By Eileen Murphy
Sad news last week for fans of the BBC television series "Ballykissangel." Irish actor Tony Doyle, who played the role of town entrepreneur Brian Quigley, died suddenly last Friday morning in London. He was 58 years old.
The actor, who was born in Frenchpark, Co. Roscommon, graduated from University College, Dublin, in the mid-1960s and began acting on the "fringe" theater circuit in Dublin. He later moved to London, where he forged a successful career onstage and in television.
When offered the role of Quigley on BallyK, Doyle originally turned it down.
"No, I wasn’t particularly interested in it," he told the Irish Times in an interview last year. "In fact, I didn’t fancy it at all. "It was the perseverance of the director, with whom I’d worked before, that finally got me involved."
"I couldn’t understand why they’d taken themselves away from the cutting edge of contemporary drama to take a romp in the whimsical whin bushes of County Wicklow," said Doyle, sounding suspiciously like his alter ego.
The producers were persistent, and refused to take no for an answer.
"They said it wasn’t going to be the way it seemed," recalled Doyle. "There was all this humor, certainly, but there would be steely moments."
Reluctantly, Doyle agreed to do the first series, which comprised a mere six episodes. "But then," he said, "it was a huge success, beyond all belief."
Doyle is survived by his second wife, Sally, and six children. And, of course, legions of Ballyk fans throughout the world.
We always say, why stay in a cold, impersonal (albeit trendy) hotel when you can bunk down in a mansion?
Obviously, supermodels Naomi Campbell and Yasmin Le Bon feel the same way. The two katwalk kweens, who will be among the dozens of celebs in Dublin for next week’s Brown Thomas fashion show, plan to avail themselves of the hospitality at chez Bono. The two beauties, along with Yasmin’s Duran Duran star hubby Simon, will stay at Bono’s Dalkey mansion rather than in his Clarence Hotel.
Other stars in town for the big event will include Kate Moss, Jerry Hall, Jason Priestly, Patrick Bergin, Christy Turlington and Rolling Stone Ron Wood. Which just goes to show that Dublin’s becoming just like New York, where you can’t swing a cat without smacking a celebrity.
Liam’s dulcet tones
As if anyone needed another reason to go see "Riverdance" on Broadway when it debuts on March 3, at the Gershwin Theater, we’re happy to report that our favorite Irish actor, Liam Neeson, will be providing the voice-over narration. Hmm, let’s see — great dancing, great music, and Liam’s voice cooing in our ears — right, just reserve us a seat on the aisle for the three-month run, toss us the occasional crust of bread, and just leave us be.
Even major RD fans, the ones who can practically recite and dance the whole thing, will find something new and exciting in this incarnation of the show. In addition to Liam, the show will also add star power with Irish singing sensation Brian Kennedy — who has an incredible voice — and South African vocalist Tsidii Le Loka, who recently starred in "The Lion King." The producers have also announced that the show will feature new costumes, new songs and new dance numbers. We can safely assume, though, that the centerpiece of the show, the actual "Riverdance" number, will be as dazzling as ever.
Starring in the show will be lead dancers Pat Roddy and Eileen Martin, who dazzled audiences when the show last played Radio City Music Hall. They will be joined by flamenco star Maria Páges, also an RD vet.
Liam will read excerpts from the poetry of celebrated Irish writers W.B. Yeats, Seamus Heaney and Arthur O’Shaughnessy, as well as specially written verse by the poet Theo Durgan. Though, really, Liam could read from the phone book if he felt like it — it would all sound like poetry to us.
If you haven’t already snapped up your tickets, you can call Ticketmaster at (212) 307-4100 or order through their website at www.ticketmaster.com. See you there.
Noel loves Mayo, and that’s no baloney
Oasis star Noel Gallagher — we’d say he’s the brother with the single eyebrow across his forehead, but it seems to be a family trait — has told the Sunday World that his fondest childhood memories are of summers spent on his granny’s farm in County Mayo.
The elder Gallagher sibling, who seems to be a reflective mood these days since becoming a father again, says that he loved the six-week-long vacations with his granny.
"My gran’s got this house and the back garden’s just [rhymes with trucking] huge," he said. "The nearest neighbors are four miles away."
Neither the relative (sorry!) isolation nor the lack of amenities bothered the future rock star.
"She didn’t have running water, so we went to the well to get water," he recalled. "It was back to basics. Those are my fondest childhood memories."
In contrast, Gallagher’s homelife in England was hellish and violent. His father, he says, was abusive to the whole family. Gallagher wants nothing to do with him.
"He’s got to go to his grave knowing for a fact that I hate him and Liam hates him and that my mam doesn’t want anything to do with him," Gallagher said.
"Home life was a bit of a pain in the arse because my dad was a typical Irishman, flying off the handle for any reason," he continued. "And my mam was a typical Irishwoman, always stood by him, even though we were always going, ‘Leave him!’ "
There’s no reconciliation in the cards, as far as Noel can see.
"There’s no [rhymes with trucking] way," he said.
We love you, yeah . . .
We’re intrigued by VH1’s newest television movie, "The Two of Us," which recounts a fictional 1976 meeting between ex-Beatles John Lennon and Paul McCartney. The subject seems ripe for a movie — say, didn’t Black 47’s Larry Kirwan write a play with a similar premise years ago? — and really, it’s not like we can ever get enough of watching Aidan Quinn.
In addition to starring Quinn as Paul and Jared Harris as John, the film promises to be a bit of voyeuristic wish fulfillment for Beatles fans, who all want to watch the two stars duke it out and then kiss and make up.
We’ve only seen the commercials so far, but a few things pop out: Quinn’s Liverpool accent sounds more like a speech impediment, Harris looks nothing like John Lennon (who was our favorite mop top), and the producers had the gall to change the color of Aidan’s eyes from their usual electric blue to a dull brown. Authenticity, schmauthenticity — isn’t there a law against this?
The movie premiered on Tuesday, Feb. 1, but like all VH1 shows, will be repeated a billion times a day, so check local TV listings.
Gay Byrne has put all his free time to good use since his retirement from the grind of hosting Ireland’s "Late Late Show." The 60-something star, who was presented with a Harley Davidson motorcycle by the members of U2 on his last show, just got his motorcycle license. Keep the pets and small children off the road, we say . . .
"Angela’s Ashes" star Emily Watson, who’s got two past Oscar nominations under her belt and a good chance at a third for her turn as mother of all the McCourts, says she has no intention of moving to Hollywood.
"I’ve worked in the states, but I’m very much based in London," she told an Irish newspaper.
She also dismisses all the Oscar buzz about her performance.
"It’s unlikely because it’s a quiet supporting role, subtle and not commercial," she said.
It had to happen sooner or later. It’s just that it’s (sob!) way, way too soon . . .
We refer, of course, to the changing of the guard (notice, we resisted the urge to say nappies) in the Sunday World this week. The page that has for years been devoted to the musings of the various members of Boyzone has been taken over by — you guessed it — Westlife, or as Boyz frontman Ronan Keating calls them, "my boys." (No, Ro’s not going all paternal — he co-manages the band with Louis Walsh.) Anyway, Ronan promises that he and the other ‘Zoners will check in whenever they have news to report, so it’s not goodbye or anything. (Yeah, suuuuure.)
Eurovision star-turned-politician Dana was probably not too thrilled to hear that her daughters didn’t make the cut for Cecelia Aherne’s new teen pop band. Hey, even if they’re tone deaf, they’d be at least even with lots of other teen sensations . . .