Friday 18 August 2017

Irish actress Niamh Walsh making waves in Jamestown, a racy new period drama about 'ballsy women'

Niamh Walsh on a visit to Dublin yesterday. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Niamh Walsh on a visit to Dublin yesterday. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Niamh Walsh as Verity and Dean Lennox Kelly as screen husband Meredith in the Sky series 'Jamestown'
Kirsty Blake Knox

Kirsty Blake Knox

The second episode of Sky series Jamestown has yet to hit TV screens, but Irish actress Niamh Walsh is already packing her bags and getting ready to shoot the second series.

Niamh and the rest of the cast of the period drama will fly out to Hungary next Monday for a six-month shoot.

"It's like summer camp in a way. It's useful being in that bubble away from friends and family," she said.

Set in 1619, the drama focuses on the arrival of a group of women at an English colony in Jamestown.

The women had been shipped out as "maids to make wives" for male workers who had made the journey there 12 years earlier.

Film maker John Conroy, the partner of Yvonne Connolly, is the Director of Photography on the series.

Niamh Walsh as Verity and Dean Lennox Kelly as screen husband Meredith in the Sky series 'Jamestown'
Niamh Walsh as Verity and Dean Lennox Kelly as screen husband Meredith in the Sky series 'Jamestown'

Niamh, who was born in Australia and grew up in Malaysia, says she was slightly star struck when Yvonne visited him on set.

"Yvonne came out to visit, she is lovely. I was like 'I know who that is! She used to go out with Ronan Keating!' She is lovely," she said

The drama was produced by the team behind 'Downton Abbey' and Walsh was concerned viewers may be disappointed when they tuned in and discovered this was not your typical 'Upstairs Downstairs' drama.

"I was worried that people would be expecting to see the same thing and it's just not that at all. It's not about women and probity and this was about three strong women who came along and smashed that entirely."

Working on a historical drama with forthright women in the central roles was a breath of fresh air.

"I do think there is a male washing of history - just because women were meant to be subservient doesn't mean they were," she said. "So it's amazing playing these strong and complicated and ballsy women."

Walsh trained at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art after realising a career in journalism wasn't for her.

She landed her first TV role in 2013, when she made her debut on 'Casualty'. She counts her parents, who come from Arklow originally, as her biggest fans. "They are my cheerleaders. They were in Skibbereen when I was in 'Holby City' and marched into a pub and asked the manager to turn it on so they could watch me.  He was like 'Em the football is on'.”

Jamestown is one of several original dramas Sky are investing in this year.

Riviera, devised by Paul McGuinness and co-written by Neil Jordan and John Banville, is also due to hit TV screens this year.

'Jamestown' airs Fridays at 9pm on Sky 1 and on Now TV.

Irish Independent

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