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Jamie-Lee got Derry nervous over new show

Comedy star admits she struggled to be herself in first presenting role


Jamie-Lee O'Donnell

Jamie-Lee O'Donnell

James Flood

Jamie-Lee O'Donnell on the peace bridge in Derry

Jamie-Lee O'Donnell on the peace bridge in Derry

James Flood

A scene from The Real Derry: Jamie-Lee O'Donnell

A scene from The Real Derry: Jamie-Lee O'Donnell

James Flood


Jamie-Lee O'Donnell

Jamie-Lee O’Donnell had a “panic attack” while watching her Derry documentary.

The 30-year-old, who plays cocky Michelle in Derry Girls, admitted she found it a struggle to be herself in her first presenting role.

She said: “It’s something I’m really proud of, but also it’s something that I’m terrified of it being out because I hate being me in front of the camera.

“Honestly, at one point I had a panic attack one day because I had to watch it back in one of the edits.

“I don’t know. It sounds weird, but I’m not massively suited to it, which is, to people who know me, really strange.

“I know that might not make sense, but it’s quite a vulnerable piece because it’s about my community, my hometown and it’s still very much back and forth with my loved ones there.”

Jamie, who grew up in the city, revealed it was Derry Girls creator Lisa McGee, whose comedy was based on her childhood in Derry, who inspired her to make the documentary.

She explained: “I’ve always wanted to do something like this, a documentary about Derry, my hometown.

“So, when production contacted me from Channel 4, it seemed like the perfect fit to do it because I had been interested in doing it for quite a while and had been waiting for the right connection.

“It felt like such a big responsibility, which I knew it would be, and I wanted to do it because I wanted to talk about Derry honestly.

“It’s this amazing perspective that people have of it, that Lisa created [on Derry Girls] and I’m so proud of that. And it’s very, very spot-on in terms of the comedy world and it’s her life. She’s 100 per cent in it.

“I’ve always wanted to do my own little tribute to Derry and a tribute to the community and to the people who made me who I am and who were really my backbone growing up.

“So, with my family and friends and the biggest community and with people from school and everything, it was nice to be able to say thank you and to really talk about Derry outside of a comedy world and to talk about my experience in Derry.

“It’s odd, but I’m glad it’s done and I’m really, really proud of the work with the productions [team from] Channel 4.

“I think there was really a lot of honesty with everyone working on it. We all wanted the best and we all wanted to make sure we created a nice message and a really honest message.

“It was really lovely work with really great people. I’m really excited about it and really nervous about people seeing it, but I’m happy with it. It was a very, very difficult job to do because it was such an important topic.”

The Real Derry: Jamie-Lee O’Donnell is on at 10pm on Channel 4 on June 16

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