Saturday Q&A: Grimes and McKee on L'Etoile's mussels, saving Cerys Matthews and pints in God's waiting room

Conor Grimes and Alan McKee are actors, writers and comedians known for their work as together Grimes and McKee. Their Christmas show at the Lyric theatre will be an audio production, The Nativity: What the Donkey Heard

Alan McKee (51) and Conor Grimes (52) whose Christmas show at the Lyric is The Nativity: What the Donkey Heard. Visit for details
Jane Hardy

How do you unwind at the weekend?

Grimes: I absolutely adore the weekend and love lighting an early evening fire in our home in Donaghmore near Dungannon. We have teenage sons so there's a bit of taxiing about and I go for walks with our Kerry blue terrier called Torai. Not Tory, it's an old Irish name. I love music and on Spotify have everything from Tom Waits to Hot Chip.

McKee: I watch an awful lot of sport: football, rugby, anything going. But my weekend plans for sport on TV don't always succeed – there are other people in this house.

What do you recall of weekends growing up?

Grimes: My uncle and my dad both had grocery shops so weekends were slavery. It was child labour and we were paid in ice cream. Lots and lots of ice cream.

McKee: Weekends growing up in Coleraine were always about seeing family – Granny, grandas, uncles. We went to St Patrick's Sunday School. Conor and I are a mixed marriage and we should be getting some sort of grant.

Friday night or Saturday night?

Grimes: I'm Saturday night. When you do comedy, Saturday's the big night and I am happy as a cow at milking time. I love Friday night too but when I'm not working, there's too much anticipation.

McKee: I'm a Friday night person. I have to say a couple of pints then are just the most gorgeous thing. When in rehearsals, it's so good to shift gear and head for the Oak Room – aka God's waiting room – in The Errigle.

Do you have a must-listen to radio show at weekends?

Grimes: I love 6 Music and Cerys Matthews. At one stage the BBC were going to scrap it and I was part of the campaign to save it, with a petition saying 'Do not under any circumstances get rid of it.' It's a really good, eclectic programme.

McKee: It's Belfast's own Colin Murray on Radio 5 Live – it's a comedy sports programme and it's fab.

Weekend TV/box set?

Grimes: I don't watch box sets, haven't seen Game of Thrones although I hear it's great.

McKee: At the moment it's Dark Material which is appointment TV.

Favourite eatery or is it a takeaway?

Grimes: Our favourite restaurant is The Brewer's House in Donaghmore, which is beautiful but closed at the minute. It's a gastro pub and they do a brilliant early bird menu with steak and a glass of wine.

McKee: L'Etoile on the Ormeau Road in Belfast. I start with the mussels and you can't really beat their well-aged steak.

Is Sunday still special?

Grimes: Yeah, we go to Mass and in the afternoon, take the boys to see Granny and Granda. We have a cup of tea and a catch-up. Sun daydinner is a roast and spuds and I cook but am not as good as I'd like to be.

McKee: Yeah, it is – people have more room.

How do you feel on Sunday night about Monday morning:

Grimes: Sunday night is about my favourite night. Partly because we usually have Monday off but also because I love what I do. I always wanted to go into the business and attended the National Youth Theatre in London with Dan(iel) Craig and Tom Hollander, one of the best actors I've ever seen.

McKee: Quite often I haven't done my homework.

For more info on The Nativity: What the Donkey Heard visit

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access