The Return of Fair City“Some of the characters have already had Covid-19.”

As heard on The Ray D'Arcy Show

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The familiar theme tune reverberated around the studio as Ray D’Arcy welcomed two stalwarts of the Fair City cast in for a chat about the show’s long-anticipated return to our screens on Sunday 6 September. Una Crawford-O’Brien (Renee) and Bryan Murray (Bob) have been filming for four weeks now, and Bryan says he’s “delighted” to be back at work. He describes the ‘new normal’ for filming the show:

“Three times a week, smaller casts, because of the nature of how many people you can have in the studio. Social distancing has been very much adhered to with cameramen. And I have to say, and you don’t hear me say this very often, but the whole vibe in the studio; they’ve done a fantastic job in the studio because we all feel really safe.”

Art is very much reflecting life when it comes to Fair City, Bryan says. He says we can expect Coronavirus to have had an impact on the people of Carrigstown:

“Some of the characters that we talk about, some of the characters have already had Covid-19, so there’s a lot of references to it. There’s a lot of reality reflecting society even now.”

A couple in real life as well as on screen, Bryan and Una have experienced the same adjustments to their home and work life as everyone else. Ray asked them whether they get the heebie-jeebies, as he does, when watching actors on screen in movies and series that were shot pre-lockdown? Bryan agrees that it is strange, and continues to feel that way:

“We’re living in this twilight zone, period, in life now and we never thought that we were going to be here. And the weather kinds of reflects the mood, I think as well. There’s a kind of an internal, emotional thing going on.”

Bryan says he’s heard plenty of people saying how much they miss their jobs at the moment:

“People are beginning to realise how much work actually means to us as individuals and going to work and being in work. My daughter telling me that she’s fed up working from home, and friends and they want to be back in the office again. So, it’s a strange time, but it too will pass.”

Una handed Ray a home-made mask when she came into studio, and she’s been busy making hundreds of them for family and friends. Ray asked her, aside from her turbo-charged mask production, how was lockdown for her? Una says she says she made the most of it:

“Cleaned the house from top to bottom and painted everything that didn’t move. And then we went into cooking, we went into a cooking mood and we would try something new every day. And I did things like I made jam for the first time and I planted potatoes, which we’re having this evening!”

Una says they also have a great tomato crop on the go and they also went for walks with the most recent addition to the household:

“We actually managed very well. And we have a dog, that I bought Bryan for his birthday last year and he had the choosing of the name.”

In case you’re wondering, ‘Bob’ was the name Bryan picked for the birthday pooch, but didn’t say whether he was named after his Fair City character. Brian was 70 at the time of lockdown and so was technically a “cocooner”. Ray wanted to know if he followed the advice, which encouraged the over-70s to stay indoors? He says he did, but Una qualified that a little bit:

“You did at the beginning, and then for his mental health nearly, he had to get out and go walking.”

You can listen back to the Ray’s full  interview with Bryan and Una here.

Fair City returns to RTÉ One on Sunday the 6 September 2020 at 8 pm.

Ruth Kennedy

© The Listener 2020

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