Just hours before the penultimate episode of ‘Derry Girls’, thoughts were already turning to the next series.
The city’s most famous Derry Girl up until this year, Nadine Coyle of Girls Aloud was quoted in the Irish Daily Star as suggesting she might appear on the show.
But it was the sounds of the contested ground that dominated the fifth episode of Lisa McGee’s sitcom as it began with an Orange Order march through the city and the rattle of plates on the Quinns’ kitchen table.
As Orangemen marched through the Maiden City, the Quinn family were planning a break for the border on a camping holiday.
Mimicking the Orange drums with a wooden spoon and a kitchen knife in either hand, Louisa Harland’s constantly random Orla McCool declared to her relatives that Orange bands are “cracker”, much to the disgust of her cousin Saoirse Monica Jackson’s Erin.
Meanwhile Orla’s ditsy mum, Kathy Keira Clarke’s Aunt Sarah messed about with Tarot cards, warning no good would come of the holiday they were planning.
Soon Nicola Coughlin’s hysterical Clare arrived, complaining about the noise from the bands and Dylan Llewllyn’s put upon James and Jamie Lee O’Donnell’s man mad Michelle were offloaded on the family, joining the perilous trip through Orange lines.
After borrowing a tent from Robert Calvert’s “Jim Across The Road” and discussing the artistic merits of a poorly designed republican mural on their gable wall, Tommy Tiernan’s normally reserved Gerry began to rant on the car journey.
It didn’t help that Ian McElhinney’s Grandpa Joe insisted on driving the lead vehicle through an Army checkpoint smack bang into the middle of the parade, heckling the Orange Brethren as they filed past both cars, scowling at those inside.
Gerry almost cracked completely when his wife, Tara Lynne O’Neill’s Mary had a panic attack because she thought she had forgotten her “punt purse” and had visions of them starving because they only had sterling.
The tipping point, however, came when the Quinns opened their car boot, only to discover Terrence Keely’s Emmett hiding inside, revealing he was fleeing over the border for reasons he wouldn’t quite disclose.
Gerry was reluctant to smuggle someone who might be in the IRA, while Erin and Clare were equally nervy and hysterical.
Grandpa Joe made the case for ferrying the lad around in their boot and he took great pleasure in telling Gerry to stop being a wuss.
Episode five of McGee’s comedy once again hurtled along at one hell of a pace and it was undoubtedly the most Northern Irish episode yet.
With its Orange marchers, badly painted republican murals and its joke about the reticence of nationalists to talk to the police, goodness knows what English or Welsh audiences made of its depiction of a world that is so alien to them.
Nevertheless McGee’s jokes continued to enjoy a decent strike rate, with Michelle’s prejudice against gingers and Erin’s retort to Jim about there being “no bears in Portnoo” providing two real laugh out loud moments.
A discussion on whether the republican mural depicted spatulas or golf clubs was arguably the best gag of the night.
But what was most gratifying was the fact that ‘Derry Girls’ audiences finally got to see Tommy Tiernan at his best in full comic outrage mode.
Episode five undoubtedly belonged to Tiernan, as Gerry was pushed over the edge by Emmett’s appearance and a rather snippy waitress in a roadside cafe.
Ian McElhinney and Kathy Keira Clarke also had their moments in the sun.
And while, once again, not every gag worked, ‘Derry Girls’ continued to move along with vim and verve and plenty of attitude.
In truth, it doesn’t really matter if ‘Derry Girls’ gets Nadine Coyle for series two.
The show is big enough and bold enough to stand on its own feet, without any celebrity cameos.
McGee’s comedy has consistently proven through its run that its mix of ‘In Betweeners’ style antics with jet black Northern Irish humour can work and it has been a huge draw for Northern Irish audiences.
Expectations for the next series are rising with every week.
But if the show is to really become a comedy classic, McGee has got to deliver an even stronger second season.