"Cork people are so proud of The Young Offenders," says Alex

With series three of The Young Offenders set to return, we talk to the stars of the hit comedy about acting with babies, meeting Leo Varadkar while filming, and whether there will be a fourth series...
"Cork people are so proud of The Young Offenders," says Alex

FAMILY TIME: Jock (Chris Walley) and Conor (Alex Murphy) in The Young Offenders

IF you’re a fan of The Young Offenders 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 — there’s not much of me the crew hasn’t seen!” quips the Cork-born star, 22.

In the comedy, he plays Conor MacSweeney, best friends with Jock O’Keeffe, played by fellow Corkonian, Chris Walley, 25.

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

Memorable storylines include their 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.

Series three starts on RTE1 on Friday, July 24, at 9.35pm and on BBC1 at 9.30pm, in which we see the lads try to make their way as young adults, with yet more questionable methods of making money, all while Jock navigates being a new dad.

At the end of series two, Jock’s girlfriend Siobhan — whose dad happens to be Principal Walsh, far from the biggest fan of Jock and Conor — gave birth to Star. The new addition 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, also from Cork, who wed Peter Foott — creator of 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”.

Jock is adjusting to life with 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 all together.”

Twins Nola and Penny Richardson shared the role of Star. “I want one!” exclaims Murphy, before quickly adding “not right now”. Rose chimes in, saying she has told the boys they are always welcome to babysit her kids (Jake and one-year-old Olivia).

“I was terrified of holding babies for fear I dropped them,” confides Walley. “By the end of the shoot, I 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 quick.” “There was a great photo in the paper a few years ago, of us making the film; there are about 7 people in the crew, no-one’s watching us filming,” notes Murphy. “And then there was a photo of us making season 1, and there were just crowds of people watching.

“It was good, it was like doing a play every day, whenever we were filming outside in the city.” 

One of the new episodes sees Jock, Conor and Mairead take a trip to Dublin.

Whilst filming on a road, they reveal they were pulled over by then 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 elaborates.

“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?’” he continues, chuckling.

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

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