Entertainment Television

Monday 22 April 2019

Soap and glory - an homage to the Irish talent invading UK soaps over the past 25 years

Glenn Wallace in Hollyoaks
Glenn Wallace in Hollyoaks
Sean Mahon

Sheena McGinley

Famous Irish faces have been popping up in UK soaps for many years now, but that doesn’t stop us getting excited when we see a fellow country man or woman walking the pavements of our favourite shows, writes Sheena McGinley

Inspired by the flurry of Irish faces infiltrating UK soaps at the moment, and with Red Rock’s Sean Mahon set to get pulses racing in EastEnders in the coming weeks, this is an opportune time to pay homage to the homegrown talent sauntering into sitting rooms on a nightly basis...


Sean Mahon: ‘Ray Kelly’ (summer 2018)

Sean Mahon

Nearest and dearest: Mel Owen’s ex-husband and brother to Ciara Maguire.

Mahon has appeared on the London soap already in the form of text messages thanks to his secret correspondence with stepson, Hunter. Ray’s imminent arrival is set to cause “shockwaves” around Albert Square — an area consistently scoring around nine on the Richter scale.

Most famed for: Playing Red Rock’s unsavoury Garda Brian McGonigle.

Interesting fact: Was once a ‘Truck Driver’ in Buffy the  Vampire Slayer spin-off, Angel, circa 2002.


Patrick Bergin: ‘Aidan Maguire’ (2017-2018)

EastEnders - Aidan Joseph Patrick Maguire

Nearest and dearest: Phil Mitchell and Ciara Maguire.

Machinator Maguire was seen literally sleeping with the enemy — that being ex-wife Ciara Maguire — during his stint in EastEnders. She was introduced to the Square as Aidan had concocted an elaborate but ill-fated heist, which involved pilfering her money. Aidan was last seen moseying out of Walford, cane in hand, after Phil Mitchell said he’d shop him to the police for previous crimes.

Most famed for: Patriot Games and Sleeping With the Enemy.

Interesting fact: The reason Phil insisted on calling Aidan ‘JP’ was on account of Maguire’s middle names, Jason Patrick.


Denise McCormack: ‘Ciara Maguire’ (February 2018)

Denise McCormack as Ciara Maguire with DCI Alsworth in the aftermath of the robbery on Eastenders

Nearest and Dearest: Aidan Maguire and Mel Owen.

One can only hope that Hunter’s scary Aunt Ciara gets to totter around Walford once more, especially given someone from props had to organise a large portrait of her to hang in her gangster pad. 

Most famed for: Roles in Love/Hate, Red Rock and her dancing prowess on the 2017 series of Dancing with the Stars.

Interesting fact: She was Fair City’s third incarnation of Farrah Phelan before the present Farrah, Caroline Harvey, took the role.


Pauline McLynn: ‘Yvonne Cotton’ (2014–2015)

Dot Cotton (June Brown) and her estranged daughter-in-law Yvonne (Pauline McLynn, previously best known for playing Mrs Doyle in the sitcom 'Father Ted') in an upcoming scene from 'EastEnders'. Photo: Jack Barnes/BBC

Nearest and dearest: Charlie Cotton and Nick Cotton.

Yvonne is your typical God-fearing Irish Mammy of yore, who’s far too invested in her adult son’s life. As for the aforementioned, Charlie is her son with ‘Nasty’ Nick Cotton. 

Most famed for: Need you ask? Aside from her most prominent role as Mrs Doyle in

Father Ted, she also played Libby Croker in Shameless, Amy Huberman’s mother in Threesome, and penned a number of books.

Interesting fact: She’s an avid Aston Villa supporter.



Aidan O’Callaghan: ‘Mike’ (2018)

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Aidan O'Callaghan in Emmerdale.

Nearest and dearest: Robert Sugden.

Given the Corkonian resembles Joe Tate by way of a Barton brother, one would assume his character caused ructions in Debbie Dingle’s love life. Instead, he was Robert Sugden’s potential love interest in February of this year.

