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Derry Girls: Lisa McGee discusses shocking season 3 death

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The penultimate episode of Lisa McGee’s third series of Derry Girls aired on Channel 4 tonight (17 May).

Backdropped by the political turmoil of 1990s Northern Ireland, the show features the giddy misadventures of the central five friends.

*Spoilers for episode six below*

But, in the last episode, when Da Gerry (Tommy Tiernan) gets a phone call and arrives unannounced at Derry’s Halloween festival, it becomes clear that life will never be the same for Erin, Clare, Michelle, Orla and James.

As episode six begins, it’s Halloween and the gang has miraculously secured tickets to the gig of the century: Fatboy Slim, “the modern-day Beethoven”, headlining at Derry’s Halloween festival.

While things seem relatively normal in the land of Derry – Sister Michael (Siobhán McSweeney) is strategically renting out her nun uniform and Gerry is clumsily negotiating Sarah’s way (Kathy Kiera Clarke) out of an accidental marriage engagement – the girls are busy hustling to secure their ickets.

In a miraculous turn of fate, which involves Michelle finally getting a telly appearance, they are awarded free VIP tickets to see the DJ. For the first time, one of Michelle’s far-fetched plots seems to have actually paid off.

Just seconds away from meeting the revered Fatboy Slim, James is threatened by a man “the size of a wardrobe”. After a whirlwind scene of crutch throwing, scrambling and Clare kissing her crush, the group is thrown out of the venue, missing out on the biggest night of the year.

A solemn Da Gerry is waiting outside, bearing the devastating news that Clare’s dad (David Ireland) is in hospital, and it’s not looking good. The gang embrace a grieving Clare after it’s revealed her dad died from an aneurism.

Clare Devlin (Nicola Coughlan) walks through the hospital doors after finding out her father has passed away (Channel 4)
Clare Devlin (Nicola Coughlan) walks through the hospital doors after finding out her father has passed away (Channel 4)

As the coffin is paraded through the streets of Derry, the episode’s ending is stripped of any witty one-liners to save the mood, which is symbolic for a show that often makes light of typically unfunny subjects.

Speaking at an exclusive preview at Channel 4 studios, Derry Girls creator and executive producer Lisa McGee revealed that the storyline about Clare’s dad is based on an event that happened in her own life growing up in Derry.

“I wanted to do the story as it happened to my group of friends,” she said. “My friend’s dad died when we were around that age. The thing that really struck me was that we did grow up in a place where a lot of unpredictable stuff would happen, and we were worried about a lot, like the violence.”

She added: “And this was a thing that could happen to anyone, it was a natural causes, and I was like ‘Oh god, nobody’s life is predictable’.”

“I felt like something shifted in my wee friendship group when that happened,” said McGee. “I thought I could end it [the series] there because Channel 4 assured me that the special would run close [after], and that wasn’t going to leave everybody really depressed.”

On Wednesday (18 May), the last ever episode of Derry Girls will air.

Set a year on from the events of episode six, the hour-long special episode takes place on the eve of the Good Friday Agreement referendum.

Derry Girls concludes Wednesday 18 May at 9pm on Channel 4.

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