Irish Writers: Maeve Binchy

Irish Writers: Maeve Binchy

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Dalkey, Dublin




Transmission 01/05/1993


19min 12sec







Digitised as part of the UTV Archive Partnership Project (ITV, Northern Ireland Screen and PRONI)


Channel 4, Department for Communities, Flying Fox Films, ITV, Public Record Office of Northern Ireland

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Channel 4, Flying Fox Films, ITV

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Profile of Maeve Binchy (1939 to 2012), one of Ireland's most renowned and successful novelists. Her warm, humourous and compassionate writing style are showcased in international best sellers, including Light a Penny Candle (1982), Echoes (1985), Circle of Friends (1990) and Tara Road (1998).

In this episode of Irish Writers, Binchy discusses the life experiences and cultural touchstones that were pivotal in her development as a writer. She shares her thoughts on the writing experience and quotes from her novels.

She recounts her first, somewhat unusual, foray as a writer. Having gone to Israel, she determined to keep her family informed of what she was doing (and allay their fears), by writing them long detailed letters. Unbeknownst to Binchy, her family had one of these letters typed-up, sent to a magazine and it was soon published! Amused, she describes arriving home to discover she had become a "writer by accident!" What, she pondered, "might happen if I did it [tried to become a writer] on purpose?! However, despite this early, inadvertent break, it would be another four years before a piece of her work was again published. 

Binchy explains a common trope, of basing her stories within villages. It is, she says, strategic. "It's terribly easy... because you don't have to think a whole lot of complicated excuses as to why Mary met John". Similarly, she often writes about children, as their experiences and lives are something that everybody can, to some degree, understand. However, she notes that she choose not to write children's books, as her past career as a teacher would come through, and the children could "sniff that out"!


ITV Schools was the educational television service set up in 1957 by the Independent Television Authority, broadcasting learning programmes for children ages 5 to 18 across ITV-affiliated stations. It was an example of public service broadcasting on a commerical television network. ITV moved its schools programming to Channel 4 in 1987, although ITV continued to produce programmes and the service continued to use the ITV name for another six years.The last ITV Schools programme on Channel 4 aired on Monday, 28th June, 1993.   



Produced by Ulster Television and Flying Fox Films for Channel Four Schools.

Producers: Neil Martin, Catherine Gifford 

Director: David Hammond 



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