Friday 22 June 2018

WATCH: 'I'm all for the comparisons between Derry Girls and The Young Offenders' - PJ Gallagher

PJ and actress Hilary Rose talk The Young Offenders new TV series

Aoife Kelly

Aoife Kelly

Comedian and actor PJ Gallagher says he welcomes comparisons between Channel 4's hit series Derry Girls and the BBC's TV adaptation of The Young Offenders.

The Cork-set comedy kicked off on RTE on Thursday night after launching on BBC Three last week and the response has been hugely positive.

Derry Girls, meanwhile, has been garnering huge praise for writer Lisa McGee and the cast of Irish and UK talent.  Both shows have been commissioned for a second run.

Gallagher says the comparisons between the two Irish-based comedies are more than welcome.

"Derry Girls is great," he tells Independent.ie.  "To be honest I'm all for the comparison, 100 per cent.

"There seems to be these waves of Irish TV.  There was The End and Father Ted and there was all of these things thta happened and they were great and then they fell away and then there was the period of Des Bishop's Work Experience and I'd like to say Naked Camera, Anonymous, Podge & Rodge and then that kind of went away and now it's Moone Boy, The Young Offenders, and Derry Girls.

"The tide lifts all the boats so the more Irish comedy people like, the more they might go looking for.  Go on Derry Girls, fair play to you! Bring all the attention this way!"

While writer/director Peter Foote, the cast, and Cork location remain unchanged for the TV series, Gallagher plays a completely different role.  He makes the switch from nasty drug dealer to highly strung school principal, and father of two teenage girls, Barry Walsh.

"Every other character I've ever played has been straight comedy so they've all been either complete morons or absolute horrible people," laughs Gallagher.  "Barry is neither.  Barry's a nice guy.  He's just a bit deranged and deluded about what he thinks he can do."

Unfortunately, the Young Offenders of the title, Jock (Chris Walley) and Connor (Alex Murphy) are interested in dating his two teenage girls.

"He's a conservative guy and he absolutely hates those two and he just thinks if they would go the world would be perfect."

Of making the transition from drug dealer to Barry he adds, "It was a bit of a struggle because everyone had their characters done and then I'm coming along with a moustache and a bushy head and looking at myself and I can't even recognise myself never mind who Barry Walsh is!"

Gallagher sports his own, natural perm-like bonce for the role.

"All summer he was like, 'I hate this.  I'm going to shave it off!'," laughs Hilary Rose, who plays Conor's mum Mairead in the series.

"You know when people give you compliments on set and it sounds awful?" continues Gallagher, "Someone said, 'No, it's beautiful.  It's like a llama.'  I don't want to be a llama.  This is the worst compliment I've ever been given.  I'm not a llama.  I don't want to be a llama with a moustache, so I couldn't wait to shave."

Although he has no experience of being a dad in real life, Gallagher does remember what it's like to be a teenage boy, which helped.

"Obviously I've never been a father so I can't exactly relate so it's doing that thing, I guess that's what all dads do anyway and that's why they're overprotective, because they were that age and they had those thoughts and they were those little shits at some time so it was going into that and trying to make yourself the absolute opposite. 

"I think Barry, as a character, he was probably that one young person that probably wasn't like that.  He probably went on his first date and turned up the next day with a fizzy water and a ring."

For Hilary, returning to the series as Mairead took on a different significance for her as she has become a mum to a little boy since filming wrapped on the movie.

"It's one of thsoe things, such a cliche, 'Oh motherhood made me' but it just kind of actually cracked everything open emotionally for me a little bit," she reveals.

"I actually really feel a true connection to Alex.  I don't really see him as my son but I give out to him like he's my son!  I definitely have a connection to him and I think that you kind of have to draw from a person space so it changed it for me, definitely."

In the series, as in the film, Mariead and Conor have some very frank exchanges about love and life and sex and the likes.  Hilary isn't quite sure she'll be having those particular chats with her own boy, however!

"I guess if you can be honest within a relationship and have that kind of openness it's lovely," she says, "But I don't know if I'll be having that specific one!"

Gallagher quips, "Sitting down with your young fella talking about riding over a chicken nugget"

"Parenting goals right there!" laughs Hilary. 

Check out the full interview in the video above.

The Young Offenders continues on Thursdays at 9.30pm on RTE2.  It will also air on BBC One tonight (Friday) at 11.25pm.

WATCH: 'We look like we're looking for attention walking around Cork but we're actually friends' - The Young Offenders stars Chris Walley and Alex Murphy  

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