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'Cork people are so proud of the show... we were drawing crowds'

The wait for series three of BBC comedy The Young Offenders is finally at an end. Georgia Humphreys catches up with three of the stars


Chris Walley, Hilary Rose and Alex Murphy in The Young Offenders

Chris Walley, Hilary Rose and Alex Murphy in The Young Offenders

Chris Walley, Hilary Rose and Alex Murphy in The Young Offenders

If you're a fan of The Young Offenders (and you should be, because it's hilarious), you won't be surprised to hear star Alex Murphy doesn't get embarrassed on set anymore. "I feel I can do anything in front of the crew, which we have. There's not much of me that the crew hasn't seen!" quips the Cork-born star (22).

In the BBC One comedy, Murphy plays Conor MacSweeney, who's best friends with Jock O'Keeffe, played by fellow Corkonian, Chris Walley (25).

Over the past two series (spin-offs from the 2016 film of the same name) we have followed the two loveable rogues as they get themselves into all sorts of sticky situations.

Particularly memorable storylines include the teenagers' attempt to steal a giant tuna fish from the market in series one and when they got expelled after stripping off in the classroom and peeing on Principal Walsh's leg in series two.

Now we're getting a series three, in which we see the lads trying to make their way as young adults, with yet more questionable methods of making some money, all while Jock navigates being a new dad.

One thing's for sure; things won't go smoothly.

We chat to Walley and Murphy, plus Hilary Rose, who plays Conor's stressed-out, but loving mum, Mairead, to find out more.

It's an unconventional family set-up in The Young Offenders, which is set and filmed in Cork.

A heart-warming episode in series one saw widower Mairead (whose husband was killed in an accident on a building site) become a foster mum to Jock, whose mum is also dead, after he escapes his abusive, alcoholic dad.

At the end of series two, Jock's girlfriend Siobhan, whose dad happens to be Principal Walsh, who is far from the biggest fan of Jock and Conor, gave birth to baby Star (cue some emotional scenes).

The new addition to the family means Principal Walsh and his wife Orla, whose other daughter, Linda, is going out with Conor, now have to engage more with Mairead, which hasn't always gone well in the past.

"Season three was interesting from a character point of view, because Mairead really cuts loose and, at some stages, the lads are telling her to calm down," says Rose, who's also from Cork and married Peter Foott, who created The Young Offenders, in 2010.

As for the love story between her and Sergeant Healy, she teases "season three kinda continues that on-again, off-again, will they, won't they vibe".

The main storyline for series three is how Jock is adjusting to everyday life with baby Star.

"Conor and Jock are still getting into their sticky situations, but now there's just a baby there as well," reveals Walley. "I think it's just a major shift in their lives and they're just trying to figure it out altogether." Twins Nola and Penny Richardson shared the role of Star and Walley says the babies were "incredible".

"I want one," exclaims Murphy, before quickly adding "not right now."

Rose chimes in at this point, saying she has told the boys they are always welcome to babysit her kids (Rose and Foote have Jake, who was born during filming of the big screen outing of The Young Offenders, and one-year-old Olivia).

"They're both amazing babysitters, but there was a time when Jake was very young where they bought him a Nerf gun," she recalls, which sets them all off laughing, with her on-screen sons looking a little sheepish.

"I dunno, we were buying toys and we were like, 'This is what kids that age like,'" reasons Walley.

"There was some force off it if you shot it. They're heavy-duty."

"That was a real Conor-and-Jock moment for the two of us," admits Murphy.

Having Penny and Nola on set this series was definitely a learning curve for the young actors.

"I was terrified of holding babies for fear I dropped them," confides Walley. "By the end of the shoot, I just was inseparable."

According to Murphy, "there's not a street in Cork city that we haven't filmed on. The Cork people are so proud of the show." Having crowds watching them film was something they "had to get used to pretty quickly".

"There was a great photo in the paper a few years ago, of us making the film; there are about seven people in the crew, no one's watching us filming," says Murphy.

"And then there was a photo of us making season one and there were just crowds of people watching." One of the new episodes sees Jock, Conor and Mairead take a trip to Dublin.

While filming on a road in the Irish capital city, they reveal they were pulled over by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar's entourage as he was driving past them in an unmarked executive car.

"There was a camera in the back seat and we were mid-scene and we were like, 'What does this guy want? We're filming'," says Rose.

"And, eventually, Alex put down the passenger window and was like 'Hey!' and next thing Leo Varadkar leaned forward."

"His driver was like, 'Great show!'" recalls Murphy. "We were like, 'Do you like it?'(to Varadkar). And he went, 'I haven't seen it.'"

"But he did say, 'I've heard it's great'," adds Rose.

The biggest thing Rose has taken away from making The Young Offenders is the amazing relationships they've formed with cast and crew (indeed, it's touching to witness how close Walley and Murphy are in real-life as we chat over Zoom).

"It's about getting the job done and doing the best that you can, but you have to remember as well, for actors, we're really vulnerable in front of all the crew, so you kinda put your trust in them," she adds.

"If we're doing emotional scenes, they're witnessing it, they're trying to support you."

As for future series, Murphy points out the only issue could be that he and Walley don't exactly look 16 anymore.

"At some points in the script, Jock will go, 'We can't do that, we're only 16', and we were like, 'Can we just not mention our age?'

"As long as we look young, I guess we'll see what happens. CGI is working pretty good these days."

The Young Offenders will be released on BBC iPlayer on Sunday, before airing on BBC One from Friday at 9.30pm

Belfast Telegraph