23 February 2024 The Irish Film & Television Network
Producer Jason Forde on bringing Bagatelle to Irish screens in new TG4 documentary
16 Jan 2023 : Nathan Griffin
Bagatelle - Ómós Liam Reilly
Following on from its special New Year’s Eve broadcast on TG4, producer Jason Forde talks about bringing the story and music of legendary Irish band Bagatelle to the screen in Bagatelle - Ómós Liam Reilly.

The programme focused on the works of Liam Reilly, a gifted songwriter and performer who was frontman for Bagetelle, and penning numerous iconic hits such as Summer in Dublin, Streets of New York, Second Violin, and many more. Reilly’s untimely death at the height of the Covid pandemic on the 1st January 2021, aged 65, devastated his many friends and countless fans around the world. This is the first opportunity to celebrate one of Ireland’s foremost songwriters giving him the musical send-off he so richly deserves.

The documentary is clearly resonating with Irish audiences, as the programme earned the top spot among the most watched programmes on the TG4 platform following its debut.

“I think it’s because the band never had a musical tribute before and we got very lucky with the fantastic performances in the program,” Forde tells IFTN, when discussing the reaction to the show so far. “Most people are telling me the only problem was it wasn’t long enough so perhaps that’s a good sign.”

When I pitched the idea to TG4 it got the green light straight away as they knew we had something special on our hands in terms of the style & tone of the documentary,” says Forde. “As a producer you want to tell a story that hasn’t been done before and I was surprised Bagatelle didn’t have a feature length documentary made about them.”

“I think Liam Reilly never got the recognition he deserved and the band also considering they were so big and wrote some amazing songs, which are timeless.”

The documentary features performances of the music of Bagatelle by artists Camillle O’Sullivan, Liam Ó Maonlaí, Lucia Evans, Tommy Fleming, The High Kings, Ryan McMullan, Brian Kennedy & Greenshine.  “When you dealing with songs that are timeless and putting a new fresh take on them it just worked so well,” Forde adds.

“It’s a musical tribute with some amazing singers performing the hits Bagatelle have written over the years and they all put their own slant on them . We had amazing names on board who all loved the concept of themselves doing their own version of each song,” the producer explains.

Bagatelle - Ómós do Liam Reilly was filmed in the beautiful surroundings of Kilruddery House, which Forde says was the perfect setting to film over 2 days with a full crew”.

“Killruddery was so good to use because they are used to having film crews there, we filmed in the evening in the dining room with some acts and set dressed the room, and had a lighting designer to set the tone,” Forde explains. “The location was very important to the story because of the Bray connection with the band member Ken Doyle, the last original member is from the town.. as was the late John O'Brien, a founding father of Irish band Bagatelle.”

In 1978, Reilly joined the recently formed Bagatelle with guitarist John O’Brien, bass player Ken Doyle and drummer Wally McConville. Bagatelle went on to enjoy considerable success in Ireland in the 1980s and were one of the biggest bands in the business during this period. The group’s best-known song ‘Summer in Dublin’ became an anthem for young Irish people emigrating to the UK, Europe, and the United States at that time. The lyrics, “I remember that summer in Dublin and the Liffey as it stank like hell” still resonate with many from that generation. The Dundalk native took a break from the band in the mid-1980s when he moved to the USA. In 1990, his solo performance of his own song, Somewhere in Europe came joint second out of 22 entries in the Eurovision Song Contest in Zagreb.

Bagatelle - Ómós do Liam Reilly was produced by Jason Forde and directed by Feilimí O’Connor. A Four Quadrant Films production for TG4.

Click here to watch Bagatelle - Ómós do Liam Reilly on the TG4 Player.

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