New Sunshine Noir for Acorn TV

Recipes for Love and Murder, a colourful new Acorn Original that’s been likened to a cross between Chocolat and The Killing because of its distinctive cinematography, will stream from September 5 on the service devoted to British and International TV.

Based on Sally Andrew’s “A Tannie Maria Mystery” novels, the ten-part series stars Maria Doyle Kennedy (Outlander, The Tudors) as a South African newspaper recipe advice columnist, Tannie Maria (“Auntie Maria” in Afrikaans), who moonlights as a small-town sleuth in the vibrant, beautiful Karoo region.

It will launch with two episodes, with two more episodes premiering weekly every Monday through October 3. Here’s the blurb:

When the local newspaper cuts her recipe column, Tannie Maria lobbies to take on the role of advice columnist. Things take an unexpected turn when a correspondent who writes to Maria about her abusive husband is found dead. Maria’s worlds collide as she begins working through her own mysterious past trying to solve the case. Maria joins forces with a local, risk-taking, rookie journalist, and sometimes rival, Jessie September (newcomer Kylie Fisher), to investigate the murder and catch the killer — before the local police find more victims. But will they make too many enemies in the process and risk the perpetrator catching them first?  Meanwhile, Maria comforts her readers by blending experiential advice with soothing recipes—truly chicken soup for the soul.

The series also stars Tony Kgoroge (Black Sails), Elton Landrew, Arno Greeff, Jennifer Steyn and Lee Duru.

It was produced by Both Worlds Pictures, in coproduction with M-Net and Acorn Media Enterprises and in collaboration with Pirate Productions and Paradoxal.

“I would say it’s one of the first South African series that feels that it comes together – I wouldn’t say as a nation. But the Karoo itself brings people of various origins together and shows a part of South Africa that few foreigners know,” producer Thierry Cassuto told Variety.

The trade paper noted director Christiaan Olwagen has dubbed the series “sunshine noir.”

“I have to give Christiaan a lot of praise for coming up with the colours, with the palette,” Cassuto says.

“We definitely wanted to make it colourful, we wanted to make it a contrast to Scotland [where parts of the series are set], which is more grey, less light.

“Christiaan fell in love with the material. He’s never directed TV before but comes from the world of cinema. He is a young, incredibly talented director. He immediately saw the colours and said there’s something between Chocolat and The Killing in our series.

“It also was quite influenced by Almodovar and Wes Anderson: Almodovar because of not being afraid of color and of passion, and Wes Anderson because he loves symmetry, he loves establishing shots with beautiful composition.”

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