Wednesday 18 September 2019

'We were trying to hide Santa costumes' - Hilary Rose on filming Young Offenders Christmas Special on the streets of Cork

Hilary Rose, Alex Murphy, and Chris Walley in The Young Offenders
Hilary Rose, Alex Murphy, and Chris Walley in The Young Offenders
‘The Young Offenders’ Chris Walley (left) and Alex Murphy. Photo: Miki Barlok
Hilary Rose, Alex Murphy, and Chris Walley in The Young Offenders
Young Offenders
Aoife Kelly

Aoife Kelly

The Young Offenders are gearing up for a Christmas Special.

The half hour festive episode was filmed on location in Cork in September and keeping the details a secret was tough, according to actress Hilary Rose, who plays Conor's mum Mairead.

"It was great craic as usual," she tells Independent.ie.  "But it was one of those things where we couldn't really tell anybody it was a Christmas special while we were filming so we were trying to be really vague when people asked and trying to hide Santa costumes!"

She adds, "Cork is so small so when you're filming on a street within ten or 15 minutes you have a crowd.  It's really exciting and it's great that people are interested.  It's lovely to see everybody take ownership of it.  But it means there's very little secrecy left!"

Alex Murphy as Conor in The Young Offenders
Alex Murphy as Conor in The Young Offenders

Alex Murphy (who plays Conor) and Chris Walley (his best friend Jock) will both appear in the episode which will air on RTE and BBC Three on December 14.

News that Mortal Instruments star Robert Sheehan will make an appearance has also leaked, but Hilary will only reveal that he is a "sweetheart" and "really brilliant" in his role.

Sheehan is a good friend of both Hilary and her husband Peter Foott, who also happens to be the writer and director of the series, which began life as a feature film back in 2016.

The first series of the comedy proved a massive hit when it aired earlier this year with its compelling balance of laugh-out-loud comedy and, at times, tear-jerking emotion, all delivered courtesy of a first class cast.

The Christmas special will once again boast those trademark big laughs but they will, according to Hilary, be grounded in emotion, which is the touchstone of the series.

A second season was commissioned by the BBC before the first episode of the first series had even aired and it's due to start filming early next year.

However, in the meantime, Hilary and Peter are awaiting the arrival of their second baby, due around Christmas.  Their first was born during filming of the big screen outing in 2016.

"We're very lucky with our Young Offenders babies," laughs Hilary.

For the couple, being able to work in their native Cork is a blessing, particularly with a small family.

"It just really happened at the right time for us," she says.  "It's always a stressful thing to have to be away from your kids for a prolonged period of time filming, normally Dublin or London or wherever else.  It has worked out perfectly for us at this stage."

Since the first series wrapped the young stars have embarked on other projects.  Murphy is studying at the Lir Academy in Dublin and Walley has graduated from RADA and had his West End debut in The Lieutenant of Inishmore.

However, while the bright lights of  Dublin, London and elsewhere may be calling, for Hilary as well as the two young leads, she says they all feel particularly "loyal" to the show.

"It's where the lads got their big break, and I worked in comedy prior to it in RTE, and we're all really, really good pals.  Our families hang out together.  No matter what they decide to do they'll always be part of the fold."

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