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Derry Girls' Nicola Coughlan knew her character was gay six months before her co-stars

“I found out when I very first auditioned.”

IN THE FINAL episode of the first season of Derry Girls, we learn that Clare, the character played by Nicola Coughlan, is gay – something which Nicola’s co-stars learned only shortly before shooting the final episode.

Nicola, on the other hand, learned that the hilarious and highly-strung Clare was a lesbian during the audition process for Lisa McGee’s highly-acclaimed comedy.

Speaking to Digital Spy, Nicola, a native of Galway, recalled her co-stars’ reaction ahead of the final shoot.

They were all really surprised. I was like, ‘I’ve known that for months’. And it was really important to me. It was important to honour her story.

And while Nicola felt huge responsibility to do the character justice, she was conscious that the team didn’t want her to over-analyse this aspect of Clare’s person.

I’d known for about six months before the others. So it had always been in my mind. It was always a very important part of the character. But I also knew that they didn’t want it. They wanted Clare to be her own person.

“It wasn’t like, ‘She’s gay, so she’s the gay character’. She’s a whole human being. And I think that that’s where a lot of shows go wrong,” Nicola added.

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As such, Nicola has been heartened by the response from the LGBT community, who have praised the show for their portrayal of the young gay woman, whose decision to come out was one of the main arcs of the season finale.

“It’s an honour. It genuinely is,” she said. “I wanted to try to honour the story and honour the character.”

The response from people has just been amazing. And it’s so heartfelt. So many women have come to me and said, ‘I’ve never seen a lesbian portrayed this way before’.

Reflecting on the response, Nicola believes that the fact Clare is a well-rounded, multi-faceted character has done much to fuel the positive feedback.

I think they love the fact that Clare is super girly. They didn’t feel the need to make her a one-dimensional person. It’s a massive honour. I take it really seriously.

“It’s definitely represented through series two as well. I think people will be very happy,” she added.

Derry Girls returns to our screens on Tuesday March 5.

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About the author:

Niamh McClelland

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