Saturday, February 27, 2010

Stage Irish in "Murder, She Wrote: The Celtic Riddle"

Just watched "Murder, She Wrote: The Celtic Riddle", set in Ireland. I've seen worse imitations of Ireland by American films and TV (notably an episode of the old Mission Impossible where people were terrified of a fake banshee and the carriage of death or something, jeeeeez that was pathetic), but still, it seems at least 75% of the 'Irish' cast were not only American, they seemed to have spent less than 10 minutes practicing their Irish accents... the better ones manage to mix some kind of Irish accent in with English, Scottish and a bit of a Russian twinge. The worse ones (e.g. the spiky-haired mechanic modelling his look after Johnny Rotten who sounds more Scandinavian than anything, and the blonde male cop) make a complete bollox of it, or just give up completely. I guess almost all the dialogue scenes were filmed in the States? Otherwise there's really no excuse for hiring Americans with bad stage Irish accents to play Irish characters - if it was filmed in Ireland, why would you ship American actors over to do a crappy job?

Can you imagine an Irish film crew flying to the USA and bringing Irish actors over to play Americans, with horrible cheesy accents that don't convince anyone?

Apart from the actors, there are cars you don't see here (e.g. Chevrolet police cars or the big Ford van which tries to drive someone off the road) and obviously fake number plates (with non-existent county codes)... which is to be expected I guess. Plenty of modern films and TV series simply do without number plates altogether (Fringe, IIRC), which kind of spoils the realism IMO.

Some stupid did not do the research mistakes:
  • Who... WHO refers to the Irish language as "the Gaelic language"? Christ on a bike, do some research!

  • The same supposedly Irish character also failed to recognise Ogham script (which is fairly distinctive) but then later seemed to know about its history... which is it - does she know about it or not? Be consistent, damnit!

  • A letterhead addressed to "Dublin BT238479, Ireland" or similar - Ireland is not in the UK and we don't use UK postcodes!! WTF

Other than that, it was basically an extra-long episode of Murder She Wrote. It kind of petered out a bit, perhaps because I was getting distracted by the silly errors, or perhaps the 45-minute format worked better for the series?


  1. Oh but we do have postcodes;- even Garmin, the American company, knows of PON Codes -

  2. Interesting, I've never heard of them, nor would I expect anyone I know here in Dublin to have knowledge of them.

    We probably do need a more systematic postcode format, although this one is completely unofficial. "Even" Garmin probably heard of them because the implementors probably contacted Garmin first. I see that you have an "Irish Postcodes" blog - are you affiliated with that site?

    In any case, the postcode in question was clearly a UK postcode, which as I said, we do NOT use.

  3. just watched it there for the first time and a fair bit of it was filmed in ireland (don't know about the indoors shots)so i guess they did ship over american actors with shoddy actors. there was a lot of filming done in rathdrum and some in aughrim (i know cos i only live a few miles down the road)

    as for the postcodes...BT postcodes are from northern ireland and the only time a postcode is used in the republic id in dublin eg dublin 1, dublin 2 etc.

  4. I am currently being tortured by the weird abuse of the Irish language on the Celtic Riddle.
    My girlfriend specifically wanted to watch this programme - I immediately started to laugh at the ridiculous accents, the detective is the first person to appear that had a distinctive accent that rang true to my memory of Irish.

    The Americans really can't help butchering other nationalities accents!

  5. I'm an American, and I found the accents laughable, too. Many of the actors couldn't keep the accent going for more than a word or two per line. But to be fair, this is an American television production. I expect that most of the scenes with the main actors were filmed in the U.S., and so it wasn't like they were hiring American actors to work in Ireland. So they hired L.A.-based actors like Fionnula Flanagan, who, at least, was born and raised in Ireland, although she's lived long enough in the U.S. that her accent seems to have worn away.

    In any case, just understand that television shows do this in every country. U.K. mystery shows, for example, give American characters strange, stilted voices, and if they are Southern U.S., they all sound like Foghorn Leghorn. Given the budgets of these shows, using local actors with poor accents is probably inevitable in these situations. The alternative, I guess, is doing what the Michael Gambon "Maigret" show does...although all the main characters are French, everyone simply talks in their normal, British voices, as though daring the audience to call them on it.


    1. You don't see the hypocrisy in complaining about an 8 year old complaint?