Tag Archives: Roger Cross

CBC’s hit original drama Coroner begins production on Season 4

From a media release:

Muse Entertainment, Cineflix Studios, and Back Alley Films are thrilled to announce that production has started in Toronto and Ontario on season four (12×60) of the CBC original series and audience favourite CORONER, starring Serinda Swan (Inhumans, Ballers) as coroner Dr. Jenny Cooper with Roger Cross (Dark Matter, Caught) as Detective Donovan McAvoy. Inspired by the best-selling series of books by M.R. Hall and created for television by Morwyn Brebner (Saving Hope, Rookie Blue), the new season will debut on CBC and the CBC Gem streaming service in Winter 2022. 

This season, Serinda Swan will feature her talents behind the camera for her television series directorial debut. Swan joins a dynamic and acclaimed group of directors including Adrienne Mitchell (Durham County, Bellevue), Ruba Nadda (Frankie Drake Mysteries), Farhad Mann (Murdoch Mysteries), Samir Rehem (Tiny Pretty Things), Cory Bowles (Pretty Hard Cases) and Liz Farrer (Coroner). Award-winning writer/producer Adriana Maggs (Caught, Grown Up Movie Star) will lead the series as Showrunner with a celebrated and illustrious writing team including Noelle Carbone (Wynonna Earp), Shannon Masters (Cardinal), Laura Good (Burden of Truth), Nathalie Younglai (Super Zee), Seneca Aaron (Nurses), Wendy ‘Motion’ Brathwaite (Akilla’s Escape), JP Larocque (Another Life), Mazi Khalighi (Foraldraskap) and Lindsey Addawoo (Promise Me). 

CORONER stars Serinda Swan as Dr. Jenny Cooper with Roger Cross as Detective Donovan McAvoy; Ehren Kassam (Degrassi, Next Class) as Ross; Nicholas Campbell (Da Vinci’s Inquest, Bad Blood) as Gordon Cooper; Jennifer Dale (SurrealEstate) as Margaret ‘Peggy’; Andy McQueen (Station Eleven) as Malik Abed; Kiley May (It Chapter Two) as River Baitz; Shawn Ahmed (Awake) as Alphonse; and Jon de Leon (Downsizing) as Dennis Garcia. Thom Allison (Killjoys) joins the cast this season in the recurring role as the highly competitive and commanding Dr. Elijah Thompson. 

CORONER was the highest-rated new drama series premiere on CBC in 2019. Following that, NBCUniversal International Networks (NBCUIN) acquired the rights to all three seasons of the series for multiple territories from global distributor Cineflix Rights. The third season premiered across NBCUIN’s channel portfolio in Sub-Saharan Africa, France, Spain, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Latin America and Brazil. In Germany, season three premiered on 13TH Street. CORONER airs in the U.S. on The CW network and is available on their digital platforms including the CW app. Season three will premiere on Thursday, August 19th at 8pm. CORONER premiered on Sky Witness in the UK, with season three currently on air. Cineflix Rights has also sold the series to the UK’s Channel 4 for its More 4 channel. Most recently CORONER is slated to air on Nine Network (Australia), Sky (UK), Paramount+ (Nordics), SBS (Belgium), Sky Italia, Globoplay (Brazil), and Stöð 2 (Iceland). The series also launched on Netflix Canada in 2020.

A CBC original series, CORONER is produced by Muse Entertainment, Cineflix Studios, and Back Alley Films with the financial participation of the Canada Media Fund, the Bell Fund, the IPF’s COGECO Television Production Fund, TVA, the Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credit, and the Ontario Film and Television Tax Credit. Adrienne Mitchell is executive producer for Back Alley Films, Aren Prupas and Jonas Prupas are executive producers for Muse Entertainment with Peter Emerson and Brett Burlock as executive producers for Cineflix Studios. Serinda Swan is also Executive Producer with Showrunner Adriana Maggs, writer Noelle Carbone as well as Morwyn Brebner and Suzanne Colvin-Goulding.

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Canadian Screen Award nominees: Joseph Kay and Roger Cross

It’s Canadian Screen Awards week and we’re celebrating all week long in a very special way. We’ll feature exclusive interviews with the actors and creative folks who are nominated in the television and web series categories.

