‘Derry Girls’ creator Lisa McGee honoured at television industry event in London

Embassy dinner attended by executives from RTÉ, TV3, BBC, Sky and Channel 4

Irish television talent and executives attended a special industry dinner in the Irish embassy in London last night at which Derry Girls creator Lisa McGee was honoured with a "rising star" award and tribute was paid to late comedian Dave Allen for his outstanding contribution to television.

The British Irish Television dinner, which follows a similar event last year, was designed to connect executives, producers and front-of-camera talent based in Ireland with Irish people or people with strong links to Ireland who work in senior or high-profile roles in the UK industry.

RTÉ executives in attendance include director-general Dee Forbes; head of television drama Jane Gogan; director of audience, channels and marketing Adrian Lynch, director of content Jim Jennings and director of co-productions and acquisitions Dermot Horan.

Irish Film Board chief executive James Hickey, TV3 director of programming Bill Malone, BBC Northern Ireland head of content production Eddie Doyle, Sky UK & Ireland director of programmes Zai Bennett and Channel 5 director of programmes Ben Frow were also on the guest list.


Earlier this year, Derry Girls became Channel 4's biggest comedy launch since 2004 and its biggest programme in Northern Ireland since at least 2002. It has already been recommissioned for a second series by the broadcaster's director of programmes and head of comedy Fiona McDermott, who was also at the industry dinner.

Lisa McGee, created and wrote the show set in the early 1990s during the Troubles, has described the project as "very dear to my heart". Ms McGee, who is from Derry, previously created the restaurant drama Raw for RTÉ and has writing credits on television shows such as Being Human and Indian Summers.

Strong links

Members of the Derry Girls cast also attended the dinner, which was described by Ireland's ambassador to the UK, Adrian O'Neill, as "a chance for the industry to celebrate and recognise strong links between Ireland and the UK in terms of television talent, both on screen and behind the camera".

Mr O'Neill said the Young Offenders television series had been commissioned following a conversation between BBC head of comedy Shane Allen and Eddie Doyle, who was then head of comedy for RTÉ.

The gathering was co-hosted by Lesley O’Connor, a former RTÉ producer and former Web Summit executive producer, and Stephen McCormack of Straywave Media, who are the co-founders of Mediacon.

“In a world of global content, our global network, connections and partnerships have never been more important,” the ambassador said. He described Dave Allen, who died in 2005, as “a true trailblazer” who had paved the way for other Irish comedians in Britain.

Laura Slattery

Laura Slattery

Laura Slattery is an Irish Times journalist writing about media, advertising and other business topics