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Check out the trailer for RTÉ's new Charlie Haughey drama

“He was a fascinating, divisive character.”

Source: RTÉ TV Promotions/YouTube

HE’S ONE OF the most enduring characters of Irish politics: Charles J Haughey.

Mountains of press coverage have been dedicated to his life – both professional and private – for decades.

In January, a drama based on Haughey will air on RTÉ One over three consecutive Sundays (4, 11, 18) at 9.30pm. It will chart his career in politics from 1979-1992.

Aidan Gillen, known for his roles in Game of Thrones and Love/Hate, plays the late Fianna Fáil Taoiseach. He said it would have been “easy” to turn down the part but “crazy” because Haughey was such an intriguing character.

“From the outset I was aware it would be impossible to please everyone.,” Gillen said, adding that his portrayal is not “a full-on impersonation”.

I think initially the draw for me was simply that it was going to be a drama about Haughey, not having even seen a script … He was a fascinating, divisive character and because, in a way, you know what people are going to be expecting, which gives a lot of scope to try and deliver something different.

Charlie was written by Colin Teevan and directed by Kenny Glenaan and Charlie McCarthy. The cast includes two other Love/Hate alumni: Tom Vaughan-Lawlor (PJ Mara) and Peter O’Meara (Brian Lenihan), otherwise known as Nidge and Andrew. English actress Lucy Cohu plays Terry Keane.

Teevan said he wasn’t interested in writing a bio-pic or a drama-doc about Haughey.

I wanted to tell a global story set in Ireland, one that was both local and international. I was interested in the dynamics of power: what the individual does with power and what power does to the individual. While it is set in an Irish context, it is about the nature and limits of democratic power, something that has resonance across the globe today.

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He added that there was “something Shakespearean about Charlie’s vaulting ambition and lust for power”.

Producer Rob Pursey said there was “an embarrassment of riches as far as drama was concerned in Haughey’s life”.

Jane Gogan, Head of Drama at RTÉ Television, said Charlie marked the first time the station gave the green light to a series about a political figure.

“In commissioning this drama we did not set out to be judgemental nor reverential, but rather to get beyond myth and caricature and endeavour to portray this political and public life in a way that would be a fair representation,” Gogan stated.

Here’s what Aidan Gillen looks like as Charlie Haughey in RTÉ’s new drama

Check out this short video of Charlie Haughey telling us ‘we’re living way beyond our means’

About the author:

Órla Ryan

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