The Bucks viral success proved instrumental in its elevation to TV show proper. By the time Maloney and Tordoff’s creation was shortlisted as part of RTE’s Storyland competition in 2009, the webisodes had established a sizable following as a kind of Irish version of the hit Canadian mockumentary Trailer Park Boys.
“A lot of people thought we’d just ripped off the Trailer Park Boys when they first saw it,” recalls Maloney. “But we really liked the Trailer Park Boys. We loved the way they’d use small running gags. When we started in our minds we were making a kind of a tribute.”
The Hardy Bucks soon made the concept (“cruisin’ round te town doing laps”) their own, working distinctly local colour and phrasing – “He’s only a small fucker: he’s about two hands higher than a duck” – into comic set pieces.
Perhaps it helped that Maloney and Tordoff, who originally came from Leeds, brought an outsider’s view. Well, not outsider exactly. Maloney, a cheeky, red-haired chap with a soft Merseyside brogue, moved to Mayo – “17 years ago almost to the day” – but always felt Irish; at school a gym teacher made “potato” remarks on account of his Celtic pigmentation; once, in the wake of an IRA bombing, his Midlands-born mother was accosted with the words: “Proud to be Irish, are you?”
He already knew the accent and had practice impersonating his father’s Mayo brogue when, aged 12, he returned to his ancestral home with the rest of the family. He was soon glad he had put in the hours: “When I moved over here, I quickly realised that I was such a messer, I was going to have to use a Mayo accent. It was too easy to get caught when I was shouting expletives from the back of the class in my own accent.”
The dialect may have been familiar but the sudden culture shift gave Maloney a unique perspective on his Mayo roots: “It was a hell of a shock,” he admits. “In Liverpool, we had advanced labs at school. Came here and the computers were all kept in a wing of the school we called Siberia and the only thing we were allowed to do was to play Solitaire or Minesweeper on them. You’d hear stuff like: ‘Get your ass down the study hall, man.’ I’m thinking ‘What the hell is study hall?’ It felt like going back to 1950s America.”
Americanised Ireland is a recurrent theme with Tordoff’s inept bullyboy, The Viper, who spends much of his time “keeping it real” to the strains of DJ Jean’s The Launch, and various known associates including Stateside (Tommy Miller).
“Ireland is really American,” says Maloney. “I don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s that there are so many Irish people over there and Americans coming over here. But it always stuck out for me.”
Most of the show’s comic influences are, however, distinctly British, with Maloney citing Steve Coogan, Chris Morris, Charlie Brooker and Armando Iannucci in particular.
“I remember my dad watching Last of the Summer Wine and I think that kind of capering shows up in our stuff,” says Maloney. “But it’s a lot of things. It’s the mid-life crisis of Top Gear – except these guys are in their 20s.”