The star was written out of the RTÉ show at the start of 2012 when his character, John Boy, was murdered with two shots to the head at the end of the second series, leaving his lieutenant, Nidge, to step into the vacuum.
The writer of the country’s most successful TV drama, Stuart Carolan, told the Ian Dempsey Show yesterday that he would have had second thoughts about putting a bullet in John Boy’s head if he’d known the show would become such a runaway success.
“I didn’t know it was ever going to keep going like this,” he said. “In some way I think I’m a half-wit for killing off Aiden Gillen.”
More than 1m viewers were left reeling when the show’s heartthrob, Darren, was murdered in the closing minutes of the last series.
Carolan said he discussed the decision to kill off the key characters with both actors.
“In some cases, with John Boy and Darren, I would have talked to Aidan and Robbie about it and sometimes it is kind of emotional because that’s what is going to happen but you feel for the character,” he said
Aiden Gillen as John Boy
Despite having a high-profile shooting at the end of each series, the writer said he is quite reluctant to pull the trigger on his characters.
He said: “Other times, when for example [with] Fran’s wife Linda, played by Denise McCormack, or in the first series, Brian Gleeson, who played Hughie, you are, even at a late stage in the script, wondering is there a way I can fix it and keep it going?”
Despite the success and critical acclaim of the show, the Dublin writer said he still is nervous about the airing of the fourth series tomorrow night.
“I’m kind of looking forward to it in a nervous way,” he said. “It’s hard not to get a little worried. I think this year it’s a little bit darker still.”
He said he thought the rape scene at the opening of the series last year would have had viewers switching off but the series drew record ratings.
He said: “This time last year, I thought people would switch off for the first episode but you kind of feel you do the best show. That’s what we’ve done this year. Each year it is hard to reboot the series when you lose somebody.”
He said gang boss Nidge will be constantly looking over his shoulder in the new series.
“There are a number of active threats and people are trying to kill him. We are ramping it up this year,” he said.
He also told how he portrays the new Garda, Detective Mick Moynihan, played by Brían F O’Byrne, as a tough, modern policeman.
He said: “I did a lot of research on this and I wanted to reflect the reality out there. The main guy Brían F O’Byrne plays is a moral character and a force for good. It is modern policing. They are not dull, choirboys but smart, tough operators.”
Carolan said he is delighted with the new crop of actors in the latest series.
He told the Ian Dempsey Show: “There are lot of actors we have in the new series like Brían F [O’Byrne], that are pretty amazing. There is a young actor called Barry Keoghan and an actor called John Connors. I think they are all special.”
He also said he is trying to find more characters like Darren, who are good at heart even though they are caught up in the criminal underworld.
“Even though [Darren] killed a lot of people, there was a sense about him that he wanted not to be there,” he said. “Even if he became a bad character he wanted to be good. There are characters like Brían F O’Byrne, a moral character, and Charlie Murphy’s character Siobhan is a moral character. I kind of almost see it that Darren is like a fallen angel.”
And the writer said he will be watching the show like everyone else.
“I’m trying to start writing series five at the moment,” he said. “It’s hard each year. It is only when you are watching it on television you notice something for the first time.”