herald

Saturday 21 October 2017

STILL THE FAIREST IN THE LAND AFTER A QUARTER OF A CENTURY

DESPITE being stalwarts on RTE soap Fair City, Tom Jordan and Tony Tormey still consider themselves jobbing actors.

The TV stars have been on the popular programme since its inception 25 years ago and while they are the only two on the show to currently hold the record, they said it does not mean job security.

"They decide how many weeks you're going to be doing in a year, so you don't know what you're going to be earning next year - it depends on the storyline," Tom, who plays Charlie Kelly on the week-night drama, told the Herald.

"If you're in for 20 weeks then that's pretty good, but it doesn't happen all that often," he said.

earth-shattering

"You never know from year to year what's going to happen and people have been in this show for years and then suddenly told, 'we don't have any storyline for you,' which is a bit earth-shattering," he added.

"You're contracted for a number of weeks and they have stories written for those weeks for you.

"There's no such thing as job security, and there's no, 'well you're here 25 years so you'll be here for another 25,' it doesn't work like that," the veteran actor said.

Over its quarter of a century, the residents of Carrigstown have experienced domestic abuse, rape attacks and abortions. The fictional northside community has also seen its fair share of births, deaths, marriages, affairs and everything in between over its 3,600 episodes.

The drama aired its first ever episode in September 1989. It now broadcasts four times a week and is watched by an average of nearly half a million viewers.

Fair City viewers know Tony Tormey as loveable rogue Paul Brennan, whose on-screen marriage to Niamh (Clelia Murphy) is breaking down following her affair with Michael (Richard McWilliams).

He admitted he never imagined he would be in the show this long.

"We came out here initially and filmed for six weeks for the pilot and it went on from there - it was going with the working title Urban Drama," he said.

"If anyone had said to me in 1968 or 1980 that I'd be doing two hours drama every week soon, I wouldn't have believed them and said not to be ridiculous. But you can and we do," he said.

While Tom has been a consistent resident, many actors have come and gone through Carrigstown.

He insisted Fair City provides the best training for those looking to make it in TV.

"It's a technical medium and a very different technique. You cannot go off and make it up as you go along, like you might do in theatre," he said. Clelia meanwhile, insisted there is no room for diva antics.

"We work like a conveyor belt - if you turn up late that has a knock-on effect for scenes after you," she said. "If you're going to do diva you do it on the way home in the car. There's no time for that and consequently we have a very nice environment. We put in a performance and go home," she said.

"It is a big production and it's a juggling act too - you don't have time to get sick."

She said it is the ideal foundation for rising stars on the small screen.

"You learn your craft beautifully here and it's an amazing training ground."

The trio also insisted the introduction of TV3's forthcoming soap Red Rock will provide some "healthy competition".

"I think Ireland can take another show," Tony said.

hnews@herald.ie

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