Derry Girls spin-off: I’d love to get Jamie Dornan, says creator Lisa McGee

Writer’s heart set on penning new chapter of cult comedy
Kelly Allen

Those mourning the end of Derry Girls might be in luck as writer Lisa McGee has begun brainstorming ideas for a spin-off.

While the hit comedy’s creator is keen to emphasise that it has been fun so far, she revealed she would love to do one in the future and have Jamie Dornan make a cameo appearance.

The Channel 4 sitcom, which followed four schoolgirls in Derry in the 1990s, concluded in an emotional one-hour special centred around the Good Friday Agreement on Wednesday after three series.

Lisa told Sunday Life: “We haven’t actually talked about it because we’re just so knackered.

“But Mike (Lennox, the director) and I just started sending each other ideas (of spin-offs) to amuse each other.

“I love this (Derry Girls) world and I’d love to (do a spin-off) at some point but it’s just finding the right thing... I definitely think the mums and maybe those older characters. Even someone said to me the men like Uncle Colm and Jerry doing something could be funny.

“There’s so many generations and stuff on it. Basically we haven’t really thought of it but I’m definitely going to continue writing about the place. I know I want to write about Northern Ireland and write funny stuff about it. So I’ll definitely be writing about home again.”

Perhaps the most exciting thing about series three has been the cameos, including appearances from Liam Neeson, Fatboy Slim and, of course, Chelsea Clinton — who Lisa herself wrote to when she visited Derry in 1995 with her father Bill, who was then US president, and mum Hillary.

Lisa admitted: “So I wrote it to amuse myself because I was like, ‘No, this is never going to happen’. But I wrote it as a little in-joke for us.

“And then the more we talked about it, me and Mike, and I said, ‘Let’s try,’ and so I got a contact for her. I got someone who knows her. I was trying everywhere. It was so embarrassing. I contacted some politician in America that actually was not a Clinton fan.

“And I said, ‘I’m sorry, I just thought because you are both Democrats then it’s all lovely’. I tried people in Queen’s University because she’s over and back.

“Eventually it was a manager in America, like an actor’s manager, who used to work for the Clintons. And she acted as this middle woman for us. And then she rang me one night and said, ‘Chelsea’s in,’ and I was like, ‘Oh my God,’ and I was getting drunk ringing Mike.

“When we were young we were so obsessed with her because we were the same age. We talked about Chelsea coming to Derry like ‘maybe we’ll see her’ because it was amazing to us that this teenage girl was in the middle of all this glamorous stuff and lived in the White House.

“That last bit that was done at the very end with Chelsea, we did that after we’d sort of cut the rest of it.

“We did it so fast, Mike, me and our producer Brian just flew to New York in a couple of days and filmed that last bit. So it still feels like a bit of a dream that we’ve done it.”

While she’s had such impressive celebrity appearances, Lisa was gutted they couldn’t get Holywood actor Jamie Dornan to be in the show.

She added: “We have lots of people that wanted to do it but we couldn’t make it work, because of schedules.

“I really, really wanted Jamie Dornan to be in it. Early on we knew he wasn’t going to be available when we pushed the schedule and he’s a fan of the show. And he’s very, very funny. So the next time he’ll be in it.”

The last two episodes of the series, broadcast on consecutive nights last week, centred on Orla and Erin’s joint 18th birthday party and the group’s attempt to get tickets for Fatboy Slim’s performance at Derry’s Halloween Festival.

And the emotional storyline between Michelle, played by Jamie-Lee O’Donnell, and Erin, played by Saoirse-Monica Jackson, almost didn’t happen as Lisa only added it in after rewriting it during the pandemic. The best friends were seen having a bitter falling out over Michelle’s brother, who is a convicted killer facing release from jail due to the Good Friday Agreement.

Lisa explained: “Originally the end was just funny and it was the party and the Good Friday Agreement was just your typical Derry Girls where they were like ‘This is hugely annoying’.

“The first version of the finale was funnier.

“And then when we got our dates pushed back, I had a bit of time to sit back and think and go, ‘Oh, let’s just go for it. Let’s just bring the political and the personal crashing together, because it’s the only time we’re gonna get a chance to do it’.

“And there was no Michelle and Erin story. I remember telling our two execs that, ‘I have this idea and I don’t want to go near it because it’s a bit daunting. So I’m hoping you don’t like it.’

“And I told them the Erin and Michelle story.

“And they liked it so then they said, ‘You have to do it now’. So thank Covid for something.”

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