Northern Ireland news

Derry Girls actress Siobhan McSweeney to front new TV show cycling around Northern Ireland

Derry Girls star Siobhan McSweeney. Picture by More4

DERRY Girls star Siobhan McSweeney is climbing aboard an electric bike to explore the rural landscape of Northern Ireland in a new four-part series.

Exploring Northern Ireland With Siobhan McSweeney on More4 sees her tour the lakes, mountains, coastline and forests.

The actress from Cork (41), who plays Sister Michael in Derry Girls, delivers her own "affectionate and mischievous take" during her travels.

"When the idea was first mooted, I think I was a little bit surprised - very surprised - that anybody would want me to do it. And especially because they wanted an outdoors feel to it," she said.

"And I'm like, 'Well, you'll need somebody who likes the outdoors'. I mean, I love rambling, I love walking, hiking. But when I thought about it, I was delighted to leave the flat.

"I was very excited to show Northern Ireland in a way that I feel isn't being shown at all, and I was very excited about exploring the place. And going back there, I feel like I'm at home."

Exploring Northern Ireland with Siobhan McSweeney stars on August 12 on More4 at 9pm

There will be four episodes each dealing with a geographic area.

"Those areas would have very distinct feels, distinctive landscapes, and even the activities we'd get up to would be quite different in each area," Ms McSweeney said.

"And you got a different vibe from the place. And that surprised me, that surprised me a lot. I loved how different every place was.

"What didn't surprise me was the vast and warm and generous welcome we got everywhere we went. And genuinely, not in a trying to hawk their business or smile for the camera way, but I think people really understood the intention behind the show. There is a great pride in Northern Ireland for their home place. It's a very interesting place and especially here in Britain, we only see one aspect of it."

She added that she hoped the series could challenge people's misconceptions around Northern Ireland.

"It's an incredibly beautiful, and poetic, inspiring country, filled with beautiful, poetic, inspiring people who - like the whole idea of Derry Girls - are just living their lives," she said.

"They're mortified and embarrassed and bored, utterly bored, by the way they're portrayed and neglected. There are huge problems there, absolutely - but there are huge problems everywhere. And if you go there, you are guaranteed to have a wonderful time.

"I couldn't be more grateful to the people of Northern Ireland for allowing me to stomp around their beautiful country. But if it means that more people go there in a respectful and open-hearted way, then you're in for some craic, I'll tell you."

She further revealed that a third series of Derry Girls has been written and it is hoped filming can take place this year.

"You can imagine what our schedules are like, it's ridiculous. The intention is to get it done obviously," she said.

"I know that nobody's willing to sacrifice quality, so it means that we need a certain level of coronavirus restrictions to be lifted... not restrictions, there needs to be a certain level of safety. We won't compromise on quality. It's not fair to any of us, and it's not fair to the people who love the show."

:: Exploring Northern Ireland with Siobhan McSweeney stars on August 12 on More4 at 9pm.

Siobhan McSweeney as Sister Michael

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