The Woman in the Wall: details about new Ruth Wilson BBC series

Everything you need to know about the chilling new BBC drama, The Woman in the Wall, starring Ruth Wilson

The Woman in the Wall stars Ruth Wilson
(Image credit: BBC)

As we ease into the final weeks of summer, it’s about time for us to start thinking about evenings in with a good new series.

Fortunately, the BBC has got the jump in early, premiering a darkly gripping new drama titled, The Woman in the Wall.

Here’s all you need to know about the series, including how to watch…

What is The Woman in the Wall about?

The new BBC drama follows the horrors experienced by an Irish woman who wakes one morning to find a dead body in her house.

The woman, Lorna, has no idea who the dead woman is, or whether she’s guilty, as she suffers from extreme bouts of sleepwalking – a consequence of her time spent in a strict convent.

Detective Colman Akande, who hides his own past, starts investigating her for a crime that is unrelated to the dead woman.

Is the Woman in the Wall based on a true story?

The answer to this is both yes and no. The story of Lorna and the found corpse is completely fictional. However, as the series progresses, The Woman in the Wall true story elements emerge in the form of Lorna's traumatic backstory at a Magdalene Laundry.

What were the Magdalene Laundries?

The Magdalene Laundries in Ireland were institutions usually run by Roman Catholic orders in which women and girls were subject to unpaid labour and atrocious treatment.

Ruth Wilson in The Woman in the Wall

(Image credit: BBC)

The women in Ireland were made to carry out backbreaking labour and punishment in the Laundries because they were deemed promiscuous by society, or if they were unmarried mothers (including if the child was a result of sexual abuse).

Some women stayed within the Laundries for decades, living under harsh conditions and inhumane punishment from the nuns.

The disturbing truth of the Magdalene Laundries was unearthed when the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity decided to sell some of their land in Dublin to pay off debts. At the cemetery in Donnybrook, a mass grave of 155 undocumented women was found, and women began to speak out on what they’d experienced.

The Irish Taoiseach publicly apologised for the history of the Laundries, dubbing them the result of a 'stifling, oppressive and brutally misogynistic culture'

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Despite sounding like something straight out of dystopian fiction, the Magdalene Laundries is a haunting legacy of religious extremism in Ireland – and it’s not an ancient legacy, either. The institutions continued to operate until as recently as 1996.

A formal state apology was issued in 2013, and a compensation scheme for survivors was set up by the Irish Government, which by 2022 and after an extension of the scheme had paid out €32.8M (£28.1M) to 814 survivors.

Who’s in The Woman in the Wall cast?

The cast is fronted by Luther actress Ruth Wilson.

Daryl McCormack in The Woman in the Wall, BBC

(Image credit: BBC)

She’s joined by Daryl McCormack (Good Luck to You, Leo Grande) and Derry Girls’ Philippa Dunne.

How many episodes are there of The Woman in the Wall?

The series will run for six episodes, with the first having premiered on Sunday, August 27.

The second episode will air tonight, Monday, August 28, at 9pm on BBC One.

Episodes will then air Sundays at 9pm on BBC One, and you can stream them all on iPlayer.

Jack Slater
Freelance writer

Jack Slater is not the Last Action Hero, but that's what comes up first when you Google him. Preferring a much more sedentary life, Jack gets his thrills by covering news, entertainment, celebrity, film and culture for woman&home, and other digital publications.

Having written for various print and online publications—ranging from national syndicates to niche magazines—Jack has written about nearly everything there is to write about, covering LGBTQ+ news, celebrity features, TV and film scoops, reviewing the latest theatre shows lighting up London’s West End and the most pressing of SEO based stories.