A series of [Ru(bpy)3]2+-type (bpy=2,2′-bipyridine) photosensitisers have been coupled to a ligand for Mn, which is expected to give a dinuclear complex that is active as a water oxidation catalyst. Unexpectedly, photophysical studies showed that the assemblies had very short lived excited states and that the decay patterns were complex and strongly dependent on pH. One dyad was prepared that was capable of catalysing chemical water oxidation by using [Ru(bpy)3]3+ as an oxidant. However, photochemical water oxidation in the presence of an external electron acceptor failed, presumably because the short excited-state lifetime precluded initial electron transfer to the added acceptor. The photophysical behaviour could be explained by the presence of an intricate excited-state manifold, as also suggested by time-dependent DFT calculations.