THE BLOCKBUSTER crime series Love/Hate returned to RTÉ television with a bang last month. And for Wexford actress Charlie Murphy, who plays Siobhán in the popular show, there were explosive story lines from the off.
The 25-year-old, who is the daughter of Pat and Brenda Murphy, who own and run the Scissors Empire hair salon on Wexford's South Main Street, took some time out between filming to talk a little about the role and the effect that playing the character has had on her both professionally and personally.
' To be honest I was really keen to get stuck into such a meaty part. I was told a rough outline before the scripts were given to us so I couldn't wait to see what Stuart Carolan was going to write. But I suppose with the excitement came also the feeling of "Oh God, I'd better get this right", because there's so much riding on it and this is serious stuff,' said Charlie, whose character was raped by IRA boss Git in the opening episode of this series.
Charlie admits that the atmosphere on the day of recording was ' heavy', but she was comfortable among her fellow cast members.
'For the actual filming of it, the logistics on the day, I couldn't have been in safer hands. Because it's the third series the cast and crew are used to each other and I was well looked after. Jimmy Smallhorne, who plays Git, is such a lovely guy. He was really mindful, and between takes we lightened the mood. But it was a strange day.'
Mindful that real victims of sexual violence might be watching the episode, Charlie said: 'I had an obligation to treat it with care and do my best.'
'You know it's very dark and there are people that are watching this that have been affected by sexual violence, so I was very aware of that.'
The actress has starred in all three series of the hit television show, but she revealed that after shooting this scene she agonised over how it would come across on screen.
'I came home that evening going "did that just happen?"
'And of course then the actor's fear would creep in and I was just praying that what we'd filmed was acceptable and true. I'm glad it's finally aired and I can get it off my chest.'
Over 630,000 people tuned in to watch the episode.
And what happened to her character is 'not completely rare', according to the actress.
' There are people like Siobhán out there, silenced by fear for being caught up in this kind of business but I know this isn't always the case.
'I'm not specifically talking about street gang environments though, but in general. I suppose what really horrifies me as just a regular person, is the pressure she's under to keep quiet after the fact because of these high stakes.
' Trying to pretend nothing has happened, keeping the code, is ruining her, she's unravelling and she has no one who really understands her. That is tragic.'
The public's reaction to the gripping story line is something for which Charlie says she was bracing herself.
The rape scene attracted a flurry of complaints. RTÉ was hit with 17 complaints regarding the graphic and violent nature of the scene, but the broadcaster defended one of its most viewed shows and said that it had warned the audience before the show aired of the nature of the programme. Viewers were advised to visit an Aertel page for further advice on support services had they been affected by any of the issues raised.
Support for rape victims was something of which the Wexford actress was also conscious. 'I met with the Rape Crisis Centre before we filmed and they were very helpful. It was really invaluable actually. We talked for a long time on the human reactions of what you go through and just trying to understand the aftermath of how you pick up the pieces or try to cope in general.' Charlie commented that she had later learned that the organisation recorded a spike in the number of calls which it received from victims following the episode being aired.
In Love/Hate, Charlie stars alongside big industry names such as Robert Sheehan, whose shoes she has followed in by joining the cast of Misfits.
Despite their success, Charlie maintains that there are ' no egos' on set. 'We all get on very well, it's such a small industry you know. Tom (Nidge) is a gent and Robbie (Darren) and Killian ( Tom), they're great guys.'
But it's not a matter of all work and no play for the cast and crew, as Charlie jokes: 'We have had some great nights out!' That said, it's been a busy year for the actress, who also stars in the E4 hit series Misfits.
This was a dream come true for Charlie, who claims it was a surreal experience playing the guest lead role of Grace.
She said: ' I've been a fan of the show myself so being in it and having a power was a pure treat.' Charlie made her debut in the show midway through the current season. 'It was strange just dropping in half way through them filming the series on such an iconic show. To be honest it was quite surreal.'
Talking about the power that her character has, Charlie says: 'I played an Irish character who's looking after her terminally ill father so I had the ability to keep him alive but not cure him. It was good craic.'
Although both her Love/Hate and Misfits roles haven't required her to drop her Irish accent, Charlie hasn't shied away from her latest challenge, which has been to play a Yorkshire girl by the name of Martha Lane in a new BBC One series called The Village.
Set at the beginning of World War One, the show is currently being shot on set in the High Peak district in England. 'It's cold but it's a stunning set,' according to Charlie, who has been based in England for the past few months, working with actors including Maxine Peak and John Simm.
'It's a world apart from Love/Hate, but that's what I love about this job. You could be anyone doing anything at any time. I'm very blessed to be in this position.'
But work aside, Charlie, who is one of six children, is looking forward to a big family Christmas back home this year.
'I've been away a lot this year and we're a very close family so I'm counting the days.'
And it will be a very traditional Christmas for the Murphys, who lived at St John's Manor, Enniscorthy, until Charlie was 12 years old, when they moved to Wexford.
'I am looking forward to eating copious amounts of my auntie's Christmas stuffing, my mum's mince pies and of course catching up with the family.'