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Term Paper, 2005
10 Pages, Grade: 1,0
2. Introduction to Give My Head Peace
3. Characterisation of the protagonists
4. Plot summary of the episode Hollywood on the Falls
5. Give My Head Peace and the Troubles
5.1 Symbols in the setting
5.2 Outward appearance of the characters
5.3 Jokes and dialogues with reference to the Troubles
6. Conclusion: The importance of Give My Head Peace for Northern Ireland
The political and religious conflict in Northern Ireland has been a source for both cinema and TV productions in various formats such as film, television drama, or documentary. Most programmes have presented the Troubles in a serious, tragic, and realistic way, e. g. In the Name of the Father. Comedy related to the Northern Irish conflict has only been a recent development from the nineties onwards, e. g. So you think you’ve got troubles (1991) and An everlasting Piece (2000).
In this paper, attention is drawn to the sitcom Give My Head Peace, from which the episode “Hollywood on the Falls” (1999) is analysed. Emphasis is put on the question of how the troubles in particular and the Northern Irish society in general are portrayed throughout the programme. Furthermore, an introduction to the programme is given as well as a plot summary and a characterisation of the protagonists.
Give My Head Peace is a political Northern Irish sitcom that is set around the troubles. It centres around two families of the two different denominations. The Catholic family, comprising Da, Ma, and their son Cal, live in the Divis tower in the Catholic dominated False Road in Belfast. Their daughter Emer is married to the Protestant RUC police officer Billy. Emer and Billy share a house with Billy’s uncle Andy in an unnamed Loyalist area of Belfast. Although the two families are constantly taunting each other, and although they pretend to hate each other, they seem to spend a lot of their time enjoying each other’s company.
The programme mirrors the value system in the separated Northern Irish communities and criticises a lot of established attitudes and political views and events of the troubles. Whereas other TV productions highlight rather the tragic side of the troubles of the past like violence, terror, bombs, and death, Give My Head Peace presents the Troubles from a humorous point of view. It focuses on contemporary Northern Ireland after the Good Friday Agreement and ridicules the still existent sectarian thinking.
In 1997, Give My Head Peace was broadcast for the first time as a television film called “Two Ceasefires and a Wedding” on BBC One Northern Ireland, linking the two families through the wedding of the Billy and Emer. Since then, four series have been produced for BBC One Northern Ireland, that are usually broadcast during the prime time Friday night slot. According to BBC, it was the m ost popular BBC Northern Ireland programme in 2003/2004 (c.f. www.bbc.tv.northernireland/bbcandyou/annualreview/facts.shtml). In 2004, a selection of episodes was also shown across the UK and Ireland. The award-winning programme is directed by Martin Shardlow and written by the actors playing the characters Da (Tim McGarry), Cal (Damon Quinn), and Billy (Michael McDowell).
Da: He is the head of the Catholic family and represents a stereotypical Nationalist who believes very much in Irish culture. Besides, he prides himself on his 'friendship' with Gerry Adams and tries to copy his outward appearance by wearing a beard and glassed like Adams.
Ma: She is neither very intelligent nor very interested in politics and tries to be a warm-hearted Irish mother. With her non-sectarian attitudes, she also accepts her Protestant son in law Billy.
Cal: Although he is a grown up man, he still lives at home and often behaves like a child. He supports his father in the struggle against the British imperialism and does whatever Da tells him, no matter how daft.
Emer: She is like her mother not interested in politics, but unlike her mother more intelligent. Emer is more interested in fashion and in men. She is married to Billy, which shows her indifference towards the Troubles.
Billy: He is a RUC man and mostly seen in his RUC uniform. Despite his job, which makes him a real Loyalist, he is also loyal to his wife and to her family.
Uncle Andy: He is an Orange man who devotes his life to the memory of Elvis.
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