Pippa Brown, the newly appointed Creative Director, Comedy for the award-winning UK studio, has today announced the optioning of Big Girl Small Town – the breath-taking debut novel by Michelle Gallen – after a competitive bidding process.
This is the first comedy project to be announced since the makers of Gentleman Jack appointed Brown to lead their move into the genre. The renowned writer, director and former actor Kathy Burke, a huge fan of the book, will join as part of the creative team working on the adaptation.
Recently shortlisted for a prestigious Irish Book Award, and dubbed “Milkman-meets-Derry Girls” the comic novel explores the legacy of the Troubles in a divided Irish border town through the perspective of Majella O’Neill, a twenty seven year old “big girl” who lives at home with her mother and is brimming with no nonsense attitude and scathing wit. Majella lives her life on repeat, working 6 days a week every week in her local chip shop and bearing witness to the darkly hilarious goings on of the town from behind the counter.
Set in 2004 – ten years after the IRA Ceasefire – Majella’s family story is overshadowed by violence and sadness, but the black humour of her uncompromising voice makes this an incredibly funny story with laugh-out-loud moments that make the pain and trauma beneath them all the more poignant.
The book has received rave critical reviews since its release in February 2020 and, as well as the Irish Book Award, it was shortlisted for the Comedy Women in Print Prize. The TV rights were acquired from agent Marianne Gunn O’Connor, with John Murray Publishers publishing the novel.
On having her novel adapted for television, Gallen said: “It’s a dream come true to work with the legendary Kathy Burke and creative firecracker Pippa Brown to bring Majella and the town of Aghybogey to the screen. Kathy and Pippa revel in the fun, filth and grit powering the lives of characters like Jimmy Nine Pints but treat every character with dignity and respect. I think that’s going to create something very special”.
Pippa Brown, Creative Director, Comedy at Lookout Point, said: “I’m beyond excited to work with Michelle and Kathy to bring Majella’s compelling comic voice to the screen and I can’t wait for audiences to fall in love with her and her world of misfits, chip suppers and secrets”.
Kathy Burke said: “After hearing Jane Garvey rave about the book on Woman’s Hour I immediately bought it and had it read within a couple of days. Majella is an absolutely wonderful character, I loved being inside her beautifully unique head and I’m incredibly excited to be working alongside Michelle Gallen and Pippa Brown in getting her to the small screen”.