Derry Girls cast and creator break down the best moments from Season 2
Information about Season 3 and some behind the scenes chat. Cracker!
With Season 3 of Derry Girls on the horizon, now's the perfect time to reflect on those last six episodes, and unlike that famous wake when Michelle brought the 'funny' scones, things were slightly more normal when JOE had the chance to chat with Lisa McGee (writer/creator), Nicola Coughlan (Clare), Dylan Llewellyn (James), Louisa Harland (Orla), and Saoirse-Monica Jackson (Erin).
Here's what they had to say on...
The opening scene when Orla interrupts Erin taking a bath.
Just like the very first scene in the show, Season 2 opens with Orla gatecrashing a very private moment of self-reflection for Erin when she's in the bath and imagining what it's liked to be interviewed by Terry Wogan.
Louisa Harland really hopes that every season of Derry Girls opens on her character being hilariously-intrusive!
"I want it to be a tradition with Orla just having no sense of personal space and always eating! Lisa did that very well, it's a throwback to the Season 1 opening scene and it was so funny. One of our favourite things that’s never referenced in the show is that we just assume that the McCool’s live with the Quinns. It doesn’t need to be referenced, it’s not an issue. I don’t think I ever leave that house!"
The famous chalkboard.
We may only be in April but the scene depicting the differences between Catholics and Protestants is already a strong contender for the TV moment of 2019.
Protestants keep their toasters in cupboards, Catholics go to Bundoran.
You know what we're talking about.
"Some of it was scripted and some of it was from our art department, they just went to town," said Lisa McGee.
"A lot of it was quite freeing for the art department because they got to write down so much. It was hilarious to see the final board. When we filmed it and turned the board around - even though we all knew that it was going to happen - it was just hilarious. We were all in bits trying to film that scene. It’s just ridiculous seeing all these things but there’s so much truth to all of these statements!"
— Dylan Llewellyn (@Djllewellyn) March 6, 2019
John Hume's influence on the show.
Bill Clinton may have been the 'big' name in the Season 2 finale, but for the people of Derry, John Hume will always be someone that can walk on the Foyle.
Simply put, no other man has made more of a contribution to peace in Ireland than the beloved politician. Prior to the launch of Season 2, Lisa McGee said that the tone of the season would be more hopeful and optimistic.
Hume was always at the front of her thoughts.
"John Hume is absolutely such a pivotal figure for Derry and I wanted to - in my own tiny way - capture his spirit and pay tribute to his work. It was finding a way to do it that didn’t feel heavy-handed. I suppose, the season is a sort of way of thanking him that felt subtle. I’ve always had such huge admiration for John Hume and everything he has done but writing Derry Girls, this feeling grew even more. It’s sort of hard to even define what that feeling is - especially now with how the political situation is.
"It’s really hard to even define just how great a man he is. He sacrificed so much for peace in Ireland and he was the architect for that peace process. It’s something that I’d love everybody to remember, you know, his part in all of this. It was always in the back of my mind when I was writing the scripts".
Clare screaming 'Don't let the jaffa bastard get me" as she dangled from a cliff.
Poor Clare. Her heart is unquestionably in the right place but she just forgot that 'her wee Protestant' was deaf. At least we'll never confuse the words 'athletes' and 'Catholics' again.
As for the scene, Nicola Coughlan said that it was quite a tricky day on set.
"I was definitely not looking forward to doing the cliff scene! I’m terrified of heights," she said.
"There was very little acting that day because I was terrified. I did an abseiling lesson the day before and that was on a 20-foot cliff. The one we actually filmed on was 60-foot. It looked a lot smaller on screen which is really annoying. It was pretty damn high. The thing is, you see it on screen for a few minutes but I was up there for hours. The camera had to be on a crane and it was bit of a complicated shoot".
James was a natural with a hurl.
Ms De Brún may have fecked off and got another job, but she did have an impact on the gang. In fact, Dylan Llewellyn discovered that he's a natural hurler.
"I took to it naturally. You know the character of Father Peter (Peter Campion)? He thought me how to play hurling behind the scenes on Season 1. My aim was really good - so was my passing. When Season 2 came and I knew that we were playing camogie, I was itching to do that".
The mystery of the big bowl.
To be honest, we would have taken every punt from Ma Mary's punt purse and given it to Lisa McGee for the answer. Thankfully, she provided it to us for free.
Still curious about why Deirdre Mallon didn't want the big bowl back? Well, here's your answer...
"I do have an answer but I’m afraid that I’ll let people down! I’m afraid that it’s going to be disappointing," said McGee.
