Derry Girls is a new six part comedy and coming-of-age story, written by Indian Summers and Being Human screenwriter Lisa McGee. The show – which is based on McGee’s own experiences as a teenager – follows 16-year-old Erin and her friends, who live in a world of armed police in armoured Land Rovers, British Army check points and ‘peace’ walls.
But who are the young stars bringing the gang to life? And who are the familiar faces joining them on screen.
Meet the cast of Derry Girls…
Erin Quinn – Saoirse-Monica Jackson
Erin Quinn is quite the 16 year old with dreams and ambitions that extend far beyond the walls of Derry. The wannabe writer is pretty sure she knows everything she needs to know but, with the help of her wild friends and super-annoying family, soon learns that she’s got a long way to go.
Real-life Derry girl Saoirse was raised in the city and in Donegal, where her parents owned and operated a small hotel. She studied acting at Manchester’s Arden School of Theatre and secured a role in Harlan Coben’s The Five on Sky 1 before finishing her course.
Orla McCool – Louisa Harland
Erin’s cousin Orla has some serious issues when it comes to personal space – she’s often found reading Erin’s diary and has even been known to steal her knickers. It’s not malicious, though. Orla’s just living in her own whimsical and unpredictable world, with a positive mental attitude. If that’s what you’d call it…
Irish actress Louisa starred in crime drama Love/Hate before training at the Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts in London. You might also have spotted her in Woody Harrelson’s Lost in London, or on BBC daytime favourite, Doctors.
Clare Devlin – Nicola Coughlan
Wee Clare is the group’s resident genius, who has big ambitions and isn’t afraid to do what it takes to achieve them. Even if that means grassing on her best pals. She’s the most straight-laced member of the gang and is often VERY frustrated by her friends’ carefree attitude.
Galway native Nicola turned to Nadine Coyle from Girls Aloud in order to perfect her Derry accent, watching tapes of Coyle’s time on reality series Popstars for inspiration. She’s been treading the boards since she was a child and also voiced characters in a number of animated series.
Michelle Mallon – Jamie Lee O’Donnell
If you’re on the hunt for a party or just fancy having a carefree night on the town then you need look no further than Michelle Mallon. She wants nothing more than to have a good time and find herself a fella, and she’s not backward in coming forward either. If only she thought before she opened her mouth, she might not find herself in quite as much trouble…
Jamie Lee is another Derry native who studied Performing Arts and Dance at De Montford University in Bedfordshire. She’s had roles in shows like 6Degrees on BBC iPlayer and also appeared in Urban and the Shed Crew alongside Richard Armitage.
James Maguire – Dylan Llewellyn
Michelle’s cousin James is on the back foot from Day Dot, because he just so happens to be English. And as if that wasn’t enough he’s now stuck in the girls’ school, because the powers that be are concerned his accent would cause too much trouble with the local boys.
Llewellyn is no stranger to Channel 4, having previously starred in Hollyoaks. He played Martin ‘Jono’ Johnson from 2011 to 2012. Oh and you might also have spotted him in Holby City, where he played Seb Channing.
Sister Michael – Siobhan McSweeney
Woe betide any girl who crosses Sister Michael, the eternally grumpy and unimpressed headmistress of Our Lady Immaculate College. She’s Erin and the gang’s arch-nemesis, and has very little time for those who cross her path.
Fans of The Fall will recognise McSweeney from her turn alongside Jamie Dornan and Gillian Anderson in the Irish drama. She also recently starred in No Offence as Ruth Cheetham, and popped up in Alice Through The Looking Glass as Witzender.
Mary Quinn – Tara Lynne O’Neill
Erin’s ma, Mary, has no time for nonsense. The matriach of the Quinn/McCool clan is a strict, straight-talking woman, who keeps her father, her husband and her daughter in check. Oh, and she’s basically a surrogate mum to niece Orla, who lives next door with Mary’s ditzy sister, Sarah.
Belfast-born O’Neill has quite the TV CV, with roles in EastEnders and Irish soap Fair City to her name. She starred in numerous Irish dramas including Omagh, Pure Mule, The Clinic and Stardust, and has also appeared in Line of Duty and The Fall.
Gerry Quinn – Tommy Tiernan
Gerry Quinn is a man under siege. He can’t keep up with the women in his life (daughter Erin, wife Mary, sister-in-law Sarah and niece Orla outnumber him) and he can’t impress his father-in-law, Joe, who finds fault with everything he does.
Irish comedian Tommy Tiernan returns to TV screens to star as Erin’s dad, Gerry. Tiernan is best known for his stand up routines and hasn’t been as active as an actor. He did have a role in a short-lived Channel 4 sitcom called Small Potatoes in the late 1990s, though, and also hosts his own chat show on Irish TV.
Granda Joe – Ian McElhinney
Granda Joe isn’t a man to be trifled with, so it’s little wonder he’s a pillar of the community. He adores his daughters and granddaughters, but he’s got very little time for his son-in-law, and he’s not afraid to show it.
Game of Thrones fans will recognise McElhinney as Barristan Selmy,Lord Commander of the Queensguard of Queen Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke). He’s no stranger to TV with roles in Cold Feet, New Tricks, Holby City, Doctors and Ripper Street. Oh and he also played General Dodonna in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
Aunt Sarah – Kathy Kiera Clarke
Orla’s mum Sarah is the most laid-back member of the McCool clan. She leaves the parenting to her sister, Mary, and spends the majority of her time working hard on the thing she cares most about in the whole world – her own appearance.
Clarke is a veteran of the small screen with numerous roles in productions on both sides of the Irish Sea. You may have spotted her in Silent Witness, Proof, Pulling Moves and Omagh among others.
Father Peter (Peter Campion)
The hunky parish priest makes quite the impression on the girls – and boy – when he stops by the school to chat about their very religious experience
Fans of Lisa McGee’s RTE drama Raw or her Channel 4 comedy London Irish will recognise Peter Campion, who also appeared in the movie Sing Street and drama 6Degrees. And you might also recognise him from his stint in Kat and Alfie’s EastEnders spin-off, Redwater, playing local farmer Andrew Kelly.
David Donnelly – Anthony Boyle
Cool, calm and collected David is the object of Erin’s affections. The fact that he’s in a band makes him even more appealing.
Belfast born actor Anthony Boyle has already made quite the mark, winning an Olivier Award for his role as Scorpius Malfoy in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. It’s little wonder, then, that he popped up in the play’s writer Jack Thorne’s take on Phillip K Dick’s The Commuter in Channel 4’s Electric Dreams. You might also have spotted him playing a young Ian Paisley in The Journey.
Jenny Joyce – Leah O’Rourke
Perfect prefect Jenny is an endlessly perky ray of sunshine, but the Derry Girls just can’t stand her
O’Rourke is a relative newcomer to the TV scene but she’s already popped up in The Fall and has a very impressive background in short films. She’s also worked as a stand-in on Game of Thrones.
Fionnula – Tracey Lynch
Chip shop owner Fionnula is the fearsome queen of fried food who strikes fear into the hearts of her customers
Tracey Lynch will look familiar to fans of McGee’s previous comedy offering, London Irish. She played ‘Ma’ in the 2013 Channel 4 series and also popped up playing an unnamed Irish woman in No Offence.
Uncle Colm – Kevin McAleer
Granda Joe’s brother just doesn’t stop talking and his family can’t cope with it
Irish comedian Kevin McAleer was once said to have put the “dead” back into “deadpan”, thanks in no small part to his signature act: delivering stories in a drawling Tyrone accent. He came to prominence on Irish comedy series Nighthawks in the late 1980s and early 1990s.