TV3 planning to lure Fair City stars to its new soap
FOLLOW this for the latest plot twist in the battle of TV3 and RTE.
The commercial station wants to poach soap stars from Carrigstown to start its own rival show.
TV3's director of programmes, Jeff Ford, has invited UK and Irish companies to pitch ideas for a twice-weekly prime-time soap stretching to more than 100 episodes a year.
However the soap's cast could well include actors past and present from long-running series Fair City, with the TV3 boss admitting he has become a fan of the RTE soap since moving to Ireland.
"The first people we will talk to are Irish actors with soap experience. I've seen Fair City and I think the cast and show are really good.
"In the UK, actors move from soap to soap, from Coronation Street to Emmerdale, so why not here? So of course we'll be talking to actors from Fair City, but ultimately we will cast the right actor for the right role," Ford told the Herald.
Fair City's top names include the likes of Aoibheann McCaul, Aoibhin Garrihy and Ciara O'Callaghan, as well as veterans like Jim Bartley and Tom Jordan.
The cast of TV3's own recent drama, Deception, could also be in the picture, with Ford praising star Leigh Arnold as "first-class".
However the new Ballymount soap will prove a boon not just to local actors, but to writers and a huge crew in a production that could be worth several million euros over the next few years to the local TV industry.
Asked why his station was prepared to spend such significant sums, Ford, who headed drama on Channel 5 in the UK and worked on soap Family Affairs, said it was the next step for TV3.
"It's not going to be cheap, but we want something that reflects Irish life and which in turn people will discuss the following day, so it is part of Irish life.
"It's risky, of course, but it will be a long-term investment," he said.
Ford spoke to the Herald from the Edinburgh International Television Festival, where he has been in talks with production companies about the new soap, which is expected to launch in 2015.