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Covies sparkle on the red carpet and cruise cosmos of worldwide web

The Covies Premier

Covies sparkle on the red carpet

Áine Ryan

“IT’S one thing running around the town bollock naked but it’s another thing impersonating the patron saint of Ireland.”
When Covie’s keeper of the peace, Garda Burke (Paddy Guthrie) speaks, he exudes a rather off-the-wall demeanour. It must be those oversized shades. Or maybe it’s the way he strides down Bridge Street in the middle of all the traffic.
Westport may still be recovering from the arctic freeze-up but the red carpet sparkled on Sunday night last for the premiere of the colourful online soap opera that dramatically reveals the second coming of Saint Patrick.
Instead of a young shepherd from Wales, intent on banishing the snakes (ask Nellie, you’ll find her ensconced in Toby’s bar), the second coming of Saint Patrick involves a young naked man rising out of the sea, it seems. Naturally, when he walks through the town starkers, St Patrick, aka Donal Ó Meachair, does cause a few raised eyebrows. 
But Len Collin’s innovative online soap is about much more than slapstick shenanigans or the bizarre Bitches of Eastwick.
Covies has all the elements of a must-watch soap drama. In the intense third episode, entitled A Kind of Loving, a domestic violence scene unfolds. Played by leads, husband and wife Vinnie (Paul O’Brien) and Bridie O’Malley (Sarah Carroll), it addresses the complex issue so realistically it visibly shocked and left Sunday’s audience uncomfortable. Crucially, they were also totally engaged and undoubtedly hooked to the story-line. 
Mayo News contributor and fitness guru, Paul O’Brien cut his teeth on the amateur stage that is Saint Patrick’s Drama Group but he is a clear natural behind the camera.
“I wondered whether I could do some of the stuff Vinnie had to do. That scene was very hard to shoot and to play but Sarah and I spent hours in the cottage getting into character and then it worked,” Paul O’Brien said last night.
He also said it would be great if some of the television networks picked-up on the online soap and it ultimately developed into a TV series.
“For the moment though it is all about its exposure online. I believe it really showcases Westport, not just as a beautiful tourism destination but also as a a perfect location for the film industry,” O’Brien continued.
Covies’ creator Len Collin is clearly an experienced storyline writer. While editing appeared a little rough at some stages and acting uneven, it must be remembered that this series was made on a shoestring budget.
According to Len Collin who has worked as a scriptwriter for Eastenders, The Bill, Ultimate Force, as well as for the RTE rural police drama, Single Handed, Covies is the first attempt in Ireland at creating a soap opera that will only be available online. 
“Covies was made on a very low budget and with a lot of support from local businesses and the community in Westport. For example, an hour’s worth of drama on RTE would cost about half a million euros but we’ve filmed two hours of this soap for €24,000,” Len Collin said yesterday (Monday).
The Sligo native, who now resides in Westport, also observed that his adopted home town was a perfect location for shooting the drama and other filmmaking projects.
“Westport provides easy access to Knock airport and it has a train station. It is also very pretty and is close to lots of spectacular land and seascapes,’ Collin continued. 
Collin also revealed that it was after he was forced to join the dole queue last June, for the first time in 20 years, that he started to develop the concept for the series.
Many of the stars of Covies are from the local amateur drama group, as well as from the wider community. They provided their services free, along with many local businesses and bodies who offered voluntary support and free services during the making of the series last autumn.

Where can i see covies
The very first episode of  Covies was aired last night (Monday) on www.thecovies.com, and the next episode will go out on this Thursday night, January 14. The remaining episodes will air every Monday and Thursday over the next month.