|Created by||Lisa McGee|
|Written by||Lisa McGee|
|Directed by||Michael Lennox|
|Theme music composer||Dolores O'Riordan|
|Ending theme||"Dreams" by The Cranberries|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||2|
|No. of episodes||12 (list of episodes)|
|Camera setup||Single camera|
|Running time||22 minutes|
|Production company||Hat Trick Productions|
|Original network||Channel 4|
|Picture format||HDTV 1080i|
|Audio format||Dolby Digital 5.1|
|Original release||4 January 2018 –|
Derry Girls is a sitcom created and written by Northern Irish writer Lisa McGee and produced by British production company Hat Trick Productions. It is set in Derry, Northern Ireland, during the Troubles in the 1990s. The first series was broadcast in January and February 2018 on Channel 4. The second series was shown in March and April 2019. A third and final series was commissioned for 2020, but postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Erin (Saoirse-Monica Jackson), her cousin Orla (Louisa Harland), their friends Clare (Nicola Coughlan) and Michelle (Jamie-Lee O'Donnell), and Michelle's English cousin James (Dylan Llewellyn) navigate their teen years during the end of The Troubles in Derry, where they all attend a Catholic girls' secondary school.
Erin lives with her father Gerry and mother Mary, her baby sister Anna, Mary's younger sister Sarah, Sarah's daughter Orla, and her maternal grandfather, Joe. James is Michelle's cousin; his mother Cathy left Derry for England to have an abortion but gave birth to him and raised him in London. She sends him back to Derry to live with Michelle and her mother Deirdre when she is going through a divorce.
Cast and characters
- Saoirse-Monica Jackson as Erin Quinn, aged 16 at the start of the series. Erin is passionate and ambitious, but at times alternatively vain or overly concerned with how she is regarded by others. Her dark sense of humour and sarcastic nature often get her in trouble.
- Louisa Harland as Orla McCool, Erin's maternal cousin, aged 15 at the start of the series. Orla is very detached and eccentric, often assumed to be dim-witted by those around her. Unlike most of her friends, Orla does not care what anyone else thinks of her. She often amuses herself by invading Erin's privacy for fun.
- Nicola Coughlan as Clare Devlin, one of Erin's best friends. Clare often acts as the voice of reason in the gang, as she is far more intimidated by authority figures than her friends. At the end of series one, Clare comes out to her friends and the school as a lesbian.
- Jamie-Lee O'Donnell as Michelle Mallon, one of Erin's best friends. Michelle is the wild child of the group, and her troublemaking tendencies often get her and her friends into trouble. She is shown to have a very keen interest in sex, drugs and alcohol, and shows almost no respect to any figures of authority, including her own mother (who is nonetheless able to rein her in when necessary).
- Dylan Llewellyn as James Maguire, Michelle's maternal cousin. English-born to an Irish mother, James is sent to live in Derry with his aunt Deirdre and cousin Michelle while his mother goes through a divorce. Due to his Catholic faith and English accent, he is enrolled for his safety at an all-girls school. Adults and teens alike perceive James as effete and ineffectual, and just about everyone in Derry assumes he is gay, over his protestations.
- Tara Lynne O'Neill as Mary Quinn, Erin's disciplinarian mother and the matriarch of the Quinn/McCool family. She tolerates no attitude or trouble from her daughter, but is loving and usually only wants what is best for her family. She has been married to Gerry for 17 years at the start of the series.
- Kathy Kiera Clarke as Aunt Sarah, Orla's mother and Mary's sister. Sarah is caring but dim-witted, and often points out things that are painfully obvious. Although caring towards Orla, she is an inattentive mother and takes little responsibility for raising her. Like Orla, Sarah spends most of her time in Mary's house, where Mary does all the work, rather than their own house next door, which is sometimes mentioned but not shown.
- Siobhán McSweeney as Sister Michael, the headmistress of Our Lady Immaculate College, the school that the girls and James attend. She rules the school with an iron fist, and responds to most events with eye-rolling or sarcasm, but often appears to quietly appreciate her students' independent spirits. Sister Michael seems to treat being a nun as a job rather than a calling, treating priests with indifference or even contempt and joking that she became a nun for the free accommodation.
