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derry girls

Derry Girls creator on how she uses local scenarios to reach a wider audience

‘Write the way you speak.’

SET AGAINST THE backdrop of the Troubles, Derry Girls tells the story of five schoolfriends navigating teenage life and its various obstacles in the mid 1990s.

And since its launch in January of this year, it has taken the television industry by storm.

Hailed by critics, adored by audiences and commissioned for a second series before the local bakery could order in an extra batch of cream horns, the Channel 4 show felt like a bolt from the blue.

But if its creator’s recent remarks are anything to go by, the recipe to the show’s success comes down to little more than the old adage of writing about what you know.

Speaking to The Irish News, Lisa McGee explains that she took inspiration from Irish dramatist, Brian Friel, and sought to create a world not dissimilar to the one which she, herself, had inhabited.

Friel inspired me in a very direct way in that you could write about your own experiences and write the way you speak.

Lisa said she soon realised that while depicting scenarios she initially considered unique to herself and her social circle, she could actually reach wider audiences.

In Derry Girls we see families ordering from the chippy, which is something every Northern Ireland family understands. But everyone around the world understands that frustration of trying to organise anything with their family.

Six episodes into the show, there is little doubt that the nuance in the show’s script is one of its defining features  – the merit of which Lisa saw after seeing a stage production in London.

I remember going to see a production of Aristocrats when I first came to London in my early 20s and while the character was talking about the post office in Letterkenny, this whole London audience were laughing.
I thought, God, you don’t even have to know where that is; if you are a good enough writer the audience will understand. It gave me real confidence to use local things to show universal concepts or feelings.

In July, Derry Girls claimed the Radio Times Comedy Champion title.

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