Belfast Telegraph

Derry Girls stars are way past GCSE age

TV actresses are much older than their characters

The main cast of the new Channel 4 hit show Derry Girls
The main cast of the new Channel 4 hit show Derry Girls
SAOIRSE MONICA JACKSON plays Erin Quinn and is understood to be 24
Jamie-Lee O’Donnell plays Michelle Mallon and is aged 26

By Cate McCurry and Jonny Bell

Fans of the hugely popular Derry Girls have been left shocked after discovering one of the actors is almost twice her screen age.

Nicola Coughlan, who plays baby-faced teenager Clare, recently celebrated her 31st birthday.

The show is based on a group of 16-year-old girls growing up in Derry.

Written by Maiden City native Lisa McGee, the Channel 4 comedy has earned widespread acclaim since hitting the small screen.

Set in 1990s Derry, it tells the story of four school friends attending an all-girl school who are lumbered with an English boy who is placed in their school in order to avoid the - possible - recriminations had he gone instead to the all-boys school.

Viewers of the show say they were shocked after it emerged 'Clare' was played by a woman in her early 30s.

There was incredulity - and praise for her acting skills - for Nicola on social media when her real age was discovered.

Nicola, who is originally from Galway, celebrated her 31st birthday last week - making her the oldest of the five teenage characters.

She took to Instagram to thank friends and fans for their messages.

The revelation sparked an outbreak of tweets.

"It's all the rain that keeps us all so young out here in Northern Ireland," one Twitter user joked.

Others questioned if the show was actually filmed in the 1990s, given their disbelief of her age.

Another Twitter user wrote: "Oh my god Clare from Derry Girls is 31?! I'm shook."

One viewer suggested it was down to the cast's clothing.

"It's the school uniform that makes her look a lot younger," he said.

Other fans also tweeted: "Wow. She's looks so young. Obviously got great genes. Good shout out for Derry Girls, funniest series to come for a long time."

None of the leading cast members are aged in their teens, despite playing 16-year-olds.

Saoirse Monica Jackson, who plays Erin Quinn, is understood to be 24 while Louisa Harland who plays Orla McCool, is aged 24.

Jamie-Lee O'Donnell, who is cast as Michelle Mallon, is 26 while Dylan Llewellyn, who portrays James Maguire, is aged 25.

It's not the first time actors play characters who are significantly younger.

Stockard Channing was aged 33 when she played Rizzo in Grease, who was 15 years her junior, while Henry Winkler, who played the Fonz was over 10 years older than his character in Happy Days.

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