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Casting announced for new Channel 4 comedy Derry Girls

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Casting has been announced on new Channel 4 comedy, Derry Girls, (6x30’). Currently filming on location in Northern Ireland, the brand new series is written by acclaimed writer Lisa McGee (Indian Summers, London Irish, Being Human) who has mined her own experiences to create a candid, one-of-a-kind, family-centred comedy set against the spectre of The Troubles.

16-year-old Erin Quinn (Saoirse Monica Jackson) lives with her uncompromising mother (Tara Lynne O’Neill), her long-suffering father (Tommy Tiernan) and the fearsome ‘Granda Joe’ (Ian McElhinney), a man whose love for his daughters and granddaughters is surpassed only by his contempt for his son-in-law. It’s the early 90s, and Erin is used to seeing her country on the nightly news and speaking in acronyms (The IRA, The UDA, The RUC). This is a time of armed police in armoured Land Rovers and British Army check points. But it’s also the time of Murder She Wrote, The Cranberries, MJ and Lisa Marie, Doc Martens, bomber jackets, The X Files, Nirvana and Wayne’s World. And while The Troubles may hang over her home town, Erin has troubles of her own…

Terrible with boys and convinced nobody understands her, Erin would love to be a rebel, and sometimes flirts with the idea of standing up to those in authority, like her Principal - the eternally unimpressed Sister Michael (Siobhan McSweeney), or divorcing her parents, à la Macaulay Culkin, but she never quite has the nerve. She has grand ambitions to become a famous writer and thinks of herself as thoroughly liberal and worldly, yet she’s never ventured further than Buncrana…

The bane of Erin’s existence is her 15-year-old cousin Orla McCool (Louisa Harland) who lives next door with her ditzy mother Sarah (Kathy Kiera Clarke). Whimsical, unpredictable Orla orbits her own planet and thinks nothing of reading her cousin’s diary or borrowing her knickers. Equally responsible for Erin’s inability to better herself are her two best friends - Clare Devlin (Nicola Coughlan), clever, ambitious and, when faced with Sister Michael, an enthusiastic grass, and Michelle Mallon (Jamie-Lee O'Donnell), mouthy, man-hungry and unashamedly offensive. Last and, as far as the girls are concerned, very much least, is Michelle’s cousin James (Dylan Llewellyn) - “The English Fella”- who’s just moved to Derry and is the ultimate outsider. Amid concerns that his English accent may cause trouble for him at the boys’ school, James is forced to attend the all-girl Our Lady Immaculate College. But as he quickly discovers, the boys’ school would have been a much easier ride.

Warm, funny and honest, Derry Girls takes a look at the everyday lives of ordinary people living in extraordinary times.

Writer Lisa McGee (Indian Summers, London Irish, Being Human), who grew up in Derry, said: "I’m delighted to be able to tell the stories of real people living through The Troubles. And now, with the delicate political ecosystem of the country about to be tested by The Conservatives and The DUP, it seems well worth reminding ourselves how things were not so long ago, and what better way to do that than through comedy?”

Head of Channel 4 Comedy Fiona McDermott says “Lisa’s warm and brilliantly observed writing coupled with our fantastic cast has created a very funny, very original sitcom that pits the everyday lives of our Derry Girls against one of the most extraordinary backdrops in our recent history.”

Jimmy Mulville, MD of Hatrick Productions, says “Having produced Father Ted, it’s a real privilege for Hat Trick to be involved with another brilliant, stand-out Irish comedy this time set in the North. Lisa has written a beautifully authentic and hilarious depiction of family life in Derry during the early 90s and, with her, the experienced team of Liz Lewin, Caroline Leddy and Catherine Gosling Fuller has found a simply fantastic cast.”

Commissioning Editors for Channel 4 Comedy are Head of Comedy Fiona McDermott and Commissioning Editor Jack Bayles. The series is written by Lisa McGee, Executive Produced by Caroline Leddy (The Inbetweeners, Friday Night Dinner, London Irish), Liz Lewin (London Irish, Crashing, My Mad Fat Diary) and Jimmy Mulville. Produced by Catherine Gosling Fuller and directed by Michael Lennox Derry Girls is a commission for Hatrick Productions and is a showcase of creative talent from Northern Ireland, entirely set and made locally. Derry Girls received funding from Northern Ireland Screen.

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