- Tommy Tiernan as Gerry Quinn, Erin's father. Gerry is relaxed and very loyal and protective of his family. He is from the Republic of Ireland and holds an unspecified job where he drives eight hours a day, and has a very strained relationship with his father-in-law.
- Ian McElhinney as Granda Joe, Mary and Sarah's father and Erin and Orla's grandfather. Joe moved in with the Quinns after his wife died. Although on good terms with most of the family, Joe shows nothing but contempt for Gerry, constantly criticising him and encouraging Mary to leave him.
- Ava Grace McAleese and Mya Rose McAleese as Anna Quinn, Erin's toddler sister.
- Leah O'Rourke as Jenny Joyce, a prefect and a suck-up despised by the gang.
- Beccy Henderson as Aisling, Jenny's best friend and sidekick.
- Claire Rafferty as Miss Mooney, Sister Michael's deputy.
- Amelia Crowley as Deirdre Mallon, Michelle's mother and James' aunt, who is a nurse.
- Kevin McAleer as Uncle Colm, Joe's brother. His slow, ponderous style of storytelling is so boring that his family avoids him, and a short conversation briefly convinced Sister Michael that she was in Hell.
- Paul Mallon as Dennis, the aggressive proprietor of the corner shop which the girls frequent.
- Philippa Dunne as Geraldine Devlin, Clare's mother.
- Peter Campion as Father Peter, a young priest who most of the girls have a crush on and that James admires.
- Jamie Beamish as Ciaran, Aunt Sarah's love interest who works at a photography chain store.
|Series||Episodes||Originally aired||Ave. UK viewers|
|First aired||Last aired|
|1||6||4 January 2018||8 February 2018||2.84|
|2||6||5 March 2019||9 April 2019||3.10|
Series 1 (2018)
|Title||Directed by||Written by||Original air date||UK viewers|
|1||1||"Episode One"||Michael Lennox||Lisa McGee||4 January 2018||3.28|
|On the first day of a new school year in 1994 Derry, Erin is annoyed by her cousin Orla reading her diary. Michelle introduces her English cousin James to Erin, Clare, and Orla. Sixteen years before, Michelle's aunt Cathy left Derry for an abortion in England, but instead had James and has returned with him following her divorce. Out of concern James would be severely bullied at the local boys' school, he is made the first male pupil at the Catholic girls' secondary school—Our Lady Immaculate College—which Michelle and her friends attend. Erin's crush David Donnelly invites her to his band's gig, and Michelle threatens a first-year pupil on the school bus. Prefect Jenny Joyce confronts the group over the incident and reports them to Sister Michael, who gives them detention, causing Erin to miss David's gig. 97-year-old Sister Declan dies while supervising detention, and Sister Michael enters to find Michelle retrieving her confiscated lipstick, Erin climbing out a window, and James—barred from the female-only toilets—urinating into a bin. The teens' parents are summoned, and James learns his mother has moved back to London.|
|2||2||"Episode Two"||Michael Lennox||Lisa McGee||11 January 2018||3.02|
|Erin and Orla's grandfather Joe's brother Colm—notorious for his monotonous stories—is tied to his radiator by two terrorists who steal his van, using it to transport weapons across the border before exploding it. Orla's mother Sarah and Colm are later interviewed by UTV. Erin, Clare, Orla, Michelle, and James are eager to attend a class trip to Paris until learning tickets are £375. When Jenny explains she is paying for the trip out of her trust fund, the friends are disappointed to learn none of them have trust funds. They seek jobs to earn the money, and Michelle steals a noticeboard from a chip shop advertising various part-time employment. The shop owner Fionnula discovers the theft, and the group is made to clean the shop. Michelle accidentally sets fire to Fionnula's flat above the shop with flaming shots. They call Erin's mother Mary and aunt Sarah, who stage the scene to resemble Colm's burglary. Returning early, Fionnula catches them in the act, and Erin's family is banned from the shop.|
|3||3||"Episode Three"||Michael Lennox||Lisa McGee||18 January 2018||2.78|
