Tuesday 13 November 2018

Simpsons premiere is a labour of love for cartoon producers

Cal Hayes (6 months) from Rathmines, Dublin, meets Homer and Bart Simpson at the Lighthouse Cinema, Dublin, yesterday
Cal Hayes (6 months) from Rathmines, Dublin, meets Homer and Bart Simpson at the Lighthouse Cinema, Dublin, yesterday

Caitrina Cody

A 'love letter' from Homer Simpson to the Irish people -- that's how the producer of the hit US cartoon series described the St Patrick's Day special which was screened here yesterday -- the first time a new episode was premiered outside the United States.

And with only hours to spare before St Patrick's Day, Lisa finally revealed the secret recipe for making Guinness: bog water and chocolate syrup, apparently.

'In the Name of the Grandfather' was an instant success with the audience at the preview screening in the Lighthouse Cinema, Smithfield, Dublin, yesterday morning.

Among them was nine-year-old Conall Moy-Kelly from Wicklow. "It was amazing, really, really funny," he said. "I think it was so cool that we got to see it before people in America did."

He said there were plenty of laughs in the new episode, which airs on Sky One tonight at 7.30pm.

"Things were really bad for Homer and Grandpa Simpson in Ireland at the start but it gets better in the end. There were tiny leprechauns in it as well and Bart fell off the Giant's Causeway," said Conall, a pupil in St Colmcille National School, Wicklow.


Conall's mother Susan Moy went along to the screening and said that the Irish accents weren't too bad.

"There were a couple of dodgy ones that sounded more Scottish than Irish. But all in all it was a good laugh and the kids really loved it."

Executive producer Al Jean is taking part in today's parade and says it was his Irish roots that inspired the Simpsons' visit to Ireland.

"The episode is based on the experiences of myself and a lot of the writers on 'The Simpsons' who have Irish ancestry and come back to visit to find it very different, much more hi-tech," he says.

"Homer's father was here as a young man and it was the most wonderful time of his life. He comes back to find the Ireland that he knew, but it's been taken over by corporations and is not quite the way he remembers."

Defying audience expectations, not every Irish character featured in the episode was drunk and rowdy. "Most are actually hard-working and sober, which reflects my experience of visiting the country," says Mr Jean.

"I was married here in Enniskerry in 2002 and my wife is also Irish-American. It's the fourth time I've been here and many of the writers have been here a lot, so it's kind of a letter of love."

Mr Jean admits to a fondness for a pint of Guinness, having sampled a couple during his trip. "Guinness features in the episode as well, when Lisa discovers the secret recipe to making it: bog water and chocolate syrup."

A number of children attending yesterday's special screening are patients at Our Lady's Children's Hospital, Crumlin.

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