Friday, February 03, 2023

Fergus O’Brien


By Caroline Spencer


ABBEYSIDE man Fergus O’Brien spoke recently about the amazing success he has had helming the last few episodes of the wildly popular BBC series ‘Happy Valley’.

The gritty drama stars Sarah Lancashire as Catherine Cawood, a hard bitten police officer struggling against family, grief, crime and corruption.

The Yorkshire-set show, written by Sally Wainwright, first aired in 2014, and is coming to an end this month. Episodes have garnered over 8 million viewers in the UK alone, according to BARB figures.

Fergus spoke to WLR FM recently to speak about its significance.

He said: “This is the third and last season and I have to say it’s been phenomenal. I was a massive fan of the show, even before I was making drama, so to be directing the last ever three episodes is incredible and the kind of adoration and investment that the audience has with it is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before, it really has become part of a national conversation.”

Fergus was effusive in his praise for Sally’s skills in writing the show.

He said: “I mean, the word genius is bandied around a lot these days but I think it really applies to her. Her writing is so detailed, so natural, particularly in dialogue and the way people speak. I’m completely in awe of how Sally can write that.

“It’s the show that keeps giving on those fronts.”

With the show coming to an end, Fergus is no doubt feeling the pressure to deliver a powerful ending.

He continued: “The pressure is immense and the fear is mighty but you know what, if you don’t have that fear in your belly, though its uncomfortable at times, it propels you to do your best work and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Fergus moved away from Abbeyside in the late 1980’s to pursue story-telling in the UK and spent much of his career in documentary filmmaking. In 2017, he switched to drama and has directed episodes of TV shows ‘The A Word’ and ‘Gentleman Jack’.

He credits his ‘cinephile’ mother Sarita O’Brien for instilling a love of drama in him from an early age. A particularly powerful film he remembered watching with her was the Douglas Sirk drama ‘Imitation of Life’.

He said: “I can really recall how powerful it was and how we were all in bits watching it. I was blown away by how a film could get into people’s emotions and their head in that way.”

The finale of ‘Happy Valley’ airs on BBC1 at 9pm, Sunday, February 5.


By Caroline Spencer
Contact Newsdesk: 051 874951

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