'Love/Hate' stars all 'very good boys in real life'
'Darren got bullets in the head at end of series three – so it's quite likely he is dead. Very dead," says Suzanne McAuley, series producer of Love/Hate.
With the drama cleaning up at last night's IFTAs, the series producer shares the secrets behind the show's success and what viewers can expect from season four.
The crime drama made Irish television history last year when audience figures for the show peaked at a record number of 1,074,440.
Viewers were left on a knife edge. Will Tommy pull through? Will Nidge stick around? And how long will we have to wait to find out?
RTE officially confirmed the fourth series of Love/Hate last Friday. McAuley exclusively revealed to the Sunday Independent that "some of the scripts have already been written" and admitted that she is one of only a handful of people who know what happens in the upcoming series.
She added that whilst auditions for the next series are ongoing, any actor that has already been cast and has received their script has been "sworn to secrecy" over the new storyline.
Stuart Carolan writes the script, actors like Charlie Murphy and Killian Scott bring it to life and then McAuley is responsible for tying the entire production together.
"My neck is on the line; I'm the chief decision-maker," says the award-winning producer. McAuley is involved in all aspects of the drama from casting to locations and from legalities to script development.
"From concept, I bring the show to life," she elaborates.
Lauded by critics for its slick production, high calibre of acting talent and gritty, gripping storyline, the series producer says that hundreds of man hours go into the whole production.
For the last series they filmed for 55 days and Suzanne and the crew worked 15-16 hour days during that time. When filming was over, four months were spent in post-production. Altogether, there were over 600 people involved in the production of Love/Hate.
The drama also attracted criticism for its portrayal of a violent rape scene when actress Charlie Murphy, who plays Siobhan, was attacked by Git Lockman, an IRA leader.
McAuley admits that, as the series went on, "we definitely got a lot darker and we had freedom in that we earned trust as we went along".
She says that RTE had always been very "supportive" of them but in defence of the graphic nature of the show the producer says they are "only creating a sense of the world we live in".
At the end of series three, Darren, played by Robert Sheehan, was shot and left lying in a pool of blood and Tommy (Killian Scott) remained in a coma.
Asked whether Darren would live to see another day in spite of receiving a number of bullets to the head, Suzanne said that is unlikely anyone would survive such an attack, but did say "anything is possible".
And will Tommy come out of his coma? McAuley's "lips are sealed". She did confirm that there would be "some new faces and some old faces" in the next series and that no air date had been scheduled yet.
Filming will begin in the spring using secret shooting locations to avoid members of the public leaking any of the plotlines.
Regarding the drama's future abroad, she was able to verify that "there has been interest into acquiring the rights to the show in the US" but that the official deal has yet to be confirmed.
Love/Hate has already been shown in Australia, New Zealand and Scotland, as well as having been bought by distribution network Hulu.
McAuley, who has worked in over 40 film and television productions over a 20-year period, has received most acclaim for her work in the creation of Love/Hate.
She started out as a runner, and credits this as key to her success. And rearing a child on her own from her early 20s drove her to "knuckle down and do whatever it took to support my child".
As the country anticipates series four of what has become the most successful indigenous Irish TV drama of all time, McAuley says that her cast of actors are nothing like their on-screen personas. "They're all very good boys," she says.