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Tuesday 3 October 2023 Dublin: 14°C
# Haughey
Seven things you need to know about Charlie ahead of tonight's show
The three-part drama hits our screens tonight.

charlie-1-2-630x420 RTE RTE

IT’S ONLY FOUR days into 2015 and we’ve already got a hugely anticipated TV series about to hit our tellyboxes.

RTÉ One drama Charlie is about – in case you were totally detached from 2014 news – Charles Haughey, and stars Aidan Gillen as the titular character with Tom Vaughn-Lawlor as his right-hand man, advisor PJ Mara.

Haughey’s leadership rival George Colley is played by Peter Gowen, PD leader Des O’Malley is played by Marcus Lamb, and Haughey’s mistress Terry Keane is played by Lucy Cohu.

The three-parter will start tonight at 9.30pm on RTÉ One, and there’s quite a bit of hubbub about it online:

Here are seven things to know about the show.

1. It’s a drama – not a biopic

Writer Colin Teevan (who has been working on Charlie since 2010) said that there was “something Shakespearean about Charlie’s vaulting ambition and lust for power”.

That means we’ll get imagined conversations and scenes based on the information that the writers have. But with a life like he had, drama was never far from Haughey.

2. It won’t be sensationalist

RTÉ TV Promotions / YouTube

At least, that’s what Aidan Gillen told us last month. “If it was a sensationalist hatchet-job I wouldn’t have been interested,” he said, describing the drama as a “fair assessment of a particular time in our history”.

Then again, Vaughn-Lawlor said he was “amazed” to find out that the show was all true.

3. There won’t be a lot about Haughey’s affair with Terry Keane 

terry keane RTE 'Terry Keane' RTE

Because the show’s writer Colin Teevan described the affair as “not very interesting drama”, saying: “We’ll leave that to the soap operas”. Ah here. Don’t they know we’re mad for the gossip?

4. Gillen spent two hours a day being turned into Charlie

charlie gif

It started at 6am, and he had to wear a wig and get plenty of slap applied to his face. Patrick Freyne in the Irish Times reported yesterday that the suits for the character came from Louis Copeland, just like the real Haughey’s wardrobe.

Gillen also had his head shaved to look like he was going bald. Now that’s dedication.

5. The three-part series is set in 1979

At that time, Haughey was Health Minister, and plotting his (successful) campaign to succeed Jack Lynch as Fianna Fáil leader and Taoiseach. Teevan said that the series will bring us to the time when Haughey “seizes his opportunity to regain power and lead Ireland on the world stage, but domestic complications conspire to bring him down”.

6. We’ll be shown how Charlie liked to spend the cash

One scene will juxtapose Haughey’s famous ‘living way beyond our means’ speech to the nation with images of a lavish party thrown at his massive home.

7. PJ Mara advised Vaughn-Lawlor on his role

charlie_03-2-390x285 RTE RTE

Vaughn-Lawlor described their meeting as “invaluable”, saying Mara gave him “wonderful insights into the period and into the dynamic of his relationships with different politicians and how he worked and how his office was run – the temperature of the time”.

Here’s the trailer:

RTÉ TV Promotions / YouTube

Read: Aidan Gillen on becoming Charlie: ‘It’s not a sensationalist hatchet-job’>

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