 1945 when hundreds of children surviving from concentration camps were taken to the Lake District to recuperate, was nominated for Single Drama Award at the Bafta TV Awards and also for Best Single Drama at the Broadcast Awards.

Most recently, Dalgliesh, starring Bertie Carvel as Inspector Adam Dalgliesh, aired on Channel 5, featuring locations across Northern Ireland including Strangford, Armagh, Islandmagee and Ballyclare, among others.

The town of Co Down in Donaghadee is also making the most of the time in the spotlight thanks to the new crime drama Hope Street, which is currently airing on BBC One Northern Ireland before being broadcast across the UK in 2022 and to the States. United on Britbox.

Another crime drama, Blue Lights, is in the works, inspired by the experiences of police officers on duty in Northern Ireland.

For the little ones, Sixteen South’s Odo, a preschool program that follows the adventures of an owl, airs on Channel 5’s Milkshake! in the UK and on HBO Max in the US, and was nominated for Best Preschool Program at the 2022 Broadcast Awards.

Northern Ireland’s gaming and interactive industry also continues to thrive.

Among the highlights, Out Of Tune Games launched its first game, Crooks Like Us, where players can steal anything they see, and Buildings Have Feelings Too! from Blackstaff Games, a city management puzzle game.

Meanwhile, the Irish Language Broadcast Fund (ILBF) has supported content, including Iarnrod Enda of Sonas Productions for RTE One, a series about abandoned railroads presented by former taoiseach Enda Kenny.

Northern Ireland Screen’s Ulster-Scots Broadcast Fund (USBF) also continued to support a range of content, including Chef Paula McIntyre’s Hamely Kitchen.

Throughout 2021, Northern Ireland Screen supported 344 people through various initiatives, including helping team members take their level to the next level, and Screen Academies provided young people with opportunities in animation. , visual effects and games.

Northern Ireland Screen chief executive Richard Williams said there were high hopes as awards season approached.

“A variety of content we have supported has been curated for some of the world’s most prestigious festivals, won coveted industry awards and set social media ablaze,” he told the PA news agency.

“We aired two of the biggest TV series of the year – Line of Duty and Bloodlands.

“There was a great sense of excitement as a multitude of A-List stars were spotted across the country as they filmed at various locations. It was a privilege to co-host Kenneth Branagh’s Irish premiere of Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast, with the Belfast Film Festival.

“With the film already topping the Golden Globes and hotly slated for the Oscars, 2022 is sure to get off to a good start.

“The North Coast will play a starring role in Robert Eggers’ The Northman when it hits theaters in April.

“On the small screen, Erin, Claire, Michelle, Orla and the little Englishman will return to our screens in what will no doubt be a touching farewell to Lisa McGee’s Derry Girls.”