London Irish: C4 comedy about Ireland's binge-drinking diaspora accused of 'racism'

 

A new Channel 4 comedy series which depicts London’s Irish population as binge-drinking, English-haters suffering from a permanent hangover has been accused of “racism” by members of the community.

Due to air in September, London Irish is about “a hard-drinking, hard-living ex-pat community of Northern Irish twenty-somethings who live in London”.

The synopsis says: “For these four friends it’s not easy navigating their way through London life, particularly when they’re too drunk to know where they’re going, or remember where they’ve been.”

“They have sh*t jobs, no money, and are surrounded by English people. In fact there's only one thing worse than living in London with the English. And that’s living in Ireland with the Irish.”

A clip, released by Channel 4 this week, has already attracted controversy. It showed a woman in bed with a child aged three.

The woman asks “We didn’t, did we?” as the child hands her a lighter for her cigarette after she finds him under the duvet.

The series, starring Sinead Keenan (Being Human) and Kerr Logan (Game of Thrones), was created by Lisa McGee, a stage and screen-writer from Derry, Northern Ireland. She said:  “Ultimately, it’s a show about young people, who value having the craic above everything else.”

A Channel 4 spokesman said: “London Irish is written by Derry born Lisa McGee and is loosely based on her and her friends experiences of being Irish living in London, with a pinch of comedic exaggeration. It is a highly authored piece and not a generalisation of all Irish living in London.”

However members of London’s Irish community have already rounded on the show. Pádraic Graham ‏tweeted: “Sounds like something Alan Partridge dreamed up. Are they going to include us planting bombs & Tarmacing driveways too?”

Kate Bones wrote: “I’m shocked the writer is Irish. We need to move on from old cliches & stereotypes. This is backwards. Tell a real story!”

Keith M. O' Brien ‏wrote: “I and my housemates, and the hundreds of Alumni I work with, are nothing like this stereotype. Too busy working & slaving.”

Meghan Rice ‏tweeted that Channel 4 “would NEVER get away w/such blatant #RACISM if was about black or Asian people!”

Others wrote that they drunk less since moving to London and far from refusing to assimilate, had plenty of English friends.

However the programme’s depiction of hard-drinking young Irish people was described as “fair enough” by other tweeters.  

Gary Dunne, Artistic Director of the London Irish Centre in Camden, said: “I’ll be watching the show with interest but from the publicity material they sent out the description of London Irish people doesn’t resemble the huge majority of young people I know.”

“The majority of Twitter responses the Centre has received have questioned the negative stereotyping. The question of racism has been raised.”

Mr Dunne said Channel 4 had contacted him to discuss the possibility of the writer and commissioning team holding a discussion at the Centre about the show.

Ms McGee, who moved to London three years ago, explained: “The characters are children of the peace process, living in one of the greatest cities in the world and they want to have a good time.

“Yeah they’re screwed up, they drink too much, they swear too much...but I really hope people watch the show and think, ‘I don't half want a night out with that lot’ and love watching these four characters as much as I love writing for them.”

The London Irish Premiership rugby union club said it would be seeking to ensure that none if its logos or branding would be used in the show.

Recent research from the London Irish Centre found that the majority of new emigrants to the city are aged between 25 and 30. The survey found that 18 per cent of respondents came to London to pursue educational opportunities, while 13 per cent have found themselves unemployed.

Ireland has proved a fertile source for sitcoms since the huge success of Channel 4’s Father Ted. Mrs Brown’s Boys, created by the writer and performer Brendan O'Carroll, has become a mainstream hit on BBC1 after first appearing on the Irish radio station RTÉ 2fm.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Feeling all at sea: Barbara's 18-year-old son came under the influence of a Canadian libertarian preacher – and she had to fight to win him back
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Living the high life: Anne Robinson enjoys some skip-surfed soup
TV review
Arts and Entertainment

Great British Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
Doctor Who and Missy in the Doctor Who series 8 finale

TV
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Chvrches lead singer Lauren Mayberry in the band's new video 'Leave a Trace'

music
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Home on the raunch: George Bisset (Aneurin Barnard), Lady Seymour Worsley (Natalie Dormer) and Richard Worsley (Shaun Evans)

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers

Strictly
Arts and Entertainment
NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton

film
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell and Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
New book 'The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep' by Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin

books
Arts and Entertainment
Calvi is not afraid of exploring the deep stuff: loneliness, anxiety, identity, reinvention
music
Arts and Entertainment
Edinburgh solo performers Neil James and Jessica Sherr
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
If a deal to buy tBeats, founded by hip-hop star Dr Dre (pictured) and music producer Jimmy Iovine went through, it would be Apple’s biggest ever acquisition

album review
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith is joining The Voice as a new coach

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Dowton Abbey has been pulling in 'telly tourists', who are visiting Highclere House in Berkshire

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Patriot games: Vic Reeves featured in ‘Very British Problems’
TV review
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
    Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

    The Arab Spring reversed

    Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
    King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

    Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

    Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
    Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

    Who is Oliver Bonas?

    It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
    Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

    Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

    However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
    60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

    60 years of Scalextric

    Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
    Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

    Why are we addicted to theme parks?

    Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
    Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

    Iran is opening up again to tourists

    After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
    10 best PS4 games

    10 best PS4 games

    Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
    Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

    Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

    Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
    Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

    ‘Can we really just turn away?’

    Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

    ... and not just because of Isis vandalism
    Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

    Girl on a Plane

    An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent