Fair City star Maclean Burke spent 16 hours in a wet tank for chilly stunt scene
Maclean Burke spent a weekend submerged in water to film upcoming dramatic scenes for Fair City
Fair City fans are set to be on the edge of their seats when Damien Halpin gets caught up in a building collapse, which leaves him facing death by drowning.
Over the past few weeks, viewers have seen how slimy businessman James Rafferty has been trying to cut corners on his new development of shoebox apartments, with his cohort Cian Howley replacing Damien as site manager and contributing to shoddy workmanship.
Damien and his wife Mairead had initially invested in the development, hoping the units would be used for social housing.
But when Damien found out about the plans he tried to stall the development until James’s father Con was being released from hospital — who he hoped might scupper his son’s scam.
When a fired Damien gets access to the site, he’s caught up in a terrifying situation in which the flooring collapses and water floods in from everywhere.
Maclean Burke, who plays Damien, explains that filming of the dramatic scenes took place over two days on a recent weekend and he hopes they will be visually exciting.
“It was absolutely mental, it was crazy stuff,” explains Maclean. “They built a tank on the lot in the car park out there and reproduced the space in there. You’d rain machines, you’d water flowing in — you’d water up to the chest. You had electricity charges going off all over the place.”
His time in the water was intense.
“I spent 16 hours a day in the water for this one. It was cold tap water coming off the mains,” he recalls. “Thankfully I’m okay with water, I don’t mind it. When I was a kid we were kind of reared swimming all year round, going in to school blue from the cold in the middle of winter. For me it wasn’t the end of the world.”
“We were really lucky with the weather as well, it was right in the middle of that crazy heatwave we got towards the end of the summer.”
The filming had to be done precisely.
“All the special effects and stunts were shot over a Saturday and Sunday. The industry is very busy and the stunt guys and special effects guys were only available to shoot on the weekend, so it was the first time in my tenure in 25 years that we actually filmed on a Saturday and Sunday,” he notes.
Con (Liam Carney) is also caught up in the terror, when he comes across the accident and tries to intervene.
“We had a trailer load of water scenes and then obviously Con joins me, when it all goes Pete Tong for him,” smiles Maclean. “There was a real feel of that this was a proper movie cinematic set-up we were doing, we had the best of everything. It’s shot really dark.
“There was a point of me getting into water, and I remember saying to Liam (Con) how bad it was. He got in and said, ‘I can’t see straight’. You had this torrential rain coming down. You open your eyes and you can’t see anything, it’s like being underwater.”
But Maclean enjoyed his couple of days in the water.
“It was really interesting and a lot of fun as well. These are the reasons we get into this game, to have these moments, and to play with these ideas and see where we can bring them.
“I haven’t seen it (the end result), but you have a feeling when it’s right. I always kind of go, ‘If they get 60pc of what I think that they’ve produced, it will be fantastic TV’.”
He admits that Damien had best interests at heart, but was not prepared for James’ scheming.
“Throughout this story, at first Damien had made a mistake of thinking, ‘Okay, he’s a little bit wavy around the edges, but surely he has some of his dad’s business acumen and I guess humanity’. However, that doesn’t come to fruition at all,” he points out.
“He is trying to slow down the process in order for Con to get healthy enough to maybe return and try and crack the whip a bit, to put things back on track because deep down beneath it all, this is Damien’s community and he wants what’s best for them, he can’t abide by these cost-cutting measures.
“Really, it’s mirroring what’s happening out there at the moment.”
If Damien survives, Maclean hopes there may be some comeuppance.
“I’m hoping that Damien is going to either get his investment or make some money and get back on the building site and do the job correctly, the job he signed up for. Who knows, there are a lot of factors.
“Obviously with this happening, the site will have to be closed down, they will have to figure out how to make it safe again. It’s a long road to financial kind of gain, I think.
“James is a slippery snake. Teflon James, he seems to be able to find an angle and get out these things. But if Damien has anything to do with it, he will get his comeuppance.”
Maclean is a father of four children, three of whom are adults and the youngest a 10-year-old. He is in a relationship with HSE worker Cat Nolan and lives in Ashford, Co Wicklow.
“It has been interesting times. I actually hate this time of the year going back to school because it’s just the stress of having to get them up and get them going,” he notes.
“My eldest daughter received her Leaving Cert, so she’s looking at college now and she’s hoping to go down to Cork.
“Jude is in town in Aungier Street, he’s doing business, enjoying his rugby, captain of the Under-19s, he’s playing seniors with Greystones and enjoying kind of college life.
“Really it’s myself and Beau now, she’s 10, fifth class. They grow up so fast.”
Maclean had also been hoping to find a new place in Greystones.
“I do a lot of travelling. Where I’m based in Ashford I do about 400km a week on school runs, so I was trying to look at the possibility of getting home, but there’s a housing crisis out there and it hasn’t quite worked out yet,” he reflects.
“I love living where I am, it’s just the travel is killing me but look, I can’t do anything about it and just keep hoping.”
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