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Lisa McGee and Conleth Hill among top talent to produce new BBC dramas


Screen writer Lisa McGee (Niall Carson/PA)

Screen writer Lisa McGee (Niall Carson/PA)

PA Wire/PA Images

Screen writer Lisa McGee (Niall Carson/PA)

Drama lovers rejoice!

Lisa McGee and Conleth Hill are among the top talent in Northern Ireland who have been selected to produce new theatrical isolation dramas to air on the BBC.

As part of BBC Arts’ Culture in Quarantine, which aims to bring culture into the homes of audiences during lockdown, the broadcaster is collaborating with the Lyric Theatre on new local commissions.

The six new short drama commissions from some of Northern Ireland’s biggest names in writing and acting will explore the positive and negative aspects of social isolation and lockdown caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Under the title Splendid Isolation: Lockdown Drama, the five minute theatrical pieces will be collated and broadcast on BBC Two Northern Ireland in June and made available on BBC Four and the iPlayer.

The project is part of a wider national collaboration between BBC Arts, theatres and Arts Councils in each nation during what is a challenging time for the creative sector.

The films have been written by top writers including Lisa McGee (Derry Girls), Owen McCafferty, (Ordinary Love, The Absence of Women), David Ireland (Cyprus Avenue), Abbie Spallen (Pumpgirl ), Sarah Gordon (Sinkhole in Guatemala) and Stacey Gregg (Scorch).

Derry Girls writer Lisa McGee said: “I’m thrilled to be working with the Lyric and the BBC on this ambitious project and to be collaborating with such exciting Northern Irish talent”.

The dramas will be directed by Conleth Hill (Game of Thrones), Des Kennedy (Harry Potter & The Cursed Child/Good Vibrations), Emma Jordan (Artistic Director, Prime Cut Productions), Jimmy Fay, (Exec Producer, Lyric Theatre) and Cathy Brady, (Wildfire/ Can’t Cope, Won’t Cope) and Damian McCann.

Actors featuring in the dramas, which will all be shot in accordance with social distancing guidelines, include Anthony Boyle, who won an Olivier Award for his performance as ‘Scorpius’ in Harry Potter & The Cursed Child in the West End and later on Broadway, Stella McCusker (Game of Thrones, Ordinary Love) and Kerri Quinn (Coronation Street, Come Home). Sarah Gordon, Abigail McGibbon and David Pearse (Vikings, Fifty Dead Men Walking) also feature.

Stephen James Yeoman, commissioning executive, BBC Arts said: “For the time being the theatre curtains remain down but the talent, whether on stage or behind the scenes, are no less creative.

“Unsurprisingly one of the things that has figuratively brought us together while being apart is the world-class theatre brought to our living rooms.

“That is why BBC Arts is working with a host of theatre companies in all four nations of the UK, commissioning new and thought-provoking work to keep audiences thinking.”

Splendid Isolation: Lockdown Drama will broadcast on BBC Two Northern Ireland, 10pm on Thursday June 25.

Belfast Telegraph