AS the successful RTE drama 'Love/Hate' comes back to our screens for a third season, I'm looking forward most to seeing what Nigel (aka Nidge) does. I have a love/hate (excuse the pun) relationship with Nidge. On the one hand, he is a complete low-life, a murderer, and yet, he is somehow also extremely likeable.
All of the best characters on television, in the movies and in books are ones that you hate to love, the anti-heroes. What is it about these unsavoury characters that makes them so attractive? Good writing for one. A well-drawn, rounded character will always have sympathetic qualities. This is what the writer of the show, Stuart Carolan, has done so deftly. He has created Nidge -- a drug-dealer, murderer and mass-manipulator -- and made him one of the most charismatic characters on TV.
Nidge is the kind of guy you'd have great fun on a night out with. He'd make you laugh, he'd make you feel really good about yourself, and then he'd shoot you in the back.
The show is full of wonderfully drawn characters and very talented actors, but it's Nidge that stands out. I think it's his humour that makes him different to the others. Humour is a very attractive quality. And Nidge has it in spades. He's witty; a 'gas man'. Therein lies Nidge's best weapon: nobody feels threatened by him and yet he steadily manipulates people and ends up as head of the gang.
'Love/Hate' is a very slickly produced show. It's modern, it's gritty, it's shocking and at times, very violent, but it's compelling.
The storylines are reportedly very close to the bone in terms of what is happening in Ireland's gangland. For this reason, the show can make for difficult viewing.
The actor who plays Nidge, Tom Vaughan-Lawlor, has said that playing this part is an actor's dream and that it has been both a pleasure and a challenge. "Nigel has so many facets, there's a domestic and loving side to him, but he's also lethal. I really enjoy playing him because he's so complex," he said.
Carolan says that when he was setting about writing the script, he felt it was vital to show the human side of the characters as well. Despite the heinous crimes the gang members have committed or how badly they behave, they all have families. And their families are like anybody else's.
"So I wanted to try and capture some of that," he explains.
Why do we find anti-heroes so compelling?
A well-structured and written TV show will not allow you to hate the anti-hero from a comfortable distance. It puts you inside the person's life.
It shows them doing vicious and self-interested things, but in the context of situations -- trying to raise kids, revenge for a friend's death, fear. And the real catch is that these situations are ones we can all relate to.
Good TV shows also make sure their anti-heroes pay, in some way, for their bad deeds. I think Nidge might be in for a fall this season. It's time for retribution.
One thing's for sure, I'll be watching!