A DARK rollercoaster that you won't want to leave your seat for.
This is what Love/Hate fans can look forward to over the coming weeks as the hotly anticipated fourth series of RTE's hit crime drama returns to our screens tonight, according to producer Suzanne McAuley.
In an exclusive interview with the Sunday Independent, Ms McAuley reveals that the "big new dimension" is the gardai, and not the criminals.
"The guards portrayed are the opposite to the stereotypes you see. These are tough, smart operators," the award-winning producer said.
Heading up the undercover unit tasked with bringing down Nidge's gang is Detective Inspector Mick Moynihan (Brian F O'Byrne). Brian is a Tony award-winning actor and starred in the Clint Eastwood-directed Million Dollar Baby alongside Morgan Freeman.
Garda Gavin Brogan is one of Suzanne's "smart operators" and is played by Aaron Heffernan, who takes over as the show's heartthrob after the murder of Darren. He hangs around in the background, keeping tabs on the gang and tries to "infiltrate" it.
"This year we feature the gardai in a very big way and he [writer Stuart Carolan] talked to many, many guards to get it right," reveals Ms McAuley about how they researched for the crime drama and made it "so true to life". All storylines and characters are fictional, confirmed the producer, who went on to say that Carolan "tries not to base it on particular events".
With the country's one million fans counting down to tonight's debut the whole cast and crew have been extremely tight-lipped about the new plot. This is because "everyone who sets foot on set must sign a non-disclosure agreement".
Something Ms McAuley will disclose is that the show this year is "at times incredibly dark and maybe it will be too dark for some people".
This was a concern for her last year when they opened with "a horrific rape, a brutal murder and the burying of a body and we half expected some of the audience to switch off." They didn't, she admits, "but they might" this year.
In spite of her hesitations, Ms McAuley said: "We all think the series is the best yet. There's a rollercoaster in store for our viewers. Be careful about leaving the TV room to make a cup of tea."
At the end of season three rumours abounded about a possible remake in America. The producer confirmed that Octagon (production company) and RTE "are in talks with the US about a remake".
A host of new faces will appear in the new season with 16-year-old Kelly Thornton storming our screens tonight with a significant part as a Dublin teenager. Thornton starred alongside Peter Coonan (Fran) in Life's a Breeze, earlier this year, where she played the onscreen granddaughter of Fionnula Flanagan.
"I'm really, really excited, knowing all my friends are going to be watching it, I'm nervous how they'll respond," Kelly told the Sunday Independent about tonight's first episode.
Also nervous about the season four debut is Peter Coonan. His character, Fran, is seen to have become more manic in the trailers for the new season. Asked by the Sunday Independent was he looking forward to Love/Hate's return he answered with a hesitant "eh, no". He admitted: "I'm not looking forward to it at all. I'm worried, nervous."
He usually watches it with his father but tonight he'll "probably watch it with a few of the lads and I'll ring Killian Scott (Tommy) like we do every year and we'll talk before and at every interval and we'll be quite nervous."
Regarding the show's new plot he says: "It's different this year, he's (Carolan) taken a risk and hopefully it pays off."
Ms McAuley added that she is aware that Saoirse Ronan, Michael D Higgins and Niall Horan are followers of Love/Hate.
- JOYCE FEGAN