|After cramming for exams all night, the friends see a dog resembling Erin's recently deceased pet, Toto. They pursue it into a church where, overcome by sleep deprivation and caffeine, Clare, Michelle, and Orla believe a statue of the Virgin Mary is smirking. Chasing the dog to the upper floor, Erin sees it urinate directly above the statue. Mistaking the urine for tears, the others tell Sister Michael of the "miracle", hoping to be excused from exams. Before Erin can tell the truth, handsome young priest Father Peter becomes interested in their story. He suggests Toto was resurrected to lead Erin to the church, and Toto's grave in the back garden is discovered to be empty. Overhearing her mother on the phone, Erin confronts Mary, who confesses she actually gave Toto to neighbour Maureen Malarkey; Toto was the dog Erin saw. Enamored with Peter, the friends maintain the hoax. Peter reveals to Erin that he was close to abandoning the priesthood to pursue a girl. Believing he is referring to herself, Erin reveals the hoax, but the friends are branded liars who pranked the Catholic Church, and have to take their exams.|
|4||4||"Episode Four"||Michael Lennox||Lisa McGee||25 January 2018||2.55|
|In an international exchange to help victims of the Chernobyl disaster, several teenage Ukrainians come to stay in Derry. Erin and Orla's family hosts the deadpan Katya, who is uninterested in Erin and Orla's lives but immediately attracted to James. Mary and Sarah are horrified to discover their father Joe is dating a new woman, 62-year-old Maeve. Michelle is attracted to Artem, the Ukrainian staying with Jenny, and encourages her friends to attend Jenny's party. Suspicious of Katya, Erin finds condoms in Katya's bag, and several Ukrainian boys give Erin money they owe Katya. Assuming she is a prostitute, Erin tries to prevent James from having sex with Katya, accusing her in front of the entire party. Katya explains she was collecting money from the other Ukrainians to buy Jenny a thank-you gift. Michelle discovers 'Artem' is actually Clive, a Protestant from East Belfast who took a wrong turn leaving Aldergrove Airport; terrified of the Catholics, he pretended to be one of the Ukrainians. Katya decides to stay with Jenny's family for the remainder of her time in Derry.|
|5||5||"Episode Five"||Michael Lennox||Lisa McGee||1 February 2018||2.63|
|On 12 July, Erin's family and friends attempt to avoid the Orange walks by leaving Northern Ireland for a brief holiday to neighbouring County Donegal in the Republic. They discover an Irish Republican Army man using the false name Emmett hiding in the boot of their car to cross the border undetected. Erin's father Gerry and Joe argue over whether to take Emmett across and risk arrest. After having her fortune told by Sarah, Michelle believes Emmett is her future husband, but Michelle is not attracted to him. After Gerry and Joe's continuous disagreements, Emmett flees the restaurant where they stopped for lunch, steals their tent—borrowed from their neighbour Jim—and the group watches him depart in the boot of another car.|
|6||6||"Episode Six"||Michael Lennox||Lisa McGee||8 February 2018||2.76|
|Gerry is unable to pick up the family's photos without the necessary red docket, which Mary finds in the wash, having turned the white clothes pink. Joe tries to collect the photos with Sarah, whom Ciaran the clerk recognises from the photos, and she brings him to dinner. Erin seizes her chance to replace the school magazine's editor, but the staff quits, forcing Erin to recruit her friends. Struggling to come up with a lead story, Erin finds an anonymous letter from a student coming out as a lesbian. Despite Clare's disapproval, Erin publishes the story but is censored by Sister Michael, and circulates the newspaper anyway. Clare confides to Erin that she wrote the letter, but is hurt by Erin's reaction and begins avoiding her. At the school talent show, Orla performs a step aerobics routine to "Like a Prayer" ("Pray" in the international Netflix broadcast), eliciting ridicule. Coming to her defence, Erin, Clare, Michelle, and James join Orla onstage, ending Erin and Clare's feud. Erin's family watches a television news report of a bombing.|
Series 2 (2019)
|Title||Directed by||Written by||Original air date||UK viewers|
|7||1||"Across the Barricade"||Michael Lennox||Lisa McGee||5 March 2019||3.68|
