Lisa McGee’s absolutely class show Derry Girls returns for its third and final series on Channel 4 tonight. The series has had an extended break thanks to the pandemic but we pick up at the end of the summer holidays, the day before GCSE results come out, and the girls (with the wee English fella James) are back on form in 90s Northern Ireland.
The first episode kicks off with one of Erin’s grand monologues accompanied by clips of scenes in Derry: “They told us we were young, yet we understood the enormity of it, we understood what was at stake. Our fear was replaced with something altogether more terrifying… hope.” The gang has spent the summer trying to film a masterpiece on a camcorder and, as ever, Michelle is quick to puncture Erin’s pompous tendencies “I am so fucking sick of peace, it’s all anyone ever bangs on about.”
A glimpse of Mo Mowlam on the Quin family’s TV screen serves as a stark reminder of those days before the Good Friday Agreement. It can’t be easy to eke comedy out of The Troubles, but McGee has used the teenage tendency for self-involvement to perfection, with a perfect balance of empathy. These teenagers have never known any other life, so forgive them if they get on with it and allow problems such as proms, boys, and exams to stake equal claim in their busy brains as the peace process.
After a run-in with the ever-acerbic Sister Michael in the video shop (did I mention this is set in the 90s), where Michelle delivers some excellent interpretations of 90s film release covers, the girls are whipped up into a frenzy by Clare about their exam results. Naturally, chaos ensues and a cameo that is a tough act to follow pops up.
Rest assured, even though this is the last series of Derry Girls, Orla, Erin, Michelle, Clare and James are going out on a high. As ever the 1990s soundtrack, wardrobe, and sets are on point and the dialogue is as madcap and sprinkled with Derry slang. The show is an excellent example of the innovative comedy that might not have been broadcast were it not for Channel 4.
The third series of Derry Girls airs on Tuesday 12th April at 9.15pm on Channel 4.