Blood and guts a part of growing up for Carolan

Just before Christmas, the third season finale of gritty TV drama Love/Hate ended in a shower of bullets.

The blood and guts flying mostly belonged to Darren, played by Robert Sheehan, as almost 1m viewers watched Lizzie (Caoilfhionn Dunne) gun down the series’ heart-throb.

Blood and guts are something that, in a way, creator and writer Stuart Carolan has grown up with. The grim reality of gangland violence was what his mother, as a medical professional, encountered all too frequently in her work.

“My mother worked as a nurse in the A&E department in Blanchardstown Hospital for a good few years. She would talk about different guys coming in who had been shot or stabbed.”

Carolan still recalls one incident that affected his mother deeply.

“It would be difficult when a guy of 18 or 19 came in and didn’t make it. She told me about one young guy in particular who came in to the hospital. She spoke about laying him out and wiping him down before his family came to see him.”

Living in Dublin as a TV and radio producer, Carolan was familiar with the seedy side of Irish urban life, but he was also aware of the restrictions inherent in news and current affairs production.

“Sometimes you can get to the truth of the story in a certain way but sometimes you hear stories that cannot be backed up even if they illuminate a particular issue. That means that you miss out on a deeper truth,” he said yesterday, on Newstalk.

That made him think that drama — stage and screen — could offer more. “I had heard a lot of stories, so I did research, looked at many points of view, not just people in gangs. I spoke to guards and many people provided me with a lot of material.”

The result has been a triumph. Love/Hate dominates the shortlist for this year’s Ifta awards with 11 nominations.

They include best actor nods for Sheehan, and Tom Vaughan Lawlor (Nidge), a best actress nomination for Charlie Murphy, and a best supporting actress nod for Susan Loughnane.

It is also nominated for best drama, director TV drama for David Caffrey, and script drama for Carolan.

The series had also proved a commercial success. Since the third series began in November, it averaged 748,000 viewers per episode, making it the biggest RTÉ drama in history.

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