Rebellion (miniseries)

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Rebellion RTÉ 2016.png
GenreHistorical fiction
Created byColin Teevan
Written byColin Teevan
Directed byAku Louhimies
ComposerStephen Rennicks
Country of originIreland
Original languageEnglish
No. of episodes5
Executive producers
  • Clare Alan
  • David Crean
  • Jane Gogan
  • Andrew Lowe
  • Rob Pursey
  • Colin Teevan
  • Christian Vesper
ProducerCatherine Magee
Production locationDublin
CinematographyTim Fleming
EditorBen Mercer
Camera setupMulti-camera
Running time52 minutes
Production companies
Budget6 million
Original networkRTÉ One
Picture format1080i 16:9
Audio formatStereo
Original release3 January (2016-01-03) –
31 January 2016 (2016-01-31)
Related showsResistance

Rebellion is a 2016 historical drama television serial written and created by Colin Teevan for RTÉ. The series is a dramatisation of the events surrounding the 1916 Easter Rising. The story is told through the perspective of a group of fictional characters who live through the political events. The series was produced to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising. The ensemble cast includes Charlie Murphy, Ruth Bradley, Sarah Greene, Brian Gleeson, Niamh Cusack, Michelle Fairley and Ian McElhinney.

In May 2015, RTÉ announced it would produce a drama series to commemorate the centennial anniversary of the 1916 Rising. Filming took place in Dublin in mid-2015. With a budget of 6 million, it became the most expensive drama ever to be produced by RTÉ. It was co-produced by Broadcasting Authority of Ireland and SundanceTV, in association with Zodiak Media Ireland, Element Pictures and Touchpaper Television.

The series was first broadcast on 3 January 2016 on RTÉ One and concluded on 31 January 2016. The series has received mixed reviews from television critics, who praised the cast and production values, however the plot, script and direction drew criticism. It was singled out by many for its historical inaccuracies. The first episode drew a strong audience share of 619,000 viewers. However, the viewership consistently dropped, with the finale gathering an average of 463,300 viewers.

The series was followed by a five-part sequel miniseries, Resistance which dramatised the events surrounding the Irish War of Independence.


Rebellion depicts fictional characters in Dublin during the 1916 Rising.[1] The commemorative drama 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 a group of friends from Dublin, Belfast, and London as they play vital and conflicting roles in the narrative of Ireland's independence.


Episode list[edit]

No.TitleOriginal air date
1"Young Guns"3 January 2016 (2016-01-03)
As Irish nationalists plot to overthrow British rule, friends May, Frances and Elizabeth follow separate paths in order to do their bit.
2"To Arms"10 January 2016 (2016-01-10)
On Easter Monday a few hundred rebels launch their attack taking the authorities and holidaying Dubliners by surprise. Lover is pitted against lover, friend against friend and brother against brother as the rebellion takes hold.
3"Under Siege"17 January 2016 (2016-01-17)
Three days into a siege the rebels seek international recognition for Irish independence but the British forces are closing in. Elizabeth, Frances and Jimmy are caught up in the action at the GPO. Meanwhile, tragedy strikes the Mahon family as their young son Peter is shot and killed.
4"Surrender"24 January 2016 (2016-01-24)
In the face of overwhelming British reinforcements, the rebels surrender. Swift military court martials and executions follow.
5"The Reckoning"31 January 2016 (2016-01-31)
As the dust settles from the rebellion, May, Elizabeth and Frances deal with the consequences of their actions.


The series was directed by Finnish director Aku Louhimies[2] and written by series creator Colin Teevan.

RTÉ secured €400,000 in funding from the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland in 2014.[3] In May 2015, RTÉ confirmed it would produce a drama series commemorating the 100th Anniversary of the 1916 Rising; the show was filmed during summer 2015 in Dublin.[4] In December 2015, RTÉ Television confirmed the series would premiere early January on Irish television.[5][6] The series, which cost 6 million, is the most expensive drama series produced by the public broadcaster.[7] RTÉ and Zodiac Media, the production company that made Rebellion, announced in 2016 they would produce a sequel series, initially titled Rebellion: Two States, set during the War of Independence.[8] The sequel, starring Brian Gleeson and Gavin Drea, was released in 2019 with the title Resistance. The sequel opens as British police are closing in on Irish leader Michael Collins and his men.[9]

International broadcast[edit]

The series premiered on SundanceTV in the United States, on 24 April 2016 and on YLE in Finland, on 1 June 2016. SundanceTV has combined episodes into pairs and titled "To Arms", "Under Siege" and "The Reckoning" S1E5. The series is available on RTÉ Player in Ireland and on Netflix worldwide, except in Finland.[10]


Following its first broadcast, episode 1 held a strong audience of 619,000. 41% of the available audience tuned in to RTÉ One to watch the opening episode of the five-part series, with an additional 45,000 people catching it on RTÉ One +1 and more than 9,000 people viewing it on the RTÉ Player.[11]

