Monday 21 October 2019

'Haunting' Channel 4 drama to lift lid on Irish care system

Shane Meadows (Ian West/PA)
Shane Meadows (Ian West/PA)

Lynne Kelleher

A new Channel 4 drama which delves into the Irish care system is set to hit our screens.

The Virtues will reunite This is England filmmaker Shane Meadows with Bafta-nominated actor Stephen Graham.

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It is the latest in a string of Irish-themed dramas from the British station that include the phenomenally successful Derry Girls and Catastrophe.

In the new Ireland-based drama, Graham plays a barely on-the-wagon alcoholic called Joseph whose world is turned upside down when his ex-partner moves from Liverpool to Australia with their young son for a better life.

After going back on the alcohol, Joseph boards a boat for Ireland to confront "hazy, fear-inducing memories from a childhood spent in the care system that he's had to forget".

"The Virtues is a visceral and hauntingly unforgettable paean to the human spirit, shot through with bittersweet tenderness, compassion and unexpected moments of laugh-out-loud humour throughout," a Channel 4 spokesperson said.

Catastrophe, Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney's sitcom about a dysfunctional couple, was originally turned down by the BBC, while Derry Girls has proved to be an unlikely global hit for Channel 4.

The second series of the Northern Irish drama is already earning critical acclaim as it showcases the hilarious lives of teenagers living through the Troubles.

The station also famously brought Father Ted to the world after it was turned down by RTE.

In The Virtues, Joseph reunites back in Ireland with Anna, the sister he hasn't met since they were children, who is played by Helen Behan.

Angela's Ashes actor Frank Laverty plays Anna's husband, Michael, who is persuaded to allow her long-lost brother to stay and work in the family-owned building company.

Back in Ireland, Joseph is forced to directly confront the demons of his past when he comes face to face with a shadowy figure called Craigy, played by Mark O'Halloran.

The series of four hour-long episodes also features actress Niamh Cusack.

Sunday Independent

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