NEWRY man Eoin Cleland is the director of Channel Four’s latest hilarious comedy William of Orangedale.
It is a 15-minute show, a pilot of sorts and if the feedback is positive there is a huge chance that William of Orangedale and Newry’s Eoin could be following on where Derry Girls leave the stage of comedy based in this part of Ireland.
Cleland is an experienced director; he wrote and directed the wonderful Ups and Downs, which was broadcast on BBC and it was Hat-Trick Productions that sought him out to make William of Orangedale.
Channel 4 said: "William of Orangedale is a coming-of-age comedy about teenager William and his friends growing up on a council estate in East Belfast and the shenanigans that they get up to. Your teenage years can be complicated but for William he must juggle all these dramas while living with cerebral palsy.
"Developed by Hat Trick (Derry Girls, Episodes, Kate & Koji and Father Ted), William of Orangedale delves into a side of Northern Ireland never seen on screen before. Inspired by the life of comedian William Thompson who co-wrote the script alongside fellow comedian Dave Elliott, William of Orangedale is an uplifting tale about friendship, family and making the best of your lot.
"William of Orangedale is directed by Eoin Cleland, produced by Anna Hinds and executive produced by Louise Gallagher and Jimmy Mulville for Hat Trick Productions. It was commissioned by Joe Hullait."
The comedy is charming, witty, with great funny punchlines and characters to warm to and Eoin is pleased with his work.
“I am very pleased. It is always hard when you see it finished and you think to yourself ‘oh I wish I had of done this or that differently or had more time to do that,” said Eoin.
“A lot of the shows I have directed I have written the scripts, but this time I directed, so it was great coming on and being able to go ‘that’s brilliant, and a wee bit more of that and we need a wee bit of space here for this’ and so on and the jokes made me laugh.
“I read the script when I was first approached and I thought that it was really funny and it just got better from there with rewrites and casting. I am pleased that people have been kind and saying nice things about it, so I am delighted.”
Eoin, who attended Abbey Grammar School, is now based in Belfast, but visits home at the weekends didn’t have long to put the project together but said the people he worked with made it happen.
“Hat-Trick who make Derry Girls came to me and I had a chat with them at the end of January and decided to go ahead and we had to deliver before April 1,” said Eoin.
“I thought they were joking initially, because it was only two months away. So, I had to cast it, location style it, rework the script, rehearse, so only having two months to do it and with a pilot you don’t have as much money. So, a lot of the time shows like this could be looking a bit ropey, you don’t have as long to shoot things and you are kind of rushing everything.
“We didn’t have a ton of money but everyone pulled out all the stops and because we had an experienced producer who called in a few favours and we went well beyond what we should have been able to afford. The editor we worked with is the editor of Derry Girls, but he has edited so much such as The Office with Ricky Jervis and he is brilliant and all the crew was brilliant, so we shouldn’t have been able do what we did.
“We had two days to shoot the whole thing, which is not very long for a 19-page script.
“When I first started, I had to find a cast and cast a lead. When you agree to these things you just go yeah, yeah, yeah and then figure it out afterwards but I think it all came together fairly well.”
The 15-minute blap or pilot is something Channel Four do, they will take a look at the show and judge it while also looking out for feedback on social media and by word of mouth. Then they will make a decision on whether to commission a series.
“There will be a YouTube link and a Channel Four link and basically if enough people watch and people are tweeting or commenting on social media, especially in the region the show is played within,” Eoin said.
“C4 will be keen that people in Northern Ireland watch it because that is a base you can build on.
“We are very lucky that Derry Girls was such a huge success for C4, it is the most successful comedy they have had in 15 years. Having a prime-time comedy based in Northern Ireland is no longer strange to them, it wouldn’t have happened five years ago.”
And the Newry man is keen to make more episodes and says it would be even better than the pilot.
“We would love to more because you learn so much doing the pilot and I love the pilot we did, but if we were to do it again it would be even better, because you have figured out what is funny what is not funny about each of the characters and about that world and how people interact,” Eoin said.
“You do so much work building back stories for everyone and how they would interact and you have only got 13 minutes and you have to fit in loads of jokes. It would be brilliant to do more if we got the chance and I suppose we will find out in a couple of months.
“William has lots of plans for what the series would be if Channel Four wanted it and we would take their hand off for it.”
It is funny and definitely worth a look on All 4 or YouTube and hopefully there’ll be more episodes.