Actor Peter Campion is fresh from a stint on RTÉ One’s Redwater, but the Birr native also plays an important role in one of Ireland’s most-loved shows.
In a change from his day job, Peter also provides the smooth voice-over for First Dates Ireland.
“That was a lot of fun. It was like having a real job – going in for a few hours and then leaving,” he says. “The producers were such good-spirited people, and it was all very positive. They treated the daters with a lot of respect and never tried to take the Mick out of them.”
Though he doesn’t meet the daters while filming, he has met a few out and about. “Sometimes I see them walking around the street and I’ve introduced myself once or twice. I go: ‘I know you.’ I suppose I get a kick out of these guys just as much as anybody else,” he says.
It differs greatly from his most recent role on the Eastender’s spin-off, Redwater, which concluded its run on RTÉ One and BBC in June. He played controversial character Andrew, who was married but having an incestuous affair with his cousin Kieran. What did he think of the storyline?
“I’ve played a gay man before, so the only thing that comes into your mind is who you’re going to be teamed up with, because it’s quite personal stuff you’re going to get up to,” he says. “So it turned out to be Ian Toner, who is a fabulous actor and a pure gentleman, and we just got on really well and became friends.
“I think (Redwater) was really well-received. That’s just from people I’ve been talking to – people I spoke to seemed well impressed and loved the story.”
Peter does not know if Redwater will be returning for a second season, however he is currently filming a new comedy, Derry Girls, for Channel 4. From drama to comedy, does he have a preference when it comes to characters?
“It all varies on how close the character is to you and really just depends on what comes through the door. When a story comes in and you read it, your mind runs riot when you’re reading a character and all the possibilities flare up on how it can be played. And different actors will play a character differently,” he says.
Peter moved home to Ireland in 2014, after a nine-year stint in London, and has been working here ever since – notably, he played Stumpy in the first two seasons of Love/Hate.
“I moved home for work, and once I was here it just felt good to be here. It seemed at the time that a lot was happening.
“I ended up doing two films pretty much straight away, Brooklyn and Sing Street, and I just stayed. It wouldn’t have been right to go back,” he says.
He has another reason to stay in Ireland, as Peter and his partner, fellow actor Valerie O’Connor (who plays Nikki Grogan in Red Rock) welcomed baby Mary Rae into the world last autumn.
“It’s a whole new world,” he admits. “You go out the window, as in yours truly. You have this human being that you’ve made who is far more important than you’ll ever be. It does have a profound effect. You’re not thinking about yourself so much.”
With the Government launching its Creative Ireland programme, which places creativity at the centre of public policy, Peter muses on what makes our country unique in terms of art and culture.
“In Ireland we have … a different outlook on things and process information differently,” he says. “If you look back on our old writers, you’ve got Yeats and Oscar Wilde and Sean O’Casey … the orchestration of the vernacular was just beyond.
“We’re a nation of storytellers as well … I think it might have something to do with our history. I mean, something must have been generated from the struggle for so long – there is a constant trying to overcome.
“I do love being Irish, because it’s a strong identity and I feel we have a fruitful outlook on things.” CL