The stars of hit Channel 4 soap Hollyoaks have been shooting scenes in the City of Culture this week. The cast members say they love the city but have found the Derry twang difficult to adapt to.
‘Hollyoakers,’ Jazmine Franks and Lucy Dixon chat to ‘Journal’ reporter Laurence McClenaghan.
“We are having a really good time,” smiles Lucy.
“Everyone in Derry is really friendly and bubbly. People are constantly telling us how much they love the show and how excited they are that we are here,” said Jazmine Franks who plays Esther in the hit show.
“The response has been brilliant.”
Some of those fans are on the verge of going overboard with their enthusiasm as Lucy reports: “People have been tweeting us with invitations to their mother’s homes for tea.
“They even put their address up on twitter. I’ve reminded a few people that they shouldn’t put those details up there.”
There has certainly been a buzz generated by the visit of Hollyoaks stars Jazmine, Lucy, Steven Roberts (who plays George), John Omole (Vincent Elegba) and Mandip Gill (Phoebe McQueen).
The cast are in town to film a story line which will air across the UK later this year. Viewers will see characters Phoebe and Vincent visit the city in an attempt to get married and escape the threat of deportation.
Large crowds as well as City of Culture volunteers accompanied the cast as they shot scenes across Derry. The Peace Bridge, Guildhall Square, city walls and Spencer Road are all set to feature in the prime time show.
Jazmine said: “visiting other places is always good isn’t it? It is exciting and doesn’t feel like work.”
Asked were large crowds just part of the job, both actresses answered in unison.
Lucy continued: “the crowds are making it even more exciting for us.
“It makes it feel like a special day at the office. It has been a good time. We thought we had fans in Liverpool but the Derry fans are superfans. They are crazy. It is brilliant though.
“We’ve had people tweeting asking - ‘Is it alright if I stalk you?’ I don’t know how to reply to that if I’m being honest.”
Jazmine added: “someone tweeted me to tell me ‘I’m stood outside the hotel, please will you come down and see me?’”
Lucy chimed in: “this is a new departure for our twitter followers.
Lucy, who is on her first ever visit to Northern Ireland, continued: “Northern Ireland is a destination I have always wanted to visit and I will come back and do more visiting, to travel around a bit more. Yesterday we took a little wander around the city centre streets. We didn’t fear getting lost as we knew we could jump on the walls and we would find our way eventually.”
Jazmine has appeared on the show for the last two years, Lucy for three. Both characters are now well established in the soap opera and the national psyche.
“It is not as nerve wracking anymore,” admits Lucy, “The first few weeks are tough. Especially when you go away to a different city but the crew and cast are like one big happy family.”
Jazmine added: “that is definitely the best thing about the show.
“We often do 12 hour days and I can get homesick but the family spirit gets you through.”
There are though a few complications when starring in a hit TV show.
Jazmine recalls a recent plot line in which her character was being bullied: “I had to remind my mother that these people aren’t saying these horrible things to her daughter. They are saying it to a character but even on set at one point I thought ‘Hold on a minute.’
“You have to leave things at the door on your way out. Hollyoaks isn’t real but sometimes it is how others see you.”
The two actresses have been watching Derry as much as Derry has watched them this week.
“I had to have a go at the Derry accent in the script the other day,” laughs Jazmine.
“It was horrific. Derry people will be insulted when they watch it so I’m so, so sorry in advance. At times people have spoken to us so fast I struggle to understand them.”
Lucy recalls having a teacher from Northern Irish and how; “When people were naughty she would snap ‘Sit down now!’”
The last three words delivered in a perfectly scary ‘Norn’ Irish twang.