|The teens and their classmates spend a weekend with Friends Across the Barricade, a peace initiative with pupils from a Protestant boys' secondary school. Each teen is assigned a "buddy" from the other school, but Peter—returned to the priesthood after a failed relationship—is unable to guide them into finding common ground. James attempts a working-class accent and attitude to befriend his buddy, which only unsettles him, as does Orla's intense survivalism, while Michelle and Erin fail to seduce their buddies, Harry and Dee. Because Harry is committed to his purity bracelet, Michelle demands to swap buddies. The group prepares to abseil off a cliff, but Clare—terrified her buddy will let her fall due to mistaking his hatred of "athletes" for "Catholics"—incites an argument between the pupils that escalates into a physical fight. All parents are called in, and their resulting lectures to their children inspires Erin to write "parents" on the blackboard as something Catholics and Protestants have in common, and she shares a smile with Dee.|
|8||2||"Ms De Brún and the Child of Prague"||Michael Lennox||Lisa McGee||12 March 2019||3.35|
|Sister Michael takes a liking to a Child of Prague statue. A new English teacher, Ms De Brún, charms Erin and her friends. Mary and Gerry's date at the cinema is interrupted by Sarah, Ciaran, Joe, and Colm. Their screening of The Usual Suspects is evacuated due to a security alert, and Mary is tormented by missing the film's conclusion. They return home to discover the teens have raided the Christmas snacks. Enthralled by the charismatic Ms De Brún, the friends are invited to her house, where she gives them wine. At school, they learn she has left; angrily assuming she was dismissed, they steal the statue as leverage to force the school to retain Ms De Brún. Accidentally breaking off the statue's head, they glue it on upside down as Sister Michael walks in. The girls' parents are summoned, soon followed by Ms De Brún, who reveals she resigned for a better position elsewhere, contrary to her lessons of "spontaneity". The families are told to replace the statue, and the teens receive a week's suspension. Sister Michael tells Mary the plot twist of The Usual Suspects.|
|9||3||"The Concert"||Michael Lennox||Lisa McGee||19 March 2019||3.05|
|The friends prepare to attend Take That's concert in Belfast, but a TV report about a polar bear escaped from Belfast Zoo leads Mary to forbid them from going. Undeterred, they board a bus to Belfast, with Michelle bringing a suitcase of vodka. Sister Michael is also aboard, and the friends lie to her that the suitcase is not theirs. The bus is halted, and the army uses a remote control vehicle to detonate the suspicious luggage. Fleeing on foot, the friends encounter Irish Travellers and accept a lift from a passing driver, Rita. Drunk and distracted by opera, Rita collides with a sheep, which the girls are forced to move off the road. Realising that James—who has the concert tickets—is not with them, they retrieve him from the Travellers. Back home, the adults learn the polar bear was recaptured by firefighters near the A6 whilst eating a sheep carcass. Michelle and Clare's mothers arrive, expecting to find Michelle, James, and Clare there, and the adults realise the teens lied to go to the concert. Watching the concert on TV, Gerry laughs when he sees them in the audience.|
|10||4||"The Curse"||Michael Lennox||Lisa McGee||26 March 2019||3.08|
|The family gather for a wedding, to which Erin has brought her friends. Mary and Sarah's maternal aunt Bridie, attending with her 50-year-old son Eamonn, insults the parenting of Mary, Sarah, and Joe. Mary responds by telling Bridie to "drop dead"; seconds later, Bridie dies. Mary is perturbed by speculation that she has the power to curse people. At Bridie's wake, Michelle pressures her friends to try hash scones, which are inadvertently distributed to the party. Retrieving most of the scones, the friends try to flush them down the toilet, blocking it and causing a flood. Recognising Bridie's earrings as having been stolen from their mother, Mary and Sarah take them off Bridie's corpse but are caught by Eamonn. Back home, Joe offers the family several scones saved from the wake, to Erin's horror.|
|11||5||"The Prom"||Michael Lennox||Lisa McGee||2 April 2019||2.88|
