Alternative Ulster

by Gazette Reporter
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Good Vibrations is the story of how Punk was brought to the people of Northern Ireland by Terri Hooley, idealist, music producer, record shop owner and socialist.

Terri lost his eye as a child and his glass eye is a striking motif used to much comic effect throughout the film as Terri’s idealistic view of the life is a lot more one- sided and unmuddied than most.

Richard Dormer plays the rebellious Terri who has lost his faith since the hippie movement died off though he still plays DJ sets in an empty bar called the Harp.

Terri is looking for something to believe in and to belong to and he finds it all in the spanking new sound that is Punk in the late 70s.

The moment he hears it, in a small club in Belfast, he immediately feels part of something again in a landscape as bleak and unconsoling as Northern Ireland was then.

Terri’s record shop becomes a Mecca for local Punk bands and fans and he became known at the Godfather of Punk in Northern Ireland.

So devoted was he to the young band members who flocked around his shop, that he became a record producer to get their songs on vinyl.  Scenes with around 30 punks sitting on the floor of a tiny record shop following Terri’s origami instructions on how to fold a single cover out of paper are some of the most memorable I’ve ever seen.

Terri was a champion of these young punks to a very sacrificial degree.

His own marriage suffered and he was perpetually on the border of losing his shirt, but none of it mattered because Terri had a cause to fight for.

The most famous band he helped to get out into the public arena was, of course, The Undertones.

Having failed to get their seminal tune, Teenage Kicks, played on any of the radio stations, Terri took drastic action and went in person to London and the BBC.

He left the single in at reception for John Peel to listen to and the rest is history.

The Undertones went on to be the huge success they were but Terri continued to strive for Belfast punk bands like Rudi and the Outcasts.

The last scene of the film sees Terri onstage with his punk children, speaking to the crowd about what Punk means to him.  “New York has the haircuts.  London has the trousers.  But Northern Ireland has the reason!”

Good Vibrations is a BBC/Bord Scannan na hEireann collaboration, directed by Lisa Barros D’Sa and Glenn Leyburn and starring Richard Dormer and Jodie Whittaker.

There are also appearances by Adrian Dunbar and Killian Scott (Love/Hate) who is a real live wire as the peroxide-headed front man of Rudi and the Outcasts with convulsive rhythm.

Terri Hooley, he of the incredibly apt name, is one of those insatiable optimists, whose spirit, even in the midst of the worst and most discouraging conditions, can never be dampened.

Such people are rare and so is an actor like Richard Dormer.

The film, quite simply belongs to him and his performance is full of the inexhaustible energy such an idealistic depiction demands.

He is a revelation.

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