What’s the premise?
Lisa McGee’s Derry Girls was an instant hit when it launched last year. Set in the early 1990s, the six-part show depicted the lives of four teenage girls (and one of their male cousins – more on that later) as they grew up in Troubles-era Northern Ireland.
Armoured Land Rovers, British Army check points and IRA graffiti is all scattered throughout the series, but this is far from a depressing depiction of a war-torn time, rather it’s a genuinely laugh-out-loud tale that follows protagonist Erin Quinn and her friends as they attempt to navigate the highs and lows of being 16.
Who are the stars?
Written by actual Derry girl Lisa McGee (the award-winning writer behind Being Human, London Irish and The White Queen), each of the show’s stars were relative newcomers when Derry Girls first aired. First off, we have Erin (played by Saoirse Monica Jackson) whose story is initially narrated to us via an excerpt from her diary – read out loud by her nosy cousin. A protagonist of sorts, it’s via Erin’s family – namely Ma Mary, Da Gerry and Granda Joe – that we often witness the backdrop of Northern Irish politics (series two begins with a road bomb on the news), and thus the true context of the show.
Erin’s family also includes Orla (Louisa Harland), her scatterbrain cousin who, along with Aunt Sarah, lives with Erin’s family. Then there's Clare (Nicola Coughlan) – always the one to pull the plug on the friends’ schemes when guilt gets the better of her. Best of all is Michelle (Jamie-Lee O’Donnell). A loudmouth and wannabe sexpot (her standout line in series one has to be: ‘Maybe it’s time for me to lose the rest of my virginity’), it’s bold Michelle who usually ends up dragging the rest of the gang down with her. Finally, there’s Michelle’s ‘dickhead’ cousin James (Dylan Llewellyn), a ‘limey’ English boy who has to attend the gang’s all-girls Catholic school to avoid an inevitable tough time at a boy’s school. Together Erin and her collective of tearaway mates are extremely likeable – surely one of the show’s strongest pulls.
Away from the fivesome, Sister Michael – played by Siobhan McSweeney – steals the show. The school’s head nun, Sister Michael has attitude in buckets and is just about as far from a stereotypical sister as you can get. Her eye rolls, head shakes and folded arms offer moments of comedy genius all on their own.
What’s in store for series two?
Thankfully, plenty more double denim. In episode one, Erin and co are excited to attend an outdoor pursuits weekend as part of a peace initiative. But peace is the last thing on Michelle's mind once she finds out that there will be Protestant lads in attendance. As the Londonderry Boys Academy arrive by the busload, our Lady Immaculate College girls must reach across the divide to get what they want – a snog or two.
Will you like it?
If you’re a fan of other Channel 4 British comedies such as Rob Delaney and Sharon Hogan’s Catastrophe, Michaela Coel’s Chewing Gum and – dare we compare – The Inbetweeners (expect the same cringe-inducing recognition of your own teenage years, but with fewer ‘clunge’ jokes thrown in), then this coming-of-age comedy is definitely for you.
Finally, there’s the 90s nostalgia, via some questionable outfits and nude lipsticks, and a soundtrack that includes the likes of Gabrielle, The Cranberries, The Corrs and Whigfield. We can’t wait to see what the girls – and James – get up to in the next five episodes.
Where can you watch it?
Series one is available to binge-watch on Channel4.com now. Catch episode two of series two on Channel 4 at 9:15pm on Tuesday 12th March.