She became a household name thanks to Father Ted, but there’s a lot more to Pauline McLynn than Mrs Doyle, as Phil Penfold discovers.
T has been a bit of a strange afternoon for Pauline McLynn. She’s taking time out between performances to have a chat, and she’s still rather bemused at the antics of some of the audience in the earlier matinee. It turns out that three ladies in the front row of the stalls were all wearing sunglasses.
“Now what was that all about? Sunglasses? In a dark auditorium? And the woman next to them, in act one, decided to have a bit of late lunch, and she pulled out a chicken leg. Incredible.” She puts down her second large cup of coffee and adds: “To their credit, all of the ladies stood up and gave us some very warm applause at the end of the show, so they must have enjoyed themselves.”
McLynn is currently touring with the acclaimed live version of Ayub Khan Din’s drama East is East, a largely autobiographical account of a family in Salford in the 70s. There’s the Asian dad George, who is domineering to the point of being tyrannical, white mum Ella, and their six children. A seventh boy has left home to escape his father. It’s a story of conflicts, arguments, beliefs, a clash of cultures and a lot of love and affection as well.
“I’m told that Ayub based a lot of it on his own experiences, and I think that shows in the way that it is written. I adore Ella, she has a heart of gold, and she’s fiercely protective of both her husband and the kids, so when he and they argue, and he lays down the law (as he sees it) she’s right in the middle of it all.
“She sees where they are coming from, but – as she tells them at one point – she’s married to their dad, and she loves him too. It’s a wonderful twist of loyalties.”
The ‘real’ Ella met George when she was a bus conductress, and he was a passenger… they got together, and they decided to get married.
CRAGGY ISLAND’S FINEST: Pauline McLynn alongside fellow Father Ted stars, left to right, Father Dougal (Ardal O’Hanlon), Father Ted (the late Dermot Morgan) and Father Jack (Frank Kelly).