As soon as I feel the wind in my scalp, I feel like I'm Jock | The cast of The Young Offenders talk about the comedy's return © Vico Films

As soon as I feel the wind in my scalp, I feel like I'm Jock

The cast of The Young Offenders talk about the comedy's return

The Young Offenders – the coming-of-age comedy about loveable rogues Conor (Alex Murphy) and Jock (Chris Walley) and their mother/guardian Mairéad (Hilary Rose) – returns to the BBC for a third series next week, with all the episodes available on  iPlayer from Sunday, followed by a broadcast run on BBC One at 9.30pm on Fridays. Here the stars talk about what viewers can expect, filming in Cork and the impact the show has had.

Where does series three pick up?

Alex: At the end of series two we left Jock as a new father, and it’s an exciting time for everyone. I think we don't really trust Jock to be a good father but in that moment there's a bit of hope and we’re all just excited to have this new little bundle of joy in the family. Jock almost has a new best friend in his baby girl Star, so I think there could be a bit of rivalry between Conor and Star for the love of Jock. 

Hilary: Mairéad and Sergeant Healy (Dominic MacHale) have had our on-again/off-again romance, and by the end of series two we had broken up, so it feels like there’s no hope for us. Also Mairéad becomes a granny.

Chris: Obviously the lads still end up getting themselves into terribly sticky situations, and now throw a baby into the mix and everything gets a whole lot more exciting and messy – we end up in some funny situations.

What are your biggest similarities between yourself and your character?

Alex: I can zone out sometimes and the whole world could pass me by and I might not notice anything happening! Myself and Conor have that similarity anyway, as he kind of floats away in his head, which I can be guilty of a bit.

Chris: That is true! I think Jock enjoys convincing people to do things and making people think something is a great idea when it might not necessarily be so. I feel like that's what I do a lot with people.

Hilary: For me, it could be that Mairéad wields a metaphorical sword from time to time and I think I would probably do the same. I can be tough if I need to be!

Do you have any specific rituals for getting into character?

Alex: A lot of it is when you leave the makeup chair and you've got your head shaved, the earring in and the tracksuit on - just a quick look in the mirror and Conor thinks he’s a hard man! Not saying it’s easy, but we've been doing it for so long now it's kind of this weird alter ego that we all have and we can kind of slip into.

Hilary: For me, it’s always the trainers. Mairéad always has these absolutely disgusting trainers - like you couldn't buy a worse pair of trainers! I wore the same pair of trainers for series one all through series two. And finally, when they got to series three they were lik, "we've splashed out and bought you a new pair of trainers for like, 20 quid", and they were just as disgusting. So yeah, it's always the trainers. Once the trainers go on, I'm like, oh yeah, that’s Mairéad!

Chris: It's getting the haircut all right - we always look forward to it. When we're rehearsing we can't wait to get because as soon as the hair comes off… once you look at yourself, feel the wind blowing through your scalp, I feel like Jock! Put on the tracksuit, his little tank top, chain - you can’t help it, you automatically just go into that zone.

Do you have any standout memories from filming in Cork?  

Alex: There’s a natural buzz around the city when we're filming, which is great. The show is great for using the locals as actual characters and just picking people off the street and saying, ‘Do you want to be in the show?’ People are so delighted!

Chris: Literally people ask sometimes, ‘Can I be in it?’ and the directors are like, ‘Yeah, okay! Yes you can actually.’

Alex: I’ve got a few of my family members in it now; my dad and my brother have had parts.

Chris: I got my dad in it this series as well. He’s filling up a car at one point. My brother is actually very disappointed that he wasn’t in it so if we go again he’ll have to do something.

Hilary: My niece is in it as well, actually!

Why do you think Mairéad’s character resonates so well with parents?

Hilary: She's one of the first characters that I know of on screen that really shows the frustration of being a parent, and in particular a single parent. It was really nice after series two came out, this guy came up to me, a young fella, and he said, ‘Thank you so much. This is the first time that a family like ours has been represented on Irish TV’ - meaning that him and his sister were raised by their single mum. He was like, ‘Just thank you for representing that family unit slightly differently to what we had seen it. It almost felt like we were validated for the first time.’

I got really emotional - you forget that it has that kind of impact. Mairéad really spoke to a lot of people... it’s OK to be a mum and to adore your children but also to be really tough because she needed to be to protect them. She was playing two roles essentially in trying to keep these lads out of trouble and [in becoming] a foster mum, she bites off way more than she can chew so I think people respect her for that.

She's a really well-rounded mum character. I think it's a different mum character than you might have previously seen on TV where the mum might have stayed at home and it was almost very ‘Irish mumsy’, whereas she’s completely different. She’s out there, she’ll bust a skull if she needs to and get the job done, you know, so I think that’s an interesting watch for people.

What do you hope series three brings to audiences? Are you excited that it will be available to them during lockdown?

Chris: I think that is a really nice thing, you know? We filmed it with series two, so I was really not sure when I was going to come out. Hopefully, if it brings some laughs to people while they’re stuck inside during this strange and weird time, then that would be great. It’s definitely the weirdest year of my life anyway, so it's really nice to have something coming out at this time and (I’m) hoping it’ll bring some sort of joy to households.

Hilary: It's really lucky as well that we shot series two and three back-to-back. How bizarre is that? It just feels like we’re really lucky and I know that obviously a lot of broadcasters are struggling for content and so we're lucky that our content was there and available.

Published: 15 Jul 2020

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