The Comeback Kids

Clintonmania was the order of the day in the final episode of the second season of ‘Derry Girls’. The Stars and Stripes were being erected on a lampost near Free Derry Corner as the city was gripped with anticipation of President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Clinton’s visit to the city. Even Grandpa Joe was excited and was determined to meet the President. However it emerged that that was because Uncle Colm managed to get one over him by …

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China in their hands

As series two of ‘Derry Girls’ headed into its final stretch, Lisa McGee tackled that teenage rite of passage – the school formal. This being ‘Derry Girls’, Our Lady of Immaculate Conception’s formal was hijacked by Leah O’Rourke’s insufferable lick Jenny Joyce who turned it into a 1950s prom. Before she got to make the announcement during the school assembly, Jenny serenaded the pupils of Our Lady Immaculate Conception with an excrutiating barbershop quartet song she had written with her …

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High Hopes

After the lows come the highs? Four episodes into a very uneven second series, Lisa McGee’s ‘Derry Girls’ decided to call in some reinforcements. Not content with having one stand-up legend Tommy Tiernan among its cast, Channel 4 viewers were also treated to the reappearance of Kevin McAleer’s Uncle Colm and the debut of a third Irish comedy hero, Ardal O’Hanlon. The setting was a family wedding where Aunt Sarah was dressed up to the nines and managed to upstage …

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Everything Changes?

After last week’s dip in form, the question on some ‘Derry Girls’ fans’ lips was: could Lisa McGee relight their fire? Even Gary Barlow had high hopes about the episode, tweeting hours before the programme: ‘Not sure what this Derry Girls is – but it is on Channel 4 tonight at 9.15 – could be fun.” Episode three found Erin, Orla, Clare, Michelle and James glued to the TV as they prepared for the two hour drive to Belfast to …

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Ms de Brun’s Girls

  The usual suspects may have been making life difficult for Theresa May at Westminster tonight but it was the Bryan Singer film that was on the mind of Ma Mary in ‘Derry Girls’.  Erin’s mum was tormented when a screening of the film at their local cinema was halted due to a “wee security alert”. And when it turned out that that was the final screening at their local multiplex, she was left wondering which character was Keyser Soze? …

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Through the Barricades

Has there ever been a more eagerly anticipated series of a sitcom in Northern Ireland than the start of the second season of ‘Derry Girls’? A lot has happened in the 13 months since we last saw Lisa McGee’s characters dancing in solidarity with Louisa Harland’s spaced out Orla McCool at their school talent show. Last summer, the Channel 4 Troubles sitcom pipped the BBC’s ‘Inside No 9’ to become the Radio Times Comedy Champion in a desperately close online …

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By An Means Necessary – a review of RTE’s Michael Collins era drama ‘Resistance’

After ‘Rebellion’ comes ‘Resistance’. Irish TV dramatist Colin Teevan has returned with a five part showpiece follow-up to his 1916 RTE Easter Rising drama, ‘Rebellion’ which reached international audiences in the United States on the Sundance Channel and other parts of the globe through Netflix. For the Dubliner, ‘Resistance’ is another chance to prove he can craft a gripping, multi-layered period drama in a prime time slot after the rather underwhelming 2015 RTE mini series ‘Charlie’ about Charlie Haughey and …

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Some Mother’s Son: BBC/RTE’s Warrington bomb drama ‘Mother’s Day’

When Dolores O’Riordan passed away earlier this year, Colin Parry, whose 12 year old son Tim was killed by the IRA in the 1993 Warrington bomb, was stunned to learn that The Cranberries’ anti violence hit Zombie was a response to the attack. “I was completely unaware,” he confessed to the BBC. ”After my wife told me, I watched the song and tried to listen to the words and then went to download them to read. “The words are majestic and very real. The …

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The Write Stuff

You know a programme has made it into the public’s consciousness when the marketeers start to cash in. Sitting on a packed tube train to Heathrow, my smartphone buzzed as I received an email from Hastings Hotels just hours before the final episode of ‘Derry Girls’ aired. An ad for the Everglades Hotel read: “Be A Derry Girl” – immediately conjuring up images of hordes of tourists in green school uniforms and wild hair, freaking out about exams, boys and …

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Girls Are Loud

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 …

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The Nuclear Option

  No sooner had the debate begun about how ‘Derry Girls’ really measures up as a sitcom, than BBC Northern Ireland decided last week to air the first of three new episodes of ‘Give My Head Peace’. Thanks BBC because you just reminded everyone what a massive leap forward Lisa McGee’s not quite perfect Channel 4 sitcom is for Northern Irish comedy. Now entering the second half of its six episode run, the fourth episode of ‘Derry Girls’ again delivered …

