One to watch: Derry Girls
Early-1990s Londonderry may seem an unlikely place to set a sitcom. However, for this new six-part series, acclaimed writer Lisa McGee (Indian Summers, London Irish, Being Human) used her own experiences of growing up during the Troubles to create a candid comedy focusing on ordinary people living in extraordinary times.
“Anything set during the Troubles tends to be a bit grim and bleak,” McGee explains. “But that just wasn’t my experience of Derry as a child and a teenager. It was a joyful place.”
At the centre of Derry Girls is 16-year-old Erin Quinn (Saoirse Monica Jackson), who lives with her uncompromising mother (Tara Lynne O’Neill), long-suffering father (Tommy Tiernan) and the fearsome Granda Joe (Ian McElhinney), a man whose love for his daughters and granddaughters is surpassed only by his contempt for his son-in-law.
And while the Troubles may hang over her hometown, Erin has more than enough troubles of her own to deal with.
She has grand ambitions to become a famous writer and thinks of herself as liberal and worldly. She also dreams of divorcing her parents (a la Macaulay Culkin), especially as they won’t pay for surgery to correct her calves, meaning she’s basically deformed.
However, the real bane of Erin’s existence is her 15-year-old “weirdo” cousin, Orla McCool (Louisa Harland), who lives next door with her wonderfully ditzy mother Sarah (Kathy Kiera Clarke).
If you loved My Mad Fat Diary, then Derry Girls, with its witty script, Nineties nostalgia and cracking soundtrack, could be right up your alley.