Belfast Telegraph

Watch: First look at Channel 4 comedy Derry Girls - everything you need to know

Derry Girls airs on Channel 4 on Thursday January 4. (Channel 4)
Derry Girls airs on Channel 4 on Thursday January 4. (Channel 4)

The new Northern Ireland-based comedy Derry Girls is set to premiere on Channel 4 in the New Year.

Set against the backdrop of the Troubles, the upcoming series will give TV viewers a glimpse of life here in the early 1990s.

The sitcom is being touted as one of the broadcaster's upcoming big hits, with a satirical look at life as a normal teenager amid unusual circumstances.

Here's everything you need to know:

What is Derry Girls all about?

Derry Girls follows Erin and her friends Orla, Clare, and Michelle, who are used to seeing their country on the nightly news in 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...

Who is in Derry Girls?

The series stars Derry and Donegal-based actress Saoirse Jackson as Erin, with Jamie-Lee O’Donnell playing Michelle, Nicola Coughlan as Clare and Louisa Harland as Orla.

Recognisable faces include Irish comedian Tommy Tiernan as Erin's dad Gerry and Belfast actress Tara Lynne O’Neill as mum Mary.

Game of Thrones actor Ian McElhinney appears as Granda Joe.

Who wrote Derry Girls?

Derry Girls is the brainchild of writer Lisa McGee, who grew up in Derry in the 1990s.

She said: "When I moved to London, it only slowly dawned on me that those circumstances were unusual.

"Then it occurred to me that that’s because teenagers everywhere are the same – no matter what is going on around them. There are things they all have in common – their families frustrate them, their friends embarrass them, the boy they like doesn’t know they exist – and I thought there was something nice about how universal that is.

"As well as the idea that that was all going on while there was an army still patrolling, and there were still bombs going off, I thought that could be interesting, and comical, with the mundane day-to-day stuff of normality going on in the midst of it all. And then, in a simpler way, it’s about a working class family, and about a group of friends and the scrapes they get themselves into."

Why write a comedy series set against the backdrop of the Troubles?

McGee explained: “Anything set during the Troubles tends to be a bit grim and bleak, but that just wasn’t my experience of Derry as a child and a teenager . It was a joyful place – I’d like to celebrate that. It was also hugely matriarchal, so I was keen we have a large and varied cast of female characters.”

Where was Derry Girls filmed?

Derry Girls was filmed in both Derry and Belfast - with many of the exterior scenes filmed in the Maiden City.

"Some of those exteriors just couldn’t be anywhere else but Derry so to get the feel of the city we felt it was important to film some of it there," said McGee. "So any of the walk-and-talk scenes we went to Derry to do."

When is Derry Girls being broadcast on TV?

The series will premiere on Channel 4 on Thursday, January 4 at 10pm.

Will wider UK audiences be able to understand the Derry accent?

They'll be grand - but to help audiences with the local lingo, Channel 4 have released a glossary of words:

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