Victoria Smurfit believes the television and film industry will need to adapt to a new reality as it attempts to find a way to come out of the Covid-19 lockdown. 

Television viewing figures have reached unimaginable heights for Netflix, Sky and other streaming services, with Dublin-born Smurfit suggesting that boom will continue post-lockdown. 

Netflix has enjoyed huge viewing figures for shows such as Ricky Gervais’ After Life and the That Last Dance documentary that looks into the life of basketball star Michael Jordan, while Sky reported record viewing figures for their big-budget drama Gangs of London, with Smurfit suggesting the scope for TV to make its mark has increased in these changed times. 

“I think people need entertainment at times like this and there is no doubt that this is the age of TV,“ says Smurfit, who starred in fantasy Once Upon a Time in the recurring role of Cruella de Vil. 

“Having hours to indulge in characters and their journeys have become the new normal. It brings a deeper love to a story and a more satisfying ride than 90 minutes. 

“In saying that, I do love a tent pole movie that brings the whole family to the cinema, or a cracking comedy. Sheesh... here’s hoping we all get to go out as a family and watch a movie on a big screen again soon.“

Like so many of us, the star has been touched by the phenomenon that is Normal People, as she reserves epochal praise for its acclaimed director, Dubliner Lenny Abrahamson.

Normal People was epic,“ she continues. “What a wonderful tale and I have been so grateful to Lenny Abrahamson for giving me days of weeping and remembrance of first love. In its simplicity, this is storytelling at its most honest. I just loved it.

“There is just so much great TV out there and the moment and my instinct, for what it is worth, is that going forward we probably have a few months of projects that will be sped through the editing process to get it live earlier than planned. 

“My guess is that we will revert to the simpler stories for the next few months on TV. Maybe less cast, less crew, fewer locations. As long as stories are being told, we’ll be entertained.“

Victoria Smurfit at the US-Ireland Alliance 14th Annual Oscar Wilde Awards in Santa Monica, February 2019 / Picture Credit: SIPA USA/PA Images
Victoria Smurfit at the US-Ireland Alliance 14th Annual Oscar Wilde Awards in Santa Monica, February 2019 / Picture Credit: SIPA USA/PA Images

Binge-watching with our children has been part of the coronavirus lockdown experience for so many of us and for Smurfit, the time she has spent with daughter Evie has been especially precious. 

The duo touched the hearts of the Irish nation with their emotional appearance on The Late, Late Show last year, as they opened up on her battle with the degenerative eye condition Macular Dystrophy (Stargardt’s disease) that has added to the challenges of homeschooling in recent weeks.

“I was told over the phone that Evie had this condition Macular Dystrophy and the doctor told me; Don’t Google it,“ she adds. “Of course, the first thing you do is Google it and it did not make for good reading.

“It is a condition that sees Evie’s retina cells in her eye deteriorate and we have all had to live through this as a family.  

“I’m proud of all my children, the way my other two kids have been so supportive of their sister, and Evie has been so strong. I’m also so proud and the way Evie has handled this and what she has done to raise awareness. 

“Some parents reading this will ask why their kids can’t see properly and of her kindness and of her understanding of the bigger picture. There are parents right now whose kids are in school and are thinking and we want to get the message out there that you need to be aware of this.

“If you go to the optician, they say you have the right glasses and your child is still saying ’I still can’t see the board’, then ask for a retinal scan.“

Victoria and her daughter Evie support the Fighting Blindness charity and you can find all the details here -

Words by Kevin Palmer for Female First, who you can follow over on Twitter @RealKevinPalmer

MORE: Victoria Smurfit discusses her role as teacher to her kids during the coronavirus pandemic

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