18 May 2017
The Tablet Interview - Once a Catholic... screenwriter and renowned TV producer Jimmy McGovern talks to Peter Stanford
'A flawed priest is far more interesting than a flawed plumber'
Once a Catholic...
He might have lost his faith, but as the Liverpudlian scriptwriter tells Peter Stanford, his stories reflect a deep and sympathetic fascination with Catholicism
“I always wonder why there aren’t more dramas about Catholicism,” muses Jimmy McGovern. No one could accuse the Liverpudlian screenwriter of not pulling his weight in this regard.
His 1994 film, Priest, about a cleric struggling with his sexuality was both Bafta-nominated and banned by the Church in Ireland. His 2002 TV movie, Sunday, portrayed clerics on the front line during Bloody Sunday in Derry, and now his new high-profile BBC1 six parter, Broken, stars Sean Bean as the worldly, selfless Fr Michael Kerrigan, attempting to serve his God and his blighted inner-city parish.
“Everything I have ever watched that prominently features a priest,” says McGovern, “has always been a good film. As a subject, it just lends itself to drama so well.” Compulsive list-makers will, of course, be able to name exceptions, but the man who started out on Brookside and made himself a byword for gritty social realism with, among others, Cracker, The Lakes, Hillsborough and The Street is talking about his own impression. Those who laugh at or deride the Church don’t figure much on his horizon.
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