Derry Girls named “distinctively British” show by UK Media Minister
The show boasts 'strong British values', apparently...
Politicians in the United Kingdom are seeking to introduce a system in which UK public service broadcasters will be required by law to create original, "distinctively British" TV programmes.
According to a report in The i, UK Minister of State for Media and Data John Whittingdale presented the plan at a Royal Television Society conference on Wednesday where he cited Fleabag, Only Fools and Horses, Bodyguard, Dr Who, Downton Abbey, The Great British Bake Off and, interestingly enough, Derry Girls as examples of best-in-class British television.
According to Whittingdale, the aforementioned shows don't just boast international appeal, they present strong British values to the general public.
Though he would admit that defining a stringent concept of Britishness may prove difficult for writers and producers and so forth, the minister underlined that Derry Girls – a distinctively Irish show, if JOE may be so bold as to editorialise here for a moment – absolutely qualifies under his remit.
Whittingdale noted that Lisa McGee's smash-hit black comedy "very clearly" passed the Britishness test as it is "very clearly set in Northern Ireland at a particularly challenging time". Quite.
According to Whittingdale, Britishness reflects "all parts of the UK" and while he may well invoke the fact that Derry Girls is produced by a distinctively British company in the form of London-based Hat Trick Productions, Irish fans may well feel passionately fit to claim it as their own. Call it the Father Ted rule.
Predictably enough, Whittingdale's comments have raised eyebrows, including from those directly involved with Derry Girls.
Siobhan McSweeney, who plays Sister Michael, made the valid point that "Derry Girls is made by a British company and aired by a British channel but it's not a 'distinctively British' programme. But what would I know?"
Derry Girls is made by a British company and aired by a British channel. But it’s not a “distinctively British” programme.
But what would I know ? https://t.co/7h6dQU2nux
— Siobhán McSweeney (@siobhni) September 16, 2021
Show creator Lisa McGee, meanwhile, responded to a friend on Twitter, expressing a general sense of distaste towards the report.
"The most, 'Ach, I can't be dealing with this today' headline I've seen about the show," she wrote. "And there's been a few."
The most ‘ Ach I can’t be dealing with this today’ headline I’ve seen about the show. And there’s been a few 😂
— Lisa McGee (@LisaMMcGee) September 16, 2021