Today, it’s Joseph Kay, nominated for Best Writing, Drama Series for Transplant, which is also nominated in the Best Drama Series category; and Roger Cross, nominated for 2021 Best Lead Actor, Drama Series for Coroner.

Joseph Kay, nominated for Best Writing, Drama Series for Transplant, which is also nominated in the Best Drama Series category

Congratulations on your Canadian Screen Award nominations!
Thanks so much!

How do you feel the Canadian TV industry is faring during these pandemic times?
We’ve found ways to make production work despite the restrictions. A shout out to the resiliency of our cast and crew on Transplant’s second season for working in such different ways than we were all previously accustomed. Hopefully in the coming months we hear news across our business of more and more new shows being ordered.

How have you fared during these pandemic times?
Thankfully, I’ve been able to take my pandemic angst and channel it into the writing of a medical series. Although we’re not factoring COVID into the second season of Transplant, we’ve explored themes relevant to the experience which has helped all of our creative team contemplate the way we’re feeling about the year we’ve had.

Do you think Canadian TV is stronger than ever when it comes to telling our stories?
Definitely. It’s been exciting to watch our audiences expand. And while there is still plenty more work to be done to foster this, our creative community is widening to include new voices and points of view.

Does an award nomination/win serve as validation for you or is it just a nice nod that you’re on the right track, career or choice-wise?
I’ve always said that the work is its own reward, and I have to stick to that now or I’ll have been lying all these years! But seriously, the most rewarding part for me is that, win or lose, the nominations help our whole team (cast, crew, networks) feel excited and proud of the work we’re doing together.

What will you wear during the Canadian Screen Awards?
Either a tuxedo or my pajamas. Still deciding.

What will you eat/drink/snack on during the Canadian Screen Awards?
Bourbon and chicken wings, no doubt about it.

Is there someone who served as a mentor when you were starting out in this industry that you’d give a special shout-out to in your acceptance speech if given the chance?
My first mentor in this industry was George F. Walker and I’d be thrilled to get the chance to give him a shout out!

Roger Cross, nominated for 2021 Best Lead Actor, Drama Series for Coroner

How do you feel the Canadian TV industry is faring during these pandemic times?
The Canadian TV industry seems to have recovered and is thriving since the pandemic began.
 
How have you fared during these pandemic times?
Like most, the first few months were a bit uncertain, but I was blessed to spend that quality time with my family! And we’ve since filmed Season 3 of Coroner. I’m currently finishing a feature film Heatwave, I’m about to go shoot A Christmas Letter with my friend David Lipper, then film a great indie film Uniting with a wonderful cast. So, I’ve been blessed during this time.
 
Do you think Canadian TV is stronger than ever when it comes to telling our stories?
Most definitely. Schitt’s Creek is definitely leading the way, and shows like ours are also making great headway in the U.S. and around the world.
 
Does an award nomination/win serve as validation for you or is it just a nice nod that you’re on the right track, career or choice-wise?
I think true validation only comes from within. But of course, this nomination is an honour, and it feels great to be recognized by your peers and the Canadian Academy!
 
What will you wear during the Canadian Screen Awards?
Hmmmmm….Tux up top, boxers down below.
 
What will you eat/drink/snack on during the Canadian Screen Awards?
Pizza and beer. Maybe a glass of wine as well.
 
Is there someone who served as a mentor when you were starting out in this industry that you’d give a special shout-out to in your acceptance speech if given the chance?
Though I’ve never met the man, Sidney Poitier is someone I’ve always looked up to and admired. The dignity and joy with which he carried himself and the kind of roles he chose to do during such troubling times, spoke volumes to me.

Stream the Canadian Screen Awards on the Academy websiteTwitter and YouTube.

Check out the list of nominees.

