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30 years of Fair City: 'We have to be careful about what stories we tell. You don't want to jump into somebody's life'

As Fair City celebrates its 30th birthday today, executive producer Brigie de Courcy reflects on how the hit soap has changed over the years.

Image: RTÉ

CARRIGSTOWN HAS SEEN more than its fair share of turmoil since it first came to the small screen on this day back in 1989.

As it enters its fourth decade, executive producer Brigie de Courcy says that some aspects of creating the show have changed since she came onboard in the early 2000s.

“We could be more adventurous then, I think, in some funny ways. We could tell a different type of dark story because it would promote a dialogue. Whereas now, depending on what the story is, there’s a very instant response. Rather than letting things play out and letting see where things go the audience responds in a different sort of a way,” she explained.

De Courcy cited the story of character Kay McCoy and her decision to have an abortion in 2001 after tests revealed that the baby she was carrying had trisomy-13, meaning the child would be born with severe disabilities and probably would not survive long after birth. 

The sequence of episodes inspired segments on The Late Late Show and Liveling, provoking something of a national debate. However, a shift in how people consume and react to the show means the storyline would likely be handled differently today.

“One of the things that would have happened before is that people would have watched it together and, therefore, the dialogue would’ve happened in their rooms and conversations would have happened between people,” de Courcy said.

Whereas I think now we have a lot of people who watch it maybe on their laptops or they watch it on their phone and therefore the dialogue is happening over the internet, and social media, which isn’t necessarily the one-to-one and it’s not necessarily the honest conversation that you would hope for.

“People can just pitch in [on social media] and that can get tricky. So we have an added responsibility now to be careful of what stories we tell and how we tell them.

“You don’t want to jump into somebody’s life, where they might be having a particular difficulty and leave them unsupported so we just be careful about how we tell stories,” she added.

Obviously we’re still going to tell stories of chaos and mayhem. We just have to be careful how we tell them.

The show has garnered a legion of loyal viewers over the years, many of whom have followed the fortunes of the Carrigstown natives since day one in 1989.

This keeps the writers on their toes as watchers will quickly let them know if they make historical errors.

“We all carry the history very strongly with us. Some of our audience have been literally with us since day one, and they know the entire history and we can’t get it wrong or they will be writing us letters,” de Courcy said.

There is no end to the story. It just keeps rolling on and it’ll roll on long beyond us.

As Carrigstown celebrates its milestone birthday everyone involved in making the programme is meeting in the fictional town’s pub, McCoy’s, for a celebration on Friday.

“We’re an extraordinarily close bunch, we’re a very strong, very capable, very connected bunch of people,” de Courcy said.

“All the way across production, across the cast, across the crewing. We will be coming together on Friday to celebrate together in McCoy’s to raise a glass. To applaud ourselves in some way because it’s an extraordinary achievement. It’s a fabulous achievement and I am very, very proud of the team.” 

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Ceimin Burke

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