'I can't thank them enough' - Irish star of BAFTA-winning show praises RTE for giving him his big break as a child
With the news that RTE is set to outsource all of its young people's programming, one of its former child actors laments the loss.
Brian Roche from Limerick has been working consistently as an actor since getting his big break on RTE's children's show Custer's Last Stand Up.
The BBC/RTE co-production won Best Children's Show at the BAFTAs in 2001.
Set in Bray and filmed on the Seafront and in Ardmore Studios, the show starred George McMahon (Fair City's Mondo), a 15 year-old stand-up comic who dreamt of becoming a star comic like his heroes Ardal O'Hanlon and Steve Martin.
The 13-episode show was sold to over 20 countries worldwide and was a massive success for Irish children's TV.
"I loved every minute of it. It was such a great opportunity," Brian Roche told Independent.ie.
"Myself and George, along with our co-star Ciaran Nolan lived together in Bray during filming. I was just 13 and living with two 15-year-olds."
The cast stayed in the Royal Hotel during filming and Brian said that RTE couldn't have done more for them.
"We were so well looked after. One of the directors, Dearbhla Walsh, she was just brilliant. We learned a lot from her."
Dearbhla went on to win an EMMY in 2009 for Outstanding Directing for a Miniseries for Little Dorrit. She also directed episodes of EastEnders, The Tudors and Shameless; another successful artist from RTE's children's TV.
Brian has been steadily working as an actor in TV and theatre over the past few years. Between 2011 and 2015 he played the part of Manuel in a West End production of Fawlty Towers. This year, the hard-working actor landed a part on Red Rock. He'll appear in the new season of the TV crime drama, playing the part of newcomer 'Little Barry', a gangster from Limerick.
"I've been working as an actor since my big break on RTE so I am sad to hear that they won't be making in-house children's TV but it could be a positive thing, depending on how they handle it.
"If they get the right talent on board they could continue making quality TV. It's a great opportunity for freelancers. I hope they realise what they're losing though."