Tuesday, May 18, 2021
7 p.m. ET: Canadian Screen Awards – Children’s & Animation, Presented by Shaw Rocket Fund (Narrator: Eric Bauza)

8 p.m. ET: Canadian Screen Awards – Digital & Immersive, Presented with the participation of the Independent Production Fund (Narrator: Donté Colley)

Wednesday, May 19, 2021
7 p.m. ET: CTV presents the Canadian Screen Awards – Creative Arts & Performance (Narrator: Tyrone Edwards)

Thursday, May 20, 2021
7 p.m. ET: Canadian Screen Awards – Cinematic Arts, Presented by Telefilm Canada, Supported by Cineplex (Narrator: Nahéma Ricci)

8 p.m. ET: 2021 Canadian Screen Awards (Narrators: Stephan James and Karine Vanasse)

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Coroner: Morwyn Brebner and Adrienne Mitchell on Season 3’s “strange, magical” vibe

From the opening moments of Coroner’s Season 3 premiere, it’s clear that COVID-19 has invaded Dr. Jenny Cooper’s (Serinda Swan) world. There are social distancing measures during her group therapy class, full-body protective suits at her workplace, and in one painfully familiar scene, raw marks on her skin when she removes her mask.

“Yeah, that was a striking image,” creator and showrunner Morwyn Brebner says during a phone interview. “And it really did just evoke all the images that we’ve seen of the health care workers and the hours and hours and hours that they had to work in those masks.”

Executive producer and lead director Adrienne Mitchell concurs, adding that the scene demonstrates “the truth of people trying to make their way through this, from doctors down to personal care workers in homes, and just the physical toll that that took.”

Since Coroner is a medical-crime drama that focuses on death, Mitchell and Brebner felt it was natural to incorporate COVID-19 into the new season, which kicks off Wednesday at 8 p.m. on CBC. However, aside from the first episode’s plot involving the death of a long-term care worker who lacked access to PPE, they say the pandemic will influence the ambience of the series more than its storylines.

“The weird thing about the pandemic is that … it proposes the possibility of different ways of living,” explains Brebner. “We can go into different worlds and go through them with a real sense of curiosity and wonder.”

Over the course of this season’s 10 episodes, up from last year’s eight, Jenny and Detective Donovan McAvoy (Roger Cross) will investigate a slew of mysterious deaths in a variety of new environments.

“Because it’s been a COVID-19 year, where time is stopped and everything is surreal and you’re put on pause, you can invite unusual things into your life and hold them in a way that is perhaps more playful,” says Mitchell. “That’s what’s fun about this season: You can go from horror to haunted houses to witches to strange magic.”

This season will also have a different vibe because Jenny faced down several personal demons—including her complex relationship with her dad, Gordon (Nicholas Campbell)—during the show’s dark and psychologically fraught second season, letting her approach Season 3 with a fresh perspective.

“[Jenny]’s decided to be open to life, and that makes her vulnerable, but it also presents an incredible opportunity,” says Brebner. “It’s like allowing things to come at her while she’s embracing her trauma a little and trying to see what it is to her, as opposed to being afraid of it.”

According to Mitchell, series lead Swan—who has always tackled Jenny’s mental health issues with fearlessness and compassion—was completely onboard with her character’s emotional shift.

“Serinda was very much interested in exploring trauma as a tool,” says Mitchell. “So instead of [Jenny] succumbing and being paralyzed by it, now that she has a bit more of an understanding of it, how can she use it and draw from it to move through the world and connect with people who have their own individual traumas? … It’s very interesting. It’s a different journey for her this season.”

Behind the camera, Mitchell used “flares of light and the magic of light” to visually represent Jenny’s newfound appreciation for life, choices that are evident during a trippy, drug-infused sequence in the first episode.

“Only Morwyn can write about a weed journey in the middle of a very hard COVID-19 case, but it works,” laughs Mitchell. “Because [the way we normally live our lives] is sort of on pause because of COVID-19, it allows for unusual, strange, and living-in-the-moment events to take place, and there are some opportunities to have what I would call ‘strange joy.’”

However, not everything will be rosy for Coroner’s characters this season.

According to Brebner, McAvoy will have a health scare that forces him to face his mortality in a new way.

“He deals with death all the time,” she says. “He’s a homicide detective, he’s an incredibly stoic person, and he’s up against something that’s a new kind of adversary for him.”

Meanwhile, Liam (Éric Bruneau)—who left Jenny in last season’s finale—will still be struggling with his war-related PTSD.

“We ended Season 2 with the decision that they needed to be apart to heal, and that being together was going to be an obstacle to their healing,” says Mitchell. “And then the question is, where does that take them? Is that going to bring them back together or not?”

