Forgive Me (TV series)

Forgive Me is a Canadian television drama series, about a young insomniac priest who gets caught up in the sins of his congregants while a secret from his own past threatens his calling.

Forgive Me
StarringMike McLeod
John Dunsworth
Jane Alexander
Hugh Thompson
Olympia Dukakis
Brenda Fricker
Edward Asner
Wendy Crewson
Bruce Davison
Karen Robinson
Jennifer Podemski
Rebecca Jenkins
Candy Palmater
Jeremy Akerman
Rob Joseph Leonard
Gharrett Patrick Paon
Ryan Doucette
Craig Layton
Lauren Liem
Daniel Fanaberia
Mary-Colin Chisholm
Juanita Peters
Susan Leblanc
Shawn Duggan
Theme music composerChristopher Francis Mitchell
Composer(s)Warren Robert
Country of originCanada
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons3
No. of episodes32
Producer(s)Doug Pettigrew, Thom Fitzgerald
Production location(s)Halifax, Nova Scotia
Running time24 minutes
Production company(s)Emotion Pictures Inc.
Original networkSuper Channel
Original releaseSeptember 4, 2013 (2013-09-04)

The series is written and directed by Thom Fitzgerald. It stars Mike McLeod, John Dunsworth, Jane Alexander, Hugh Thompson, Olympia Dukakis, Brenda Fricker, Wendy Crewson, Edward Asner, Bruce Davison, Jeremy Akerman, Ryan Doucette, Candy Palmater, Ed Asner, Gharrett Patrick Paon and Rob Joseph Leonard.[1]

The series began its original broadcast on September 4, 2013 on Super Channel in Canada.[2] It aired its second season in 2015,[3] and its third in 2018.[4]


The Priest (Mike McLeod), whose actual name is never given throughout the series, is the junior priest at a Roman Catholic church in Nova Scotia. With young men now rarely joining the Catholic priesthood, he is serving under a Prelate (John Dunsworth) and older priests Gene (Jeremy Akerman) and Phil (Rob Joseph Leonard), who are all near retirement; he is planned to eventually take over as the parish's main pastor, but currently performs lesser duties such as hearing confessions. The Priest comes from a dysfunctional family background; he was raised primarily by his grandmother Novalea (Olympia Dukakis) after his mother abandoned the family, while his brother was born with fetal alcohol syndrome and has frequently bounced in and out of jail for various crimes.

In the first episode, The Priest learns that Victoria (Naomi Blackhall-Butler), his girlfriend before he entered the seminary, lied to him when she got pregnant with his baby; she claimed at the time that she had an abortion, but did not. In fact, he has a teenage daughter named Noelle (Lauren Liem), and thus faces the dilemma of how to take parental responsibility for her on a priest's salary while simultaneously preventing the parish and the bishop (Ed Asner) from finding out about it. At the same time, he is having trouble sleeping at night and is regularly haunted by visions of Saint Sebastian (Ryan Doucette), which is beginning to impact his physical health.

The centrepiece of each episode is an extended dialogue in the confessional booth between The Priest and a parishioner; outside of this, however, plot development takes place through multi-episode story arcs rather than each episode comprising a self-contained story, and the show carries the stories of a few confessioners through multiple episodes rather than featuring new confessioners every week. The confessions serve to explore both themes of moral complexity within Roman Catholic doctrine, and the ethical dilemmas facing The Priest as he tries to get involved in helping the parishioners with their issues outside the confession booth.

The show's main narrative throughline begins with the confession of Johnny "Smith" O'Leary (Hugh Thompson), who initially confesses to having had inappropriate sexual thoughts about an underage girl, but soon reveals that he was himself sexually abused as a child by a former choirmaster at this very church and that Father Gene was involved in covering it up, setting up The Priest's biggest ethical conflict as he cannot help O'Leary to pursue justice and healing without breaking the Seal of the Confessional or undermining his own employer. Secondary storylines include the journey of Bookie (Jane Alexander), a woman who left the church decades earlier after being told that she could not have an abortion even to end a non-viable pregnancy that would have killed her, toward reconciliation with the church after she is diagnosed with terminal cancer; the desire of Agnes (Candy Palmater) to become a single mother through in vitro fertilization; Sebastian's emergence as a real person who challenges The Priest over the church's position on homosexuality; and the struggles of Celeste (Wendy Crewson), a former federal Member of Parliament who lost her job as a media pundit after her role in a political scandal was revealed.

Critical response

The series was generally well-received, attaining positive reviews. John Doyle of The Globe and Mail compared it to In Treatment, praised Mike McLeod's performance as "superb", noted "a visual sumptuousness that's startling" and called it "a powerful 30 minutes of television."[5] Brad Oswald of the Winnipeg Free Press wrote "The confessional-confined dialogue is smart, and the stripped-down performances are seamlessly delivered and punctuated with moments of pure, stark, painful honesty."[6]

Web series

In 2016, the companion web series Forgive Me Web Confessions was launched, again starring McLeod as The Priest, with Keelin Jack, Krista MacDonald and Callum Dunphy as penitents. The web series was also well received, with nominations for most of the cast from the ACTRA Awards.

Awards and nominations


  1. "Internet Movie Database". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 22 September 2013.
  2. Nemetz, Andrea (3 September 2013). "Fitzgerald's divine intervention". The Chronicle Herald. Retrieved 22 September 2013.
  3. "Season 2 of Forgive Me scheduled for Super Channel". TV, eh?, October 1, 2015.
  4. "Award-winning Canadian drama, Forgive Me, from writer and director Thom Fitzgerald, returns to Super Channel for a third season". TV, eh?, October 23, 2018.
  5. Doyle, John (4 September 2013). "Forgive Me: A fine, fraught new series about sinners". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 22 September 2013.
  6. Oswald, Brad (4 September 2013). "It's no sin to confess Forgive Me is revealing". Winnipeg Free Press. Retrieved 22 September 2013.
  7. Cooke, Stephen (28 April 2017). "ACTRA Maritimes shows diversity of roles in annual awards nominations". Local Xpress (28 April 2017). Village Media. Retrieved 4 May 2017.
  8. "Orphan Black, Schitt's Creek, Kim's Convenience up for Canadian Screen Awards". CBC News. Canadian Broadcast Corporation. CBC News. 17 January 2017. Retrieved 20 January 2017.
  9. Watters, Haydn (8 March 2017). "Canadian Screen Awards 2017: Baroness von Sketch Show, Orphan Black big winners". CBC News. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. CBC. Retrieved 9 March 2017.
  10. "2016 Screen Nova Scotia Award Winners". Sea and Be Scene. Sea and Be scene. Retrieved 15 May 2016.
  11. "Jonathan Torrens host and winner at Screen Nova Scotia awards". The Chronicle Herald. The Chronicle Herald. 3 May 2015. Retrieved 3 May 2015.
  12. "Screen Nova Scotia announces nominees". The Chronicle Herald. The Chronicle Herald. 28 April 2015. Retrieved 3 May 2015.
  13. "2015 CANADIAN SCREEN AWARDS Television Nominations" (PDF). Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television Official Website. Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television. Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 February 2015. Retrieved 14 January 2014.
  14. Webb, Jeremy. "OTL- October 4, 2013". Off The Leash website. Retrieved 6 October 2013.
  15. Barnard, Elissa (14 January 2014). "Actor gets nod for ACTRA nomination". The Chronicle-Herald. Retrieved 17 January 2014.
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