VisionTV is your home for the best British crime dramas led by brilliant detectives, and we have another investigative obsession ready for you! Outlander’s Lauren Lyle stars in the ITV cold case murder drama Karen Pirie, based on acclaimed author Val McDermid’s The Distant. The 3-part, feature-length series premieres Saturdays at 6pm ET on May 13, 20 & 27, 2023 or visit the show page to find out when you can watch it next.
When teenager Rosie Duff was found murdered in the Scottish university town of St Andrews in 1996, suspicion fell on the three drunken students who were discovered at the scene of the crime, claiming to have found her body. But with a lack of forensic evidence, no charges were brought and the police investigation floundered.
Twenty-five years on, someone appears to be willing to risk everything to keep the secrets surrounding the case hidden. Do the three men know more than they previously revealed? How flawed was the original investigation? And can Karen uncover the truth of what happened to Rosie that fateful night?
True to Val McDermid’s iconic character, DS Karen Pirie is a young and fearless Scottish investigator with a quick mouth and tenacious desire for the truth. Actress Lauren Lyle, whom you may recognize from Outlander, brings Karen Pirie to life with her sharp wit and off-beat police tactics, just like the many brilliant female detectives who came before her in the crime genre. Executive Producer and Writer Emer Kenny says she studied performances by Kate Winslet in Mare of Eastown and Helen Mirren in Prime Suspect to draw inspiration and ultimately create a unique version of the hard-boiled female detective we all know and love.
“In the books Karen is meant to be unfashionable and odd, and she doesn’t really care about what she looks like, because her job is really all she’s worried about,” says Lauren Lyle. “And she doesn’t wear any make-up, I insisted on that, not even mascara, because she just wouldn’t bother. That’s really refreshing as well, it’s really nice to do something as a woman where you don’t feel you have to look pretty.”
Similar to characters like Helen Mirren’s Jane Tennison in Prime Suspect, Karen is a naturally talented policewoman who is undermined by her male peers, who have to work harder to keep up with her, and resent her for it. Although she’s always trying to do the right thing, Karen’s determination to get to the bottom of a case often leads her to test boundaries and break some rules in the name of justice.
While the series deals with serious subject matter, particularly in bringing to light very realistic cases of violence towards women, writer Emer Kenny, who also stars in the series as Karen Pirie’s best friend and forensic archaeologist River Wilde and who VisionTV viewers will also recognize from Father Brown, makes a point to allow each of the characters to have moments of levity throughout the series, especially as humour is a way to cope with difficult circumstances.
“I hope the audience enjoys it because it is quite a different take on a detective show, with a younger, underestimated woman who didn’t quite expect to have a case like this thrust upon her. I watched loads of female detective shows for my research and many of them tend to be about damaged women who are going through something and their job is their life. Karen is a bit more hopeful than that.”
Enjoy Karen Pirie on Saturdays, May 13, 20 and 27 at 6pm ET or find when you can watch the series next on VisionTV.