As for Brebner and Mitchell, they’re both trying to recover after Season 3’s exhausting, COVID-delayed five-month shoot, which ended on Jan. 22.

“We brought in a COVID-19 health management team, so we had about three or four rotating nurses and daily screens, in terms of temperature and questionnaires. We also had weekly COVID tests and a strict regimen of mask-wearing at all times,” Mitchell says.

The cast and crew were also required to stay six feet apart as much as possible, which was hard, Brebner notes, because TV production “is really a business where we stand close together and hand each other things.”

Still, they both say it was a “privilege” to work during the pandemic and are proud of the result.

“We go to deep, emotional places, but we also go to a lot of fun places,” Brebner says. “This season has a really strange and magical integrity to it.”

Mitchell concludes, “It’s just weird, but it’s a cool weird.”

Coroner airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on CBC and CBC Gem.

Images courtesy of CBC.

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Coroner: Roger Cross on McAvoy’s flaws and “rekindled” passion for the job

Roger Cross is no stranger to playing cops. Over his nearly 30-year career, he’s been cast as just about every type of police officer, detective and special agent imaginable. However, Detective Donovan McAvoy, his character on CBC’s Coroner, is a little bit different from the others.

“I think it’s his flaws [that set him apart],” says Cross. “You learn that he might have been married once or twice, and you learn that he kind of left his old neighbourhood. He tried helping, but, for him, it was like, ‘Well, some people don’t want the help. Why am I going to bash my head against a rock? I’ll leave it alone.’”

That situation was the focus of last week’s timely and poignant episode, “Confetti Heart,” in which coroner Jenny Cooper (Serinda Swan) led an inquest into a questionable police shooting involving McAvoy’s community. According to Cross, the events of the episode “allow [McAvoy’s] path to confront him, and when that happens, he’s like, ‘OK, you know what? Maybe the fight is worth it.'”

We called Cross in Los Angeles to learn what this change of attitude might mean for McAvoy going forward and to find out what’s coming up for him in Monday’s new episode, “The Suburbs,” and beyond.

First of all, it looks like Coroner is doing very well in Canada and the UK. How does it feel to be involved in another hit?
Roger Cross: It feels great. You know, you do these things in a bubble, and you do your best and you hope for the best. And the only thing you can control is your intent and what you do on the day, and then you put it out to the people and you see how they respond. All and all, the executives on down, everyone kept watching the dailies as it came along, and they all kept saying great things, and you’re like, ‘OK, that’s good, but let’s see when it gets out there what people really think.’ And it’s lived up to it. It’s a bona fide hit, so it’s great. It’s very fulfilling.

Episode 6 was very timely as well as being politically and emotionally charged. How did you feel about it?
RC: It was a very touching story because it delved into a child getting killed. And wrong or right, good or bad, a child is dead, and how do we prevent these sorts of things from happening again in the future? 

I think it’s a story that needs to be told. It’s like the old cliché, if you bury your head in the sand, it’s not going to make the world go away. So pretending that there aren’t these bad cops out there is not going to make things go away. Yes, people have this ideal where they’d like to think that our cops are here as protectors and that they’re here to take care of us and they’re here to enforce the law, it’s for the people and all that sort of thing. But the reality is there are some bad cops out there and some people who should not have badges. Just like with anything, there are some people who, when they have power, whether it be at work or as cops and things like that, they abuse it. And those are the people we need to get rid of and allow the good people to do their job. Because the good cops don’t want these people in there. They would rather these cops be gone as well. They make them all look bad, and then people start painting them with the same brush.

A funny story, I did a police ride-along when I was in Calgary doing a movie. And this cop and I went out on this ride-along, and they were selling t-shirts to raise money to buy a helicopter. I wanted to buy one of the t-shirts, but I only had large bills on me, and he was like, ‘Oh, let’s just stop somewhere and grab some change.’ We go to this hotel, and I won’t say the name of the hotel, but it was a very fancy hotel. We pull up in front of the lobby, and this cop and I get out of the car, talking and laughing, and we walk into the lobby—and the whole place went quiet. It was silent. We walked to the counter and I asked them to break down a $100 bill for me, and they did. But when we left, the cop was like, ‘That was really weird.’ And I was like, ‘Yes, but sometimes there are people who think it’s weird to see a black guy and a police officer getting along and talking.’ It shocked everyone. It was literally like out of a movie how quiet this big, busy hotel lobby went.

