Interview with Danish director of 'Kat and Alfie: Redwater'

The Copper Coast, County Waterford

Two of Eastenders' most iconic characters return to our screens in 'Kat and Alfie: Redwater', filmed in the beautiful Dunmore East, Co. Waterford. We caught up with the show's director, Jesper Nielsen, to see what he really thought of Ireland.

1 What preconceived idea of Ireland did you have before coming to the island, and how did your image of Ireland change after spending time here?

It was my first time in Ireland, but I of course heard about it from people that I know, that it should be very beautiful there, and very green and everything, but when you haven’t seen it (for yourself) you don’t know. So I was completely open-minded. What I saw was very beautiful, but very different to what I had perceived (before coming), so I was very surprised that some places looked very much like the south of France, but much more green! [laughs] It’s extremely beautiful, but (some places) are very much like the Mediterranean! The filming locations were very beautiful, if I may say so. Up in the hills around the filming locations there were so many different kinds of worlds and places with all kinds of nature, so it was amazing to see and I really loved staying there in many ways. 

What I saw was very beautiful, but very different to what I had perceived (before coming), so I was very surprised that some places looked very much like the south of France, but much more green!

Jesper Nielsen

I really enjoyed my time in Ireland. We had an amazing crew also, the people there were really professional and you know it was my first time working outside Denmark and it was interesting for me to see new ways of doing things, but also to see that very many things were very much alike the way they are in Denmark. 

2 How did the location add to the overall atmosphere of the storyline?

It was very important. It’s kind of a fish-out-of-water story with two Londeners coming to a little Irish village, you know, looking for her son. So it was two people coming from a big town to a small little village, where everybody knows each other and where there are a lot of secrets. So in that way it was of course important to find a place where you could feel that remoteness and being far away from everything. And also where you could feel the nature was strong, quite opposite to London where you can’t get the same experience in the nature. In that way it was amazing down there in Dunmore East and around Waterford, where there are some beautiful coastlines, and the tide and ocean were wild. So I think we got some amazing shots there. 

3 What was the weather like while you were in Ireland?

The weather of course if changing a lot. But I am used to that from Denmark, you know. But it’s changing so much it is actually not a problem. Because if you just wait 5 minutes, as every Irishman says, the weather will change, and that was right most of the time! But I must also say we were quite lucky actually, we got a lot of good sunny, nice days with steady weather. When we’re filming that is of course gold, when we’re filming and working we don’t need to stand there waiting for the right weather so that was wonderful. It was a great summer last year. 

4 We heard rumours that the fire brigade was called in to create fake rain? Is that true? 

Yes! In fact there was quite a strange thing going on there, we were filming at a church yard and for this (particular) scene it was very important that that it started to rain, because in the storyline a big storm is coming. But every time we went to this graveyard the sun started shining! So yes, we had to bring in the fire crew to produce some rain. It was also strange that when we were filming this funeral scene we had to dig a grave, but we ended up finding some bones, so maybe we shouldn’t have open a grave there because every time we filmed in that graveyard something went wrong there!

5 Did you meet any friendly locals during your trip?

Oh hundreds, thousands! They were so helpful around Dunmore East in that little village, because we had a very big crew moving in and we were stopping everything that might have been going on. Everyone was so terribly helpful, I must say. We met so many nice people. 

We met so many nice people. I must say, generally, the Irish, they got a lot of humour!

Jesper Nielsen

I must say, generally, the Irish, they got a lot of humour! They got a way of looking at life that is quite relaxed and they got time for you. They talk to you when you are a stranger and they’re not busy. They also have something funny to say about something! [Laughs] I must say I really enjoyed that a lot. 

6 The area where Redwater is filmed was once settled by the Vikings, did you discover any Viking heritage while you were there?

[Laughs] No! I must admit I wasn’t aware of that, but I did see the Viking ship in Waterford. But I come from Denmark, which is also a Viking country, I felt when I came to Dublin, I feel very much the same atmosphere as in Copenhagen. I feel quite at home when I am in Ireland, in many ways. Of course, it’s two very different countries, in many way, but I think that there’s something about the humour and the way the people are that are.. yeah, I felt at home. 

7 What do you remember most from your trip?

There were a thousand things that surprised me about Ireland. But I think the little village of Dunmore East, I enjoyed it a lot, staying down there. It’s a beautiful little place. 

8 Do you wish to visit Ireland again?

Yeah! I hope I will come back to Ireland again. That’s for sure. I also must say I enjoyed doing Redwater, there were some amazing actors, wonderful crew. 

I hope I will come back to Ireland again. That’s for sure!

Jesper Nielsen

I hope that someday we will come back and continue the story. A second season could happen. 


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