Is “Derry Girls” Series Based on a True Story?

Is Derry Girls Based on a True Story

Is Derry Girls Based on a True Story? – Derry Girls,” a British teen sitcom written and directed by Lisa McGee, debuted on Channel 4 on January 4, 2018. The series was inspired by McGee’s personal experiences growing up in Derry, Northern Ireland, in the 1990s, during the latter years of the Troubles, and became the channel’s most popular comedy since Father Ted.

Saoirse-Monica Jackson, Louisa Harland, Nicola Coughlan, Jamie-Lee O’Donnell, and Dylan Llewellyn play five teenagers who live in Derry in the middle of the 1990s and attend Our Lady Immaculate College, a made-up girls’ Catholic secondary school modeled after the actual Thornhill College, where McGee herself attended. Derry Girls is a British production filmed in Northern Ireland, with most of the scenes being shot on location in Derry and others in Belfast.

Although Netflix’s Derry Girls’ storylines are made up, the show frequently alludes to real-life incidents from the Troubles and the Northern Ireland peace process, such as the IRA ceasefire announcement in 1994, President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Clinton’s visit to Northern Ireland in 1995, and the 1998 Good Friday referendum.

In family homes, radio and TV broadcasts play archival material about significant political leaders, including Mo Mowlam, Martin McGuinness, Gerry Adams, Martin McGuinness, Ian Paisley, and Gerry Adams. The soundtrack includes songs from artists including Ace of Base, Blur, Cypress Hill, Salt-N-Pepa, the Corrs, and the Cranberries, which were popular at the time.

Since modern records began in 2002, the first season, which was broadcast on Channel 4 in January and February 2018, has garnered the most viewers in Northern Ireland. Soon after the pilot episode aired, the show was revived, and the second season aired in March and April of 2019. A third and final series, set between 1996 and 1997, was ordered for 2020; however, because of the COVID-19 pandemic’s effects on television production, filming was postponed, eventually debuting in April 2022. On May 18, 2022, a final, 45-minute special episode named “The Agreement,” which was set in 1998 with the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, was shown.

The renowned tourist destination Badgers Bar and Restaurant at 18 Orchard Street in Derry features a painting of the show’s main characters that Derry Girls inspired.

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Is Derry Girls a True Story

Is “Derry Girls” a True Story?

The “Derry Girls” series is partially based on a true story. The events in the show, written and created by Lisa McGee, were influenced by her teenage years. Lisa was somewhat accustomed to the violence that took place in the area due to the Northern Ireland conflict, sometimes known as the Troubles, because she was raised in Derry. She didn’t know that some of the things she had assumed were commonplace for much of the world until she went to England.

The Troubles began in the latter part of the 1960s, however, the precise beginning of the conflict has always been a source of debate among experts. Essentially, the war was a disagreement between two factions about Northern Ireland’s status within the United Kingdom. The Unionists/Loyalists supported keeping the nation a part of the UK. On the other side, the Irish Nationalists/Republicans desired the union of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland to create a single Irish nation.

It should be remembered that while the majority of Nationalists were Catholic, the majority of Unionists were Protestant. Despite using religious terminology to describe the opposing groups, the struggle was not over the people’s religious beliefs but rather what they wanted for their nation. The Troubles lasted for over three decades and included:

  • Continuous wars and conflicts.
  • Spreading to England.
  • Continental Europe.
  • The Republic of Ireland.

The Good Friday Agreement, also known as the Belfast Agreement, was finally signed on April 10, 1998, by numerous leaders of the opposing factions, bringing an end to the conflict in the area. Northern Ireland was able to obtain a little more freedom in terms of civil and political rights, police reforms, and many other areas, even though it was still a part of the United Kingdom. The agreement was subsequently put to the county’s residents for a vote in a referendum on May 22, 1998, and the decisions made went into effect on December 2, 1999.

The teen characters in the narrative were modeled after Lisa McGee and her fellow adolescent friends.

According to Lisa interview with the New York Times, “I’d always felt that my group of friends at school were funny, and I’d always wanted to write something about a group of female teenagers who were the leads and were being the ridiculous people, not just the “friend” or “sister.” 

I also went to an all-girls convent school, so the cleverest person was a girl, the sports hero was a girl, the class clown was a girl. Growing up, everyone who was powerful or interesting or funny was female,’ she elaborated further. Interestingly, the character of Erin Quinn seems to be a reflection of the writer herself, especially since Erin too inspires to work in the same field.”

The cultural shock for Lisa when she moved out of Northern Ireland was massive when it came to the expected role of women, among other things. “When I went to university, I realized Derry was different from all other places. The women, traditionally, were the breadwinners because it was a factory town and, apart from shirt factories, there wasn’t any other employment really, so a lot of the men were unemployed,” the writer explained her childhood experiences. “So we grew up in this sort of weird society where the dads were looking after the kids and the mums were going to work.

Though Lisa was anxious to draw inspiration from her acquaintances for her characters, it is essential to remember that she originally intended for a modern scenario and did not want to center on the Troubles. The writing was Lisa’s means of escaping into another world, so adding a problem from her upbringing felt counterproductive. Liz Lewin persuaded the author to bring the historical events to life. The latter was present when Lisa unintentionally startled her English audience with her “typical” childhood occurrences.

One may easily claim that the author’s real-life experiences served as some of the inspiration for “Derry Girls.” But Lisa used her sense of humor to make a sad subject humorous, approachable, and also instructive for the audience. Even while growing up during the Troubles had its share of negative repercussions, Lisa’s narrative illustrates how the populace managed to find happiness and optimism even in the most challenging circumstances.

Stream “Derry Girls” episodes on Netflix.

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