|At school, Jenny organises a 1950s-style prom, and Sister Michael introduces Mae, a new pupil of East Asian descent from County Donegal. Invited into Clare's group, Mae vows revenge against Jenny for buying the dress she wanted. With James attending a Doctor Who convention on prom night, Erin offers to go with Clare, but instead invites John Paul, the subject of her unrequited affection. Mae asks Clare to go with her, and Orla takes Joe. Erin is crushed when John Paul fails to appear, but James, called by Mary, skips his convention to take her to the dance. Michelle's two separate dates leave for the pub together, and Clare learns from Mae's former classmate that Mae was expelled from her last school for being a bully. The friends realise Mae is planning to humiliate Jenny as she is crowned prom queen, inspired by Carrie. Clare tries to stop Mae, as Erin, Michelle, and James try to move Jenny offstage but end up drenched in what turns out to be tomato juice. The adults watch a TV news report of the IRA's ceasefire on 31 August 1994, and join their neighbours celebrating in the street.|
|12||6||"The President"||Michael Lennox||Lisa McGee||9 April 2019||2.57|
|Derry awaits a visit from President of the United States Bill Clinton on 30 November 1995. Most schools will close, but Sister Michael insists on a normal day at Our Lady Immaculate. Having written to Chelsea Clinton, the friends naïvely plan to spend the day with her, while Joe, Colm, and Jim try to track the President with a CB radio. They believe he is staying in Burt in Inishowen, County Donegal, where Gerry reluctantly drives them only to discover they overheard a taxi dispatch. Most pupils truant to watch Clinton's speech, and only Jenny and Aisling attend school; Aisling leaves, and Sister Michael tells Jenny to do the same. James' self-absorbed mother Cathy returns to bring him to London and help with her business designing stickers. He tells his friends he is leaving, but Michelle follows him, warning of his mother's selfishness and assuring him he is a true "Derry Girl", but James declines to stay. Riding with his mother to the airport, James decides to stay in Derry instead. He returns to the girls and they embrace, walking together past a TV hire shop playing footage of Clinton's speech in Guildhall Square.|
The show was renewed for a second series shortly after the airing of the pilot episode of the first series. Production of the second series began on 8 October 2018. The second series began airing on 5 March 2019. On 9 April 2019, immediately after the second series finale, it was confirmed by Channel 4 that Derry Girls would return for a third series. Production of the third series was due to commence in the spring of 2020, but was suspended following the announcement of the COVID-19 lockdown. On 21 July 2021, Nicola Coughlan confirmed that filming for the third season is set to commence in late 2021, with a premiere in early 2022. On 23 September 2021, series creator and writer Lisa McGee confirmed Derry Girls would end with its third series, stating “it was always the plan to say goodbye after three series.”
The first series premiered on Channel 4 in the United Kingdom on Thursday nights at 10:00 pm, while the second series was moved to Tuesday nights at 9:15 pm, with the exception of the sixth episode which was aired at 9:00 pm. The entire series is available to stream in the UK on All 4.
The series was picked up by Netflix internationally, with series 1 being released on 21 December 2018. Series 2 was released on 2 August 2019. The international version of first series is now available to stream on Netflix in the UK and Ireland. The second series was added on 9 July 2020, but was temporarily removed from the service as it was mistakenly released a year early.
A Derry Girls book was released on 12 November 2020, entitled Erin's Diary: An Official Derry Girls Book, published by Trapeze Books.
Derry Girls mural
Located at 18 Orchard Street in Derry, a mural of the main cast of characters can be seen on the side of Badger's Bar. This popular tourist attraction was created by UV Arts and is one of many political murals across the city. Derry is known for politically charged art, and the famed mural speaks to the popularity of the television programme and its relation to cultural change in the area.
Derry Girls has received critical acclaim. On Rotten Tomatoes, the first series holds an approval rating of 100 per cent based on reviews from 24 critics. The website's critical consensus states: "A perfectly curated cast and raw writing drive Derry Girls's dark humor as creator Lisa McGee makes frenetic light of teen life in 1990s Northern Ireland". The second series has an approval rating of 97 per cent, based on reviews from 30 critics. The website's critical consensus states that "The sophomore season of Derry Girls doesn't lose any of its irreverent charms thanks to its predictably unpredictable romps and canny characterizations".
