Sunday 20 January 2019

WATCH: Sneak peek behind the scenes on slick new Fair City set

It's the real McCoy

Sorcha O'Connor

Sorcha O'Connor

The cast of Fair City will be celebrating 30 years of Carrigstown in style when their new set is revealed soon.

Independent.ie got a sneak peek at what viewers can expect from the new lot, with executive producer Brigie de Courcy on hand to explain the new additions to the familiar streets of the Dublin-based soap.

She said the designers had not held back when they gave the fictional suburb a makeover, even incorporating graffiti and Dublin Canvas, the real-life street art campaign that sees artists paint designs on electrical boxes around the city.

A new Welcome to Carrigstown sign has also been put up, similar to those seen in the suburbs of the capital.

Fans of the show will see the locals enjoy a pint in the new McCoy's, while Wayne Molloy (played by Victor Burke) will finally get to open up the refurbished Molloy's Motors.

It was destroyed in a bomb blast more than two years ago.

Clearly protective of the project, Brigie said producers would be limiting explosive storylines for the time being.

"We've refreshed McCoy's, we've rebuilt The Hungry Pig, we have the Phelans' interior yard, we have Ballantine Road, we have Molloy's Motors," she said.

"We have the new Arcade, we have Peggy's Tea Rooms, we have the new section of the park - what we're suggesting is that it still belongs to the old park but there's a brand new park."

The new set has been on the cards for eight years.

"It has taken 18 months in terms of design and also in terms of story - for example, for Wayne, about two and a half years ago we blew up his workshop," said Brigie.

"It was a very dramatic storyline with Paul and Niamh and Orla, and there was a huge fire and explosion.

"So we have said for the last two and a half years the insurance hasn't come through.  Now it's come through and here we are with this fantastic new set.

"It does take time to turn things around."

The new set has proved a hit with the cast and crew too, being close to the dressing rooms - on Fair City, filming continues come hail, rain or shine.

"We have shot quite a bit on it and they love it. It's right across from the dressing rooms and they can nip across," Brigie said.

"They are very, very comfortable with it."

She added that the proportions of the old set were sometimes off, with door frames cut too small.

"Some of the doors were very short so we would have to get the actors to stand down a bit or sit on a stool so it didn't look too oddly out of proportion," she said.

"Anything we could recycle we did, but it looks like it has been abandoned."

While the new-look Carrigstown may be a hit with the stars, some viewers are concerned to see taxpayers' money creating fictional homes while a very real housing crisis grips the nation.

However, Brigie stands firm on the decision.

"People pay their licence fee, they're entitled to their drama, their television programmes," she said.

"We're making a television programme where there's revenue coming in from both ends," she said.

"If we were to shut down entertainment because there is a crisis being mismanaged then that would be absolutely bonkers - that's probably not parliamentary language, but I don't know what else to say."

She added that the show will be playing out a homelessness story over Christmas.

Mother and son Melanie and Alex are faced with the prospect of not having a roof over their heads as Christmas looms, with the desperate mum in dire straits as she tries to ensure they have shelter.

"For us to come out to 500,000 viewers four times a week is crucial and we're earning our place. To suggest we shouldn't rebuild just seems very, very odd," Brigie said.

"It's not coming from our budget, it's a relocation for RTE and is taken from their budget so I don't know about that."

The revamped Carrigstown will make its debut on Sunday, December 30, with the new set's interiors being used.

On New Year's Day, the exterior will be finally seen on screen.

Herald

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