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Fair City 20th Anniversary

Friday, 18 September 2009

Tony Tormey: Paul Brennan from Fair City

Paul is a partner in the garage with Robin and Ali and the newly remarried husband of Niamh after years of separation. He is also the father of Rachel (daughter of Helen Doyle, who tragically died after a car accident in 1998) and his son Oisin lives in Cork with Paul's ex-wife, Nicola. Paul used to be a ladies man but has had a string of failed relationships.

He has had an eventful year - the ending of business partner Jimmy Doyle's marriage led to chaos in the garage as Jimmy's ex wife and lover Ali turned the premises into a battle ground with Paul as the unwilling referee. Eventually, the pressure became unbearable and Paul suffered a heart attack; but every cloud has a silver lining and he subsequently reunited with the very supportive Niamh.

Paul was surprised to be reunited with hated brother Peter when he turned up at a local Garda station on fraud charges and further shocked to discover that Peter's partner is a man!
Since their wedding on New Year's Eve and the tragic death of his mother-in-law, Gina, Paul has worked to rebuild his life with Niamh, but sometimes finds the pressures of work and living with an extended family hard to take.

Update: Paul and Yvonne (his first love's Helen's sister and aunty to his daughter Rachel) have had an affair.

Niamh Cassidy
Niamh has had a patchy relationship history, having had a broken engagement with Barry, a relationship with Keith, a failed marriage to Paul and an affair with Leo among others!
A serious and ambitious business woman with her own software company, nonetheless, Niamh got tired of the dating game. When Paul had a recent health scare, she suddenly realised she still cared deeply for him.
When they decided to remarry on New Years Eve, Niamh thought her life would be sorted, but the tragic death of her mother Gina on her wedding day has thrown all her plans askew. Is Niamh ready to become a mother figure for her own siblings as well as for Paul's two children?

Tony Tormey:

Why did you decide to become an actor?
I always wanted to do it. I first started working in St James hospital working with dead bodies and I wanted to leave and thought acting was something I wanted to do. I went to the gaiety school of acting. I was 25 when I joined the cast of Fair City. I was acting 3 years before that.

What has been your favourite storyline?
It's always the one I am going to do next week. I liked the one when Paul took Niamh off Barry, the Helen one when Helen dies. The Fiona Piggett one when she killed her husband and Paul nearly got framed for it. I loved my recent heart attack one and the one with Yvonne from last week. Too many to pick one.

Can you give me an outline on who's Paul's dated and had affairs with?
o Cliona
o Fiona
o Bernie was his first girlfriend - Charlie's daughter. I auditioned with Bernie.
o Niamh
o Nicola
o Helen
o Yvonne
o Robin
o An American one
There's more but I really can't keep up with Paul's love life.

What is Paul's greatest strength and what is his greatest weakness?
Greatest strength is his sense of family. Weekness is women.

Do you think Fair City represents the issues of everyday life in Dublin?
Definately, more so now with our new producer Brigie Di Courcy. People can identify with the characters now more than ever. It's a multicultural cast - we have had Russians, black people. We deal with family fighting, adultery - everyday things.

Did you ever consider London/Hollywood?
Yes - Fair City is great you can do other stuff now with the new producers. But I have had loads of storylines recently and I haven't had a chance to do other stuff. But in the past I've done the West End and Broadway. I have 2 kids and a wife to feed so I'm glad I'm busy in Ireland.

How much of you is in Paul? And how much of Paul is in you?
Yes a bit of me has slipped into Paul - it's been 20 years - only the good bits though.

Actors you admire?
Sean Penn, Jack Nicolson, Robert De Niro

Do the members of the public ever say anything to you on the street?
Yes they do - lots - I couldn't repeat on TV. They say you dirty dog. Lots of old women come up to me to give out to me. Other times they take pictures and ask me to speak to their wives and family members. It comes with the job.

What do your kids think of you being on TV?
Max doesn't care that Dad's on the telly. He knows that people ask me for my autograph. He questions that. Issy likes that I'm on TV, however, she recently saw myself and Clelia kissing and got very upset. So we are being careful not to let her watch it. She also loves mortifying me when I'm in the shops and picks up a magazine and says at the top of her voice 'Which magazine is Daddy in this week'.

If you weren't an actor what would you be?
I would have liked to have been a teacher - English and History. Those days are now gone.

How will you mark the 20th anniversary?
We are all going to have a huge party in McCoy's tonight. Past and present cast will be there.

Clelia Murphy

How did you get into acting?
It was the CAO form and there was nothing else I wanted to do. I always did The Gaiety School of acting kid's courses and I did this up till I was 17 and I was a year off the teacher diploma when I was 17. When I left school I joined The Dublin Youth Theatre. My first paid part was in an An Post promotion for how to do the correct CV. I bought a ghetto blaster with the money. I joined Fair City 12 years ago in 1996.

What has been your favourite storyline?
Last year with my mother Gina being run over my ex fiancée on my wedding day.

Did Niamh have an affair with Paul when he was married to Nicola?
I married Paul - the got legally separated and then never got divorced so when we got back together we had a blessing.
Niamh has been with: Barry, Leo, Paul, Derrick, Rory, Keith and then Paul again. She was engaged to Barry, Paul and Derrick. She's a modern representation of a woman and she is going to audition as many guys as she can.

You do commercials and lots of voice over work - would you ever consider moving to London/LA?
I would go if I got an offer. I have a daughter so I wouldn't uproot her but in the future yes I wouldn't discount it.

What do you like/dislike about Niamh?
I like Niamh's ballsiness, she will always have an argument but she will always apologise. She's also a good business woman she owns Smart Solutions. I don't dislike her - I dislike her nighties.

Is there any of Niamh in Celia?
I would differ from Niamh in the sense that I'll let things stew and will say nothing - she is always feisty.

How do you research your storylines?
I don't research. Acting is like reacting - it's so subjective. You can only let the script and your own reaction do the work. You're not a spokesperson for grief.

Actors you admire?
Sandra Bullock, Miranda Richardson, John Cusack.

Do the members of the public ever say anything to you on the street?
Yeah I get recognised but everyone is so nice. They only aren't nice when they have had a few drinks and I don't stick around for that.

You have a daughter, what does she think of mom being an actress?
My daughter is Clara Bell - she is 11. She doesn't care about what I do for a living - she's used to it. As a child she used to call it a game - who are you kissing in the game.

Does Fair City represent real life?
It represents a flavor of life in Dublin. But if all the things that happened to Niamh in real life she would be medicated. Soap land characters are a lot more resilient. On social issues we are pretty much on the button - even though storylines are written 6 months in advance. They have some creative genius's writing on the show.

Niamh & Paul