Tuesday 16 January 2018

RTE's Rebellion gets guarded welcome from James Connolly's great-grandson

The cast of Rebellion got together to watch the airing of the first episode in 37 Dawson Street on Sunday
The cast of Rebellion got together to watch the airing of the first episode in 37 Dawson Street on Sunday

The great-grandson of one of the 1916 Rising leaders has given a "guarded welcome" to the portrayal of the events in RTE's Rebellion.

The first episode aired on Sunday night and has been met with widespread praise.

Rebellion was watched by some 619,000 viewers, according to the latest figures from RTE, with the show having a 41pc share of the audience.

An additional 45,000 watched it on RTE One+1 and 9,200 on RTE Player.

James Connolly Heron, who is the great-grandson of James Connolly, said he was impressed with the first episode.

"It's well-produced and has echoes of Strumpet City. It looks well - I think it would be unfair to be too picky about it at this stage," said Mr Connolly Heron.


However, while he did say it was too early to be critical of the series after one episode, he did question one particular moment.

"I thought the idea of storing guns and ammunition in the Royal College of Surgeons was a bit fanciful," he said.

The scene he was referring to saw the rebels concealing guns in boxes in the college in the build-up to the rebellion.

Mr Connolly Heron commended the performances of the actors and added that the programme could "open up the whole story to a new generation of our people".

The portrayal of his own great-grandfather, he felt, "certainly had impact".

"It is shot well, and looks good - it's certainly a good starting point," he added.

The €6m five-part RTE drama will continue over the next few weeks, charting the pivotal events in Ireland from the outbreak of World War I to the Easter Rising in 1916.

A lot of praise has been heaped on the strong female characters in the show, as well as the high production values.

Several members of the cast got together to watch the airing of the first episode on Sunday night at 37 Dawson Street - including Brian Gleeson, Sarah Greene, Ruth Bradley and Charlie Murphy.

Colin Teevan, who wrote the show, said on Today FM that he wanted to keep the focus away from the leaders of 1916.

He said he wanted to explore what life was like for those who were living during that time.

Mr Teevan added that feminism, socialism and nationalism had fuelled risings across Europe at the time and said that was a key part to telling the story of 1916.

However, he defended the €6m budget.

"It was an extraordinary time of social upheaval and I wanted to capture that," he said.

"It was expensive, there was an awful lot of actors - I think there are 79 named parts - and shooting on location is expensive, as is CGI."

Glen Killane, Managing Director of RTE Television, said that Rebellion is the beginning of a number of productions from Montrose to mark the year.

"[Rebellion] marks the beginning of a series of programming across television, radio and online that audiences can engage with, understand, commemorate and celebrate 1916," he said.

A three-part documentary series narrated by Liam Neeson, Joe Duffy's Children of the Revolution, Michael Portillo's The Enemy Files and Bob Geldof on Yeats will also feature in the year ahead.

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