Derry Girls cast were ‘incredibly nervous’ coming back to show

Derry Girls was off the air for three years thanks to the pandemic, and left some cast members worried about getting back into the swing of things (Picture: Channel 4)

The cast of Derry Girls were ‘incredibly nervous’ about being able to play their characters correctly after three years off the set.

After a long break and multiple delays thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, new episodes of Derry Girls will grace our screens this week for the first time since 2019.

It’s a long time since we watched Erin, Michelle, Orla, Clare and James – as well as the astounding supporting cast – cause mischief in Derry, and the actors worried they might struggle to get back into the characters. spoke to Siobhán McSweeney, who plays the droll and deadpan Sister Michael on the Channel 4 sitcom, and who shed some insight into how everyone was feeling about returning to the set.

‘I think we were all incredibly nervous about whether we’d be able to do it,’ Siobhán admitted. ‘So much time had passed.’

She herself says she ‘was really worried’ about stepping back into the shoes of Sister Michael.

(L-R) Sarah Mccool (Kathy Kiera Clarke), Orla Mccool (Louisa Clare Harland), Mary Quinn (Tara Lynne O'Neil), Erin Quinn (Saoirse Monica Jackson), Michelle Mallon (Jamie - Lee O'Donnell)

The actors were dropped back into characters they had not touched in three years (Picture: Peter Marley)

As well as being three years out of practice with the character, Siobhán was also presenting Channel 4’s Great Pottery Showdown – a totally different kettle of fish – and had just suffered a bad break to her leg and knee.

‘I was still in a lot of pain and very immobile, so I was worried about a trillion things,’ she recalled.

‘Even getting to Derry and Belfast was a palaver from the Pottery set – I was in a wheelchair when I wasn’t in crutches.

‘Trying to remember faintly, this character I played three years previously, I was really nervous.’

But fans will be relieved to hear that Siobhán’s anxiety passed quickly, and as soon as she put on Sister Michael’s habit, ‘I looked at her I thought, “Ah, there she is.”‘

Sister Michael (Siobhan McSweeney)

Siobhán was presenting reality show and was recovering from an accident when she stepped back into Sister Michael’s habit (Picture: Peter Marley)

If Siobhán had retained any fears about her ability to play the nun, these melted away as soon as she was reunited with the rest of the cast.

‘One of the first scenes I did [on series three] was with all the grownups,’ she recalled.

‘Just walking in and seeing Tommy [Tiernan] with his hair, seeing Ma Mary with Joe and the wig, aunt Sarah with all her makeup, I just went “Aha! Right, we’re back in the swing of things!”‘

Another major relief for Siobhán was the return of Peter Campion, aka Father Peter, the dreamy priest who the Derry Girls inadvertently almost ran out of the priesthood back in series one.

‘As soon as [Peter] comes into the room I immediately become Sister Michael and he immediately becomes Father Peter,’ Siobhan laughed.

‘We have this very strange dynamic, the pair of us.’

(L-R) Father Peter (Peter Campion), Sister Michael (Siobhan McSweeney)

Peter Campion returns as Father Peter, with Siobhán promising he has a ‘beautiful’ journey in the new series (Picture: Peter Marley)

The last time audiences saw Father Peter, he was desperately trying to make Derry’s Catholic and Protestant teenagers see that they had things in common.

He of course failed miserably, leading to the now-famous Blackboard Scene.

But the priest won’t be dwelling on the past, Siobhán insists, hinting at what’s to come in the series.

‘Father Peter’s skin is as thick as his luscious hair,’ she joked. ‘He’s like a labrador, he bounces back. Good old father Peter!

‘He has his own journey in this series it’s very beautiful.’

In the same interview with, Siobhán spoke about how difficult it was to say goodbye to Sister Michael as the show begins its third and final series.

‘It broke my heart to hang up the habit,’ she said.

She added that it was ‘very disappointing’ that the series was ending but added: ‘there’s great dignity in bowing out before it gets s***, frankly!’

Derry Girls S3 Specials (L-R) Michelle Mallon (Jamie - Lee O'Donnell), Orla Mccool (Louisa Clare Harland), Erin Quinn (Saoirse Monica Jackson), Clare Devlin (Nicola Coughlan), James Maguire (Dylan Llewellyn)

Orla, Erin, Michele, Clare and James are back for one more series (Picture: Channel 4)

Fans will be delighted to learn that the new series will delve further into the lives of Sister Michael, Father Peter and the other adults of the show, with Siobhán noting ‘everybody has such a huge fondness for every single solitary character.’

‘Everybody gets their moment [in the new series], it never was really about the Derry girls, it was the whole community,’ she said.

As fans across the UK and Ireland prepare to tune in to new episodes for the very last time, Siobhán added: ‘I do think people will cry at the end.

‘I think I’ll be one of them.’

Derry Girls returns to Channel 4 on Tuesday, April 12 at 9.15pm.


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