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€3,000 scheme a 'p**s-take' - Normal People actor Doyle

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Normal People actor Sean Doyle

Normal People actor Sean Doyle

Normal People actor Sean Doyle

Normal People actor Sean Doyle has branded the €1m scheme to support Irish artists to create new work during the Covid-19 crisis "a p**s-take".

The 27-year-old from Dublin, who plays Connell's school pal Eric in the show, says that he boycotted the controversial scheme when it was announced in April.

The award is open to anyone who can demonstrate a track record of professional practice and is willing to create a new type or form of art.

The Arts Council said proposals would be assessed on the artistic quality of the proposal and that successful applicants will be awarded €3,000.

However, Sean, who is a household name from Fair City where he plays Paul Brennan's son Callum, said that the scheme puts huge pressure on struggling actors.

"If you are on the Covid payment, hopefully that will support you, but some actors don't qualify for that," he said.

Backlash

"I was pretty angry about the announcement of the €3,000 grant for some online work.

"It felt like a bit of a p**s-take to be honest and I couldn't even look at it. I boycotted it to be honest.

"I remember my immediate reaction and from people in my sphere, there was a big backlash.

"One of the worst things that people could do was tell us to 'go out and write a great Irish novel or create the biggest masterpiece of music'.

"How dare they in a time when just getting by is a victory.

"Creative people seem to suffer with their mental health, to then put the added pressure on to the fear and anxiety that was going around.

"For me, it was a time to rest and digest and process.

"The first month I didn't really do anything productive in terms of the career and creativity."

Tonight, RTE will screen the series finale of Normal People, which has become a runaway success for both the national broadcaster, the BBC and American streaming service Hulu.

Sean says that while he is still struggling to take it all in, his close friend Paul Mescal is taking it all in his stride.

"It is a bit overwhelming the amount of attention on the show and the reaction is bizarre," he said.

"Everyone knew that this was something special but you never know until people watch it, but there was this magic and fizzle on set.

"We are all in a WhatsApp group, the cast, and we are constantly posting things like when the Kardashians were watching - so everyone is flabbergasted and blown away.

"It is modern and beautiful. You get to see Dublin as a modern metropolis and then these incredible settings in the west of Ireland.

"We had a blast on set and then suddenly, a year later, all hell has broken loose."