Arts

The Young Offenders stars Alex Murphy, Chris Walley and Hilary Rose discuss the new series of the hit Irish comedy

The wait for season three of hit Irish comedy series The Young Offenders is over. Georgia Humphreys catches up with stars Alex Murphy, Chris Walley and Hilary Rose ahead of all episodes appearing on BBC iPlayer on Sunday

Conor and Jock are back for a new series of The Young Offenders
Georgia Humphreys

If you're a fan of Cork-set comedy series The Young Offenders – and you should be, because it's hilarious – you won't be surprised to hear star Alex Murphy doesn't get embarrassed on set anymore.

"I feel I can do anything in front of the crew, which we have – there's not much of me that the crew hasn't seen." quips the Cork-born star.

In the BBC comedy, Murphy (22) plays Conor MacSweeney, who's best friends with Jock O'Keeffe, played by fellow Corkonian, Chris Walley (25). Over the past two series of the hit show, which is a spin-off from the 2016 film of the same name, we have followed the two loveable rogues as they get themselves into all sorts of sticky situations.

Particularly memorable storylines include the teenagers' attempt to steal a giant tuna fish from the market in series one and when they got expelled after stripping off in the classroom and peeing on Principal Walsh's leg in series two.

Now we're getting a series three, in which we see the lads trying to make their way as young adults, with yet more questionable methods of making some money, all while Jock navigates being a new dad. One thing's for sure; things won't go smoothly.

It's an unconventional family set-up in The Young Offenders, which is filmed entirely in Cork city. A heart-warming episode in series one saw widower Mairead (whose husband was killed in an accident on a building site) become a foster mum to Jock – whose mum is also dead – after he escapes his abusive, alcoholic dad.

At the end of series two, Jock's girlfriend Siobhan – whose dad happens to be Principal Walsh, who is far from the biggest fan of Jock and Conor – gave birth to baby Star (cue some emotional scenes).

Jock (Chris Walley) is still getting to grips with being a father in the third series of the acclaimed Cork-set comedy

The new addition to the family means Principal Walsh and his wife Orla – whose other daughter Linda is going out with Conor – now have to engage more with Conor's mum Mairead (the brilliant Hilary Rose), which hasn't always gone well in the past.

"Season three was interesting from a character point of view because Mairead really cuts loose and, at some stages, the lads are telling her to calm down." reveals Rose, who's also from Cork and has been married to series creator Peter Foott since 2010.

As for the love story between her and Sergeant Healy, she teases "season three kinda continues that on-again, off-again, will they, won't they vibe".

The main storyline for series two is how Jock is adjusting to everyday life with baby Star.

"Conor and Jock are still getting into their sticky situations but now there's just a baby there as well," reveals Walley.

"I think it's just a major shift in their lives and they're just trying to figure it out all together."

Twins Nola and Penny Richardson shared the role of Star, and Walley says the babies were "incredible".

"I want one." exclaims Murphy, before quickly adding "not right now".

Rose chimes in at this point, saying she has told the boys they are always welcome to babysit her kids: she and Foote have Jake – who was born during filming of the big screen outing of The Young Offenders – and one-year-old Olivia.

"They're both amazing babysitters, but there was a time when Jake was very young where they bought him a nerf gun," she recalls, which sets them all off laughing, with her on-screen sons looking a little sheepish.

"I dunno, we were buying toys and we were like, 'This is what kids that age like.'" reasons Walley.

"There was some force off it if you shot it," he concedes. "They're heavy-duty."

"That was a real Conor and Jock moment for the two of us," admits Murphy.

Having Penny and Nola on set this series was definitely a learning curve for the young actors.

"I was terrified of holding babies for fear I dropped them," confides Walley.

"By the end of the shoot, I just was inseparable."

The Young Offenders

As mentioned, the series is shot entirely in Cork city, where the production has become a very much a part of everyday life for the locals. According to Murphy, "there's not a street in Cork city that we haven't filmed on – the Cork people are so proud of the show."

Having crowds watching them film was something they "had to get used to pretty quick."

"There was a great photo in the paper a few years ago, of us making the film; there are about seven people in the crew, no-one's watching us filming," notes Murphy.

"And then there was a photo of us making season one, and there were just crowds of people watching. It was good, it was like doing a play every day, whenever we were filming outside in the city."

One of the new episodes sees Jock, Conor and Mairead take a trip to Dublin. Whilst filming on a road in the capital, they reveal they were pulled over by the then taoiseach Leo Varadkar's entourage as he was driving past them in an unmarked executive car.

"There was a camera in the back seat, and we were mid-scene and we were like, 'What does this guy want? We're filming.'" says Rose.

"And eventually Alex put down the passenger window and was like, 'Hey', and next thing Leo Varadkar leaned forward."

"His driver was like, 'Great show.'" recalls Murphy. "We were like, 'Do you like it?'[to Varadkar] And he went, 'I haven't seen it.'"

"But he did say, 'I've heard it's great'," adds Rose.

The biggest thing Rose has taken away from making The Young Offenders is the amazing relationships they've formed with cast and crew. Indeed, it's touching to witness how close Walley and Murphy are in real-life as we chat over Zoom.

"It's about getting the job done and doing the best that you can, but you have to remember as well, for actors, we're really vulnerable in front of all the crew, so you kinda put your trust in them," she elaborates.

"If we're doing emotional scenes, they're witnessing it, they're trying to support you."

As for future series, Murphy points out the only issue could be that he and Walley don't exactly look 16 anymore.

"At some points in the script, Jock will go, 'We can't do that, we're only 16', and we were like, 'Can we just not mention our age?'" he continues, chuckling.

"As long as we look young, I guess we'll see what happens. Although, CGI is working pretty good these days…"

:: Series three of The Young Offenders will be released on BBC iPlayer on Sunday July 19 prior to screening weekly on BBC One and RTE One from Friday July 24

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