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Sky, Playground develop drag queen series

Rory O’Neill as drag alter ego Panti Bliss

European satcaster Sky and UK-based drama producer Playground Entertainment are in development on a new drama based on real-life drag queen Panti Bliss.

PantiBar (working title) will star drag performer Rory O’Neill, better known by his stage name Panti Bliss, as himself and will be set in his Dublin bar and nightclub.

The drama will be written by O’Neill with support from long-time collaborator and theatre producer Philip McMahon and John Butler as co-writers.

“It’s Queer as Folk meets Cheers,” said Sophie Gardiner, head of drama and creative director at Playground, on Tuesday at a British Press Guild lunch event.

“Panti Bliss is known as the Queen of Ireland because she was crucial in the campaign for marriage equality. She’s the most wonderful drag queen, is quite politically engaged and we came across her in a TED talk.”

PantiBar has yet to be greenlit but Gardiner said she was optimistic about its chances, adding that there was a lot of international interest in the production.

“It’s a really interesting and transgressive show about what drag means and what happens when you’re in a place where everyone feels liberated,” she said.

Playground optioned the rights to O’Neill’s memoir Panti: Woman in the Making earlier this year.

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