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Saturday 17 March 2018

'What's it like to have a f***er for a daddy' - Carrigstown cast reveal 'Fair City' secrets

The cast of RTÉ’s ‘Fair City’ on the set of the show to celebrate the 4,000th episode Photo: Colin Keegan
The cast of RTÉ’s ‘Fair City’ on the set of the show to celebrate the 4,000th episode Photo: Colin Keegan
Melanie Finn

Melanie Finn

It's been a fixture in the TV schedule since 1989 and tomorrow night RTE's 'Fair City' will celebrate its 4,000th episode.

But some viewers still have a tough task distinguishing the long-time characters from the actors who portray them.

Tony Tormey, who has been playing Paul Brennan since the soap first aired, said he was recently abused by a member of the public for his character's lady-loving ways while out with his daughter Izzy (10).

"I was with my little girl the other day, we went down to the local shop and this woman came up to me and Izzy and goes, 'Are you Paul?' and then she goes, 'Is this your real daughter?' and I go 'Yeah' and she goes, 'What's it like to have a f***er for a daddy?'

"Then the other day, this woman threw an empty Coke bottle at me and goes, 'You're a dirty git!' But you don't want to get into a dialogue with someone like that."

Tony, who's happily married to wife Kate with whom he has two children, plays one of the few characters who has been with the soap from the very start.

The well-known actor said he had no idea when he began that he would still be working with the soap nearly 28 years later.

He believes it's down to having such a complex character.

"If it was just love rat stuff, the public would probably get bored but the great thing is, I think he's an all-rounded character," he said.

Originally pitched as an "urban drama", the long-running show began as a pilot based around four households in a tight-knit Dublin community.

When it first went into production, all exterior shots were recorded in the Barron Place area of Drumcondra in Dublin with locals taking on the parts of extras.

It moved southside back in 1991, when RTE built a permanent set for Carrigstown on its grounds in Donnybrook.

"If someone told me you're still going to be in here in 2016, I would have told them where to get off," Tony said.

Clelia Murphy, who plays his long-suffering wife Niamh, said the key to the soap's popularity was that it offered viewers a generous dose of escapism.

"If you're just talking about breakfast, dinners and tea and bringing your kids to school, nobody wants to watch that because it reminds them of their own lives," she said.

"Soap is a legitimate way of gossiping and bitching - you don't feel guilty because they're not real people."

Meanwhile executive producer Brigie de Courcy, who has worked on more than 2,000 episodes of the soap, said they were always conscious of budgets when working on the soap.

"There are challenges all along the line," she said.

She said they had to be careful about writing certain incidents into the show as they cost more to film.

"The big stunts like crashing a car or something, they're huge and planned months in advance," she said.

"But even things like punches or slaps have to be budgeted for and watched, so we'd be careful about what we do."

Producers work on some storylines up to 18 months in advance and they shoot about three weeks ahead to ensure the show has a contemporary feel.

When asked about the secret to the soap's staying power, she said that Irish audiences loved seeing themselves on screen and "seeing their own stories played out."

Irish Independent

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