Emer Kenny shares 'bubbling anger' over violence against women while writing detective drama 'Karen Pirie'

Screenwriter Emer Kenny also plays Karen Pirie's best friend River Wilde. (ITV)
Screenwriter Emer Kenny also plays Karen Pirie's best friend River Wilde. (ITV)

Emer Kenny has shared the "bubbling anger" she felt while writing detective drama Karen Pirie over violence against women and spoke about the responsibility of creating female crime victims in entertainment.

Former EastEnders actor Kenny, also known for her role in Father Brown and writing on Harlots and Save Me Too, has adapted crime writer Val McDermid's work for new ITV detective series Karen Pirie.

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The debut series sees the title character (played by Vigil's Lauren Lyle) delve into a cold case about a woman who was attacked and murdered on her way home.

But Kenny admitted that she had thought carefully about depicting yet another woman as the victim of a violent assault by a man - particularly as she was working on the series when Sarah Everard went missing while walking home in south London and was later found to have been killed by police officer Wayne Couzens.

Lauren Lyle stars as DS Karen Pirie. (ITV)
Lauren Lyle stars as DS Karen Pirie. (ITV)

Screenwriter Kenny said: "There’s been a lot of criticism of crime shows over the years and the way they deal with female victims, and a lot of people just don’t want to watch women being raped and killed on TV anymore.

"I completely understand that, but as I was writing the series, Sarah Everard went missing and then throughout the year, several other tragic cases followed.

"I felt this bubbling anger in my chest at all times when I was writing, because the subject matter in the book covered a really similar area – Rosie, the victim in the book, is just trying to get home and she doesn’t make it."

Lauren Lyle and Chris Jenks star in the drama. (ITV)
Lauren Lyle and Chris Jenks star in the drama. (ITV)

She continued: "I felt angry and I could see how angry others felt too, so it was important that I approached this story properly and that I gave Rosie a voice. I tried to minimise the gore of what happens to her, because I don’t think it’s about that, you don’t want to be exploitative or sensationalist.

"I also really minimised what you see of what happens to Rosie...I was really concerned to get it right."

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Karen Pirie sees Rosie's case reopened in the wake of a provocative true crime podcast, something Kenny thought was very relatable.

She said: "I think we’re all really fascinated by what we’re afraid of, and I think, unfortunately, women are afraid of being murdered. There’s something comforting if you listen to a clever podcaster solve the case, you feel it’s less likely that it’s going to happen to you because you have more knowledge."

Lyle stars as DS Karen Pirie alongside Sex Education's Chris Jenks as her colleague DC Jason Murray in the three-part series set in Scotland.

Karen Pirie begins on Sunday, 25 September at 8pm on ITV.

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