‘Playing Erin was great fun’

l-r:  Clare Devlin (Nicola Coughlan), Michelle Mallon (Jamie-Lee O'Donnell), James Maguire (Dylan Llewellyn), Orla McCool (Louisa Clare Harland), Erin Quinn (Saoirse Monica Jackson) Picture by Adam Lawrence
l-r: Clare Devlin (Nicola Coughlan), Michelle Mallon (Jamie-Lee O'Donnell), James Maguire (Dylan Llewellyn), Orla McCool (Louisa Clare Harland), Erin Quinn (Saoirse Monica Jackson) Picture by Adam Lawrence

The actress who plays the central role in the new TV series ‘Derry Girls’ has said she wanted to make sure her character reflected the innocence of teenagers at the time.

Local actress Saoirse Jackson plays central character Erin Quinn, a pupil at the fictitious Our Lady Immaculate Convent School in the series.

The first episode of Derry Girls, written by Derry woman Lisa McGee, will be screened on Channel 4 on Thursday, January 4 at 10 p.m.

The show takes a humorous and warm look at the everyday lives of a group of ordinary people living in the city during what was an extraordinary period at the end of the Troubles.

The cast includes comedian Tommy Tiernan and Tara Lynn O’Neill, who play Erin’s parents, Game of Thrones star Ian McElhinney (Barristan Selmy) as Granda Joe, along with Kathy Kiera Clarke as Orla’s mother Sarah McCool.

Speaking about playing Erin, Saoirse said: “Now teenagers are a lot older, they are dressed with their make-up and all that, I just wanted Erin to be not that.

“What’s great about all these girls together, what Lisa has done so well, is that each character is so individual, it represents a different way of finding yourself when you are a 15/16-years-old girl.”

Saoirse also said she wanted her character to be a typical Derry teenager that other teenagers could relate to.

Among the inspiration she drew on was an average local teenager’s experiences of being “wrapped up in what was going on in your own life; laughing louder so a boy hears you; not being allowed down to the Bowling Alley on a Friday night was the end of the world, your parents were out to ruin your life and clearly wanted you to have no social life and they hated you. That was what your whole world was like then.”

Saoirse said Erin was great fun to play. “What I most loved about Erin when I read it was these ambitions, these dreams she has of being a writer and her relationship with her mum and dad. Your mum and dad in Derry would say, ‘You’re a dose.’ I wanted to be an actor when I was young and my parents definitely supported it, but they made sure I wasn’t running off on a high horse at times. I was definitely told to ‘wise up’ a lot!”