Ai­dan Gillen has all the po­lit­i­cal ex­pe­ri­ence in the world to play Char­lie…

The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - FOOD & DRINK -

Try­ing to pic­ture Ai­dan Gillen as Char­lie Haughey re­quires quite a men­tal leap. But, this week, a new three-part drama based on the late CJ’s life went into pro­duc­tion star­ring the Love/ Hate and Game Of Thrones ac­tor. Ai­dan may not have quite the same rogu­ish good looks as our Char­lie, but he has lots of ex­pe­ri­ence in what it takes to sur­vive in the murky world of pol­i­tics. In The Wire, he played the slick, wom­an­is­ing Tommy Carcetti, who makes his way up the greasy pole of Bal­ti­more pol­i­tics to be­come mayor. His char­ac­ter is one of the few who doesn’t find him­self de­moted, in prison or dead.

The rough and tum­ble of the Bal­ti­more coun­cil cham­ber are a breeze com­pared to the skills re­quired to keep your head in Wes­teros, the fan­tasy world in Game Of Thrones where a po­lit­i­cal faux pas of­ten re­sults in ex­cru­ci­at­ing tor­ture. Gillen’s char­ac­ter Lord Bael­ish is a brothel-keeper, mem­ber of the small coun­cil that ad­vises the King and a for­mer Mas­ter of the Coin, ac­tiv­i­ties that aren’t nec­es­sar­ily mu­tu­ally ex­clu­sive in mod­ern-day pol­i­tics ei­ther.

In real life, to para­phrase the in­fa­mous Enoch Pow­ell, all po­lit­i­cal ca­reers end in fail­ure. In the gritty Love/ Hate, Ai­dan was para­noid mob boss John Boy, un­til he fell foul of his own gang in a dou­ble- cross wor­thy of Fianna Fáil in the Haughey era.

The ben­e­fi­ciary of the mur­der was one Nidge, who is des­per­ately hang­ing on to his crown in the cur­rent se­ries of Love/ Hate. Tom Vaughan-Lawlor, who plays Nidge, will also star in the RTÉ drama about Char­lie as the Taoiseach’s still-very­much- alive spin doc­tor and po­lit­i­cal ad­vi­sor PJ Mara. All of which proves that art has a way of im­i­tat­ing life or maybe it’s just that cast­ing di­rec­tors in Ire­land have run out of ideas.

Un­for­tu­nately we al­ready know how the Char­lie story ends, so we won’t get to see PJ get­ting one of his un­der­lings to take out Char­lie with a ma­chine gun and grab the throne for him­self in the fi­nal episode. In­stead, we’ll see yet another old man, re­fus­ing to be­lieve that his days are num­bered, des­per­ately try­ing to hang on, un­til he’s un­cer­e­mo­ni­ously pushed. As it re­turns for a sec­ond se­ries, the pe­riod drama set in Eng­land’s first depart­ment store looks set to gar­ner even more de­voted fans than the six mil­lion who reg­u­larly tuned in dur­ing its de­but last year. This open­ing episode is packed from start to fin­ish with cads, be­trayal, lust and am­bi­tion, plus of course the tu­mul­tuous love tri­an­gle that lies at the show’s heart. And so, we find Denise (Joanna Van­der­ham) pin­ing for Mo­ray (Emun El­liott), who is still work­ing in Paris. But when Kather­ine (Elaine Cas­sidy) re­turns with her enig­matic new hus­band Tom (Ben Daniels), she sur­prises ev­ery­one by sum­mon­ing Mo­ray – who left her for Denise – back to give the flag­ging store a boost. And as for that new hus­band of hers, well – he’s cer­tainly up to no good. No good at all.

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