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Barry Ward chats about his gripping new drama ‘Clean Sweep’

Barry Ward chats about his gripping new drama ‘Clean Sweep’

An exciting and thoroughly gripping drama series, ‘Clean Sweep’ will hit our screens May 14th on RTÉ 1. Based on a true story, starring Charlene McKenna (Peaky Blinders) as Shelly Mohan and Barry Ward (The Fall, Britannia) playing Jason Mohan as husband and wife duo. Jason spends his days working as a Garda Detective coming home to his perfect wife, Shelly. All-round super mom, she does it all so well, from chauffeuring their 3 kids around from school to activities, active on the PTA, all the while being an exemplary wife with a dinner on the table for her husband every evening. But appearances can be deceptive! Unbeknownst to everyone around her, Shelly has been secretly living a double life for the last 20 years with a murderous past, keeping this secret even from her unsuspecting husband. Will the arrival of someone from Shelly’s past unravel her carefully manicured world and home life? Will her husband find out exactly who he married? I spoke to Barry Ward to find out more.

Barry, thank you so much for joining us here in Connect. Your new starring role in RTÉ’s, Clean Sweep sounds very exciting, can you tell our readers about the show?

Thanks Cathriona, absolutely! Clean Sweep is an exciting new 6 part crime drama starting the 14th of May on RTÉ. It focuses on the two parents in the Mohan family, Shelly and Jason. Without giving too much away, the very first episode lays out the plot for the entire story. The matriarch, Shelly played by Charlene McKenna, is a criminal whose unsuspecting husband Jason happens to be the lead detective investigating the case and crimes she committed.

Your character, Detective Jason Mohan, is an unsuspecting husband to his wife’s past. What drew you into this character?

The fact that I got to play opposite Charlene McKenna! Detectives are always an interesting challenge and especially the lead investigator, there is always plenty to get your teeth stuck into with that type of role. I think part of the attraction for me was that to play a role where the audience are always one step ahead of my character, it’s always tricky to keep that ball in the air so it’s a very interesting challenge!

How is the relationship between Shelly and Jason, as Shelly’s past catches up to her does this cause a shift in the couple’s dynamics without giving too much away!

Oh absolutely, Charlene’s character Shelly holds all the cards in a sense because she knows more than I know and always one step ahead of her husband Jason the whole time. It kind of sets the tone for that big plot devise, it’s essentially a big rock thrown into the pond that is our marriage and our family. This of course has a huge ripple effect so when you take in the series, it’s got this quality family drama but with the explosive tense side to it giving the viewer an exciting viewing experience. It’s tinged with tension and the stakes are high.


What affect does this have on Jason throughout his story arc?

As Jason gets closer to the truth and closer to solving the crime it leads Charlene’s character, Shelly, to more drastic measures so this really takes its toll on the family and Jason particularly.

But Jason is no angel either, he has a few skeletons in his closet that come out during the course of the show, but that’s all I will say on that for now so not to give too much away!

With it being based on a true story I feel this adds to the overall excitement of the show, particularly with the rise in interest in true crime series and documentaries. Did yourself and Charlene do any specific research or training before filming to learn more about the roles?

In a short answer, no! I have played the roles of a cop and detective before so for me it was just important to serve the script and get into character. It was all there in the script the character was so meaty and chunky, something I could really get into playing. Anything else might have just gotten in the way really so for me it really just came down to getting stuck into the scenes with Charlene.

With a rise in popularity for Irish film and production worldwide, are you excited at the prospect of it being picked up in America too?

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Yes! I think it’s great, the company bringing it there have been involved from the get go so it always had American involvement especially with an American writer on board. So I think it was exciting to know the bigger audience it would ultimately receive. I think given the fact it was set in Ireland too just gives it that edgier, grittier feel, a completely different dimension. So fingers crossed people on both sides of the water like it! It has been a fantastic few years for the Irish film and TV industry, there have been so many trailblazers paving a path for the rest of us.

What locations where included in the filming?

It was mainly filmed in South Dublin, places like Killiney where we did a lot of filming in a hotel there and a house nearby. For me being from Blanchardstown, it’s always nice to film in Dublin. We were in Bray in Co Wicklow a lot too which is always nice, Bray is a lovely spot.

For you personally as an actor, when you are sent a script, what is your decision making process like and what is the deciding factor for you? Are there particular characters that you enjoy being cast as?

It really varies for me from script to script. Nothing will ever fill all the criteria you have, there is always going to be a plus and minus to every role and character. I just personally think script, story and character are absolutely paramount in my selection process. But the writing is very important to me too, the writing has to be good, something to get me hooked! If it’s less than that then it has to come down to factors such as it having a really good cast or really good director, really nice location to film just something along those lines to attract me to it. But essentially first and foremost it’s got to be the writing that sells it to me.

You have had a very successful career so far with roles in drama’s such as The Fall and Britannia and now with Clean Sweep sure to be a success both here in Ireland and in America where it will be broadcast on Sundance Now. In addition to this you recently won an IFTA award, what projects can we expect to see you in over the next year or so?

So Clean Sweep comes out May 14th and after that I have a film called Sunlight which will be actually playing in the upcoming Kerry International Film Festival. It was written by the extremely talented Ailbhe Keogan who as you know comes from Kerry as well! She previously worked on the Olivia Coleman drama, Joyride. Basically Ailbhe wrote this feature for me a few years ago called Sunlight, with lockdown it got delayed but we eventually got there with it! I’m excited for that to come out after all of this time, it will have a cinema release too which is always good! I also have an upcoming Feature called ‘That They May Face the Rising Sun’ which was directed by Pat Collins. It’s based on the book of the same name by author John McGahern. So yes, an exciting year ahead and hopefully audiences will enjoy Clean Sweep as much as I enjoyed making it.

Episode 1 of Clean Sweep airs on 14th May, at 9.30pm on RTÉ One. All six episodes will be available to stream on RTÉ Player.

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