Lisa McGee is first woman to receive Freedom of the City award

Lisa McGee, the creator of the hit Channel 4 comedy Derry Girls, has made history by becoming the first woman to receive Derry’s Freedom of the City award.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock over the last few years, chances are you are aware of Derry Girls. The comedy series has become an enormous success since it first aired over four years ago in January 2018.

Derry Girls was inspired by McGee’s experience of growing up in Derry, Northern Ireland, during the 1990s. The show is set in the years before the Troubles came to an end with the Northern Ireland Peace Process.

Now, the show has become the most successful comedy series for Channel 4 since the critically acclaimed Father Ted.

Similarly to Father Ted, Derry Girls was produced by British production company Hat Trick Productions. It was filmed primarily on location in Derry and Belfast.

Derry’s Freedom of the City award – a tremendous honour

Lisa McGee becomes first woman to receive Freedom of the City award.
Credit: Instagram / @lisafromderry

Lisa McGee was nominated for Derry’s Freedom of the City award by local SDLP councillor Martin Reilly. Speaking to Derry Now, he explained why he wanted to put her name forward for this prestigious accolade.

He stated, “Lisa McGee has brought so much joy and civic pride to our city and district through her writing. And this work has undoubtedly put Derry and its people on a global stage.”

He explained that the show captivated audiences “right from the first episode of the first series”.

He explained how “the adventures of the Derry Girls school teenagers… and their experiences growing up against the background of the Troubles as society moved towards the Good Friday Agreement in 1998… resonated with people from all walks of life.”

Resonating with those who lived through it – an honest depiction of life

Derry Girls has a place in the hearts of those who grew up in Ireland.

Cllr Reilly highlighted the poignancy of the show for those who lived through those difficult decades”. Meanwhile, he explained, the show also informed “a new generation of what life was like here in the 1990s.”

He continued, “Netflix has taken this to a global audience. This exposure for our city and district has boosted tourism and inspired those who live here, both young and old.”

The award is seen as a tremendous honour to bestow on someone. Previous recipients include past bishops of Derry and the former SDLP leader John Hume.

Others honoured with the award include Derry City’s treble-winning manager, Jim McLaughlin. Most recently ultra-endurance athlete and mental health campaigner, Danny Quigley received the honour.

Most watched series in Northern Ireland’s history – popular with the people

Lisa McGee and the Derry Girls crew.
Credit: Instagram / @lisafromderry

Derry Girls claims the title of most-watched series in Northern Ireland since records began. However, while it’s undoubtedly Lisa McGee’s most prolific success, it’s not her only successful creation.

McGee was also behind the BBC’s BAFTA-nominated Being Human and the Golden Globe-nominated drama series, The White Queen.

Still, it’s her success with Derry Girls that has led Lisa McGee to become the first woman to receive Derry’s Freedom of the City award.

First woman to receive Freedom of the City award – breaking the mould

Lisa McGee to receive Freedom of the City award.

Cllr Martin Reilly was asked about the significance of Lisa McGee being the first woman ever to be nominated for the Freedom of the City award. He claimed that “through her work, people have seen the warmth and charm of our city.”

They have seen “the sense of friendship, families pulling together and dealing with adversity, all delivered through various strong female viewpoints.

“The fact that Lisa is the first female to be nominated for the Freedom of the City in our city is truly a historic and special occasion. I’m delighted to put her forward as the first ‘Derry Girl’ recipient of the highest honour that the Council can bestow.

“This contribution to the arts makes her a worthy nominee for the Freedom of the City. She follows in the footsteps of previous recipients who have excelled in their field.”

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