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Features & Interviews

IFTN talks with Andrew Clifford, writer of new RTÉ Comedy Pilot 'Dad'
27 Sep 2019 : Nathan Griffin
Lorcan Cranitch, Matthew Malone, Genevieve Hulme Beaman and Tina Kellegher
IFTN caught up with writer Andrew Clifford ahead of the release of ‘Dad’ on RTÉ to find out more about the inspirations behind the characters, the writing process, and developing the project through the Screen Ireland /RTÉ Scripted Comedy series initiative.

Dad will air on RTÉ One this Sunday, 29th September at 22:30pm.

Written by Andrew Clifford (Smack The Pony, Mr Bean animation), Dad is produced by Ruth Carter (Damo & Ivor, Ends Meet) and directed by Declan Recks (Drop Dead Weird, Pure Mule).

The show stars Lorcan Cranitch (The Dig, Love Rosie), Matthew Malone (The Messenger, Miss Scarlet & The Duke), Genevieve Hulme Beaman (Nowhere Fast) and Tina Kellegher (Standby, The Snapper).

Dad is a mainstream comedy about a middle-aged Dad, Padraig (Cranitch), moving into his conservative son (Malone) Donal’s one-bedroom flat, after his wife Rosie (Kellegher) has kicked him out.

IFTN journalist Nathan Griffin spoke with Clifford ahead of Dad’s broadcast on RTÉ One this Sunday.

IFTN: Where did the idea for dad come from? 

Andrew: “That’s an easy one.  Dad himself is based on a handiman who’s worked around the house for us over the years.  He’s had his troubles and I suspect when he was younger had quite a difficult time of it and yet now he’s older he’s become this incredibly lively, optimistic guy who’s up for anything you put in front of him.

“I was with him one day and he was enthusing about something and I suddenly thought to myself he’d make a great character in a sitcom.  But I needed to team him with someone to really show his virtues--and then I remembered a law student who’d been the flatmate of a friend of mine.  He was actually also a really good guy but he was very neurotic and conservative—and over a period of time I realised it would be great fun to put those two characters together. “

IFTN: Can you tell me a little bit about your writing process? 

Andrew: “When it comes to comedy, I try and get the characters first, give them a problem or something to riff on and let them talk away, hopefully heading towards something else I have in mind for them.  I’m a big rewriter so once I’ve done that, I step away and then read it again the next day and start overwriting—and I do that session after session until, upon rereading, I don’t want to change it anymore.”

IFTN: The show stars Lorcan Cranitch in the lead role as Padraig alongside Matthew Malone, Genevieve Hulme Beaman and Tina Kellegher. Did you have particular actors in mind for each part when writing the script? 

Andrew: “I suspect everyone says this but I must say this cast are so exactly who I had in mind it’s almost funny in itself.  Lorcan has just the right amount of warmth and sadness and humour—plus a real edge and intelligence. Matthew is straight out hilarious but with enormous poise.  Tina is sharp and warm and funny and there’s also a craziness I hope to plunder in future episodes (if I get the chance!).  And Genevieve is straight out bonkers and loveable—as soon as you see her you’re smiling and want to spend more time with her.”

IFTN: The show is directed by Declan Recks and produced by Ruth Carter of Blue Ink Films - How did you find working with them and what did they bring to the show?

Andrew: “Ruth has worked with me on Dad ever since I sent my first draft to her and during that time her notes and clear sense of what it needed to be have really helped, not least, I suspect, because she’s a very good writer herself.  She suggested Declan as director and I can’t imagine anyone who wouldn’t enjoy working with him.  He’s full of ideas but also open to suggestions.  It’s important for a sitcom to be boundaried and to maintain a clear throughline--Declan’s great at keeping things steady and then letting the madness happen.”

IFTN: Can you walk me through your experience of developing this project through the Screen Ireland /RTÉ Scripted Comedy series initiative?

Andrew: “This development process has been an absolute godsend, giving me, as a writer, the chance to follow through on a comedy idea with absolute freedom and encouragement.  Hats off and thank to both Screen Ireland and RTE, it's a great scheme which really backs the writer.”

Dad will air on RTÉ One this Sunday, 29th September at 22:30pm.

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