Eddie Won't Forget Ulster

By Ian Starrett

Wednesday 2nd March 2005

Zany comic Eddie Izzard will never forget his childhood in Bangor, but now he's linked with Madonna.

The cross-dressing comedian also has another Ulster connection, as he met his girlfriend in Londonderry in the late 1980s.

Izzard, whose family lived in Bangor and father John worked for BP in Belfast, will play the role of an Irish con man operating in Baton Rouge in Louisiana, USA.

It was as a year-old baby that Eddie arrived in Northern Ireland, his family fleeing here from violence which had flared in Aden. They lived in Ashford Drive in Bangor and the comic still fondly recalls running around the Co Down resort with a gang of children, eating ice cream by the old Pickie Pool and building sandcastles and playing on Ballyholme beach.

In Londonderry, he was introduced to his long-term girlfriend, singer Sarah Louise Townsend. Eddie, some years ago, played a benefit concert in Londonderry for Foyle Valley railway buffs - he is a great steam train enthusiast.

Madonna will be the producer of the pilot TV film, which could be turned into a series if it is a success.

It is not yet known if the Material Girl will actually make an on-screen appearance in the story of a smooth-talking con man who gets up to all sorts of mischief among the magnolia of the southern state.

Izzard said: "It's very dark and sinister. It's a cracking script but so far we're only on the pilot, so I don't know whether she's going to appear in it herself." Ulster is imprinted on Izzard's memory for other less positive experiences. In 1999, while on his way from the Maiden City to an appointment with the then Secretary of State Mo Mowlam, Izzard fell foul of the law after driving his hire car on the hard shoulder of the Glenshane Pass.

His case was brought before Limavady Magistrates Court and the comedian, who had a clean driving licence up until then, was fined £200 and banned from driving on Northern Ireland's roads for three months.

Eddie left his home in Northern Ireland after the death from cancer of his midwife mother Dorothy in 1968. Despite this tragedy, he still associates Northern Ireland with some of the happiest times of his life.