The cast and writers of the new ITV and Virgin Media series of Graham Norton’s first novel, which is about to hit our screens, loved every minute of the shoot, they tell Emma Connolly
TURNING Drimoleague into the fictional village of Duneen from Graham Norton’s novel Holding proved a bit of a challenge for the team adapting it for TV.
Co-writer Dominic Treadwell-Collins said they had looked at a few different locations to shoot the four-part ITV series before settling on Drimoleague: ‘But it isn’t quite the sleepy village everyone thinks it is! We had to deal with lots of traffic, and lots of diversions during the filming last summer,’ he told The Southern Star at a virtual event ahead of the series début.
Graham Norton quipped: ‘I told you that!’ but it was all in jest as the entire cast and crew were unanimous in endorsing West Cork as the ideal location for the project.
Fellow writer Karen Cogan said it was ‘all there’ in Drimoleague already, they just had to make it ‘more Duneen.’
West Cork viewers will find it amusing to see the first episode start with Brenda Fricker going through Drimoleague on her moped, (with a Field’s SuperValu bag strapped to the back), while the next shot has her in Castletownshend.
That’s because Karen and Dominic admitted to being very ‘picky’ about the location of leading character Sergeant PJ Collins’ house.
They found the house they were looking for in Castletownshend and described it as ‘perfection.’
Karen described West Cork as being cosmopolitan and progressive, but also traditional, which helped them cement the light and dark tones of the series in what is described as a comedy, with high emotion.
‘Every new location we shot in was so exciting, and it always felt as if we were in just the right physical space,’ she said.
It was an emotional project for both Dominic and director Kathy Burke.
Dominic’s late father Michael Collins is from West Cork and he spent time on the farm his dad grew up on during filming: ‘He died when I was just 15 in an accident and it affected my family massively and I felt it was time to put that into the show. Holding on to grief can be so detrimental to you so this felt cathartic for me. It also felt raw and painful but the best things are.’
Kathy’s late mother was also from West Cork and she said the project was ‘moving’ on that level: ‘I really liked being home.’
Being familiar with West Cork was one of the reasons Dominic took on the adaptation: ‘I always love a “whodunnit,” and this was set in an area that I knew, I knew the place and the people so it was a no-brainer for me.’
Graham said they had ‘elevated’ his cosy crime book: ‘Everything is a bit like something else, but with this they created something that is entirely itself.’
He said he had been very clear from the start that he didn’t want to be involved in the project.
‘I’d had my time with the characters, and done my work with them and I loved seeing the direction they went in and the way their worlds opened up.’
He didn’t suggest any changes either: ‘When it came to it I didn’t even remember what the characters were called!
‘But it’s very similar to the book with great adjuncts, sub plots and red herrings which Karen and Dominic have done so brilliantly.’
His only suggestion was was not to make it ‘too Irish’ and Karen and Dominic agreed that getting the tone right was a bit ‘like walking a tightrope.’
Among those attending the virtual event were Charlene McKenna, Pauline McLynn and Conleth Hill who all said it was one of the best projects they had ever worked on, with a swim ending every day’s filming.
Charlene said ‘the craic was 90.’ Pauline added: ‘It was one of the most positive experiences any of us ever had. The joy was off the charts.’ And she put that down to the people, the project and the location.
Conleth said PJ was the best part he’d ever been presented with.
‘It was the best piece of writing I’ve been given in my career. None of it felt like hard work.’ Kathy described Conleth as their ‘leader.’
‘He was always on time, always polite, and he always knew his lines so everyone else had to follow suit or be embarrassed.
‘We all worked hard, there was fun to be had, it was all cool and easy.’
• Holding will start on Virgin Media this month, on a date shortly to be confirmed.