Saturday 15 December 2018

Viewers were divided over Christopher Eccleston's Northern Irish accent in Come Home

Chrstopher Eccleston in Come Home (C) Red Productions Limited - Photographer: Steffan Hill
Chrstopher Eccleston in Come Home (C) Red Productions Limited - Photographer: Steffan Hill
Aoife Kelly

Aoife Kelly

We're a bit sensitive about foreigners tackling our Irish accents so it's no surprise that English actor Christopher Eccleston's Belfast accent has been drawing commentary.

The former Doctor Who star is currently playing a man whose wife has left him holding the children in BBC three-part series Come Home, the first episode of which aired last night on BBC One and RTE.

Aside from commenting on the 'endless' sex scenes which frequently punctuated the show's first outing, viewers were also divided on the actor's Belfast accent.

Some described Eccleston's accent as 'painful' and 'dodgy'.

However, just as many praised the English actor for his efforts, with one going so far as to call his accent 'amazing'.

In an interview with the BBC in which he was asked how he perfected the accent, he said, "I worked with a magician! A brilliant dialect coach called Brendan Gunn. I also spent a lot of time in pubs listening to locals.

"Belfast is my favourite city in the world, I love New Orleans and Glasgow but Belfast beats them all! It’s such a great city to make television. I tried my accent out with the locals, they were supportive and critical when they needed to be but it helped and I stayed in character when I was in between scenes."

In the series Eccleston plays Greg whose wife Marie (played by Belfast actress Paula Malcomson) leaves and their story is told through several different viewpoints.  Whatever about the accents, the theme of a mother leaving her children resonated with many viewers who shared their stories on social media.

"It's pretty unfathomable for a mother to leave her children," said actress Malcomson. "Men do it all the time and somehow they don’t get so harshly stigmatized. I wanted to see if I could dissect this character and this issue and still make Marie human and relatable. It was a challenge. I liked that. I had to really reach."

Of returning to Belfast to film, she added, "Shooting in Belfast was really meaningful. I’ve lived in the states for 28 years. Every street corner in Belfast holds some kind of memory for me. The place is just soaked in nostalgia. When I left things were still terrible. It was the dark days. Now we are making movies and the fear is gone and there’s life and hope and optimism. It was great to come home... no pun intended!"

Read more: Come Home TV review: 'Erratic characters and tone sink BBC/RTE three-part drama'

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