And this [police officer] was honestly a great guy. We talked about family, we talked about everything and we were getting along, and he said, ‘You know, now when some of these guys give me the side-eye and a dirty look as I drive by, I’ll understand it a little more. But it doesn’t make it right.’ And it’s true. Both sides are angry at each other, both sides have those misconceptions of each other, and mistrust is the biggest thing. But we both have to come together and say, OK we both have faults, but it doesn’t make doing the wrong thing right. So I think the episode was very timely, and it could be a conversation starter.

The other thing McAvoy has been dealing with is Jenny’s decision to re-open all those old coroner cases. Why isn’t he onboard with that decision?
RC: Because, for him, there might have been one or two things that were messed up, there may have been one or two cases where they didn’t handle it properly, but by and large, it was handled very well. And so what’s she’s done now, as we see in Episode 5, is people like this murderer [Gerald Henry Jones], he’s got money and now his lawyer is like, ‘Well, now you’ve called everything into question. I want all these things thrown out.’ Without this forensic evidence, criminals are going to walk free, and she’s allowing this to happen without even knowing what she’s doing. He’s like, ‘OK, we missed a few things.’ Because these cops handle a lot of cases, so yes, one or two will fall by the wayside. But what’s she’s done is just open a can of worms. The genie is out of the bottle and it will not go back in.

Why is the thought of Gerald Henry Jones getting out of prison so scary?
RC: Because he’s a sociopath and feels he has a right to kill these people who he thinks are less than human, less desirable to be around. And a guy like that, who is very smart and was almost impossible to put away—we barely found enough evidence to get him convicted on this one murder, much less this other series of murders which we know he did but cannot prove—if the evidence gets thrown out, this man is going to walk the streets. And you know he’s going to do this again. He’s going to find a way to quell his desires if you will.

What can we look forward to seeing from McAvoy over the last two episodes of the season? 
RC: I think you’ll see a rekindling of that younger detective that, when he came there, wanted to set things right. His fire gets rekindled, the passion that he had. Because he was calling it in a little sometimes. Just like with anything else you do for a while, you look at a [crime] scene and go, ‘Oh, that was a murder,’ or ‘That was a hanging.’ You make judgments based on your experience, and you dig past the surface if something doesn’t look right, but you’re not looking too hard for that. Whereas, when you first [get on the job], you’re like, ‘Oh, we gotta do this, and we gotta break it down, and we have to go through everything in detail, and then we’ll find out what happened.’ And he’ll get a rekindling of that—but his personal life won’t get better yet.

What would you like to see happen with McAvoy if there is a Season 2?
RC: Maybe straighten out his personal life a little bit. 

You’ve been in so many good TV series over the years. If you could bring one show back and continue the story, which one would you choose?
RC: Oh, that’s a tough one. But, you know, I loved Continuum. From top to bottom, everyone we worked with, it was like a family atmosphere there. And the Travis Verta character, he had so much more to do. He was a character who could just continue to grow and find his humanity. At a point, we saw that he’d lost a lot of his life and he’s learned things, and that story had a lot more to tell. And even 24 would be a blast to do again. That show was great and had so much potential. But if I had to choose only one, I’d probably say Continuum.

Coroner airs Mondays at 9 p.m. on CBC and CBC Gem.

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Coroner: Showrunner Morwyn Brebner and director Adrienne Mitchell on bringing “real” Jenny Cooper to TV

There’s something a little different about Jenny Cooper (Serinda Swan), the lead character of CBC’s new drama series, Coroner. Like most crime procedural protagonists, Cooper—the creation of British novelist M.R. Hall—is troubled and going through some tough times, most notably, the sudden death of her hard-gambling and secretly destitute husband.

