You Can Get Good Charlie In This Town



Aiden Gillen as Charles Haughey in RTÉ’s ‘Charlie’

Aidan Gillen (above) not only manages to look like Haughey, but he conveys his ruthlessness and charm effectively.Tom Vaughan-Lawlor does an equally good job as Haughey’s loyal servant and fixer PJ Mara, although the character is given more power and influence than he actually had at this stage in Haughey’s career. Lucy Cohu is excellent as Haughey’s mistress, Terry Keane, and Gavin O’Connor looks like Seán Doherty as well as nailing his character.

RTÉ television drama does Charles Haughey some service (Stephen Collins)

Mention, too, should be made of Peter O’Meara as a cravenly ingratiating Brian Lenihan, Frankie McCafferty as a slithery Des Traynor, Gavin O’Connor freakishly similar to Sean Doherty and Risteard Cooper giving a quietly arresting turn as civil servant Dermot Nally.
And Lucy Cohu hit exactly the right over-the-top vampish note as Haughey’s paramour Terry Keane, even if her Coq Hardi frolickings with her lover seemed to have strayed in from a ‘Carry On’ film.

‘Charlie’ more ribald comedy than serious political drama (John Boland,



Rick writes:

Charlie unavailable to people outside Ireland? Anyone?

42 thoughts on “You Can Get Good Charlie In This Town

  1. Soundings

    So, all the living characters are sympathetically portrayed, and by contrast, those who’ve croaked it are villains or worse. Libel much?

    1. Medium Sized C

      That would be unfair.

      Lenihan wasn’t treated as a villain as much as an incompetant gobshite.

  2. Drogg

    It was brutally s**t i had to switch it off, it was like a bad play full of waning monologues and pauses for dramatic effect. At the end of the day it is a drama it is supposed to be entertaining not gaudy and cringe worthy.

        1. Clampers Outside!

          Oh yes he was, I’ve seen those hoss roidin’ pics of him in his jodhpers and his love of cravats… the man was cringe personified with all his efforts to ‘look the part’. Not much unlike the young orange skinned Wesley types of today :0)
          Although some see the creep in a more flattering light, like Mary Kenny’s vomit inducing onanic piece a few days ago…. that was some sycophantic rant she did in fairness, laughable :)

          1. Frilly Keane

            That wasn’t gaudy

            That was pure ‘ look I’m riding Aristocracy… and in the same get up as the knobby West Brits haven’t an arse in their pants hunt crowd.’

            Terry Keane was nothing but a gaudy scavenger with a West Brit accent. So he rode her too.

      1. louislefronde

        Aidan Gillan is about three inches taller and doesn’t quite have the snake eyed intensity of Haughey.

        1. Odis

          Charlie have appreciated the fact, that they got someone, who is considerably better looking than him, to play the part.

          1. jane

            Judging the above snapshot, Aiden can’t act Gillen looks like he is reprising the role played by Kevin Bacon in the Woodsman.

    1. Medium Sized C

      I wouldn’t go as far as you, but it wasn’t great.

      There was way too much Vaughn-Lawlor and Gillen makin faces at each other.
      And nobody uses that many metaphors in conversation, because words have meanings and if we just threw completely unrelated words around all the time, nobody would have any clue what the hell anyone else was saying.

  3. Christopher

    The airing of this show was on the 9 o clock news. The NEWS! Feck off RTE, it’s one of your TV programs, not a news story. I dont care if it’s early January and a slow Sunday that was an ad.

  4. Dubloony

    RTE have been really pushing this one for sure.

    I’m curious if anyone under 30 looked at this and if so, did they figure out what was going on?
    Did Haughey really speak like he was making a speech the whole time?

  5. Frilly Keane

    I enjoyed it. Esp CJ. I loved being reminded of his “Paddies are as sophisticated and ambitious and have as much potential as any other crowd” behavior

    If I was to nit pick, I thought Mara was a bit too giddy, and maybe camped up too much. Also, although I know this may be contradicted lively enough, I felt the script downplayed his active Republicanism a bit too much.

