Belfast Telegraph

On the Street and in the Square... the young NI stars landing coveted roles in TV soaps

Meet the hot local talents making a name for themselves on screen

By Ivan Little

You wait ages for a young Northern Irish actor to land a plum role on national television.

Now all of a sudden, three rising stars from the province pop up at the same time with parts in two of the UK's most popular soaps and in a cult police drama.

Coronation Street, EastEnders and the Channel 4 series No Offence have all featured Belfast-born actors in recent weeks.

Jonathan Harden has been playing a police officer in EastEnders; Paddy Wallace has been portraying the long-lost son of one of Coronation Street's veteran characters and Conor MacNeill has joined the cast of No Offence.

Jonathan Harden's character, Detective Sergeant Kye Anderson, is a central figure in one of EastEnders' most dramatic storylines.

Anderson is the liaison officer for the family of Ronnie and Roxy Mitchell, who both drowned in a hotel swimming pool after the latter's wedding.

Jonathan's Northern Irish accent has had mixed reviews on social media, with some people loving it and others hating it.

Earlier this year another Ulster actor, Glen Wallace, who played murder victim Trevor Buchanan in the Colin Howell/Hazel Stewart drama, The Secret, also used his Ulster accent to play a police officer in EastEnders.

After seeing Jonathan Harden in the soap one viewer took to Twitter to ask: "Why is every police officer in EastEnders from Northern Ireland?" To which Jonathan replied: "Part of the Good Friday Agreement, I think".

Jonathan has featured in the ITV crime drama Unforgotten and in the final series of Peep Show, as well as movies like The Truth Commissioner. He also provided the voice-over for the 2015 Oscar-nominated and BAFTA-winning short film Boogaloo and Graham.

Jonathan and his wife Bronagh Taggart, who starred in the hit series The Fall, have been trying to raise funds to make a new boxing film called Guard in Belfast.

Liam Neeson, Gillian Anderson and James Nesbitt have all expressed their backing for the film.

Jonathan has also been behind a successful venture called The Honest Actors' Podcast and Blog, which features interviews with other theatre professionals.

Over on Coronation Street, Paddy Wallace from Belfast has been seen by millions of fans in the role of Jude Appleton, who arrived in Weatherfield on Christmas Day.

His character is the long-lost son of Mary Taylor, who agreed to return to South Africa with him, but decided against the move at the last minute.

Corrie fans took to Twitter to praise Paddy's performances on the soap which followed appearances last year in the BBC drama Doctors, ITV's Emmerdale and in the HBO blockbuster Game of Thrones.

Conor MacNeill is playing the role of the office manager for an unorthodox squad of police officers in England in No Offence, which returned to the TV screens earlier this week.

Musician Conor started his career on stage in Belfast almost by accident after the Dubbeljoint Theatre Company enlisted him to play the flute in one show, but he quickly established himself as a talented actor.

In 2011 he was nominated for the best supporting actor award at the Irish Times theatre awards.

He made his West End debut the following year at the Donmar Warehouse alongside Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe in the award-winning Martin McDonagh play The Cripple of Inishmaan, which later transferred to New York.

Conor earned critical acclaim for his performance in The Fall as Mark Bailey, a convicted murderer and rapist who was killed by Paul Spector in the detention centre where they were being held.

Belfast Telegraph


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