The Undertaker, a period crime noir thriller starring Paul McGann (Withnail and I, Doctor Who, Annika) and Tara Fitzgerald (Brassed Off, Sirens) filmed entirely at The Bottle Yard Studios, will be released in UK cinemas from Friday 3rd November.

Set in a shadowy northern town in the 1960s, The Undertaker sees mild-mannered funeral director Arthur Morel (McGann) at a moral crossroads, caught up in a power-grab by local gangster Finlay Unsworth. Morel is pressured into burying Unsworth’s victims off-the-record, helped by the promise of large amounts of cash that will help him fulfil his retirement dreams. But as Unsworth’s killing spree escalates out of control, Morel realises he must make a stand – or he’ll be the murderous gangster’s next victim.

Alongside McGann, Tara Fitzgerald stars as Vic, a glamorous nightclub singer working at Finlay Unsworth’s club, and Roger Barclay (Industry, Johnny English, The Bay) is the ruthless and increasingly out-of-control Unsworth. Sean Gilder (Shameless, Hornblower) plays Detective Kelly, a copper determined to get to the bottom of the spate of murders, and Lily Frazer (Saint Maud, Ladhood, Hotel Portofino) is Arthur Morel’s wary new assistant, Kat.

The Undertaker also features the last on-screen performance of the legendary Murray Melvin (A Taste of Honey, Barry Lyndon, The Devils), who plays Morel’s former assistant in a highly atmospheric scene between the two stars.

The film takes Bristol-based writer and director Michael Wright (Heavenly, Dark Side) full circle: having started his career at multi-Academy Award-winning animation studio Aardman, working as a designer on Nick Park’s Wallace & Gromit: A Grand Day Out and the iconic music video for Peter Gabriel’s Sledgehammer, Wright draws on his extensive experience as a filmmaker to create a richly textured world using detailed miniatures for several of the sets.

Blending classic 1940s American film noir with the sharp edges of 1960s British crime movies and a touch of 1920s German expressionism, The Undertaker built meticulously crafted sets at The Bottle Yard Studios to achieve its stylised world. Whilst filming, the production team also provided valuable access to students from Boomsatsuma Film School, who gained work experience in the production office, art department and camera department.

Laura Aviles, Senior Bristol Film Manager, says: “Supporting homegrown productions is a priority for us at The Bottle Yard Studios. With local director Michael Wright at the helm and established Bristol-based actor Paul McGann starring, we were only too pleased to host The Undertaker. The production team were very supportive of our skills development aims and provided valuable experience to a number of young people studying with our education partners boomsatsuma.”

Students Grace Groves, Oliver Shadbolt and Waard Rihan gaining experience with Michael Wright and crew on The Undertaker shoot (images: Boomsatsuma Film School)

The Undertaker is produced by Roger Barclay, Ben Hughes and Michael Wright, and has been acquired by RRB Films / DC Releasing for distribution in the UK and Ireland. Gareth Jones of the film’s UK distributor RRB Films says: “Michael Wright has created an outstanding British noir thriller which is both original and classic. Paul McGann’s performance in the lead is compelling and unbelievably tense.”

A special preview of The Undertaker will be held at Watershed, Bristol on 17th October, followed by a Q&A with Paul McGann, writer-director Michael Wright and producer-actor Roger Barclay. Book tickets here.

Paul McGann’s spoke to Bristol 24/7 about shooting the film in his home city – read the interview here.

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