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Catch yourself on, ‘Derry Girls’ is not ‘distinctively British’


By Sarah Finnan
17th Sep 2021

Channel 4

Catch yourself on, ‘Derry Girls’ is not ‘distinctively British’

The English are trying to claim some of our own as some of their own, and Irish Twitter is having none of it.

Hello darkness, my old friend. It seems we find ourselves in familiar territory once again; defending Irish talent against the English who have tried to claim them as their own. 

It’s a debate we’ve had many times before, and it’s probably one we’ll have many times again. We’ve become well-versed in correcting British media when they try to pass off Irish talent as being from the UK. In fact, we often get great pleasure in doing so too; the collective online outrage is unifying, thrilling even. 

It’s happened to most of the greats by now. Sky News reporter Richard Suchet called Saoirse Ronan “one of our own” upon learning of her Brooklyn BAFTA nod. Ronan was also nominated for Best British Actress by the London Film Critics Circle. Seamus Heaney was famously included in The Penguin Book of Contemporary British Poetry – an “honour” to which he replied, “Be advised my passport’s green. No glass of ours was ever raised to toast the Queen.”

Ruth Negga was dubbed a “British rising star” by the Telegraph and Evening Standard, while Domhnall Gleeson, Cillian Murphy, Chris O’Dowd, Colin Farrell, Andrew Scott and Brendan Gleeson have all been referred to as British too. Last year, Normal People star Paul Mescal reminded the public that he’s Irish, thank you very much. As did Dermot Kennedy. 

More recently, the English have tried to claim Derry Girls (the entire cast, series and premise) as being theirs. Disappointed but not surprised – especially given the fact that Father Ted was once voted the second most popular British sitcom of all time. Christ. 

Speaking at a Royal Television Society conference, ex-media minister John Whittingdale told attendees that, like Fleabag and Only Fools and Horses, the hit Channel 4 show is “distinctively British”. He’s since been sacked, just FYI.

Proposing that broadcasters did more by way of focusing on only British programming, he said that Derry Girls passed the test because it could “only have been made in the United Kingdom”. Why? Because “it addresses the Troubles and the rise and fall of Take That with equal passion”. Obvs.

Causing quite a stir online, his comments have not gone unnoticed. If anyone is feeling anxious, worried or maybe you just want a chat… divert your attention to Twitter. It’s times like these that Irish Twitter really is at its best, isn’t it? Furious as we are that the English would try to take Derry Girls from us, some of the responses are so hilarious that they’ve momentarily distracted us from our rage. 

Even series creator Lisa McGee has been alerted of the situation, who responded to an article about Whittingdale’s comments writing, “The most ‘Ach I can’t be dealing with this today’ headline I’ve seen about the show. And there’s been a few.”

On a more positive note, series three is already believed to be underway so we have plenty more action to look forward to. In the meantime, delight yourselves with Irish Twitter’s fierce defence of Derry Girls… and remember, don’t say knickers in front of your father. He can’t cope.