'London Irish,' a new comedy series set to air on Channel 4 in September, has been accused of "racism" for depicting the Irish diaspora as "binge-drinking, English haters."
The show is about “a hard-drinking, hard-living ex-pat community of Northern Irish twenty-somethings who live in London."
The synopsis states: “For these four friends it’s not easy navigating their way through London life, particularly when they’re too drunk to know where they’re going, or remember where they’ve been.”
“They have sh*t jobs, no money, and are surrounded by English people. In fact there's only one thing worse than living in London with the English. And that’s living in Ireland with the Irish.”
A clip of the show released this week has already attracted criticism to the show, reports the Irish Independent. It shows a woman in bed with a three-year-old child, who hands her a lighter for her cigarette after she finds him under the duvet and asks "We didn't, did we?"
Created by Lisa McGee, the series stars Sinead Keenan (Being Human) and Kerr Logan (Game of Thrones).
“Ultimately, it’s a show about young people, who value having the craic above everything else," said McGee, a Derry-born stage and screenwriter.
Several members of London's Irish community have already attacked the show, going on Twitter to express their anger.
Kate Bones tweeted: "I’m shocked the writer is Irish. We need to move on from old cliches & stereotypes. This is backwards. Tell a real story!”
Keith M. O' Brien wrote: “I and my housemates, and the hundreds of Alumni I work with, are nothing like this stereotype. Too busy working & slaving.”
Meghan Rice tweeted that Channel 4 “would NEVER get away w/such blatant #RACISM if was about black or Asian people!”
Other tweeters said the depiction was "fair enough."
Said a Channel 4 spokesman: “London Irish is written by Derry born Lisa McGee and is loosely based on her and her friends experiences of being Irish living in London, with a pinch of comedic exaggeration. It is a highly authored piece and not a generalisation of all Irish living in London.”
Gary Dunne, Artistic Director of the London Irish Centre in Camden, said that Channel 4 had contacted him to discuss the possibility of holding a discussion at the Centre about the show.
Said Dunne: “I’ll be watching the show with interest but from the publicity material they sent out the description of London Irish people doesn’t resemble the huge majority of young people I know.”
“The majority of Twitter responses the Centre has received have questioned the negative stereotyping. The question of racism has been raised.”
McGee, who moved to London three years ago, explained: “The characters are children of the peace process, living in one of the greatest cities in the world and they want to have a good time.
“Yeah they’re screwed up, they drink too much, they swear too much...but I really hope people watch the show and think, ‘I don't half want a night out with that lot’ and love watching these four characters as much as I love writing for them.”
No Irish Need Apply? Not anymore