Get ready girlos, brand new episodes of Your One Nikita have landed on RTÉ Player. The animated series follows best mates Nikita and Tanya as they go through the trials and tribulations of being a Dublin hun.

Starring Aoife Dooley, Emmet Kirwan, Jen Hatton and Al Foran, the latest episodes are available to watch on RTÉ Player now.

To celebrate the return of the show, we caught up with illustrator Aoife Dooley to discuss the show and how she's adjusted to life in lockdown.

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"I'm starting to go a bit mad now, I just want to go out and about and just start living again," Aoife tells me over the phone.

After almost twenty-three weeks of phasing in and out of lockdown, itching for a bit of normality is perfectly understandable, especially if your life previous to COVID was as varied as Dooley's.

The 29-year-old juggled a remarkably busy schedule: creating and starring in RTÉ's Your One Nikita; illustrating books; making jewellery; and working the Irish stand-up circuit, gigging all over the country with comedic heavyweights such as PJ Gallagher, David O'Doherty, and Alison Spittle.

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Suns Out, Huns Out
Although the pandemic put the Irish comedy scene on hold, it seems that the Coolock native has been busier than ever. As it turns out, illustration is a pursuit perfectly suited to hours upon hours of working in isolation.

And when the coronavirus came to Irish shores, Aoife was set the task of adapting her latest animation, Your One Nikita, to a less than hunreal summer.

"It was really hard because the episodes were all event-based. We had two episodes done so we had to re-record the second one - it was based on Coachella - and then we had to re-write the following three episodes because they couldn't be event-based anymore.

"We kept them loosely based around the summer then but, yeah, Covid messed up that side of things in terms of working in illustration.

"It was stressful because we were on a tight deadline but we managed to make it work, thanks to the lads (Conor McIntyre, Timmy Moran and Noel Anderson). They're crazy, I don't know how they did it, to be honest," she laughed.

Following social rules
In 2018, Aoife made headlines when she shared the news that she has been diagnosed with autism* at the age of 27, something that gave her a great sense of relief following a lifetime of feeling like things were "going wrong" for no discernable reason.

Following a private consultation, Aoife was told she was ASD1 - previously known as 'high-functioning' Asperger Syndrome - which is known to involve difficulty with social interactions, a desire for "sameness", and distinctive strengths such as attention to detail.

Speaking with the young artist, it seems that her time in lockdown has been largely positive in that her career has thrived and her attention to detail has allowed her to follow the new Covid-related rules to a tee. However, the recent changes have also brought an onslaught of new social norms and reams of new information to process on a daily basis.

"I've always worked from home so that's been ok. I fwas really lucky because I had someone over in February to do my home office up so that was ready to go during the lockdown which was great.

"For me, the main thing that was really hard was following all the media and not knowing what was going on. Also, when I go to the shops, I wear my mask and make sure I do everything by the book because I'm someone who goes by the rules so when I see people not doing that, I get really angry and frustrated. I'm doing everything I can and others aren't which makes me really agitated.

"I haven't actually gone anywhere on my own," she continued. "I go to the shops with Karl [her partner], because I'm just really anxious now. My mind feels clogged with every bit of information that I've soaked in but I know I don't need it all so my brain feels heavy some days with all of this.

"It's just like everyone else, I suppose, I just need to find a distraction from all of it."

Family matters
And find a distraction she did. Unlike the vast majority of the population who spent the past few weeks baking banana bread and hosting online quizzes, Dooley was busy getting a number of tattoos ("I figured the studios were some of the cleanest places going") and finding lost family members.

"I got my ancestry results back - I started doing a lot of research in lockdown - and that was really keeping me going because I was trying to look into my dad's side of the family.

"I met my cousin in Los Angeles over Zoom. I got talking to her and it turns out she was an animator for thirty years and she worked on The Rugrats and Ren and Stimpy and my aunt worked at Warner Brothers on the movie shorts in the 1940s. I thought that was really cool."

"I found out I had a first cousin as well that we never knew about," she continued. "My auntie found out through Facebook because someone added her and told her the connection. So that was really interesting."

"It was all a bit mad," she laughed. "But it kept me going."

*To learn more about Autism, visit Autism Ireland or AsIAm.