"Michelle’s mam has gone through a period where she has been doing a lot of cooking and baking for everyone. She wasn’t being appreciated by everyone so she wanted to give away the big bowl to teach her family a lesson. However, nobody noticed! She made this big statement where she’s like ‘Well, fuck you then!’ That’s my sort of secret theory. On Twitter, some people came at my with some wild theories that were much better than that!"
Erin's outstanding facial expressions.
Saoirse-Monica Jackson can convey so many emotions on her face that it's frightening. She's like Jim Carrey, you know, if he was portraying a teenage girl but Erin's rubber faced dramatics are a very deliberate decision.
In fact, the talented actress said that Erin's ability to show angst, disgust, condescension, joy, confusion, happiness, and every other emotion under the sun is a large part of her character.
“I think it’s a real privilege to play any of these characters that were written so well. For me, to have that platform and be allowed to do that as young woman in comedy - especially that physical range of comedy - it’s definitely something that I worked on with Lisa and Mike. Honestly, there was complicated moments when you need to strike and know when you need it and when you don’t. Finding that balance is lucky but it’s a style of comedy that I really like," she said.
Why the 'small moments' in Derry Girls are so big.
Granda Joe putting his hand on Gerry's shoulder when they both were shocked to the core by the bomb exploding.
Sister Michael's tiny raised glass after hearing the news about the IRA ceasefire.
Da Gerry's tiny smile of happiness after seeing his daughter and her mates on TV as she enjoys herself at a Take That concert. Delighted that his daughter is having a good time and proud that she's learning to be independent and defiant.
Derry Girls is so good at capturing these small moments that tell a much bigger picture.
This approach is something that's very deliberate on the art of Lisa McGee.
"I try to be sparing with these moments. I think when you try to be sentimental too much, it doesn’t work. First and foremost, the show is a comedy and it’s our job to give people a laugh," she said.
"That scene with Tommy, you know, he’s just a brilliant actor. He’s just an amazing actor. In the script it just says ‘Da Gerry has a laugh to himself’ and he did so much with those few moments. He conveyed so much, you know, that sort of pride he has as a dad that his daughter rebelled. I think a lot of why people connected to that scene was mainly his performance, he’s such an intelligent actor."
The importance of good drunk acting.
Throughout the course of Season 2, we've seen various sides to Clare.
There's badass Clare when she got into a fight with the wain and she also decided to bunk off school. Clare turned the air blue by screaming 'don't let the jaffa bastard get me!' and there was also, possibly, a little hint of romance with Mae.
However, drunk Clare really made an impression when Ms De Brún invited the gang over to her house and after having a few too many glasses of red, Miss Devlin was a little bit tipsy.
“I was so nervous about that scene because bad drunk acting is like the most cringe thing. So, I sat and watched Amy Poehler compilations from Parks And Recreation because to me, she’s the best drunk actor in the world," said Coughlan.
"There were several takes of that scene when I went absolutely insane and started singing ‘Everybody Dance Now’ but that did not make the cut! In the car outside before filming, I kept on watching Amy because she’s the best drunk actor that I know. Sharon in our hair and make up team did a brilliant job - she even gave me the full red wine teeth and all".
The show's relevance to the current political climate.
Lisa McGee says it best:
“I obviously didn’t know what would be happening when this show went out. I didn’t know that when I was writing it but I definitely felt that people in parts of Britain either aren’t aware, or they just don’t know how difficult that peace process was to achieve. Maybe they’re forgetting? In this season of Derry Girls, I wanted to underline the fact that we did it in the ‘90s. There was a time when everything went well and we achieved this amazing thing. It was a remarkable time and I wanted to remind people and highlight the fact that this achievement was no small thing that should never be taken for granted or ignored."
Ardal O'Hanlon's cameo.
Hilarious, scene stealing, away with the birds, always happy, wonderfully innocent.
Terms that you could use to define Orla McCool and Father Ted's most gormless priest, Dougal McGuire.
Well, Louisa Harland has said that her performance as Orla was inspired by Ardal O'Hanlon's beloved character.
"The days that Ardal was on, the days that anybody didn’t need to be there, they were there! Everyone was watching him behind the monitors. I said to him that I feel like Orla really came from Dougal in some way and that you’re a stalwart of my childhood. He was so great and it’s a real honour. Dougal was definitely an inspiration on Orla. He’s such a great guy".
"Being a Derry girl is a fucking state of mind!"
Michelle is very comfortable calling James a dick. In fact, it's probably said in every single episode. However, Michelle is not comfortable telling her cousin that she really does care about him and wants him to stay.
As stated previously, the dramatic moments in Derry Girls are always handled deftly, but the scene when James is about to go felt very different, something that McGee loved writing.
“I always wanted to get James to a point where he realised that he was one of them and that the way he’s being treated was love. Ok, it’s tough love but it’s still love," said McGee.
