THE hotly anticipated, small-screen adaptation of The Young Offenders will hit UK and Irish TV screens in the coming weeks.
It has been a whirlwind experience for the director and writer Peter Foott and his team of actors and camera crew.
During filming last summer, the Evening Echo went on set and spoke to the gang about the success of the film and what to expect in the series.
Alex Murphy, who plays Conor in the fictional programme, said the show picks up the successful formula from the film with a few minor tweaks.
“It is just about their life in Cork city and the stuff that they get up to,” said Alex.
“PJ Gallagher (who played drug dealer Ray in the film) is the school principal now and it is set in 2017.”
Shane Dunphy, who plays bad boy Billy Murphy, said you will have people who want a connection to the movie.
“You are going to have people saying: ‘Hang on, this doesn’t make sense.’”
“But,” Alex chimed in, “after the first 10 minutes, you will have people going: ‘Oh yeah, I get it.’”
Discussing the cultural intricacies of the Cork-set series, Shane said they stuck to the original concept.
“We didn’t really change it for the BBC audience. It is a Cork series and, if you don’t get it, tough luck,” he said.
Despite their hardline approach to safeguarding the Cork elements of the programme, Shane said he thinks people will enjoy the world they have created.
“It is like Trainspotting, the themes are universal. As much as the humour is touching toilet humour at times, it has heart and these are relatively real guys and the characters are real and that is certainly in the series.”
Chris Walley, who shot to fame as Jock in the 2016 film, agreed that the show has something special that people will appreciate.
He said, “What is so nice as an actor, reading scripts that Peter writes, is that it is not out-and-out humour. It’s funny and people love it for that, but what these lads do and what everyone does is never funny to them.
“They are going out of their way to do something, it is always serious to them, it’s just funny to other people and I think that because of that there are lovely moments, whether it is with Conor and Mairead or myself and my relationship with my father.”
Chris emphasised the importance of likeability in the characters.
He said: “I think something that often gets overlooked is you can find someone funny, but if you don’t like them, you are not going to care about them and I think that is something that happens in this series, you care about the characters. You care about what happens to them. You are not just laughing at them, you are really drawn into the story and the characters and how likeable they are and how warm they are.”
Alex said the series is funny and relatable as it deals with issues everyone has experienced.
“The lads are 15 and in school, going through the things that 15-year-olds go through and that is funny, because it is the most relatable thing,” he said. “Everyone has gone through that awkward period, where you think you are class, but you are not.”
Conor said there is a certain maturation throughout the series, but he assured fans that the lads were far from sensible.
“At the starting point, it is as if the film never happened. We are still 15 and doing the Junior Cert. It is set in present day, but we haven’t gained any common sense!”
Director and writer Peter Foott said working with the BBC has been a very amicable process.
“The BBC came over during filming. They are fantastic. You could not be dealing with better people,” he said.
The show will be broadcast on BBC3, which has a great track record in producing hit comedies. The Mighty Boosh, Little Britain, and Gavin & Stacy are just some of the productions which proved such a hit that BBC moved them from BBC3 to more mainstream channels.
“They know comedy so well and they are so creative,” said Peter. “Any suggestion you have, they are so polite and generous. Any changes they are suggesting are brilliant and it is like, why wouldn’t you want to make that change?”
So far, the feedback from the general public has been overwhelmingly positive, said Peter.
The film proved to be one of the surprise cinematic hits the year it was released, earning more ticket sales than any other film at Mahon Point Cinema that year. It is no surprise, then, that everyone wanted to be part of the small-screen continuation.
Peter said: “Everyone wants to help out. We couldn’t be luckier. The concept is so loved in Cork, it is almost like making a second series.”
He said it was important to him that Cork is represented in a positive light in the series.
“We want to represent Cork well. We love all the characters, even the nasty characters and we want you to understand them or see someone who, if his life had gone another way, would be a nicer guy. Cork is the same, we want everyone to love it. We want people to see interesting parts of the city and think at the end of it that Cork is a fun and exciting place to go.”
Peter said the Dublin crew members “adore the place” after filming in Cork for several weeks.
“It’s hard not to like the place and we are trying to get that across on the screen as best we can,” he laughed.
The Young Offenders six-part series kicks off on BBC 3 on Thursday, February 1 and RTÉ2 on Thursday, February 8.
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