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Promised You A Miracle

In its first two episodes, Lisa McGee’s feisty sitcom ‘Derry Girls’  hasn’t been afraid to tackle sacred cows. But after making some jokes about Catholic schools, the Channel 4 sitcom finally went the full hog on Catholicism in episode three, bravely – or rather foolishly, depending on your point of view – inviting comparisons with the biggest sacred cow in Irish comedy ‘Fr Ted’. This week’s episode found the gang on a study sleepover for a history exam in Erin’s …

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Mission Not Quite Accomplished

Just hours before the airing of the second episode of ‘Derry Girls’, writer Lisa McGee had great cause for celebration. Channel 4 announced it had commissioned a second series of the 1990s convent school sitcom. After the enthusiastic response to the opening episode, hopes were high that the show would deliver on its initial promise. Episode two got off to a very strong start, with another cringeworthy school Assembly for the pupils of Our Lady Immaculate College. Once again, eager …

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Here Come The Girls

  Does anyone remember The Fitz? No? It was a BBC2 sitcom written by the acclaimed Co Tyrone stand-up Owen O’Neill about an unhinged family living along the border. No? It aired in 2000 and had a cast that included Eamon Morrissey, Bronagh Gallagher, Deirdre O’Kane, Ruth McCabe, Pat Shortt and Jon Kenny. Still nothing? Well, that’s not surprising. ‘The Fitz’ died after one series after appalling reviews from critics who desperately hoped it would be the new ‘Fr Ted’. …

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Long Day’s Journey Into the Light

Dramatising history is always difficult – especially recent history. But dramatising history – particularly recent history in Northern Ireland – can be a bit of a minefield if you have to compress it into a 90 minute film. Director Nick Hamm and writer Colin Bateman are under no illusions that their movie ‘The Journey’ about Dr Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness will attract brickbats in Northern Ireland. If they get the odd bouquet, though, that would be an achievement. Fictionalising the …

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“Waltzing together in time”

Episode four of ITV’s ‘The Secret’ saw Colin Howell and Hazel Stewart (formerly Buchanan) tossed about in a sea of emotions. In the previous three weeks, we had seen the plot to murder their respective spouses hatched, the murders gruesomely recreated and the gradual drifting apart of the lovers as they seemed to get away with their heinous crime. But at the start of episode four, James Nesbitt’s Howell, who had been so confident throughout that God was on his …

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“Nobody ever gets away with murder”

Three weeks into ITV’s Colin Howell drama ‘The Secret’ and it is now the source of political controversy. Earlier this week, director Nick Murphy and writer Stuart Urban’s adaptation of journalist Deric Henderson’s book on the murders of Lesley Howell and Trevor Buchanan was raised by Labour MP Louise Haigh during Prime Minister’s Questions. And David Cameron has now vowed to raise with the Culture Secretary John Whittingdale concerns from the family of Lesley Howell about the impact of the …

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“Nobody is going to catch us”

The second episode of ‘The Secret’, ITV’s drama about the killer Colin Howell was always going to be a difficult watch. But tonight’s episode was at times almost unbearable. Having discussed the possibility of murdering their respective spouses in Episode One, tonight’s episode saw James Nesbitt’s Colin Howell and Genevieve O’Reilly’s Hazel Buchanan go about their horrific deed. Given that earlier this week, Howell’s daughter Lauren Bradford expressed her family’s distress at the murders being dramatised I will not rehearse …

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“A MINORITY WITHIN A MINORITY”

The verdict was never really in doubt. However there was plenty of food for thought in tonight’s final instalment of TV3’s1916 drama experiment ‘Trial of the Century’. For the past two nights, viewers had watched a dramatic interpretation of the trial Padraig Pearse might have faced, had the British authorities not opted to court martial and execute him and other leaders of the Easter Rising. The first episode, scripted by Hugh Travers and directed by Maurice Sweeney, focused on the …

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“AN IDEA WORTH REMEMBERING”

Episode two of TV3’s 1916 experimental drama ‘Trial of the Century’ saw Padraig Pearse launch his defence. Tom Vaughan Lawlor’s Pearse was beckoned to leave the dock and address the jury from the bench by David Heap’s Judge Bonham. Pearse began by telling the jurors he wished to talk to them about an “island nation” with “a noble history”. That island nation was Britain. He wanted them to imagine a situation where the Germans triumphed in the Great War. The …

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