‘Charles Haughey: was he some kind of Taoiseach?’

For younger viewers, RTÉ drama ‘Charlie’ will be more history lesson than nostalgia

Peter O’Meara –  as Brian Lenihan snr in RTÉ One drama series ‘Charlie’ – says he was amazed by the number of  young people who did not know who Charles Haughey was. Photograph: Bernard Walsh

Peter O’Meara – as Brian Lenihan snr in RTÉ One drama series ‘Charlie’ – says he was amazed by the number of young people who did not know who Charles Haughey was. Photograph: Bernard Walsh

 

The RTÉ / Element Pictures / Touchpaper Television series Charlie is likely to be watched very closely – and perhaps with some mirth – by the generation that was actually stalking the corridors of Leinster House at the time.

For those, like writer Colin Teevan, who were growing up in the decades when the Haughey political soap opera was “background music”, the trilogy of 90-minute dramas may trigger some youthful memories of Ireland in the 80s.

But for the generation who grew up with Bertie Ahern as Taoiseach, the twists and turns of Haughey’s various administrations, and even “The Boss” himself, is naturally a less familiar subject matter.

Peter O’Meara, who plays Brian Lenihan snr, says that when he was talking to young people who knew him from his role as the dentist in Love/Hate and told them he was working on Charlie, the response he got was a little uncertain.

“The amount of 18 year olds who were going, ‘Oh Charles Haughey – was he some kind of . . . was he a Taoiseach?’

“And it’s amazing to me that somebody who had been so prominent on the political landscape when I was a kid had no relevance to them,” he says.

“That made me realise that we have to tell this story, because how we got here is all tied into the machinations of what went on then . . . I hope that young people tune in.”