ZDF Studios Boards Charlene McKenna Thriller ‘Clean Sweep,’ Set for Sundance Now and RTE (EXCLUSIVE)

Adding to its growing roster of overseas drama titles, Germany’s ZDF Studios has snagged international distribution rights to “Clean Sweep,” a six-part Irish thriller which is set to premiere on Sundance Now and Irish public broadcaster RTÉ.

“Clean Sweep” stars Charlene McKenna, Captain Swing in “Peaky Blinders,” in a crime drama told from the point-of-view of the killer who is also, unusually, a self-sacrificing mother and wife. Filming is now underway.

McKenna, whose credits take in “Bloodlands” and “Vienna Blood,” plays Shelly Mohan, a woman living a quiet life in Western Ireland as a housewife and mother of three who kills her former partner in crime when he threatens to expose her dark past.

With her unsuspecting husband (Barry Ward, “Jimmy’s Hall,” “Blood Cells”), a Garda detective, hunting for the murderer, Shelly has to contend with the pressures of a tightening noose as well as continuing to care for an ailing son, her unfaithful husband and all the usual burdens of motherhood, the synopsis runs.

ZDF Studios, Sundance Now and RTE described “Clean Sweep,” which is inspired by true events, as a “compelling and relentless story of mothering and the price paid for long-buried sins.”

Ireland’s ShinAwiL, producer of many of the country’s primetime entertainment franchises, such as “Dancing with the Stars Ireland,” produces with Canada’s Incendo, a respected producer-international distributor which co-produced milestone French series “Versailles.”

“Clean Sweep” is created by Gary Tieche, a writer on “Preacher,” created by Sam Catlin, Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogan for AMC, as well as on Amazon series spin-off “I Know What You Did Last Summer.”

Tieche has written the series with Francesca Harris. Ronan Burke (“Harry Wild,” “Find Me in Paris”) is directing.

“‘Clean Sweep’ is a binge-worthy addition to our growing slate of English language productions,” said Yi Qiao, director drama, ZDF Studios. “Irish content has significantly gained in importance in the international market so we are proud to partner on this production, a thriller full of twists and turns that will captivate audiences worldwide.”

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Clean Sweep
Credit: Deirdre Brennan

“When we first read Gary’s script we knew this was a story for a global audience, a classic “why done it?” that will keep viewers on the edge of their seats,” recalled Larry Bass, ShinAwiL CEO and executive producer.

He added: “ShinAwiL is delighted to partner with Incendo and ZDF Studios in delivering this exciting modern thriller. From the time RTÉ first boarded ‘Clean Sweep,’ we have been looking to find the best distributor to take this story to the world. We look forward to working with ZDF Studios on making this a global success.”

“‘Clean Sweep’ radiates elevated, smart writing, brought to life by an incredible cast led by Charlene McKenna. This gripping drama is sure to have audiences on the edge of their seats. We’re thankful to Element 8 Entertainment for bringing us into the fold, and elated to debut the series on Sundance Now,” said Shannon Cooper, VP, programming, Sundance Now.

For Dermot Horan, director of acquisitions and co-productions for RTÉ, “‘Clean Sweep’ is a compelling thriller with a rich backdrop of strong Irish characters and the unique Irish landscape. RTÉ believes it will attract a very large audience on RTÉ One and on the RTÉ Player, but that the story will be equally attractive to an international audience.”

Executive producers include Patty Lenahan Ishimoto, Bass, Aaron Farrell, Mary Callery, Jin Ishimoto, Harvey Myman and Tieche at ShinAwiL; Cooper for Sundance Now; and Graham Ludlow, Jean-Philippe Normandeau and Shari Segal for Incendo.

In a hugely competitive drama series market, “‘Clean Sweep,’  shows ZDF Studios, like other big European players, broadening ever more its compass, reaching out to key players in the English-speaking world and beyond, including established broadcast players, to access titles of broad audience impact.

ZDF Studios drama highlights include not only ecological thriller “The Swarm,” executive produced by “Game of Thrones” Frank Doelger and co-distributed with Beta Film, but also Magellan epic “Boundless,” from Spanish public broadcaster RTVE.

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Charlene McKenna and Barry Ward

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