THIS THURSDAY, Channel 4 begins broadcasting Derry Girls, a new comedy series set in Derry city in the 1990s - but despite it's Northern Irish setting, the show has strong Galway connections as it stars Galway born Nicola Coughlan, and Galway based comedian Tommy Tiernan.
The series, written by Lisa McGee (Being Human, Indian Summers ), is set against the backdrop of The Troubles, and draws upon McGee's own experiences. It centres around 16-year-old Erin Quinn (Saoirse Monica Jackson ) who lives with her uncompromising mother (Tara Lynne O’Neill ), long-suffering father (Tommy Tiernan ), and fearsome ‘Granda Joe’ (Ian McElhinney ).
Erin and her friends Orla, Michelle, and Clare (Nicola Coughlan ) are used to seeing their city on the nightly news in a time of armed police in armoured Land Rovers and British Army check points. Yet it is also the time of Nirvana, bomber jackets, The X Files, and Wayne’s World. And while The Troubles may hang over her home town, Erin has troubles of her own.
Nicola Coughlan is a graduate from the Birmingham School of Acting, part of Birmingham City University. She has appeared in various theatre productions in Britain, while Susan Elkin from industry newspaper The Stage named her as "one to watch". Her Derry Girls character, Clare Devlin, is described as clever, ambitious, and – when faced with school principal Sister Michael – an enthusiastic tell-tale.
"I feel incredibly lucky to be part of a Channel 4 show that has four strong, comedic female leads," she said. “I also feel that it is crucial to support women within the arts; if you're a female actor who feels frustrated by the lack of quality roles, make sure you're out there supporting the women who are leading the way."
And what of Tommy Tiernan's role? Speaking to the Galway Advertiser last year, he said: "It’s about four lairy Derry teenagers," he says. "I play the main girls’s father who is a soft Southerner, married into the Derry militia. The Troubles are not the main focal point. It’s about four young people, and clashes with the family. The Troubles are in the background, but the British army presence is something they have to deal with on a day to day basis."
Derry Girls begins on Channel 4 on Thursday January 4 at 10pm.