    Looking forward to seeing Bertie and Ray Burke introduced. But most of all, the 1st Abortion Referendum and the PDs.

    1. Sinabhfuil

      I was surprised they didn’t start it with the refugees streaming south across the Border and the Arms Trial. Would have given a lot of colour and weight to the later Machiavellianism, which appears a little unexplained and formless as written.

      1. Frilly Keane

        Yep. And even the whole Blanket Protest v Maggie Thatcher didn’t get a glimmer.

        Which is very disappointing.

        1. Spaghetti Hoop

          It did. It was referred to in both the snapshot of the Dublin street protests (blanketed protestors in cages) and with the conversations between Haughey and Lenihan on Thatcher’s refusal to compromise.

          1. Frilly Keane

            But not enough CJ in any of those fleeting seconds of screen time for me.

            All we got was snapshot stuff from Reeling in the years

          2. Frilly Keane

            I Didn’t say that Oddy

            CJ was never behind the door with his Republican and Nationalist drive.

            I dont know why the scriptwriters and producers had him as a spectator, but I’m dissapointed that they did.

  6. Odis

    Really – I thought it very excellent television and am throughly looking forward to the next episodes.
    Also, its easy to be critical of its simplistic and dramatic approach, but I would imagine RTÉ have a commercial product that they can sell both in the UK and the States.
    The main criticism usually leveled at RTÉ is that they are to parochial and boring. Turbo charged megalomaniacs don’t fit in with that description.

    1. Roisin

      There is no way they could sell it abroad; most Irish people under 30 wouldn’t know what was going on unless they had a good knowledge of Irish political history, never mind foreign audiences.

  7. Spaghetti Hoop

    I admit I played ‘spot the Love/Hate actor’ for most of it. But enjoyed it all the same; it’s a drama, not a documentary. Events of the early 80s in Ireland were done well, e.g. Hunger Strikes and the Stardust fire. One thing that struck me was how similar Haughey’s leadership style was to that of Thatcher’s ….portrayed on screen, that is. T’would make you ponder on irish political leadership in general and its totalitarianism or otherwise. A drama that would motivate anyone to go off and research the facts is not a bad result. Three parts is good enough too.

  8. Buzz

    I enjoyed it. They made Brian Lenihan Snr out to be a total buffoon, which must have been embarassing if his family were watching. The Timotei moment was a laugh. Haughey’s pettiness hasn’t come across yet but there’s plenty of time for that. Geraldine Kennedy’s character was a hoot too. All in all, not bad. Will keep watching.

  9. Fair's fair, like

    Slim pickings available on RTE player abroad. Try Hola unblocker. A bit shit but works sometimes.

  10. cacotechny

    There was something so Roger Moore about it with Terry Keane as the Bond Girl. When it tries to be serious and smart it ends up laughable and cringe. I kept waiting for Terry to say; Oh, James. And don’t forget the Batman 1989 music in the background at times:

  11. deliverancecountry

    “How can I soar like an eagle when I’m surrounded by turkeys!”.
    Needs more ‘Mara.

  12. ReproBertie

    At the start it seemed to be very choppy. To me it felt like they set a scene, Charlie came in and gave a short speech and then they moved to the next scene. After a while it settled down though and I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. I’ll definitely be watching the next two episodes.

    I read a piece on it in the Irish Times on Saturday where the writer (of the series) said the legal guy loved the script as every scene was annotated with sources. I guess that means the accuracy has to be pretty close.

    1. Suspendered Animation

      Assuming of course that the sources were ‘reliable’ ones. To the extent, that is, that anyone associated with FF during the Haughey era can be said to be reliable.

  13. Lilly

    I liked how they showed that Charlie’s response to Stardust was all about what would or wouldn’t look good. Cold to the core.

    His wife is still alive, isn’t she. Hope she was at bingo last night :)

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