ENNIS actor, Kelly Gough has been a fixture on TV screens over the last few years in Raw and at the moment she is on both TG4 and BBC, playing hard bitten reporter, Alix in the Irish language drama Scúp, set in a struggling Belfast local newspaper.
Its portrayal of the issues and challenges that are facing newspapers and those working in them has won glowing reviews over the last number of weeks.
Kelly has been nominated for the actor of the year gong in the Oireachtas Irish Language Media Awards and speaking to The Clare Champion from England last week, she said she is very pleased with Scúp.
“I really love it, I’m not gonna lie. It’s one of the things I really enjoy watching and normally I don’t really enjoy watching what I do. But when I think back, it was made on a tiny budget, it’s really well written and it’s well performed overall.”
Her own character, Alix, is a determined and often feisty reporter, who is on the brink of embarking on a relationship with the paper’s editor, Rob, who has just arrived in Belfast from London and is separated.
Kelly spent some time with journalists to get her head around the role. “I’ve friends who are journalists and I hung out with them and shadowed them. Even aside from the journalism aspect of it, when you read it, Colin [Bateman] writes characters with not a lot of fat on them. It’s very straightforward. I felt like he did a lot of the work for me.”
While nothing has been decided yet, she hopes that there will be at least one more series. “It’s looking pretty likely; there’s talk of it. I know when Colin wrote it, it was with a second and third series in mind but it depends on funding and a whole load of things. The signs are good but it’s also about getting the cast back together and stuff. It’s kind of up in the air and it’s usually right at the last minute that you find out for sure but fingers crossed. I’d certainly like to do another series of it.”
She loves Irish and gives Coláiste Mhuire, where she went to school, much of the credit for instilling that in her. While she grew up learning Munster Irish, she had to adapt for Scúp.
“The Irish I’m speaking in Scúp is Belfast Irish, proper northern Irish. Belfast Irish grew from prisoners making a point of learning the language. It’s that really hard Belfast dialect that was adopted. It’s kind of an adopted language and it’s very different to the Irish that we would speak in the south. I had a language coach with me through the whole thing and they were really pedantic about it.”
Making sure that all the nuances of her speech were correct was very important, she feels. “People who love the Irish language don’t miss a trick, so it has to be perfect.”
After finishing school in 2004, she trained as an actress at Trinity. A couple of years working in Dublin followed, before she took a year off and she has been very busy over the last two years.
Initially she worked on stage but has done much more TV lately. Now in her mid-20s, she feels she is still improving as an actor.
“I look at my first series of Raw and I say ‘Oh Christ’, I was brutal in it. You get better with every job that you do and I think it’s important that you recognise that, that you watch what you do, know you need to improve. It’s work. They say it’s a craft and you perfect it.
“I wouldn’t say I’m Pacino, that I walk on set and it’s as easy as breathing. I work really, really hard at it. It’s just the kind of actor that I am. I’ve a sister who’s an actor as well and she’s a very different kind of actor too. I have a support, if something is really difficult, or I can’t get my head around something, she’s the first one that I call. It does help having it in the family, very definitely.”
In Raw, she plays Kate, the somewhat flighty younger sister of the far steadier Fiona, who owns the restaurant.
The show has been a hit but as yet she doesn’t know if there will a sixth series. “I haven’t a clue, no idea. Our ratings were fantastic this year but it’ll really come down to Octagon and RTÉ. Again, it’s the same, we tend to hear quite late in the day and Raw is a difficult one. It’s so difficult to get us all together at the same time.”
She feels people are coming around a little to watching subtitled programmes. “When you see the popularity of programmes like Borgen, which is in Danish, or The Killing, another Danish programme, it shows people are slowly coming around to the idea that it’s ok to read subtitles. I think it is changing, I think there is a shift in it.”
In the near future she wants to finish writing her first play, which she’d like to have staged in Dublin. Other ambitions include appearing in a BBC drama and performing at the National Theatre in Dublin.
At the moment, living in London suits her but she’s not sure if she’ll be there for good. “I’ve been here off and on for about four years and it took me about two years to adjust. It’s a big city and a very different pace of life. I think it suits me because I like to live in a really busy city or to be out in Fanore, where there’s hardly anyone there. I’m very much all or nothing, so London suits me quite well.
“I don’t know that I’d want to spend my whole life here but it’s important to be here for my career and it’s worked out really well so far. However, my heart is very much at home,” she concludes.