16 April 2015

Peter McKenna: king of 'Red Rock'

by Tom Comiskey

Peter McKenna is probably best known as the "showrunner" - creator, executive producer, initial chief writer and overall brains - behind TV3's serial Red Rock, first broadcast on 7 January 2015.

The twice-weekly soap is a cross between a family-based drama and a Bill-type police drama. It is set in a fictional Dublin town and revolves around feuding families the Keilys and the Hennessys, and the guards in the local police station.

TV3 aims to use Red Rock to replace previous staples Emmerdale and Coronation Street, which have moved over to new station UTV Ireland.

The show began with an audience of 323,000, which fell to 165,000 over the following three weeks. By April it had consolidated ratings of 225,000 (a 13% share). TV3 says it expects the figures to follow a "J curve" to a more stable viewership over the long term.

McKenna's track record

McKenna has extensive writing credits in film, television and stage. He has written and directed two short films, Bovine (1996) and Racing Homer (1997). His first play Missing Football had its opening run in the 2002 Dublin Theatre Festival, and took the O.Z. Whitehead Award for Best Irish One-Act Play.

His Irish TV credits include On Home Ground (the second series), Fair City, Legend and The Clinic. In 2010 he was the first Irish writer selected for the BBC Writers Academy. This led to him writing for its flagship drama series Doctors, EastEnders, Casualty and Holby City.

His other recent work for BBC TV drama includes episodes of Frankie and The Musketeers, and the upcoming adaptation of Claire McGowan's crime thriller The Lost.

McKenna's father was an Aer Lingus pilot and he had "a peripatetic childhood", living in Algiers for a time as a child. After school he took a degree in marketing and design, then set up a gallery with an old friend selling contemporary art before embarking on a writing career.

He lives in Kilkenny with his wife Helen Carroll, presenter of RTÉ's Ear To The Ground, and their two children.

Peter McKenna's agent's website: unitedagents.co.uk

McKenna on Twitter: @alderbuckthorn