BBC’s ‘Copper’ - Irish gangs of New York blaze through a second season


At root in Copper is the question who’s going to run New York? Who will have power? What will the future look like? “It really was tribalistic back then,” explains Kelly. “In 1776 they wrote that all men were created equal. Except for you guys and you guys. But the insane radical notion of democracy is being fought out on the streets in this show 75 years later.”

In this season of Copper the fight takes us to Tammany Hall. The Irish were a huge part of that story. “In the last season we learned most of the characters were Irish but the famine was not mentioned! That’s incredible because the Five Points was the bastard creation of the potato famine. This year we address the Irish back-story more. As well as the issues that shaped and created this world.”

Tammany for all its sins was a force for amazing good in society, Kelly argues. “It was institution on a large scale level to deal with the needs wants and desires of impoverished immigrants. Most of our taken for granted social legislation originated in Tammany Hall. Whether it was eight hour work days or child labor laws.”

In particular Tammany used to fight and win for the underdog. Today the main parties either ignore or fight against the underdog, Kelly feels. Politics is now more of a money game than it ever was.

The questions that play out in Copper are still playing out on New York’s streets. “Manhattan is becoming unrecognizable,” says Kelly. “There’s no middle class left, there’s no working class. It’s a place where people of means are able to live a fun little life.”

So what were the Irish doing then that they’re not doing now? “Sticking together,” Kelly answers. “They had to. They didn’t want to,” he laughs. “Copper’s is a great bit of storytelling. For readers of the Irish Voice it will resonate since its basically telling the story of your readers.”