Homeward bound - James Nesbitt's Ireland

James Nesbitt's accent is Antrim but the life is London. What will James Nesbitt find when he travels back to Ireland for his television programme: James Nesbitt's Ireland

James Nesbitt with a seafood dinner provided by ITV
James Nesbitt with a seafood dinner provided by ITV

Considering how accustomed we are to that grin and those arched eyebrows, there’s no wonder that James Nesbitt is carrying a few lines around the eyes. Cold Feet, Jekyll, Monroe, The Passion – they’re just the tip of his CV (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is surely the cherry on top). Hark back to any of the above hark and Nesbitt’s face is constantly contorting, shifting from sad to sunny, to confused and then back to the default of Mr Charming Rogue.

When the credits roll on the final instalment of Nebsitt’s new eight-part TV series, ITV's James Nesbitt’s Ireland, will he be smiling?

The outlook is good.

Land of my childhood

“This is an island I’m proud to call home,” says actor James Nesbitt. Coming home, of course, can be heavily effected by rose-tinted glasses. When we’ve been estranged from the place of our childhood, memories begin to shape themselves. Landscapes belong in a Jack B Yeats painting and the local barman is the friendliest person on planet earth.

From the little that Nesbitt has told us before the show aired, his memories of home are thankfully intact. Speaking to the Daily Mail, Nesbitt said the “land of my childhood” remains a “rich and varied landscape, diverse heritage and warm, welcoming people”.

Looks like he can leave those rose-tinted glasses in London.

Under the rader

But Nesbitt isn’t just in Ireland to show us what we’ve already seen. Just as keen as he is to revisit spots like the Blarney Stone in Cork and his home area of the Antrim Coast (like Liam Neeson, James Nesbitt was born and raised in Ballymena), Nesbitt wants to unearth those snippets edited from guidebooks. This time, Ireland's unique spots are bleeping loud on his rader.

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Matchmaking, dolphins and ice-cream

Thanks to Nesbitt’s curiosity we will meet Willie Daly, Ireland’s only remaining Matchmaker and commander in chief of County Clare's Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival. Willie, and the previous three Daly generations’ bread and butter was pairing lonely farmers with spouses. It still is, but it has evolved. This year, one of Willie’s clients is, as James Nesbitt wrote in the Daily Mail newspaper,  “a beautiful and intelligent New Yorker who works at Tiffany and Co.”

The Cold Feet actor's nose for a story will take him to Dingle, too, where he will attempt to swim with Funghie the resident Dolphin, and make his very own ice-cream infused with a potent childhood memory. It's more the kind of adventures you would expect from a Hobbit journey.

Surprises for all of us

As the Antrim man puts it himself: “Much of Ireland is still a beautifully, well kept secret and I want to take viewers on a trip around a country that they may think they know, but which still holds surprises for all of us."

What better man to take us there.

The next episode of James Nesbitt’s Ireland will be transmitted on ITV on Monday 25 March at 8pm

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