Population 11: Could this comedy beat original true crime thriller?

Everyone's a suspect. Sound familiar?

Everyone's a suspect. Sound familiar? Photo: Stan

If he were alive, what would Paddy Moriarty say over a beer?

Seven years after the mysterious disappearance of the much-maligned local from Larrimah in the Northern Territory (population 12), a fictitious series based on his life and presumed death has everyone on the edge of their seats.

Filmed on location in Western Australia’s Kimberley region, Population 11 has been described, at best, as a “comedy crime thriller inspired by true events”.

From the director of Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Hacks, and starring US actor Ben Feldman (Mad Men), the 12-part series is “about a man who goes missing from a tiny outback town of only 12 residents, and his estranged son, who journeys from the US to find him”.

Sounds similar to Netflix’s hugely popular documentary series, Last Stop Larrimah, where US filmmaker Thomas Tancred travelled to the tiny outback town south of Darwin to try and figure out what happened to Moriarty.

Moriarty was liked by a few, hated by many, and thanks to fly-on-the-wall cameras and uncensored interviews by the locals, everyone in the town was a suspect.

His three-part series became an overnight global hit.

Ben Feldman with the local police in Population 11. Photo: Stan

In this series, Andy Pruden (Feldman), a bank teller from Ohio, pulls into a tiny Australian outback town to visit his long-lost father, Hugo Drivas (Darren Gilshenan).

Alarmed to discover that his father has vanished, he finds another outsider Cassie (Perry Mooney) to help him search for his father, and the pair inevitably find themselves in danger.

Population 11 is an edge-of-your-seat thriller that will resonate with audiences in Australia and around the globe,” says Lionsgate’s Agapy Kapouranis who has partnered with the Nine Network’s streaming arm, Stan in Australia to make more locally produced content.

Paddy Moriarty’s remains have never been found. Photo: Netflix

Irish-born pensioner Moriarty, 70, and his dog Kellie disappeared on December 16 in 2017 after he knocked off 10 cans of beer at the Larrimah pub.

Police and emergency services were eventually alerted to his disappearance. They searched rubbish tips, scoured the scrubland for kilometres, looked down a sink hole and septic tanks and brought in forensic teams.

The town had a population of 11 and there were immediately 10 suspects.

The ABC, which covered the case extensively, reported that at the 2022 coronial inquest into his disappearance, former Northern Territory coroner Greg Cavanagh found Moriarty had likely been killed on the night he went missing.

“In my opinion Paddy was killed in the context of and likely due to the ongoing feud he had with his nearest neighbours,” he wrote in his findings.

However, Cavanagh said the cause of Moriarty’s death “was not able to be determined”.

The ABC further reported that counsel assisting Kelvin Currie told the court police placed a listening device inside a local gardener’s bungalow two weeks after Moriarty disappeared.

In one of the recordings played to the courtroom, detectives alleged that a male voice heard talking and singing said: “I killerated old Paddy … f—n killerated him. I struck on the f—n head and killerated him.

‘‘… basherated him, doof, yes he did, basherated him”.

Laurie told the inquest the recordings were not of him, and exercised his right to remain silent, the ABC said.

One of the local bar staff in Population 11. Photo: Stan

A whodunit

As Population 11 may well be, former reality TV show director, Tancred says his series is a “whodunit”: “You have to explain all those theories to get to the end to hopefully to find out what happened.”

In one of the last interviews about the real true crime, Kylie Stevenson, co-author of Lost in Larrimah told the ABC in December, 2022, there were still no answers.

Population 11 will premiere on Stan on March 14, all episodes at once

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