5 June 2023 The Irish Film & Television Network
Blue Moon
25 Feb 2015 : Paul Byrne
Deirdre O’Kane has always had a reputation for telling it like it is, onstage or off. Here she talks frankly to IFTN’s Paul Byrne about the return of Moone Boy, Noble causes, and betting the house.

We’re at Kilmainham Royal Hospital, for the premiere of the third series of Moone Boy, the rather fine comedy led by and co-devised by - along with Nick Vincent Murphy - the cuddly Chris O’Dowd.

Having debuted on Sky in 2012, Moone Boy is a semi-autobiographical and merrily slapstick sitcom all about a young boy (played by David Rawle) growing up naive and confused in Boyle, Co. Roscommon, with only his imaginary older self (O’Dowd) to guide you through all the Ireland-in-the-1980s muck, madness and mayhem.

Rawle has just left the room, along with fellow teen actor Ian O’Reilly, who plays Martin Moone’s looney best friend, Padraic. The two boys make for just as good a double-act off-screen as they do on.

“It’s going to be hard, following those kids,” smiles O’Kane as she sits down. “I’ve done a lot of stand-up, and you just don’t go on after that kind of enthusiasm, that kind of unbridled giddiness. So, I’m sure I’m going to bore the arse off of ya...”

As if. Deirdre O’Kane knows how to bring an entire room to their knees, keeled over with laughter. I’m sure she can handle one inquisitive, intelligent and devilishly handsome young journalist.

Besides Rawle and O’Reilly, the cast of Moone Boy has teenagers Sarah White and Clare Monnelly playing Sinead and Fidelma Moone, Martin’s eternally grumpy sisters, whilst Peter McDonald is the long-suffering man of the house, Liam. So, ma Moone, three years in, you must have started feeling positively maternal towards the Boyle clan...?

“Actually, from day one, there was that feeling of the five of us just being in this together,” answers O’Kane. “It just always felt as though Peter and I were looking after these kids. And we felt responsible when it came to their performances too. You just want to make sure that they’re not intimidated by the all the lights, by the crew, by the camera.

“Not that this lot needed much coaching. The casting was so good, it just felt like we were the Moone family right from the start.”

That Moone Boy has proven to be such a hit may have initially hung on the then rising stardom of O’Dowd - thanks to his international breakthrough on Bridesmaids (2011), and his starring role in the cult Graham Linehan sitcom, The IT Crowd (2006-2013) - but sitcoms don’t make it to Series 3 unless audiences are tuning in on a weekly basis. That there’s an American remake in the works - with O’Dowd on board as producer only - reflects just how well Moone Boy has travelled beyond these shores too.

“I know that people are picking it up in the US, on Hulu, and down in Australia and New Zealand, and across Europe,” nods O’Kane, “so, yeah, it does feel like Moone Boy has grown and grown. What’s particularly wonderful about meeting back up for the latest series though is, it still feels like a bunch of mates making something very, very silly in the middle of nowhere.

“Not that Boyle is the middle of nowhere. The people there have been such a big part of the show’s success, and they’re always very quick to help us out. I think they’re pretty proud of having a hit TV show in their town.”

Shot both in Boyle and, for the interiors, Bray’s Ardmore Studios, Moone Boy’s first series was directed by comedy veteran Declan Lowney (Father Ted, Little Britain, Alan Partridge), with another Irish stalwart, Ian Fitzgibbon (A Film With Me In It, Perrier’s Bounty, Death Of A Superhero) handling the second series. For the latest, O’Dowd himself has taken the reigns.

“It’s just a natural progression,” says O’Kane, whose husband, Stephen Bradley, is a noted director. “Chris knows these characters inside out, and he’s writing the scripts, so, who better to push us actors onto our marks? Given just how much Chris and Nick like to make up new dialogue on the spot too, nothing has really changed on set.”

Since taking on the role of Debra Moone in 2012, quite a lot has changed for Deirdre O’Kane, not least the great leap into drama with the recent Noble. Directed by Bradley, with O’Kane in the lead role as the Irish children’s rights campaigner, charity worker and writer who founded the Christina Noble Children’s Foundation in 1989, the acclaimed independent drama is due to open in the US on May 8th.

“It’s pretty much out of our hands,” says O’Kane, “but, naturally, we’re very excited to see how the film goes down over there. Those who have seen it have loved it, and they’re opening Noble on 300 screens - which is a lot for a film of this size. We’ll head over, and do some publicity, but it does feel as though the film has gone out there and is fighting its own corner.

“I wish it luck, of course...”

That O’Kane and Bradley raised much of the money to make Noble themselves, even putting their house up for sale, meant that more than ego was riding on the success of Noble. Luckily, the film proved a hit at the Irish box-office.

“We were very pleased with the reception the film got here,” says O’Kane. “Our worry wasn’t entirely financial or commercial though - Christina Noble is a remarkable woman, and we were most concerned with doing her story justice. There are many people around the world who would feel very protective over Christina, and we always felt we had a lot to live up to here. This is a story so remarkable, you never wanted to lessen that story by swamping it in cliches and cheap emotions.”

Now based in England, O’Kane has the British horror flick The Messenger, alongside Robert Sheehan, due out later this year. Other than that...

“I’m just waiting for the next great script to come along,” smiles O’Kane. “It would be nice to think that Noble will open some doors in the US, for both myself and for the hubby. In the meantime, you just have to keep seeking out the good work. Like Moone Boy.

“Here’s hoping we follow Martin Moone right into his ‘30s and ‘40s. I could do with the work. And the laughs.”


The third season of Moone Boy hits Sky 1 on March 2nd

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