'Nightclub Queen' | 

Irish criminal who built nightclub empire in 1920s London to feature in new BBC drama

Dubliner Kate Meyrick, known as the ‘Nightclub Queen’, set up a string of nightclubs in the city post-World War I.

Nightclub owner Kate Meyrick (1875-1933) in Monte Carlo with two of her daughters in 1931. Photo by Daily Herald Archive/SSPL/Getty Images© SSPL via Getty Images

Neasa CumiskeySunday World

An Irish criminal who ran an empire of underground nightclubs and brothels in 1920s London is set to feature in a new BBC series.

Dope Girls will navigate the history of Soho’s criminal underworld and is reported to be partially based on the life of Dubliner Kate Meyrick, known as the ‘Nightclub Queen’, who set up a string of nightclubs in the city post-World War I.

The Dún Laoghaire native opened her first nightclub in 1919 aged 43 to provide for her eight children after divorcing her husband in 1918.

Her clubs were hotspots for alcohol and drug use and were notoriously used as pickup spots by disillusioned soldiers who had returned from war.

Meyrick defied the law and was convicted of multiple crimes throughout her career as a nightclub owner, including selling liquor without a licence, ignoring opening hours, and bribing police officers.

She was imprisoned on five separate occasions, with her longest sentence totalling 15 months for bribery and corruption after paying a young sergeant £100 a week not to raid her clubs.

A fictionalised character based on the Irish ‘Nightclub Queen’ will feature in the upcoming six-part series Dope Girls, which is based on Marek Kohn’s non-fiction book Dope Girls: The Birth of the British Drug Underground, Deadline reports.

The series will combine factual elements from Kohn’s book with fictional characters and dramatised storylines taking place in early 20th Century Soho.

Filming for the new series is set to take place later this year, with casting to be revealed in the coming months.

Polly Stenham (The Face, The Neon Demon) and Alex Warren (Eleanor) are writing Dope Girls, while the project will be produced by production company Bad Wolf, which has developed a number of successful television shows, including His Dark Materials and A Discovery of Witches.

Stenham and Warren will also be executive producers alongside Bad Wolf’s Kate Crowther and Jane Tranter, and Michael Lesslie (Assassin’s Creed).

Xiao Tang (You Killed My Robot) and Matthew Jacobs Morgan (The Rig) are additional writers.

The series was developed and overseen by Bad Wolf Director of Content Dan McCulloch and Chief Creative Officer Ryan Rasmussen.

Today's Headlines

More Crime

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices

WatchMore Videos