West Cork podcast review - Episode 6: The Englishman

May 24th, 2021 11:01 AM

By Jack McCarron

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Spoiler Alert! This review contains spoilers. So if you haven’t listened to West Cork yet and are intending to do so - stop reading now!


The amount of future projects the West Cork podcast has either inspired or influenced is truly mind boggling.

I fully expect that by the end of this series of reviews, I'll be bringing you updates about an animated Pixar adaptation with James Corden playing a suspicious Leprechaun in a fantastical version of Schull with voice work inspired by Darby O Gil and the Little People.

Just last week we brought you the news that Jennifer Forde and Sam Bungey's series is to be adapted for the screen by the team behind HBO's Chernobyl.

And in this week's Southern Star print edition we revealed the release date (June 30) for the three-part Netflix series Sophie: A Murder in West Cork, directed by BAFTA nominee John Dower.

The team behind the Netflix project is a veritable who's who of documentary professionals and is headed up by Simon Chinn, the Oscar-winning producer of Searching for Sugarman and Man on Wire.

If that doesn't fill you with excitement I don't know what will.

West Cork podcast review - Episode 6: The Englishman

Ian Bailey, the titular 'Englishman' of this episode, is quite the phenomenon.

Like him or loathe him, his cult of personality has made him a household name in Ireland.

And for what?

Being the chief-suspect in a gruesome, unsolved, quarter of a century old murder - that's what.

Episode 6: The Englishman explores this obsession with Bailey and dives deeper into the 'I.B.' backstory, as he says himself.

I've always been slightly conflicted by the attention he gets. But I understand it too.

So do Jennifer and Sam, who clearly identified him as a compelling character while making this series, even going so far as allowing him to 'direct from the backseat.'

If the chief-suspect in the murder investigation had been an uncharismatic bore, one suspects Netflix, Sky et al wouldn't be dedicating slots in their packed schedules to a 25-year-old Irish murder case.

Full disclosure, Bailey also appeared on the front page of our newspaper this week. We're obsessed too.

Subscribe to our digital edition to find out what he had to say. Shameless eh?

When asked by Sam how he thinks they should open their series when it's released, Bailey replies: 'Maybe you start by speaking to me.'

His ego is the star of episode six which sees characters from his past introduced - acquaintances and colleagues from when he worked as a reporter in Gloucester.

John Hawkins was an early mentor.

'There was something about him,' John says.

But that relationship, like most of his relationships it seems, eventually soured.

The 'something' about him seemed to be that he was unpleasant, lazy and disloyal.

Ex-colleagues have similar re-collections. He was a capable 'rising star,' whose ego and drinking habits eventually got the better of him.

It is hard not to be impressed by what he reportedly achieved early in his career, launching a freelance agency and working with The Sunday Times of London.

There was always a 'glimmer of talent,' according legendary Irish poet John Montague who makes a surprise appearance in this edition.

Montague once thought of himself as Bailey's mentor. The Mr Miyagi to Bailey's Daniel La Russo.

But again his laziness and ego shone through.

'He just wanted John to lavish praise on him,' says Elizabeth Wassell Montague, John Montague's wife.

At times during episode six it feels as though Jennifer and Sam want to illicit sympathy for Ian from the listener.

He was a lost soul in Ireland. A shape-shifter. Forever trying to fit in.

But this pompous, overbearing Englishman is hard to like.

Though they have recently separated, Bailey's long-term partner Jules is another acquaintance we meet in episode six.

She speaks highly of him but a massive red flag is raised when we hear how he would often act aggressively toward her and her three daughters when he had drink on board.

No quirky characteristics can excuse that behaviour.

Bailey is a murder suspect, not a movie star, though he almost thinks of himself on a par with fellow West Cork resident Jeremy Irons.

And maybe he wasn't liked in West Cork prior to Sophie's murder because of his brash personality, his cloak and his stick.

Or maybe it's because he was aggressive towards women.

Our review of Episode 7: The Arrest will be available here next Monday.

If you’d like to get in touch with your own observations, theories or concerns about the West Cork Podcast you can email us at [email protected] or contact me directly on Twitter or Instagram @jayburgkk.

Read the review of Episode 5: The Good Suspect.

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