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RTE set for backlash as Wartgirl, a teen story of STIs and lesbians, goes online

RTE is preparing for a backlash over a controversial new show about a teen girl with a sexually transmitted infection.

Comic drama Wartgirl focuses on the life of an Irish girl who seeks to get revenge on an ex-boyfriend when she discovers she has an STI.

The programme, which is part of an online competition and could be selected by bosses to be played on late-night TV, features open and frank discussions on sex, masturbation, STIs and gay and lesbian issues.

Producer Trevor Curran said that the show was about trying to get across a safe sex message but at the same time to entertain.

"We were not trying to present it in a 'worthy' way," he said. "Teenagers are going to shag their brains out -- it's just about being responsible about it.

"Teenagers will be teenagers."

The show, which will be voted on by the public over the coming weeks, took its inspiration from controversial TV shows Shameless and Misfits and movie Kick-Ass.

Writer Mary Duffin said that director Laura McGann got the inspiration from when she was living in Liverpool and wanted to explore the issues surrounding safe sex for teenagers.

"Comedy is a perfect place to make a point," Ms Duffin explained.

"We wanted it to be snappy, punchy so we decided to create a superhero."



MATURE

The show, which is set in Newbridge, Co Kildare and features a Dublin and Kildare cast, follows Viv and her friend Tom and his cross-dressing father Sandra as they embark on a mission for revenge with the help of the Mufia-- the Lesbian Mafia.

Ms Duffin said that she did not have concerns about the content of the show or how it would be received.

"The StoryLand project at RTE wanted us to push the boat," she said. "It is for an 18 to 25-year-old audience and it is written for a mature audience. So far it has been really well received. It's going to be one of those shows you either love or hate."

But she said that she anticipates some negative reaction to the show. "I don't see it as controversial," Ms Duffin said. "Some people's grandmothers might be insulted."

The show can be viewed at http://www.rte.ie/storyland/ watch-wartgirl.html.

clairemurphy@herald.ie