By Tracey Halloran
The Hardy Bucks have gone from strength to strength since their comedic observations of rural Irish life were first aired on RTE in 2009, but it all began with one lad and a camera. Chris Tordoff, otherwise known as ‘The Viper’, made his first steps in comedy by filming the craic with his friends, unaware of where it all would lead. The shlippery shnake has been climbing ladders ever since. Now, without the black shades to hide behind, the bucko explains himself to The Irish World.
He clasps a pint as a thick English accent tumbles out from under his moustache, explaining the feeling of being plonked in the buzzing metropolis of Swinford, Co.Mayo in his early teens: “It was strange at first because I moved over from Leeds… I was quite small and I had a squeaky English voice… who would want to hang out with that?” Martin Maloney: that’s who. The flame haired Hardy Buck otherwise known as Eddie Durkan had much in common with Chris as he moved to Ireland from Liverpool about a year before Chris’ move. A solid friendship between the two lads was first forged on a school bus. “I never laughed so much,” Chris recalls with a chuckle. “He’s like the power house of the cell, like the mitochondria in Biology, he just generates material really fast.”
The boys absorbed their surroundings and began impersonating characters in their hometown. “Imitating people…ain’t that flattering?” He jokes now knowing that the expression doesn’t quite apply to the mocking nature of their punch lines. They innocently began recording their own tomfoolery and posting it online, without assumptions about the doors it could open.
“I just thought it was a laugh on the internet,” he says modestly. Little did he know that fans were sprouting from every nook and cranny across the country. Before long thousands were huddled up in front of monitors, wide-eyed and impressed with a group of rowdy young men in Mayo with Owen Colgan, Peter Cassidy, Tom Kilgallon and Mike Salmon completing the group.
Although their fanbase was multiplying, Chris struggled with school. He took his education very casually and didn’t sweat the obligations of students such as choosing a college course. “I didn’t do well in the leaving cert and I didn’t know what I wanted to do.” Chris cautiously decided not to rush his career choice, noting that there are many people who land themselves the job they thought they wanted and realize it fails to make them happy. Eventually with editing in mind, he headed off to Ballyfermot to do TV and Film.
It was then that the gang entered the 2009 RTÉ Storyland competition. The participants were dished out funding to make episodes and the winner would be honoured with a series. Overwhelming global support for the Hardy Bucks resulted in them winning the golden ticket into television. “It’s just a lot of luck,” Chris says, attributing most of their success to the rise in social networking popularity and their impeccable timing. But he believes that he and his friends tapped into a niche in society that had remained hidden. He brews with frustration discussing the lack of coverage and realism attached to Irish youngsters on TV. “The youth isn’t represented,” he sighs.
Revealing a rare insight into the humanity and good humour that is etched into the Irish psyche, The Hardy Bucks follows the lives of characters that are uncannily similar to those known in every town in Ireland. The irony of an English man having to highlight the beauty in Irish dynamics is nothing less than a rude awakening, reminding Irish people of what they take for granted: “You don’t have to be wearing the latest trainers, or going on holidays anywhere or your parents didn’t have to have a class car to be cool in Swinford. You had to be a bit of craic.”
In February of last year The Hardy Bucks Movie was released nationwide and grossed the highest new release in Ireland, taking in €176,887 on its first weekend alone. In November, the glitzy Leicester Square premiere was attended by Hollywood A lister Chris O’Dowd and stars of The Only Way is Essex. The film has also had screenings across America, further stirring the melting pot of new fans overseas and the group is set to reach a whole new continent next year when they film the sequel that takes them to Australia, dealing with the biggest issue affecting young Irish people now: Emigration.
Chris remains down to earth. An honest lad from humble beginnings, he knows what it is like to work in the factory and on the shop floor, making him able to appreciate being able to write, act and edit: “I like being creative and being paid to be creative… It’s a dream come true.”
The Hardy Bucks Movie is out now on DVD and Bluray through Universal Pictures UK.
The Irish World has copies of The Hardy Bucks movie to give away on DVD. For your chance to win, answer this question:
What UK city did Hardy Bucks star Chris Tordoff leave for Ireland in his early teens?
Send your answer along with your name, address, phone number and email address to: The Hardy Bucks Comp, The Irish World, 934 North Circular Road, London NW2 7JR. Rules and conditions apply.