Most famed for: Emmerdale, but the 29-year-old has also appeared in a number of film shorts.

Interesting fact: When he’s not acting, he’s a locum pharmacist based in London.


Jack Hickey: ‘Matt’ (2017)

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Jack Hickey in Emmerdale

Nearest and dearest: The ex-partner of Carly Hope.

Despite appearing in no less than 10 episodes of the soap in 2017, one of which saw him wriggle into a mankini in a marketplace, nobody in casting saw fit to give him a surname. In addition, the role of ‘Matt’ was fraught with emotion as he was the father of Carly’s late son, Billy. His reappearance made Carly realise she wasn’t that into Marlon Dingle after all.

Most famed for: Turns in Jericho and Penny Dreadful.

Interesting fact: He played a young Braavosi in Game of Thrones.


Frank Kelly: ‘Dermot Macey’ (2010-2011)

Frank Kelly joins the Emmerdale cast in 2010

Nearest and dearest: Declan Macey and Meghan Macey.

It’s fair to say Dermot Macey was a bit of a square peg in a round hole in the dales. Viewers were used to seeing Frank Kelly play a more loveable, comedic role, than the father of sinister sort, Declan Macey. Kelly stayed on the soap for all of five months, before he decided to leave as he was reportedly missing his family. Kelly died of a heart attack in February 2016.

Most famed for: All things Father Jack Hackett in Father Ted, Hall’s Pictorial Weekly, Wanderly Wagon, and his uniquely Irish interpretation of The 12 Days of Christmas.

Interesting fact: ‘Frank Kelly’ was a stage name, His real name was Francis O’Kelly.


Coronation Street

Adam Weafer: ‘Mr Fitzgerald’ (2018-present)

Adam Weafer

Nearest and dearest: At the time of going to print, a bag of heroin.

The 28-year-old Cabinteely native cruised on to the cobbles on Monday night’s episode. He’s portraying one Mr Fitzgerald, a sub teacher from Weatherfield High, which Amy Barlow finds rather attractive. And, if the Twitter reaction to Adam’s appearance is anything to go by, it’s a feeling shared by a large portion of Corrie viewers. He was last seen being hauled away by police after heroin was found stashed in the school bus.

Most famed for: Playing David Hennessy in Red Rock.

Interesting fact: Adam was an assistant director on Penny Dreadful.


Simon Delaney: ‘Phil’ (2017)

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Simon Delaney on Coronation Street

Nearest and dearest: Eva Price and a box of Claddagh rings.

Corrie’s answer to Jacob the Jeweller only appeared in one episode but, boy, did Mr Delaney pack a punch.

Most famed for: Bachelors Walk, Moon Boy, Ireland AM.

Interesting fact: He appeared on RTE’s Who Wants to be a Millionaire? and went home with nothing.


Keith Duffy: ‘Ciaran McCarthy’ (2002–2005), (2010–2011)

Keith Duffy

Nearest and dearest: Tracy Barlow, Michelle Connor, and “Suneeteeeh” Alahan.

Keith Duffy may have been known more for his pop prowess before cutting his acting chops on Corrie’s cobbles, but he had already enjoyed stints on Fair City and The Clinic before moving to Weatherfield. He was last seen departing for a cruise ship alone.

Most famed for: Boyzone.

Interesting fact: He received ‘favouritism’ backlash after landing a role in Love/Hate.


Niamh Daly: ‘Nurse Carol Delaney’ (1997-2000)

Nearest and dearest: Anyone attending Weatherfield General.

Niamh Daly had a very busy stint as seemingly the only nurse available in Weatherfield General. During her three years on the soap, she helped Alma Baldwin, Fiona Middleton and Les Battersby’s foot. She worked with Martin Platt and the nurse he left Gail for, Rebecca Hopkins.

Most famed for: Playing Debbie O’Brien in Fair City.

Interesting fact: She played a lead in RTE’s ill-fated 2001 sitcom The Cassidys.


