Co Tyrone gets the reality treatment in new TV series

GRAEME COUSINS gets the low down on Northern Ireland’s first reality TV show which hits our screens this evening

Partners Bobby and Lynda are the focus of episode one
Partners Bobby and Lynda are the focus of episode one

Billed as Ulster’s answer to The Only Way Is Essex, a new reality show set in Co Tyrone hits our screens this evening.

The first episode centres on a surprise party for Omagh farmer Lynda, thrown by her partner Bobby who has been the man in her life for just over a year when the show was filmed last June.

Other star turns in the show are fun-loving married couple Audrey and Melvin, businesswoman and fashionista Shirley and ‘part time farmer, part time beautician’ Ruth.

Part time farmer, part time beautician and full time mum Ruth

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    There’s No Place Like Tyrone features real life characters, but events have been constructed purely for the series.

    Ahead of the first episode, Ruth told the News Letter: “I was nervous at the start about it coming on TV. Then whenever I saw the adverts it’s put me at ease a wee bit.

    “We’ve seen a few clips but we don’t get to see the whole episodes until the public sees them.”

    While it’s been billed as Northern Ireland’s equivalent as TOWIE and Made In Chelsea the characters come across as being a lot more down to earth.

    Businesswoman and fashionista Shirley

    Ruth, 24, said: “It’s just the way we are everyday. People in Co Tyrone are very genuine.

    “It might come across as we all know each other but a lot of the people in the show I hadn’t met until we came together for the programme.

    “I’d never met Bobby or Lynda or Audrey or Melvin. We’re all friendly now.

    “Even when I met them and the cameras weren’t on we got on really well. Bobby constantly had me in stitches. He could have his own show.

    Country singer Neil

    “We’re from Dungannon. Lynda is Omagh direction, Audrey I think she’s up by Clogher.

    “The way it’s filmed it might seem that we live closer together.”

    Ruth said she had some difficulties with the cameras to begin with but soon found her feet: “When it was being filmed they said, ‘pretend we’re not here’. At the start I was accidentally looking into the lens. After a while, after the second or third time, you do forget the cameras are there.”

    Ruth explained how she got involved with the programme which was filmed at the start of last summer: “They went to my friend’s salon and they were giving out flyers trying to find someone who comes from a farming background and is also into the beauty and all. Helen said about me and passed on my details. They contacted me and I said I’d be interested, it sounds like great craic.”

    Ruth revealed that it wasn’t technically her TV debut: “When I was in primary school I was in school choir of the year, but that was in a choir and I’m a blur.”

    In one scene, Ruth who is a member of a gun club takes two of her friends shooting: “Hollie had shot once before, Helen had never shot in her life. We just sort of thought we’d go for the craic. That’s the sort of thing that we did for the show. It’s not like reality shows were they make drama for the sake of it.”

    Ruth described herself as “a part time farmer, part time beautician and a full time mum”.

    She said: “Maisie is two this week. She’s not in the show but I do talk about her.

    “I have a boyfriend, we’re not married or engaged. We’ve been going out for three and half years and we’ve been friends since we were 10.”

    During her early days as beautician she needed someone to practice on. Cue her dad John: “When I was training as a beautician I had to practice eyebrow waxing. I got my kit and asked dad would he let me practice. I think I got one strip pulled off and he stopped me. He said he’d been in enough accidents on the farm but that was by the far the worst. He ended up with one bushy eyebrow and one normal one.”

    She added: “My oldest brother John is a full time farmer. He’s won’t be on the show, he’s a bit shy. He works on the farm with my dad and my dad’s friend Billy.

    “My mum (Wendy) helps out on the farm before her own job as a classroom assistant in a special needs school.”

    Ruth appears in the show alongside her brother Neil. As a duo they’re used to being in the limelight together.

    She said: “Neil’s a country singer. We used to sing together. We were a two-piece band then I went to Australia for a year and he went out on his own.

    “He started to make it really well on his own so I left him to it. I started a new job as a beautician and helped my dad out on the farm.”

    So has she got the bitten by the TV bug?

    “It’s was really good craic,” she said. “If there was a second series and they asked me to be in it, I’d definitely say yes. I suppose they’re waiting to see how the first series goes.”

    She added: “The first night the trailer was on TV quite a lot of people videoed it and sent it to me on Snapchat. A lot of people have taken an interest.”