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Home Life Weekend

'Everyone has to experience their first kiss. It's not all that romantic'

Chris Whalley and Alex Murphy return for a second series of edgy teenage drama The Young Offenders

Chris Walley (left) as Jock O’Keeffe and Alex Murphy as Conor MacSweeney in The Young Offenders
Chris Walley (left) as Jock O’Keeffe and Alex Murphy as Conor MacSweeney in The Young Offenders
Chris Walley (left) as Jock O’Keeffe and Alex Murphy as Conor MacSweeney in The Young Offenders

By Georgia Humphreys

Chris Walley and Alex Murphy are "giddy" they're back together again. Scratching your head at the names? All is forgiven, for the Cork-born duo are relatively new to our screens. Back in 2016, they both landed their first acting job, as loveable rogues Conor and Jock in feature film The Young Offenders, which was then turned into a series for the BBC.

Now they are set to return for a second series of the comedy drama - and they couldn't be happier.

"We've been through everything at the same time and we've learnt a lot together, and grown together," says Murphy (21). "It's nice to have someone who's your best friend and who you can lean on."

In the film, we saw the mischievous duo steal bicycles and ride off on a quest to find a missing bale of cocaine worth 7,000,000 euro.

The TV show continues to follow the pair's coming-of-age adventures, which inevitably sees them landing themselves in all sorts of trouble.

On what to expect from the new series, Walley (24), who portrays Jock, notes: "These two lads, they never learn. Every single episode, they end up doing something stupid again and then they learn from that.

"But then, by the second episode, they're almost back to square one again. So, they never stop providing stupid scenarios and entertainment."

"Conor's still struggling to understand the female mind," adds Murphy. "He's working hard at that and, God love him, he's trying his best. But he's not the best romantic."

We will witness relationships changing and evolving in the new episodes, especially for Jock, who faces impending fatherhood.

"I think it's just the kind of fear that I imagine every man goes through when they know that their child's on the way, but especially someone like Jock, who's so young and not necessarily prepared for it," explains Walley. "It's an array of emotions; definitely the fear, but he also wants to be the best dad he can be."

You can understand why these are characters which both stars revel in playing.

"I love Conor's naivety and his very innocent mind," suggests Murphy. "And neither of them think very laterally, they kind of go the long way round to get to a situation, which leads to good TV.

"They never seem to be stressed, they know it will be okay in the end and that's all that matters. And they're just enjoying life. Ignorance is bliss."

"Yeah, I think that's definitely it - ignorance is bliss," Walley affirms wholeheartedly. "With Conor and Jock, they really are actually nice lads and they have a good heart. And when they do things that are obviously wrong, like stealing and stuff, they're never thinking about the impact it has on other people, they're just thinking about the benefits it brings themselves, and the people they love."

They agree the characters, who both have tough home lives and an inability to stay out of trouble at school, could be quite relatable to viewers in lots of ways.

Asked what the most embarrassing thing they experienced as a teen was, they both laugh.

"I can't think of one off the top of my head, but, yeah, there are definitely many," retorts Walley.

"Everyone has to go through a first kiss at some point," quips Murphy. "That's never particularly a romantic experience. That's always something, I think Conor and Jock, and Chris and Alex, have been through."

It's evident how much fun these two have working and hanging out together.

Murphy reveals a punching bag was put on set "just to tire us out and not get too giddy".

But the lively pair still can't help but crack up during filming sometimes.

"It's one of those scenarios where usually 99% of the time we're fine, but it's just if me and Alex, particularly on a long shooting day, we get in these really giddy moods and especially if we're in a studio and you're in a confined space and you're getting tired," admits Walley.

"It could literally be something as small as a pen falling off a desk and we will start laughing for a long time."

The duo also feel "very blessed" with the crew and friendly atmosphere they've had for this shoot.

But when asked if they're worried future jobs won't live up to the joy they've experienced with the The Young Offenders, they're optimistic. "I think a lot of it is that you bring a lot of that energy yourself to the set and, if you go to a new set and you've the same attitude and have the same fun, the same craic, then people will come and have that with you," says Walley.

For Murphy, a stint at the Gaiety Theatre in Dublin in black comedy The Lieutenant of Inishmore is up next.

Walley, meanwhile, has a couple of exciting films coming out next year - there's comedy thriller Pixie alongside Olivia Cooke and Alec Baldwin and war drama 1917, with Andrew Scott, Benedict Cumberbatch and Richard Madden.

Both have the goal of variety going forward in their career.

"Whether that's on TV, film, or stage, definitely try not to repeat and play the same character," remarks Walley. "But I wouldn't have a preference to do drama, or comedy, or anything. It's whatever is good and I suppose, hopefully, with that attitude, we get to do it all."

Murphy's mission is to "just follow the good stories".

"That's why The Young Offenders is so good, because in my head, I wouldn't even call it an 'out and out comedy', because there's lots of heartfelt moments and the comedy comes from the drama.

"As long as we keep doing good work, that's the aim, I suppose."

The Young Offenders, BBC One Northern Ireland, Tuesday, 12.05am

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