Charles Lawson: ‘Jim McDonald’ (1989-present)

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Actor Charlie Lawson in a scene from Coronation Street in character as Jim McDonald with on screen wife Liz (played by Beverly Callard)

Nearest and dearest: Liz and Steve McDonald.

For those who haven’t heard the news, Fermanagh man ‘JAM’ will make his umpteenth return to Corrie just in time for Steve’s nuptials to Tracy. To add to the drama, Jim has news regarding Liz and his ‘dead’ daughter, Katie. She is, in fact, alive and was secretly adopted. SURPRISE!

Most famed for: Making Peter Barlow’s life even more miserable after he was falsely imprisoned for Tina McIntyre’s murder.

Interesting fact: He appeared in no less than 20 episodes of Doctors.



Susan Loughnane: ‘Chloe’ (2013-2014)

Susan Loughnane in Hollyoaks.

Nearest and dearest: Herself, by the looks of things.

Loughnane had two guest roles as the same character on the show over the space of a year. Her main aim was to sell her baby to Sienna who was trying to hide a fake pregnancy.

Most famed for: Debbie from Love/Hate.

Interesting fact: She was a contestant on Britain Next Top Model and the Irish version.


Emmet J Scanlon: ‘Brendan Brady’ (2010-2013)

Emmett J Scanlan (Brendan Brady, Hollyoaks) accepting the Best newcomer award

Nearest and dearest: Cheryl Brady.

The Dubliner originally appeared in show spin-offs Hollyoaks: King of Hearts (a one-off late-night special involving an illicit poker game), and Hollyoaks Later (a show pretty much devised for content too racy for the evening soap).

Most famed for: Being batty on Hollyoaks and playing the lead in Charlie Casanova.

Interesting fact: He was the ‘head riot guard’ in Guardians of the Galaxy.


Bronagh Waugh: ‘Cheryl Brady’ (2008-2013)

Inside Soap Awards 2011...LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 26: (L-R) Bronagh Waugh and actor Emmett J Scanlan from Hollyoaks with his Best Newcomer Award during the Inside Soap Awards 2011 at Gilgamesh on September 26, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)...E

Nearest and dearest: Bren.

Hailing from Coleraine, Bronagh started her stint on the soap in the Hollyoaks Later version (or, a dry run) and joined the main soap in 2009. She had an oft-

referenced off-screen relationship with Malachy Fisher. The half-sister of Brendan, both siblings left Hollyaks in the same week...

Most famed for:  She played Sally Ann Spector in The Fall.

Interesting fact: Bronagh played a receptionist in 2008 film Miss Conception.


Glen Wallace: ‘Malachy Fisher’ (2007-2010)

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Glenn Wallace in Hollyoaks

Nearest and dearest: Cheryl Brady and Mercedes McQueen.

After being caught up in twisted love triangles involving his fiancee, Mercedes, and his bisexual brother Kris, poor ‘Mal’ met his maker after an explosion saw him on life support. His final scenes involved a series of apparitions to Mercedes wishing her well.

Most famed for: Hollyoaks

Interesting fact: The 42-year-old was born in Ballymena.



Bryan Murray: ‘Trevor Jordache’ (1993)

Nearest and dearest: At a push, Mandy, Beth and Rachel Jordache.

Previously known to British viewers as Shifty Boswell (Bread), Murray only physically appeared as abuser Trevor Jordache for two months before being buried by wife Mandy and daughter Beth (Anna Friel) in their backyard.

Most famed for: After being unearthed by Jimmy Corkhill, he went on to play Bob Charles in Fair City.

Interesting fact: He and his on-screen fiancee, Una Crawford O’Brien sang duets on Charity You’re a Star 2006. They were subsequently voted off.

With such talent on offer, is it any wonder soap producers across the pond are only too happy to have us swarthy Irish sorts on their shows? One can only hope that Corrie producers see fit to give Simon Delaney’s Phil another outing as of immediately. Eva may be leaving, but Phil Mitchell won’t be short of women looking to check out his ring pieces!


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