Seacht Shocks

Think Skins crossed with a particularly risqué episode of Hollyoaks. Think a campus novel penned by Alan Warner with a cast of characters that owe more to Trainspotting than Trading Places. Throw in a cúpla focail Gaeilge (for the non-Gaeligoirs out there, that’s a few words of Irish) and you’ve pretty much got Seacht, BBC NI’s Irish language soap.

Seacht (pronounced shocked) is set in and around Queen’s and follows a group of inordinately attractive university students as they while away their youth taking drugs, having copious amounts of sex and, eh, speaking lots of Irish.

It’s Irish, Jim, but as we know it.

I’d seen ads for Seacht (apparently now in its second season) but had to wait until Monday night for my first, eh, taste of the action when it appeared after the excellent Into the Storm. I was still digesting Brendan Gleeson’s excellent turn as Churchill when Seacht’s tumultuous opening salvo hit – a shot of a couple of scrawny teenagers popping pills cuts to a girlfriend stumbling on her SO in bed with her sister the morning after.

seacht320xI’ll confess I was rapt for the rest of the 25-minute long episode not so much by the quality of the drama but its sheer, undeniable WTF factor. Buckfast in the Botanics. Check. An Irish-language call girl agency. Check. A raunchy modelling shoot. Cheek. On top of that was enough sex scenes (nude free, of course) to satisfy any reader of Nuts and a fair whack of dope smoking and heavy drinking.

My extensive research (also known as a quick google search) suggests Seacht is a joint production between BBC NI and TG4, the Irish language station based in Galway. As a Mexican (proudly born and raised south of the border) I’m well used to TG4’s worthy but dull Irish language programs and dramas, but Seacht is as far removed from Ros na Rún – the station’s stalwart soap offering – as the Holylands is from Connemara.

Whether Seacht, which airs on both BBC NI and TG4, will succeed in making Irish cool in the north remains to be seen. Certainly the depiction of Queen’s as a red brick institution brimming with effusive – not to mention insatiable – Irish speakers is apocryphal. But perhaps that’s the point. No ordinary college milieu, for the characters of Seacht Irish is as ubiquitous as sex, drugs and hard liquor.

I’d hazard a guess that Seacht isn’t quite what De had in mind for the Irish language, but then again neither was the Good Friday Agreement. As for me, I’ll be watching again, if only to spot the Irish speaking PSNI officers and see how the, excuse the pun, shocking bizarre love triangle turns out.

Peter Geoghegan