Sinead Keenan: London Irish is ‘fearless’ comedy

Being Human’s Sinead Keenan plays one of four hard-drinking Northern Irish friends on the lash in London in the new, no-holds-barred Channel 4 comedy London Irish (Tuesday).

TV & Satellite Week caught up with her to find out more…

How would you describe the four friends in London Irish?
“They are four misfits really, but a happy and, you could say, charming bunch. Bronagh and Conor are brother and sister, and Patrick and Niamh are their friends. They find themselves in this flat in London and get up to all sorts of weird, wonderful and mischievous things. None of them is in any way on the path towards being grown-up – their lives are all about instant gratification.”

What’s Ardal O’Hanlon’s role in the show?
“Ardal plays Bronagh and Conor’s dad. He is referred to as ‘Da’ and is fairly henpecked, and cuckolded by his wife. When you see ‘Ma’ with Conor, she’s the typical Irish mother, thinking: ‘My son, my son, the sun shines out of his backside’. Bronagh does not get a look-in, and you understand where her hostility might have come from.”

Were you a big fan of Father Ted, which starred Ardal as Father Dougal?
“Father Ted was huge, and when I was in school and at university, it was the show from which everyone would quote funny lines. In terms of Irish comedy making its mark outside of Ireland, it was definitely groundbreaking, and London Irish writer Lisa McGee shares that fearless approach to comedy writing.”

As an Irish woman who’s lived in London for some years, did the premise of this show strike a chord with you?
“Certain aspects, yes. A lot of my Irish friends who are actors moved over here, and we did the shared house thing. When you move away from home, your friends become your surrogate family, and there was a lot of meeting up in pubs. For me, a hangover in my twenties would be all about the emotional flashbacks from the night before: ‘Oh God, what did I do, and what did I say?’”

What did you make of the reaction online after a news story about a potentially controversial scene in London Irish appeared on the Daily Mail website?
“There was a bit of a storm in a teacup and some of the press in Ireland picked it up, saying: ‘Oh, it’s racist, it’s about the Irish being drunk’.  But it’s written by an Irishwoman, so that debunks that accusation. I have great faith that the viewing public, once they’ve seen it in context, will appreciate it for what it is. It’s about the pretty universal things a lot of people in their twenties do, and it could equally be about a bunch of Americans living in Canada.”

Your character Bronagh swears a lot. Is there any truth in the stereotype of Irish people using bad language?
“We do curse more, but I think we kind of get away with it. I was watching a Cockney guy cursing in a comedy the other day, and it just sounded so harsh. Having said that, if people have a problem with bad language, they probably won’t be watching this.”