Arts

Derry Girls writer Lisa McGee on The Spice Girls, Daphne Du Maurier and The Wizard of Oz

Jenny Lee puts performers and artists on the spot about what really matters to them. This week, Derry Girls writer Lisa McGee

Derry Girls writer Lisa McGee, winner of the Brian Waddell Award at the recent Royal Television Society NI Awards in Belfast

1. When did you start writing and how did you get into it?

I'VE always written as far back as I can remember. I wrote little stories when I was a child then started writing sketches at around the age of 10 which I would perform with my friends and basically force family members and neighbours to watch them.

At secondary school, I was fortunate enough to have two brilliant drama teachers, Dermot Logue and then Dympna Harron, who encouraged me to write. I also discovered Brian Friel around this time and realised that being a playwright was an actual thing.

I did A-level Theatre Studies and went on to study drama at Queen's. Myself and my fellow students put one of my plays on in The Parlour in Belfast and a film producer called Colin McKeown happened to come along. He came to see another play I wrote after I'd graduated called Jump (again performed in a pub, White's Tavern this time).

He thought the play could work on screen and he introduced me to a London agent who signed me and I started working in TV from there. So a bit of luck and a bit of determination.

2. Best gig you’ve been to?

The Spice Girls at the 02 in London. I think it was 2008. It was their first reunion tour and probably the last time all five of them performed live together. I turned into a teenager again instantly. I love them.

3. Fantasy wedding/birthday party band?

The Spice Girls. Could you imagine the craic?

4. The record you’d take to a desert island?

Judy Garland's version of Somewhere Over The Rainbow is my favourite song, but on a desert island would probably be seriously boring. I might need something upbeat like Fatboy Slim. I'm in a time warp music wise at the moment – I only listen to 1990s stuff as I'm always looking for inspiration for Derry Girls.

5. And the book you'd take to a desert island?

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier. It's an absolute masterpiece.

6. Top three films?

The Wizard Of Oz has been my favourite movie since I was about three years old. I love everything about it – particularly the message of it, that you might be searching for something you already possess. Dial M for Murder – the script is so clever and stylish. Death Becomes Her – gloriously camp and very funny. Also, I have a thing for Bruce Willis.

7. Worst film you’ve seen?

I hate slagging off other people's work as I know how bloody hard it is to get anything made, so I'll keep that to myself.

8. Favourite authors?

Are we including playwrights too? Daphne Du Maurier, Brian Friel, Arthur Miller, Agatha Christie and Tom Murphy. This is impossible and if we were to include screenwriters as well I'd be here all day.

9. Sport(s) you most enjoy and top team(s)?

I'm not a sports person at all. I'm the sort of person that only gets interested if Ireland are playing. I haven't a clue. Though I do love boxer Katie Taylor and did go and see her in the Olympics.

10. Ideal holiday destination?

Anywhere sunny with a pool and a bar. I'm not an adventure holiday type. I like to bring a load of books and just chill out. Or I did before I had children.

11. Pet hate?

People doing impressions of my accent. Wise up.

12. What’s your favourite:

Dinner? Salmon.

Dessert? Cheesecake or Eton Mess.

Drink? Prosecco.

13. Who is your best friend and how do you know each other?

I have a great group of friends and I'm close to them all in different ways but I have to say my old school friend Sarah Strawbridge who we all refer to as ‘The Strawbs' despite the fact that we are now adults and should know better.

When I was about 14, the classes in our school were all mixed up and in order to encourage new friendships we were each given a piece of paper with a word written on it and told to find our match. I was given the word 'Tom' and Sarah was 'Jerry' and we've never looked back.

14. Is there a God?

I believe in God. I'm not sure what form God takes and I question it constantly, but I believe in something greater than us. I have to.

:: Lisa McGee, creator, writer and executive producer of Derry Girls, was awarded the coveted Brian Waddell Award for her outstanding contribution to the broadcast industry for the phenomenally successful Channel 4 series at the recent Royal Television Society NI Awards in Belfast. Series two of Derry Girls also won the Best Scripted Comedy award for Hat Trick Productions.

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Arts