Tuesday 16 January 2018

'Bridget & Eamon' strikes Gold with UK deal for hit RTE comedy series

Jennifer Zamparelli and her co-writers celebrate as first fully-funded RTE comedy sells to British channel, writes Niamh Horan

Bernard O'Shea, Jennifer Zamparelli, and Keith Walsh in Bridget & Eamon, RTE 2
Bernard O'Shea, Jennifer Zamparelli, and Keith Walsh in Bridget & Eamon, RTE 2
Jennifer Zamparelli’s 1980s-set comedy series about a married Irish couple is set to be a hit in the UK. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Niamh Horan

Niamh Horan

Jennifer Zamparelli and her co-writers Bernard O'Shea and Jason Butler are celebrating this weekend after their comedy series Bridget & Eamon has been sold to British comedy channel Gold.

It marks the first time that an RTE fully-funded comedy will air in the UK.

Bernard O'Shea and Jennifer Zamparelli in Bridget & Eamon, RTÉ2
Bernard O'Shea and Jennifer Zamparelli in Bridget & Eamon, RTÉ2

The sitcom started life as a sketch on RTE2's satirical TV review and magazine show The Republic of Telly, but due to its popularity, a full series was commissioned, to huge success.

Speaking this weekend, Jennifer described her delight at hearing the news: "It's crazy. It's just so unexpected for me and the lads, and we are just so happy. It's the first ever RTE-funded comedy that's been sold abroad - in its history - so it's great to be a part of that."

Following in the steps of Father Ted, Mrs Brown's Boys and Moone Boy, Jennifer says the British can buy into the Irish sense of humour.

"If we had 20pc of the success that Brendan O'Carroll had, we would be happy. He has just done phenomenally well, and I suppose with Mrs Brown's Boys, it's great for Irish comedy, and it probably opened the doors - Father Ted first, too - so it's great to have that to aspire to be like and it can be done.

Mary McEvoy as Barbara in Bridget & Eamon
Mary McEvoy as Barbara in Bridget & Eamon

"They do get it, totally - and they do get the Irish comedy.

"The great thing about Bridget & Eamon is that it's not just an Irish thing - it's the whole Eighties nostalgia thing everybody - whether you are English or American - can get. From the Dallas to Dynasty references. And it's about family values gone absolutely wrong, and the most dysfunctional family, which people can relate to as well," she said.

"It has some great one-liners and we just wanted to make sure it was very joke-heavy throughout the whole 26 minutes [of each episode].

"UK Gold said they laughed out loud in the office and they were really excited about it, so they got it, thank God. To hear that it will be on a station with such other great comedies like Fawlty Towers and all those kind of shows, and Only Fools and Horses . . . it's just brilliant."

Speaking about the grim reality behind the scenes, she said: "Ah Jaysus, the sacrifice paid off. The sacrifice of shooting series one and 30 people using one toilet in a house in Dublin. It paid off. I think I was constipated for a month. It was tough going," she laughed.

"We are in the middle of shooting series two, working 14-hour days, but I am glad to say we have more toilets between the crew."

Hinting at what viewers can expect from season two, she said the writers have "gone a bit bonkers" with it.

"We are only getting started with it, and we have a lot of amazing special guests that were really excited to be part of Bridget & Eamon - which was an even bigger compliment. Some of the stars, to have them on board, is an absolute dream."

"It's a laugh-out-loud series, and we feel it's more rounded and even funnier than season one, so please God that comes across. And I suppose we probably have a little bit more confidence going forward."

Jennifer was speaking as RTE prepares to launch its new season programming for RTE1 and RTE2 in the Bord Gais Energy Theatre tomorrow morning, with all eyes on the big names gearing up for the next season of TV.

Sunday Independent

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