Belfast Telegraph

I had to show tragic side of life too, says writer of hit comedy Derry Girls

Campaigners back lesbian storyline

By Jackie Bell

The woman behind the hit Channel 4 series Derry Girls has revealed the story behind the poignant ending to series one.

Lisa McGee, the show's creator and writer, said it was not based on one particular Troubles attack.

The comedy finished its six-episode run on Thursday night with main characters Erin, Michelle, Clare, Orla and James joyfully dancing around their school hall. Meanwhile at home, Ma Mary, Da Gerry, Aunt Sarah and Granda Joe were watching the aftermath of a devastating bomb unfold on TV.

McGee explained her reasons for ending the first series in such a way.

"I thought if I'm going to do this show and show this side of things, I have to at some point show that there were times when it floored you. I thought, I'll probably do that at the end because it wasn't a joke either," she told the Radio Times.

She continued: "I had a nod to that, there were lots of mundane bombscares and things like Orange Order parades, where you had to change how you might go about your journey. There were lots of day-to-day things that were funny, but occasionally there was something big like Omagh, that the whole nation went 'this just has to change' and I think, I wanted to mix that in with this 'life goes on' thing. It had to be at the end.

"I've not based anything on any particular incident, but it was just something at that scale.There were lots of times when your family stood around the TV and just couldn't speak because this was people in your own place doing it to each other. I just wanted to nod to the fact that there were those times as well."

The final episode of series one also saw 16-year-old Clare admit to her friend Erin she was gay - news which Erin didn't immediately react well to.

"I always wanted to tell a sort of very real teenage story in the mix of it all," McGee said of the story. "And I suppose someone not being able to say who they are is a horrible thing."

Nicola Coughlan, who plays Clare, added: "I hope that we've played it right and I hope, for a lot of young gay kids out there, that we've done that kind of story justice. I know we're a comedy but at the same time we really felt the weight of responsibility and we wanted to do it properly."

There was a huge reaction on social media to the way the series ended - with many saying it had reduced them to tears.

TV presenter Richard Osman said: "Well that's the way to end a series. So brilliant, so moving. Congratulations to everyone involved."

Alliance leader Naomi Long tweeted: "The ending of Derry Girls was superbly written. Perfectly captured growing up during the Troubles. Life was surprisingly normal and yet, even as kids, every so often the full horror of the violence would spring into sharp relief to remind us just how abnormal everything was."

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood posted: "Such a powerful ending to the series.

"Really captured the reality of normal life during a very abnormal time."

Derry Girls' portrayal of a young group of friends growing up in the 1990s amid the Troubles has been a huge hit with audiences and critics.

Channel 4 commissioned a second series after only one episode aired on TV.

Campaigners back lesbian storyline

The campaign for same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland is using the latest Derry Girls storyline to highlight the disparity between here and the rest of the UK.

It follows the revelation in the series finale that main character Clare Devlin, played by Galway actress Nicola Caughan, is a lesbian.

Love Equality NI tweeted: "If #DerryGirls love other #DerryGirls, they still can't get married!"

The Rainbow Project's Policy and Advocacy Manager Gavin Boyd praised the show.

"Anything that raises the visibility of LGBT people from Northern Ireland and highlights the inequality they experience is a great thing," he said.

"If you look over the past 20 years TV shows have always led the way in bringing the rights and interests around LGBT issues to the public consciousness. I think it's a positive step."

Belfast Telegraph

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