ART / Right of reply: Andrew Eaton, the producer of Roddy Doyle's new series, Family

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The Independent Culture
Roddy Doyle's four-part series Family (BBC 1) has caused uproar in Ireland. Its portrayal of life on a high-rise estate has been deplored as negative and stereotypical . . .

'I thought there would be a big reaction in Ireland, but I'm surprised by the scale of it. Roddy was pretty shell-shocked for the first few days; a lot of the criticism was personal.

'The people portrayed are not stereotypically Irish; families like this exist all over the world. I do think the people of Ballymun are underestimating the audience. I'm sure people didn't decide not to go to Liverpool after Boys from the Black Stuff in 1982.

'I don't really believe that the people on the Ballymun estate who have protested about it represent the majority of opinion on that estate; there are more than 20,000 people living on there. I don't think that we would have been able to go in there and film for such a long period and experience such good will if people had really felt that. It wasn't as if we went in there clandestinely.

'Maybe people are more easily shocked now. I think Family is fantastically real, but some people have the amazing attitude where they say, 'Let's just pretend people don't really live like this.' They'd probably advocate having Middlemarch on all year round.

'Maybe there's a slight use of artistic licence where quite a lot of problems are squashed into one family. Though apparently there were women phoning into radio stations in Ireland saying they would happily swap their husbands for Charlo. That's the other side of the story in Ireland; after every episode RTE having been putting out a helpline telephone number - first a women's helpline and then a childline - and they've been inundated.'

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