Derry Girls was the most watched series in Northern Ireland since modern records began in 2002, with an average audience of 519,000 viewers and a 64.2 per cent share of the audience. Una Mullally of The Irish Times praised the series: "The writing in Derry Girls is sublime, the performances perfect, the casting is brilliant." On 11 January 2018, after the first episode had aired, the programme was renewed for a second series. Each episode was watched by over two million people. At the conclusion of the first series, Barbara Ellen of The Guardian wrote that Derry Girls evoked such programmes as The Inbetweeners, Father Ted and Bad Education.
As there are slight political undertones to the show, responses have highlighted the comedic nature as keeping the material lighthearted enough to enjoy. Certain writers from various online articles have noted that their own Northern Irish family appreciated the way the show gave an honest portrayal of how life was for teens in the Troubles, and how much was endured by families during that time. The way it portrayed the events and circumstances with a sense of normality echoed the real lives of both Protestants and Catholics in that area.
Lisa McGee based events in the programme on her own life, such as writing a letter to the Clintons' daughter, Chelsea. Adding real stories such as this to the episodes grounded the show in a way that allowed viewers to connect with the teenage attitudes of the characters, and served as a stark contrast to the events around them. The juxtaposition of the Troubles violence and teenage life resonated with many viewers and critics alike, making it one of the features of the show that made it so successful.
|Series||Timeslot||Episodes||First aired||Last aired||Rank||Avg. |
|1||6||4 January 2018||3.28||8 February 2018||2.76||4||2.84|
Tuesday 9:00 pm (episode 6)
|6||5 March 2019||3.68||9 April 2019||2.57||4||3.10|
|2018||Radio Times Comedy Champion Award||Derry Girls||Won|||
|IFTA Gala Television Awards||Best Female Performance||Saoirse-Monica Jackson||Nominated|||
|Best Male Performance||Tommy Tiernan||Nominated|
|Best Comedy||Derry Girls||Won|||
|Best Writer in a Comedy or Soap||Lisa McGee||Won|
|British Screenwriters’ Awards||Best Comedy Writing on Television||Won|||
|British Comedy Guide Awards||Best New TV Sitcom||Derry Girls||Won|||
|2019||Royal Television Society Awards||Best Scripted Comedy||Won|||
|Best Writer (Comedy)||Lisa McGee||Nominated|
|BAFTA TV Awards||Best Scripted Comedy||Derry Girls||Nominated|||
|2020||Royal Television Society Awards||Best Scripted Comedy||Nominated|||
|Best Comedy Performance (Female)||Saoirse-Monica Jackson||Won|
|BAFTA TV Awards||Best Scripted Comedy||Derry Girls||Nominated|
In other media
The Crystal Maze special
Cast members Saoirse-Monica Jackson, Jamie-Lee O’Donnell, Louisa Harland, Nicola Coughlan and Dylan Llewellyn appeared in a 2018 special episode of British game show, The Crystal Maze. The episode raised money for Stand Up to Cancer UK and was well received by viewers and fans of the show.
Great British Bake Off holiday episode
For the 2020 New Year holiday, the cast competed on a special episode of The Great British Bake Off. Cast members Nicola Coughlan, Jamie-Lee O'Donnell, Dylan Llewellyn, Siobhán McSweeney, and Saoirse-Monica Jackson all appeared for the special.
In GBBO fashion, there were three challenges to be completed and tasted by judges Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith. The first challenge was a trifle, then blinis in the technical round, finishing with a showstopper tiered cake that each member had to design in a decades theme. At the end of the competition, Saoirse-Monica Jackson was declared the winner.
Fans of the show greatly enjoyed watching the actors interact with the judges and hosts, as well as with each other outside of character. Many positive responses were recorded on Twitter, praising the fun attitude, cast hijinks, and even calling for more crossovers with Derry Girls and GBBO.
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Channel 4’s biggest comedy launch since Ricky Gervais’s Derek in 2004
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Channel 4’s biggest hit comedy since Father Ted
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