"Sometimes, Irish people can’t really deal with that sort of emotional situation. Tough love really does mean that you’re one of us. I wanted James to understand that. Also, I wanted to bring Michelle to a point where she had to be vulnerable and ask him to stay.
"I couldn’t have done that in the first season because I think you have to sort of ‘earn’ that moment. It took a while to get to that point but I wanted to give them their wee moment. In Season 1, we had Clare and Erin during a dramatic scene in the season finale, but they needed a dramatic relationship moment too. I also love the idea of a young boy that’s identifying as a Derry girl and it’s a positive thing. You know, being a Derry girl is a state of mind. I love how they played that scene, they’re so cute."
The rogue polar bear that was spotted outside of the Abrakebabra in Coleraine.
A few months ago, a red panda escaped from Belfast Zoo. Shortly after that, a gorilla managed to get free after it used a branch to climb over the fencing.
At the time, casual viewers of Derry Girls probably thought to themselves 'this would be a great episode.' Lo and behold, Lisa McGee already had her scripts submitted as the strangest circumstance of art imitating life unfolded.
"I couldn't believe it because I knew what was going to happen and we weren’t telling anyone. Then, everyone on Twitter was saying ‘They should do the red panda escaping in Derry Girls’ on Twitter and here’s me thinking ‘Oh Jaysus!! Just wait’ Maybe they need more security.”
Why they're all so good on social media.
If you follow any of the Derry Girls cast and crew on social media, you'll notice that they're excellent at engaging with their fans, being extremely charitable to various causes, and more importantly, standing up for what they believe in.
Repeal the 8th, marriage equality, gay rights, the right to choose for women in Northern Ireland. They're just some of the causes that the cast are committed to but aside from this, they're also very generous with their time and help a variety of charities.
— Siobhán THE NORTH IS NEXT McSweeney (@siobhni) April 9, 2019
— Saoirse-Monica Jackson (@SaoirseJackson) July 11, 2018
Given the popularity of the show, Nicola Coughlan said that this platform will never be something that the cast take for granted.
"I think a lot of the time, you’re given such a huge platform and it’s a privilege. Especially working on a show that people love so much. I think that you can choose what you want to do with that. You can use it to self-promote and, you know, get stuff like free teeth whitener sent to you! But it’s a choice. Or, you can use your own voice to amplify those that don’t".
"That’s why I choose to do that march through Westminster which was a terrifying thing to do. However, the thing is that the women in Northern Ireland were 100% behind us during the repeal the 8th campaign. So, I feel that it’s wrong to turn our backs on them now. Also, the fact that I play a gay character on TV, I take that very seriously - even though it’s a comedy. That’s why I take so much of an interest in LGBTQ issues. Shooting a scene like Clare coming out, I took that so seriously because I wanted to get it right.”
Getting the music right.
Music has consistently played such a key role in Derry Girls because the soundtrack is pure cracker.
"For some of the songs, they’re written into the scene. Like, getting Dolores and The Cranberries into the show was always a very deliberate thing because she’s on Erin’s bedroom wall. Erin and myself are massive Cranberries fans and also, Dolores' voice does so much work for you. You know, she’s just so enchanting," said McGee.
"We need so much music that there are moments when you realise that we need more. The rest of the choices are sort of a collaboration between me, the director, the editors, the music supervisors. We all come in with ideas and that’s where Independent Love Song came in. That was an editor that made that decision. It was such a brilliant, brilliant idea. There are bits of music that aren’t in the script, so it’s a massive collaboration. It’s so mental, I’ve only been listening to ‘90s music for the last three years!"
Potential romance between James and Erin?
After James showed up to save Erin's night, plenty of people were think that their might be a romantic spark between the pair.
Here's what Lisa McGee had to say on that: "I think that I’ve always had a feeling that there might be something between James and Erin. I think though that it might not develop until they’re older, you might never see it. I think a reason why James puts up with so much is because of Erin. You know, that’s just my thinking. I don’t know how much of that we’ll see, or where that will go."
What's in store for Season 3.
There was no need for the studio executives at Channel 4 to catch themselves on because straight after Season 2 ended, a third season was commissioned.
Here's what Lisa McGee had to say about what fans can expect:
"Obviously, the political timeline is a bit tricky and I’d need to do a lot of sitting down and thinking about how to work the plot out. I’d love to get the story up to the Good Friday Agreement but that’s tricky. You know, we’ve ended Season 2 with Clinton's speech in Derry that took place in ’95. It’s a bit of a way off but I just need to work all that out. Definitely, the Good Friday Agreement was the biggest moment in my lifetime and it was huge for Northern Ireland. It would be a shame not to try and tell that story".
Well, for anyone that wants to revisit to joys of Season 2, you can watch Derry Girls on All4.
The whole chat with Lisa McGee can be heard here.