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back to barrytown Roddy Doyle reveals he was not fully happy with final script for The Commitments in new series

The programme is the first in a trio of documentaries on Roddy Doyle's trilogy, which also included The Snapper and The Van.

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The Commitments

The Commitments

The Commitments

Roddy Doyle had to fight to get his name on the screenwriting credits of The Commitments, new documentary Back to Barrytown reveals.

Writer Doyle also reveals he was not completely happy with the finished script.

And musician Glen Hansard claims that he is still bitter over director Alan Parker pulling him aside to deliver a foul-mouthed tirade - and claims he was not paid as much as other cast members.

"One of the things that causes trouble, no matter whether you are a band or an acting group or whether you are all working in an office, is when people are on different amounts of pay. That was one of the things that would have created a little weird dynamic," explains Hansard, who played Outspan Foster in the hit 1991 film.

"I don't play on every song, I play on two songs on the record, so it made sense that I didn't get as much. There were dynamics like that to do with money and you are dealing with a bunch of working class people, so you're going to have suspicions."

Glen, who went on to win an Oscar for the flick Once, recalls Parker colourfully telling him off one time during the shooting of the movie in Dublin during the summer of 1990.

"There was a moment with Alan where he pulled me aside and he said something really rude to me, like really awful, at the very first Frames gig, in the Purty Loft, on the 15th, I remember, 15th of June," he recalled.

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Roddy Doyle had to fight to get his name among the scriptwriters.

Roddy Doyle had to fight to get his name among the scriptwriters.

Roddy Doyle had to fight to get his name among the scriptwriters.

"Unfortunately, there was just a simple clash of dates and I said 'I'm not skipping this gig'. Everybody came out to the Purty Loft, we had a night off, they all came to the gig. Then the next day we were back in work, back shooting the film.

"At the very end of the filming, he took me aside and said 'Glen, come here a second. On every film that I do, there's one, and he said a word I won't repeat, but there's one… and I didn't think it would be you'. I was shocked, and for me it kind of soured my experience."

The programme to be shown tonight is the first in a trio of documentaries on Roddy Doyle's trilogy, which also included The Snapper and The Van.

Doyle wrote the books while working as a teacher in Kilbarrack, where the fictional suburb of Barrytown is loosely based.

He describes how he went to London to try to get filmmakers on board to make a movie of The Commitments and managed to get producer Linda Miles on board.

She persuaded famed British scriptwriters Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais, who were responsible for the likes of Porridge and Auf Wiedersehen, Pet to join the team.

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The Snapper

The Snapper

The Snapper

Doyle says when the duo joined up there were no real head-to-head meetings.

"We never sat around the table discussing the lines or what they'd do," he says. "They wrote on top of my version. So there were some scenes that they wrote which I had no involvement in, and other scenes that I had written that they left as were, and others were cut and paste bits and pieces of both our work."

Ian and Dick then had a brainwave.

"We were quite instrumental in getting this film made and it was Dick and I who brought in Alan Parker, which of course made an enormous difference," says Ian.

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Colm Meaney played Jimmy Rabbitte Snr.

Colm Meaney played Jimmy Rabbitte Snr.

Colm Meaney played Jimmy Rabbitte Snr.

Parker was already famous for having directed Midnight Express and Fame among others.

"Alan came on board and overnight we had three offers of finance, including one from someone who didn't get the title right. He offered us £8 million for a film called The Connections," laughs Miles.

But Doyle reveals how he had to fight to get his name appear on the screenwriting credits.

"There was a disappointment with The Commitments, it was the way the co-written aspect was handled, because when I looked at the final script it had Dick and Ian's names on it but not mine, but then when I read it I realised actually I wrote a considerable part of this," he explains. "And I had to fight for my right, not too long.

"It could have been embittering, you know, it wasn't, but again it was a lesson learned. But I just thought I never want to learn something in that way again and certainly I don't want to read a script and realise that there's something wrong with it."

Doyle adds that there are a couple of moments in the finished film he's not happy about.

"There was a moment where Joey's mother is playing the violin and there's a holy statue there, I just thought 'that's not the Ireland I know, or it's not the Ireland I want to depict'," he says.

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The Van

The Van

The Van

"The other is the gag about the piano player in the band going to confession. The punch line itself was very funny, but he wouldn't have been going to confession, that's much more important."

Auditions were held in Dublin for aspiring actors and musicians to appear in the film, which cost £5 million at the time.

Colm Meaney, who played Jimmy Rabbitte senior, says although he had what was primarily a cameo role, it was still memorable.

"I was ecstatic, it was wonderful," he says. "It wasn't like a film you sat back and watched and studied, it was almost like a film you participated in."

Music producer Paul Bushnell remembers when Andrew Strong, who played Deco Cuffe, arrived in for his audition.

"In walks this kind of heavy, long-haired kid, who looks like a man but we know he's 15," he recalls.

Hubbard reveals that when Strong hit his first note, Alan Parker leapt out of his chair. "He was like 'whoshhh', this is my guy!'" beams Bushnell.

Angeline Ball, who starred as backing singer Imelda Quirke, says: "When we all saw it we were a bit shellshocked. To us we were doing a film, a little film. Most of us had come from the northside anyway, not all of us. So we were just kind of making a little film, that's what we thought."

  • Back to Barrytown is on RTÉ1 tonight at 9.30pm.

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