But instead of engaging in Scandinavian thriller-style brooding like fellow book-turned-TV crime-solvers John Cardinal and Kurt Wallander, Cooper simply gets down to business. Yes, she sucks down anti-anxiety pills and suffers the occasional crying spell in her car, but she shakes it off and keeps going, every step forward a tiny act of defiance. Her superpower is just getting up each morning and doing what needs to be done with as much humour and grace as possible—even when that involves investigating gruesome crime scenes. And that makes her feel refreshingly real.

That realness of character was what made series executive producer and lead director Adrienne Mitchell want to adapt Hall’s The Coroner book series into a TV show. It’s also what enticed showrunner Morywn Brebner, who worked with Mitchell on CBC’s Bellevue, to sign on to the series.

“We were really searching for a series of novels that had a strong female lead who was unpredictable, who was authentic, with a sense of humour,” says Mitchell.

Brebner adds, “[Jenny’s] anxiety, and her fearlessness, and humour, and her deep, deep intelligence—which is really beautifully embodied by Serinda—made me feel like there was something about this woman that was like the woman you wanna be. So flawed, but so committed to living her life the way she feels she needs to.”

To get us ready for Monday’s new episode, “Scattered,” which is the first of a two-part instalment, Mitchell and Brebner gave us a call from Toronto to tell us more about what makes Jenny Cooper special and how they went about adapting Coroner for the small screen.

First of all, how did Coroner come about? I know that you two have worked together in the past.
Adrienne Mitchell: At Back Alley [Film Productions], Janis Lundman and I are the principals, and we were really searching for a series of novels that had a strong female lead who was unpredictable, who was authentic, with a sense of humour. And who was placed in a world that had a very strong investigational line but also a very strong character line that sort of dipped in and out of her work and family. We came across the very talented M.R. Hall’s books and were really were struck by the character Jenny Cooper, who just stood out to us on so many levels, being someone who was full of incredible intelligence but also full of her own theories and going about it in ways that will blow up in her face and also doing it in such a way that she was strangely self-aware. It was just such a fun read to explore her character.

And we were so fortunate to work with Morwyn on Bellvue. I got to know her since I was the lead director, and Morwyn’s voice is a really amazing, unique voice, not only in our country but I think in North America. I thought she would be amazing for this. Janis and I were just praying and hoping that she liked the novels.

Morwyn Brebner: I really liked working with Back Alley on Bellvue, and I really wasn’t looking for anything to do, and I certainly wasn’t looking for anything in the sort of crime realm. But then I read the books myself and was really drawn to the character for the reasons that Adrienne was saying and because she seemed like a real woman to me. Her anxiety and her fearlessness and humour and her deep, deep intelligence—which is really beautifully embodied by Serinda—it made me feel like there was something about this woman that was like the woman you wanna be. So flawed, but so committed to living her life the way she feels she needs to. It’s a really beautiful quality in a woman. She’s not afraid of things. She’s drawn to do the things she needs to do, and it’s really amazing.

One thing I particularly enjoy about the series is just what you said, that Jenny feels real. Unlike a lot of characters in crime procedurals, she doesn’t have any super abilities and she isn’t mopey. While she has anxiety and other issues, she is getting out of bed and showing up every day, choosing to be present. Just like a lot of women I know. 
AM: What you’ve just said there is the best thing and is a cornerstone of this series. She gets up after getting beaten up, and she just keeps getting up. She’ll have an anxiety attack, she’ll wrap her Ativan in wrapping paper during inquests and then pop the pill. She’s got this incredible fight in her and just keeps going. Morwyn and I have talked about this, and we love that she doesn’t dwell and wallow.

MB: For me, what’s really interesting is that a lot of the ways we deal with women who are complex in shows, is we re-traumatize them. That becomes their narrative, exploring the character through re-traumatization, which isn’t quite something that we do with male characters. What I love about Jenny is that that’s not actually her arc. It’s a going through and it’s a moving forward. We used to talk about the quality of her suddenness, which was that she would just do things. And that action and forward living is really exciting to see in a female character. I really love her because she does feel like, as you say, a woman you would know.

I also appreciate the way you deal with Jenny’s grief in the series. It ebbs and flows, recedes and then reappears in new ways. I thought that was an important quality in a series that revolves around death. Is that something you were actively trying to portray?
MB: Her husband doesn’t die in the books, actually. And the impulse to do that, for me, was that I was having trouble fitting the husband into the storyline and then I felt somehow the decision to kill the husband really made the story snap into focus for me. You know, in a Disney movie, you kill the parents so the kids can have an adventure? It was a little like that. And I was trying to figure out how to fully move the show from the books into our world. That was the decision that actually made it happen, and after I did that, I felt that the show really came alive.

