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10 questions about Love/Hate you were too embarrassed to ask

Avoid having to smile politely for the next six weeks!

Image: RTE

THE FIFTH SEASON of Love/Hate will soon be upon us. And with it, a raft of people who’ve never seen the show but hear everyone else talking about it.

If that’s you, you might think: ‘Hey, maybe I’d like to get into this show. Ah, but I’m four seasons behind, I’ll never catch up.’

This leaves you with two choices:

  1. Smile awkwardly for the next six weeks while people go on about ‘Nidge’ and ‘Fran’ and ‘fizzy orange’ like those words mean anything.
  2. Read this piece, then go watch the fifth season and enjoy it, because it’ll probably be really good.

OK. You’ve chosen the second route. Good move. Now here are the answers to all your questions. 

(Naturally, there are a few spoilers in here for the first four seasons. But take it from us: it doesn’t really matter, and it’s still fun to go back and watch them later at your leisure.)

First things first. What’s it all about?

L-R: Fran, Darren (RIP), Nidge, Tommy

Love/Hate is a drama set among the members of a criminal gang operating in Dublin. It follows their activities in the world of organised crime, their rivalries and their personal lives.

In addition, each season tends to deal with one significant threat faced by the gang as a whole – for example, a rivalry with the Real IRA in season three and a sting operation by gardaí in season four.

What is a ‘Nidge’?

Source: RTE

Nidge (Tom Vaughan-Lawlor) is the gang’s current leader, real name Nigel Delaney. He took the reins at the end of season two following the assassination of previous kingpin John Boy.

Nidge is a crafty and at times ruthless leader, prone to fits of violent temper and paranoia. However, he is also often seen worrying about his receding hairline, and Googling cures for male baldness.

Nidge has a wife – Trish – and two young sons. But he is sleeping with Janet, the manager of a brothel run by the gang.

Okayyy… Now explain Fran.

Source: RTE

Fran (Peter Coonan) is Nidge’s foil in the gang: a crafty and charismatic operator in his own right, and chafing under Nidge’s leadership.

Living in an isolated caravan somewhere in the Dublin mountains, he is the most violent and unstable of the central characters. Likes to spend long nights smoking joints and drinking poitín while staring resentfully out at the city.

To add to the complication: Fran had a wife who was seriously injured by a pipebomb planted by Nidge, and who subsequently took her own life. There’s history there, as you can see.

Why is everyone always going on about the stuff Fran says?

Source: RTE

Fran is probably the most charismatic – not to mention the most frightening – gang member. ‘Coola boola’ is a catchphrase that people like to repeat.

In fact, let’s just say he has a way with words – a sample chat-up line, for instance, would be asking a woman at a Halloween party in a ladybird costume: “Are you a ladybird… or a durtburrrd?” Clever, see?

Are there any women in this show, or what?

Source: RTE

Yes. This is Siobhán. She’s the girlfriend of Tommy, a gang member who sustained terrible injuries in a brutal beating by Nidge and has now been sidelined.

Siobhán is interesting, because as season five begins, she has begun acting as an informer to gardaí in an attempt to bring the gang down. She’s probably the warmest character in the show, and her reversal of loyalties was brought on by the gang’s callous treatment of her ailing husband.

What about all the other lads standing around in dodgy jackets?

Ado Source: RTE

Other key gang members at the moment are Ado, Elmo and Deano. (See any pattern here?)

Ado is a methadone addict, budgie collector and reliable henchman. Often seen smuggling heroin for the gang. Sometimes the subject of faintly comedic sidelines, as when he borrows his missus Nadine’s urine for a drug test, only to discover that she is pregnant.

Elmo is a cousin of Ado’s and general fixer for the gang. Frequently a bit incompetent.

Elmo Source: RTE

And Deano is a hanger-on of Fran’s. We haven’t seen much of him yet but he looks likely to play a bigger part this season.

Deano Source: Thejournal

Wait. Isn’t Aidan Gillen in this somewhere?

He was. Gillen played John Boy, the gang’s previous leader who was assassinated at the end of season two. He was a paranoid cokehead who lived in a fortified penthouse. The characters still refer to him in faintly awed tones.

He was also the owner of one of the dodgiest accents ever performed on Irish television.

Source: RTE

OK. I think I’ve got it. But what about all the other stuff that people are always going on about? The cat and everything?

Right, yes. The Love/Hate Cat.

Source: RTE

The Love/Hate cat appeared in the opening scenes of season four, when it was machine-gunned to death by lunatic teenager Wayne for no particular reason. More than 40 complaints were lodged with RTE about the scene.

It swiftly became a social media cause celebre, with its own Twitter account and an appearance on the Late Late Show. Yes, really.

Fun trivia: The cat’s real name is Cleo.

‘Fizzy orange?’

‘Fizzy orange’ is what Tommy asked for when he was being interviewed by the gardaí after a failed tiger kidnapping. It’s a sort of symbol of his childlike nature, general harmlessness, and how easily his mask can slip.

It’s also, now, a meme.

And… Keith Duffy?

Source: RTE

Yes. Our favourite fully-stacked member of Boyzone appeared as a steroid-munching gym manager during season four.

He was great, obviously, but we don’t know whether he got the call for season five.

This article has been updated to reflect the fact that Siobhán is Tommy’s girlfriend, not wife; and that Fran’s wife took her own life, not his girlfriend. Thanks to everyone who pointed this out.

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About the author:

Michael Freeman

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