20 May 2024 The Irish Film & Television Network
Interview with 'RAW' Executive Producer Suzanne McAuley
06 Jan 2012 :
The fourth season of RTÉ’s award winning drama ‘RAW’, set in a Dublin restaurant, returns with regular cast favourites like Charlene McKenna (Misfits, Pure Mule), Aisling O’Sullivan (Snap, The Clinic) and Damon Gameau (SLiDE, Balibo), catching up with the cast of characters a year on from our last instalment.

Series four also sees a host of new characters introduced to ‘RAW’ and that’s when things start to really heat up. IFTN interviewed executive producer for the show Suzanne McAuley (Love/Hate, A Shine of Rainbow) to discuss what people can expect from the new season, the pressure that is on after the success of last season and the importance of home grown drama.

IFTN - What can people expect from the new series of ‘RAW’?

Suzanne McAuley - Well I think they can expect more of the fun, light-hearted entertainment. We have got a few new characters which people will be happy to meet. Jojo takes an interesting storyline this series so I don’t think people will be disappointed with Jojo’s return.

IFTN - You have a few new cast members, like Dermot Crowley, Sam Keeley and Tara Lee, what do they bring to the table at ‘RAW’?

Suzanne McAuley - We have Tara Lee who is playing Emma and we have Sam Keeley (Jack Taylor; The Pikeman, This Must Be The Place), who is a great new addition, playing Phillip and you mentioned Dermot Crowley (Luther, Holy Water) coming in to play Dan and Brian Doherty (Perrier’s Bounty, Garage) playing Ed. They bring a fresh new look to the series. Maureen Hughes (This Must Be The Place, Other Side of Sleep) is our casting director and she has done a fantastic job yet again. We always have difficulty finding fresh new faces, because we want to keep the series fresh, but Ireland does have a pool of really great talent.

IFTN - From watching the series the feel and look of the restaurant is dead on. How much research goes into production design?

Suzanne McAuley - Stephen Daly (Love/Hate, Pentecost) is our production designer and he has done an absolutely fantastic job. He has revamped the restaurant this year just to keep things up to date. I mean Stephen is just so talented. He does a lot of research, goes around all the restaurants, and he works very closely with our DOP. This year our DOP was Ciarán Tanham (Mattie, A Kiss for Jed Wood) because Donal Gilligan (Primeval, Love/Hate) past away last year so it was very difficult for Ciarán and Stephen to keep the look of the show going in the same manner that Donal Gilligan had set up - but I think Stephen did a really good job this year revamping it and making it a much cosier, more welcoming place that people really want to hang out in. It has become the restaurant that a lot of us who work on it say ‘if that restaurant existed in Dublin we would all go in’.

IFTN - What do you think the challenges are for making Irish drama like ‘RAW’?

Suzanne McAuley - Well to capture the audience you need to keep coming up with new storylines and I think that is quite difficult, it’s a challenge to constantly come up with new exciting storylines, especially when you have got a precinct that you have to keep the stories within the restaurant and creating new exciting roles for the new characters. Then in the current economic climate with budgets really tight it’s getting harder and harder to make high production value shows on tight budgets.

IFTN - How important is it, do you think, to make home grown Irish drama versus buying it in from abroad?

Suzanne McAuley -  I think it is extremely important to have indigenous Irish drama and I think Irish drama can sell internationally and I think it is very important for us to make the highest production value drama we can in order to gain an internationally audience. I think it would be disgraceful if we bought in drama all the time for Irish television. People pay their TV license so I think it is only fair that we make our own. People want Irish drama they can relate to, people want to see local drama, they want to see faces and jargon on screen where they can understand and relate to it.

IFTN - What other Irish dramas are you enjoying at the moment?

Suzanne McAuley - Well ‘Love/Hate’ just finished, but I was producing on that and that has obviously done very well. I believe that there are a few new Irish dramas coming out this year that I am looking forward to seeing, ‘Amber’ being one of them and ‘Masterchef Ireland’, I mean I know it is not drama but I think everybody enjoys that. It links into another character in ‘RAW’ which is the food and I think the nation love looking at food on screen.

IFTN - Do you think there is a lot of pressure on this season? Last season you got an average audience share of over half a million for each episode.

Suzanne McAuley - There is a lot of pressure but my instinct is telling me that it will be more successful this year. I think we have actually just made the best one to date. I think one of our episodes last year had a 700,000 viewers so it would be our target to go above the six hundred this year.

IFTN - So what do you think are the ingredients that make ‘RAW’ so successful?

Suzanne McAuley - I think it is a mixture. I think it is witty writing. I certainly think the set design and design of the show has a lot to do with it. People often comment that they like the production values, they like looking at it. It’s easy to watch. I think it is light-hearted and I think many people on a Sunday evening, particularly in the winter, love a light-hearted entertainment drama. People can relate to it, people love Jojo and Fiona. They just love watching relationships and it is happening in everybody’s life.

The latest season of ‘RAW’ was directed by Charlie McCarthy (An Crisis, The Clinic) and Simon Massey (Casualty, The Bill ). It was produced by Ciara McIllvenny (RAW, The Bill). Executive producers from RTÉ are Suzanne McAuley and Michael Parke (Camelot, He Kills Coppers). Episodes were written by Tom Farrelly (RAW, Your Bad Self), Thomas Martin (All That Way For Love, Danger High Voltage), Stacey Gregg (Doctors; Von Man Trap), Brian Lynch (The Clinic, Love and Rage), Ursula Rani Sarma (RAW). Director of Photography was Ciarán Tanham and production design was handled by Stephen Daly.

The new series for our ‘RAW’ begins on RTE One on Sunday 8th January at 9.30pm.

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