Press Releases

RTÉ Unveils First Episode of Rebellion as Part of RTÉ 1916

RTÉ Unveils First Episode of Rebellion as Part of RTÉ 1916

21 December 2015: Today RTÉ launched its major new RTÉ 1916 commemorative drama Rebellion with a press screening of the first episode in the Light House Cinema in Smithfield, Dublin.

Cast members Charlie Murphy, Ruth Bradley and Sarah Greene were in attendance at the screening along with the writer Colin Teevan, executive producer Rob Pursey, producer Catherine Magee and head of RTÉ television drama Jane Gogan. The cast also includes Brian Gleeson (Snow White and the Huntsman); Michelle Fairley (Game of Thrones) and Ian McElhinney (Game of Thrones).

Speaking at the launch Glen Killane, Managing Director RTÉ Television, said: ‘Rebellion is a key part of our RTÉ 1916 output, marking the beginning of a series of programming across television, radio and online where audiences can engage with, understand, commemorate and celebrate 1916.’

The five-part drama covers the events of 1916, beginning with the Easter Rising in Dublin. Our fictional characters cross paths with well-known figures from history. Real-life characters from the time, such as Patrick Pearse, James Connolly, Eamon deValera, Countess Constance Markievicz and Dr. Kathleen Lynn are present in the drama and the context of the storytelling reflects the social, cultural and political events of the time.

Rebellion begins with the outbreak of World War I, as expectations of a short and glorious campaign are dashed, social stability is eroded and Irish nationalism comes to the fore. The tumultuous events that follow are seen through the eyes of young women and men and their families, lovers and friends from Dublin, Belfast, and London as they play vital and conflicting roles in the narrative of the pursuit of independence. Some prioritise family loyalties; some are motivated by the noblest of ideals and some by opportunism; while others take up arms, prepared to sacrifice everything for the dream of a better society. The characters are inspired by research, revealed in part by the 1700 testimonies of the period, which run to 40,000 pages in the Bureau of Military History in Ireland. The testimonies were recorded in the 1940s, but only made public in 2003.

RTÉ head of television drama Jane Gogan said: “We wanted to tell a story about the Easter Rising that would play in 2016.  It was important that it wasn’t just a retelling of recorded events but a drama that we could relate to on today’s terms. When we consider Ireland and the world today looking to the past is essential to understand this moment we are in now and the events of 1916 were seminal to what Ireland was to become as an independent state - we wanted the drama to contribute to not just telling the story of then, but also telling the story of now.”

Writer Colin Teevan said, ‘I wanted to explore all viewpoints of Irish life at the time; not only the idealist nationalists and socialists who went out to fight but also the disenfranchised poor, the cynics, the democratic nationalists, the Anglo-Irish ascendency and the middle classes. The other great challenge in writing a drama representing such a broad range of society and social views was to not write with the benefit of hindsight. I wanted to explore the choices individuals are forced to make in the midst of a social revolution. The drama is about characters trying to live their lives, feed their families, fall in love, as history is happening around them, as opposed to a representation of the events of history.’

Executive producer Rob Pursey said: “We believe this is a story that has a global audience. Rebellion is an Irish story, but it’s a British story too, dramatising what happened when the British Empire began its inexorable process of disintegration.  And it’s a timeless story - we are dramatising what happens when a younger, radicalised generation grows frustrated with the establishment their parents have created."

Rebellion is expected to air on the US network SundanceTV over Easter. The channel, founded by Robert Redford, is a co-production partner on the drama.  

The first episode airs on RTÉ One on Sunday January 3rd and runs for five weeks.

The RTÉ Player will have a range of behind-the-scenes interviews with cast and crew available online in the run up to broadcast.

Rebellion is produced by Touchpaper Television and Zodiak Media Ireland for RTÉ in co-production with SundanceTV and funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland with the Television Licence Fee.

The series is proudly sponsored by Kia Motors. For more on RTÉ 1916 visit


Date: Monday December 21st 2015

For more information please contact: 
Rayna Connery, RTÉ Television Press and Publicity Officer, T: 01 208 3169; M: 087 9862902,
Photographs from the screening will be sent to national picture desks by Andres Poveda
Photographs from the drama are available on the RTÉ Press Centre. Production notes with cast and crew Q&A’s are available on request from