New BBC show inspired by Ardboe in WWII starts this weekend

A new BBC drama inspired by the American airbase in Ardboe during WWII and the community surrounding it, is to kick off this weekend.

Thursday, 10th November 2016, 6:03 pm
Updated Wednesday, 16th November 2016, 3:55 pm
Mrs Coyne from My Mother and Other Strangers

Written by local man Barry Devlin, My Mother and Other Strangers is set in the fictional town of Moybeg on the shores of Lough Neagh.

But at an exclusive launch of the five-part series the accomplished writer told the Mail its roots could be found in the townland in which he spent his childhood.

Narrated by a version of himself as a small boy and featured a publican with traits much like his father's, he said the similarities to real people end there.

Speaking at the launch, he said: "The way it works is there's a story each week but the character arcs run through from beginning to end.

"The stories of the week are often based around things that kind of really happened, for instance this (episode one) is about a young airman who goes out with the publicans daughter and gets a thumping.

"Episode two is about fishermen being taken to court, because that happened all the time... So, the stories are based around things that I heard from my father and from local people.

"The Yanks weren't there that long," he continued, "but they were like aliens in their crisp uniforms and their Raybans - they had jeeps and of course most of all big Boeing bombers."

As for the characters in his series, he said: "Michael Coyne, the hero, is like my dad in that he's kind of dark, he was a publican and an ex Gaelic footballer, and Francis, who's the kid who narrates all this, is kind of geeky and is a yard behind the play is probably me - but everyone else is fiction.

"It's an everyday story of adulterous folks," he added. "I am very pleased with the story and am really thrilled with how that has worked out."

My Mother and Other Strangers, which incidentally mention this very paper in episode two, kicks off its five week run this Sunday on BBC One.

Commissioned by Stephen Wright - the man behind The Fall and Line of Duty, the first screening of the the show at Seamus Heaney HomePlace in Bellaghy went down well the audience, with huge applause after the closing scene.

With romance, tension, comedy and a few brewing undertones, Devlin's ode to his childhood home, could be Northern Ireland's answer to Downton, or maybe even Poldark.