Jamie-Lee ODonnell teases Derry Girls reunion a year after show ended
Actress Jamie-Lee O’Donnell is best known for her hilarious turn as the feisty and foulmouthed Michelle Mallon in Derry Girls. Who could forget how Michelle would mercilessly bully her English cousin, James, flirt with all the local lads and desperately try to make her school friends “cool”?
Sadly, the sitcom came to an end last year after 19 episodes, leaving fans everywhere eager for more. So would Derry-born Jamie-Lee return for another series, or a reunion?
“I would love that!” says the 31-year-old. “We’ve just opened up a museum exhibition in Derry for Derry Girls, with all the props.
“I would assume that Lisa [McGee, the creator of Derry Girls] is just taking the time to enjoy what it is we’ve done with the three seasons and I know everybody’s really busy. So if there was a reunion, I think it would be well down the line."
“I know they were very keen to have a strong ending with the Good Friday Agreement and it’s had such an impact. But everyone’s really busy, and Lisa’s just signed up to do something with Netflix. But actors are the last to know, so I don’t have any solid information.”
With Derry Girls having come to a conclusion, Jamie-Lee has swapped her school uniform for that of a prison officer’s and is about to appear in series two of Screw in her role as former new girl or “sprog” Rose Gill in the Channel 4 drama.
“The nature of this series is a lot heavier and a lot more intense than the last,” she reveals. “There are still lighter moments, which is lovely. But in terms of performance as actors, obviously you’re going in with more intensity so you have to stay in those heavier moods for longer.
“I think we all did well, and we can always rely on each other, look after each other and have a bit of craic too.”
Rose was the newest officer in series one, but got thrown in at the deep end. She was left to handle the male prisoners in the C Wing of Long Marsh prison and got off on the wrong foot with her supervising officer Leigh Henry (Nina Sosanya). However, by the time inmate Toby Phillips was murdered in the series finale, Nina and Rose had bonded – and that is still the case as the story continues six weeks after Toby’s death.
“It’s still all really fresh and raw with the character,” explains Jamie-Lee. “And because it’s a drama, it starts one way and slowly shifts. There’s a real growth in Rose’s relationship with Leigh, and a lot of twists and turns in it.
“Like any good second series, you’re lulled into a false sense of security. Every episode there’s something going on. Personally, I’m really rooting for them. But when one thing’s resolved, something else pops up. In terms of being a cliffhanger, it ends on a massive, massive one – that’s all I’ll say.”
Jamie-Lee and Nina’s co-stars include Laura Checkley, Stephen Wright, Ron Donachie and, in the coming season, Line Of Duty actor Lee Ingleby, who plays a new inmate. The majority of filming for Screw took place in a studio and at Peterhead Prison in Glasgow.
“What I found interesting is that you start to realise there’s no natural light coming in,” says Jamie-Lee. “That’s a big, big thing for people. Obviously the lights have daytime, nighttime and dusk. But there’s no natural light – you’re in a box inside a bigger box.
“After a while, it does something to you, you start to go a wee bit stir crazy in there. It does make you think about the reality, if this was real and about the people who have this every day."
“But we all want to go back to Glasgow. We love it!” she laughs. “I find the people quite similar to Derry, so it felt like home, it was lovely.
“People come up and chat to you. That’s very much an Irish thing as well, so we were having full-on conversations with people straight away about their day and I’d just met them. I felt very comfortable with that. It was lovely, a great city. I hope we go back.”
Screw, Wednesday 30 August, Channel 4, 9pm
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