In the Border Country

Last Update: 21 July 2004
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In the Border Country is an Irish drama with black-clad figures moving across the Ulster landscape towards blood feud and tragedy.

This drama is set in the war torn country between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland where involvement in the IRA is ripping families apart. The lives of two sisters are suddenly thrown into turmoil when they find their own ways to cope after their husbands leave on a dangerous mission.

Margaret is pregnant and left with two grown children - her son David, who is being pulled in two directions by his parents fighting, and her daughter, Morna, who resents her mother's anger forward her father and her mother's relationship with her father's enemy McQuire. Meanwhile, Margaret's sister, Helen, begins a romantic relationship with a stranger.

Sean Bean plays Smith, the British soldier who begins the affair with Helen. In their hotel room, Smith takes a telephone call, then leaves to kill a man who works with his lover's husband. The widow of this man turns out to be Margaret - Helen's sister. At the funeral Margaret asks Helen if her time spent with Smith was 'worth it'. She responds 'Yes, every bit of it'.

In a memorable scene in bed, Smith and his lover have the following exchange:

Woman: "Who are you?'
Smith: "Who do I look like?"
Woman: "You look like Lawrence of Arabia without the camel."
Smith: "That's me."

The film ends with a surprising turn of events.

The inspiration for this drama came from the Greek dramatist Aeschylos' trilogy, the 'Orestia', which tells the story of Agamemnon's return from the Trojan War and his subsequent murder by his wife, Clytemnestra, and her lover, Aegisthus, which is avenged by Agamemnon's son, Orestes.

Filming began on 19 November 1990 at Howth, near Dublin, and continued for three weeks.

This drama was awarded Best Television Drama at the 1991 Banff Television Festival and Best Made for Television Drama at the Chicago Film Festival.

(Thanks to Stela Slesarchik, Patti McCormick and Ellen B. Grossman for their notes and observations, and Evi Finsterer for additional notes.)


Sean Bean
Juliet Stevenson
Sean McGinley
Saskia Reeves
Ian McGihinney
John Kavanagh





Produced by
Written by
Directed by
Running time


Channel Four
Daniel Mornin
Thaddeus O'Sullivan
March 2, 1991
54:35 min

A Little Bird production for
Channel 4 Television


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