The Irish Times gave the first episode a favourable review.[7] After the series had aired, the review in The Irish Times was less favourable: "Now, though, as we learn more about the events of Easter 1916 – largely through the centenary coverage in print and on television – we know its history is filled with real drama, extraordinary events and fascinating characters (some of them women). This dramatic device of creating fictitious ones now looks like a wasted opportunity."[12]

The Irish Mirror claimed that the series was "destined to court controversy".[2] Dr. Shane Kenna, a historian and lecturer at Trinity College Dublin, criticised the series for its "poor ahistorical script with no educational benefit".[13] The series was slated on social media, with many viewers criticising its historical inaccuracies.[14]

Among the ahistorical elements of the series complained of by critics were scenes in which rebels shot looting civilians, the depiction of Dublin's slums as somewhat comfortable and the portrayal of Sean Connolly executing an unarmed constable who offered only token resistance at the gates of Dublin Castle.[15] While Constable James O'Brien was the first fatality of the Rising, he was described as rushing to lock the gates and then grabbing for a rebel's gun[15] or, according to Helena Molony, as physically attempting to stop Connolly from advancing toward the gate before Connolly shot him.[16] Critics also took issue with the show's misrepresentation of the roles and ideologies of other real-life historical figures. Gerry Adams tweeted that "whoever wrote Rebellion [should've] read Pearse's writings."[17] Rónán Duffy wrote in that a scene showing Éamon de Valera losing his nerve while awaiting execution before a firing squad only to be spared at the last moment was probably the show's "most unnecessary" use of poetic license.[18]

Pat Stacey, writing in the Irish Independent, wrote negatively about the dialogue, stating: "the characters didn’t so much converse as chuck out egregiously stilted slabs of text which hung in the air for a moment, before crashing to the floor", concluding: "It’s not historical accuracy the Rebellion has to worry about; it's plain, old-fashioned bad writing, allied with dismally flat direction."[15] In, Duffy complained that too many of the subplots and characters were extraneous and often did not have satisfying or, in some cases, clear conclusions.[18]


  1. ^ "RTÉ Player". RTÉ.ie. Archived from the original on 2 April 2019. Retrieved 9 April 2018.
  2. ^ a b Ward, James (3 January 2016). "RTE 1916 drama Rebellion makes debut and is perhaps destined to court controversy". irishmirror. Archived from the original on 20 September 2016. Retrieved 5 January 2016.
  3. ^ "Rebellion - The Irish Film & Television Network". Archived from the original on 26 January 2016. Retrieved 5 January 2016.
  4. ^ Brosnan, Seán (21 May 2015). "RTÉ announces new Irish drama series 'Rebellion'". Archived from the original on 26 January 2016. Retrieved 5 January 2016.
  5. ^ Brosnan, Seán (21 December 2015). "RTÉ launch new five part series 'Rebellion'". Archived from the original on 26 January 2016. Retrieved 5 January 2016.
  6. ^ "RTÉ Unveils First Episode of Rebellion as Part of RTÉ 1916". 21 December 2015. Archived from the original on 9 January 2016. Retrieved 5 January 2016.
  7. ^ a b "Rebellion review: RTÉ fires first salvo in 1916 centenary schedule". The Irish Times. 3 January 2016. Archived from the original on 25 January 2016. Retrieved 5 January 2016.
  8. ^ "RTÉ to make follow-up to 1916 Rising drama Rebellion (Sound and Vision Fund backs Rebellion: Two States, to be set during War of Independence)". The Irish Times. 12 July 2016. Archived from the original on 16 August 2016. Retrieved 10 August 2016.
  9. ^ McEvoy, Dermott. New Irish War of Independence drama "Resistance" opens with a bang. Archived 2019-04-23 at the Wayback Machine Irish Central, Jan 07, 2019.
  10. ^ "Rebellion". Netflix. Archived from the original on 1 July 2016. Retrieved 9 April 2016.
  11. ^ "Rebellion draws impressive viewing figures". 4 January 2016. Archived from the original on 17 January 2016. Retrieved 5 January 2016.
  12. ^ "Rebellion review: Truth more dramatic than this fiction". Archived from the original on 6 September 2021. Retrieved 6 September 2021.
  13. ^ "Dr Shane Kenna". Twitter. Archived from the original on 29 November 2017. Retrieved 7 February 2016.
  14. ^ "RTE's Rebellion SLATED on social media for historical inaccuracies". Breaking News. 1 November 2016. Archived from the original on 7 February 2016. Retrieved 7 February 2016.
  15. ^ a b c "Pat Stacey: Historical howlers are the least of the things wrong with RTE's Rebellion drama". Archived from the original on 7 February 2016. Retrieved 7 February 2016.
  16. ^ Duffy, Rónán (11 January 2016). "Was an unarmed policeman really shot dead at Dublin Castle during the Easter Rising?". Retrieved 5 February 2022.
  17. ^ Duffy, Rónán (11 January 2016). "The rebellion kicked off in Rebellion last night but some (even Gerry Adams) weren't happy". Retrieved 5 February 2022.
  18. ^ a b Duffy, Rónán (1 February 2016). "Rebellion came out fighting but in the end it went down in flames". Retrieved 5 February 2022.

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