News: Irish Border Comedy for BBC

“We patrol the border, but we’re here to let you through.” So say the newly-established crack team of Soft Border Patrol officers (SBP), who have hit the highways and byways of Northern Ireland with their very own special brand of ‘border patrolling’.

Such is their strong professionalism and determination to adhere to the law, the teams scour the countryside for anyone or anything (fish included) found to be unofficially crossing the border by land, sea or along the coast between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Headed up by CEO Lisa McCoy, the SBP teams are a force to be reckoned with - or at least they like to think so.

However all is not as it would seem, as viewers will discover when they tune into Soft Border Patrol, a mockumentary for BBC Northern Ireland filmed and set in a version of Northern Ireland where Brexit has meant a soft border.

It centres round the antics of teams, patrolling the often twisting highways and byways of the border on push bike and by car, as they try to help commuters cross the border smoothly and swiftly, but not always successfully.

Made by the Glasgow-based Comedy Unit, the series begins on BBC One Northern Ireland, Friday 2 March at 10.35pm. It was developed as part of the BBC Writersroom initiative with BBC NI Comedy.

Most of the dialogue in the series is largely improvised, performed by a cast including Karen Hassan, who plays Soft Border Patrol CEO Lisa McCoy; with Neil Delamere as Niall Sweeney, Head of Virtual Border.

The series also features the patrol teams: Diona Doherty (Tracy Jones) and Patrick Buchanan (Connor Lafferty) - the Road Patrol team; Alan Irwin (Sandy Donaldson) from Ground Patrol; Chris Patrick-Simpson (Kris Davis) and Michael Condron (Ben McGregor) - the Rural Patrol team; and Faolan Morgan (Derek O’Hara) and Julie Maxwell (Charlene Dunn), the Coastal Patrol team.

There are additional performances from Eline Van Der Velden, David Ireland, Lucy McConnell, Keith Singleton, Elaine Malcolmson and Michael Stranney, as well as a cameo appearance by BBC News correspondent Chris Buckler.

In the first episode, patrolling the border is a complex job, but someone’s got to do it. Does a plank across a stream in a farmer’s field constitute an unlawful border crossing? Following the EU referendum is chorizo still legal in Northern Ireland? And which particular personalised car number plates play havoc with the new recognition technology?

On the ground, the border patrollers deal with a demonstration from a people’s protest movement who feel Brexit presents the perfect opportunity to reunite the nine counties of Ulster. And the SBP launch a reassuring new slogan - We’re Here For You - with mixed reactions.

Soft Border Patrol is produced by Marie McDonald, executive produced by Justin Binding for BBC Northern Ireland, and by Rab Christie and Gavin Smith for The Comedy Unit.

Pictured: Connor Lafferty (Patrick Buchanan) and Tracy Jones (Diona Doherty).

Watch on iPlayer here.


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