'They mess up, but they've got a good heart' | The cast of Young Offenders on the comedy's return © BBC/Vico Films

'They mess up, but they've got a good heart'

The cast of Young Offenders on the comedy's return

After a three-year hiatus, The Young Offenders returns to BBC One next Friday, May 10, catching up with loveable rogues Conor (Alex Murphy) and Jock (Chris Walley), their pal Shane Casey (Billy Murphy)  and guardian Mairead (Hilary Rose) who tries to keep them on the straight and narrow. Here, the cast talk about the new series.

Young Offenders Connor

Interview with Alex Murphy (Conor)

What can you tell us about the new series?

Conor is a man now and is fresh out of prison so he’s trying to navigate his way through the modern reality as a man rather than a child and that’s hard for him.

How will Conor cope without Jock [who is still in prison]?

I think the beauty with Conor – and all of the characters in the show – is they will cope with whatever is thrown at them. No matter what happens to these characters, they still hold on to some sort of hope. It is a struggle for him without Jock, but he won’t sink.

Conor's growing up, but he doesn't know how to really do that, so you're watching Conor trying to navigate adulthood and he can't be stealing any more otherwise he'll go back to prison and he doesn't want that, so he's forced to live by society's rules. 

What is it about the show that makes it so appealing?

I think every character is so flawed and every character has such strong motives that you can relate to someone in the show. And the writing is so good, every character learns something about themselves and with just comedy and improv and heartfelt moments throughout in 27 minutes, it's a brilliant show.

There are very little pop culture references in the show, they're very much in their own world. We have the 12 people we know and that's who we interact with and as viewer it's just a nice break to watch a show where nothing outside of their world is really referenced so for half an hour you can just chill out.

Young Offenders Jock

Interview with Chris Walley (Jock)

What can viewers expect from the new series?

You can expect the unexpected. When I heard the show was coming back, I was excited to see everyone again and get the band back together. 

It’s been four years since we filmed the last series so to get everyone back together and just slip back into Jock is always good craic.

What's different about your character from last season?

He has a ponytail and he's in prison and the only thing he really maintains is his fringe. His circumstances have changed an awful lot. He got himself into a bit of bother with Conor and now he's in a Colombian prison and has been for the past three and a half years.

You’ve been playing Jock since the very beginning, do you see any of yourself in him?

Absolutely. I mean, I think we're very alike in some aspects and then very dissimilar in a lot of aspects but he's got a good heart and he tries to do right but he's also a bit of a messer and I can probably relate a lot to those aspects

What three words would you use to describe Jock?

Troublesome, kind and impulsive.

How do you feel your character has developed from series 1 to series 4?

Every episode with the lads, they go on a learning curve and by the next episode they’ve forgotten what they've learned. So they're always taking two steps forward, one step back. 

They're maturing a little bit and then they’ll be immature again. Jock’s got a child now so his circumstances are forcing him to mature but he'll always at heart be a child. So he'll never be too mature because if he was too mature there would be no comedy or no fun.

The cast seems to be very tight-knit off -camera. Is that actually the case?

Yes, we are all very close off -camera and we all hang out. That's just been the way since the start, since we did the film many moons ago and we all remain very close. The one cast member I always look forward to seeing is Alex, whenever we're back on set together it's always a lot of fun.

Why do you think The Young Offenders is so popular?

I think this show's probably been popular internationally because everyone can relate to the characters. Ultimately the show is about friendship and family and that's probably what people relate to the most.

Everyone had a best friend/friends growing up and you probably found yourselves in some stupid situations. So I think it's a show that's very nostalgic to people as well, for many reasons.

Young Offenders Mairead

Interview with Hilary Rose (Mairéad)

Where do we find Mairéad at the start of the new series?

Mairéad is seeing her son again after three years as he’s just come out of prison, but her life has changed substantially. She has freedom for the first time in her life without the two lads, she’s married and living with Sgt Healy, they’ve got this lovely life together and she’s in a place where she wanted to be and then we have her return of Conor, her jailbird son who throws a spanner in the works. It makes her living conditions and her life more difficult again.

Do you think Conor and Healy will ever get on?

 I don't know. Conor’s worse nightmare is to come home and his new stepdad is a Garda. So it's a nightmare for him. I don't know how they can ever resolve that.

What is it about the show that makes it so appealing?

It's like it's like a mini feature film every 27 minutes. All the characters are super relatable.

Young Offenders Billy

Interview with Shane Casey

What can you tell us about Billy in the new series?

Billy is really excited that Conor is back in Cork. He's excited about causing more mayhem and having more fun. Later in the series we learn there’s a fake fake Billy Murphy and he really wants to get to the bottom and find out who this fake Billy is. So he has a bit of an adventure planned and he's really excited that Conor's on board with finding out who fake fake Billy is.

Will Billy try to replace Jock in Conor’s life?

Yeah, I think he sees an opportunity now Jock isn’t around, he wants to be Conor’s buddy so he's in there fairly quickly. He thinks he can be like a big brother to Conor but as always it's not a straightforward journey with him.

What is it about The Young Offenders that makes the show so appealing to audiences?

It's got heart no matter what the characters do, they all make mistakes, but it's got heart.

How would you best describe The Young Offenders to someone who isn’t familiar with it?

It’s very funny. I’ve been watching the old series on BBC iPlayer and I keep picking up on little nuanced moments that I didn't see originally because I'm so obsessed with my own performance. 

When I do see it again I'm like "oh that's good". The show does have lovely repeat qualities. It doesn't focus too much on what's going on in the real world. 

There's a woman my mother knows at bingo and she said to her, 'if I'm ever feeling lonely, I just put on The Young Offenders DVD and watch it' and that’s a great vote of confidence. I think it's important for people to be able to switch off, put their phones down for a bit and have a laugh.

Published: 30 Apr 2024

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