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HOLDING REVIEW: In one village and out the other!

March 13th, 2022 1:30 PM

By Siobhan Cronin

Brenda Fricker (as Lizzie Meany) rides into Drimoleague and turns the corner ... into Castletownshend!

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HOLDING is likely to get its biggest audience in this part of the world, given the number of local people and locations involved in it.

And that might also mean the West Cork audience will also be its most critical, noting every rogue signpost or wrongly pronounced townland, and tracing the geography of the plot as much as the dialogue of it.

Right from the opening scenes of episode one, when Brenda Fricker (as Lizzie Meany) rides her moped down the street in Drimoleague and promptly turns the corner to find herself in Castletownshend, it’s kind of hard to keep your attention on the actual script.

We soon discover she is Sgt Collins’ housekeeper and we see her frying up the buttery contents of a breakfast roll that would even make Pat Shortt gag. Enter the aforementioned Sgt Collins (Game of Thrones’ brilliant Conleth Hill) who apparently sleeps with a packet of Easi Singles cheese, lest we have any doubts about his marital status – and it all kicks off.

Next we have Pauline McLynn like a sophisticated Mrs Doyle, but now playing a whiny shopkeeper complaining about the brown paint on the building across from her shop. The same shop window that is festooned with Southern Star stickers, we hasten to add, so she MUST have taste!

‘We are lacking behind Ballydehob and Schull,’ she says, but Sgt Collins is quick to point out that a bad paint job a bit beyond his job spec.

Young Offender Demi Isaac Oviawe plays Aoife, the ever-patient shop assistant, and next we meet young Evelyn Ross, played by Monaghan actor Charlene McKenna, whose screen presence threatens to outshine all around her. But giving her a good run for her money is Derry Girls’ favourite nun, Aherla actor Siobhan McSweeney. Here, she plays a dishevelled and stressed mum with an alcoholic mother in the bed upstairs, and a not very sympathetic husband.

When human bones are found in the garden of a house in the village, the inevitable arrival of the ‘lads from Dublin’ interrupts Sgt Collins’ cosy life and the story really begins to take shape.

Many local viewers will have read the excellent novel and know how it pans out, but it is a real treat to see it filmed where Norton imagined it all happening.

And while it is set in modern times, there is still a feel of the stage-Irish to some of the scenes and dialogue – or maybe that is just down to the actors making sometimes over-valiant attempts at the Cork accent – with varying degrees of success.

This enjoyable little jaunt is sure to be popular in the UK but, as recent homegrown dramas have shown, wowing an Irish audience can be a much bigger challenge.

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