Saturday Q&A: Actor Frankie McCafferty on Gordon Banks, fishing for trout and his grandfather's spooky stories

Frankie McCafferty is a "middle aged" actor, writer and director who appears in new movie Pixie and is presenting a ghost story as part of the Listen at the Lyric season's spooky Ulster After Dark series from October 27

Former Ballykissangel star Frankie McCafferty appears in new comedy thriller Pixie and performs in the Lyric's Ulster After Dark series from October 27. Picture by Roger Kenny
Jane Hardy

How do you unwind at the weekend?

The concept of weekend doesn't apply to artists and actors if you're doing a show on Saturday. When I was filming Ballykissangel, we'd start shooting at about 6am on Saturdays. I did the new comedy film Pixie a year ago – films take a long time to edit. I'm in the first scene and so you don't reveal the plot, they don't send you the whole script – but it's about a drug-dealing priest cartel. In the current situation, we're all trying to do more work for the time we're between gigs. There are pluses: I have a son who's a teenager and get to see him more. Also, there's time to reflect and I have finished writing a play about 19th century Donegal and types of belief.

What do you recall most about weekends growing up?

I was brought up in Stranorlar and recall always going to see my football team, Hearts, at the weekend. Once Stoke City came to play us with Gordon Banks and he signed autographs. I was tiny, carried on my uncle's shoulders. I played GAA too. We did a lot of outdoor stuff – fishing for brown trout (and caught a lot), hunting for rabbits with our dogs (we weren't very successful), and we'd look for wild berries. I'm the youngest of six and five of us are still around. It was kind of idyllic. Then came the difficult part – being a teenager. Doing this ghost story for The Lyric Theatre reminded me we used to go to see my grandfather, a great storyteller, every second Saturday. He'd tell us stories about the fairies – very dark stories, not about 'the merry little people' but supernatural creatures you have to be wary of.

Friday night or Saturday night?

I suppose Saturday night as you have Sunday to recover. But every night is my time –working in my business, I love acting in a theatre at night. Night-times is when I come alive.

Do you have a must-listen weekend radio show?

Yes, I really like listening to BBC Radio 6 as it has a lot of new and Irish music. Cerys Matthews is great, also Cillian Murphy whom I know very well and who was a musician. Also Radio 4's Loose Ends with Clive Anderson.

Favourite eatery – or is it a takeaway?

L'Etoile on Belfast's Ormeau Road which has a lovely atmosphere. I trained in Paris at the National Conservatory of Dramatic Art and it reminds me of a place I used to go near the Seine. So, nice associations. When we got married, my wife and I don't believe in stag and hen parties so we held a 'sten' party there for my friends and her friends.

Is Sunday still special?

Yeah, I think it is. I used to joke if you were washed up on a desert island with no memory, you would still know when it was Sunday. It's still important.

How do you feel on Sunday evening about Monday morning?

I remember that 'have you done your homework' anxiety from schooldays. But if you're acting, Monday is your day off.

Frankie McCafferty performs The Familial Binds of Cheiromancy by Kat Woods at 6pm on October 27, available as an audio performance until November 2 (

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