AM: Grief is not a linear thing, and we trying to really service that in this series and explore that. Grief comes and goes, and it may trigger something else in your life that’s unresolved, and then that grief merges into something else. So I really tried to explore all the dimensions. Grief is not one thing. It’s active. It can manifest in so many ways. So what you’re seeing is something that we really wanted to work with.

MB: Grief is something that feels within you and lives without you, and that’s the process. You’ll come to see that it’s very integral to the series.

What are some of the other changes you made from the novels?
MB: The relationship with her son, which is beautiful, we’ve altered. M.R. has been very generous about that. The character of Alison [played by Tamara Podemski] is in the book, and we love that character so much, and the character of McAvoy [played by Roger Cross] is in the book, but he’s in one of the books in a different way.

It was really saying, ‘How do we take this beautiful spirit and the beautiful character in these books and make her a really Canadian character, a Toronto character and let her live in a way that feels like she’s really part of our world and really representing for us?’

And how did you go about taking a British story and a British character and making them feel, as you say, “really Canadian”?
MB: That’s a really interesting question. I feel in an adaptation, you try to retain the essence of something, but the specifics of the show are very Canadian. Everything is set very specifically. Everyone speaks specifically.

AM: And all of the cases come from things that have happened in Canada and are inspired by them. The research, the coroner research, the pathologist research, we had consultants who would share things that were happening here in Toronto. We have such a diverse city, which we love, and that’s really reflected in the casting and in the stories. So it just happened kind of organically.

MB: Yeah, I think in order to adapt something, you have to put it into your own perspective and you have to put yourself into it and you have to, you know, have skin in the game. I feel that it was a very organic process, but I do feel like in the end, the transmutation happened while retaining the strength of the source material.

AM: I think our show is a bit more urban, in a bigger city. I think the M.R. Hall version was more English villagey, that small town vibe. So we’re in a much bigger urban environment. One of the biggest changes, too, is that our place of work is quite a big institution. It’s a state-of-the-art facility.

MB: Our coroner’s office in Toronto is the most advanced facility in North America. In the book, it’s much more sort of ad hoc and dusty, and it has a real charm, but it’s very different. We wanted to represent the reality of our situation here. And in the book, she’s a lawyer, because a coroner is a lawyer there, and here, she’s a doctor because that’s the way it is in Ontario.

Adrienne, as the lead director for the show, what sort of look did you want to bring to the series?
AM: I think the juxtapositions in Toronto are fascinating. The city is growing exponentially. There are so many condos and buildings being built. So, one of the things we were looking at visually was the contrast of that versus nature being moved out, people being moved out, the tension of living in that type of environment, where there is constant change and people being squeezed out. Visually, I don’t think Parkdale gets featured a lot in any of the Toronto shows I’ve seen. Parkdale, where there’s so much gentrification going on, where’s there are so many colliding communities.

It’s also very important for us to have geography, locations that inform [Jenny] as the coroner. The coroner is all about looking at the world and how bad shit happens. It’s not so much about her perspective and not so much about convicting a criminal. It’s, ‘How do I prevent this from happening again?’ And, in that way, we need to see the environment of where the death occurred and visually from her perspective, what that looks like.  We also wanted to visually explore something about her personal relationship with death, and we love these moments when she has a little prayer that she says to the dead, and we’re working with all sorts of interesting lenses to really establish her personal connection to the dead and that they’re not just a body, that there is something there, that she has to try to find the truth in the situation to sort of give them peace.

This week’s episode is the kick-off of a two-parter. What hints can you give us about it, and why did this particular story require two parts?.
AM: It needs two parts because it takes Jenny into a really personal relationship with a character whose life is going to be greatly endangered if she doesn’t get to the root of the problem.

MB: And it leads Jenny to make a decision that has strong, strong implications for the rest of the season. These two episodes are just so exciting.

Coroner airs Mondays at 9 p.m. on CBC and CBC Gem.

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