Belfast Telegraph

Ballykissangel star Dervla Kirwan unrecognisable during Belfast film shoot

From Ballykissangel to Belfast for Dervla Kirwan as shooting of football film kicks off 

By Cate McCurry

Dervla Kirwan is unrecognisable from her Ballykissangel days after she swapped her girl-next-door look for a Fifties-inspired image as she filmed for the big screen in Belfast.

The actress (45) is appearing in a new movie about legendary footballer Bert Trautmann, which started shooting in north Belfast.

Trautmann was a captured German paratrooper who was a PoW in England and went on to become Manchester City's goalkeeper.

He is forever remembered by City supporters for playing 17 minutes of the 1956 FA Cup Final victory over Birmingham City with a broken neck.

Best known as pub landlady Assumpta Fitzgerald in popular Irish-set BBC series Ballykissangel, Kirwan was spotted yesterday in a blue patterned dress and grey locks.

She is appearing alongside some other well-known faces including John Henshaw and Freya Mavor, who has the role of Margaret, the Englishwoman Trautmann fell in love with.

The German, who won over the post-war Maine Road fans with his exploits between the posts, is the only man to have been a member of the Hitler Youth and to have played in an FA Cup winning team.

Trautmann, who was given an honorary OBE for his work in promoting Anglo-German relations, played more than 500 times for City between 1949 and 1964.

It is considered one of football's most incredible stories, and is being shot on the streets of Belfast.

The film's producer Chris Curling told The Observer earlier this year that Trautmann was not primarily a sports film.

"For me, it's much more a personal story about a young guy who got caught up in the Nazi movement and was then fighting on the Eastern Front," he said. "He saw terrible things in the war and was eventually captured by the British. When he entered the PoW camp, he was still following Nazi ideology.

"But he learned to see a different version of the world.

"He decided to stay in the UK, fell in love and was very successful on the football field.

"That interests me as much as the football."

He added: "It's a story about reconciliation between people.

"There was a big campaign against him at Manchester City (in the early days).

"So, in the film, we watch a man coming to terms with his past and starting anew and overcoming that hostility towards him.

"These days that seems particularly relevant as well - how we as British people treat outsiders."

Before his death in 2013 Trautmann spent a number of days giving interviews to filmmakers about his life and footballing career.

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