Belfast Telegraph

Bumper year for Northern Ireland as three of this year's most talked-about TV shows filmed in province

Three of the most talked-about TV shows in 2019 – Game Of Thrones, Derry Girls and Line Of Duty – were all filmed in Northern Ireland.

Derry Girls Orla (Louise Harland), Clare (Nicola Coughlan), Erin (Saoirse-Monica Jackson), James (Dylan Llewellyn) and Michelle (Jamie-Lee O’Donnell) (Hat Trick/Channel4/PA)
Derry Girls Orla (Louise Harland), Clare (Nicola Coughlan), Erin (Saoirse-Monica Jackson), James (Dylan Llewellyn) and Michelle (Jamie-Lee O’Donnell) (Hat Trick/Channel4/PA)

By Rebecca Black, PA

The body which promotes Northern Ireland as a filming location is celebrating after the region hosted three of the most talked-about TV shows of 2019.

These included the second series of Derry Girls, which was filmed on location around Northern Ireland, as well as the fifth instalment of Line Of Duty, filmed mostly in Belfast.

And HBO’s Game Of Thrones brought its stars back to Belfast in April for the European premiere of its final season.

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Maisie Williams (left) and Sophie Turner attending the Game Of Thrones premiere, held at Waterfront Hall, Belfast (Liam McBurney/PA)

In its review of the year, NI Screen found that the third episode of the fantasy tale set in the fictional world of Westeros was the most tweeted-about TV episode of all time.

The final episode of Game Of Thrones went on to become the biggest series finale ever for Sky with a cumulative audience of 5.8 million viewers, and broke HBO viewership records with 19.3 million watching in the US.

The series went on to pick up 12 Emmys, with local workers Ronan Hill (sound), Simon Kerr (sound), Carla Stronge (casting) and Pamela Smyth (make-up) among the list of winners.

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The cast of Derry Girls have been immortalised on the wall of Badgers Bar on Orchard Street in Londonderry (Brian Lawless/PA)

The first season of Lisa McGee’s Derry Girls picked up a Bafta nomination before its second season premiered in March, while the cast were immortalised on the walls of the city in a mural.

The second series attracted 3.2 million viewers for its first episode, making it Channel 4’s biggest UK comedy launch for 15 years.

The final of the big three, Line Of Duty, returned to BBC One in March for a fifth series. The first episode was, at the time, the year’s most watched programme in the UK with 13.2 million viewers tuning in.

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The stars of the BBC police drama Line of Duty which is filmed in Belfast. (World Productions/BBC One/PA)

However Northern Ireland also played host to scores of other productions across 2019, including much of the popular murder mystery Dublin Murders.

This list includes thriller The Deceived for Channel 5, ITV crime drama Marcella and the region also doubled for the Lake District for filming of The Windermere Children, a drama recalling how in 1945 hundreds of child survivors of the concentration camps were brought there to recuperate.

Three children’s drama series were filmed in Northern Ireland throughout 2019; comedy Flatmates, the second series of Almost Never and the fourth series of Secret Life Of Boys.

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pPuffinf Rock

This year saw the first animated feature film to be made in Northern Ireland go into production. The Puffin Rock movie is being made by Derry-based Dog Ears along with its partners Cartoon Saloon and Penguin.

Northern Ireland’s games sector also continued to grow.

The Infinite Hotel from Holywood-based Italic Pig was selected as a winner of GDC Best In Play; a prestigious accolade presented to only eight companies who are in attendance.

And documentary makers have received acclaim.

Chris Kelly was nominated in the Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer category at the Baftas for his feature documentary, A Cambodian Spring.

Fine Point Films’ Gaza had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival and has recently been announced as Ireland’s entry to the Oscars’ Best International Feature Film category.

We continued to invest in the next generation of screen industry talent by creating exciting opportunities for new entrants Richard Williams, NI Screen

NI Screen also worked to develop the next generation of film makers through ScreenWorks, an initiative which helps young people aged 16-19 through work experience with some of the leading experts across film, TV, animation and games.

NI Screen chief executive Richard Williams said the organisation is looking back on 2019 with a “great sense of pride”.

“In spring we had three of the biggest, most talked-about TV dramas of the year broadcast; Derry Girls, Line Of Duty and Game Of Thrones,” he told the PA news agency.

“A variety of content we supported across film, animation and games has been selected for some of the most prestigious festivals and conferences across the world, picked up much coveted industry awards and set social media alight.

“We continued to invest in the next generation of screen industry talent by creating exciting opportunities for new entrants and giving young people practical hands-on work experience to help them make informed career choices.”

Mr Williams said there is much to look forward to in 2020, including the new BBC drama Bloodlands starring James Nesbitt, a third series of Derry Girls and a sixth series of Line Of Duty all shooting in Northern Ireland.

He gave his thanks to the Department for the Economy, Department for Communities and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland for support and funding.

PA

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